being thrifty, trEAsury

more thoughts on economising…

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Sometimes I can easily overlook the obvious – do you do that?

I refer to a very simple statement I came across recently –

‘Spend less than you earn = more savings’.

In my quest for a simple life this is good simple advice.

I do, as it happens, spend less than I earn overall and do not have the problem of credit or overdrafts, but even so I can take this on board and spend even less than I earn and save even more = less stuff. 

Less stuff is something I am working towards so it will be a win, win situation.

Where I fall down is spending too much day-to-day on lunch at work and on the weekly shop.  Buying lunches and over estimating on fresh food for the week or turning to expensive convenience foods through lack of planning and time increases our spending unnecessarily.

After all the hard work of searching out and setting up good deals we often lose track of them coming to an end.  We also get so busy we  fail to check the online bills for errors of which we have at times found plenty.  Therefore a little more attention to these areas will undoubtedly keep more money in our pockets.

Being thrifty is a challenge I actually enjoy and watching our savings grow is rewarding and with retirement looming on the horizon I can feel a slight urgency to give our savings a boost.

Putting it into practice is not always easy – sometimes running short on time and temptation takes over.

 

My thrifty moments this week –

  • I have stocked up on the next two months cards for birthdays and anniversaries using a 25% off WH Smiths voucher for cards. Cards are not cheap now so I am always on the lookout for reasonably priced ones.
  • An 8p off a litre of petrol coupon from Sainsbury’s.
  • Triple reward points plus 800 free points
  • A grocery shopping free week – as we were going up to the caravan for a long weekend last Thursday I didn’t need to do a supermarket shop saving a good £50.

What I have wasted money on this week –

  • Buying my lunch for work – I could certainly save money here if I took something from home.
  • Buying lunch out at the weekend when we could have made sandwiches and taken them with us and just bought a drink.
  • Buying a tray bake cake with a drink at Costa – an expensive enjoyment.

My week at work is over now and I will certainly be spending an hour or two on our finances tomorrow.

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drEAming, general chit chat, mEAndering, out and about, rEArranging, sEAsons, simplifying

A slow Saturday and a Sunday sprint…

We spent a lovely day just outside Masham on Saturday having a celebratory lunch with my hubby’s sister and her new husband (although they have been together for more than twenty some years)!  Both my daughters and their partners and of course baby L. joined us and we sat and chatted all afternoon then went along to my daughters shop (also in Masham) for a look around.  It changes every time I go – new pieces of furniture and a new selection of goods – at the moment it is all Christmas items.

Birdhouse Interiors

I can’t help thinking that this is how all Saturdays should be spent – just sitting and being and enjoying.

But then on Sunday I had to dash around like a mad thing of course to make up for lost time!

 In the morning I checked over our finances, entering receipts and balancing accounts.

This year I have been trying to simplify our finances as well as our living space but unfortunately I do not feel this is happening as far as the finances are concerned and if anything I am under the impression that they are getting more complicated.

Each time I think I have got the energy accounts sorted and under control again I find that the supplier messes up once more!  Hubby is on the phone now at 8.40pm after waiting 40 minutes already to speak to someone.

Who was it had the brilliant idea of privatising these companies and has it really made our bills any cheaper or our lives just shorter due to the stress experienced dealing with them!!

All year I have been keeping a note of my cash spending – well most of it – once or twice I have been too busy to keep track and I know I have definitely overspent the £10 budget and at times even a £20 a week budget.  This is always due to lack of time – some nights after getting home from work it is either check my finances and record the days spending or cook the tea and eat.   There are no prizes for guessing which of the two jobs wins.

I think it is too late now for this year to get back on track again but I will be in a better starting place next year and I love starting afresh in January.

As far as Xmas plans go – I can say that I haven’t really made many yet – we have most weekends spoken for now and I have managed to send out our Not so Secret Santa wish lists and rules to the family ready for the big name draw on Friday.

Other than that I have not made or even bought any Christmas cards yet or made my Christmas cake and Nut loaf but I am still hopeful that I will have time – I have already been thinking of ideas for the card and I really enjoyed doing the lino cut last year and once done it is so easy to run off any amount.

As we are simplifying the gift giving within the family by choosing to do a Secret Santa the amount of gifts I need to buy for my colleagues at work seems to be growing each year – the group I buy for has now reached six people.  Each year someone else surprises me with a gift and I feel obliged to return the pleasure!

