Five More Frugal Things

I decided to link up with up with Cass, Emma and Becky again in their weekly ‘Frugal Friday’ linky. Here are my five frugal things:

Ate frozen pizza when we needed something quickly instead of getting a takeaway. This idea comes from Liz Willard-Thames aka Mrs Frugalwoods. On Wednesday I go to a pilates class and Mr Simple was meant to be cooking dinner, but as the weather was dry he wanted to try to finish pointing the garage wall. Instead of spending money on a takeaway we had a frozen pizza and salad. I always keep a few pizzas in the freezer. At three pizzas for £4 you can’t go wrong and to be honest, they’re okay.

Used a Tesco voucher which was for spend £70 and get £7 off. I painstakingly went around the supermarket with my calculator adding up my groceries until I got to £70, buying toilet rolls to take me over the line, as this is usually more than I spend in a week.

Not everyone will want to do this, but not flushing the toilet will save you money

Didn’t flush the toilet. You may say ugh!, but when there’s only me and Mr Simple looking at each other’s wee isn’t that big a deal. Solids do get flushed though you’ll be glad to know.

Made pesto with basil from the garden. I went a bit overboard a little while ago with sowing some lemon basil seeds. They were out of date and so I thought that they were unlikely to germinate – how wrong I was. Despite having sold two pots (making a grand total of £3) and given some away, we still had loads left, which was starting to flower, so I made some pesto. We had it with some spaghetti, spiralised courgette (to get some extra veg into Mr Simple) and a green salad – delicious.

Make a notepad by reusing the backs of old letters

Cut up letters I received in the post which were blank on one side and used them for note paper. I usually cut the A4 sheets into four pieces and hold them together with a large bulldog clip. Despite many things being electronic now we still get quite a bit of snail mail and so I think that I am unlikely to run out of notepaper anytime soon.

How has your week been? Have you managed to make any savings?

Investing in Yourself

Tom Corley’s Rich Habit Number Three:

‘I will devote at least thirty minutes each day to increasing my knowledge and improving my skills.’

I am certainly better at the first part of this than the second. If you read one of my early posts you will know that I listen to podcasts several times a week in the car when I am driving to work. These are a mix of financial and life coaching episodes. My favourite financial one at the moment is Meaningful Money which was recommended by A Life Changing Blog. For life coaching I follow Do It Scared and Natalie Bacon.

As well as listening to podcasts I have also started the habit of reading non-fiction books. I have always loved reading, mainly fiction, and used to spend lots of money on books that I read once. Now, as you know, I am a fan of the library, but they don’t always have all of the non-fiction books that I am interested in, so I do treat myself occasionally and buy a few. I keep a list of books that look interesting and try not to impulse buy, but wait a few weeks or months before parting with my hard-earned cash. I then read these in the morning, with my first cup of tea of the day and leave my novels to bedtime.

Mr Simple has excellent DIY skills

When it comes to improving my skills, I can’t say that I am good at that at all. Mr Simple has, over the few years we have had this house, taught himself, mainly via YouTube, several DIY skills. I need to learn from his good example.

A great example of where I can improve is in looking after my car.  When I lived on my own I knew how to do simple tasks on my car, but since I have lived with Mr Simple, and bought a new car, I have become the helpless female. It’s so easy just to let him do things and embarrassingly until recently I didn’t even know how to open the car bonnet.

I have had problems with the oil level over the past few weeks and when I was out and about for work I thought that the oil light stayed on for longer than usual. Instead of ignoring it and then waiting until I got home to ask Mr Simple I got out the owner’s manual, looked up how to test the oil level and impressed myself by actually doing it. The level was fine and I was reassured that I was safe to drive home. It was a very small thing, but it is an amazing feeling when you successfully achieve something new.

A steep learning curve – navigating WordPress

It is like setting up this blog. Working my way through the intricacies of WordPress was challenging at times but fabulous when the blog started to look the way I wanted it to and people actually started reading it and subscribing.

What do you do to invest in yourself every day? Are you continually learning and improving your skills?

There are so many interesting podcasts out there. I would really encourage you to check them out, particularly if you have a long commute or drive for work. It would be great to know about any ones that you follow.

Five Frugal Things

This week I decided to link up with up with Cass, Emma and Becky in their weekly ‘Frugal Friday’ linky. Here are my five frugal things:

Discovered my mysupermarket on moneysavingexpert and signed up for alerts so I know when the groceries that I buy regularly are on sale. I have been having a serious look at our food budget and trying to think of ways of saving money without reducing the quality of the food. I am also trying to save time, so am considering a monthly delivery of non-perishable items and then shopping weekly for the rest. Hopefully that will make the task less arduous and I won’t be lugging so many bags of shopping around every week.

