Friday, 31 May 2013

Bag A Bargain

Being frugal means not spending more than you have to. So I am always deligted when I bag a bargain. Especially with clothes, as they are so expensive.

I know a lot of thrifty-ies who obtain most of their wardrobe via charity shops. I am never that lucky, when I go in everything looks like it has been used to clean the bath before being donated. I still have a wander around, but rarely find anything I want / need.

I have had a lot of success with Ebay and get a lot from Dorothy Perkins as they have fantastic pop up sales. This weekend for instance there is 30% off for 72 hours

3 weeks ago whilst in Lichfield, a new market stall appeared selling ex Marks and Spencers clothes. All brand new but with the labels cut out. I bought a georgous red wool coat from them 2 years ago for £15, but have never seen the stall since. So was delighted to see it again and made a bee line.

I bought this.

For £7!
Brand new and they gave me the hanger.

Best thing? It was a size 10 and it fit. I reckon it would cost £22 –25 retail.

Must have looked nice on, as I wore it a week later to visit my friend P (she introduced me to The Chap) and as I walked home a man stopped and asked me out for a drink. I am 37 years old, slightly porky and that made my day!!!

Frugally yours
P.S. No post yesterday as The Chap took me out to dinner to celebrate some good news. A proper restaurant with no vouchers and proper starched cloth napkins. Swanky!!! Cannot say anything just yet, but watch this space
P.P.S No, its nothing to do with babies!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Cutting The Shopping Bill.

If you are looking at cutting back, one of the first places to look at is your monthly shopping bill. I do not advocate living on bread and water for a month. But a shopping trip can cost dramatically less by buying unbranded or own branded products. Aldi and Lidl are great for reducing the budget, but I do find I cannot do a full shop in there. Life is too short to visit 2 supermarkets per week, so I do 1 big shop per month in both then, top up in with vegetables.

Hellman’s Real Mayonnaise. Squeezy bottle 430ml £2.49
Tesco Own Brand Top Down Mayo 480ml £1.00
That is a saving of nearly 60%, plus an extra 50ml.
Both are creamy, but the Hellman’s is a little more whisked egg white consistency.

Heinz Tomato sauce, top down squeezy 460g £1.85
Tesco Tomato Ketchup, top down squeezy 460g 85p
Tesco Everyday Value, top down squeezy 590g… wait for it 18p

PG Tips Pyramid Bags, 160 £3.50 (2.18p / cup)
Tesco Original Bags, 160 £2.40 (1.5p / cup)

You can also stop buying expensive ragu sauces. 1 jar of Dolmio at £1.99. Instead buy two tins of chopped tomatoes at between 31p - 50p (buy the extra value they are fine) and add one small tin of tomato puree at 35p which will thicken in. A sprinkling of dried herbs and / or garlic bulb and the pasta sauce is done. Cost 97p.

Value pasta also tastes fine and the swop will not be noticed by family members. Nor will it be detected if you only add half the usual amount of mince to your spagetti bolognaise and top it up with porridge oats. Healthier too!

If you buy a lot of snacks then I would recommend PoundStretcher or Poundland. The Chap loves Wheat Crunchies which are normally £1.88 for a 6pk in Tesco but only 89p in Pound Stretcher. I have to walk past the shop every day to get to work.

Own brand washing detergents work just as well as their more expensive labelled neighbours too.
Persil Powder Non Bio 25 wash / 2.125Kg, £7!!
Tesco Powder Non Bio 25 wash / 2KG, £4

The list is endless to own brand alternative - spirits, biscuits, cereal, fish fingers, frozen veg, chips etc

However, if I can give just one piece of advice please do not buy own brand or cheap washing up liquid. Nothing beats fairy for value!

Frugally yours

P.S. Living with The Chap does amuse me. He came home from work late yesterday about 9.30pm as  I was cleaning the poop from the litter tray. He takes one look at me and states "I was going to kiss you, but now I am not as you are holding a bag of sh*t". He was right I was. So I popped the poop in the bin and washed my hands. Walked back into the lounge to finding him waiting for me puckered up!! :o)

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Green Fingered.