How are your Christmas plans coming along?

 

 

 

 

fEAsible, financial focusing, my goals, trEAsury

Financial Focusing update #9

Birthday CakeWe had a lovely day with my mum in law yesterday – she enjoyed the cake (9 candles one for each 10 years of her life) and a drop of bubbly and she had some beautiful cards.  It was a long day though and as a result we woke up late this morning and haven’t really been on the ball all day.  I have been flicking the duster around and doing a bit of hoovering ready to start the week tomorrow.

Did I mention life at the office will never be the same from tomorrow one colleague leaves and a new member joins us in our little department of 2 (plus a few hours assistance from a junior administrator).  However the new person has a new role quite different from what we have known before rather than being an equal he will be ranked above us – the role has yet to be defined and until we have been told more we are completely in the dark.

If you have been following my financial focus for January you may be wondering how I am getting along with some of my tasks.

Well I have been busy!

The Gas deal

I have been on most of the big comparison sites and there is no doubt for our gas alone Daligas are the cheapest followed by Npower our current provider. After much research into Daligas and trawling through their terms and conditions we have decided this is not a switch we will make at the moment for the following reasons –

  1. Firstly this is a new company who only offer the one Tariff so there is no set standard rate to revert to when the 12 month fixed deal ends.  I expect they will let you know what the new Tariff will be nearer the end of the deal.  Now I might be cynical but what is to stop them producing a new deal that is much dearer or completely different to the one available now.  For instance the advantage of Daligas at present is that they are offering a very low monthly standing charge and it is this that makes them cheaper than Npower as their kWh rate is slightly more so if this standing charge drastically changed and went onto the more usual daily rate you could find their gas to be dearer and you would be stuck with this until you found a new deal.
  2. Secondly – they are so new there is no ‘past performance’ available or any guide as to previous Tariff rates.
  3. Thirdly – they say it can be up to 6 weeks to switch and although the 12 months fixed rate will run from the transfer date it does mean we would be stuck on Npowers standard rate for a few weeks until the transfer and thereby lose any advantage we would gain from the switch.

We have decided it is too risky for us and we will monitor this company closely and see what further Tariffs they come up with in the future and maybe we will switch when we have more confidence in them.

I also looked at prepaid energy but again this is still dearer as is duel fuel even with the same provider discounts.

We will be applying for the Npower price Fix May 2015 tomorrow to replace our Online January 2014 fixed which ends on Friday.

We spent £1,053 on gas in 2013 but we are almost £500 in credit so that means it cost us £553 for the year.

The Electricity

This deal is fixed until September so we will look again at this nearer the time – what we need to do before then is get the consumption down further.

We spent £600.96 on electricity for the year 2013.

The Water Rates

We are with good old Yorkshire water and our bill for the year 2013 was£598.93 approx £49.91 month.

There is only the two of us rattling around in here now so I thought it was a good time to perhaps look at applying to be metered.  We completed the water energy calculator online and found our usage to be somewhere around £300 for an average use so we have filled in an application form for this and will wait for a response.

The Council Tax

This is an extortionate amount of £1451.04 a year for a band D property and no matter what cannot be reduced unless the house could go down a band or two and no chance of that!

ISA Savings

Today we took the plunge and stopped dithering over transferring an old mature ISA each into the Post Office 2 year fixed at 2.25%.  We were going to wait and see but then I read on one of the financial sites that generally ISA interest rates are falling.  Already the Halifax and one or two other big banks have reduced their top ISA rates.  I hadn’t appreciated the reason for this all time low is now due to the high demand for the government Help to Buy scheme which is once again pushing up house prices.  We are now thinking a rise in rates just before the end of the tax year may not happen.  If it does we still have a couple of ISA’s that will mature in March and we will be able to take advantage if not we won’t lose out by taking this Post Office deal which is the highest for a 2 year fix and may soon be withdrawn.

Maintenance plan

This is in progress and I will do a post soon.

I am aware that there are so few days left in January now so I need to get down to that all important task of setting a budget or spending plan as I prefer to call it for our household bills and food.  All this focusing has been worthwhile – our current account is quite buoyant due to the low spending and gathering in.

