Five Frugal Achievements, 23rd March 2018

This week’s five frugal achievements sees me actually spending some money on clothes, a bit more baking and plans for a holiday.

A new frugal cookbook

Eons ago (almost two years in fact), I enthusiastically joined in with a Kickstarter crowdfunding thing for Jack Monroe, raising money so that she could self-publish her new cook book, Cooking on a Bootstrap. Her first one, A Girl Called Jack, is one of my favourites.

It was supposed to arrive within 6 months or so but it didn’t, with no real explanation. Then there were odd updates, citing illness and depression as reasons the book wasn’t ready. There were long periods with no news, which made a lot of backers really angry. Quite a few demanded their money back.

five frugal achievements

We were asked for addresses but the book still didn’t come. In December it was apparently ready. However, Jack appeared to be signing and packing all the books herself, even dragging bags of them down to the post box! After all this, I was really excited when my copy finally arrived last week.

Having perused most of the recipes, my first impression is that it was worth the wait. I will be testing out some of her meals and will review the book in due course. It is not yet available in the shops, but is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Going gluten free

I have pretty much cut gluten out of my diet over the past month, which has hugely improved my IBS symptoms. I have been experimenting with making my favourite cake recipes gluten free. I have found that if I simply replace wheat flour with gluten free flour it can taste dry and a bit grainy. However, if I use 25% ground almonds instead of just gluten free flour it works a lot better.

Happily, I prefer Asda’s own gluten free flour to some of the more expensive branded ones!

A bit of xanthum gum also helps I am told, but I am a little nervous about that aggravating my digestive system as well.

five frugal achievementsI already posted about making Nigella’s banana loaf this way. This time I made a gluten free fruit cake, which wasn’t bad. I think it needs less time in the oven that when it is made with wheat flour, however, as it was slightly dry. Next time I will cut the time down. Baking my own gluten free stuff is cheaper than buying it ready-made, for sure.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook may have been getting a lot of bad publicity this week, but Facebook Marketplace is still pretty popular here at Shoestring Cottage. In my last Five Frugal Achievements post, I wrote about listing some items for my parents on there. I have managed to sell five items in the past couple of weeks for them.

This week I have been buying. I have found a really nice king size iron bed frame for £50. We will be going to collect it at the weekend. Once we are sure it is OK, we will be looking for a bargain mattress, so if you have any recommendations…..

Planning a holiday

As winter drags on into spring, the only thing was to book a holiday! We haven’t booked an expensive trip to the Maldives, just a week in Norfolk. It’s so nice to have something to look forward to and north Norfolk is so lovely. We got mates’ rates as it is a friend’s cottage.

If we get some sunshine whilst we are away it would be wonderful. Even if we aren’t lucky with the weather there is a lot to see and do in the area.

Bargain clothing

I have said before that I get a lot of my work clothes from The clue as to why is in the name! You can get an awful lot for your money at £5 an item. They are general high street and generic brands. I have rarely received anything I wasn’t happy with and I have made four or five orders.

I am quite picky about what I buy and get several items at a time to make the postage worthwhile. I have just put in an order for 3 work tops and a skirt – not bad for twenty quid! My daughter bought a playsuit, an amazing pair of boots and a couple of cute pyjama sets.

So these are my five frugal achievements this week. How have you managed to save money?

frugal achievements

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s  ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Click the links to see other ideas for saving money.

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Saving money with five frugal things

Here we are again! Another week gone in a flash. As usual, I am sharing five frugal things that I have achieved this week. As I said in my last post, the little things all add up.  Saving money and a frugal lifestyle can help you achieve your debt busting and savings goals.

A pot of soup

saving moneyAlthough the weather has improved a lot, it is still very cold. I find a nice mug of soup every day at work is warming and comforting.

It’s so easy to make soup as well and very economical. I decided on carrot and coriander. So spicy and delicious that I plan on making more this weekend. I used a bag of carrots (49p) and a pot of coriander (68p) from Aldi. I added a couple of medium potatoes, a head of celery (you could use onions), some vegetable stock, along with some ground coriander, cumin and turmeric to add some nice spice.

This made 8 really big portions and helped me with saving money on lunches.

Banana bread

saving moneyWe went for a walk into town last weekend. On the way back we passed a Tesco Express and Mr Shoestring spotted some bananas in the window. They looked a bit the worse for wear, but perfect for banana bread. He chatted up the shop assistant and negotiated a drop from 21p a banana to 20p for five!

