Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Monthly March Budget and More Bread!

It is (hopefully) Pay Day tomorrow, I always get so excited at the thought of Pay Day.

I can pay back more debt! Yippee!

I have been setting out my budget for March. It is a little unusual this month as it is a 5 week sales period for me so I will have to ensure that I allow a little more.

I always put aside my bills money on the first of the month which covers mortgage, insurance, tv license etc.

Petrol - £230. I allowed £200 last month, which turned out to be just over what I needed for 4 weeks.

Food - £100. I need to restock, plus I have 2 sets of guests visiting in March.

Savings - £200. A little bit more than last month, but I am prepared to take out £50 if needed at the end of the month if necessary.

This hopefully allows me a weekly budget of £25 to cover any extra costs.

I also have to buy 5 tickets this month to various events and exhibitions I am attending. Total cost £76.50 though £47.50 will be reimbursed by others who I am buying the tickets for.

March is going to be another tight month. But that means debt is getting paid off. Most definitely a good thing.

I have started the ramping up ready for my visitors on Friday. The 2yo will not give two hoots about the state of my flat, but I really want his Mum to feel it is clean and welcoming. Let the cleaning commence!

So this evening I started the necessary preparations.

Here is my shopping, which I have done a day early so tomorrow is not a race when I get home from work.

 Spent £35.15
I will be buying some vegetables / fruit and meat too, but getting that from my local market on Friday where it is cheaper and I can buy smaller quantities to suit my needs.

I also started on the bread that I need for the weekend, making a loaf and these gorgeous thyme and honey rolls. The recipe came from this book, I have been very kindly lent by a friend at my evening class.

 I think they look pretty tasty.

I am becoming cheeky in my old age and asking people if I can borrow items rather than buying them. If I like a few of the recipes then I will copy them out and return the book. I asked if I could have it for 2 weeks. My friend said I could keep it longer, but 2 weeks to me seems a reasonable length of time.

Speak to you tomorrow.

Frugally yours


Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Book Review and A Frugal Menu Plan

I have had the afternoon off work and it has been bliss, well apart from the dentist - 2 fillings and I cried like a baby throughout. Pathetic, I know. But behind me and the £30 spent. But another appointment booked for 6months time. I hate going, but I always turn up as not going could lead to worse problems.

I have recently finished reading "And The Band Played On" By Christopher Ward for Book Club on Monday. What an excellent read. It is a true story written by the grandson of one of the band members who died when the Titanic sunk. It starts with the sinking and gives a vivid account of the sinking and the effects of the cold water on those unlucky souls who did not find refuge in a lifecraft.

It documents the personal disaster of his family, and what happened to his body. It also shows the effects of class on the rescue attempt and retrieval of bodies. But, what makes this book so powerful (apart from the photographs) is the longterm effects this led to as his grandmother was pregnant but unmarried and documents the dark side of this maritime tragedy. The greed that was apparent. If I could recommend one book this month, this would definitely be it. I read it over 2 nights and was engrossed.

I mentioned yesterday I have a friend coming down with her 2 yo on Friday for the weekend and since I get paid at the end of the week I have been finalising my shopping list ready for pay day. I wanted to be able to serve food that would be both plentiful, frugal and tasty. However, I also wanted to ensure that what I cooked, the left overs could then be frozen and used as a meal later in the month. This is the finished plan

Menu Plan
Friday Night - Homemade pizza with easy crust from all recipes - ham onion and mushroom. Excess dough can then be frozen.
Saturday Morning - Homemade thyme and honey buns
Saturday Lunchtime -We are out, so ham s/w with lemon / banana cake currently sitting frozen in the freezer
Saturday Evening - Homemade beef and ale pie. I already have the Guinness so only need to purchase some stewing steak. This can then be put into the slow cooker whilst we are out ready to serve with a pastry top after the boy has gone to bed. Fish fingers for him.
Sunday Breakfast - Pancakes - TBC
Sunday Lunch - A chicken dinner which then should serve me for about 3 / 4 nights after.

Hopefully this will keep the expenditure down on food, but also provide me with at least 6 - 8 additional meals later on in March.

Frugally Yours

Monday, 27 February 2012

Library Visits and Bread Again!

Well Hello again! How are you?
I am brilliant thanks! Had a great weekend and pretty low spend too.
The Chap and I ate at his on Friday night and he took me out for dinner on Sunday, yum - though I did get the drinks before that we shared with some good friends of mine.

To be fair we normally take it in turns to pay for dinner but it had been a while since we had been out just the two of us. Oh, it was lovely!

Saturday I took myself off to my nearest town. Normally, I avoid town centres on a Saturday. Having no money to spend puts me off. Plus, I might spy something I really want, so removing myself from such situations is best.
But, this Saturday I had my expenses cheque to pay in. Well, if that is not a reason to run to your nearest bank I do not know what is!
So I took the opportunity to go the library too and look at what I got out.

