April Spending

April felt like an expensive month, but actually when I sat down and looked at the figures, it wasn’t too bad at all.

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Food spending for me totalled £109.83. We were away for a few days and although we did take quite a lot with us the extra we bought whilst we were away came out of the holiday budget. Mr Simple did the shopping this week, on the last day of the month and won’t charge me until next month. Therefore the total it was unusually low.

Petrol was only £97.05. Usually I buy a tankful every week at about £35, but I didn’t need any in the fourth week of the month, when we were away for part of the week.  We went in Mr Simple’s car to Dorset and although I paid towards petrol it came out of the holiday budget.

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Personal care totalled £68.15, which included toiletries and three pilates classes.

I upgraded my blog and finally parted with some money for a proper domain name so that cost me £48.

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I spent £95.63 on the garden, although Mr Simple paid more, as the plants we bought were a present for my birthday – it’s amazing what makes you happy as you get older. We have bought two wisteria plants. One to grow against the garage wall at the front of the house and one to train up the pergola in the back garden. (If you don’t know what a wisteria looks like check out my post about our Dorset walk).

An unexpected expense was a new sat nav. I seem to go through these very quickly. As I visit different addresses every week for my job it makes like so much easier than when I have to rely on maps. I had forgotten how expensive these great gadgets are. In the end I opted for a second hand one on Amazon for £34.96. It is very basic, but it gets me from A to B. Let’s just hope it lasts.

Payments from my ‘bills’ account i.e. expected expenses which I plan for throughout the year, were:

£85 for the short break in Dorset – I had already paid for the accommodation last month. This included two meals out, tea and cake and petrol. The most expensive thing, the cottage, was already paid for. Although it was an AirBnB rental, it was quite expensive for three nights. I am not convinced that AirBnB is actually always cheaper than a standard holiday rental.  

Travel hacking is something I am yet to try. I have looked at house-sitting sites. Mr Simple and I love dogs and the thought of caring for someone else’s four-legged friend for a week sounds ideal for us. The practicalities though might not be so fun, as we wouldn’t be able to go out for a whole day and leave the dog. If we did take him/her walking with us this may present problems. We have seen lots of ramblers with dogs have difficulties when walking through cow fields e.g. instead of running off the cows have surrounded them. In fact, we have had problems with curious cows following us and we don’t have a dog. I have thought of cat-sitting, but we are not cat lovers. I just wondered if anyone has tried house/pet sitting and how it worked out. I have considered trying it for a weekend just to see how we get on, although many of the sites charge a sign-up fee.

I also paid for two sessions of physio at a total of £64.00.

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My stocks and shares ISA leapt up from £6788.51 to £7033.10, an increase of £155.97. I also received £250 for my birthday so like the good little saver I am, I added that and the total now sits at £7283.48. I made my usual automatic deposits into two savings accounts of £435.00. One account now has over £10,000, which is enough to buy a car should my current one decide to pack up on me. Fingers crossed it lasts for a few years yet. I will therefore not be paying anymore money into that account and the £185.00 will go into my ISA from May. My savings now total £32,995.95.

When I look at others’ posts they calculate their net worth which includes the equity in their house and their pension pot. Although we have over £350,000 equity in our house, as we are not planning to sell I don’t count this as available money. Secondly, being fortunate enough to have a defined benefit pension I only know what I am going to receive when I get to retirement age, but not how much I have in the pot. My issue is not whether I will have enough money to live on when I get to my sixties, but whether I can finish work earlier and if so what savings I will have to live on. At the moment I have a long way to go. In five years’ time, at my current savings rate I will have about £64,000 saved – taking account of the fact that I may need to buy a new car in that time.

As you know, the only debt that we have is our mortgage and I paid £1108.89 towards that in April, taking it down to a total of £80,217.97.

So that’s all folks. How was your April?

March Spending

We now own over 80% of our house

It feels as though we have made progress on both the mortgage front and the savings front this month. We made an overpayment of £850.00 on the mortgage and the balance now stands at £81,183. Like last month there was no council tax to pay, hence the large mortgage overpayment. It will go down next month to our usual overpayment of £500. This morning we were reflecting on how much we have paid off in the three and a half years that we have had the house – a grand total of £50,000!

Having changed electricity suppliers to Octopus a few months ago we finally got a refund from Good Energy of £70.27, which contributed to the mortgage overpayment.

One off payments I made this month included:

House insurance £282.58

Holiday deposit for a few days away in April £158.79

MOT £44.99.

We also had our first staycation this month and I spent £95.64, which breaks down as follows:

Sunday £0

Monday Train £2.90

Tuesday Train £12.40, Coffee and cake at the museum £8.30, Lunch £48.60 – two courses for me, three for him and two glasses of wine

Wednesday Lunch in the café during our walk £26.75

Thursday Petrol £20 Lunch at Slimbridge £19.15

Friday Lunch £53.17 – three courses each, 2½ pints of lager (only got charged for half a lager by mistake)

Total £191.27 or £95.64 each

I saved £435.00 to my savings accounts and I paid £100 into my Vanguard ISA. My savings increased by £717.26 (partly due to an increase in the value of the ISA), taking the total up to £32,154.98. I now have enough money in my instant access savings account to buy a new (well new to me) car and so I plan to start paying into my Vanguard ISA each month. I will still pay into one of the savings accounts which is offering 5% interest for a year. After that I will probably transfer it to the ISA.