I have still to sort out the Ebay / Amazon account and look at what I might sell.  The magazine book I got on selling on Ebay and other sites will have more than paid for itself – it was a good buy.  It talks you through everything you need to know step by step and I can’t wait to get started.  I will need a good bright day to take some good photos and this may have to be next Friday.  I am not expecting to get this all up and running before the end of January but I will have made a start.

That is pretty much the weekend round-up – I hope you all had a good one.

fEAsible, financial focusing, my goals, trEAsure, trEAsury

Financial Focusing update #8

White Roses

Yesterday and today I have been turning my financial focus to the electricity usage.

We are with Scottish Power  –  Online Fixed price energy deal which ends 31st August 2014.

Last year we spent £600.96 which is approx £50 month.  We cook electric and our shower is electric – the two main culprits that make our bills dear.

I like a long hot shower every morning and although I try to be economical with the oven because there is only the two of us it is sadly sometimes only cooking 2 baked potatoes and a rice pudding.  It is a large free-standing oven too (my sisters old one) so the capacity is larger than the new double ovens so more wasted heat.   The smaller oven is not well insulated so really doesn’t gain much by heating this.  The answer might be to cook a lot at a time in the oven on a weekend and do hob only meals during the week.

As I keep saying when we get our new kitchen and oven this will change –  in fact life will change completely for us and I am still holding on to that Siemens dream of coming home to a wonderful new streamlined easy to run and clean kitchen! You have heard it before here

Anyway back to the electricity usage.

What did I find out other than it is costing us far too much?

Our usage in Kwh is 4883 units from 15/02/13 to 16/01/14  (336 days) which = 14.53 units per day so for a full year 365 days it would be 365 x 14.53 = 5304.

Having this figure now allows me to go onto a comparison site to look at cheaper options.  I will get back to you on this.

…Meanwhile the gas saga goes on.

Yesterday I re-ran a comparison on the Moneysupermarket site and found that there is a company called ‘Daligas’  mmm…I had never heard of them either but they work out even cheaper than Npower.

Now if you begin to understand all these price breakdowns you will notice that their standing charge is £5.828 a month which is different to the price per day that most of the others charge. Npower for instance is £0.467 a day.

So over the year

  • Npower  = £170.46
  • Daligas = £69.94

with me so far?

Daligas charge £3.308 per kWh and Npower £3.25.  So on my 22ooo units average per year that equates to

  • Npower =  £715.00
  • Daligas =  £727.00

Daligas is dearer by £12 on the units but cheaper on the standing charge.

Total amount for year –

  • Npower =  £885.46
  • Daligas =  £796.94

– a difference of £88.52 for the year.

Now I am not sure if Moneysupermarket are including VAT here or not but given it would be the same percentage added to both it would not alter the comparison.

So all I need to do now is suss out Daligas who they are and what their service is like and is it worth switching to an unknown with all the hassle for £88.52.

It is quite a worthwhile sum to have don’t you think?

I am nothing but thorough and I have yet to research the companies who offer

  • No standing charge (but kWh usually a bit dearer)
  • Pre-payment
  • Duel fuel

Now for a catch up on the rest of the weeks spending…

I realise plain text can be a bit boring and my site has lacked a bit of colour all week so here comes a few photos – remember I said I would photograph everything that came into the house so that I can try and see where the problem lies with accumulating more stuff.

What did I buy this week that wasn’t groceries?

I have bought one or two bits and pieces but I won’t have to make room for all of the items as  some are presents, some edible and one a replacement new for old.

Pink iced cake

A pink iced cake for the party girl and the residents at the care home.  A box of candles though I am sure we can’t fit 90 of them on the cake and a pot of her favourite face cream.

Pillows

A pack of 2 pillows reduced at Sainsbury’s.  These are the ‘feels like down’ type which I have bought before and they do feel like down.  As we needed new pillows to replace some old ones this seemed like a bargain at £18 for the pair.

Pink Notebook

A small pink notebook to carry with me to jot down a few things that I think of like jobs to do, ideas for my blog, shopping I need etc.  This was reduced to £1.19

Scarf and Gloves

A grey patterned fleecy scarf and glove set £6 from Sainsburys another little birthday present for my mum in law.

I also treated myself to a £3 bunch of roses (picture at the top of the page)

Tomorrow we have a trip to Shrewsbury to celebrate my mum in-law’s 90th birthday.  Hope you have a good weekend too. x