Hello and welcome to my blog. I've been getting some thoughts & feelings, exasperations and the odd happy moment down on the blog which helps my sanity and, I hope, provides a little entertaining read for you for a couple of minutes!

Right now I am mostly concentrating on getting through a rocky financial patch which I really hope will be cleared (all being well) by the end of Summer 2013. In the meantime I need to concentrate on continuing to do well in my "new" job (actually got it in Sept 2011 but it still feels new!) and living my life as frugally as possible.

Thanks for stopping by and if you leave me an encouraging comment, it'll make my day. :-)

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Seasons Greetings

Hello readers, I am sending you best wishes for this festive period.  I hope you had a peaceful Christmas Day and I hope that your New Year's Eve brings fun, reflection and most importantly no hangover on the 1st of January!

Was 2012 a good year for you or are you glad to see the back of it?
Do you have any resolutions or plans for 2013 or will you just take it as it comes?  

I hope to blog a bit more in the New Year as 2013 has got to be the year I get sorted financially and blogging about it always helps me.  If it is not the year, then I fear I am doomed to repeat the same mistakes for the rest of my life and that is a terrible thought!

For now I wish you all the best and I do hope 2013 brings you happiness.

x x x

Friday, 14 December 2012

It's Going to Get Worse Before It Gets Better!

Good evening my lovely readers, I am hoping you are all well today.

Well the cold snap is finally lifting and my goodness it really has been cold the last few days.  I am looking forward to seeing some sunshine tomorrow and feeling temperatures above freezing and then some!  An exotic 8 or 9 degrees centigrade so I hear! 

So, anyway.  I have had to spend money this week...on petrol, on food, on postage and on the remaining Christmas gifts I was prepared to buy.  However as I type that I literally remember something else I need to buy before I am done...argh! 

Would someone just pinch me and tell me I am not dreaming and that second class postage really *is* that expensive these days??  When did it get this pricey to send a bloody card to a friend?  It's not far off a card in the post being a gift in itself now! 

I bought a £5 Secret Santa gift today as well.  I hope I got good value for money as I bought a bottle of red wine which is a Bordeaux Superieur which makes for good reading.  Luckily I know someone who knows my Secret Santa 'draw' and wine was recommended, so, fingers crossed I made a good choice.  It was £5 I could do without spending but I love Secret Santa and I signed up for it ages ago.  Pulling out of it would have been depressing, disappointing and....like throwing a deckchair off the Titanic to be honest.

Next month brings the majority of my annual car bills.  It also brings the gas & electric bill.  It also brings just over 5 weeks till I get paid again.  And anything else that decides it wants to crop up.

So...without wanting to wish my life away, let's just say, when the next 6 weeks are over, I will be relieved.  It'll still be pretty dismal but I am hoping upon hope, the worst time will be over.

And now for a confession....whilst in Aldi I also treated myself to some rose wine for £2.99 and a bar of chocolate.  Well...I've turned down proper social nights out aplenty for December (including probably not getting to see "The Hobbit")...so a drink and a nibble in front of a TV recorded film is a cheap substitute no?  I refuse to feel guilty.

And my final words on this post, are sad ones.  My heart is breaking for all those affected by the Connecticut school shootings today.  This is utterly heartbreaking, tragic news.  A complete nightmare scenario.  I mentioned recently about keeping things in perspective and this serves as no better example.  My troubles and concerns are zero compared to those affected today.  I hope they find the strength they need to come through this awful time.

Good night readers and take care.

x x

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

You're Keeping Me On Track

Evening to you all, I do hope you're keeping warm right now.  It's freezing fog where I am - not much fun at all.  I hope everyone is tucked up at home where possible and not having to drive in this.

I was so happy to read all the supportive comments after my recent post, outlining what's going on with me and my plans to get myself sorted.  It really helps and keeps me going down the right path!  So thanks again to everyone and Ilona, you're so right, every penny does count.  I actually get a little thrill everytime I plonk the coppers from my change into a little red tin I have as I know they add up and before too long I can use the useful total towards food or petrol or whatever.  