Your local library is such a great resource it never ceases to amaze me that I am the only person I know who goes. What a waste to just keep buying books. If I do use my library cookery book in the kitchen, well I just put it inside a clear plastic bag to keep it clean or cover it in cling film...simples!

Unfortunately talking books are £1.50 each for 3 weeks, but I do love having something other than the radio playing in the car so it is a nice treat.

The book is to get some ideas on other breads to try baking. I made some more loaves on Sunday, so still no supermarket bread brought since I decided to give up mass produced loaves until the end of March. So far so good. Plus my costing suggests each loaf I bake comes in at 35p /loaf. And, no horrid additives.

Whilst the oven was on I decided to use up 2 old bananas I had left over from work last week and made 2 loaves of banana bread too. Thrifty as all the ingredients were in the cupboard plus I bunged everything in together thus saving on electricity too.

I thought if honest the banana bread was a little over cooked, but obviously my work colleagues did not agree as 1 loaf got hoovered up by 2pm and there was only 3 in the office today! :o)

They look okay don't they?

I am getting excited currently as it is pay day later this week and I have been organising my budget and what I can pay off - more on that later this week.

The new door is in hand too though I did find out that even though I own my flat the Housing Association who I pay my service charge to insist I have to ask permission before commencing the work. Oh and they charge a fee for that...... £60!!!!!!!!!!!!! I currently have a complaint about the fee outstanding and am digging out a copy of my leasehold to check if they can do this. Even Robin Hood wore a mask! So cross on Friday when I found out.

I have a friend and her 2 yo son down this weekend so currently getting ready for them coming. Entertaining on a budget should be fun. So I am writing a shopping list ready for pay day and planning the meals in advance. I have £4ish left on Feb's budget but really can probably get away with buying nothing else until - Thurs / Friday. But the food budget will have to be extended I am thinking £80 - 100 for the month with a large proportion being spent to restock this week, then only perishables going forward until the end of March.

It has been another week of no food waste which pleases me no end.

Tomorrow - Dentist £30, Evening Course - £15 and Avon Order £5.50. But the afternoon off work... Priceless!

This month is right down the wire financially, after paying for all this lot there is well I think the correct term in "Bugger All" left in the current account so Wednesday is going to have to be .No Spend Day. Lets hope the salary does not arrive a day late again.

Have a great week folks, and remember we may not be rich, but at least we CAN sleep at night.

Frugally Yours.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

So THAT'S Why I Have Savings...phew!

I have known for quite a while that my front door is on the...well.. "knackered" side of acceptable, and this morning is when I finally accepted it's imminent demise.

For a couple of years it has always stuck during the winter months and currently I am in a situation where only a couple of rather suggestive hip or bum thrusts can open it, or for that matter close it again either.

It has been planed to death, so much so that during the summer months I can daylight around most of the edge.

Today, it finally got it's "last rites". When I tried to close the door this morning it got wedged so badly I had to go in via the garage and close it with a strategic should thrust from the inside.

Lunchtime today found me sat at my desk with the phone attached to my ear getting quotes. I want a UPVC white front door  in a Chatsworth Style  to let in a bit of light.

Like this..

What amazes me is the discrepancy in price. The most expensive has come in at £600 and the cheapest at £450. The cheaper one would also be fitted in 7-10 days time and is my parents recommendation as they have used him before.

Who am I to ignore my parents advice?

It is such a shame to spend so much money, but that is why I think it is vital to have savings. So unexpected situations like this can be resolved without resorting to credit cards, loans or crying in a pathetic sodden heap.

I am sad at having to spend the money, but I can afford it. Each month I put money aside to pay into my savings account. I am glad today I did this.

So, I am saying, whilst paying back my debt is top of my priorities, a close second is save save save. Thank God I do!

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I Tried My Best.

The £5 weekly budget has not gone well today. As always everything seems to come at once so I gave in today and just got what I needed.

Following my decision to give up crisps for Lent, I stopped off at the town centre greengrocers for some fruit to last a couple of days.
This came in at £2.34, yes, daylight robbery for the quality. Not going there again.

Then went to Poundland and spent £2.

Unfortunately, I forgot to grab some bread from the freezer this morning for lunch so had to pick up a sandwich. Interesting point a Meatball Sandwich from Subway costs £3.19, but at the moment they have a deal on a sandwich and a drink (bottle of water / cola / tea/ coffee) is £3. So by asking for a bottle of water too I got the sandwich for £3, 20p less than if I just had the sandwich. I hate this kind of cracked logic.

I then needed some milk for the office - 2 pints for £1.

Finally, on the way home I stopped off at Morrisons as I needed some washing up liquid. I am and Ad Man's dream and went after seeing their posters for the Basic Range. Washing up liquid for 38p. Great, I will try some of that and let you know my thoughts. The cheapest I could find before then was 59p.

I also grabbed some strong white flour 60p and some yeast 79p, both the same as Tesco. Spent £1.77.

