A very cold start to the day this morning both inside and out – our gas boiler has more or less broken down and we are waiting for our engineer to get the part and then fit it, meanwhile, to get any heat we have to ignite the boiler manually when we get up or get home so the house is quite cold when we wake and after work on arriving home. Reminds me of the days when you had to light the coal fire.
I must say for a month where I am trying to watch the pennies I am finding I am paying out rather a lot of large maintenance bills! Last Saturday we picked up my trusty little Saxo car (now 12 years old) after passing the MOT and having a full service. Luckily no major faults found. Now I need to attend to giving it a good clean inside and out and also I could do with a new set of hub caps and a battery for the remote.
As it happens my focus this weekend was to list all the items and appliances we own that require maintenance – some will need more than others. Now I have the list which includes everything from the car to the hairdryer, lawn mower to the kettle I am going to set aside some time each week to maintain one item. This might be giving it a good clean, arranging a service or buying a new part – whatever it takes to keep in good working order. This way I hope to extend the life of the appliance. I will post the list another day.
I allow for the MOT and maintenance as part of my bills budget so it is never a scramble to find the money though it would be nice to have cheaper bills. Since 1985 I have estimated all my bills for the year – added 10% then divided by 12 and the end sum is the amount that goes into our bill account every month by standing order without fail. As this budget account has been running for many years it tends to have a surplus which is always good in case of the unexpected. This money is absolutely not to be used for anything else even if the account is well in credit. The bills I pay from here are –
- Car – maintenance
- Car – road license
- Car – parking contract
- Car – insurance
- Computer security
- Cottage bills
- Council tax
- Gas boiler and fire service
- Gas boiler and fire maintenance
- House buildings and contents insurance
- Mortgage overpayment
- Personal Pension
- Telephone and Broadband
- Water rates
Many of the bills are fixed rates such as Council tax, water rates, car road license and mortgage. I can only save on the variables such as energy bills, telephone, insurances etc by shopping around – but there are savings to be made. With any savings I make over the year I can do one of two things either make an extra mortgage overpayment or keep a surplus in the bill account so I don’t need to increase my monthly standing order next year. In a day or two I will be putting figures to the above categories when I know more what my expenses will be.
At the moment I am researching new energy deals and thinking about applying for a water meter. We have paid our BT line rental for the year with a big saving and all the calls are free to landlines if I make sure I don’t go over the hour (a timer comes in handy here). I also need to revise our car insurance and breakdown as it will be due in March. As you know I wasn’t overly impressed with the service I received when I broke down.
On Sunday I returned the last of the items for refunds – so gained another £119. We made sandwiches to eat in the car park at the Cheadle branch of John Lewis (not a common occurrence at this branch!) and just bought a drink inside.
My spend on Sunday was
- 2 drinks £4.55
- 1 black printer ink £10.99
Today after work there were a few bits and pieces of shopping I needed. I spent Saturday afternoon going through my dressing table drawers. I am trying to pare everything down to the bare essentials. I have a few products to use up and I have replaced my mascara and lipstick using the No7 voucher. I realised when away at Christmas that I do not have a round hair brush in my travel bag and my usual one is quite large so when I saw this cheap small one in Wilkos it will fit my travel bag perfectly. I have also replaced my old comb for a stronger black one – I wondered if I could do without but what would I clean my brushes with?
I saw the Polyfilla stick in an advert and I am crossing my fingers that this is the answer to my prayers. We have a number of those fine hairline cracks in the plaster in one of the bedrooms. It is just on the top coat of plaster nothing sinister like subsidence but they are the most awkward things to fill with any success. It looks remarkably like a Pritt stick! I will let you know if it is any good but you will probably hear me shouting Eureka before then if it is!!
Taking a picture of the items that come into the house as a record of my spending may help to stop me buying anything unnecessarily.
Holland and Barrett
- Essential oil mixer bottle £2.49 – for my massage oil
- Vegetarian Gravy Powder £1.79
- Apple and Apricot spread £1.85
- 6 x 2nd class stamps £3.00 – to have in stock
- 1 x 1st class stamp £0.60 – for special birthday card
- 1 round brush for travel bag £2.00
- 1 black comb £0.70
- 3 gift jam jars £3.75 – for fruit spread
- 1 Polyfilla stick for fine cracks £5.95 – to fix the hairline cracks in plaster I hope!
- Cauliflower and Broccoli £1.20 – tonight’s tea
- 1 orange £0.35 – for rind shreds in fruit spread
Total spend £23.68
So my focus tomorrow is getting to grips with the energy bills. We have Npower gas and Scottish Power electric as this was cheapest at the time. I know Npower have not been able to bill people recently and their bills are expected to go out in February meanwhile they have a LOT of our money in credit as I don’t believe we have used what they estimated.
Scottish Power are sending us £54 as compensation for the period last March when the cottage was cut off for 3 days in the snow. Not being there at the time and the freezer only having a loaf or two and a tub of ice-cream we are quids in with this refund! It will go towards the food I had to throw out when I accidentally unplugged our freezer at home. We didn’t waste much in the end, a Higgedy Pie, 4 Samosas, a pack of veggie sausages (hubby gone off them anyway), a handful of frozen chips, a reduced Pizza and the remnants of a tub of ice-cream. I am most cross about the ice-cream as I watched and waited for weeks for the brand we like (Mackays) to come on offer and now I have had to ditch it!
Well I think I have rambled enough. How is your spending / none spending going?