Friday, 3 January 2014

Frugal Friday...

So, here we are at the start of another year. The new year is always a good time when you're working towards a goal - financial or otherwise - to take stock, see how far you've come, and also to decide on what progress you'd like to make over the next year.

Choose the path that suits you...
We started the year with a mortgage balance which was just a shade under 60k, and are ending it with the first two digits being 49... - we're pretty happy with that. In an ideal world we would have paid off more, but the ongoing dispute with Virgin Money has put paid to that - they are still insistent that they can simply change our terms and conditions  not only with no notice but in fact without even bothering to tell us! As they have refused to listen to us, we've now escalated the dispute into a formal complaint. Of course while all this is going on their change means that we can't make the overpayments that we have wanted to as they won't accept them.

Spread your wings...
Regardless of all that, we intend to start this year by establishing what our overpayment limit will be for the year and then paying as much of that amount as possible up front. We've been stashing every spare penny we can into the savings account set up for the purpose, and that will be trotting over to the mortgage account just as soon as we can get on the phone to do it. It'll then be a case of keeping an eye on the balance so we know when we need to stop our "regular" overpayments and start feeding THAT money into the savings account to. If you are overpaying, and have an annual percentage limit you are allowed to overpay based on the closing balance in the previous year, then paying as much as possible of that amount at the very start of the year means that you're paying interest on a smaller amount, for longer. Common sense, innit?! The goal for this year on the mortgage is simple - to overpay every single penny we can.

Special things are worth saving for...
Our various savings accounts are trotting along nicely - the household expenses account has been topped back up to it's £500 threshold, the car account is OK, our holiday account is on target to mean that the Hebrides trip will be covered entirely before we even start driving north, and will also be a good jumping off point for a planned second Hebrides trip this year. My personal savings are about to take a battering as I am within a whisker of ordering the thing I've been saving so hard for - a rather pricey new camera lens, one which will get a LOT of use at airshows through the year, I hope. On the face of it very far from frugal, but photography is a hobby that I find very relaxing, great fun, and very rewarding, and the lens will be bought via the cheapest possible avenue, and has been saved for upfront.

Looking forward to more of these chaps...
We're looking to review everything and see where we might be able to make any further savings. As ever anything we do save will be added to the extra we're saving up to pay against the mortgage. Until such time as a new Furry Four Legged person comes to join the household we're saving £14 a month on the insurance that we were paying for HRH. We know there is a saving to be made against the water rates - but this requires some work to be done first to make room for a water meter to be fitted. Our Sky package also needs beating down in price. I'm keen to stay with them if possible as we are pleased with the service, like the customer support and I find the access to wi-fi which is included useful when I'm out and about. However I'm not happy that they are charging us a good lump more than BT would for the same thing. As ever I'll do my research, then call them up and see what they are prepared to offer us.  Our fixed price deal for our electricity ends in April, so that will need review and I'll be looking to see if there is any point in "jumping ship" to a new supplier earlier than that as we chose a fix that had no exit fees. We'll continue with all our "little savings" too - loose change, roadkill and my £2 coins. Also the "Virtual Sealed Pot" which is already running at somewhere over £50 and we're only a month in - we'll be aiming to beat last year's totals for all of those!

Super-frugal food!
One area where I KNOW we can make a saving into the new year will be our food shopping. We've taken our eye off the ball a little on this so we'll be looking to try to buy as little other than fresh fruit and veg, milk & dairy, and the occasional loaf of bread from the Turkish Supermarket or the lovely Mayfield Farm Bakery for as long as we possibly can. I'll be aiming to make the meat and fish that we have in the freezer s-t-r-e-t-c-h as far as possible, and the use up lots of things from our rather well supplied larder and storecupboard. we'll be waging war on half-used jars of this and that, and decimating all those packets and tins that have been hanging around for longer than they really should have done. watch this space for progress on this, and also get ready for Frugal February once again - who's going to join me on that one this year?



Pat Machin said...

The savings on fitting a water meter have been unbelievable for us. We are currently paying half what we were paying 5 years ago when I had it fitted.

AND it has gone down by £4 this year by conscious savings. I reckon I could get it lower if I work at it.

Robyn said...

we had them visit last year with a view to fitting one, but apparently we have unusual pipes, so needs more space than the usual ones. we need to remove a chunk of shelving from the airing cupboard to make space, then they can come back.

Sue said...

You sound like you have everything in hand and organised ready for a super frugal year.

It's amazing how many half used jars there are lurking around the place isn't it. I think one of the first things for my Challenge should be to use up all mine too.

I love your Frugal Fridays and Frugal February sounds brilliant, count me in, although I guess at a pound a day for food I'm already in :-)

Anonymous said...

Good luck for the coming year Robyn. You've got it sorted I think.

Boo to virgin. Although in their defence, of course they are not going to make it easier for you to pay down your mortgage quicker. It means less money for them ;)

I'd attempt frugal feb with you I think. I'll pop back over your posts last year and see what it entails x

Weighing you both health and happiness for 2014

saving for travel said...

You sound very organised and have some excellent goals for next year.

I look forward to admiring the photos taking with your posh new lens.

Happy New Year!

Sft x

Robyn said...

Half used jars - bane of my life Sue! My problem is I always forget they're there until after we've eaten a meal when one of them could have been useful! And yes, I think you're having a "Frugal 'Fourteen" - never mind just February!

N - we're wondering how long it's going to take Virgin to respond to our complaint. At least hopefully it means that they are now taking it seriously and actually checking things rather than just sending out another standard response.

SFT - I reckon it might take me all year to get to grips with it - I'll have to practise LOTS before air-show season! ;-)