Total Spend today - £10.11

I am taking the Morrisons trip off my food budget for the month, which leave £4.07 to spend until 1st March.

Shame, I overspent this week by £3.34. I would not have done so if I remembered my lunch today and had not bought that fruit. The plan, now is not to spend until the weekend.

It is easy to become obsessed by the overspend, and not see the bigger picture. I can afford to go over I just do not want to. When I do go over it is by £1 or £2 not by hundreds. Since commencing blogging in January I have paid off £327.92  which is 16.5% off my debt.

Is it sad that I am looking forward to Pay Day as it means I can make another debt re-payment ? Possibly, but I do not give a monkeys!

Frugally yours

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Today is Pancake Day, I will not be indulging this evening, as I am off to College after work and will not return home until late.

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins, and historically the day when one uses up all your fats before a 40 day period of fasting ending at Easter.

This is not a religious blog, but I thought you may be interested in learning where the tradition of Pancake Day came from. It was our medieval ancestors using up the last of the eggs,sugar etc before fasting.

I think Lent is a really good idea whether you are cash strapped or cash rich. You will appreciate what you have.

So I am going to use the next 40 days to set some mini tasks for myself

1)Give up crisps for 40 days.
2)Save a few pennies every day into the Rainy Day Jar.
3)Reconcile W Towers Accounts.
4) Weed W Towers.
5) Remove Ivy from W Towers.

My decision to bake bread is also in full swing

These will not reduce my debt or increase my savings significantly, however it will simplify my life and point me in the right fiscal direction.

2 No Spend Days in a row, (today & yesterday) so my £5 for 5 days is still intact.

I am also currently completing my work expenses form which I forgot to do last month. So hopefully my cheque should be quite healthy in a couple of days. It will all go in the pot for month end when I will again tackle my personal debt.

Enjoy your pancakes.

Frugally Yours

Monday, 20 February 2012

An Ode to Shoes!

However fat I keep getting, and if I ever get any slimmer, my shoes the dear old friends will still always fit.
I have been struggling today to think about what I wanted to talk about, and suddenly when I got home it came to me as I opened the!

Every woman who has ever lived loves those little colourful wisps we float around in every day. We have suffered burning soles from high heels and crushed toes from pointed ends. And we have never complained at their price, for you see shoes are like food for me.... except they feed my soul.

I cannot begin to imagine how much I have spent over the years on the. Look at these.

They still have the receipt in the box £327. Hideous price, but Oh My! Aren't they beautiful?

I liked one pair of gold mules so much I bought them in silver gold and black. Well, I could not decide which I liked best. They are though sitting down shoes as they rub.

I also purchased these a year or so ago. High and elegant, I have to admit I also bought them in nude too.

Let us not forget the boots...

These are designed to be worn without socks so your feet can be seen through the suede lattice work.

But now in this recession damned times, buying shoes is an indulgence I cannot afford. Perhaps I do have enough to keep me going a little while...

However, fear not Dear Visitor, I can been able to purchase 2 pairs recently that have not stretched the bank balance and can be justified by this "Simply Thrifty" Miss.

These are Kurt Geiger, at Christmas a glossy mag had a voucher inside for £20 off a pair off KG shoes, so I ordered these babies delivered for a grand total of £12. So pretty and perhaps more wearable than some of my other babies.

But, this is the pair that motivated me to post today.

For you see I bought these over Christmas and forgot about them putting them in a bag in the boot of the car.There they stayed until this weekend when I cleared the car.

Completely unworn Autograph high heeled shiny black shoes, so wearable at work or on an evening out. And I got them from a Charity shop in S Staffordshire between Christmas and New Year for the grand sum of £3.49. Perfect fit.
The shoe Gods were smiling on me.

And whilst the Jimmy Choos pictured at the beginning will always be the pair I love the most. Well, these little babies come in a close second.

Please do not criticise me for my old fetish for footware. I have learnt the error of my ways and I know I cannot indulge in any more spending sprees, but maybe you will allow this woman to occasionally stroke my collection, or even maybe visit a shoe shop if I promise not to buy another pair until the debt is cleared?

Another No Spend Day today.

Frugally Yours

Sunday, 19 February 2012

I Faced An Old Enemy and Won, hahahaha!

Hello to my two new followers - Sandra and Becky Bee I am so glad to meet you. Also thank you so much Becky Bee, Scarlet and Lizzie for such kind comments, they really keep me going!

I have been a little bit lax in the last few days blogging, but I have been so busy that it is 20.09 now and I have only just got to sit down.
Saturday, I was up early and by 9.30AM, the car had been vacuumed /washed and filled with petrol ready for a day out with my nephew- we went to Thomas Land / . He loved it so much he could barely talk for the first 2 hrs. He was so good and never ran off once, a good achievement since he is only 3.
ThomasLand in Staffordshire at Drayton Manor is not a thrifty day out at all. Tickets booked in advanced, plus parking came in at £29.50 for 1 adult and 1 child. No deals could be found anywhere since it was half term. However, since everyone else checked the weather reports it was sooo quiet, the only downside was it poured mid morning. We both got soaked.
But, look at this picture and tell me it was not worth it. We spent nearly an hour
in this shed watching the toy trains.

