Monday, 31 December 2012

Happy New Year!

My evening will be spent doing our joint financial vetting forms for work ( sounds worse than it is!) Mr M is at work til midnight so hopefully it will keep me up til he comes home! I'm actually looking forward to doing it and reflecting on where we were this time last year and the improvements ( I hope!) that we have made!
I'll let you know tomorrow!  ; - )

Have a wonderful evening and here's to a Frugal 13!!

Mabel and Maisy x

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Food Banks and Christmas


I know everyone's thoughts and prayers will be the families in Connecticut x

It's the lead up to Christmas and  I'm not feeling particularly Christmassy and if it wasn't for our son I don't think I'd even bother with the tree, mean I know. I think it's the realization that Christmas is expensive and we're encouraged to spend money we don't have and then spend the whole of  January broke and wondering what we'd spent it on!

We don't need anything for Christmas and with our budgeting we are busy paying down our debt.We thought that maybe we would give a donation to a  national charity however  in our town a Foodbank has just opened, it was an eye-opener to Mr M and  I, despite our job roles, that there was a need for this service locally.

‘Every church should consider a foodbank’ Steve Chalke MBE, founder of Oasis, Stop the Traffik and Faithworks

Trussell Trust are the driving force behind the foodbanks and their website gives details of local churches running the the scheme. 
They give you a shopping list, all long life items that are meal time staples: 

Tinned tomatoes,soup,vegetables and fish
Pasta and rice
Tinned puddings
Breakfast cereals
UHT milk and juice 
Sugar, teabags and coffee

We decided that we would spend our Christmas money on buying the items instead of presents. Then we had the idea of asking work colleagues and Facebook friends to see if they wold join in too. So far we have had a great response and should be able to take  a fair few bags down to the church. 

Do you have foodbanks where you are? x

Saturday, 24 November 2012

20% Down! Well almost!!


Feeling pretty pleased with myself ( not smug, I'm nowhere near good enough for that yet!) : -)

When I started getting a grip if my finances I had 10 debts to clear, today I have cleared the  2nd,earlier than  I needed to. Yay!

So, when I started in June of this year my total personal debt was £14,530.00

Now it stands at £11,875.57

I've cleared £2,654.43 in 5 months!  Thats 18 %  

How are you doing? 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Win Win Win!


Well it's not often you can say you're winning in any sort of sense but actually I am at the moment! Winning against the bank, winning in the buy/organise Christmas before December and winning with Mr M! Sounds too good to be true!

Firstly the penny dropped the other day and I realised I was paying S******er £30 a month to have an overdraft with them on an account that I only use to pay bills!! In a moment of inspiration I called them and  asked to cancel the overdraft, the bemused girl at the other end said that there was no need for me to do this as the account was in order, money being paid in etc and they were quite happy with me! I bet they are!
 I had to go through to the collections dept and ask again,eventually I convinced them that this was what I wanted and yes I understood that it may prevent further credit with them.......
Because I have an "agreement" with them now, they cancelled the overdraft and I will pay it back at £50 a month, it also meant that they stopped any further charges, so in real terms for an extra £20 a month I will clear the overdraft and not be paying out £30 per month for nothing! Win 1! 

Christmas is organised! Yayy! My wonderful in-laws are taking us out on Christmas Day so we don't have to worry about food on the day just tea later on when we watch Strictly and Doctor Who! We only have the in laws to buy for as well as 2 cousins and of course our son! The in-laws gifts  we will be bought on Friday, M&S vouchers and car mats! Mr M is having new Converse and they are bought and in the wardrobe and our son, well he's been asking all year for a Playstation. I know that lots of bloggers are writing about handmade Christmases but I don't think that will cut with a 10 year old! He isn't spoilt and he doesn't ask for too much through the year so we do treat him and in terms of cost per play/minutes  where I can have a quiet cuppa it's well worth it! I've bought this from Argos where they had a six month interest free deal with free delivery , I've saved the money throughout the year so when the time is up I'll just pay it off. Win 2!