Took my lunch to work with me every day. This is probably easier for me than some people as I work at home a couple of days a week. Therefore I can just walk into the kitchen at lunchtime to make something rather than having to prepare it in the morning or even the night before.

We all need to wrap up in this lovely summer we are having

Put a blanket on the bed over the duvet instead  of putting the heating on. I always have this on over the winter as I feel the cold more than Mr Simple, but like in most parts of the country summer has not arrived. I am trying to resist putting the heating on in June therefore we are sitting with blankets over us or at the weekend lighting the wood burner, which at present is fuelled by trees that we cut down from garden i.e. cost = £0.

Hung clothes up to air after wearing once instead of putting them in the laundry. I always used to sling things on the chair next to my bed and if they stayed there for more than one day, by the time I wanted to wear them next they were so creased I couldn’t go out in public in them. Now I make an effort to put t-shirts and blouses on hangers and leave them hanging on the wardrobe door to remind me that I have worn them before. Trousers and skirts just go back in the wardrobe and only get washed when I have worn them several times – so far, no one has told me that I smell.

Collected rainwater in the butts in the garden to use to water the plants instead of using the hosepipe. Mr Simple installed two water butts next to the greenhouse a few months ago and with all of the rain that we’re having they are full. We could have done with this rain last year when we had the lawn laid and had to spend a fortune on watering it to keep it alive in the heatwave. I am hoping to greatly reduce our water consumption this year.

So how have you saved money this week? Let me know in the comments below and please have a look at the other posts as well.

Ways to Save Money Whilst on Holiday

Mr Simple and I have recently returned from a week away in the Yorkshire Dales. There is a lot of information on the internet about travel hacking e.g. house-sitting, accruing credit card points to get flights, but this is not for everyone and it’s not something that I have got around to exploring yet. What I have done though is to try and reduce our spending on our regular holidays and I have to say that this recent one was a somewhat frugal break compared to those we have had in the past. I therefore thought that I would share with you how we cut our spending.

Holiday in a cheap area

Our holiday destinations are somewhat random due to the fact that Mr Simple bought a load of ordnance survey maps a few years ago when they had a two for one offer. Many of them remain unused and so I have started selecting a few and getting him to choose one. I then arrange a holiday in that area. Last year we went to Hastings, which was very expensive, but this year’s choice was much cheaper. We find that accommodation in the north of England often tends to cost less than in the south. Our cottage was £379 for the week, whereas accommodation of the same size in Hastings was £600.

Self-cater

Stay in a house or flat rather than a hotel or bed and breakfast. This is usually cheaper per night and allows you to cook some of your own meals instead of having to fork out for food every evening. Since trying to cut our household costs I have started shopping at Tesco, whereas before we used Waitrose. As a treat for this holiday I did the shopping in Waitrose. In that way, even though we were catering for ourselves some of the meals/snacks/treats were nicer than we usually have.

Stay in small accommodation

We stayed in a one-bedroom cottage. It had one main room downstairs with the lounge and kitchen area. The eating area was a breakfast bar with stools. The bedroom was small with very little clearance between the end of the bed and the wall. Mr Simple had to shuffle around to his side all the time, including the in the middle of the night when he needed a wee. I did offer to swap sides with him, but he said that he wouldn’t be able to sleep if we did that. The size of the cottage made us appreciate our much larger home when we came back from holiday.

Cook your own meals for the majority of the week

We tend to have a meal at a pub on the way to our holiday accommodation, as it breaks up the journey. It feels less tiring when you’ve had a break and don’t have to cook a meal when you arrive, as you’ve already had your main meal of the day. We then have one day during the week where we visit a town and have a long lunch and then we stop for food on the way home. Outside of these times we cook meals in the cottage. We treated ourselves to a lovely three course leisurely lunch on the way home, courtesy of Mr Simple’s mother who had given us £100 as she had received some unexpected dividends.

Plan your meals

Menu plan thoroughly so that you take as much of the food that you need as you can. You can’t take everything as some things e.g. bread, will go off, but you can take the majority. If you plan well you won’t have to pop out to the local shop, which is likely to be expensive and may involve using petrol, to get items that you have forgotten. I’m not always very good at this, but made a special effort this time and it worked out well. Cooking is so much easier when you have a plan. I even weighed out ingredients for pizza dough and took them in a food bag, putting on a label stating what needed to be added. That might been a bit too organised for you, but it worked well and meant that I didn’t have to take a whole bag of flour.

Photo by moon chahcha on Pexels.com

Do free activities

These include walking in the countryside, cycling and birdwatching. If you followed our staycation in March you will know that Mr Simple and I enjoy these activities, which are usually free. If the countryside isn’t your thing then maybe try city/town walking tours or parks. You can usually pick up a leaflet from the local tourist information office and they often take you to interesting parts of the town that you may not discover on your own. When Mr Simple and I are on holiday in France I have often dragged him around the town to work up an appetite for dinner.