Food, in these places was expensive too - 2 sausage rolls, a fruit shoot, hot chocolate and a milky way (yes all major food groups covered) came in at about £10!. Lesson learnt for next time I think - will be taking a packed lunch.

Got home, had about an hour then round to see The Chap for dinner. Got back early this morning and have been cleaning, washing, baking and tidying ever since.

Thanks to Frugal In Norfolk for her bread tutorial - I had it open and faced my nemesis again. at these results..

So whilst I had the oven on it seemed wise to use up the space, so I also made CornBread which I have been dying to try for ages. I think i bought the cornmeal back in December.
I had never had it before, but knew it is very popular in the USA with a lot of savoury and sweet alternatives. I have started with a savoury basic version from the BBC website. I have frozen it into portion sizes for future use, I would love to try a sweet version next

I also made a beef and mushroom casserole. Plus I used up the chicken stock from during the week's chicken and made a chicken/leek/potato soup.

The beef came from the freezer and was some reduced stewing steak and I put it in a pot with the defrosted New Covent Garden Soup mushroom soup and paprika / onion. Made a delicious yet thrifty tea with some veg and a couple of pieces of the cornbread. 
(please note my food is a bit like me, it photographs really badly! :o) )
I had to go shopping again on Friday after work, here's the pic

It came in at £9.63, so £5.84 left to spend until pay day in about a week and a half. I will need to grab some more milk and maybe a couple of potatoes, but it should be fine. We will see!

See the toothpaste at the front that was FREE!! Hurray, I often fill in forms online to get free stuff sent through and this little baby as waiting for me on the mat when I got home. Thank you kindly!

No food waste this weekend, so delighted at 2 weeks running.

And apart from taking The Nephew out for the day, and paying for petrol I have not spent another penny. So still in funds for this month without raiding the savings.

Currently on the search for a bread making book not using a machine, saw one on Friday in charity shop but for a pamphlet type book with only about 20 pages they wanted £1.50. I put it back on the shelf and walked out nose in the air. I would not have paid £1.50 for it new with so few pages. So still looking.

Conclusion - would go back to Thomas Land again The Nephew so enjoyed it, the bread has been a huge success and I am still in funds, life could be worse.

So any ideas what kind of bread to try next?

Frugally Yours
Abigail x

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Frugality In Action.

Firstly let me say, Hello!! to my new follower - Flourgirl. Thank you so much for visiting! x

Being frugal is an every day occurrence here at W Towers it has to be, to keep to budget and pay back those darn credit cards.

I feel on top of paying everything back and I can see an end date now of December 2012 when I will be debt free, perhaps even earlier when the commission starts flowing again. It makes me feel good to know that I am taking action. I do have bad days when I feel like it is taking forever, but the truth is it is not. "The End" as they say "Is Nigh".
In order to fulfil my goal, I have to ensure that every day thrift is adhered to. I have had 2 No Spend Days is a row, and I feel good.
When I do spend money it has to be on items that will last and are good value.
Tuesday, I bought that cooked chicken for The Chap and I to have. I served it with tinned peas/sweetcorn and the last of the potatoes I bought a couple of weeks ago. Ok, as romantic meals go, it was not the best but it was cheap. The chicken I got reduced for £3.25 and in the end it has served up 4 chicken dinners and there is another serving which I froze for another day. Plus, I boiled up the bones for a good hour and hopefully at the weekend I can make soup. Hmmm, tasty and frugal 5 meals and soup. I reckon that means that the meat has come in at 46p per meal.

I also bought whilst at the supermarket a bottle of own brand caffeine free cola for 60p and a bag of white strong flour for 60p. The food budget for Feb now is down to £15.47. I need a few things and am planning to spend a lot of that over the weekend.

I do make sure now that whatever I buy lasts - I picked up a huge box of own brand washing powder at Morrisons over Christmas and whilst they suggest using 30g per wash I use less and so far my clothes come out clean, I also bought a small bottle of fabric conditioner, then decanted it into a larger bottle and topped it up with water. My clothes still smell fresh. I could probably do away with conditioner all together but when this bottle has already done me 2 months for £1 with still over half left then I can justify buying it.

I air dry all my clothes now and avoid the tumble dryer to cut down on electricity. However, I hate the scratchy towels air drying creates, so instead I air them over night until they are about 80% dry then bung them in the dryer to fluff them up at the end.