And finally, Mr M! Well he's heard me banging on about budgeting, being more frugal, saving money, rarara for ages. I wasn't sure whether it was sinking in as it didn't  really seem to affect him in any way. Well after months of hearing him say " I don't know what my money goes on" and "Why haven't I got any money?" I finally snapped! After a full and frank discussion (!) we have decided that I will take charge of his money and do the budget for him. I have a list of his outgoings and tell him what to withdraw, we then divvy it up into envelopes and he knows what he has to spend  for the month. We're one month in and I think it's been an eye opener for him, only one mishap but apart from that it seems to be going well. When we've got him on track and spending less than is coming in then we will tackle his overdraft. Win 3!

Hope this post doesn't  sound too smug, it's just me feeling pleased with myself ; -) 
Hope you're winning too x

Friday, 16 November 2012

Towel Transformation :-)


A bit boring this post but something I'm quite proud of and a post to get me back in the swing again! 

So, I'm by no means as good as I could be financially  I read a lot of blogs and feel very inspired, I've made some significant changes and have started seeing some real progress with debt busting! We renovated the bathroom on a reasonable budget but even using reduced tiles, auction site suite etc it still added up.
I really wanted new towels to go with the new bathroom but I have expensive taste in towels and I couldn't justify £30 for a new matching bath sheet ( x 3 and hand towels!) 

So, what did  I do? 
I went to Dunelm Mill! And look what  I bought! 

£4.50 a packet and the cost of running the washing machine et voila!

And inspired by these I did some others as well!

The towels were all M&S and still in good condition despite their age and now I have new looking towels for around £10.

So I am learning! ; -) 

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Bathroom Renovation (be prepared!)


Welcome to my new readers, apologies for the lack of welcome, it's been  a  hectic month :-0

We've renovated our bathroom, hurrah!

So it's gone from this:

what we inherited 

To this


To this 

To this......

TA DA!!! 

I'm thrilled it with it! My design inspiration was Art Deco and it's all been done on a budget! 
Apparently pink bathroom suites aren't fashionable anymore ;-) 
I'm so fed up with seeing the same plain white suites in everyone's bathrooms that I wanted something different for ours. I started looking on auctions sites and came across this suite, brand new and had been stored in the owners garage. It came with a bidet as well as all the matching taps and a soap dish all the for the pricely sum of £125!!! We did have drive through 5 counties to collect it however ti was definitely worth it. 
I sold the bidet for £25 so our suite cost us £100 not including diesel. 

The tiles all came form the reduced section for various branches of a diy store in my area and came in at £ a box/1/2 metre, total £180.

The majority of the budget went on labour costs and the taps! Who knew they were so expensive! 

It won't be to everyone's taste but we love it and why be  the same when you can be different?!


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Fabulous Birthday Week Part 1


Hope you're all well and coping with Stoptober!?

I've had a fabulous birthday week, the weather couldn't have been better at each location and the time with Mr M alone and with our son has been much needed.

Last weekend Mr M and I went to Somerset. Mr M has wanted to go to Stourhead, a National Trust property with beautiful gardens forever, so that was out first outing.

We then went to Wells and saw the Cathedral

**On Monday we went to gorgeous Bath. I felt very pleased with myself as I had allowed some money for a treat but despite the huge temptation from all the lovely shops; I didn't buy a THING!! **

A surprise birthday treat basket from my best friend, she knows me so well!!

My actual birthday was Thursday and it was off to London with Mr M and our son. Buckingham Palace, London Eye and Madame Tussauds.

My birthday present from our son was this fabulous blanket

It was a made by a  lovely lady called Sonia, she has learning difficulties and attends a local centre where they can learn new crafts and meet friends. Samuel spoke to her and chose the colours as they mean something to me and him. I was thrilled and it's my favourite present ever.

I have more photos to show but I'm sure this is enough for tonight!

How have you been? x

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Financial Failure : - (


This month has been a dismal frugal financial failure hence my silence!

