Our last full day of our holiday – as always sad to be leaving but at least this time knowing we’ll be coming back for our “cash neutral” trip over New Year helps a lot with that. We had a little check-over of our finances while we were chatting about things last night, and it looks like we’re going to come in under budget for this year’s fortnight – always a pleasing thought! Mileage, and thus diesel, will be lower thanks to our new base on the West of the Island being far less of a trek in and out each day than where we’ve been based before – we’ve loved staying here and all being well we’ll be looking to book this for next year’s visit too.
There was also a saving on diesel as well as ferry costs due to our decision not to make the trip north to Lewis and Harris – it was a real experiment to decide not to do it but we’ve both agreed that we didn’t miss it enough to justify doing it until ferry prices fall considerably, which they will, when the RET (Road Equivalent tariff) kicks in on those routes – but until then, the cost of the trip is too much.
Our food “budget” while we’re here is very fluid in any event – we set ourselves an amount for “main” grocery shops which is spent on the cashback credit card, but there is additional spending outside that for lunches and dinners out, tea & cake (of course!) and extra items of food. There is also the items of foodstuffs we buy to take back – the excellent Stornoway Black Pudding, the Hebridean oatcakes and Water Biscuits we love, salmon and other seafood, and other odds and ends. Those come from our spending money, and then help to feed us for the next few months also. For the amount on the credit card though, we’re under budget too.
Spending money – as things stand at the moment we’re well under budget on that, too. We’ll withdraw some more today which will cover the last spends, as well as food for the journey home. We’ll eat an early lunch tomorrow before boarding the ferry, and then will eat our evening meal on the boat – CalMac fish & chips is very good! Sunday will be a stop for “brunch” almost certainly at a “Little Chef” or similar on the way down – that means our heavily packed car can be left in sight and saves us time on the long journey searching for somewhere to eat. While not the best food, or the cheapest, on these occasions they serve a purpose!
All this talk of budgets for a holiday probably seems strange to some – for us it means that we have a fantastic holiday and can still arrive home in the calm certainty that the credit card bill will not deliver a fright. We don’t constantly watch the prices on everything, sit in the dark, or wear our coats indoors to avoid heating the place – we do, however, use the fire (with attendant back-boiler at this cottage) to heat our water where we can, to save using the immersion, and one of the first things we did on arrival was to turn the heaters down to a very low level – it’s storage heaters the same as at home, so we know how to use them, one has been switched off entirely and the other on just very low while we’ve been here – temperatures at this point here have been lower, and with the wind it’s still necessary to have some heating on. We still switch lights off when we leave a room as we would at home. When shopping we keep an eye out for yellow-stickered (or rather here, ORANGE stickered) bargains – particularly if buying veg for that nights meal, or bread – we have a freezer so may as well make use of it. We’re also careful about the amount we buy – no point in packing up here tomorrow morning with piles of food left – the odds and ends that ARE left will get passed to friends, and other than that the freezer and fridge will be emptied with our final dinner here tonight – making use of what we have makes as much sense here, as at home.
The saving for next year’s trip starts when we're home – and anything left from the budget for this year will be left sitting in the holiday account ready to assist with that, and with any other shorter trip we make over the year. We’ll establish whether our monthly saving figure needs to change at all, and will increase the regular payment on that if so, but best of all, when the Credit Card bill arrives in a fortnight, I’ll be able to quietly shift the money aside, and know that it’s covered, and hopefully the sense of calm and peace we get from this annual trip here will remain….