Sunday, 29 April 2012

Getting organised

This weekend was really good on the frugality front; I spend under a tenner on some drinks in a bar having a catch up with a friend on Friday night. Saturday I worked and had a huge free early dinner, myself and the BF was really tired, and combined with the terrible weather we declined the offer to go to the pub with our two housemates. We cosied up on the sofa together and watched Britain's Got Talent as well as catching up on some of our favourite TV shows we'd missed in the week. I kept dropping off to sleep, I have no idea why I was so tired.

Today has gone by quite quickly, I got up when the BF left for work and sorted our entire room out, sorted the washing for the week, hoovered the flat and washed the kitchen floor. After all that I obviously needed another nap lol, as I fell asleep again. This afternoon I decided it was time to get my finances in order, the savings tracker just wasn't cutting it as I've got too many different accounts, as well as the money owed to keep track of. I managed to download an excel sheet from the internet and noted everything down. At the top of the columns were titles including; ISA 1, ISA 2, 5% saver, joint saver, money owed for BF's credit card, pension with a total at the end. I've tried to screen grab my uber-organised excel sheet but it doesn't seem to want to let me.

The good news is that my previous calculations in regards to the total was correct, I've reached £10,039.02 in tota, excluding my pension and joint savings. However, this month £250 will be going into our joint account due to the way payday fell and will fall at the end of May. I can stretch £50 pretty far, so to be without it makes things fairly tight, especially I had £30 worth of extra bills to find the money for too.

I've also got a couple of nights out to pay for this week, as well as a team lunch (the venue was picked by my manager and friend from uni who hasn't a clue on how to save money). He's picked a fairly expensive place, and when I said my RSCP was a maybe he said he would pay.

When friends offer to pay for things it always makes me uncomfortable, I would rather go quietly without, whether its an expensive lunch or some shots at the pub- I always try to politely decline and enjoy what I have budgeted for, but a lot of the time they don't like taking no as an answer. Does anyone else experience this whilst trying to save?

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Payday update

That time of the month came again, payday. This time it meant I have just about exceeded my 10k mini target which feels pretty good, even though there's still a way to go. I'll wait for the £250 to go out of my account at the beginning of the month (into my 5% fixed payment saving account) and for this month's credit card payment to come out (£70, only £45 if my own personal spending) before transferring the £350 into my general ISA.

Our refund also came through from British Gas, £245! I've shifted the money almost straight away into our joint account every day saver, which is almost at £500 so as not to spend it. I'm not sure what this will be used for, either to book a holiday late in the year, flights in the summer to the BF's beachy home town, or as part of our stamp duty payment. Either way, its nice to know its there as last year our joint account was running on empty due to more expensive accommodation costs and we had to buy all our new furniture.

I also took out the Experian 30 day free trial to check my credit score to see if it had been affected by my lack of student loan repayments, and its in the good category with a score of 898 our of 1000. It seems that because I have very recently applied for credit I have been marked down, and because I'm not really using much of the credit it seems to be going against me a little- crazy right? Anyways, I'm aiming to improve my score by only using my credit card where ever possible rather than the money in my own personal account, or in our joint account. We need to improve the BF's credit score, I'm guessing that due to his lack of organisational skills and late credit card payments etc it wont be as high as mine so I think he may even start using the dreaded credit card for small amounts, now that he has set up a direct debit for the full amount to be paid off every month.

Finally, this month financially looks OK (all being well with the job- we've gone very quiet which is never good!). I've got a five hour bar shift on Saturday, which I'll get paid for seven hours. This covers money to renew our rental contract (£80 for them to file the contract- ridiculous!) as well as the last what I owe my housemate for last years TV licence with a little to spare. I also have those vouchers to pay for my dad's birthday present.

My clothes need a bit of a lift (again?!) so this lunch time I hot footed it down Oxford street to H&M as I had a £5 off voucher that expires on Sunday. I picked up a replacement pair of skinny blue jeans (two pairs of mine will be going in the bin) and a white t-shirt top as all my white tops have been relegated to 'house clothes' ie. a hop, skip and a jump from becoming pyjamas. I thought the jeans were £20, but scanned through the till at £9.99 so in total I spent £13. I've allowed myself around £30ish for new clothes this month, and I kind of need some new ballet pumps as the sole in mine is starting to go.

I think that's all the news on the financial front; the wintry weather is making it easier to resist the temptation to spend, you can't step foot outside the door without being drenched!

