Saturday, 23 February 2013

Frugal February - its nearly done!

It's been quite a useful exercise, this keeping a note of how long things last.

Really important this, for things like loo roll, and cleaning products. How often do I just buy things out of habit, or because they're on offer?  I currently have 5 rolls of loo roll (decent stuff) and 2 packs of the stuff that's usually on offer in Home Bargains or Farmfoods and only gets used as a last resort.

2 bottles of cheap washing up liquid currently languish in my marvellous sliding cupboard, along with 4 bars of cheap soap and several different bottles of 'multi purpose cleaner', most of which I never buy any more.

This is my staple stock for cleaning now, along with lots and lots of hot water. The lemon vinegar is probably ready to be 'decanted', but that's a job for another day.

Going shopping with a 'proper' list, rather than buying things out of habit.  Consciously checking the fridge and the freezer, and realising that NO I don't need to buy another pizza, we can survive until next weekend.

I've been shopping to Tesco, and bumped into an ex work colleague who thought I'd only just started shopping, when in fact I was on my way to the till.  This was things to top up what I've got, in order to make a meal.   The reason I was in Tesco, rather than friendly local shop was simple. I've got vouchers so decided to use some of them.  Cost of shopping £18.32 of which £5.45 was spent on drinks for J, and £5 was on some flowers for sister (birthday present) so the actually grocery part of the shop was only £7.87, so I decided not to use the vouchers after all.

I've taken some ham out of the freezer, which was frozen at Christmas, and will be having that for sandwiches during the week.

All in all, not too bad, and unlike my lovely friend at Peppermintpot I'm still 'sort of' in budget.

We'll see how next month goes, as I won't have a fully stocked freezer to fall back on.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Frugal February - an update

It's a heck of a lot easier to be 'frugal' when your employer picks up the tab!

Staying in a lovely hotel, with a bathroom to die for...

You can't see very well in this photo, but there are lots of little lights all around the bath
But, honestly, I am here to work, and am sorting out my receipts - do you like the multi coloured highlighter, and the tiny, tiny little stapler?

Spending so far,  just over £20 at the weekend, and have so far this week the grand total of £1.50( and even that was the Humber Bridge toll so I can claim it back)

How long do things last?

Regularly when I write my shopping list and it has a lot of the same things on it.
Loo roll, washing up liquid, tins of beans, coffee, tea; to name just a few. I often end up with cupboards full of stuff, mainly bought on offer, but actually I have no idea how long things last for.

So I've tried to be conscious of what I'm doing, for things that can be stocked up on.

Starting with.......
Soap powder - I've just opened a new box of soap powder (bought from Approved Foods)so tried to work out how long the last one lasted. I bought gel as it was on offer for £2, and I've just checked back and it was part of a Tesco order on 24th November. Not bad value for money. We'll see how long this powder lasts.
I'm fortunate enough to live in a soft water area, so mainly ignore the instructions on soap powder. I know from experience how much to put in, and have a little tub especially for the purpose. Also, our stuff is not really 'dirty', just not clean enough to wear again.

Making your own laundry products
I've used the last of my home made laundry 'goop', made from a recipe on MSE, and haven't got round to making any more.  I've not bought fabric conditioner for years, use white vinegar and/or essential oils instead.

Soapnuts - these get used for things like towels and bedding - things that need freshening up.  This helps to eke out the soap powder useage, and does leave things really soft.

White vinegar - I've just bought a new bottle - a huge container really for £1.25 and have made some lavender vinegar to use as a spray for cleaning the loo and the bath, and in a jar in the kitchen I've just started  some lemon vinegar (need to remember to keep giving it a shake!)

Friday, 1 February 2013

Frugal February

I'd decided to join in with the Frugal February challenge, but was having difficulty deciding what to do as I already have a weekly cash budget (which is all I can spare). Cutting that down by much 'doesn't suit me'.

As I'm away most of the week, I spend money on convenience food for J.  If he had to he'd cook from scratch, but he'll generally only do that if a mate is round. Otherwise he puts things in the oven, sets the timer and goes back upstairs until its cooked. So I'll still make sure there are pizzas, burgers and frozen chips for him.

 I'm going to take out my normal cash allowance, and focus on what I actually spend on.  Consciously see where I'm saving money, or am I just kidding myself? We don't buy cheap quality food, I don't think its worth it, but am I shopping at the best times to get the bargains? 9 am probably isn't a good time to get offers, so should I change the time/day I shop?

Freezer is quite full, and its amazing what was lurking at the bottom. Huge bag of sausages bought from the butchers van before Christmas, gammon, leftover turkey/chicken/ham.  Plenty of frozen veg.There is also a mountain of pasta, rice and noodles from Approved Foods. The plan is to live out of freezer and the Approved food stash as much as possible, and take lunch were practical.  This isn't as easy as it sounds - I can generally take lunch for the first day I'm somewhere, but I don't like sandwiches unless they're freshly made, and it does depend on the facilities available.

I've got plenty of loo roll, soap powder, washing up liquid and toiletries, but never know how much is enough.  I finished the last of the soap powder, so have a new box, so I'll see how long it lasts, same for washing up liquid.  Last lot was Fairy, bought on offer, this is supermarkets own. Is it worth the saving, do you use more of the cheaper stuff?

Fuel for the car, I'm not counting at all. Its work mileage and they pay for it. Personal mileage is too small an amount to calculate.
Any money left over from one week, will go in a pot and may be used as spends for weekend away in March.  Next week won't be bad as I'm at home most evenings, so a good start will be made on eating out of the freezer.
Hotel 'fancified meal'

Meal planning isn't really my thing, but for a rough idea.
Breakfast - well this is 2 cups of tea. J doesn't even have that.
Lunches - weekends, HM bread and soup, if working see above. J generally has toast. With or without scrambled egg or beans. Or soup.
Dinners - during the week, this is easy, in a hotel and work pay.  I don't normally even have to pay and claim it back. Otherwise , freezer has food batch cooked during January, so we have a choice of curries, chilli, and cooked chicken/turkey and ham which can be added to other meals.
This weekend
Tonight - Fish and chips - fish out of freezer, home made chips, can of mushy peas
Tomorrow - stir fry of some description
Sunday - Sausage casserole - will make enough that this can also be heated up on Monday by son.
Monday - I'm away, son can have reheated casserole with jacket spud.
Tuesday - too far into the future to think about.

I also don't have a free Council Tax month as I pay over 12 months.  They actually don't allow it, but it doesn't suit me to pay an extra £20 a month for 10 months, so I don't.