Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spring. Show all posts

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Living on a financial edge

Inspired by this post by Frugal Queen, who has become one of my favourite go to inspirational blogs over the last few months, I whipped up a rather unconventional culinary treat last night.

Out came the big box of fishcakes which were £2 for about 12 I think, I popped five into the oven so as to have some for my lunch at work (today). Realising I had no potato-type foods I scavenged in the back of the cupboard for half a packet of couscous I'd pegged down, and rummaged in the freezer for some peas. I was feeling quite hungry so also used up a naan bread that I had frozen before it had gone off. The combination was fairly strange to see and a few people commented on my random assemblement of food but it filled a hole (twice) for almost nothing. I kind of wish I had taken a photo- but I'm sure you can imagine it.

I cooked my dinner and placed the remaining food into a washed out plastic Tupperware container (recycled from a housemates recent take away) to take to work. I think one of the key aspects to saving as much as possible is being organised- from doing a weekly food shop for foods which will a- last the week and b- make enough filling, healthy meals, to making sure the washing is kept on top of so as not to buy any impulse clothing buys, to keeping a constant eye on bank accounts etc, and finally always looking for the best deals from car insurance to washing powder.

Just one week away from payday I feel quite like Astra from who looks forward to her monthly bank statements as its the reward for a months worth of hard work saving. I feel the same and can't wait to have a new budget, plus to see my figures increasing on the spreadsheet knowing we are getting closer to our goal.

I have roughly £4 at the moment once all my bills etc are paid, and I'm off out for a few drinks tomorrow night. However, I figure the money I'll get from Saturday's bar shift should be enough to cover this cost. Otherwise I'm just ploughing on with the no-spend days.

And I've also updated the ticker so that the figures are all proper.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Just a quick update; I checked all my usual accounts etc this morning, including my new credit score and its gone up 37 points since I last logged in and is now sitting at 935 I think inching its way to excellent. I'm really pleased, its because I've had my credit card three months now (I think- I can't find the post where I wrote about it). However, I'm not really too worried about my score, its my BF's. But he has been using his credit card responsibly, and has a direct debit to pay it off in full now so hopefully this will be enough to improve it. He's kind of in denial about his score, and won't check his report- grr!

Also, I've been paid from my first lot of Quidco cash back £13 (was meant to be £18 but they take £5 for membership type fee) so I have approximately £4 to my name which isn't tied up. However, I have picked up another bar shift Saturday at Twickenham which should be an extra £30 or so, so I can squeeze by to payday in 10 days time.

Besides that, things are ticking along as usual; there's been less food waste- just a couple of bits of the end of a loaf of bread which had gone mouldy. I also choppped up some vegetables and put them in the freezer to stop them ending up in the bin.And my BF has sort of got approval for his pay rise; his work are weird they work backwards it seems. He still has to fill out half a workbook, quickly apply and then have a kind of mock interview but I'm hoping he'll have it sorted by the end of the month. I need to stop nagging though, because he's still a bit of a child and he digs his heels in even though he knows it needs doing. Are all men like this?? 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May's happy list

Here's May's happy list; this one took a little more thought than the one I posted in April. Here goes....

1. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the kitchen from the bread maker. I baked a loaf last night, snoozed on the sofa and walked into the yummy smell. I wanted to break a chunk off, but couldn't persuade it out of its tin :(

2. I've achieved another good month of saving, and our joint saver is inching towards the £500 mark thanks to the use of a basket in the supermarket.

3. BF is making progress in getting his promotion which will mean that a] we can borrow a decent amount of money and b] he can start helping me with the savings a bit more to scrape together a bigger deposit.

4. Getting organised; I blogged earlier in the month about creating a spreadsheet where I can see and track all finances at a glance. Our piles and draws of paperwork are now also neatly filed in labelled plastic wallets and all junk is in the bin.

5. Our re-arranged bedroom- I think I prefer it to the way it was.

6. Lighter mornings and evenings; last night I had to pick my bike up from the pub and enjoyed the sunny evening cycle which has become such a rarity thanks to the recent rain.

