May Spending

Spring is definitely here and summer is on its way

It feels as though as summer approaches I am attending more social events. I don’t have a big group of friends and as you would expect from the title of this blog lead a fairly simple life. The village in which we live has an active social committee and so there are a programme of events throughout the year which I try to take part in.

I have also met up with ex-colleagues. We keep in touch every couple of months and as you can see from how much I spent, go to a fairly cheap eatery for some food and a chat. Friends came to visit and we cooked lunch instead of going out.

I also attended a local fund-raising event to raise money for twinning activities. The nearest town is twinned with a place in France and this has waned over the years as the members of the society have got older. Now they are trying to revive it and are looking for new blood. With my love of France it was an ideal activity for me to get involved in. At the moment it will just be attending events to publicise the revival of the twinning, but eventually there will be the opportunity to host visitors from France and join a trip to the French town to stay with a local family and see the sights.

So, let’s look at the figures…

Another good month on progress with the mortgage. The standard monthly payment was £571.00 and then we made an overpayment on the mortgage of £540.06. The standard amounts came out of our joint account for bills, one of which was our gas and electric bill with Octopus who we switched to last year. They were recommended by Money Saving Expert and Which and I have found them really good. All of their electricity is 100% green and you can carbon offset your gas. If you were thinking of changing then click here to check them out and if you sign up both of us get £50.

This leaves the balance on the mortgage standing at £79,207.36

House value is £476,283 (according to the Nationwide House Price Calculator) which is an increase of 9.49% since we bought it.

Savings stand at £33,514.34. My Vanguard stocks and shares ISA has been up and down this month and by 31st May I had made a loss of £54.85.  Saved £185.00 to Vanguard and £250.00 to Nationwide.

Interest on Marcus account which I am using for stoozing a grand total of £4.35.

Try to use up ingredients that have been hanging around for a while.

Food £133.29 which included a quarterly order of dried fruit and nuts. I felt as though I had some expensive weeks this month in terms of food, but the cupboards are looking a bit bare as we had let them run down so I had to stock up. I was trying to make an effort to use up those strange ingredients that you’ve had for years and that are lurking in the back of the cupboard. This month it was a packet of sundried tomatoes which I think we bought in Italy over six years ago. I soaked them in some boiling water and used them in a lasagne recipe.

Petrol £115.35– slightly under budget as I took the train a few times. That gets refunded so I don’t count it in my expenses.

Pilates – £32.00 – this is quite a lot, but I really find it beneficial and don’t want to skimp on something which is good for my health.

Toiletries £25.36.

Presents are something that I haven’t budgeted for, but need to do so.

Miscellaneous £68.54 which included £30.00 in presents, spending on the garden of £9.45 and seeing gardens £10.00. Meal out with friends £9.40 – a bargain. Just ordered a wrap and fries and drank tap water.

Expenses from bills account – expected annual expenses

Holiday balance £94.75. We are about to go to the Yorkshire dales for the week. Unfortunately the weather forecast isn’t good, but we are renting a lovely cottage so will have plenty of room to hang up our waterproofs after a day on the hills.

Travel insurance £23.06 for a holiday to Italy. I usually get annual insurance as we have a couple of holidays abroad, but this year I didn’t bother as Mr Simple and I are staying in the UK this year. My mother and I are celebrating my 50th year by going to the Italian lakes in September. My insurance is unusually high due to my heart condition which I have to declare. Mr Simple, who is fortunately fit and well, can get annual insurance through his bank for £30 per year.

One year of physio sessions equals a holiday in France.

Physio sessions – £64.00. These are to help with problems in my neck and shoulders, mainly caused by poor posture and too much time on my computer. When I have a week’s leave my shoulders feel fine, but as soon as I go back to work they feel tight again. The physio has given me exercises to do to strengthen the muscles in my shoulders, but I am not always a good student and forget to do them. I recently realised that my annual budget for physiotherapy of £1152.00, is the equivalent of our yearly holiday in France. This year we aren’t going there, but I worked out that if I make more of an effort to do my exercises and don’t have to go to physio anymore, then we can go to France without any increase in the budget. This is a good example of how daily habits can help you to achieve your goals and dreams i.e. daily habit = physio exercises; goal = save £1152.00; dream = holiday in France in 2020.

Received some interest of £28.70 from a savings account which I emptied some time ago.

Had £65.55 left over and paid this into my Vanguard ISA.

So any observations or suggestions? How was your May?

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!