trEAsury

3 simple steps to financial security…

Planner

 

As you know from my previous posts I am trying to simplify my finances and the third piece of financial advice I have read that resonated with me is –

‘Each month put a small amount from your income into a savings account by standing order or direct debit’.

Putting money away from your income immediately,  before you have chance to spend it, is good advice and far better than thinking you will put away any money left at the end of the month –it probably won’t happen.  I could easily spend any spare cash on the above Household Shopping list – although this is an old list and some items I have bought and some turned out to be more wants than needs so have been removed from my list in my move to simplify and reduce stuff.

Therefore, doing it automatically by direct payment means there is absolutely no chance of spending it first and I think you adjust to the fact that your remaining disposable income is less and helps to keep your spending within this new limit.

Interestingly, there are a few accounts out there that offer a higher interest rate for saving a regular monthly amount and are perfect for this idea of putting away a portion of your income at the beginning of the month before you start to spend it.

I chose a Nationwide Flex Regular Saver account which has a 5% interest return over the year and I have set up a direct payment to put an amount into it at the beginning of each month.  You can put in any amount up to £500 a month so it accumulates over the year.  According to Martin Lewis’s savings calculator if I managed to save £500 a month over the year I would have a return of £160 interest.  To save that much would entail some serious economising on my part!

So there you have it – of all the books, articles and internet advice I have read I think this captures the ideas I think are most helpful –

  1. Spend less than you earn
  2. Devote an hour a week to staying on top of your money
  3. Each month put a small amount from your income into a savings account by standing order or direct debit

Incorporating these 3 simple steps into my daily finances should help me keep on track.

 

This weekend although many lucky bloggers have been out digging their gardens we have had rain and wind but I have used this indoor time to follow step 2 to stay on top of my finances and give my savings accounts a thorough overhaul.  As well as opening the Regular Saver account I have an ISA account recently matured and the money is just sitting in a very low 0.05% instant access account now and I need to reinvest.  I have looked at numerous possibilities – but should I go for 1 year, 2 year, 3 year, 4 year or five-year fixed rates?  In such indecisive circumstances I opt for the middle ground so I am edging towards a 3 year fixed.
My next project is to get rid of some stuff and make some extra money.

I have various large household items that I am going to try to sell on eBay (try being the operative word here!) – I have never done this before so if anyone out there is an experienced seller and can offer some good advice to a novice I would welcome your comments to get me started.

decluttering, fEAsible, financial focusing, getting things done, managEAble, my goals, rEArranging, simplifying, to do list, trEAsury

So much to do and so little time to do it…

…was it Pooh Bear who said that…or was that about eating honey – Oh if eating honey was my only task!

I have set aside what time I have this month to Focus on completing and following up on the previous three.  To recap: I spent January focusing on my finances, February focusing on simplifying and decluttering my space and March focusing on a Spring clean.  I now have a list of left over jobs to tackle from each month and only two weeks of April to complete as we will be away for Easter and beyond.

You will find the list of tasks under April if you click on the Focus 2014 tab above or click here

I have been a busy bee this weekend whizzing through some of those little jobs that hang around – you know the ones I mean the non-urgent tasks that seem to roll over on the task list from one month to another.  If you don’t suffer from this ever then please leave me your secret in the comment box!

Since last Friday I have managed to  –

  • get a spare garage key cut £5.50 (ouch!), only on the list since last month
  • take my paper scissors to be sharpened £3.50 (I thought this was reasonable as they will last a while and it saves buying any new ones), on the list since January
  • laminated the clock change instructions to keep handy in my car and the compost layering ‘recipe’ to nail to the underside of the compost lid, as well as the musical sheets that are part of our musical crackers game ready for next Christmas get together,  on the list since January
  • cut back part of the front lawn that had crept over the driveway, on the list since last September
  • weeded the front bed where my lovely tree had been that succumbed to Honey fungus and is now ready for new planting,  on the list since February
  • finished copying over the old videos that we want to keep on DVD discs,  on the list for over a year
  • hubby took the sink trap off for cleaning (the fact that he didn’t screw the half bowl trap back on properly and I flooded out the cupboard below tonight – we won’t mention!), actually not on the list but we had a drain smell occur this last week
  • sent another bag of clothes to charity,  not even on the list
  • washed my black winter coat,  on last months list
  • washed all the cleaning cloths and dusters,  on the list for ages – the pile has just got bigger (they definitely breed)
  • balanced our finances, trying to do this at the end of each month no matter what
  • located the bottom of the ironing basket, this is on my weekly list but often has to be abandoned

and that was as well as the usual cleaning, washing  and tidying but it does feel good to not have to roll them over again.

