Monthly Archives: November 2016

Five Ways We Saved Money This* Month

*OK, I was generalising, some of this happened last month or maybe even in September, I’ve sort of lost track. It has only added up to a decent blog title worthy number this week, though. This was because on Sunday evening around 5 pm (awful timing):

  1. I cut my husbands hair! He asked me to, don’t worry. I wasn’t enacting revenge over him going to the pub after work, or giving me tea in the wrong mug (real problems). When we started saving money, haircuts were one of the first things we thought of as expenses to tackle. Mine are expensive at £46, Mr B.’s less so, the most he spends is £10, but goes more often than I do. For his birthday in the summer he received an amazon voucher, which he then spent on a hair cutting kit. It had its first use in half term when I cut the three year old’s hair, and this Sunday the clippers got broken in. It was terrifying. There was hair everywhere. There still is hair everywhere (and, yes, I have hoovered. Three times). It didn’t turn out too badly though, if I say so myself. I mean, apparently I can’t do straight lines (hehe sorry love) but it he looks alright! The three year old was much simpler, she sat stillish, a few snips, and that was that**. Her curls hide the wonky bits luckily. So from virtually no investment on our part, as it was essentially a gift, we saved money! Am I brave enough to let Mr B. do my hair? Err, no. Baby steps, people, baby steps.
Ready and waiting. Like the worst hair salon ever.

Ready and waiting. Like the worst hair salon ever.

  1. Window cleaning. This one is a bit dull. Basically after faffing around for ages about getting a window cleaner round, I missed my chance as we had started saving. Then I spent the whole summer not cleaning the windows, moaning about how dirty they were and thinking about ladders. One weekend in September my Dad said ‘why don’t you reach around and clean them from inside?’. So we did. I say ‘we’, it was actually Mr. B. who did it. Me and the kids yelled helpful things up at him from outside like, ‘Daddy you’ve missed a bit!’. Took nine months and ten minutes to do, saved us about £40 probably (never did get a quote). We’ll He’ll do it again when we can’t see out of them any more.  
  1. Clothes swap. Mentioned this before when I wrote about half term. Brill idea and manages to fulfil the desire for new stuff and ticked a few things off the list that the smallest one actually needed. Money saved!
  1. I found a toy kitchen in the rubbish! It was just sitting there, by the bins, looking sad. Being a bit of a scrounger opportunist, I had a sneaky look while I walked past. Seemed fine, just grubby. Dumped the eldest at pre-school and checked it out again on the way home. Yup, just as I thought, nothing wrong with it, just full of leaves. I checked with the owner of the bins (felt like such a scab, should have seen the way they looked at me) and was given the go ahead. So glad I had the car that morning, didn’t fancy my chances in getting it home on the buggy board. The reason I braved the odd looks and covered the passenger seat of the car in leaves and mud, is that I was on the lookout for something to use as a mud kitchen. I was thinking I’d get Mr. B to fashion something out of wood and nails but bingo, a free kitchen! It is now the most popular outdoor feature and the source of all the mud covering the carpets/coats/children.                                                                                                                
    Mud kitchen in action

    Mud kitchen in action

    Finally;

  2.  Ignored Black Friday. I don’t like Black Friday. It makes me feel like I’m missing out on getting a bargain on things that I might need one day in the future, so must buy them now. Panicky, it makes me feel panicky. Apparently, though, things aren’t as good as they may seem. So called Black Friday ‘deals’ may not be all that amazing, Mr B. did some reading. Obviously that may not apply to everything but it’s worth being a bit sceptical sometimes. Having said that, if you know what you want it is worth checking for any deals, there are a couple of things I’m after but after checking, BF hasn’t made enough difference for me to think it was worth it. I’ll wait until the January sales then check again!

So there you have it. I think the moral of the story is to DIY, re-cycle old things and stay in and away from the internet on Black Friday. Or ‘Black Friday week’ as it seems to be now, I mean, that doesn’t even make sense. Let’s leave it to the Americans, I think they do it better than we do anyway.

**totally worried she might decide to give herself/her brother a haircut now….

Soft Play On A Budget

Equipment needed:

  • 1x sofa
  • 2x children

Method:

Say ‘yes’ when the three-year-old asks ‘Mummy, can my make a mess?’ Watch from a safe distance as the sofa gets dismembered and the floor disappears. Hand dustpan and brush to sweep up sofa crumbs to whichever child gets to you first – this is an oddly desirable job and is hotly contested. Experience slight terror as the oldest leaps from the sofa arms onto a precarious tower of cushions and the toddler uses the sofa base as a trampoline. Who will survive the longest, the sofa or the kids? Escape to the kitchen to eat cake in secret whilst checking Facebook. Repeat about three times a day, having tried in vain to tidy up and rediscover the floor or sit on the sofa in between.