We've replaced  our porch roof  and paid out for a new composite front door, some serious outlay but  the pay off should be a watertight, warm hallway!

Secondly our rotten old bathroom is being ripped out and replaced, like all jobs this started off small with a reasonable budget  but has grown exponentially despite buying our tiles half  price from a well known DIY chain and saving 10% on several purchases with a discount  card!

On top of that there was car tax, car insurance and a hugely expensive book for work, phew!

The only saving grace is  that I'm aware I've been rubbish whereas before I just carried on regardless.
It's my big birthday next week and we have some lovely things planned, they are expensive but have been bought via various money saving websites so the cost is somewhat reduced. I'm going to enjoy my birthday week and my  financial sensibilities will resume October payday!!

Please don't be too harsh on me!


Sunday, 26 August 2012

Grown Up Gap Year


I'm in a quandary!
I have a milestone birthday coming up! I know age is just number but sometimes you just feel old!

Although I'm desperate to pay off our  mortgage and look to my new career I can't help feeling there are lots of other things I want to do as well ...... I'm not the sort of person to just go off travelling, and Mr M isn't particularly keen on overseas travel so what to do?!

One of the things I've always wanted to do is to volunteer  in an overseas orphanage. There are lots of companies offering these sort of volunteering  experiences and there are a lot of orphanages crying out for volunteers. One of the  projects I'm particularly drawn to  is in Ecuador and involves basic childcare of children up to the age of 7 whose parents work on the rubbish dump, sorting the rubbish ( they don't sort it like we do) It's basic childcare and then playing with the children.

From the website:

  • To love, educate, and give the children hope. We want to see the generational cycle of growing up and working in the rubbish broken.

What do you think?

Sunday, 19 August 2012

A want not a need!!


We do need a new dinner service and us ours is bitty  and made up of odds now. I've been looking around the internet ( of course!) and this is the one I love

Denby Praline 16-Piece Dinner Set

But it's soo expensive! £160 for 16 pieces! But it' soo pretty and well made and British.
AND it would last a lifetime! Once upon a time I wouldn't have hesitated to buy it but now I'm thinking what the cost will be in terms of clearing our debt as well as the purchase price.

Oh well, maybe I'll just keep looking at the picture and start saving!!

What do you think?

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Premier Inn Sale- Be Quick!!


This is not a sponsored post ( although I'm open to it Premier Inn!)
However I thought I'd let you know about a sale they're having on London rooms!


Rooms have to be booked before the 22nd August for stays between Friday 24th August and Sunday 4th November.
I'm thrilled as we were planning to stay in London overnight when we go to Buckingham Palace on my birthday  however the rooms were sooo expensive so we thought we may have to shelve the idea. But yesterday I booked a room at the County Hall Premier Inn for £49 instead of the £182 it was at the weekend. Yay!!!!

So if you are planning a little trip to London it may be worth looking on their website. You have to pay in advance and there are no refunds but if you're definitely going it's worth it.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Pension Dilemma Update


Just a quick update re the pension....

I'm almost certainly going to come out of the scheme April 2013, so that I will have added a full year at full time hours. 
I know that I'm very lucky as I have a husband who will leave with a full  pension. However we just don't see how the point of paying nearly £1k into pensions a month that we potentially won't be able to claim for many years all the while owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to our mortgage company     : - ( 
We've crunched the numbers and the £ 40 k I would have paid to the pension over the next 10 years will be paid off our £180 k mortgage.

Overpaying would save you
£46,994 in interest alone,
and mean you pay it off in full
8 years and 7 months earlier.

That's potentially £87 k off our mortgage from the pension alone however I won't be stopping there! I'm snowballing like a crazy woman and if I pay an extra £1k off our mortgage then should be clear in 10 years, perfect timing for my career in fostering. Yay!
I'll soon be getting  a "Mortgage Free" progress bar on my blog and joining the other mortgage free wannabees : - )

Thanks for your comments : - )

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Pension Dilemma!


 Mrs M was having a job dilemma yesterday, today I'm having a pension one!