I made Nigella’s yummy banana loaf with these, a gluten free version. I replaced the wheat flour with 75% gluten free and 25% ground almonds. This always seems to work well. I am not eating entirely gluten free, but find a lower gluten diet beneficial for my sensitive tummy.

Home made bread

saving moneyIn last week’s Five Frugal Things I mentioned that we bought some spelt bread from Waitrose. This was expensive at £2.50 for a small loaf. In truth, it wasn’t as nice as the one I made the previous week. It costs me about £1.60 a loaf to make it at home so I had another go.

The bread maker decided that this was a good time to die, so I had to make the dough by hand and cook it in the oven. What a revelation! It was so easy I don’t know why I had never tried before. I won’t be replacing the bread maker.

My next challenge is to find a cheaper supplier of spelt flour than the local health food shop. I need to research online.

Saving money on home furnishings

Now that we have completed our budget DIY lounge makeover, we wanted to find a decent nest of tables. We had been looking around but new ones were so expensive and not necessarily great quality either. This week I finally spotted some nice ones on Facebook Marketplace for just £35.

Mr S drove to get them in the week and they are perfect.

saving moneyWe also spotted some art nouveau style cushion covers on eBay and they arrived this week. They were a bargain at only £3 a cover. We don’t have the budget for a new sofa at the moment so these perked up the old one. You don’t have to spend a small fortune to furnish your house. There are plenty of opportunities for saving money.

Making some money for the oldies

Talking of Facebook Marketplace, we went to see my parents at a table top sale where they were selling a few things. It was rather quiet and they had quite a lot of stuff leftover. I took a few photos and listed them on Marketplace. Within an hour I had sold one item and had queries on 3 others.

It really is a great place to sell larger items for local collection. You don’t have to pay any eBay or Paypal fees or worry about packing and posting. My next step is to teach my mum how to do it!

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s  ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Click the links to see other ideas for saving money.

Love your leftovers and more DIY: Five Frugal things 23rd February

five frugal thingsIt’s been a funny old week. I haven’t felt ill exactly, just slightly below par and lacking in energy. Last night, after painting all day, I felt like I had been run over by a steam roller. I think I may have caught the lodger’s cold. This never happens – I have an immune system of steel usually! I still managed my five frugal things though, so here we go.

A healthy veggie bake

Five frugal thingsI am eating healthily but haven’t done much except basic cooking, although I did make a really nice vegetarian spinach and potato gratin to kick off the week. I had mine with some sliced boiled eggs on top; the others had Aldi Lincolnshire sausages. This was a thrifty winter warmer to kick off my five frugal things.

I wish I could find a decent veggie sausage. I know there are some out there but they all seem to contain soya, which I just can’t stomach. Perhaps I need to make my own. Anyone have any good recipes or know where I can buy some soya free sausages?

Love your leftovers: soup

Five frugal thingsI made a bucket of what I call ‘thrift soup’ at the weekend to give us a whole week’s lunches. There was quite a lot of frozen leftover mash potato, which I used as a thickener. I diced the rest of the veg. You can use pretty much anything in this type of soup – I chucked in all the odds and ends that were lying around in the fridge. We had two sweet potatoes, half a bunch of celery, 4 large carrots and some frozen peas.

This soup was lovely and hearty. We will be having the last of it today for lunch.

Something fishy

Five frugal thingsI found some kippers in the reduced section at Asda the other day, so I grabbed two packets. They were reduced from £1.28 to 88p each.

I hadn’t had kippers for years and only got them because they were so cheap. But they were delicious and there was a lot of protein in each pack. I would say there was enough for two people – I tried to eat a whole pack myself for tea but was defeated.

Mr S loves them and they are pretty healthy, being full of those good omega 3s. Without doubt, I will be buying these again, even at the full price. I had them with tomatoes, bread and butter, but I am thinking they would make a good kedgeree type dish.

Lactose free

Five frugal thingsAsda came up trumps again when I discovered they now have their own range of lactose free products.

As a lactose intolerant person, I have missed finding a decent yogurt at a reasonable price. I can’t eat soya (that’s even worse for my digestive system!) and the only alternative I have found is coconut milk yogurt. This is very expensive! I bought two tubs of the Asda strawberry Greek yogurt as they were 2 for £2 and this stuff is yummy.

