There is no question, we've said goodbye to summer and autumn is now making its presence felt. We've changed for our mid-weight duvet on the bed, and are remembering to pull the blind down in the bathroom overnight to avoid it being cold in there in the mornings. The thermal roller-blind we have in there wasn't particularly expensive, but it saves us needing to heat the room in any other than the coldest of weather so has probably paid for itself already in the one winter we've had it in place.
We've had some great fun this summer - in fact we seemed to go through most of it with plans for every weekend! Of course though that level of living life to the full does have an impact financially - we've still maintained our overpayments to the mortgage mind you, those get prioritised - but our personal savings and the accounts we have specifically to budget for getting out and about could do with some TLC. We'll make the most of a quiet couple of months now to recharge not only our own batteries, but the financial ones too, to ensure that by the time we need it, there is some cash in the "fun fund" again.
Some areas of expenditure naturally ease up at this time of year - we don't tend to be away so much as with the rugby season in full swing Ben has matches on saturdays and I am usually there too with the camera gear. The photo kit was pricey to buy in the first place but other than the occasional memory card or replacement batteries running costs now are pretty much zero. Matches are mostly fairly close to home and there are sometimes car-shares with other players too to cut down the diesel cost a bit. I eat lunch before I go, and as I'm driving I generally stick to soft drinks in the clubhouse - in fact in the depths of winter, after 80 minutes on the touchline, you want nothing stronger than a cup of very hot tea!
If we're looking for something to do on a Sunday, we have our RSPB and National Trust memberships - we donate to the RSPB monthly, and I quite often visit our local reserve to get a lovely walk in the fresh air. As members, even the parking is free! Having paid for the privilege it would be silly not to visit the places!
One area I am looking at cutting back on this month is our spend on food. We have a Tesco "Clubcard plus" account which means we get extra clubcard points on what we spend using the card. Each month the account is fed with £150 and all our food and cleaning materials for the month come from this. Shopping at Tesco itself is paid for straight on the card, whilst I can use it at cashpoints to withdraw money when I want to shop elsewhere. I have two "£2 off when you spend £20" vouchers to use this month so I will do two shops of that amount to get the benefit - those will be when I buy things like washing powder. Other than that we will buy as little as we can, and raid the freezer, larder and storecupboards to make our meals. I drew up our meal plan for the month today, and that will evolve through the month as I raid the freezer. At some stage I will spend £10 on meat in Morrisons - nearly all their meat stocked is British, which means it meets higher welfare standards than it might if it came from elsewhere. I'll look for the cheap cuts - beef skirt, lamb breast, pork cheeks - and will then batch-cook to get the best value out of what I've bought. We have lots of sausages in the freezer at the moment- bought when they were on special offer a couple of months back, and the other weekend's roast chicken was stripped off the carcass after we had our sunday lunch from it and has been portioned up into the freezer - it made a chicken curry for Friday night, and we have another three meals-worth to eat yet!
Are you cutting back ahead of the winter too, and making the most of what you have? There seems to be a lot of "no shopping" and similar challenges around at the moment - I'm not unrealistic enough to think this will work for us - nor would I want it too, I like my fresh fruit and veg! - but I do intend to cut our expenditure as much as I can, I wonder how we will fare?