Exercise the Simple Way

It has been an absolutely glorious weekend, particularly considering that it is February. I love the sunshine and through dark and miserable January I can’t wait for the lighter evenings and warmer weather. This year it has arrived early. When it is warm and dry there is no excuse for not getting outside and enjoying the fresh air. And, it can save you money.

Leave the car at home when you can

Mr Money Mustache advocates cycling or walking and that’s all very well if you live near work, but for me it’s just not possible, particularly as I not only have to travel to the office, but during the working day as well. I have realised that despite this difficulty, I do live close enough to the local town to be able to walk there. We didn’t think about this when we bought the house, but now I realise what a bonus this is. We use the town for little bits of shopping, the library, GP, dentist, etc and it’s all on our doorstep.

Although it is only a mile away, when it is tipping with rain I must admit that I do take the car. Yesterday, as the sun was shining, I walked there and back, carrying library books and shopping on the return journey. Despite the good weather I had chores to do in the house in the afteernoon and so by about 5 o’clock I was desperate to get outside again so we went for a short walk. Until recently my step count has been abysmal, but yesterday it was 17, 455!

Free horse manure

Today, as it is beginning to feel like spring (I am slightly worried that we are going to get frost and snow at some point though – this weather is too good to be true or a confirmation of global warming) we decided to go and get some horse manure for the garden. A friend of a friend has horses and allows us to take as much as we want. It’s just a short drive, but then involves filling old compost bags with the manure, loading them in the car and then wheelbarrowing them down the garden back at the house. Two trips took us two hours in total. Lugging heavy bags of rotted manure certainly got my heart rate up – almost a workout I am sure.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I had already been for a short jog this morning. At this time of year I usually fire up the treadmill and watch YouTube whilst doing a short jog, but this morning I decided to hit the lanes in the sunshine. It was lovely, but jogging outside is much more difficult and the slightest uphill section kills me. It does feel good though when you get home and can relax over a breakfast knowing that you’ve already done your exercise for the day.

This afternoon we have been out in the garden just tidying things up. We are very lucky to have a large garden – 200ft long in fact – but this does mean that it you are at the bottom of the garden and have left something in the house it is a long way to go back for it – hence my step count today – 15,427!

Take the stairs when you can

Tomorrow it’s back to work and on some days my step count is less than 1000, but this evening I am feeling pretty good. I think the message is that even if you can’t be MMM and cycle everywhere every day, there are probably some days when you could incorporate exercise into your routine, even if it’s just taking the stairs rather than the lift, throwing yourself into the housework or pottering around in the garden.

I think that the sunshine is set to continue for a few days, so get out and enjoy it while you can.

January Spending – approximately!

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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.


£1550.00 was transferred to the joint account and spent as
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!

Why I missed driving

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Some of my days are spent sitting in front of a computer, but others are spent travelling around, which means a lot of time in my car. Usually it’s an hour there and an hour back and maybe some shorter journeys during the day. Those such as Mr Money Mustache or Jacob Lund Fisker of Early Retirement Extreme would say that we should ditch the car and walk everywhere, but unfortunately my job doesn’t allow me to do that. Therefore I have found a way to enjoy my time in the car and put it to good use. It initially started with a friend reminding me about audiobooks which are available in the library, but then one day when I was watching You Tube whilst jogging I found the Afford Anything podcast http://www.affordanything.com and I was hooked. Watching a static picture on You Tube whilst listening to whoever Paula Pant, the host of the Afford Anything podcast, was interviewing was rather boring, but a quick hop over to her website and I found over 150 podcasts to download on to my phone and play in the car, all about financial independence.

Over the Christmas period I have mostly been working at home and it just doesn’t seem right to spend time sitting and listening to podcasts. I suppose that I could do it whilst doing some housework, but if I’m partly concentrating on something else then I often lose concentration and miss bits. In the car I am able to just completely focus on listening to podcasts; obviously whilst having my full concentration on the road as well.

That is why I have missed driving. I now actually look forward to getting in the car some days; planning what to listen to, downloading it to my phone. It is like a treasure trove of information out there just waiting to be discovered and it is completely free. It may not fit the ideal picture of someone working towards financial independence, but without my car, I couldn’t do my job and without my job there wouldn’t be any money to save for the future and therefore no chance of achieving FI. And, as well as making the journey more interesting I have learnt a great deal about financial independence from all of the podcasts that I have listened to.

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.