7. Spending time with family.

8. Pigging out! This weekend I enjoyed a couple of meals out, which is a rarity these days and I enjoyed every morsel :)

9. Microwave popcorn, sitting back, snuggling up and watching a good film while the rain patters on the window.

10. Meeting up with old work friends I haven't seen for a year and a half before one sadly returns to South Africa after a recent break up with her English boyfriend. We also have a friends birthday drinks this weekend, and a 21st house party the weekend after to look forward to.

Hmm... not as hard as I thought after all. It's definatley a good habit to get into! Thanks Astra. 

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?

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.

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

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring has arrived in London!

I love it when the sun shines and all the cherry blossoms bloom! I took these pics before meeting a friend in Putney yesterday. We had a few drinks whilst enjoying the sun walking next to the river which was lovely. I love these colours and think it would possibly make quite a nice bedroom colour scheme one day....

I love it when the sun shines and all the cherry blossoms bloom! I took these pics before meeting a friend in Putney yesterday. We had a few drinks whilst enjoying the sun walking next to the river which was lovely. I love these colours and think it would possibly make quite a nice bedroom colour scheme one day....

Anyways, payday came around on Friday and with that the ticker gets updated. So if my calculations are correct this is how much I've saved so far (including the BF's credit card repayments which will end next January)

Things on the money front are coming along fairly well I think, besides having to throw some food out earlier on in the week; a new tub of Heinz 'fridge' beans that I forgot were ours which were growing mould, some out of date eggs which were put on someone elses shelf and forgotten about after doing a big shop, a carton of gone off pomegranete juice, blood orange juice and chocolate milkshake.

Things I'll take from this is to keep control of the shopping by not buying such big shops as we don't get round to eating it, not buying items to try which may end up being wasted and keeping all our items on the bottom shelves so I can actually see what we have.

Friday was our two housemates birthday drinks, I managed to dodge the offers of shots with the urges to 'live a little'...hmmphh! and only had two bottle of cider (I don't know how it lasted for the few hours we were there-I guess you get quite a lot in each bottle). I had budgeted £30 for the night, but only spent a fiver- result!

Today I have put this dress on Gumtree to try and sell for £50, like the other dress it came from New York's Greenwich Village and unlike eBay Gumtree doesn't charge you to advertise. I also took advantage of this websites offer of 50 free prints when you sign up, I've signed up with a new email address about four times now.

 I plan on making a border of photos around our room seeing as we're going to be here for another year. Other than that I've sorted out our room for the week, done two loads of washing and may head to the park to start reading 'The time travellers wife' in the sun before cycling up to meet the BF from work. Hope you're all enjoying the sunny weather, Happy Sunday! x

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mother's day.... On a budget

Happy Mother's Day to any mums out there! This year I took my mum to see Coppelia at the London Collesium, tickets were just £30 for two so thought that was pretty good value for money. We ate at La Tasca the spanish tapas place, and used a voucher code from voucher cloud, an app on the iPhone to get buy one dish get one free, so we spent a nice evening in London without breaking the bank.

I also bought my Nan a present, a £2 box of Dairy Milk chocolates and recycled a gift from the BF's family which they gave me at Christmas; a mini bottle of Burberry weekend perfume and some English handmade soap all wrapped up in some wrapping paper I made using word and ordinary printer paper (courtesy of work hehe!)

To make this wrapping simply type the persons name repeatedly for one line across word, then copy and paste until you have a paragraph of text. Colour each line a different colour, then copy and paste the paragraph again and again until you have enough sheets to wrap your gift. It's really effective and costs hardly anything (or nothing in my case) work gave me my birthday present wrapped in it and I loved it, as did a friend of mine who I also made the wrapping for. 

Today my Mum and Dad popped in on their way back from my Nan's, my mum had been wanting me to bake her some bread for ages so put a seeded loaf in and wrapped it in some clear patterned plastic wrapping I had saved from a bunch of flowers (that's the blurry thing in the photo) I also gave her a little Pimms cocktail when she came in.

We went to the pub where the BF works to meet him, the parentals had a roast each and with four drinks the bill came to £15. On mothers day the pub is usually heaving but this one was a bit quieter as I think people are still cutting back on unnecessary expenses.  