My pension costs me a small fortune each month, it was 11% of my income, has increased by 1% and will go up by another 2 % within 2 years.

We are undergoing huge pension reforms as are many State sector workers, all the while employer contributions are decreasing and retirement age is getting further and further away.

My dilemma is this: Do I stay in the pension scheme I signed up for, knowing I don't want to do my full term in the job ( I'm hoping to  foster) and knowing that I won't be able to claim it until I'm 67 anyway.

 Or do I come out of it  and over pay my mortgage?

Overpaying would save you
£46,994 in interest alone,
and mean you pay it off in full
8 years and 7 months earlier.

My pension is vastly reduced due to paying lower payments whilst I was part-time working and is never going to be  a "full" pension like my husbands. I do worry it will leave me pensionless should anything happen between us, it isn't likely to but it  doesn't pay to be complacent.

Over-paying my pension payments and debt free amounts would lead to Mortgage freedom quicker and we could then plough cash into high interest savings which I know aren't as good as a pension but would be in our  control as opposed to our employers?

Does anyone have any suggestions/advice?

I've been waiting to use  this for ages!!!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Guilt about Spending!


I hope you're all loving the Olympics as much as I am? I know they're not everyone's cup of tea and I've read a few blogs where people appear perplexed about the money spent on them. I appreciate a different point of view however my view is that it has been about something positive, yes a lot of money has been spent but they have been a real shot in the  arm for us a nation, replacing apathy with pride and enthusiasm. Let's not forget the terrible scenes of  last August when there was rioting on the streets of London.

Well, I've spent a bit of money this week and unusually I feel guilty about it! I'm loving my money snowball and  have been avidly adding my spends : -( and payments : -) however  needed to buy a new iron ( mine began spurting like an old geyser!)  I shopped around and managed to find an interest free deal and with some saved points took £21 off the price. ( It was fairly expensive but it's a horrid job so anything to make it easier!)

So far so good! But then I started planning for my milestone birthday in a few weeks....  I'll have to change my "about me" put it that way! Mr M and I have a few days planned away and we are going to Somerset, we really want to go here

It's called Stourhead and is a  National Trust Property. The house is amazing and the grounds to die for!
As you walk around the grounds  there are  temples and follies to look at as well as amazing landscaping and views!
I was looking at paces to stay, as you can imagine Somerset/Dorset isn't the cheapest area to holiday in. 
I found some gorgeous B&B's, with lovely rooms and  delicious looking breakfasts but with not so delicious prices. It was averaging £230 for 3 nights B&B which seemed a lot to me! I spoke to Mr M and we both decided that it was too much and that we'd rather stay somewhere cheaper and have more cash to spend
 ( on new notebooks!!) Cue an email received from these people:

A bit of research later and we have 3 nights at a nearby Premier Inn for £127! We've stayed in Premier Inns many times before and have always found them perfectly acceptable and if you can get them at a bargain price even better!  ( I'm not sponsored  by them!) Money saved that can go towards the petrol for the journey.

But that's not all! A friend mentioned they were going to Buckingham Palace whilst it's open for the summer. It's something I've always wanted to do and it turns out so has Mr M and our son! I went on to the website and fortuitously it will still be open on my birthday in early October so £57 later the 3 of us will be off to the Palace to see the State Rooms and the Jubilee Exhibition, yay!!  

Part of me feels bad for spending this money but then I think becoming debt free is a journey and a bit like a diet. You can go cold turkey and stop spending completely but just like cutting out certain foods pretty soon you start craving them! I've reasoned with myself that my big birthday is a once in a decade occurrence and it would be nice to look back and think I had a great week with my family. And by working hard at paying off what we owe so far, has freed up some "fun money" so why the  guilty feeling?!!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

I think I have a problem and a happy find!


It's been a while since I last posted, I don't know where the time goes!

Today I have been turning the house upside down trying to find the 2nd part of my driving licence as Betty is going in for servicing tomorrow. I'm hoping it's not going to cost too much.....
Whilst turning out drawers I found the following:

Does anyone need this many notebooks?

