Friday, 3 February 2017

Thrifty Times

Hello Lovelies,
If you look at my blog list you might have noticed I have been reading "thrifty" blogs for quite a few years.
Frugal Queen and Life After Money are old favourites.  Shoestring Cottage is a great new discovery. I find them very inspirational. Yet my own budget planning is still rather hit and miss.

What does thrifty mean to you? Maybe you see it as mean and penny pinching? I see it as not being wasteful and being clever with your money.
The plain fact is this family of 5  need to be thrifty. We have little choice. Then there is the whole issue of helping the planet and not wasting the earth's resources. I want to do that as well. The two often seem to  go hand in hand.

At the moment we live to our means and don't do much financial planning. What I want is to be able to put money aside for regular large bills and for emergencies. I want to save up for Christmas and a holiday, not put it on a credit card and have to spend months afterwards paying it off.
OK we are not talking massive debt, but I don't want any debt. If I can afford to pay it off, surely a bit of budgeting would mean I don't need to borrow in the first place. And I would avoid any interest charges.

In some areas I think I'm pretty good at spending wisely and in other ways I'm rubbish.
 I'm writing this post as a way to record what I think I do well and, more importantly, the parts I need to change. I hope it will help me focus on what I need to do, instead of doing the impressive ostrich impersonation I've been so good at up to now :0)

This year my new year's resolution was "spend less and save more". Easy to write but not so easy to do.
I've made a start by changing our energy supplier ( that was easy to do) and I've also changed the car insurance company for our main car...saving over £100. I've also paid this in a lump sum, rather than a monthly payment which we did before, and which incurred interest charges.

I'll be reviewing each annual bill as it comes up and trying to get a better deal, rather than simply carrying with the same company, putting the premium up every year, as I have done for too long.

I'm also planning to reduce our mobile phone costs and I'm working on hubby about the pay TV.
I would happily get rid of that...he's not so keen. That said he is quiet frugal  in many ways so things could be worse.

To try and reduce our food bill I've been shopping around and writing a meal plan. Taking a list to the supermarket and trying to stick to it. I've also been using cash. I find if I know I only have a certain amount in my purse it focuses my mind not to get carried away.
It's a good feeling to not waste food and planning makes me look in the fridge and store cupboards to see what we actually need....rather than guessing once I get to the shops.

Of course there are failures. Just this evening I've made a meal from scratch that the family did not like, leading to some of it going in the bin. How I hate that. Still, I'm not too disheartened.

Our home is well insulated, we have low energy lights and an efficient gas boiler. Lately  I've been choosing a lower temperature clothes wash and a shorter dishwasher cycle. Both seem fine most of the time.

Yesterday my slow cooker was going all day and it produced a great casserole. I always cook the Sunday roast it this money saving gadget too. We only have a small joint and it cooks much better in here. The meat is so tender and does not shrink.

The whole family regularly have packed lunches. I'm not keen on making these but I know they are a big saving compared to buying from cafes and even the school canteen.

Hubby and I have given up our weekly dancing lesson. We had practised for over a year and were not making much progress. It's a bit of a shame to throw in the towel, but it's saving us money. We go for an evening walk most days instead, so there's still time to be together and chat about the day without any interruptions.  Oh, and we call into the convenience store to see if there are any yellow sticker reductions...we just have to resist the cakes :0)

Being frugal in January has meant the expense of Christmas is almost all payed off. I just need to keep up the momentum and start saving for future bills this year.

I'm staying away from the shops as much as possible. Even the charity shops which I like to support and which gave me an almost guilt free shopping experience. This year I will be getting organised and donating stuff instead. That way I'm still supporting them and I'll be able to enjoy a less cluttered home, where hopefully I know what we already have and where to find it...hopefully.

Things are going well so far in this area. I like coming home with less shopping and no unnecessary stuff that I just fancied at the time.

What is necessary or not is subjective I know. At the moment I'm still buying bird seed for the wild birds in our garden. But I'm not going to buy any plants this year.

This is my container to collect vegetable peelings, an old pot my mum in law was getting rid of. I like to make compost, so when it's full I take them to the compost bin up the garden. It's better than them going to landfill and feeds my garden for free.

I certainly don't need any new clothes, but the boys will. They will have to be happy with what I deem necessary though. Actually the oldest two are very supportive of the new incentive.

I'm also not going to be buying any yarn. I have plenty to keep me going over the next 11 months.

I could keep writing but I think I better stop now. I hope you didn't mind this different sort of post from me today.

And thank you so much for all the kind comments about my latest blanket. They made my week.
Jacquie x


  1. Your efforts are great!! My husband and I are very soon to be retired so we are in need of learning your lessons. We have moved to a much smaller house and so smaller bills - now we really have to keep ourselves out of the shops. My husband loves his television, but I have realized with this move that I really do not need anymore stash. I guess I just have to learn what "need" means.

  2. Hello Jacqui.Love your photo's and find this post very inspirational.Keep us posted through the year on how you get on with it all.Have a Lovely Weekend.xx

  3. This is just the sort of post I enjoy because it may give me ideas or incentive. I hope you'll let us know how you do with this effort. Your blanket is lovely.