Check what is provided

Before you go check with the cottage owners what is available in the accommodation so that you take everything that you need. Be as specific as you can. A couple of years ago I asked if they provided toilet roll, to which the answer was yes, but when we got there they provided only one roll, which obviously didn’t last for the week. This time I asked, ‘Do you provide toilet roll and if so how many?’ They probably think that I am a bit of a pain, but last time we ended up having to buy more when I had loads in the cupboard at home that I could have taken with us. Mr Simple and I love Classic Cottages as they provide an inventory for their cottages, which is so useful. Unfortunately they only cover the south west of England and we have not come across this practice with other cottage providers.

If they provide it – use it

We took tea bags with us, but when we arrived we found that some were provided. We used these first before using our own ones and they lasted just over half the week.

Take plenty of treats

Buy treats to have in the cottage so you’re not tempted to stop at the café for tea and cake on your way home or go to the pub every evening. We stopped at the pub in the local village after our last walk and there was tea and cake in a café on one day, but that was it.

Go out for lunch instead of dinner

When you go out for a meal make it lunch rather than dinner. You will find that restaurants do a cheaper lunch menu, usually with slightly smaller portions, but in my book that’s good as I can manage three courses. This is one of my favourite things – lingering over a long lunch. Unfortunately on this holiday it wasn’t outside in the sunshine, but we had a great meal nevertheless in a pub just off of the M5 – courtesy of the Good Pub Guide.

So there it is, just a few ideas for keeping more of those pennies in your pocket when you go away. I hope you found something useful and I would be interested to know how you keep your spending under control when you are on holiday.

Saving Ninja Thought Experiment #6

Thought Experiments are a bi-monthly event set by Saving Ninja. Anyone can take part and you will see the others who have contributed listed at the end of this post.

Here’s the question for this month:

A different opinion is somewhat frowned upon in our clique-based society, but some of the greatest minds of all time were outliers. They weren’t scared to go against the grain and stand up for what they believed in. So, for this Thought Experiment, I’d like you to reveal yourself: What opinion do you have that most of your peers do not share?

Just not my thing.

When I was a teenager and in my early twenties I followed the crowd in respect of alcohol consumption – out on a Saturday night and spent Sunday recovering, sometimes with my head down the toilet.

But that was a phase, a period of my life that I was passing through. The trouble is that most of the people I know have been stuck in this phase for the past thirty years. The ‘group think’ is that in order to enjoy yourself you have to get very drunk when you go out, spend the next day on the sofa telling your kids that ‘mummy isn’t well’ and then laughing and joking about all the stupid things you did when you were drunk with your friends/colleagues, etc. on Monday morning.

The day after!

Sorry, I know that I sound like a grumpy old woman, but I just cannot see the attraction anymore. It’s a waste of money and a waste of a day if you have to spend 24 hours recovering. I think my colleagues are used to me bowing out of social events if they are going to involve a lot of alcohol and have no expectation that I will attend. At our annual Christmas party I will have a couple of glasses of wine and that’s it. And I’m happy with that. But people think that you can’t be having a good time if you aren’t drinking. I would say, if you need to have a drink to enjoy something, then you probably aren’t having fun.

My theory is that people struggle to challenge peer pressure to conform to the unwritten rules of society. If you want to achieve financial independence (FI) and perhaps retire early (RE) you’ve got to learn not to follow the crowd. You’ve got to be prepared to say no, be different and be proud of it. If you’re constantly worried about keeping up with the Joneses and doing things you don’t want to do for fear of upsetting others, then you’ve got a few lessons to learn before you are going to be equipped to face those challenges that you will most definitely meet along the way.

That’s what being part of the FI/RE community can help with. Reading all those blogs can give you ideas e.g. check out Radical Fire who publishes lots of great posts every week and realise that you’re not doing this on your own. There are others out there treading the same difficult path, challenging the norm and saying no to choices which don’t fit with their goals.

I would urge you to think about each of the choices that you make in life. Are you doing this because others expect it of you or is it because you truly enjoy it? Does it get you closer to where you want to be? This takes strength and faith in what you are doing, but it is achievable.

How about a picnic instead?

So next time your friends suggest a night out, how about thinking twice before accepting the invitation? Perhaps think of a cheaper alternative – a movie night at home, a dinner party where everyone brings one course or a picnic with food for sharing. You and your friends might just enjoy themselves more and won’t have the spend the next day recovering. You’ll also have saved a few pounds as well.

Other Participants

Please have a look at them all and tell them what you think:

Saving Ninja

Indeedably

Caveman @ Ditch the Cave

Mr A Way to Less

Miss A Way to Less

Merely Curious

Marc @ Finance Your Fire

Money for the Modern Girl