They also do milk at £1.20 a carton. 5p more than Aldi’s version but still cheaper than the Lactofree brand, which tends to be around £1.45 a carton.

Food intolerances are flipping expensive!

Bread making

Five frugal thingsThe older I get, the more I struggle with IBS. It can be stress related, but for me it is definitely aggravated by various foods. I currently avoid dairy (although hard cheeses are fine), soya, onions and leeks, cabbage and sprouts, beans and lentils (not ideal as a vegetarian) and recently found to my horror that mushrooms cause issues. I love mushrooms!

The doctor tested me for Coeliac disease and thankfully this came back negative. However, I can’t eat too much bread or anything containing flour.  My sister has similar problems. She has found that spelt bread is much lower in gluten and gentler on the stomach.

Bread or spaghetti?

Five frugal thingsI couldn’t find anywhere selling spelt bread when I went hunting, but found some flour so thought I would have a go at making a loaf. Such fun! I made the dough in my bread maker and could see it rising and looking fab. However, when I went to take it out to bake it in the oven it had gone a bit soft. I turned it onto a floured board to knead it and it looked like spaghetti!

Perseverance being the key, I kneaded it anyway and stuck it in a loaf tin to bake. It came out tasting pretty good! I would say it was a little on the heavy side, but I ate it anyway. It was pretty nice toasted and much superior to any gluten free loaf I have ever tried.

However, I clearly need to practice as I don’t think I quite have the technique. Apparently they sell a 100% loaf in Waitrose so I will try some of that to see what it should taste like.

More DIY

I am writing this to put off another day of DIY. We have pretty much finished now so I need to get on with it. Just a wall to paint, the curtains to go up and a thorough clean of the floor today. We still need to find a rug and a nest of tables and we are done. Hurrah!

If I could afford to pay someone to do the decorating, I certainly would!

How has your week been? What are your frugal achievements?

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Pop over and have a look see their five frugal things.

Five frugal things for a budget lounge revamp

Five frugal things….

Five frugal things I have mentioned in previous blog posts that we have been carrying out a bit of budget DIY. Not surprisingly my five frugal things this week are all related to this!

I am not a fan of DIY. It’s not the process, but the time it takes. The mess and disarray start to make me twitch after a while.  But we are getting there.


Because we live in a cold house we take every opportunity to heat it up. We have lined the exterior walls with polystyrene, then papered over the top. This is an old fashioned yet simple idea to create an extra layer of insulation. It really works!

We did the same trick with our freezing cold back room last year and the results have been amazing.

I won’t lie to you, it is a faff. It means papering the same walls twice. The polystyrene is quite delicate and easy to damage too, but ok once the wallpaper is on top.

Reflecting the heat

Another very effective way to keep your house warm is to slide some reflective foil behind the radiators. We have done this in the sitting room too.

This was tricky as we didn’t want to take the radiator off the wall but we managed it with the help of some canes from the garden. (And quite a lot of swearing on my part!) So that is the first of my five frugal things.

New to us curtains

five frugal thingsMy mum is insisting on buying us some new curtains. I would rather buy great quality second hand ones than inferior new.

There are some great pre-owned curtains on eBay, and I have purchased a beautiful pair. They are long Marks and Spencer curtains and look like excellent quality.

Adding a bit of colour

We turned to eBay again to add a little colour to our neutral colour scheme. I would love some original Art Deco tiles to put around the fireplace but they are such a price!

five frugal thingsI had a search on eBay and there was a guy selling some decent reproductions. They were much cheaper than we have seen elsewhere.

I will leave the tiling to Mr S though. He is the expert in that department.

Bargain paint

We popped in Homebase to get some cream paint. We like their own brand range. It is much cheaper than the branded stuff and the quality is very good.

However, this time we bought some Dulux. It was massively reduced so it was actually the cheapest. I think it must have been end of line. We bought two 5 litre pots for just £14 each, reduced from £26. It is called barley white, which is still cream, as I can see! Bargain!!

Frugal food

I guess this is number six in my five frugal things list, but who’s counting? I have saved us some money since we started our DIY by planning really easy dinners, like omelettes and jacket spuds.  On days we have been on the go all day I have also defrosted some of the veggie curry I batch cooked.

Usually, when we are doing DIY we cave in at the end of the day and grab fish and chips or a takeaway. Not this time!

We still have a little way to go as we only have one day a week to get on with it. However, we are winning.

So, these are this week’s five frugal things. I would love to hear about yours.