Onwards and upwards.... until next time x

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The beauty of the humble voucher

These were taken Sunday morning waiting for the parentals to arrive x

So the music quiz came and went, I enjoyed a good night with good food, drink and company and as a bonus our team won so we took home a bottle of champagne to share, a vintage radio and £25.00's worth of 'Love to shop' vouchers each. Not bad for an evenings work, and Radio Works (the media hosting) are thinking of holding a quiz ever month too. I'm thinking of using £20 of vouchers to pay for a present for my Dad's birthday which is at the beginning of May, and save £5 to put towards something for my sister's birthday present which is in June.

Thursday I was off work so enjoyed a bit of a lazy day as it was raining for most of the day. In the evening I went to see a free screening of the teen thriller 'Elfie Hopkins' which was pretty scary, and some parts I was hiding behind my coat. The film was ok watching, but I wouldn't have bothered paying the £10.00 for a ticket to watch it.
Literally, sunshine through the window...

Then afterwards myself and my housemate did a food shop at Asda; I allowed myself one basket only and managed to squeeze a weekly shop in, which came to £30- it's definatley the way forward. I've had a quick meal pre-plan and I reckon it will be enough food to see us through until next Thursday evening.

Then Friday evening, I was meant to be going out for dinner with a friend but she ended up in A&E so after a fleeting visit to make sure she was ok while she was waiting I went to the pub for something to eat and a few drinks. I had set aside £20.00 for the eve, but only spent £16.00 including my food so had £4.00 left over.

Then saturday I went to have my hair cut, I had allowed myself £35.00 from  the money I picked up the week before working at the pub and it came in at £32.00, so I have a whole £7.00 to last until payday in two days time, then I'll have hit my £10k mini target.

Today my family came up as my sister had one of those photo shoot make over things in Richmond so I went with her while my Mum and Dad visited Ham House. The shoot was pretty cringy and I was glad it wasn't me the photographer was prodding about and telling me to look sexy. I was also dreading the viewing, which the M&D came in for as I have experienced the aggressive selling techniques these places employ before as they to try and get you to buy their photos.

Needless to say it came, the photographer was really trying to sell his images, saying how lovley the shots were etc, then the prices came and my Dad nearly fainted- £85.00 for one A4 image or £400+ for about five- what a rip off!

They declined the images you had to pay for, selected their one favourite which was free and we were hurried out the studio as the photographer slammed the keyboard on the 'don't save' icon after they wouldn't part with their cash, and I for one don't blame them! Above is a few pics I took of the shoot behind the scenes.

Has anyone else had one of these shoots and been completely taken aback by the ridiculous prices??!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Batch cooking

Our fridge is looking kind of barren, just some cheese, butter and eggs with some veggies in the draw. So last night it was time to put my 2kg bag of smart price carrots (78p) to good use. After quickly eating some left over fresh pasta from the night before I got peeling and chopping, using up half a red onion and stock cube from the cupboard.

The carrots and other bits made six portions of soup which was poured into washed out old food jars. Two were placed in the fridge for lunch today and Friday (I'm off tomorrow) and four in the freezer for quick, cheap standby lunches which should see me through to payday.

This week I don't think any food has gone to waste which is good, and even the BF seems to be on board with cutting down on the food shopping. Tomorrow eve would have been one week on a £47.00 shop (approximately- we may have bought a few bits at work out of our own money).

Tonight is a media music quiz night which should be good fun, its free and there'll be free food and drink so I plan to make the most of it!

Happy hump day!  

Monday, 16 April 2012

Weekend update

This weekend went pretty well on the financial front; we payed a visit to the local funfair with discounted premium tickets which were given to the BF at work. It was something cheap (a total of £4 was spent), fun and a bit different for us to do together- we had a giggle. Then we had a takeaway, eep, but this was from our joint account so doesn't affect my own saving. This came to about a tenner anyways for both of us so relatively inexpensive again.

Saturday, my parents came up and we went cycling around a local country park in the afternoon, then out for a meal with BF too in the evening. As we were chatting away about saving, my mum was a little bit critical and said that I can't put my life on hold because of the saving. But I said that its for relativley a short period of time, my life's not on hold its just a little bit restricted and normal spending will probably resume once our goals have been achieved.

However, what I think I'll take from the super saving game is that it is possible to cut back, I think I'll always be a little bit cautious when it comes to money, I've always been the same, and I will always set a small amount of money away for a rainy day. I said I've always preferred to use my money for one really good thing I want then use it to buy lots of rubbish, such as I saved my part time shop wages at school for a trip to New York, and I squirreled £2,000 away for university- I can't help it I'm a bit of a worrier and a planner, which I think explains quite a lot of my attitude towards my finances, opposed to my sister who is quite spontaneous. Its strange to think that the two of us were bought up the same yet have such different behaviours.