12 notebooks! all in various states of use! I'm a great list maker and reading through some of them I previously thought alot about reducing my debt burden but never really took it as serious as I am now!
I also found a wonderful love letter written by Mr M for Valentines one year! He will often buy  me a lovely book for a treat on a special occasion, the suede book in the middle is one of my favs :-) I particularly seem drawn to books, pens and stationery in general at this time of year, I think it's many years of buying new pencil cases ready for the start of a new school year!!

It also got me thinking about blogging and writing  lists, I read  a lot of blogs ( prob too many, it's my nosey nature!) and many  bloggers write about  their to do lists/life lists/debt burdens. I still prefer to write mine down and physically tick them off although I do seem to have too many lists ; - )

How do you prefer to keep track of your lists?

Ps I must admit to being  very fond of my snowballing spreadsheet !

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Decisions Decisions Decisions

Nothing life changing  but I would appreciate any input!
As a hobby I like to buy and renovate furniture, nothing major at the moment just little things that I re-love by re-painting and re-covering. The purpose of the garage  renovation was so that it could become my work/store room as my house is over-run with furniture waiting to be treated
There's a pink bathroom suite in there too!
We've tried to repair the roof but it's too far gone and after 3 layers of tarry-stuff it's still leaking :-( 
I decided to get some quotes to have it repaired, they've explained that it needs to be stripped back, re-felted etc 
The bottom line is it will cost £1000
I can afford this however it's my emergency fund. The roof does need to be  done as without it it's a wasted space out there but it does seem like a huge outlay.... 

Any thoughts? x 

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

All Grown Up!

My little boy has gone to France today for 3 days with his school.

We kissed him goodbye in the school hall before they left to get  on the coach, (probably so the mum's didn't cry in front of them!) As we walked away my husband said he needed a drink (it was 7am!) and I wanted a little grizzle!

All day I've been thinking of him, hoping  he's got enough food, he's having a good time and behaving himself!

But I've also been reflecting on the young man he's becoming and the role we've played on shaping him.

It's hard work being a parent and I'm more than aware from my job what happens when you're not consistent with children and set them firm boundaries however this has to be balanced with new experiences and lots of  love and affection.

I'm just hoping he's having a wonderful time and that we've sent him off  confident that he can cope away from us x

This has been my project to keep me busy....

It's been scrubbed clean and has  the first coat of paint on, amazing what you can get done!

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Bad Hair! To cut or not?!

Hello and welcome to my 2 new blogging friends, please leave a comment when you can x

I've always had very short hair which is fine when you're slim but when you start putting the pounds on it can leave you looking like a pudding ( not a good look!) I've been growing it for a while however I'm "blessed" with thick, coarse hair that does it's own thing!

Mornings are not my best time!

So my decision now is what to do! I can't cut my own hair but I'm lucky that my fab hairdresser cuts it at my home for a 1/3 of the expensive salon cost, so a little bit frugal!

These are the pictures of styles I like

I'd love to go blonde!

And I'd love to look like Katie Holmes 

Sadly my hairdresser isn't a miracle worker!!

Any suggestions ladies? And yes, I've considered a wig!!
What do you do with your hair? Is it a necessary expense or less of a priority? x 

PS When can we open out £2 jars? I'm dying to use it on my snowball!! 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

My Long Term Dream


I've reached double figures with my blogging  friends, welcome Anglesey Allsorts! 

 We all have a dream/aspiration/reason for living frugally/becoming debt/mortgage free.

My long term dream is to foster.

I turn 40 this year! 
My job is in the public sector and we are all under constant pressure to work harder, for less whilst contributing more to our pension. I'm certain that I don't want to continue until I'm 60 in the same job and I want to pursue my dream to foster, luckily Mr M is supportive as otherwise it would be a non-starter!!

So, here's the plan!

We  have been blessed with one son, he's bright, funny, charming, inquisitive and loving, I couldn't be any prouder. He wants to go university ( like his father) and has his sights on Cambridge,he's only 9 !!
It goes without saying we will fully support him to university and beyond,I wouldn't want to do anything prior to university ( or after)  that might jeopardise his future, he is the priority.