My other expenses were:

Food £160.74 – over £50 more than last month when Mr Simple was away for two weeks.

Petrol £103.35 – very similar to last month

Toiletries £38.72 – when I went to buy some items e.g. hair dye, there was an offer on if you bought two, so I did, knowing that it would save me money in the long run.

Miscellaneous £142.41 – includes mother’s day present £32.95, books £45.13, team away day activity £14.00

Despite being frugal I know that there are other savings that I could have made

Looking at areas where I could have saved money they were mostly around food e.g. not buying so many lunches during our staycation. I have also bought a sandwich some days, usually towards the end of the week, when the fridge is looking a bit empty. I need to work on this next month. It may be the traditional joke in the FI world that if we forego our daily coffee we can get rich, but I do honestly think that these small changes can make a great deal of difference in the long run. I was on a training course today and as I work for the public sector refreshments are not provided. Several attendees bought a coffee on arrival, one during the mid-morning break, their lunch and then another coffee during the afternoon. I arrived with my bag of provisions, spent a total sum of £0 and sat there feeling very smug.

So how was your month? How is your progress towards paying off your debts and increasing your savings going? What are you going to work on next month? Let me know what changes you’re making to your spending.

And if you enjoyed reading this post, please subscribe. I would love to have you along for the journey.

February Spending

This was a fairly cheap month, particularly for food, as Mr Simple was away for two weeks working. Although he was back on the weekend in between I didn’t spend as much on groceries as I would usually do.

£1550.00 was transferred to the joint account and spent as follows:

 BillAmount  
Mortgage £555.32
Mortgage overpayment £850.00 – More than usual as no council tax to pay
Council Tax £0
Water £49.00
Gas and electricity £95.35
TV licence £12.83
Broadband and line £27.25
Charity donation £6.00
Total £1595.75

There must have been some slush left over from last month. Mr Simple manages this account and decides on the level of the mortgage overpayment and as you can see the amount spent is more than I paid in. It’s great seeing so much coming off of the mortgage. We owe £82,447.68. At the current overpayment rate we are due to pay it off in seven years, but I am hoping to reduce that to five – not sure how yet.

£300 then went into my second current account which as you know pays for annual expenses or regular payments. This month I had to pay for an extra dental check up for a sensitive tooth £14.00, haircut £20.00, eyebrow wax £7.50, car tax £30.00, oil for the car £14.66, physio £32.00, deposit for holiday £203.00.

I saved £435.00 which is my regular amount to my Charter Savings account and my Nationwide account, which pays 5% to those who already have a current account with them and our joint account is with the Nationwide. This offer is for a year and the maximum you can put in in one month is £250, hence that is what I pay in. My Vanguard ISA increased in value by £120.61 therefore my savings increased by £555.61 to a total of £31,437.72. I had some money left over and so I paid £100 into my ISA, although I am waiting for it to clear and bought four books, which I plan to read and review.

My other expenses were:

Food £110.32
Petrol £98.48
Toiletries £10.49
Membership £23.26
Parking £48.10 (£39.70 of this will be refunded in March as it was
incurred as part of my job)
Phone £9.71
Pilates class£16.00 – couldn’t go as often as I would have liked due to work commitments
Miscellaneous £72.71 – includes annual membership of £42
Total £398.07

So, how did your February go? Love to hear how your expenses and savings compare to mine. Are there certain areas where you are struggling to reduce costs? Let me know and maybe I might have some helpful suggestions.

January Spending – approximately!

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Income

So in January I carried £32.97 over from last month, my wages were £2665.62 and then I received £105.55 for mileage costs. That was then a total of £2804.14 to spend for the month.

Expenditure

£1550.00 was transferred to the joint account and spent as
follows:
Mortgage £558.63
Mortgage overpayment £501.00
Council Tax £244.00
Water £49.00
Gas and electricity £90.98
TV licence £12.83
Broadband and line rental £26.95
Charity donation £6.00
Total £1489.39

£300 then went into my second current account which pays for annual expenses or regular payments. This month all that I had to pay for was a deposit for a holiday we have booked in the Yorkshire Dales in June of £94.75, £3.00 for eyebrow waxing and £64 for physio – £32 under budget, so I can spend this on something else! The rest stays in there and accrues until I need it e.g. for car insurance. The idea is that I don’t all of a sudden have to find the money for an expensive car service. It is already there in the account and then if I don’t need it all I can spend it on a treat.

That left £954.14. In the spirit of Robert Kiyosaki I pay myself first and have direct debits into two savings accounts totalling £435.00, so I was down to £519.14 to live on for the month. Now, this month I have started using my Tesco credit card to pay for almost everything and for this reason my usual spreadsheet has gone a bit awry and I can’t completely work out where the money has gone.