However, what I have picked up from other bloggers is that I just don't need all this stuff; I don't need ten bottles of perfume, ten eyeshadows in my make up bag, or ten pairs of jeans. This is why I'm trying to run all my stuff down, perfumes won't be replaced until I have none left, jeans are being worn until the seams split and then cut into shorts, bed covers are being used even though they don't always match (but are otherwise perfectly fine) and make up is being used up, foundations and body lotions having the tops cut off to get every last bit out, and then only replaced if nesseccery.

I also think its because I wan't to buy new homey stuff once we (hopefully) have our own space, and I also don't want to have to move stuff which I've accumulated that I don't really need or even have space for. To me its just makes sense, but my mum doesn't seem to quite understand.

On Saturday I payed for the dinners (three for £23.00 approx using staff 20% discount- BF decided he didn't want to eat), so my bit was done for the evening. This was within my weekend budget of £25.00.

Sunday we had a lazy lie in, I got up hoovered and cleaned the floors of the house, some dusty grubby shelves in the bathroom that were gathering dust, done some washing and generally sorted our room out.

Then I had a phone call from the BF asking if I could help out at the pub as they were short staffed as someones nan had died. My evening was going to be a fairly quiet one anyways, so I figured I may as well make some extra money. I cycled the mile to the pub and did a 6-11.30 shift, which was extremely quiet and was paid until 1am for helping out. The BF also paid for my dinner too as a little thank you.

The extra cash will pay for my hair to be cut hopefully on Saturday. Just one last weekend until payday with a £25.00 budget which should pay for a cheap dinner and some drinks on Friday night, and I'm planning on keeping the rest relatively low key as I'm out Wednesday and Thursday too.

Last night I didn't have time to pre-pack my lunch as I was at work in the evening, however this morning I threw some instant couscous and vegetables from the fridge to make a healthy, filling salad come lunchtime. I just ate it and it was pretty yummy, much better than a soggy pre-packed sandwich from the supermarket. What's more, it made two portions and my lunch for tomorrow is sitting pretty in the fridge at work- and I still have loads of veg left over too.

Friday, 13 April 2012

I've been a bad blogger...

I got home last night and my adsense account had been disabled due to invalid clicks... I guess that's what happens then lol. Never mind, was worth a go...back to the saving grindstone.

Happy frugal Friday 13th (eek!) x

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Food glorious foooddd.....

Over the last few days we have been using up whatever food has been lurking in the fridge, freezer and my desk draws before going shopping tonight.

Last night I didn't bother making a packed lunch as I still had half a portion of the pasta I made the other week still at work, some olives, some water biscuits, hot cross buns and some apples at work.  Slowly over the day I intend to eat most of this list, despite the randomness of different tastes.

This week I have had to throw out a little less food wastage, I think only a carton of left over chocolate milk bought on impulse from the Co-Op downstairs. And I think from now on I'll start using my credit card to pay for the food shop and transfer the money from the joint account to pay for it as this benefits us in three ways; it shows that I am able of borrowing more money and repaying it, it will show how much we spend on food over the course of a month and I don't have to use my credit card for things that aren't really essential.

As the 10k target gets closer I'm itching for payday to come which is in two weeks so I can say I have achieved it (even though we still have a way to go on the saving front, the majority is probably done :)).

I'm finding that I'm getting a bit bored in the evenings at the moment, where I'm cutting back on my spending whereas before I never got bored and always felt like I had lots to do, so I think that's why I'm getting more impatient. But I keep reminding myself, in a few weeks we are already four months through the year and there's only eight more to go.

Does anyone else have a relatively short saving target they are itching to reach? and the more impatient I'm getting the more I want to cut back to reach it quicker, but there's only so much you can cut back on. Patience is a virtue after all, and the good things in life are worth waiting for.

Luckily over the next few weeks I can make use of free tickets I've accumulated; two free VIP tickets for the funfair (we plan to go Friday night should the weather hold up), two free cinema tickets courtesy of a work colleague who got them from Sky and a free pub quiz, with free food and drink which is being held by a media company next Wednesday which I plan to take full advantage of- I've even booked the next day off of work!

Here's to the next two weeks xx

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

DIY photoshoot

Some family said they wanted some up to date photos of us, so we made a DIY soft light box using an Ikea lamp in our bedroom, some tissue and a hairband. I was pretty pleased with these. We printed the middle one onto canvas using a kit I was given for Christmas. 

