Well - don't things slip when you're not keeping your eye on them?!
This has been the most hectic summer I've had in a while. It's not been cheap, for sure, but in some ways it HAS been frugal. I've amassed not a penny of debt and, while I've not added to my savings any, I've not taken away from them either. Above all it's been the MOST fantastic, enjoyable, fun few months I've had in a very long while - indeed possibly ever, and as we've always said, life is for living, first and foremost. I've a whole other blog post in mind to wrap things up on the "What I did this summer" line, so for now, let's concentrate on getting things back on a frugal footing, shall we?
So, I'll throw my hands up and admit - over the past few months our food spending has increased, meters have not been read, and I've lost track completely of all the usual small bits of money shuffling and maintenance that used to get done on a regular basis. Time to tackle those things one at a time now, I think:
The gas needs MrEH to read it - which he will do over the weekend. We know where we stand on that one though and, as expected, in spite of the DD with the new supplier being set at £5 per month (which THEY said was too little, and I said was too much) we're already going to be running in credit with that.
The electric is another matter. I checked the account the other day, and was slightly baffled to find that the account didn't look *quite* right. I couldn't put my finger on why though...the figures for the readings were correct against the app on my phone, so why? It took a few moments of scrutiny before I realised with one of those genuine face/palm moments - the two readings had been transposed, so that the reading which should have been for our day use, was actually showing against the night reading, and vice versa! Doh! Looking back, it appears that somehow this happened when I originally switched to them so has been wrong ever since! Anyway, a quick email gained the remarkably common sense response from them that all I needed to do was send them two photographs of the meter, taken more than three hours apart, so they could ascertain that everything was as it should be, and they will correct it. My part of this bargain is now complete and I hope that they will sort things out nice and swiftly now, so we can find out where we stand.
The biggest issue here has been shopping without a list, and letting stuff get wasted when it's been bought from habit - two problems which are extremely easy to sort out! This morning's shop was indeed done with list in hand and I've planned through our meals for the week too. One of the things I've struggled with through the summer has been eating badly - when I've been home, in theory it's been fine, but actually what's tended to happen is that I've been tired, not felt like cooking, and a higher than usual number of easy options and takeaways have crept in. Let's face it, we've all been there! Of course getting THAT back under control is easy - and this is the perfect time of year for it too, when the lure of sausage and bean casseroles and potato bakes gets ever stronger. Regular fridge and freezer audits will help to tackle the waste issue too - I'm cross with myself about that above everything else as I HATE wasting food, and while it's not been enough, it's been sufficient to make me feel I've let myself down a bit. Anyway, the aim for the next few weeks is to keep the weekly food spend to under £25 per week - today's supermarket bill came in at £17 although there are a few bits I need to get from elsewhere yet, too.
Aim for this for the next few weeks is going to simply be to reduce it! Or rather, should I say, to keep it as low as possible. My October personal money in the bank is as yet untouched, and I have £20 in my purse which I intend to stretch as far as I can. How far that is remains to be seen. I've got a few planned spends this month - some travel to book, a trip down to Devon and one or two other small bits, but that's about it - and beyond that into November there will be a few days in Lincolnshire and a few up in Scotland. I've started the month as ever by stashing £50 into my "Fun" account and £100 into savings - and while some of that will have to be withdrawn to cover spends on the credit card when the bill turns up, I'm aiming to cover as much as possible from my regular monthly money.
If I'm intending to do the airshow season next year to a similar extent to this, then some degree of forward financial planning is most definitely needed! With that in mind, I'll be adding to my "treats tin" with any spare cash from my purse, and I also have a new savings account which will being used for any money left over at the end of the month in my bank account, my saved £2 coins when I count those up at the end of the year, and anything extra I earn. I'm setting no firm targets or aims for this - whatever is there at the start of the season can be used to pay towards tickets, accommodation and travel, where required. Booking show tickets on "earlybird" deals will also feature - some pals and I have a plan to do all three days at the Royal International Air Tattoo for example, and a healthy saving can be made on the tickets for that by buying as soon as they are released, I know. As soon as the Red Arrows release their display dates I'll sit down and make a firm list of which shows I want to go to, as well, as booking accommodation earlier often means a saving too - Claire and I also have some plans for maybe making a trip to Cyprus to see the winter training, and that will take both planning and money.
So, a summary right now would be that we need to stick our heads down a get back into the groove with this, I think. The mortgage stuff is going well - we've heard back from the Financial Ombudsman to say that our complaint against Virgin Money is now being looked into, and we're crossing our fingers that they will come back in our favour. If so that will make a big difference to the figures there, and will bring our Mortgage Free date forward a bit more, as well. If not, well, we'll shrug it off and carry on as we are - and if anything it will make us all the more determined to get it gone the very second we can!
I'm not promising that I'm going to be doing Frugal Friday on a weekly basis from here on - but I'll be aiming to do at least one post a month, maybe more.