Friday, 24 August 2012

Frugal Friday...

I did a little recap the other day over our financial "achievements" - partly as I was having one of those "we're getting nowhere with this!" moments, and partly as I was entering some new information in the notebook I keep for the purpose. The first Big Push (yes it deserves capitals!) was in 2008, when I decided that we wanted to pay off a car loan earlier than the original end date to the term. we did it too, getting rid of it in 13 months rather than the 30 it was scheduled for, and then chased after its provider for PPI repayment. That success proved the kick-start we needed to start attacking the mortgage - initially just a tiny amount each month, increasing to the in-excess-of 50% we are overpaying each month now. If we can maintain these rates of overpayment then the mortgage will be finished in 6 years time - paid off in 15 years as opposed to 25!

Celebrate your achievements!
One thing this recap reminded me of is the importance of keeping records and notes - not only as a way of seeing what has been achieved either, although at the slow, low points that can get you out of a hole! We have a spreadsheet for the Mortgage which tells us how the overpayments are affecting things. It's something I can play with from time to time, and see how making an extra payment will affect the term down the line, and also means I can keep track of things like when the fixed rate period will expire, and at what stage we will need to curb the OP's in favour of transferring money to savings to avoid going over the limit that the lender sets on us, which would eventually cost us money in penalties. Ben has a similar spreadsheet kept on another machine which means we can check one against the other to pick up on any discrepancies, and also means that should something nasty happen to one of them, the other one can simply be copied and we continue as before. It's great fun when ringing the mortgage company to make extra payments to hear the note of surprise in their voices when they get a VERY accurate answer to the security question as to how much is outstanding on the mortgage, too!

I also keep a "money notebook" - where I note things like expiry dates on insurances etc, end dates for various deals, and if things are sent off to claim back cashback for example, when this has been done. This means that should money due back to us from cashback offers or survey sites not materialise, I can chase it up knowing exactly when a claim was submitted. My iPhone comes in useful for setting reminders for getting insurance quotes, and for noting meter readings for the gas & electricity - I have a brilliant little free App (the majority of my apps are free versions!) which I can set to remind me of various things which is a godsend for one with a dodgy memory such as myself! (Mad isn't it, I can happily remember pretty much all the monthly outgoings from our joint account, and the renewal dates for various things, but ask me what I had for dinner last night and I will probably struggle!). There are a number of useful money-related apps out there - from those designed as a "spending diary" to help you keep track of the day to day frittering to others designed to show you the state of your bank account. Think carefully about their relevance to you, and whether you would actually put enough into them to make them worthwhile, before paying any money out though.

I check the bank accounts regularly - probably at least three times most weeks, particularly at busy times when lots of direct debits etc are scheduled to come out, and this means that I can see quickly if anything has come out that shouldn't, or that wasn't entirely expected, and move money around to cover any shortfall. when the Cash-back credit card statement arrives we go through it straight away, marking up each item as a joint expense (diesel, other travel costs, food and some spending on trips out etc) or to be paid from one or the other of our own accounts, or one of the savings "pots" (Car, Household etc). Money is then transferred back to the joint account in time for the Direct Debit to be taken. If I were to leave it until nearer the time that the payment is due I know full well it would get forgotten - doing it well ahead of time is the best way of avoiding bank charges!
Todays Frugal day out to see these guys only cost diesel & £3 donation to the (free!) event!
I often seem to get people telling me that I'm "very organised" - and it still baffles me every time because in my head, I'm not! The only reason I can come up with to explain why I appear that way (as presumably I do) to the outside world is that I do write everything down, set reminders, and try to plan ahead as much as possible. Having the money lined up for annual expenses ahead of time is a great help too - earlier in the week when I called in to pay the home insurance, for example, I was all ready to pay on the cashback credit card, as usual, until they told me that there was a 2.5% fee for doing this! Knowing that the money was sitting there in our household expenses budgeting account meant I could squirrel away the credit card, and triumphantly whip out a debit card instead! a quick "money tango" from one account to another when I got back home, and there was THAT job done for another year!


1 comment:

cheri said...

The fact that you write everything down and set reminders is what makes you organised. I don't think that any of us are born organisers but I do believe that we can all become organised. I love being organised, it's the control freak in me. I lost my way for a while and I was miserable.
The idea that you can pay off your mortgage in 15 years instead of 25 is fantastic. I think that a lot of people would see that as a negative though, why do without to pay off early but you never seem to do without. A great example for anybody wanting to live frugally. I am not particularly fond of that word as it sums up deprivation to me. Hmm, wonder what word could sum up "Living in an organised and controlled way in order to save some money to pay off my mortgage early" better than frugally?