decorating, drEAming, general chit chat, homestEAding, nEAtening

Tidy Friday…and catching up with myself

At last it is Friday and my day off or rather a day to get down to some tidying and cleaning, paperwork and planning.  Such a lot to fit into so little time.

This morning my book prize arrived from Sue and I have now put it by my bedside table ready for some early bedtime reading.

Book Prize

 It was tempting to sit down and start reading this morning but I really need to get a grip on my messy house.  I am having to work all hours at the moment as my colleague is off sick for a few weeks and I am doing both our jobs but this means not much is getting done outside of work hours.

I spent an hour or two this morning stripping our bed and putting things away – my usual TIDY FRIDAY – I don’t know how it happens but at the end of a week I find many things that belong upstairs end up downstairs and vice versa – I think perhaps it is the little dust fairies who run round in the night moving everything around and sprinkling their fairy dust everywhere!

After my mammoth putting away session I went into the office to look over the pile of paperwork.

Tidy Friday desktop

Even though I try to keep a tidy desk by the end of the week it invariably ends up with bits and pieces strewn across it waiting for my attention.

I sorted through the many leaflets that had dropped through the door – there was one for the local Pizza place, a made to measure blinds offer and a Councillors letter asking for volunteers to help run the local village library  which is under threat.  I only wish I had the time – I can’t help thinking that if I had been able to retire this year at 60 as was the case under the old rules (now it will be 66) I would have had spare time to do this and also look after my new baby grand-daughter.

After sifting through the pile I pulled out anything interesting and snipped the coupons and put the rest for recycling.

Today on the urgent pile I need to look at our house insurance for our home here in Yorkshire and the BT line rental which we pay up front to save £30.  I have still to finish the accommodation receipts for our cottage insurers and find the contents receipts to send.  Probably more than a mornings work in that lot.

It has been quite helpful that I signed up for a Sainsbury’s Credit card earlier in the year as it is interest free on new purchases  until 2015 and I get extra reward points.  It means that we can pay all the accommodation costs without dipping into savings until the insurers reimburse us – we are over £1,000 out-of-pocket from our stays over in Scotland since the flood.

 Working until after 6pm each night for four days a week means I am not spending money at the shops as they are well and truly shut when I leave work.  In fact I had to get my son in laws birthday card and pressie from Sainsbury’s last night.  My daughter tells me he wanted a Christmas jumper so now he has one – a bright red one with an elf and bells on! We wouldn’t want him to feel left out this Xmas!

I have over £155 on my reward points and this week is double up week so if I spend them wisely I can get items to the value of £310.  So far I have bought some clothes for myself and baby L, the Xmas jumper, and some Xmas decorations (will show these another post).  They have extended the range of departments and goods to select from this time and wine is included so I may be able to stock up for Christmas.

You may remember I bought a Lumie lamp last year – and it worked but we put it away during the summer and have only just put it back in our bedroom since the clock change plunged us into those awful dark mornings.   We found last year that the alarm was irratating and unnecessary as the rising sun effect woke us up on its own.  There is one problem though – I prefer our ordinary clock to tell the time – I particularly like a proper clock face to a digital one and I find the light from the digital ones distracting when I am trying to sleep.  Current research has found that sleeping in complete darkness is better for our bodyclocks, unfortunately the Lumie lamp has an illuminated digital clock face which you cannot turn off so I have stuck a circular piece of cardboard over the clock this morning to block out the light!  I will let you know if it works and if it does I will have to think of a more permanent solution.

Lumie Lamp update

 

The bathroom pumps that we ordered to boost the hot water pressure from the new taps arrived by post this week and the bath one has already been fitted and it has improved the flow – so our builder will be back soon to do the basin tap.   Once done we can fit the down lights and the fan and the bath panel and hey presto it will be DONE.  It has almost taken as long as my daughters bathroom 2 years ago.

Bathroom refurb 1

 

Tomorrow me, hubby, elder daughter and partner are going to Masham, North Yorkshire for the day to my younger daughters and meeting up with my hubby’s sister.  We will be celebrating my son in-laws birthday and also my sister in laws recent marriage to her partner of many years.   We sadly missed their wedding celebration in Oxford  because of the flood at our cottage.