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s Five Frugal Things I’ve done this week linky. Pop on over to add your link if you are a blogger, or just to check out how other people save money.


Five Frugal Things I have done this week, 2nd February

Well, that’s January over. The days are already getting ever so slightly longer. Roll on Spring! So, what five frugal things have I done to see out the month?

Reached the end of my no spend January

At last!! We reached the end of our no spend January. It felt like a very long month. This one of my five frugal things lasted the whole of January, not just this past week. We spent very little money on anything except essentials.

A no spend month is hard work, especially during such dark, cold period. You have to endure a small amount of pain in order to feel the long term benefits. For us, it has meant we have put a lot more money than usual into our emergency fund. I know that many other people find January a good time to do a no spend month to help them recover from Christmas. This is a great idea. However, better still put away money towards Christmas every pay day starting now. This helps to avoid the January blues.

We intend to do another no spend month in October.

Going for the fake away

#5frugalthingsWhen you are on a no spend month you can’t just pop to the Chinese take away when you feel like it. We did fancy a Chinese, so I added some ingredients to my shopping list to make a Chinese fake away. This included Ready to Wok noodles, a ready made chow mein sauce (both from Aldi) and some beansprouts from Asda. I added chopped broccoli, celery, beans, mushrooms and carrots to the wok as well.

#5frugalthingsIf you haven’t tried the Ready to Wok noodles, give them a go. They are delicious and so much nicer that the ones you have to rehydrate. We really enjoyed our vegetable chow mein .

Mr S also likes a curry from time to time. I made this slow cooker sweet potato curry from the BBC Good Food website. I used spinach instead of cabbage as I didn’t fancy that. It was nice, but I think there were too many sweet potatoes in it. If I make it again I will substitute half of them with carrots, potatoes, etc.

#5frugalthingsI am looking out for some more vegetarian slow cooker recipes if anyone has any good suggestions.

A bargain haircut

I mentioned in a recent post that I had had a no spend month fail and booked myself in for a haircut. However, this is one of my five frugal things because it wasn’t an expensive cut and blow dry at a fancy hairdresser’s shop. Instead, I took myself along to the local college and got one of the hairdressing students to do it for me. It took ages – 2 hours! – but cost just £10. I think this is a bargain and I am perfectly happy with the cut.

She insisted on spraying it with lots of greasy spray though. Why do hairdressers always do that? I couldn’t wait to wash it off.

It is a nice place, with all the latest equipment, clean and well run. You can’t pop in for a quick hair cut as the students get their tutors to check every stage.

Cheap cinema tickets

As we have barely had a social life over the past month, we plan to go to the cinema in the next week or so. We have a rewards system through my place of work which offers huge reductions on cinema tickets. The deal was an adult ticket for £6.50 instead of £12. When I went to pay I realised I had over £7 cash back unclaimed on the site so I ended up buying two tickets for just £5.50. Result!!

Now we just have to agree on a film…

Budget DIY

#5frugalthingsWe have been slowly continuing with the revamp of our sitting room. We have been focussing on all the boring prep, but are now at the point where we can get on with the wallpapering. That is this weekend’s task.

Costs have been kept low by using what we already had in the shed. We were also fortunate to be sent some products to review, which have turned out to be really handy for a budget DIY project.

Amtech kindly sent over some paintbrushes, rollers and a tray and we have already put those to good use repainting the ceiling. The paint brushes are great. They don’t lose their bristles like others we have tried and clean up really well.

They also gifted us a cordless screwdriver set. Mr S has been particularly impressed with this. He put up a wooden baton to hang our new curtain rail on and said it was much easier to use this than get his drill out. It made less noise and mess as well.

Budget tools sent us a handy Von Haus tool bag containing all the basic tools anyone would need to get started on a DIY project. We thought it would be a perfect present for somebody moving into their first home. It is a 92 piece tool kit  and includes 3 pairs of pliers, a hammer, a spirit level, a tape measure, various screwdrivers and lots of other useful bits and pieces. This seems like good value at £29.99. Mr S has been diving into this!

We want to get on and get this room finished but items such as a new rug, curtains and cushions will be bought bit by bit. Nothing will be purchased on credit so need to save up for it as we go.

So, these are the five frugal things we achieved this week. Have you managed five or even more? I would love to hear what you have been up to.

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s Five Frugal Things I’ve done this week linky. Pop on over to add your link if you are a blogger, or just to check out how other people save money.