I would have liked to do so much this week after work - bake bread, ironing etc but the truth is my family and The Chap came first, deservedly so. My sister has dropped off my nephew with my parents for half term week, at 3 years old he is a bundle of delight, giggles and energy so Monday, Wednesday and tonight I have popped round after work to spend some time with him, bath him and put him to bed. That, if you ask me is a joy. I am taking him out for the whole day on Saturday, and budget be blowed!

Tuesday, was valentines night and of course I spent it with The Chap. He bought me a beautiful card and a box of chocolates in a heart shaped box. I am so touched, no man had bought me chocolates before especially in such a lovely box. 

So, all those pesky chores have got put to one side and I will tackle them on Sunday when I have the time to do it. Bread making here I come.....

To sum up, being frugal this week has not been pesky, and spending time with 2 handsome chaps is never bothersome.

I have also made an extra payment off credit card 1, only £7.01  (such a small amount but it covers the interest payment for Feb and a couple of extra pounds too) I thought things were going so well this month I could afford it, plus nowadays it gives me more pleasure than visiting House of Frasier during my lunch hours. The result today and yesterday I walked round the block in my lunchtime, passed no shops and just felt pious for doing so.

Life really is good.
Frugally Yours

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The Weekly Menu Plan, Blown.

I am really glad that I spent the time organising the weekly menu yesterday, because today I can blow it out of the water.

To explain, today as the whole western world knows, is Valentine's Day. I remembered and popped round to The Chap's this morning to pop his card under his wiper so it would be found later.

The Chap offered to pay for a take away, but as he has paid for a lot recently I said "No" and offered to do something. Turns out The Chap is not fond of Mr Brains Fagots, the only way I could cook something quick when I got home and allow us both to eat the same meal. Plus I did not think egg and chips would make the grade tonight.

After much texting it has been decided I will pick up a cooked chicken from Tesco which I can then serve with mash, peas and gravy - all of which I do have in stock.

Whilst it is an extra £4.50 from the food budget, I can adapt as a cooked chicken will do me many many meals plus soup. However that means no Fagots again (are they ever going to get eaten?) and basically junking the menu plan for the next few days at least. I do need to grab some more flour too.

Whilst buying a cooked chicken is a waste of money, I know I could buy fresh and then cook it, I think I can justify the extra £1.50 as at least I will not have to wait ages for it to cook, and as I get in at 7pm tonight, I think we will want to eat fairly swiftly as we will both be hungry.

Also I have spent all of my £5 pocket money today after an NSD yesterday. One trip to Poundland - Crisps, Coke, Sugar, Washing Up Liquid and Bin Bags - Total £5 BUT the Sugar / washing up liquid / Bags are for the office so I can claim them back on end of month expenses. So perhaps, I can say only spent £2 so far?

I am well within budget for food so far with enough to pay for petrol and extras in the bank account. So with just over 2 weeks to go, it is all looking good.

A Little Bit of Love
I always look forward to seeing The Chap, we have only been together (very nearly) 9 months and I just think he is the kindest, most handsome man I have ever met. I cannot believe I have been so lucky. And we were introduced by The Chap's best friend's mum who I go to evening class with! Small world!

Frugally yours

Monday, 13 February 2012

Menu Plan and a 6 Week Challenge

I would love the world to believe I am one of life's natural Chefs / Bakers with a bottle of white truffe oil in my staples cupboard. I would be able to whisk up a culinary delight consisting of pine nuts, lemon grass and organic venison aged for 30 days in wood chips.

This is far from the truth.

I can cook but it takes effort and concentration, I do not glide along in the kitchen with a dainty laugh and an artistic flour smudge on my cheek. I hump stuff around searching for counter space and have to throw every 4 th leek medallion into the bin as it has richocheted off the knife before spinning to a stop in the middle of the kitchen floor.

Comedy aside, I am not a disaster however neither am I the natural of my Mother.

So a challenge I believe is in order. For the next 6 weeks until the end of March I will not purchase any bread but make it / bake it all myself. Bit nervous about this, however lets face it, my bread making skills need to improve and unless forced I will carry on keeping Hovis in 1940s style bikes the foreseeable future.

Menu Plan
Breakfasts will be cereal this week and I have tomatoes and toast for lunch.
Monday - Left over cottage pie from the freezer with frozen peas
Tuesday - Spending the evening with The Chap so TBC
Wednesday - Last box of frozen Faggotts with Cabbage and mash
Thursday - Left Overs from Wednesday
Friday - something quick with eggs
Saturday - The Chap's turn to cook at his.
Sunday - Beef in Mushroom sauce slow cooked this should last a few days after being made.

So the freezer is slowly getting eaten up. Just shows how much food I have bought.

Another No Spend Day today. I went yesterday and filled up the car with petrol £50, then made sure I had £5 to last me until Friday for a bit of pocket money. Did not go out at lunchtime from work. So quite pleased today.

The Bank balance is looking a little low, but I am hoping that I can make it last until 1st when I next get paid.

The only concern I have is running out of The Chaps' favourite tipple before then.