  4. Excellent post, with much food for thought. I'm so glad you didn't mention cutting back on beer. It's an easy mistake to make, and normally suggests something has gone terribly wrong and people don't understand the gift of life. Beer, briefly, helps solve the problems of the world: everything looks better after beer. Though I have to say that Trump might be the exception that proves the rule.

  5. I enjoyed this post as I got some good ideas from you. I think it's good to talk about whatever you want.. we are all different. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  6. A very good post!
    I have that ostrich bit down perfectly myself!
    Surely I do need to get my head out of the sand!

  7. A good way to save money is to write every day all your expenses in a note book .I've one column for food and another for other stuff.
    I grew up during the world war .y.s

  8. Well done you! I'm impressed by your thinking. We live in a society where instead of mending broken things we are encourage to buy new stuff... A society where we are meeting temptations of getting new things every day, no matter if we need it or not. We are made to believe we do need much of it. But no. I find that the less "stuff" we have, the more clear our minds get. A couole of years ago my husband had problems with his lap top. The charging outlet had lost a rubber packing ring. He brought it to the shop and the personal said its not worth fixing. It costs to much, we will have to send it off to HP, it will take time. They suggested to buy a new one and throw the old one a way. A quicker and easier fix. No way my husband said. He came home and broke the lap top open and fixed it himself. It took him 4 hours but he did it. And saved the world from yet another electronic device thrown on a big mountain of garbage in Africa or elsewhere. Being thrifty is being smart. Aware, caring and loving to our home, world and and environment. Keep up the good work Jacquie. Thanks for the inspiration. You made me want to continue my de-cluttering mission this rainy Saturday.

  9. I have converted to cash for shopping this year and finding that it makes me far more choosy over what I buy. I wrote a post just this week too about saving and my various money pots, I'm loving the fact that I can add to them each week😊 Good luck!

  10. Loved this post Jacquie, we are all about the thrift and environmental friendliness here as well. We try and keep the central heating off most of the time, that saves a bit. I saw a piece about a beautiful garden all done on next to nothing a couple of years ago, it was such an inspiration. CJ xx

  11. My own thrifty tip is to save at the start of the month, rather than waiting to see if there is any money left at the end. It really works. I regularly have a no new clothes year. I don't need anything, and it makes me far more aware of what I already own. Good luck, you're ding well x

  12. I particukarly enjoyed reading that post becauseIi too have decided to cut out unnecessary spending. For the first time I am buying saving stamps to help with my Christmas shop. I am slowly sifting through my life and decluttering as I go. I will read your journey with great interest.xx

  13. An interesting and enjoyable post Jacquie. I used to write down everything I spent in a notebook out of necessity and it really makes you think about every purchase. Now I'm more relaxed but perhaps it's time to reflect and be more aware again.

  14. I will be cheering you on Jacquie alongisde my 2017 pledge not to buy any craft materials for a year. It has been easy so far, so much stuff in the stash cupboard! Boohoo for dance lessons though, never mind, keep up those walks. Jo x

  15. We've been budgeting too and you seem to covered just about everything we do. My children are grown but we still need to do it. Like you though hubby is not willing to let go of tv.

  16. Such great goals! And your children will have better futures if you pass on what you learn to them!

    A few blogs I follow do a 'food waste Friday' which I've learned so much from! I recently realized I almost never throw food away now. We actually eat everything up! I only buy what we need & though I don't have an organized meal plan, I do plan.

    I'll just add, I'm living in the empty nest so we don't have to be as frugal as we were when our family was growing. We chose to live on less then so we could live well in the future...which is what we're getting to do now! It is worth the effort. Don't let mistakes or set-backs discourage you. Get back up & refocus as often as you need to.

  17. My husband and I used to get teased quite often because we do not have an ATM (automatic teller machine) card, a Debit card, nor do any of our bills come out of our bank account automatically. I WRITE checks to pay bills. I want to see what the bill is about and where my money is going. And for everything else, including gas for our vehicles, we use cash. It amazes us how much less MONEY you use when you use cash. We each get an "allowance" for our personal expenses (yarn! purses! clothes! hobbies!) and gas for our vehicles. And we get separate money for groceries and household cash expenses, such as gas for the lawn mower. The rest is saved or paid towards utilities, insurance, taxes, etc. There have been so many times that I would like to do some posts on this, because we certainly didn't start out this way, but I fear I would be viewed by some family members as bragging. We are building our own house, and we are debt free. Keep up the good work, it's so worth it!


  18. Thank you for the tip of Soestring Cottage, I clicked on your link yesterday-evening and kept on reading all saterdaynight! I like reading these type of blogs, confirming I'm not the only one enjoying a frugal life.
    Love, Anja

  19. We put money into savings accounts each month which more than covers Christmas, cars (insurance, repairs, MOTS) and savings for new clothes, holidays and general savings for emergencies or when we need to replace something. I've always done that, since I first got a job! I guess I inherited excellent money managing skills from my dad! Because of that I've never had debts (except for a loan I could afford to buy my first car) and although I have a credit card for convenience, I pay it off every month so have never paid interest! It's great when you can be in that position but I know it can take a bit of planning to get there! Dave wasn't in such a great situation when I met him but thanks to my financial planning, I soon had him debt free and saving! Money aside, I totally agree about being thifty simply to avoid waste too!