Hello Folks

Sorry for the radio silence. Some stuff has been going on and it has taken a bit of my time. Cannot say more than that for the time being, but all is well and I am back!

I had such a great long bank holiday weekend. The weather was stunning, so I got all the washing done in one day and hanging out to dry.

But I did spend one whole day gardening. A few weeks ago I planted some seeds in the hope I could grow my own vegetables over the summer.

I have had some success. Look at my four bags of potatoes. It looks like a mini rain forest. I planted the bags only half full, when I started and have been topping it up every couple of weeks over the bottom leaves to encourage more spuds to grow.

My onions are coming along nicely too. In these troughs are red onions and spring onions. Unfortunately in the rain this morning some seeds came down too, so it makes the onions tricky to see on the photo.

There are also fine green bean plants

You can just see my tomato plants coming too in the grow bag.

I also have 7 lettuces coming through I bought as half dead plugs from Aldi reduced to 50p. A bit of tlc and they are coming on a treat. There were 8 but one has met his maker..
At the very bottom in the above photo in the square plant pot is a chilli plant I was given. It is coming along a treat which is great considering the seeds I grew failed to do anything!

With the amount I have spent on compost, planters and plants I better be able to feed Staffordshire, otherwise this has not been a frugal undertaking. It has however been so much fun!!

The last lot of compost I bought was recommended to me by a guy at my local gardening centre. More expensive at £6 per bag, but buy 2 get 1 free. Then he only wanted 2 bags so he gave me his free bag. Brilliant! When I got it home I i noticed it was recommended by Which.
The Chap and I then used the last bit of cash on his birthday voucher towards a trip to the cinema to Star Trek. We have been trying to find time to go for 3 weeks, so were so very excited!! So many nods to the original films and some in jokes too for the fans. But a gripping yarn and Benedict Cumberbatch stole the show!!

Our latest news is the kitchen is 92% finished. I have hot water again in the kitchen and there are only 2 floor tiles to lay by the door and a hole in the wall post flooding to repair. A bit of painting, and a jolly good clean, plus fixing the freezer door to the covering panel and the dish washer to it's panel and there its done. I am loathed to show you a picture until it is complete! So watch this space. Another 2-3 weekends and I hope it will be finished!

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Being Thrifty

Being Thrifty means:-
• Taking lunch to work
• Wearing jumpers
• Planning dinners so nothing gets thrown away
• Cooking from scratch
• Always comparing prices
• Being skint because you always save whatever you can
• Never buying on impulse
• Buying to last
• Not being afraid of second hand
• Using cash
• Living humbly

Frugally yours

Monday, 13 May 2013

Getting Obsessive About MPG.

It seems ages since I talked about money, or to be more specific how to be thrifty.

Cars are a major cause of expense for most people and personally it costs me £200 per month just to get to work. A noteworthy percentage of my salary, exclusive of tax, insurance, and wear / tear.

So anything I can do to ensure I am getting the most out of my fuel consumption is always worth considering.

With this in mind, I have been keeping an eye on my mpg the last few weeks. It seems like I am getting roughly 43mpg on my little 1.2 POLO.

This is within Volkswagon’s parameters for urban fuel consumption.

I am pleased with this, but I thought you might be interested in noting a few ways of making sure you are getting the most out mpg out of your car.

1)      Check your tyre pressure regularly. At  least once per month. Suggested pressures will be written in your manual. In my POLO they also have them printed inside the fuel lid.
2)      Remove all additional weight from your car. Do you need all that junk you keep in your boot?
3)      Reduce your speed. Keeping to the speed limit is not only the safe way to travel but it also ensures that you are getting the most out of your engine in the most economic manner. Try using cruise control if your car is posher than mine. You may also discover it will save you points and fines in the long term.
4)      Drive smoothly. Pulling out at junctions in a smooth manner, reduces your RPMs and therefore your fuel consumption.
5)      Avoid breaking abruptly too, which just wastes the impetus from the fuel already burned, leading to burning more. It is also a safer way to drive.
6)      Keep your car properly serviced. An MOT is mandatory, but a service is not. By ensuring that your car is in good working order you keep the engine tuned and therefore at maximum efficiency. Delaying a service may seem thrifty, but in the long term it is not.
7)      Use the handbrake when at a junction. Keeping the car on the breaking point whilst waiting for a light to change only saves you half a second, but does mean you are using fuel when you do not need to.