I am dreading tonight. Monday is my weekly no heating evening, and I hate it!!

So does anyone have any good bread recipes? As currently just using flour yeast, water and salt. I seem to recall my Grandfather used to put butter in his loaves.

Frugally Yours

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A Big Thank You and Mrs Miller

First of all a very Big Thank You to "Frugal In Norfolk" for her post about my blog. I  am so touched at the kindness and generosity of strangers.  The www is a wonderful thing.So if you are visiting me for the first time, I bid you welcome, enjoy and thank you for reading. Hello, to my new followers  - Scarlet, Hilde and Miss Thrifty herself. I am so thrilled at actually having followers! x

This weekend started off not so good and has got better and better.

I did manage not to spend over my £5 this week which always please me, so I celebrated with a bit of food shopping. On Friday after work I took myself off to M&S.

Hmm. Yup I know what you thinking "M&S Abigail!!" but the truth is I mentioned earlier this week about how I wanted to buy a present for someone I care about. Well it was for The Chap and it would have cost £45.00 (after much googling of prices) and I just decided it was too much. I mean you can really go mad with this Valentine's Day thing can't you? I decided that really the only time to buy a present is Birthdays and Christmas. But, I did want a treat for us both to enjoy so I bought the  £20 meal deal. Not frugal, nope not at all. But delicious!

Unfortunately, The Chap ended up working late on Friday and did not get back until very late so we scratched meeting up that evening. What I did not realise it that M&S Millionaire's Shortbread actually sings to you from the fridge like a grocery Siren of the Cold. Result, I ate one by myself on the sofa watching rubbish and dressed in my baggiest velour tracksuit. Yes, I can do a very good impression of Waynetta Slob when I can.

So Saturday morning, off to Tesco I pop and spend £11.85 on this little lot

The Pizzas were reduced by the way to £1 and I think they could be useful to keep in the freezer.

So £19.92 left to play with this month in the food budget. I took the £20 for our meal out of my personal weekend spending allowance.

We ate it last night and it was delicious. M&S food - a treat that will not be seen again for the foreseeable future.

Today we met up with some of The Chaps's friends for a birthday do. Very good company.

Getting home this afternoon, I realised that I only had three quarters of a loaf left in the freezer (reduced obviously) and perhaps it was time to face my nemesis again...dum dum dum bread making. So I became Mrs Miller the Baker.
Actually, I am very good at bread making, if you wish spread butter on the grain equivalent of a sliced housebrick.
Here, they are pre baking.

And post.

They turned out better than hoped and I got the recipe from the great british bake off, but next time I think I am not going to use wholemeal flour but a mixture of wholemeal and white. For a lighter loaf.

Any bread making tips gratefully received, though "buy a loaf" is still looking very good.

Menu plan - sorry no time this weekend to review fridge, but I will post on this tomorrow.

Have a great week folks!
Frugally yours

Friday, 10 February 2012

Making Life Simpler

Being thrifty and not spending it is constant struggle, two evenings of not putting the heating on. Making £5 last 5 days to cut down on unnecessary spending. It is all aimed at the ultimate goal, paying off the credit cards, overdraft and loan.
Every day I think "How can i reduce it?"

But, so far what I seem to be missing is the other goal of this blog, making life simpler.

This is where everything comes together, by paying off my credit cards, loan and overdraft I am making life simpler. But, also by not "buying" (if you excuse the pun) into the culture of of our throw away society it appears to me that suddenly life becomes simpler. One pair of black high heels are enough, and they do not need to be Jimmy Choo. I have come across a few saying recently that have really resonated with me, and I wanted to share them with you. Something to think about during this cold and rather bleak weekend facing us.

The first is courtesy of my sister
"Happiness doesn't come from getting something you do not comes from recognising it comes from something you have"

The second is an old Spanish proverb.
"Take want you want, says God, Take it and pay for it"

I realise now that that my friends do not care what labels I am wearing, and that my home does not look worse for not purchasing some little trinket for it.

Paying back debt is hard, but in doing so I am finding a simpler life and hopefully will ensure I do not face this situation again in the future.

Life is good.

Food Waste - None, Zil, Zero and Nada. Yabadabdoo!!!!!

Any ideas Dear Friend, what else I could do to make my life simpler?

Frugally yours

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Hobbies Help

Evening!I am feeling a lot more hopeful and positive today. Thank goodness, I was a bit down in the mouth yesterday wasn't I? To tell the truth I had some rather worried family after yestersdays post.

It is best to concentrate on the positive and one of those is is my current project
Yes, I am making a dress for work.

Actually it is a little further forward than this picture would suggest. I do not really enjoy dresmaking, but the amazing sense of satisfaction I get from finishing and wearing what I make, well I feel proud and I do not get that feeling from work.

Actually, I am not bad at dressmaking, I have...ahem....won a couple of first prizes locally. The last dress which won was this.