Disclaimer: the DIY products mentioned were all gifted to us for review, but all views and opinions are our own.


Five Frugal Things I’ve done this Week 6th October 2017

I love these occasional five frugal things posts. When you think the week has flashed by in a blur of busy-ness, it is good to stop and reflect. So here are my five frugal things to kick off October.

frugal thingsFrugal thing 1: Using up the stores

I am eating out of the cupboards this week. For one reason or another it is just me almost every night. It can be hard to find the motivation to cook properly when I am by myself but tonight I made myself a delicious store cupboard stew.

I used chick peas and tinned tomatoes from the larder, along with a few frozen vegetables and some fresh ones that needed using up. Also chucked in were celery, carrots, mushrooms, a green pepper, some left over cooked spinach, a single new potato I found lurking and the end of a packet of mixed frozen vegetables. The addition of half a pint of stock and some smoked paprika – my favourite spice – gave it a lovely flavour. It was absolutely delicious! I had it with some brown rice for a really cheap and healthy dinner. Which leads me onto:

Frugal thing 2: Batch cooking and freezing

I love the odd home made freezer meal and frequently batch cook. It saves time and money. Tonight I deliberately made a big pot of my stew so that I could eat it tomorrow and freeze a couple of portions.

Frugal thing 3: Rented out the spare room

I welcomed my new lodger on Sunday. She seems really lovely and is settling in well. It has been nice to have a bit of company this week. The extra money is hugely helpful to my budget. I found her through Spare Room, which is a good site in my opinion.

I gave the room a refresh the other week – bit of frugal DIY. It was well worth it as it looks lovely and clean now.

Frugal thing 4: Making the most of windfall fruit

Mr S arrived home with a huge box of cooking apples a couple of weeks ago, far too many for us to use in fact. I have given a load to friends and neighbours and got back some pears in return. These are currently ripening in the fruit bowl. I didn’t have to buy any fruit this week at all.

I also peeled, chopped and froze some of the apples to mix with the home grown and foraged currants and berries already in the freezer.

frugal thingsFrugal thing 5: Completed a no spend week

I have purchased nothing this week except cat food, milk and a pack of reduced price mushrooms. I didn’t intend to do this – it just happened! We didn’t need any groceries except milk as we have been eating from the stores, but when I saw the yellow sticker on my half price mushrooms I knew I could use them in tonight’s stew. I don’t spend unless I need to. At the moment I am conscious that Christmas is on the way, and I want to save the pennies for presents.


I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Pop over to their blogs to see their five frugal things. What have your money saving achievements been this week?



Five Frugal Things I have done this week 12th August

Five frugal things

It has been a bizarre kind of week weather wise here in Essex. We have had warmth, cold, sunshine but mostly a lot of rain. I have been hoping for an improvement as we are off to a little festival tomorrow.  It’s not looking too bad at the moment but I will be taking my rain mac just in case.

So what five frugal things have we achieved this week?

We have a working wood burner

We finally had our wood burner fitted! It is ready for winter. This isn’t frugal in itself, of course, as it was expensive. Mr S saved us money by doing as much work as possible himself but we had to pay to get the chimney lined. Others who have one tell me that it has saved money on their heating bills in the long run and is great for drying laundry.

I am certainly looking forward to cozying up in front of it this winter.

I got some cash back

I signed up a while ago to Top Cashback and, even though I have barely bought anything over the last few months, I have earned £50 cash back! Imagine how much you could get back if you are a big online spender?

The idea is that you go into the site and peruse the deals they have negotiated with various retailers. If you buy something, you get the published amount of money back. I have got into the habit of checking Top Cashback to see if there is a deal on before I buy anything. I renewed my breakdown cover and bought a few presents and it has definitely come up trumps.

If you use my referral code, here, I earn a commission and you get a £5 bonus once you purchase something.


As I mentioned, we are off to a small festival tomorrow – Wrabfest! We have never been before but it looks fun. It is a community event, organised by villagers from Wrabness. Because we are on a grocery challenge, we shall be taking along a large picnic. I have rolls, crisps, fruit, chocolate, sausage rolls and water. Hopefully we will be allowed to take a flask in too. As we are there all day, we will probably blow the budget and buy a burger or something for dinner though. You have to loosen the purse strings once in a while, and I don’t fancy lugging around too much food. Hopefully, this will be a nice day.