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

This morning I took advantage of Starbucks latest promotion. The American coffee house giant has introduced a new policy in that they no longer call out your coffee by its name, instead they will be calling out your name. This marketing stunt is designed to make Starbucks appear more personal, setting it apart from the Costas, Coffee Republics and Cafe Neros. Today they were giving away lattes free of charge as long as you tell the barrista your name. The giveaway has gained loads of coverage on the net and is one of the top topics on social networking site Twitter, to find out more here's the BBC's take on things: Having weaned myself off of coffee shop take aways it was a nice mid-morning treat to enjoy one knowing it hadn't cost me anything.

In other news, there's nothing more to really report; enjoyed a fairly frugal weekend of Saturday night drinks (I drove so ended up only spending about a tenner) though I did buy a £10 H&M voucher off my friend as she was given it for Christmas and nothing in the shop fits her. I might save it for my sister's birthday in June to go along with the Marmite set I picked up for her in the Boots sale.

On Sunday we made the most of the sunny spring-like weather and cycled over to Richmond Park and enjoyed a picnic as the sun set. We then cycled over to our friends new flat who have just bought their first home, then back to ours to whip up some carrot soup for the week. I bought a huge bag of carrots for 50p from Asda, chopped them up, threw in half an onion lingering in the fridge along with some vegetable stock boiled it up and blended. It made six portions of soup which should be my lunches for the week. Its been surprisingly filling and at less than 10p a portion great value for money.

Finally, yesterday I really needed to pick up a few bits from Sainsburys so dipped into my Nectar poitns- what would have been a £5.30 spend ended up costing me just 30p. Oh and the water bill has come in for the next year at £80 each, which works out at £6.60 per month, which is liveable. We're paying in two installments the first due at the beginning of April. then the second at the beginning of October. I've picked up another extra bar shift on Saturday which should hopefully cover this half. And lastly its official, our rent isn't going up because 'we've been such good tennants' in the words of our landlord... the same day the oven broke sods law ay? 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Sunny Sundays

I woke up this morning after a lovely lay in around 10am. The sun was shining through the window and from inside it looked like perfect picnic weather, except my BF had been at work since 7am and still isn't home :( I really hate the lack of weekend time we have together. Yesterday he had the whole day off, so in the week we started to plan our first Saturday together in ages....then I remembered I said I would work behind the bar at the rugby match.

Any hows, the sunlight looked perfect for a spot of early spring photography except I felt like I couldn't really move from my cosy bedroom. So I thought I would try to get some of my iPhone photos printed here there's a deal where you can get 50 free prints when you sign up...I've signed up about three times now lol with different email addresses.

Not being very technically minded I struggled to import my pics from the phone to the comp so uploaded them to the blogger phone app and saved them to the desktop. I thought I'd get the pics printed off and stick them on the top sticky out bit of the wall of our room now as we are almost certain we'll be staying here for the next year. So that's the reason for the last post consisting of my images.

As the clock neared almost three thirty I thought to myself I have to get motivated and sort stuff out for the upcoming week. Usually I get all that stuff out the way in the morning leaving the rest of the day to relax, so I started by putting a loaf on to bake, changing the bed sheets, sticking a washing load on, folding the dry washing, wiping the dust off the surfaces and finally hoovering the hall and the bedroom.

I also made use of some bread crumbs I made the other week out of a stale garlic and coriander naan bread left in the cupboard. I defrosted some white fish, pressed it in flower, dipped into beaten egg and then into the bread crumbs. I then made sweet potato wedges and put both in the oven, which was accompanied with beans.

Though productive I wanted to go swimming to make the most of my gym membership, or cycle up to meet BF from work and make the most of the daylight. Both haven't happened, but I think sometimes I put a little too much pressure on myself to achieve everything on my lists, so enjoying the rest of my day off with the BF before stepping back on the hamster wheel again is my priority.

In other news, last week I walked past an electronic store on Tottenham Court Road that buys old and broken laptops. I'm going to wipe everything off mine (with help from BF) and take it in tomorrow to try and pick up some extra pennies for it as its just sitting under the bed collecting dust at the moment.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Is that Spring peeking its head around the corner? :D

This is an iPhone pic of my sister's Valentines roses, we saved our money instead. Thought I would share...