The face of pure joy

The face of pure joy

Five boxes of toys left untouched. Two happy children….must be missing something here. Maybe I’ll just buy them a stack of cushions for Christmas. Or helmets. Or a new sofa……

Breaking Our Own Rules – The Disclaimer

Recent events have seen us breaking the number one frugal rule of not eating out*. Anybody with an ounce of money sense would know that eating out in restaurants/cafes/bus stops etc is not good for bank balances. It’s one of the most obvious things to stop spending money on but often one of the hardest things to stop doing.

This post has been brewing for a while, not as a justification for breaking our own rules, but as a way to demonstrate that frugality does not mean depravity. Our (new) normal mode is to eat at home rather than in public places populated with other humans. This rule is incredibly easy to stick to at the moment, as our own small humans are at the delightful stage of transforming into public nuisances when the words ‘wait’, ‘sit’ or ‘still’ are uttered. Not worth the effort or money. The last time we took them for a meal out anywhere it was an absolute disaster. One was under the table wailing, (for no apparent reason), the other kept legging it out of the front door and wailing in harmony with his big sister whenever he was captured and brought back. Not. Fun.

When the 3-year-old was a 2-year-old. Had to search hard for a restaurant+kids pic. In other news...I want that pudding!

When the 3-year-old was a 2-year-old. Had to search hard for a restaurant+kids pic. In other news…I want that pudding!

So basically it’s an easy rule to stick to. However, we want to make our frugal lifestyle a long term thing. Sometimes flexibility is required to make sure we can bend with what life throws at us, rather than break. If we had slammed our ‘no eating out’ rule into the faces of our uni friends when ‘Dave’ (who doesn’t know a Dave 😉 ) organised our annual Christmas reunion meal, we would be pretty miserable sitting at home missing out on all the fun. If I had done the same with my school friends when a meal in town was organised, I would never get to see them (or ever get to leave the house unaccompanied. EVER.). When my parents offered to have the kids for a sleepover last week, Mr. B and I immediately vacated the house in favour of the nearest eatery – no cooking+no washing up+no kids = Bliss! We even got to have brunch (I’m still in shock)! Choosing not to eat out in any of these circumstances would have made us miserable and cheesed off with frugality in general. That is not how it is meant to work.

Talking about not being miserable, how cute were these two back in the day?!

Talking about not being miserable, how cute were these two back in the day?!

Having made eating out an unusual thing to do on a week to week basis, when we do go out I have definitely found that I appreciate it more. The novelty is a factor, but a large part of that enjoyment comes from knowing that we can actually afford it. Before we started living more frugally, we would stop at a cafe for lunch or tea, just because we hadn’t planned timings very well, or, frankly; cake. Settling the bill always came with a twinge of guilt. My internal thought processing would be recalling the fact that there’s still two weeks until payday, we are close to the red anyway, there’s still a food shop to do, and in actual fact there are plenty of things at home for lunch…..This type of cloud has entirely disappeared from our lives now. The trips out recently have been such a pleasure because of it. Mr. B agrees with me, the day to day worry of money has gone from our lives. We still think about money regularly, as Mr. B tracks our spending daily, but the worrying has gone. For the first time in forever we are living within our means (I sang that first bit…). Bizarrely, frugality has made our lives happier; we feel freer because of it. And we have only been doing it for four months. This is totally contradictory to what cutting back and saving money is often perceived to be like.

As for the money we have spent on these indulgences recently, the meal out in town with my school friends came to £6.70 each, with parking and tip I spent £8 that evening. And the best bit was that I had sold a baby carrier through facebook earlier that day for £8, so I had the exact cash in my purse for once. Massive win. Pizza Express must hate us; we are the worst customers. The four of us rock up, order doughballs and pizza, drink tap water, sit around chatting for ages and produce a couple of vouchers at the end for 2 for 1 on doughballs and pizza…great evening. The uni friends Christmas meal has become an annual tradition so is easy to plan for. Tis almost the season for Christmas meals to appear left right and center and I’m sure we will see their effect on finances. Money tends to get poured into pint glasses in December doesn’t it Mr. B? Here’s hoping this year might be different (yeah right!). And as for eating out when child free – it’s worth it every time! We managed to control ourselves, though, and walked to the pub, instead of going into town and spending money on taxis.

We are slowly coming to grips with what living a more frugal life means for us. The benefits we have already experienced are totally worth the small sacrifices and changes we have made. Which is totally unexpected by the way. I thought I’d feel the rub by changing things slightly and cutting back in certain places but I really haven’t. By adapting the rules to the way our life runs we are making it much easier for us to keep it up for the long term.  