  20. This is great. I am all for frugal living. I am trying to reduce our outgoings too and have been focusing on reducing waste. Tricky with a toddler who throws food on the floor!

  21. Very very interesting your post there are many ways to save money!!!Have good week

  22. Oh, Jacquie! I've just found your blog and have been looking at your lovely crochet projects. They are so wonderful! I started crocheting about three weeks ago and I just can't get enough! I'm wondering if you post your fabulous tutorials on Facebook? If so, I would love to follow you!

  23. I like your blog very much. Regarding cutting mobile phone costs, I use PAYG, and recently changed from Tesco Lite to the Three network's 3,2,1 tariff. It has cut my phone cost considerably so maybe it would be worth a look? I picked up the sim in my local co-op. Also, maybe selling any stuff you don't need on Ebay could help swell the coffers? Or stuff you have crafted as you are very talented in that area I know. With very best wishes x

  24. I used do a lot of crafting and was spending money to buy things. Now, I stopped the crafting: at least buying new crafty stuff. Glad that you decided to use up what you have. It is really saving money. If you can sell your crochet, then keep buying new yarn. Othewise, just keep it for the sake of hobby.

  25. I love your patterns. I had started printing out your adorable cute easy to crochet bunnies, which are along the same order as the owls, but my printer hiccuped during printing and now I can't find the pattern. Can you please help? I saw it on your blog. Have the owl, want to get the rest of the bunnies.

  26. I loved this post and found it most inspirational.
    I try to do most of the same things and am encouraged to carry on when reading of others endeavours, please do write more and let us know how you are getting on.
    Thank you and best wishes.
    Pam in TX.

  27. Loving your post, Jacquie! I am all for "thrifty" and economizing, cutting down on waste and avoiding unnecessary purchases. It's a lifestyle that enables me to save for things I like, like staying in Haworth, going to the Lakes etc. Hope you blog more on this inspiring topic xx

  28. Love this post! My journey of thrifty living started years ago as a need, then it became a habit, then a challenge to see if I could do better than what I considered my best effort and I continue to find ways to save. A few things I've learned along the way: Try to only buy when on sale (especially food and buy it in bulk then, when it's needed again it will be on sale again). Don't shop brand named items (with the few exceptions that are really better). We shop around for utility providers regularly (when options are available). A small thing like closing your curtains in the evening makes a difference. Checkout for homemade cleaning supplies (a lot cheaper).Of course as you know buy second hand whenever you can. I always start dinner with whatever left-overs from the day before and build the meal around that, and of course planning the meals for the month helps a lot of people stay on track, I find if I keep a WELL stocked pantry (stocked with sale items/store brands) I don't have to plan meals in advance. I always check the quick sales in the grocery stores and find out what days they have the most of those out, those can be frozen for later use. Just by changing your milk from a plastic container to a glass one will save you a week on the shelf life, or if you have room freeze it and bread, eggs cheese and more. Planting a vegetable garden helps (even in a small area go vertical to save space).I preserve a lot of our food that we grow by canning and freezing even dehydrating them whether we have grown it or found it on sale. (example after the holidays here in the US turkeys are marked down, or any meat sale) I buy several cut the meat off and can it, it makes for quick meals down the road, as well as dried beans and peas instead of the commercial canned ones (a lot cheaper and less additives).Less trips to the store will save you money as well, less chances for impulse buys, and of course never go to the store YouTube has loads of videos on budgeting/saving money when you shop. Good luck with your plan!

  29. don't fret over the meal from scratch that was not liked. Sometimes expensive prepackaged food or restaurant meals are not liked and wasted too! I am always pinching pennies. I always line dry my clothes, no gas to run the dryer and our clothes last longer. Elastic in socks and bras last much longer if not exposed to heat. Save the crumbs from bags of chips or crackers, I used a glass jar in the cupboard- makes a crunchy topping for a casserole or breading for chicken. Keep a container in the freezer for small bits of vegatables or noodles, make soup at the end of the week (or month if you don't have lots of left overs). If you can. Before throwing things our, give them a second look. I have some old pillow shams that will soon be curtians for my daughter's bathroom. If you can find a copy of the Tightwad Gazette so many good ideas. (I don't agree with many things she says, but lots of great information. Never say no when someone offers hand me down or cast offs. You can pass them on what you don't need. You never know what treasures you might get.

  30. This is all interesting stuff. We have been doing our shopping almost exclusively in lidl and aldi. The money we have saved is amazing, not only that it's cheaper (about 1/3 cheaper) but also because there is less choice of various items. This is off putting to start with but now I love going to get say, crisp bread, no umming and ahing over endless brands and types, just dark or light? Also things are generally priced in the same way, e.g per kilo, not some as weight and some individually. It's time saving as well, I can easily do a weeks shopping in 20 minutes total. Good luck with your savings.


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