It is also our yearly Crisis at Christmas Coffee morning at our local church so I might pop in for an hour before we set off for Masham.  It will be the first year that I haven’t made anything for them but with my extra hours at work and all the paperwork for the insurance claim and my dodgy knee I think I am quite over extended at the moment.

Hope you have a good weekend. x

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?
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

Cash 

  • 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?

being thrifty, fEAsible, financial focusing, managEAble, my goals, to do list, trEAsury

Financial Focusing update #2

 My task today was to look at all the money that has accrued by way of Vouchers / Gift cards / money owing / reward points and store returns still to do and then have a quick sort through all the coupons I have collected to see what might be useful.

This is how I store my coupons and vouchers  – I use one of those clear plastic A6 size envelopes.  I also have one to keep my receipts in for those items I am going to return or exchange.  They are small enough to drop into my bag and this way they are all in one place.

Coupon Holders

 A quick round up below of what I would term credits and rewards to come

Gift Cards / Reward Points / Monies to bank

  •  Wallis Gift Card                                        £8.95
  • Debenhams Gift Card                              £5.00  valid until Jan 31st
  • John Lewis returns                                   £119.00
  • Xmas Gift Money to bank                      £55.00
  • Lottery Scratch Card winnings            £1 (from Hubbies stocking filler)
  • Gardening Token                                             £5.00
  • Morrisons Miles Voucher                      £5.00
  • Tesco Vouchers                                         £7.50
  • Owing from brother                                  £15.00
  • Reward points Sainsbury’s                    £ 81.64
  • Reward Points Boots                               £23.59
  • Total                                                               £326.68

 Wow £326.68 is a nice little sum – I will get free groceries for a week or two by using my Sainsbury’s reward points and I can use the Boots points for toiletries needed.  The Tesco vouchers I will hang on to for the Double up exchange and with the Wallis and Debenhams cards I will get either a birthday gift or a treat.

                    

Store Coupons and Vouchers

  • M&S reward card  – buy 2 more greetings cards and I will get one free
  • Points and money off various products at Boots
  • 20% savings at WH Smiths
  • 0.81p off next Tesco shop by 8th Feb
  • 0.24p off next Sainsbury’s shop
  • A free cup of coffee / tea from my local garden centre

My Sainsbury’s Double Nectar points coupon expired today but I need to spend over £90 to qualify so sorry Mr Sainsbury I will not be spending that much in your store for the foreseeable future!

So far this January I have spent

 Groceries – £99.83

– we are in week 3 now so that is £33.28 weekly average.

 Lunches at work – £16

–  I work 4 full days so I am going to try and buy 2 lunches and then make 2 to take with me.

 Supplements –  £18.47 (Inc £2.50 voucher)

–  I bought Aloe Vera juice for my digestion and Effamol capsules

 Stationery – £12.07

–  I invested in a roll of wrap paper reduced to £1.80 for birthdays this year.  I also found a small magnifier to keep in my purse – very useful.  I bought a triple pack of Pritt stick on offer £1 each and a pack of A5 laminating pouches.

Computer items –  £14.50 Ink and £7.35 Mouse

 – Black printer ink  (run out) and a small mouse for my laptop computer from Wilkinsons

Entertaining –  £16.24 on drink -1 rum, 1 Vodka 4 x diet coke

                              £33.75 on food and nibbles.

  – At the weekend we entertained a couple of friends who we couldn’t see over the Christmas break and this came in a little expensive.  I know they like Vodka and Baccardi and coke so we had to stock up in case they asked for this.  Unfortunately they decided to stick to white wine and just the coke this time!  No doubt the spirits won’t be wasted.  I didn’t have time to make any food myself and had to rely on the supermarket party type food – not a cheap way to buy.   However, it did provide us with lunch and dinner the next day and we managed not to open the rum and Vodka and drown our sorrows on the overspend.

Generally I would have preferred to have had a completely No Spend month but for the things I did buy I shopped around for a good deal and used offers and vouchers where possible.

How are you doing with the January spending?

PS  Thanks to Dar over at An Exacting Life for your very helpful chart it is just what I needed to ensure we come out of our freezer predicament without poisoning ourselves – after all who wants to make themselves sick!