*Take away falls under the same rules and is much harder to say no to. It is becoming slightly easier to resist over time – practice makes perfect and all that. Anyway, why buy food in when there’s plenty in the cupboards? Because it’s tasty, soooo tasty. No. Stop it.

October Finances

I am sure you’ve been dying to know how half term went after reading about it a couple of weeks ago. Also, October was our second go at Austerity Month (AM) and I know you’ll be wanting to hear about that too! No? Ah. Well, I’m going to tell you anyway….Don’t worry it’s not long!

September was a bit of a write-off. While we hadn’t marked it specifically as an AM, it was still shocking to see how easy it is to slip back into spending mode if we are not concentrating. So we needed to prove to ourselves that we could do the saving thing again. October was alright actually. We saved 7% of our monthly income. Not as good as our first go at AM but still a reasonable effort, as there was a Moped MOT (it failed) and subsequent repairs to account for. Mr. B has a fondness for spreadsheets (not judging), so he made this for me. He’s so romantic.

% of Monthly Income Notes
Necessary Outgoings 55.20% Mortgage, etc
Food 14.67%  
Mr and Mrs B. Expenses 10.24% Our spending outside of food shops (mostly Mr B)
Petrol 3.08%  
Unforecasted 9.52% Moped MOT and repairs
Savings 7.49% Doesn’t sound like much I know, but it’s better than nothing.


Half term did not leave its mark like I feared. I actually paid attention to myself and did what I 
said I would. It was a really social week and thankfully we only succumbed to the snot flood on the Friday. One of my friends had the genius idea of a clothes swap, so the little one gained a new wardrobe in return for some of his sister’s old clothes. Frugal win! We also did fun things at home and, thanks to my obsession with Pinterest, I definitely scored Mum points from the eldest, as well as frugal points, by making playdough (although I’m still picking it out of the carpet…Win? Not so much). The only child related expense was £6 for a flashy wand each (no, just the kids) at the village Bonfire Night. As the eldest had been looking forward to this event and getting said wand, for about a year, we thought it was fair enough.Not included in this table is the £58 that came from selling stuff that was lying around and getting on our nerves. This went straight into savings. Win.

We are rolling AM on into November as Winter Christmas is coming and we want to maximise our savings this year. Christmas is not going to break the bank and I have several plans in place to make sure it doesn’t. I’m sure I’ll be subjecting you to a post about that sometime soon (lucky you!).

Signing off now as I am entering a period of mourning. Poldark has finished. Talk to me next year.

My Latest Addiction

Quick one today. I rely heavily on the small one’s naps while the bigger one is at pre-school to write stuff, so a half term is pretty much a write off (ha ha). Also I have discovered a new way to waste what little spare time I have – Pinterest!

Yes, yes, I know I am years late to the party. A couple of friends have been extolling the virtues of Pinterest* for ages but I basically ignored them. Well I can eat my proverbial hat now. Its great! All these lovely pictures, things to do and things to make and things to eat! So exciting. So dangerous. I have an urge to go out and buy lots of crafty things because the three year old will simply love to make [insert random Pinterest craft here]. I am badly in danger of splurging. Control is needed. This half term has seen us make pompoms and playdough already, only because I had all the stuff, and I had to find some outlet for this newfound (and probably short lived) creative energy.

Playdough and pompoms

Playdough and pompoms

I have grand plans for my new Pinterest addiction. Obviously I will be taking a frugal perspective and searching out recycling/upcycling/money saving things-to-do-with-kids. We will see if anything actually comes of it but in the meantime it is so fun to look at all the pictures! Also featuring in my grand planing is of course, Christmas (shhhh!! The eldest child might hear you think the word!!). I have been toying with the idea of doing some sort of homemade present, as it is usually more frugal and also more personal too. Once upon a time I was lacking inspiration and ideas. Not anymore! Oooo the possibilities are endless! I have so many ideas my head is bursting. I apologise profusely to those friends and family in the gift firing receiving line. There is a high probability that you may be presented with something which resembles those hilarious Pinterest failure pictures, rather than an actual gift.

Anyway, as I am up to my knees in flipping pompoms (which keep gathering in corners and scaring me as they look suspiciously like spiders), and my fridge is full of playdough, I had better go and do something more constructive. Like check Pinterest tidy up.

*I know, this totally sounds like this post is sponsored by Pinterest but I promise you it’s not. I am clearly just a bit obsessed.

Here I am if you wanted to know what you might be getting for Christmas…