A Frugal Year: Shoestring Cottage review of 2018

frugal year

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

frugal year

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

frugal year

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.


a frugal year

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.

frugal year

The grand hall at Holkham Hall

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.

frugal year

Powis Castle

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.

frugal year

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

frugal year

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.

frugal year

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!

Becoming greener

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.

a frugal year

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.

frugal year

Acupuncture for a bad neck

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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4 thoughts on “A Frugal Year: Shoestring Cottage review of 2018

  1. You’ve done lots of positive things this year Jane which I admire. You’re holidays looked nice, I love Holkham beach too.

    I got some sustainable gifts: resuseable drinking straws and a wooden toothbrush as well as vouchers from family so I can buy the things we need. I also found plenty of gluten free veggie things to eat, although my husband insisted on all the traditional food which I’ve now put in the freezer as there was far too much for one person!

    We have had a challenging second half of the year as I had a serious car accident and have spent 4 months with my arm in plaster. My cast comes off tomorrow actually so then I can start physio. I must try to find the courage to drive again as we live semi-rurally (once I’ve got a replacement car!)

    I’m hoping 2019 will be a happy year for us all and I hope you find some relief from the pain of your trapped nerve.

    Best wishes

  2. Wishing you a happy & healthy 2019 and Thx for keeping your blog going! It’s great to be a part of our online frugal community.

  3. Your new front door is fantastic! I’d love to change ours, and I love the colour you’ve chosen. Really sorry to hear about your health issues and hoping your treatments in the coming year do the trick xxx

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