I have never bothered much with online survey sites to make extra cash. They seem generally to be a lot of effort for very little reward. However, Prolific Academic was recommended to me as one that actually pays worthwhile amounts. I signed up and did a couple in my lunch hour today. I made £3.17 in about 20 minutes. Ok, it’s not going to make me rich, but if I did that every lunchtime it would be a useful amount extra at the end of the month!

You need to answer quite a lot of pre-screening questions and they keep appearing, each time you log on. The more you complete, the more surveys you are likely to be eligible for. It also pays to add your phone number to verify your account, I am told.

Lunch for pennies

As we still have a few courgettes coming through on the veg patch, I made a bucket of ratatouille on Monday. We had it for dinner with rice and I have eaten the rest for my lunches every day. It made a change from soup or a sandwich. I don’t really use a recipe. I just chop up onions, garlic, peppers and courgettes, fry them up, then add tinned tomatoes, herbs and seasonings. If I have an aubergine I might chuck that in, but I did without this time. It is certainly cheaper than going to the shop every day for a meal deal!

I’m linking up with Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Hop over to their sites to see the frugal things they have achieved? Let me know about yours in the comments too.

Five frugal things: 16th July 2017

five frugal thingsAs I was on holiday last week you may be surprised to learn that I have easily achieved five frugal things.  Our week in our lovely Welsh retreat was a bargain vacation after all!!

Frugal achievement no. 1: Eating in

It would be easy to eat out a lot on holiday. We rarely do, usually allowing ourselves just the one restaurant meal. We had a delicious one when we went to Anglesey and I was more than happy to pay for the lovely food and excellent service. The rest of the time we treated ourselves to yummy meals in, buying Welsh lamb a couple of times as it really is excellent quality. Not cheap, but much more so than eating out. We had new potatoes and home grown vegetables we had taken with us alongside whatever we bought.

Frugal achievement no 2: Picnics all the way

five frugal thingsEvery day we made ourselves a flask and some sandwiches to take out with us. A couple of times we found some yellow stickered reductions and took those out with us the day after. I know people get nervous about going over best before dates, but it was only a day and we kept everything cold in the fridge and the cool bag. I think if you use your common sense and the food looks and smells fresh, it is usually perfectly edible and delicious. One day we got our picnic for less than £1!

Frugal achievement no 3: Kitting myself out for work

I find it hard to pass a charity shop and we went into lots of them in Aberystwyth. Poor Mr S was running out of patience with my by the end of the holiday! However, as well as finding some bargains to resell on eBay, I found two skirts and a top for work. The grand total? £6. You can’t do much better than that for a bargain.

Frugal achievement no 4: Finding free trips out

We did pay for some days out whilst we were away, most notably the wonderful Plas Cadnant Gardens in Anglesey. However, we also found lots of free attractions. The Museum of Modern Art in Machynlleth was very interesting, when the sun shone we went to the beach and the RSPB South Stack nature reserve also cost us nothing. A walk along the beach or in the woods is always a joy and you get both for free.

Frugal achievement no 5: Using the library

One very wet day in Wales we went and sat in the library where we took advantage of the free wi-fi, magazines and newspapers on offer. I am all for using libraries wherever and whenever possible as the more people that do, the less likely the local authority is to close them. It was really interesting to see the range and number of people coming in to borrow books and use the computers.

Now we are home I need to think about some post holiday money saving so may need to find more than five frugal things each week! We may have had a frugal week compared to other people on their holidays, but Wales is a long way from us and the petrol cost a lot, we bought a few gifts for the girls and spent more on food than we normally would. So, this week, we will mostly be eating…..courgettes!

How about you? Have you managed five frugal things?

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Hop over to their sites to see their five frugal things and the other bloggers taking part this week.




Five Frugal Things I have achieved this week, 30th June 2017

Thanks for all the comments on my last post about frugal holidays. I loved the idea of a monastic retreat, as suggested by Kirrie, and Julia’s information about university accommodation. I can see myself trying both of these.

Five frugal things

I guess it’s time for the weekly frugal round up – five frugal things. So what have my frugal achievements been?

No. 1: Getting creative with courgettes

Courgette season is well and truly upon us here at Shoestring Cottage. The veggie patch is looking very productive and healthy, even though we did scale it back this year.  So far we have eaten them fried in butter with garlic, as a ratatouille with tomatoes and peppers and spiced with some cumin. Tonight we had courgette surprise, the surprise being we had broad beans instead .

