Friday 7 August 2015

Frugal Friday...

I almost feel slightly guilty writing Frugal Friday posts now. In the last few years our finances have improved substantially, although it would be fair to say that our spending hasn't increased greatly as a result. We are now extremely fortunate to be at the point though where, if we wished, we could live a far less frugal life. So far though our choice has been "business as usual" - and we continue to be on target with overpaying the mortgage and saving any spare cash against the future. Reading through other blog posts where people are doing the frugal thing because they simply have no choice - there isn't any more money coming in than covers the absolute essentials - that makes me feel as though really, do I have any right to be "playing" at it like this? My justification is - and has always been - that I HAVE been there myself, and learned valuable lessons from those times, and so if I can put that knowledge to help others who find themselves in that boat now, it's well worth the time spent writing, no?

One thing we've always been careful about is to ensure that things aren't "so" cut to the bone that everything starts to feel like a chore, a penance. I think that's probably why I've never ended up writing these posts as a "poor me" type moan. And had I done, frankly that would be ridiculous as after all if we're lucky enough to be in a position to be overpaying the mortgage then we would also be in a position where it would be quite reasonable for those reading to just suggest I either put up or shut up. We've not sat shivering while our perfectly good heating remains switched off in the depth of winter, (bad for both us AND the property itself, this one) and one phrase I have always shied away from using is "I can't afford" as, honestly, in many cases we COULD afford, we've chosen not to.  Again, not everyone is that lucky, but fun can come in a number of forms and not all of them need to cost money. Think about combining a necessary journey with a walk in the countryside, for example, or just giving yourself an hour to sit in the garden with a cold drink and a good book. 

If all continues to go to plan we are less than two years away from kicking that mortgage into touch once and for all, and for us we've now reached the point where it feels right to relax things a little. We've rented a garage - with my car getting used relatively little through the winter this seemed like a sensible plan, and it's also given us somewhere to store some of the random crap from elsewhere!  We've increased the amount we budget for fun stuff too, while throughout this whole adventure we've always made a point of  making sure we still do fun stuff, that will now extend to include a meal out together once a month or so and more trips where we can like our visit to Lundy with a gang of friends back in May. We're looking to increase charity giving again this year too - we've donated regularly to the RSPB for years, and last year started a regular donation to the RNLI as well - with MrEH having grown up for much of his childhood in South Devon, close to both sea & River Dart, it's a charity close to his heart and he was keen to give once we could. Later this year we'll probably add in something to one of the Forces Charities - I have increasing numbers of friends serving in the RAF and it would feel nice to be able to give something to a charity that might - if worst came to worst - one day actually help someone I know. All of this will not impact on the amount we're setting aside for over-paying/clearing the mortgage. 

Some stuff won't change much though - I'll still continue to search out the best deals I can for Insurances and breakdown cover, still keep an eye out for the cheapest place locally to fill the car up, haggle with Sky and cook from scratch. Those things have become such second nature now we see no reason to change them. I'll keep a beady eye on the interest rates on our ISAs and we'll look to move money around when it is sensible to do so. I won't be rushing out to buy designer this and that, or doing all my food shopping in M&S or Waitrose (not though we have either of those near enough for it to be an option anyway!) nor will we be looking buy a brand new car every few years just to keep up with the Jones's!  As things stand both cars that we have currently will be kept for the time being - we have started discussing some future planning stuff on that front but while both are running OK they'll be staying with us. MrEH's C3 will almost certainly spend the rest of her days with us rather as his last one did - our thinking with his car has always been to buy something not "cheap" as such, but at the budget end of the market, and then just run it until it drops or is obviously starting to have too many problems to be worth fixing.

So, life continues as "business as usual" as I said, albeit with a bit more slack and wriggle-room - always good for reassurance - and I'll continue to write these posts occasionally as ideas occur to me. If there's something you'd like to see me tackle then please do let me know!