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For someone who thinks that they are good at this budgeting lark it is very frustrating. Now I do the weekly shop and pay for it, then at the end of the month I total up how much my partner owes me – this is particularly important as he eats meat and some of the items I buy for him are expensive so I don’t just split it down the middle. Before I started writing all this out on a blog I just spent the money, got some back from him at the end of the month and never went overdrawn. This month I have tried to work out exactly what I have spent on food, which includes some cash items and to be honest it just hasn’t worked. I have spent a couple of hours trying to work out where every penny has gone and I can’t do it. I did want to give you this detailed and what I am sure would have been fascinating, breakdown, but unless I want to spent several days of my life on it, it isn’t going to happen. So here are the approximate figures, which is the best I can do. I will do better in February – I promise.

Here we go then:

Food £149.01
Petrol £131.76
Toiletries £16.45
Subscription £23.26
Mobile phone £9.50
Pilates classes £24.00
Miscellaneous £104.59 – includes two meals out

Even though I can’t tell you where each penny went, (as there should be £60.57 remaining and yet that’s not the balance left in my account) the main positives are that we overpaid the mortgage by £501.00 and I put £435.00 into savings. On the not so good side, my lovely new Vanguard ISA is down, affecting my overall savings pot, but that’s the same for everyone. I had two days where I spent money unexpectedly, but otherwise it was pretty much in line with what I had anticipated. For me, this has been such a good lesson. When you set out to explain something to others you realise how little you know. Next month, I will be counting every penny, meticulously!

I hope your January was a successful one too!

December 2018 Review

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A few months into my decision to live more cheaply and after discovering the FIRE movement I am still learning so much. I think that I have made good progress on the saving front, now I just need to learn how to make some money – my grand total so far is £9.50 which I made by selling some DVDs on Facebook.

So how has this month been?

I went to have my eyebrows waxed. Previously it was a full facial, eyebrow and lip wax. Writing this at the beginning of January I now have a very spotty chin. I am hoping this is due to Christmas indulgences rather than giving up my facial. I am still using two out of three of the products that I buy from the beauty salon so I can’t believe it has made that much difference. Time will tell I suppose. The good news was that when I went to pay for my eyebrow wax I was able to use the deposit of £10 on my account to pay for the treatment as the salon no longer requires it due to my decrease in the use of their services.

That evening I was going out to my first Christmas meal of the month and as I hadn’t had my lip waxed at the salon I had to remove it myself. Having bought some cream from Boots at a cost of £3.25, about an hour before I had to leave, I smeared it across my top lip for ten minutes. Unfortunately, although it did remove the offending hair it left me with a large red mark across my lip around the edge of where the cream had been. Luckily it eventually disappeared and I did not have to use half a tube of foundation to conceal it. The moral of the story – a bit of future planning next time and remove my moustache the day before.

Paying just over £40 for the meal and entertainment meant that there was free wine on the table – well not exactly free – but I didn’t need to pay for it that evening. I therefore managed not to spend a penny, just sticking to the wine. I seemed to be in the minority as a red wine drinker and so there was more than I wanted, not being a great drinker.

My parents-in-law visited at the beginning of December and I had to think of free activities to do. They didn’t arrive until Saturday lunch time and so I made some cakes for their arrival and then we had dinner at home, cooked by my better half.

On the Sunday we went to the local Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve – both us and the parents-in-law are members, so it was ‘free’. The evening was going to be expensive as I had booked a table at our favourite restaurant. Very kindly, having won £75 on the premium bonds recently, my father-in-law paid – thanks ERNIE!

We have changed our gas and electricity suppliers to Octopus. Hopefully it should save us about £200 a year, although at the moment we are down money as Octopus take payments a month in advance and our previous suppliers have taken their usual direct debits – hopefully we should get some of that refunded in the new year. The good thing about Octopus is that they are not only cheaper but also environmentally friendly – electricity from renewable sources and carbon-offsetting for the gas. The middle of the month brought my first hair appointment where I wasn’t getting it dyed. I just had it washed and cut. That was £20, which seemed a lot. When it gets warmer I am going to think about washing it myself and going along with it wet and just paying solely for the cut. Although some other frugal folks seem to have taken to cutting their own hair I am not that brave. I am only now thinking about dying it myself – dye bought and just need to do a test to make sure that I don’t come out in a nasty rash. I have told my better half that he is going to have to help me.

Petrol was less than budgeted, mostly because I was at home over Christmas rather than having to drive to work, but also because every time I go to Tesco the price has dropped by a penny or two per litre. I now have a Tesco credit card and so am hoping to start building my points. The interest rate is 0% for 20 months. I read an article about ‘stoozing’ – saving any money I spend on the card in a high interest savings account and then paying off the balance with this before the interest-free period expires – having made some interest in the process. My better half said that it sounded dangerous, but it seems to me that you just have to be organised and basically it’s money for free! Has anyone else tried this?

I managed to put £623.90 into savings, but my overall total did not increase by that much as my stocks and shares ISA has lost nearly £100 since I opened it at the beginning of the month. I expect things to get a lot worse as we head into the abyss that is Brexit, but hopefully by the time I need to tap into it ‘the will of the people’ will be a distant memory.