No. 2: Preserving our fruit

Another crop that is doing well is the currants: red and black. I am picking and freezing them for now and have 2lb so far. When I get to 6lb I will make a batch of currant jelly. I love this!

No 3: Eating from the larder

We ate from the larder all last week as part of my no spend week. As we still had stocks of food,  this continued over the weekend until Monday, when I finally went shopping. However, I still want to clear some foods that have been hanging around a bit. Darling daughter works at the Co-op, and frequently brings little yellow stickered treats home. She sticks them in the freezer and seems to forget about them! I have been working my way through lots of sandwich thins for lunch and little brioche buns for breakfast.

No. 4: Home made stock and soup

I made chicken stock using 3 carcasses from the freezer, then turned this into a hearty chicken and veg soup. This was prompted by my lodger, who roasted a chicken and was about to throw so much of it away because she couldn’t be bothered to pull all the little scraps of meat off. I could! It also gave me a reason to use up all the veg in the bottom of the fridge.

5.  Frugal exercise

I have been getting up half an hour earlier to make sure I have time for my morning yoga before work. This makes such a huge difference to how I feel and allows time for all the other things I have to do after work, like the garden! It costs me nothing to unroll my mat and do a few salute to the suns! Who needs an expensive gym membership?

Have you managed five frugal things this week? Maybe you have achieved even more! Please share.

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.

Five Frugal Things I have Done this Week 16th June

Five frugal thingsI haven’t spent too much this week, in preparation for next week. This will be strictly NO SPEND. I intend to buy nothing except essentials. I won’t even be doing a food shop, apart from cat food, loo roll and some vegetables. It has been an expensive month overall, so I need to do at least five frugal things every week!

Frugal thing no. 1

I popped into Sainsbury’s after 9 pm one evening to check out the yellow stickers. They didn’t have much that I wanted but I did buy some reduced mince and some bread. There is no point in purchasing yellow sticker items if you then waste them! Both have been frozen. I find that my freezer is essential when it comes to money saving, not just for freezing bargains, but also leftovers, batch cooked meals, poultry carcasses for making stock, left over bread for puddings and breadcrumbs, the fruit and vegetables that we grow in the garden and home-made soup.

Frugal thing no. 2

I have listed a ton of stuff on eBay and Facebook and sold 5 items this week. A nice gent came out to take the old cross trainer that has been sitting unused in the shed for 2 years. I let him have it for free so it didn’t generate any income, but it did save me the petrol and hassle of getting it to the tip! He was very happy with it. Generally, I am finding Facebook is more useful that the local Freecycle group at getting rid of stuff lately and easier to use. Selling on eBay is becoming a regular in my five frugal things round up!

Frugal thing no. 3

We have been carefully tending our veg patch and greenhouse. It has needed watering most days as it has been so hot and dry. The watering and weeding is paying off now. We have black and redcurrants just ripening and should have courgettes and broad beans ready for next week. That will bring the shopping bill down. I love eating our own produce!

Frugal thing no. 4

When I was a polling clerk the other week I carefully kept the cardboard backing and excess paper from each book of ballot papers. This caused some amusement and bemusement amongst my colleagues, but I explained that they would come in handy for writing notes and shopping lists. They really have. This week I used a couple of them to write my meal plan, the shopping list and a to-do list for darling daughter, who has been at home a lot. I hate throwing things away when they could be useful!

Frugal thing no. 5

We needed to find a good deal on the house insurance. I did some research on the internet to find a company that would be happy to insure us for buildings and contents even though we have a lodger. A surprising number won’t consider it although I got some very high quotes from a couple of companies who were happy to. However, the best deal was with Quote Me Happy. It was quick and easy as it was all done online instantly. They allow up to 6 lodgers. I am happy with just the one! it is always worth shopping around.

I am getting a bit of frugal inspiration for my no spend week by re-reading How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day by Kath Kelly (my affiliate link). I intend to add this to my Frugal Bookshelf next week. Such a great book! I borrowed it in paperback form when I originally read it years ago, but now Amazon have it on Kindle for only £2.08. Bargain!

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Check out their five frugal things!

Five Fabulously Frugal things I have done this week, 2nd June 2017

five fabulously frugal thingsAnother week gone, and a muggy one at that. It has been expensive in some ways,  I have a lot of family birthdays in May and June. So I need to at least achieve five fabulously frugal things!

