Friday, 8 November 2013

Frugal Friday...

Sometimes being frugal feels like a struggle. It's not that it's not a natural way to live, because it is. It's not that we feel deprived, or that we want to splash out and buy something utterly useless and frivolous - we don't. It's just that at this time of year we get a bit hard-up for daylight I think and that can make everything feel like wading through treacle. We leave home in the morning just after it's light, and arrive home in the evening when it's well and truly dark. Sometimes we need to sit back, ease up and appreciate the little stuff - so here we go, this week the little stuff looks like this:

Booking train tickets for a cheery weekend trip to Manchester to a beer festival in January. At £25 each return taking the train is cheaper than driving, and we've used some Red Spotted Hanky credit to reduce the real cost still further, too - Total cash spend £36.70

Wonderful architecture in Manchester
Digging up the remainder of our potatoes from the garden - we were really impressed at the return we got from a single bag of seed potatoes!

Clearing up the clutter on the balcony - emptying the shelving, throwing away pots that are in excess of what we needed, or were broken. Getting rid of the old mini-greenhouse - the cover has perished thanks to the torrents of water landing on it from the gutters at the top of the building. I'd love to buy just a new cover next year but sadly (and stupidly) that will be more expensive than replacing the whole thing. The balcony now looks clearer, and there is less "stuff" gathering dust.

Making some more of our gifted quinces into a delicious jam. "Real cost" of this was 1.5kg of sugar and a bit of gas for cooking as the quinces and the vanilla pod we used were free to us. 5 jars of jam for about 30p a jar.

Submitting the electricity meter reading and turning the estimated debit figure into a credit - silly old Scottish Power thinking we'd use THAT much power!

Cooking meals over the weekend that will see us right through the week - cooking double like this is great at this time of year when all you want to do on arriving home is stick something in the oven and eat it a short while later!

Being thankful that, unlike some others who are struggling with their household expenses, we're CHOOSING to live this way. Our heating isn't on yet, but that's because we haven't felt that we need it, and so have chosen to leave it off, rather than because we "can't afford it" - considering we're overpaying our mortgage by over 50% each month, saying we can't afford things like that would be overdramatising somewhat!

Being frugal doesn't mean never going anywhere!

Being gifted a pair of black trousers - ideally suited for workwear - which prove to fit beautifully in every respect other than length. Later today they will be making their way to the local dressmaker for alteration.

Discovering that our lovely local Artisan Bakery do an absolutely scrumptious "Croissant Pudding" - sort of like Bread & Butter pudding only with croissants - and at £2.75 for a pudding big enough for 2 portions for each of us, it's not going to break the bank as an occasional treat!

Discovering that, rather than needing two sidelight bulbs replaced, my car actually only needed one once I'd twiddled with the other one a bit - hurrah for loose connections!

MrEH's eagle-eyes spotting the "Giveaway Girls" at Liverpool Street Station and getting me a free Nails Inc Nail Varnish in a gorgeous metallic red shade - perfect for brightening up a wintry day! We'll be having a tasty stir-fry one evening using the sachet of sauce he was given at Chancery Lane another day, too, and then there are the several sachets of NikWax "TX Direct"...

Porridge for breakfast with a dollop of home made jam - whether home made by us, or by lovely Mum-in-Law!

Having JUST enough left over from my weekly spends after a lovely meal out with friends, and a fabulous loaf of bread on Saturday, to go swimming on Wednesday evening!

Realising that thanks to our Virtual Sealed Pot savings (where we "sweep" the odd pennies and pounds from our current accounts) we've already saved nearly enough to pay for our travel for an exciting extra Hebrides trip next year!

What were YOUR small frugal wins this week?



Pat Machin said...

I enjoy your Frugal Fridays posts. Probably because your approach agrees with mine :-).

We don't feel any need to splurge on frivolities but manage to get most of what we really *want* as well as what we *need*.

Robyn said...

Thanks Pat! I think it's about where your level is set - if you're a person who covets "stuff" then this way of life would make you miserable - but when you start focusing on what's really important, your priorities change, don't they!

Scarlet said...

I've been struggling myself. The tunnel is long and dark, and sometimes it's hard to focus on the tiniest pinprick of light at the end of it. My small win was finding long sleeved thermal tshirts for J for £4 each, rather than the £8 or £12 that I've seen them selling for in the other places I've looked. I bought him 2, and that £8 spend will keep him warm and mean we can keep the heating off for even longer. The only way we can beat the energy companies is not to use the energy in the first place.

Robyn said...

That's a good win Scarlet! We were just talking about whether we need to think about putting the heating on yet, and so far have decided we won't. The first place to get properly cold is the bathroom, and we can always use the little oil-filled rad in there if needed.
I'm planning a little £8 spend myself tomorrow - B&M have twin-packs of fleece throws which will do perfectly well for lining the bedroom curtains!

dreamer said...

Hi Robyn
Another tip for improving energy efficiency of curtains is adding a layer of those lifesaving foil blankets you get for emergencies. I picked mine up from a pound shop a while ago for two in a pack and they get put between the fleece and the curtain.
I'm working on quilts for the bedroom windows too this year as the winds at the back of the house here are wicked.
A small win for me recently has been having my sealed pot to use towards petrol costs with the hospital visiting, at £20+ per day unbudgeted travel it has been a lifesaver.
Once Ian gets home I will have to heat the house more,but I have been concentrating on mainly heating myself so hot drinks and a hot water bottle have been my weapons of choice the past few weeks. We are hitting minus temps most nights now here but I have been plenty warm enough.
Great buy on the shirts Scarlet :)

Robyn said...

Great tip with the foil blankets - I'd never have thought of that! I've been sitting this afternoon sewing curtain hooks onto thin fleecer throws and those are now lining our bedroom curtains!
Glad you had the sealed pot for use for the travelling costs - even when my dad was in hospital earlier in the year it mounted up with the trips there and back and the parking, and we had nothing like the journeys you've been having. Very glad to spot on your blog earlier that you're hoping for Ian to be home early next week too.