Thanks for the EBAY suggestion Vicky - I may well look into that in the New Year for any 'better' stuff I have.  I did use EBAY & Amazon Marketplace some years ago when I was paying off two overdrafts (sigh....proof that I just didn't learn!) and you're right the contribution it makes is really helpful.  I am also wondering about a car boot sale in early Spring too.  They can be good cash generators too.  I just need one good "big" item to sell to make my stall booking money back (and more, hopefully!) then everything else will be lovely jingly cash in pocket.

Well I put our humble Christmas decorations up last night and wrapped some gifts in left over from 2011 wrapping paper!  I also wrote out left over from 2011 Christmas cards as well!  It was a nice night in though and finally kicked off a bit of Christmas cheer in the household.  Hubby came home and opened the door to the living room and smiled, saying "It's Christmas!"  I had some scented tealights burning on the coffee table and sat under the glow of the fairy lights strung up high over the sofa....I have even lit up a big houseplant with some battery operated lights as well!  Nice.

Grocery shopping after work today was a bit embarrassing.  I managed to whoops-a-daisy a jar of marmalade as I was lifting it off the shelf in Aldi and it fell and smashed on the floor!  There was no-one around from the store when I did it so I found an old box and covered it up (managed to cut my thumb moving a big shard of glass as well - ouch) then went and found someone.  I apologised and offered to pay for the breakage but I just got a sour look and a "Oh great" but they didn't make me pay for it so I can take that!!  I did apologise again though...I don't smash jars of sticky breakfast food on shop floors for fun, honest.

After that I managed to get all required groceries and leave with about £3 in change.  I had to nip to Sainsburys to get some own brand coriander leaf...74p as opposed to £1.75 for a branded jar.  So I now have just over £2 in my purse.  I think all I have to buy at the weekend is some more mushrooms so I should be ok to get through till next Wednesday when I get paid.  

A friend treated me to a gingerbread hot chocolate in the hospital cafe at lunchtime:  she insisted!  We had a really good chat and it made such a nice change to relax.  Work's been pretty full on recently for both of us.

Well that's about it from me.  Have to go and put some tumble drying on soon but the meter will be on cheap 'leccy very soon!  Hopefully then no more washing till the weekend when it can all go out on the line and dry for free.

Take care - stay warm.

x x x

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Colds, Debts & How Have I Saved Money Recently?

Hello & happy weekend everybody, I hope you are all well.

I have been poorly this week - I caught a cold and had to take Thursday & Friday off work.  I was in bed till gone 1pm both days just zonked out.  Luckily we had some Day & Night Nurse capsules left over from hubby's cold so I didn't have to fork out for more medicine.  I started to feel much better yesterday and today, although still blowing my nose for England, I am just about there now.  Back to work tomorrow!


Anyway whilst off this week, when awake, it gave me plenty of time to think about my financial status, study my Excel spreadsheet and generally muse about stuff.  I may go about £650 - £700 overdrawn by Spring, which is really not great.  However some good news is, that total also includes debt payments which will pay off completely the 0% credit card I took out at the beginning of 2012 to pay for much needed new double glazing in three rooms.  So I won't have paid a penny interest on those which was always the plan.  The other 0% card I had was a Virgin card to pay off a previous overdraft.  The plan was to get the overdraft paid off then stick rigidly to a budget to prevent going overdrawn again. 

Well that failed. 

SO...the Virgin card still needs paying off and here I am with another overdraft which is worse than it was before!  Not the plan at all but lesson learned.  I'll pay it off by mid Summer and now I just accept that I will be overdrawn and I just have to claw it down bit by bit. 

I am trying to think more long term rather than panicking short term so now I need to just keep calm when I see my overdraft rising and know that come summer, the credit card balances will be gone and it will start to get better thereafter.  I need to keep my eye on the prize which is "this time next year".  This time next year I WILL be debt free again and this time next year I will be finally on top of my money issues.  I will.

With all this in mind I should now have the motto 'Every Penny Counts' tattooed on my eyelids.  

There is No Spare Money

Every penny I spend now just takes me further into my overdraft so every penny spent is a conscious decision.  So I am trying to be positive about all the ways I can try and keep things as low as I can.