There are so many ways to ensure you get best possible fuel efficiency.

If I could recommend one thing, it would be when you fill up your tank push the milometer to zero and see how many miles a full tank will get you.

You may be surprised going forward, how obsessive such a little change makes you.

Frugally yours

Friday, 10 May 2013


It's very strange.

I lived alone for 10 years and loved my quiet evenings by myself.

Today The Chap left for a weekend of walking with friends.

I was actually looking forward to full control of the sofa and remote.

The reality?

I'm a bit lonely....

Hurry home TC, preferably in one piece.

Frugally yours

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Abigail's Shattered


Abigail's pretty tired this evening.

So we thought we would take over tonight and show you what she bought us today.

Two beautiful collars. We have not had necklaces before, but as now we are very nearly grown up. Abigail went out today and celebrated by buying us these.

Pink for me! (Twinkle) and Red for me (Belle).

We even got name tags with a telephone number on in case we get lost.

She let me (Twinkle) even go outside for a bit. She wouldn't let me (Belle) as apparently I am "untrustworthy". Pah!

Anyway, don't we look so smart and grown up?

Twinkle & Belle.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Shop Around

We need a new kettle. The Chap broke ours. I do not think it is particularly clever to continue using a kettle which leaves all over the base unit. I might not know much about physics, but I seem to recall that electricity and water are not good bed fellows.

You can buy a basic kettle for a fiver nowadays.
more details on Argos Value Range Cordless Kettle - White.
Photo Credit- Argos

But it is very basic.

I fancied something a little bit fancier, that would compliment our new kitchen, with a recognised name.
more details on Breville VKJ366 Still Hot Kettle - Black.
Photo Credit - Argos
I have settled on the Breville which I bought from Argos. It was £39.99 and had £2 off so I picked it up for £37.99 I have found it a little cheaper online, but with the delivery costs it would have been more expensive. I just wandered 100 yards from my office and picked it up at lunchtime.

I like the fact it changes colour as the water boils and the light stays red to indicate there is no need to reboil the kettle. I think that might be quite energy saving.

It is interesting to note that for £9.99 I could have bought an extended warranty (what a waste of money! but I did check and the normal warranty lasts for 12 months. So lets take the gamble. 

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A Saving Of £162.00 / Annum

Please, please, please check your bank statement every month.

I had not done this for a while. Then on Saturday, I popped into my bank and printed off a statement from my bills current account. Whilst idly looking through the debit column I saw a figure of £13.50. I looked across and saw it was for an account fee.

Swiftly marching to the counter I asked why I was paying this amount each month. I could have sworn, in fact I am certain I stopped this last year. However, I have no proof and it is entirely possibly it was for my other current account with a different bank.

My £13.50 / month gave me the following benefits
  • £250.00 “free” overdraft.
  • Mobile phone insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Roadside recovery
  • Card insurance

Lets look at that a bit more closely
  • £250.00 “free” overdraft. It is not free if it is costing me £162.00 per annum.
  • Mobile Phone Insurance – I have checked my contents insurance previously. It covers my mobile phone with a £100 excess. In 16 years of owning a phone I have never lost a phone.
  • Travel insurance. I go on holiday on average 1/year. Insurance costs me £15/trip from the post office.
  • Roadside recovery. Less than £20 per year with Green Flag.
  • Card insurance – good luck if you find / steal my cards. I do not keep the credit cards with me in case of failure of self discipline and the debit cards have rarely more than a few pounds in them.
Seems a lot of smoke for £162.00 per year.

It is cancelled now. Interestingly, as I cancelled it the Teller informed me the interest free overdraft would also be available on a basic account which has no monthly fee. For most people the overdraft would be the most useful part.

Bloody Banks!

Frugally yours