Frugal thing no. 1

five fabulously frugal thingsLast night I did a small shop in Lidl. We didn’t need that much as there is a lot in the cupboards, but I did intend to splurge on some steaks and salmon as we have a family meal tonight for my daughter’s birthday.

I was pleased as I found some marinated salmon with Lidl’s orange 30% off stickers, so bought a couple of packs along with a reduced chicken, some mince and a couple of the chicken kievs. These will be an easy tea for my daughter, who works shifts. Unfortunately no reduction on the steaks, but I only needed two of those

I was surprised at the total as I| was in a discount supermarket and had done quite a small shop for the week. I checked my receipt and – get this – the cashier had charged me £26.70 for a box of six eggs! Because she was too busy chatting to her colleague rather than concentrating on the job in hand she somehow hit x30 after the price. Sigh! It’s a good job I am on the ball.

five fabulously frugal things

They cannot be serious!

Frugal thing no. 2

I remembered the amazing deodorising properties of bicarbonate of soda to combat my kitchen bins. They had become a bit ripe in the heat, especially the food waste one. It has so many uses that every home should have a big bag for frugal cleaning, personal care and getting rid of smells. I blogged about this yesterday.

Frugal thing no. 3

On Sunday I went to the boot sale. I got some great finds to resell. I am doing quite well at the moment and it is a really useful income stream for me. This prompted a blog post on How to Present clothes on eBay. So many people go to the trouble of listing items but the photos are so poor potential customers can’t really see what is on offer!

On a similar note, I met up with fellow blogger Faith Archer on Saturday in Hadleigh in Suffolk. Faith runs the More With Less blog. We had a tour of the lovely charity shops in Hadleigh and I bought a top for work and a couple more items that I will list on eBay.

Frugal thing no. 4

I mentioned my darling daughter has a birthday today. She asked for a jacket from Nasty Gal (no, I hadn’t heard of them either!) so I checked on Top Cash Back to see if they were on there and they were – with a generous 8.4% cash back on purchases. I only recently signed up with this site and have made just three purchases. I already have £34.50 on my account! This is a good habit to get into when making online purchases I think. If you join using the link above I will receive a small referral fee.

Frugal thing no. 5

Ages ago I mentioned that I had bought a copy of Gardener’s World Magazine because it had a 2 for 1 card on hundreds of open gardens around the UK. We have used it once but used it again for a return visit to the beautiful Helmingham Hall in Suffolk. As well as getting money off the entrance price, we packed a good, frugal picnic and a flask.  I have so far saved £16 by using this card; well worth the cost of the magazine!

I’m linking up with this Cass, Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky. Check out their frugal achievements this week! What frugal things have you done?


Five Frugal Things I have Done this Week: 19th May 2017

five frugal thingsAs mentioned, we are on holiday in Mallorca this week and having a lovely time on this beautiful, sunny little gem of an island. Going on holiday isn’t a fabulously frugal thing to do in itself, of course. We could have stayed at home and had a staycation, but this blog isn’t about never spending any money, it’s about having the best life you can with what you’ve got. We love a holiday and it’s Mr S’s big 5-0, so we put money aside to allow us to come away. But can we achieve five frugal things whilst we are away?

five frugal things

Just because we are spending money it doesn’t mean we are wasting it. The first fabulously frugal thing we have done is to make the most of the all-inclusive facilities here. So far we have had all of our meals at the hotel, taken advantage of the free bottles of water to carry out with us and made full use of the free bar (hic!).

On the bus

Today we are off to visit the Caves of Drach in Puerto Cristo. To save money we have found out about public buses to get to there rather than paying for an excursion. This will cost us 14 Euros each for the bus and entrance instead of 30 Euros each.

I have saved money using Boots three for two offers on sunscreen and fake tan, as explained here.

We were fabulously frugal on the plane here, Packing up sandwiches, fruit and snacks rather than purchasing expensive airport food. We found cheap bottles of water in the duty free section to keep us hydrated, which meant we only bought one cup of tea each during the flight.

Carrying a bottle

We will take some fruit and water from the restaurant on our trip today plus Aldi’s version of Nakd bars – raw fruit bars – to give us energy whilst we are out and about.

We have bought spending money with us, of course, but so far we have barely touched it and will be taking a lot of it home with us I think!

I’m linking up with Cass,  Emma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.  Check out their frugal achievements this week!