At this time of year, it is interesting to look back at what we did during the course of 2018. Life seems to pass by in such a whirl it can sometimes feel that all we do is work. But we have done a lot more than that this year. Here are the most notable bits from our frugal year.
The good bits
Building our emergency fund
We are always careful with money and save throughout the year. However, 2018 was the first year we created a dedicated emergency fund. This is, as you would imagine, money that won’t be used for anything except emergencies. Once we hit three months of expenses in our emergency fund, we will start to look at investing the excess. This post explains why you need an emergency fund.
Shop Smart Save Money
You may have seen this new Channel 5 series on saving money. I had a chat with one of their researchers and gave them a money saving tip, which was used on their social media channels.
Blog award nominations
Shoestring Cottage was nominated in three categories in this year’s SHOMOs awards, which shine a light on bloggers who write in some way about money. I didn’t win, but was happy to be shortlisted in Best Frugal Food Blog, Best Money Saving Blog and the People’s Choice award.
I went to London for the day and had the opportunity to meet and learn from some of my favourite bloggers. It was a really enjoyable day and you can read about it here.
In the news
I appeared in the Mail, in a piece about why women of a certain age can suddenly develop allergies. It was quite exciting, as I had a professional photographer and make up artist come to our house in advance! I also managed a small piece in Prima. Amazingly, so many people I know spotted me in this. It is obviously a very well read magazine.
We didn’t go anywhere exotic or expensive during 2018, but we did have some lovely holidays nonetheless. Our first was a couple of nights in Brighton, where my daughter is at university. Mr S booked this through Booking.com. for my birthday (this is my refer a friend link). It was a chilly but sunny trip. We thought Brighton an interesting city and enjoyed the Pavilion particularly.
A month or so later we had a week in Norfolk, renting a cottage from a friend near Binham in the north of the county. It was lovely. We managed an outing to Holkham Hall and another to Sandringham during the course of the week, both of which were really enjoyable. Walking on Holkham beach was one of the highlights of my year. What a beautiful place.
Our second holiday was to Wales. We go most years and stay on a permaculture small holding near Machynlleth. This year we had a heat wave! We could have been in the Mediterranean somewhere. It was lovely. We made a point of visiting Powis castle for the first time, a most impressive place with stunning gardens.
In August we had another trip to Norfolk, with a short trip to Stalham broad at Dairy Barns. We were so impressed with this fabulous venue, booked through BuyaGift.co.uk. I used to live in Norfolk and still love it. Maybe we will head back there one day.
A bit of DIY
2018 wasn’t all spent gadding about the UK on holiday, however. The lounge was desperate to have a refresh so we did some budget DIY back in February. We changed the wallpaper, painted all the wood work, put in a new fireplace and purchased cushions, a rug and some throws. The room was totally transformed with minimal expenditure. We are particularly happy with the tiles around the fireplace. I found these on eBay.
We also saved up for new patio doors on our back room and a shiny new front door, which I love. They have both made the house much warmer as well as looking so much nicer!
I have always had an interest in green issues and protecting our precious environment. I have tried to make 2018 a frugal year but also a more eco-conscious year. Reducing food waste has been top of the agenda, and also cutting down on the amount of plastic that comes into the house. If you are interested in doing the same you can find my ideas to reduce plastic here.
I have joined the local food coop and started taking my refillable bottles to purchase washing up liquid, fabric softener and hair conditioner. Laundry is now mostly washed with an Ecoegg Laundry Egg , which seems to be working fine. Wherever possible, I am buying things like ketchup and mayonnaise in recyclable glass containers. I even took my own container to the fishmongers and to the market. However, working full time means that this isn’t always an option.
There is more to do and in 2019 I will be redoubling my efforts. I got some great zero waste Christmas presents to get me started, including a bamboo toothbrush and some Georganics Natural Toothpaste and a stainless steel and bamboo safety razor.
The bad bits
2018 has been a strange year for me health wise. I have always been fit and healthy, but this year I have felt tired, low and achy much of the time. In July, after months of exhaustion and painful joints I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia.
To add insult to injury, I have had a trapped nerve in my neck for over four months, the most excruciatingly painful condition I have ever suffered. So far, I have tried physiotherapy, pilates, massage, all kinds of pain killers and acupuncture but nothing has worked for long. I do have an appointment with the spinal clinic in the New Year so I am hoping they will find out what is causing the nerve to be trapped and sort it out. Also I will be continuing with the acupuncture, which I have heard is great for pain relief.
I am determined to get fit for 2019!!
How has your year been? We are aiming for a green and frugal year in 2019, and will be looking to save money wherever we can.
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