On the spending front the rainy weather ruined our plans of making use of the free fun fair tickets we had so we headed to the shops. The BF bought me some new clothes as his money burns a bit of a hole in his pocket, so I thought it was best he spend a bit on me so I can carry on with the hardcore saving. I managed to get through the weekend on what I had budgeted, and was even given a fiver by my Nan for Easter. So for the next few weeks I'll be plodding on with the daily savings, so if anyone fancies helping me out please have a wee click on some of my ads.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The happiness revolution

Inspired by Astra @ here's April's happiness list;

1. Sunshine
2. Lighter evenings
3. Nature coming to life & more outdoor photography opportunities
4. Cheese on toast, morning coffees and barbecues- yum!
5. Cosy dinners and film nights in with BF; its fajitas tonight!
6. Slowly realising that owning our own home may eventually come true
7. Easter bank holiday- four whole days off!
8. Easter eggs arriving in the post at work
9. Blogging and one day making some extra money from my efforts
10. Being grateful for what we have

Why not write your own happiness list? xx

Ps. can any visitors have a click on my ads, I'm nearly at £43 but need it to get to £60 before Google releases my payment.

Big thanks to any clickers and commenters too :) x

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Some morning inspiration

Sometimes it's easy to give in and give up on personal goals. It doesn't matter if you lapse as long as you don't give up your dream. Thought I would share....

Also, this morning the grand sum of £0.43 landed in my bank account from Google adsense. So please if you happen to be clicking through my blog please have a little click on the ads- Thanks!! I'm also happy to reciprocate- just leave a link to your blog in the comments. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

Books I'm lovin'

Since I stepped up my saving game around October, when I started my new job in London I've read  more books than I have in the last few years since I was at university. 

From the age of five I constantly had my head buried in a book, which I think helped me throughout school to do well in the humanity based subjects. I think reading is a fundamental part of a child's development as it helps to improve spelling, writing, vocabulary, attention span...the list is endless. 

After managing to achieve to A's at GCSE in English and English literature it was a natural (if somewhat delayed) decision to study English literature at university. However, uni life took over and my shelves of books were skim read in preparation for the arduous task of writing countless essays. 

I think choosing this degree killed my love of books somewhat, and I found that after uni between working a full time, and part time job picking up a book was a rarity that was confined to holidays only.  I also drove to work for two years, so I didn't have much of an opportunity to squeeze my reading  sessions into my daily life compared to now that I commute to work. I find its a great to lose myself in a story, and what's more books give you hours of entertainment for very little cost. 

Over the last six months the library has been indispensable; primarily due to the fact we have moved and its now just across the road. I thought I would share my favourite books that I've read over the past few months with you; here goes!

1. One day by David Nicholls. 

This was bought for me as a birthday present, and once I had opened its brightly coloured cover I was gripped. It was a real page turner, and I would highly recommend the book to anyone. I read the book and was intrigued to watch the film. Though the story stays true to the text the acting is wooden and somewhat disappointing so read the book first. 

2. The help by Kathryn Stockett  
This was recommended to me by someone who had also read 'One day' who said if I liked this book I would love 'The help'. I found this book a little difficult to get into at first, but once I had broken through the into part I was hooked. Again, I watched the film once I had finished the book and though it was acted better than 'One day' I still enjoyed the book more. 

3. The time travelers wife by Audrey Niffenegger 

This was also given to me as a gift, and I absolutely loved the look and feel of this vintage edition (pictured above). The novel lingered on my bookshelf for around six months when I finally decided to get stuck in. Again it was a little difficult to get into as the text flips back and forth in time but lots of people have commented on the novel when they have seen it on my desk as to what a lovely story it is. I'm part way through, and watched a little of the film last night. I plan to watch the rest over the course of this week. 

4. Water for elephants by Sara Greun 

This was recommended to me by the person who recommended 'The help' and after enjoying that book so much I ordered this from Amazon for about £1.50. At first I thought the story was a little odd, a reflective story told by an elderly man about a travelling circus, but after a couple of chapters I couldn't help but love it. The writing is very descriptive, so I think it's definitely worth a read. Since finishing this tale I really want to pay a visit to the circus again. I also havn't seen the film yet, but want to when it makes it onto LoveFilm or Netflicks. 

5. 'E' by Matt Beaumont 

A must read for anyone working at an advertising agency; this was recommended by a number of people at work who described it as hilarious and true to life. It was a fast paced read, and the story is told through a series of email trails. I found it captured some of the typical characters working at the ad agency, and even found myself relating some characters to those around me. There is also a couple of sequels to this, but colleagues have warned that like many sequels they ain't quite as good as the original. 

What are you reading at the moment? 

Another hot question often asked by fellow book lovers, are you for or against The Kindle? x