 

I must say that the parts of the house that I have simplified, decluttered and cleaned are a real pleasure to be in.  I do need to work on my routines to keep up to this level of tidiness, cleanliness and clutterlessness (is there such a word?)…and most of all I need to keep a tight hold on the purse strings to avoid buying and bringing unnecessary bits and pieces back in.

Having said that there are certain items I am looking to buy or even make and as I go through each room simplifying and decluttering I am making a list of these items.  That may sound strange when my mission is to get rid of things but I also want to enhance my new space and make it decoratively pleasing to be in.

One of the items I am on the look out for is a small pretty wicker basket to contain my use up toiletries – so I can leave it out in full view and remember to use them.  At the moment they are in a Muji plastic tub but it would be nicer to have them in something a little more decorative than functional as I am sure it will be an ongoing container, even this plastic one

Small Faux Rattan Storage Basket
Google Images

from Lakeland would be better but I would like to avoid plastic and prefer a white-painted wicker one.

For anyone out there doing the same decluttering / tasks / spring clean how is it going for you?

 

Have a good week x

 

 

 

 

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?

budgeting, fEAsible, financial focusing, my goals, trEAsure, trEAsury

Financial Focusing review #1

Update for February Housekeeping

February                                                              Wk1                 Wk2
Groceries / wholefoods and cleaning      21.10               38.15
Lunch & snacks at work                                 0.00                 7.65
Medicines/ remedies / supplements        2.29                 0.00
Stationery                                                            0.00                 5.97
Toiletries / makeup                                         6.24                 0.00
Total                                                                      29.63                51.77
Having a week off work with my poorly foot  in week 1 of February actually saved quite a bit of money partly because I did not have to buy lunches and partly because it kept me out of the shops!
I did also use some reward points towards my groceries so although these figures look quite reasonable if I factor in the reward points I would have overspent on food.
I am quite proud of myself for not buying any magazines this month so far.  I have a subscription for Country Living (xmas present) and I kept last years too to reread – much of which is still relevant.

Update for the bill budget

There is good news on the energy savings too – Npower our gas provider have refunded our account with £250 and will reduce our standing order to £60 month.  I will be working hard to get this reduced further but at the moment this is a start.
Scottish Power are yet to send us the £54 cheque for the compensation due for last years 3 days without power during the heavy snow.  I was told it would be here the end of January and I rang to remind them of this last Friday but could not get to speak with the right person.  It is quite frustrating that I have to keep chasing them – I can feel a letter coming on.

Items coming into the house this last week. 

I have been having some problems with the car remote and have had to use the ordinary key.  So I bought a new battery which only lasted a day so I think there must be something wrong with the remote fob – a bit of a waste of a new battery and the money.
Car remote battery
I bought these garden chair covers to put over the metal patio chairs and keep them from the bad weather. Money well spent here I think.
Garden Chair covers
This is a granite worktop saver and I have had this on my list for a long time – we have one at the cottage and they are extremely useful and versatile – I can chop veg and put hot pans on here and being cool it is good for pastry though perhaps a bit on the small side.
Granite worktop saver
This exercise of monitoring what comes into the house is quite enlightening and I am already beginning to see where some of the money goes and how we  accumulate more stuff soon after a clearout – I have already bought quite a few items this year even though it hasn’t felt like it.  One or two new items a week will accumulate over the year to a huge 52 -104 items.  That is actually quite a lot of new things to find homes for unless they are replacing something I already have.
Tomorrow is shopping day – with my meal plan in hand I should only be buying the basics – bread, milk, fresh veg and anything we have run out of.  I don’t know whether to be excited or worried about a trip to Rymans one night this week.  I am clearing our home office / craft room at the moment and need a few more stationery items to complete my new systems.  The temptation could just prove too much!
On a different note my appraisal was OK – glad it is over I don’t feel I get much out of them really and I don’t see how one form can suit all personalities I feel I need to redesign mine to make sense to me!  It will now end up in a folder and like everyone else only be referred to prior to the next review in 6 months time – not how they are meant to be used but I will be making my own goal and task list that I can understand.
Have a good day tomorrow – the weather is certainly improving but for how long?