I think having a hobby is really important, to retain your sanity and identity. TO create something makes you feel proud of yourself. I do not get much pride from my work in recent times.

Anyhoo the wrap around dress should be complete in the next couple of weeks. I will blog about it again then and show you the finished article.

I have completely used up my £5 budget today for this week. But have enough to get me through until the end of tomorrow i.e. drinks etc.

I believe it snowing most places, well not currently in Staffordshire. Darn it! Fancied having tomorrow off "snowed in" cough cough.

I hope Visitor you are safe and warm if it is snowing near you. I am and well that is more important than being a little skint isn't it?

Frugally yours

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Low Lows of Debt Repayment

For the last few days I have been feeling very low. After the highs of making another (for me) substantial repayment on my debt, I am left feeling very down looking at the bank balance.
This is the reality of paying off debt, you have no money. I always knew it was going to be very tight this month, but here I am a few days in and I feel depressed on what I have got to live for the next three and a bit weeks.

I am actually feeling depressed at the thought of what I have to live on this year to make me debt free by December. I have had to accept the reality that unless something drastic happens at work over the next few weeks and months, commission is going to be thin on the ground for the foreseeable future.

I can live with the thought of gruel and dry bread (ok I exaggerate for comic effect) but what i hate, i mean what I absolutely LOATHE is the fact that I cannot treat someone that I really care about. You see I want to buy a present, and I do not have the money to do it without raiding the savings. I have a dilemma and have about a week to make a decision on whether to go ahead and buy this gift or not. I will let you know what I decide.

I also have had to accept that a holiday is not in my immediate plans either. Every year I like to take advantage of a beautiful and free apartment in Spain. But, for the time being at least I cannot afford to go, again unless I raid savings or this damn recession decide to bugger off once and for all. Even a free apartment costs - flights, car hire and spending money. All of which I do not have.

I accept responsibility that I have got myself into this situation, but damn it sometimes it just plain depressing.

Not having a holiday or buying a gift will not injure me, i have food and I have savings, plus a roof over my head. More than about 80% of the world's population. I know I am lucky. But, this does not today stop me from feeling low about my situation and lack of funds.

I am keeping to the challenge of only spending £5 this week, and currently have £1.61 left to last 48 hrs. Achievable. But, this is not fun.

I also have managed two evenings without the heating on. Probably adding to my emotional downer.

I will not loose, and I will pay this money off and live simpler, but today..... now...... it is just bloody depressing.

Frugally Yours

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Menu Plan and £5 Challenge

Sunday again.....?
I have had my first ever No Spend Weekend! What a result. I bought a few things I documented yesterday on Friday on the way home and then avoided all shops for 48 hours. So proud of myself. In actual fact the snow was the reason. I did not want to get caught out, so I got everything I needed (not wanted, just needed) then avoided shops. Besides which, it has been to cold and snowy to venture too far from home.

The snow came down for a few hours on Saturday afternoon and evening and gave us about 3inches here in Staffordshire. The roads look pretty clear now, so hopefully getting to work tomorrow should not be too difficult. Though the forecast is prediciting snow for later this week. Gosh, I hope they are wrong.

I have spent the afternoon cleaning W Towers, doing the ironing and generally returning everything which had migrated to it's rightful place.

I went to grab the cleaning stuff and noticed how bad the cupboard was..

So I got everthing out an gave it a clean..

Menu Plan
Sunday - Sausage Casserole made yeserday in the slow cooker
Monday - left over sausage casserole
Tuesday - something quick, probably spaghetti on toast
Wednesday - Burger and veg
Thursday - Baked potato with Spicy Mackerel
Friday - Roast chicken dinner

This week is going to be really tight for money and I am going to try and exist on £5 until Friday. I have lunches already set, so hopefully the £5 should cover me for drinks etc this week whilst at work. I need to put petrol in the car tomorrow, but that has been budgeted for.

Fingers crossed!

If you do have more snow round by you or if everyone gets blanketed again, then take care driving folks. And whilst it is a good idea to try and turn your heating down, don't freeze will you?

Right off for a bath to warm up then going to watch Top Gear whilst hugging a hot water bottle.

Frugally yours

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Mental Conga!

I cannot believe it, a month since I started blogging. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy it and it really focuses the mind. Thank you for visiting and reading! x
Finally got paid  on Friday morning, so mentally did the conga round the       office.

By the afternoon, most of it was gone…boo.

I have a standing order, which removes a large proportion to pay mortgage etc. I immediately paid off some of that damned debt.

LOAN                 was £334.00.     Paid £111.00      New Balance: £223.00
CREDIT CARD 1  was £514.12.     Paid £34.60        New Balance: £479.52 CREDIT CARD 2  was £710.36.     Paid £50.00        New Balance: £660.36
OVERDRAFT              £300.          Not reduced       New Balance: £300.00

TOTAL PAID              £195.60
NEW TOTAL DEBT      £1662.88
10.5% paid off my debt this month

A total of 16.5% paid off in 2012 (£327.92)

I also put £150 into my savings account.