Money Saving Efforts This Week

Being ill meant not going out anyway but even if I had been OK I'd planned not to spend any unnecessary cash.  And I achieved that.   I am making use of www.spendingdiary.com and find it really useful.   I love the reporting tool which shows you how much you've spent say on "social" or "groceries" should you set up those groups.  An eye opener.

This weekend thankfully has been fairly windy and mostly dry so I have managed to get a lot of washing dry on the line or just about dry so that they either finish off on radiator racks, or in the case of some larger items, only took about a third of the time they usually do in the tumble dryer.  The washing I have mostly got done overnight so it's much cheaper electricity.  Some of the tumbling I did later at night too when the meter clicked over to the lower rate.  So that's helped.


I submitted meter readings on Friday and I do owe Atlantic some money. I recently went over to Direct Debit to get cheaper rates.  We used to pay for what we used quarterly but seeing the difference in the rates it seemed madness not to start a DD again especially as I could choose what monthly rate to set.  However the first payment didn't come out till 1st December and I last paid a bill in September.  So there's a shortfall now and the next bill is due the end of this month.  I can see I will no doubt have to pay an extra bit to cover it all then hope that thereafter, the direct debits will cover future bills.

We have gas central heating and a halogen heater.  There is no fireplace or woodburner and we're not able to install either in this house, so we're stuck with the above.  The only choice we have is to be cold and minimise having the heating on.  Today that's not so bad as the temperature got up to about 8 degrees C outside and the sun was out - and it made such a difference.  With jumpers on, it felt alright.  Heating is completely off and won't come on till it's dark.  It'll stay on till about 9pm then go off till getting up time tomorrow for an hour.  Then it'll be off all day till dark again.  The house is freezing when we get home but we'll just keep the door of the living room shut, put the halogen heater on the first 400w, make sure no gaps in curtains and that room heats up fairly nicely.  It's not feasible to have the heating off all the time otherwise I would!  It's due to get down to sub freezing mid week here and the cold snap will last a few days at least.  We have to do what we have to do when it's like that but needless to say fleece sofa blankets & hot water bottles come out at night!


I bought a big bag of potatoes in Aldi on Tuesday and other fresh vegetables and have managed to make it all stretch through.  I haven't needed to go out for anything else.  Today's lunch was roasting left over red onions cut into fat wedges, three parsnips chopped into fat sticks, half a butternut squash cubed up, four diced potatoes and the remains of a garlic bulb split into peeled cloves, all smothered and mixed up in three tablespoons of sunflower oil mixed with: two tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of white vinegar, half a teaspoon of caster sugar and two teaspoons of various dried herbs.  I roasted these for 35 minutes (stirring once or twice) and roasted a pack of veggie sausages half way through.  Veggie gravy made with the water from cooked frozen peas from Aldi and a twist of black pepper.  It was really tasty and hubby loved it.

We've still got loads of potatoes left which we'll use to make a delicious dish called Egg & Potato Bombay and we'll have that with Approved Foods basmati rice, probably on Wednesday.  We have everything else for evening meals Monday and Tuesday so tomorrow evening, I will do an inventory of what we have in the cupboards and will make a frugal menu plan for the rest of the week/early part of next week and shop accordingly for the fresh items, bread etc in Aldi on Tuesday after work. 

Cash Only

I use a credit card for petrol and some other purchases i.e. online once a month stock up purchases (I am collecting Avios points as one day I am determined to fly abroad again!) but I have made the decision to try and be cash only now for grocery shopping and other necessary spends.  It's obvious what I have been doing thus far has not really worked:  I clearly haven't learned from my own history.  So time for something new.  The last few grocery shops have been cash only and it really focuses your mind.  You're doing mental calculations all the time to make sure you don't go over budget and everything that goes in that trolley or basket is needed and, where possible, the best value you can get.  My utter delight last week in Aldi when I realised three things I needed were in their "Super Six" offer and the week before that the bread had 30% off marked price as did the mushrooms I wanted.  I was so chuffed

Cutting Back

I have changed my mobile phone provider to a SIM only deal now which is saving me about £5 a month (I use data downloading otherwise I could save more).  I have cancelled my LoveFilm subscription which is another £5 a month.  That's £120 over the year.  Worthwhile!

