being thrifty, budgeting, financial focusing, trEAsure, trEAsury

Financial Focusing review #2

Such a short month February I suppose it should be easier to stay in budget but I still went over by £1.85.  Now I am thinking if only I had taken one more packed lunch I would have hit my target.

If you haven’t been following along my budget allowance for this month has been taken from the whole of  last years spend for each category – less 10% then divided by 52 and times 4 which gives me the figure in the end column.

February 2014 Spending

The £13 for cleaning product was spent on water filters  – a box of 6 which were half price.  I have classed them as a cleaning product as it isn’t really a grocery item either and after all in my logical thinking they do clean up the water!

My groceries were well under budget but my lunches more than double – I must make an effort to pack up more – my mornings are always so busy I need to know exactly what I am taking in fact Ideally I should prepare it the night before.

I had to buy more supplements this month as I had not been replacing them as I ran out since Christmas and they are always expensive I also stocked up on Homeopathic remedies which have to be ordered over the internet.

And you may have noticed the stationery spend ooops – still I am reorganising my office space – I will have some photos soon to show you of the new streamlined office which is slowly coming together now –  but not yet finished.

I managed without buying any petrol last month but I know as I write this I will need to fill up tomorrow when I go shopping I am just hoping I will get a petrol voucher to get some money off.

I am really pleased with the toiletries coming in at £6.24 all I bought was Epsom Salts and Ball of foot cushioned pads both items for my feet.  I add the Epsom salts to my foot bath when I soak my feet.

And now the items that came into our house in the last week or two.

What I bought Feb


From left to right –

  • Black display binder – to store my decorating ideas
  • Patterned shopping bag – self explanatory
  • Mini spray bottle – for cleaners – I use these around the house as they are neat and small enough to store in small spaces
  • 3 books – yes I went to Waterstones when I was in Leeds for my hospital appointment but I only paid for one of them as I had £10 on my stamp card and £4 on my points card.
  • 1 box lawn food – ready for April this was on offer at Sainsbury’s
  • Toiletries – 3 for 2 offer on shower gel plus extra points,  handwash from the £1 shop
  • 3 spiky physio balls – I have been wanting to order these for a while as the osteopath I saw last year swears by them for tight muscles.
  • Pack of commemorative children’s TV stamps – occassionally I treat myself to a pack of special stamps for my collection – I couldn’t resist this one of Childrens TV characters
  • Garden Illustrated magazine – I bought this for the article on planting a white border.

None of the items came out of my housekeeping budget apart from the toiletries which are from the March budget and so don’t appear in the table above.

These pictures will now go into my Incoming items tab on my rerouted blog click here to see the full list so far this year of what has come into the house that is not food.

This weekend I had to search for car insurance and breakdown.  After the performance I had when I broke down before Christmas with the free breakdown included in my insurance which turns out is not free at the point of need I decided to buy a years cover from Green Flag which will cover me going to work or  further afield for £65.  My car insurance does not reduce if the breakdown is not included as it is ‘free’ but my current provider is still the cheapest available to me when I search the internet comparison sites.

I am always glad when that job is done and I am signed up for another year.  To make the whole task easier I have a typed sheet with all the information I require to answer the questions such as the year I passed my test and the year I bought my car.  I keep this with my folder so I can refer to it each year – I also keep a note of my no claims bonus years as different providers have different limits.  I am now on 11 years no claims wheras my providers limit is 9 years.

I will need to keep a careful eye on the March budget – it is a longer month and with Mothers Day coming up I will be having a visit from my mum which I will need to save for so I can treat her to a few days out and about.

How are you doing with your budget so far?

being thrifty, fEAsting, food shopping, meal planning, trEAsury

Reducing the spending is back…

For anyone that is interested I am restarting my Reducing the spending posts over on my sister blog Re-routed.
This is where I will be taking stock of my grocery budget and meal planning.  I will also be moving the posts on ‘What I have bought this week’ over there just to keep these challenges separate from this blog.
Very soon I will be updating you on this months focus which is to Simplify my Space.
Have a good day tomorrow lets hope the weather is calmer.
being thrifty, fEAsible, financial focusing, my goals, trEAsury

Financial Focusing update 5#

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
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Gas boiler and fire service
  • Gas boiler and fire maintenance
  • House buildings and contents insurance
  • Mortgage
  • 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!!

Shopping 20.01.14

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

Post Office

  • 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?

appEArance, beauty, being thrifty, fEAsible, financial focusing, my goals, trEAsury

Financial Focusing update #3

Todays Financial Focus task was to use some of my reward points and vouchers (N0 7 on the list) see the Focus 2014 tab above and click on drop down menu – January.   This will be an ongoing task as I have got quite a few for different stores.

After posting my mums birthday card ready for Sunday I had a quick sprint down to Boots tonight after work as I was desperate for a new mascara and  lip gloss.  I had a £3 off No7 coupon to use and I found there is a buy one get one half price offer on make-up at present plus I also had a coupon from the Advantage card machine giving me an extra 100 points.  So I got my goods for the bargain price of £13.25 rather than full price of £20.

I don’t wear very much makeup, a little mascara and a quick swipe with a lip gloss to protect my lips from drying out this weather and thats about it.  Foundation is usually for parties and posh do’s so it lasts ages.

I also treated myself to a hair cut tonight- a bit of a trim and a blow dry and I feel like a new woman, at least it should cut down the drying time in the morning before work.  My hair gets very static in the winter and the hair dryer makes it worse.

Cost of haircut £22 plus £2 tip for Becky (the trainee).  I never know how much to tip these days – I think £2 is reasonable do you?

Had I arrived home earlier I would have plunged my tired and aching feet into a warm bubbly  bowl of water and given myself a luxury home pedicure too – but the reality was that I decided to go back into town to Sainsbury’s for a few fresh veg and necessities for the weekend and so didn’t get back home until after 8pm.  As it was getting quite late I sensibly picked up a reduced Pizza to have with salad.  My grocery spend was £30.19 and  I used £30 of my reward points to pay.

My spend today


  • Lunch at work £2.55
  • Giving to Homeless x 2 on route to car £1. 40
  • Snack packet buttered Soreen £0.59
  • Tip £2
  • Hot Choccy treat £1.8
  • £0.19 towards sainsbury’s shopping

Debit Card / cheque

  • Hair £22.00
  • Boots Mascara and Lip Gloss £13.25

Reward Points

  • Sainsbury’s £30.00

for a grocery shopping breakdown you will need to link through to my re-routed blog but give me a day or two to get it back up and running!  It will need a bit of an update – and yes it is on the list to do asap.

So that was my Thursday – how was yours?