However once he has gone then I can look to  Foster!  : - )

Ideally I would like us to be mortgage free, fostering can be erratic and being mortgage free would mean we wouldn't have to worry if we had a few months without anyone. I went on a mortgage calculator (thank you Martin Lewis) and it told me this:

 Overpaying would save you
£61,296 in interest alone,
and mean you pay it off in full
11 years and 1 month earlier.  

To be mortgage free in 10 years  I would need to find another £700 a month! My first thought was that it couldn't be done so that would be that! However, following advice on other blogs I've snowballed my debts. I started looking at the numbers and I realised that once I have cleared the debt that would be the extra £700 and this could actually happen.
At the start of June my snowball predictor thingy said I would clear the debt in 73 months, I've followed Mrs SFT's advice and started to see it as a game that I'm going to WIN! By making extra this month through eBay sales and overtime I have managed to take 3 months off that time and I fully intend to do more next month.I'm saving in a sealed pot as well as my £2 coins.

So at the moment it will still take me 6 years to pay off the debts before I can start on the mortgage.
 I'm determined to get this down, the sooner it's down the sooner I can pay off the millstone around our neck and look to my new career.
I'm conscious of still living in the moment and budgeting for treats including a cheeky little girls trip to Dublin in October ; - ) and not forgetting the lovely Betty ( who will also help my losing weight/fitness regime!)

Right now I'm going  back to my snowball spreadsheet to see how much more I would need to make to bring it down quicker ( obsessive? Moi?!)

What are your hopes and dreams for your future? x

Monday, 18 June 2012

A Want not a Need!!

I've just finished a tough set of shifts, 4,12 hours days where I had to work overtime to get the job done, I'm not complaining, we all do more than the set hours and I'm aware how lucky I am to have a well paid, if unpopular job! ( Not a traffic warden but similar uniform!!)
Usually after a long set of shifts I would feel the need to treat myself for having worked so hard, this is a mindset I'm working hard to change however last night  I started on-line window shopping to wind down before bed.....  
I want to get a bike to improve fitness and also cut down on car use and the brand I really like are called Electra. their bikes use flat foot technology which basically means you are in a better riding position. They are bikes for pleasure riding as opposed to mountain or racing bikes.

This is the one I've fallen in love with   

So ladies, any ideas how I continue snowballing but also save for the lovely Betty? ( I've tragically named her already!) x

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Snowballing in June


I hope you have had a wonderful Jubilee weekend wherever you are.
Did you relax and watch the festivities or like us have a project to get done? 

The art of skip arranging being passed down through the generations!

Our garage started like this!

The roof has been leaking for years and we haven't been able to repair it, whatever was in there  became soaked and then went rotten.

But was soon looking like this 
2 Hours later, thanks to my wonderful 9 year old son,  Dad in Law and husband!

The plan is that this will become my workroom for my furniture renovations. We just need the sun to start shining now to dry it all out ready for damp-proofing and painting.

Anyway, this has nothing to do with the title ! I follow Frugal Queen avidly and she recently wrote a great post about how to get out of the  cycle of debt and that "snowballing" is a great way to start this off ! I found a snowballing calculator and after an hour of locating paperwork and inputting the figures I found out that I have the "average" amount of un-secured debt ( for that read thousands!) and it's going to take me 73 months to pay it off if I carry on paying the amounts I am at the moment.

WOW! What a wake up !

This has made me realise that I've kind of being playing at the whole debt reduction thing and that if I don't change my attitude to spending/wanting/needing then I will forever be caught in this cycle. For me it's not just about being debt free but also wanting to give something back, not necessarily financially it might be volunteering or something else,  I haven't figured it out yet but owing less will certainly enable me to do something.

I'm off to read up on money saving tips and to sell my entire  wardrobe on eBay!!

Any suggestions on what I could do gratefully received.

Thanks for reading x