I am not going out once over Christmas.  I have not even bought any Christmas food or nibbles and don't plan to until perhaps the week before and then it won't be much.  I have one night out planned in January (tickets for a local gig already bought last year) and that's it.  For 2013.  Seriously it is the only thing in my diary and I am not going out of my way to add anything else because there just isn't the money.  Over the Winter months I don't think this will be too much of a problem.  But come the Spring I will be bored, depressed and ready to throw the towel in so this is when I will need to be creative and get my social fixes one way or another. 

I will be going through my wardrobe shortly to plan what clothes go together and make myself wear things I have bought but ignored.  (Why do women do this!!?)  I may have to get rid of some bits & bobs which I just don't feel comfortable in as it will give me more space and just help bring other items back into focus.  I do not need to buy any more clothes.  I haven't actually got that many as I am quite good at 'culling' but there are still things I don't make use of when I should.  I have actually customised a couple of tops recently to make them more 'wearable' whereas before I would have just stuck them in a charity sack then probably gone out and bought a replacement.


Last but definitely not least, I need to keep a sense of perspective.  I am still 'richer' than so many people.  I have a roof over my head, I have food & clothing, I have a phone I can pick up to call friends & family, I have clean running water at my disposal.  I have a job.  I might day dream about winning the lottery and not having to go to work (not going to happen as not spending money on tickets right now!!) but really I am grateful.  The job will help me dig my way out of this mess.  And it's not even a massive mess.  I have been in a worse financial mess by probably 8 times as much so....I can do this easily can't I?

If you have read all this and got to the end - well done!  And thanks for sticking with my rambles.

Bye for now...I am off to listen to a football match on my cheap little radio which costs less than a penny to run an hour!  Frugal entertainment indeed.


Sunday, 2 December 2012

Thank You

Hi all.  I wanted to say thank you for the supportive messages after my last blog post.  Your comments mean such a lot and it helps to know others are on your side!  So thanks very very much for taking a moment to drop me a line.

I know I am not the only one and we're pretty much all either paying off what feels like never ending debts, or, fighting to keep our heads above water whilst implementing frugal methods.  I don't wish debt or financial struggle on anyone believe me, but at least there is a camaraderie between 'frugallers' to be enjoyed!

Anyway I have actually had a really nice weekend on a budget!  Months ago I booked a date with an old school friend to go down and chat/stay over and generally catch up as we haven't seen each other for years upon years.  She lived about 40 minutes drive from me.  I had enough petrol in the car so no need to add further fuel.  I did take a bottle of wine (I had budgeted a small amount of money for the weekend) and as a fabulous surprise she took me into our old city and treated me to dinner with her Tesco coupons for a participating restaurant!  All it cost was a contribution to the cost of a bottle of wine (yes another one!).  Her extremely kind and lovely husband dropped us off and picked us up so no travel costs either.  

We stayed up extremely late, chatting and drinking the wine I had brought down and then more chats this morning after breakfast.  Bliss.  

After that I drove 9 miles east to see my sister, brother-in-law & my nieces and dropped off the Christmas gifts I had bought for them (not much but they all have something they will like for about a fiver each).  After an hour and half chit chat and a cuppa I drove home and hubby made us a dinner using up peppers, a pack of tofu and a fajita kit from Approved Foods!  I since fell asleep on the sofa for a while as staying up till crazy o' clock will make you tired!

The heating unfortunately is on higher than I would normally have it plus we're wearing all sorts of layers as it is bloody freezing!  The cars had a thick frost on not long after dark.  Hubby is suffering with the start of a cold and I want to keep him warm and toasty not make him feel worse bless him.

So that has been my weekend and I feel like I needed a bit of a lift.  I did bring some cash back with me as well so that's a bonus!  I can put that towards the grocery shopping on Tuesday.

Anyway thanks again and any time any one wants to drop any encouraging words in....feel free!  Believe me when I say it helps.

x x x