I was hoping to pay off more, but I did not make any commission this month, and I forgot I would have to pay for the landline telephone so a lot of the extra money I had from not paying council tax this month had to go towards that.

I am 2 months away from paying off the car loan – something to look forward to.

I have set a monthly budget for February of £40 for food and £200 for petrol. This leaves me with a very small weekly allowance. But, I do think it is achievable and I have put aside £30 to pay for my fillings at the end of February.

I went to the local market Friday to buy some vegetables. This lot cost me £2.08 but the tomatoes cover lunch next week at work.

I did have to pop to Tescos too and spent £6.15 But just on a few essentials milk(2for£3), butter (2for1) and cola (own brand).      
Food Budget left for Feb £31.77. I cannot think I will need anything else until next weekend.

FOOD WASTE: When I got in yesterday evening I checked the fridge where most of my waste comes from and found these some spaghetti left over       from a meal I did about 2 weeks ago and the rest of my pie, which now is       past it’s best. Could have done better this week.

It has been snowing here today since early afternoon. I loathe snow and hate driving in it so not planning on touching the car until Monday morning when hopefully the white stuff will all be gone. Luckily The Chap lives a 3 minute walk away. The heating has been on all afternoon as it is so darn cold. There is frugal and just plain silly and having your heating off when it is this cold seems silly to me.

Had the slow cooker on since this morning with a sausage casserole, those fancy lamb and chilli sausages I bought reduced at £1.75 a few weeks ago. It looks ands smells divine. Taking it round to eat with the chap later.

Frugally yours

Thursday, 2 February 2012

My Mummy x

Today has been a No Spend Day, and I am not happy about that at all.
Today is Pay Day and I should have been tackling bills and debt repayment, but for some reason, my salary has not hit my account. I was assured it would be there by the end of the day.

It is not.

I had no cash, so I just went for a walk around the block at 12ish, then back to the office to eat a frugal lunch – tomatoes on toast with a packet of skips.

I had been looking forward to blogging about how much had been paid off.

I feel like I have just dropped an ice cream sundae. Very disappointed.

However, I do have so many things to be thankful for and one of them is my Mummy. She, along with the rest of my family are such rocks in my life. After work today, I went to see her and she cooked me the most delicious dinner, Yum!

There is nothing ever better than a dinner your mum cooks. This weeks menu plan has gone out of the window. But, I do not care. When I am with my Mum, I am always happy.
Frugally yours

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson Are Gods, Do you Hear Me Gods! I say :o)

The day before pay day, and is supposed to be No Spend Wednesday.
Unfortunately it is not. The reason? Well I forgot to bring some lunch in.

Been a pretty disappointing 24 hours really in terms of spending.

Yesterday, I left work early as I had a dentist appointment - £17 NHS check up and clean.

At least my teeth are so sparkly you will not realize I have holes in them, yup…. Got to go back at the end of Feb for 2 fillings. Heck, another £30 to spend on the gnashers next month.

I forgot to take my toothbrush into work with me so had to stop off at the Co-op and buy a toothbrush and toothpaste. I also took the opportunity to buy the plain flour to make the pastry last night. Total spent £3.

So today, in order to eat at lunchtime. I wandered out to buy a loaf and went to Poundland. Got a Hovis brown Loaf for 50P about to go out of date. I only buy short dated bread products as they freeze and defrost so easily. I had some tomatoes back at the office to go with it. Whilst I was in there, bought 3 cans of diet coke and a multipack of crisps. Again, total cost £3. But hopefully this means I can avoid spending tomorrow and Friday.

I checked my online banking today to see what was left 24 hours before pay day and discovered I was £9.65 in credit (well before I hit my OD limit) not having expected this cash, I immediately transferred £9.60 off Credit Card 1 as an additional payment. This is 1.85% off the balance for Credit Card 1. ….Every little helps!

So time to review my debt at the end of the month

Overdraft           £300.00
Car Loan            £334.00
Credit Card 1      £514.12
Credit Card 2      £710.00

Total Debt          £1858.12

I hate throwing food away, so when I got home today I noticed that the remainder of the eggs were about to go out of date tomorrow and as there were 5 left I ought to try and use some. I will probably eat the rest over the weekend. They will not kill me as long as they still sink in water, then they are fine. Plus I bought 3 lemons on Friday that need to be used up too.

So I got out another favourite baking book…

And did 2 of Nigella’s lemon loaves I meant to make at the weekend. I am going to freeze the second for another time.

I am rather pleased with these.

I love a freebie and today provided me such a situation courtesy of Martin Lewis. I ordered a Valentine’s Day card for free from CardTown for The Chap. Bargain. Or am I just cheap? Answers on a postcard...

Still blooming cold here tonight. Went to bed early last night with a hot water bottle and a good book. Probably do the same tonight.

Frugally yours