Monday, 28 February 2011

Shopping, court and other stories!

Monday comes around again all too quickly! I only work three days at present. I am applying for full time jobs. Not necessarily better paid jobs will consider those that are of a lesser hourly rate than what I am on now  ( and much lower than what I was on BD) however for five days more than three in totals - Am I making sense???? I don't think I could cope with full time doing this particular job - its vacuous.
I do my job because I have to - much of it bore me senseless - I like the people/agencies I work with but not the target driven crap I have to do. Today I was in court as a witness - only  magistrates but nonetheless not pleasant. I felt pity for the defendant - he clearly has mental health problems and I hope he gets the help he needs. I also felt really crap giving evidence against him - yes he was wrong but given his issues and mental health I felt guilty. Well tis done now - don't know what the outcome was. I just hope I never have to give evidence in those circumstances again.

Afterwards I treated my self and went for a look around the posh Oxfam in Jesmond aft- just looking as the prices are  high  ( jesmond for those not in the know is a very nice inner type trendy burb area of Newcastle) and I really do not need anything nor can I justify it. Quite a few designer names in Jesmond Oxfam. It was pretty much on my way to the office so was justified. Charity shop window shopping!!!  Its an indulgence just looking at the pretty sparkly things!!!
Didn't go over budget on the shopping either however did pay for parking £1, a cup of tea  £1.20and a 5litre bottle of oil so that came to  12.20 or just under. Sigh..... always something.

Shopping - Tried out home bargains  - a cheapie shop I do not get to inudulge in as its not local and  got cheap cat food - 99p per box (2) Sugar 69p, PG Tips tea bags 400 for 3.99 so 1p a cup!!! (I drink far too much tea and coffee to buy own brand - I need a small indulgence!!!!) High lights 99p, frying spray oil 99p and four choc bars for a £1.

Then off to Lidl - Forgot yeast for breadmaking and icing sugar but neither are essential this week. All in all  have stocked up and only spent  25.55 + 9.54 =    35.09  That's is for the week - ok maybe some yeast and milk but that should be it. I have more than enough food in the house to last and to make some rather scummy meals with. Need to start meal planning properly at some point but I think 1£60 per month is pretty good going all in for everything household you can think of.  - will maybe see if I can do £30 a week! £40 off the debt at the end of the month!! Or going towards the new second hand car........... First things first - I am monitoring spending on food and other such items all in my handy fugal notebook!

I also bought seeds! to grow ones own - out with the nancy flowers in with the vegetables!!!! I have pots to grow stuff in as I have a cat turd issue in the flower beds! Nuff said will keep the further adventures in gardening for the spring.

PS - have been in bed since before 8pm - house in darkness bar telly, PC and one lamp - only one night storage heater turned down to half way. Conserve tconserve conserve.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Prep for Monday... Tomorrow is a shopping day!

Am off to a place I hardly ever go to tomorrow due to being a witness at the magistrates court. I intend on fleecing the area for bargains! It is also a shopping day or if I am held up it will be Tuesday.

New rules for shopping are to list in specially purchased notebook all items purchased over the month - I have a £160 budget per month for food and household items for the gorgeous one and I. Thus us for breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea plus weekend food for Biggles the owl lover, and cat food for the moggs (2).  I have a small list of essentials to purchase: self raising flour, chicken breasts, bread flour, yeast, oil, cat food, sausages ( if on special offer) cheese ( if on special offer) pizza ( if on special offer) coconut milk ( if on special offer - an indulgence I love Thai style food) tortilla wraps, apple juice, moisturiser ( cheap for me) veg, potatoes, fruit etc  Otherbargains also much appreciated and very welcome. I shall however keep my receipt and tot it all up in a little book!  Balancing spending on food over the month so that I do not go over my budget of £160.

Living in the country in the far northern provinces of Englandshire the closest supermarkets are not great - Sainsburys, - too expensive mostly but occaisionally worth a trawl for kids clothes, Morrisons - a fall back I suppose -some bargains to be hadif all else fails,  Lidl and Iceland - to be watched closely for staples such as chook, pork, mince- Lidl special offers are supreme eg COFFEE Gold Blend - £4 huge jar and they sell the cheapest bread flour I can find. Icing sugar - for fun things!! Mustn't forget! Will tell you how I get on!

Ahhhhhhhhhh Sundays!!!

Lazy Sundays never are in a frugal household - there is always penny pinching to be done! I hoover less and sweep more these days  as its better for you, better for the environment as no use of power and no use of electricity so no cost all round!. I still do hoover but much less! Suits me fine - Not a house work type person anyway - My house is hygienic and nothing will make you ill but I certainly do not keep up with the Jones'. Having had an OCD mother so totally focused on her mantra of  ''a place for everything and everything in its place'' and on a one woman mission to rid the world of crumbs I have rebelled. I am very chill about houses and prefer them to be 'homes' brimming with signs of use, activity, life not bland show homes where you feel too creased to be part of the perfect picture. ( Please don't get me started on show homes) I feel very little cannot be cleaned with some bicarb, disinfectant and washing up liquid. The cheapest eco stuff abounds and is sufficient for my needs. I only do full loads of washing and wash whats' necessary - It was OK in the 70s to  do this and we have survived. 30 degrees,  half the amount of soap powder will normally do. Soap powder - non bio- bought on special offer in triplicate or at least duplicate. My bargain was two boxes of 25 wash fairy non bio for 3.99 each. In my world that's more like 70 washes at least all in.
(OK OK I admit to cheap toilet cleaner too)

So Sunday frugal housework then frugal cooking of cheap chicken breast still on the bone with skin, pots, carrots, peas, some onion, home made gravy and white sauce. I fail when it comes to Yorkshire puddings - I am unable to bake a decent light Yorkshire that has risen. I cheat and buy cheap. I must do something about this and make ones own. I just need an idiot proof recipe with detailed instructions written for a Yorkshire making biff! Will also prepare carrots  and fruit for the freezer. Everything in my book can be frozen pretty much and made into soups, pies, cakes, curry's, sorbet, jus, smoothies.....And a full freezer works less and as such saves money - same principle with the fridge. Keep it full and it will keep cooler easier - less space to cool down and things hold temperatures   - or so I am told . Please feel free to correct me with you frugal tips.
All in I would estimate around two pounds per person - not bad at all for Sundays Dinner. Lidl is a dream super market!!!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

The rest of Saturday

I managed to spend exactly nothing today! I am chuffed. Free afternoon at Boulmer beach and village looking for signs of spring - one crocus starting to boom and a few snow drops - not long now. Jess collected shells and ate a yoghurt on a rock so was chuffed. The park at the end of the street has been revamped with some quite funky play things so that was another hour whiled away. Lots of cookings - school chicken curry with peas and rice and naan bread followed by cupcakes which will do for tomorrows sweet treat as its Sunday.

I feed Biggles the owl lover at weekends - Five sausages, two chicken breasts for a saturdays isn't much really- He brought the box of wine so fairs fair. Roast chick breasts tomorrow with the ususal trimmings for a sunday and fairy cakes.

So apart from being stuffed for thrity quid due to an errant standing order have spent bugger all and won't spend till Monday.

Gotta love curry sauce and bargain frozen chook bits!

bollocks waste of thirty quid

 I set up a standing order incorrectly - with a single incorrect digit. money now lost and no way to trace. In my haste I cancelled the SO on finding out it was incorrect and thought the bank would be able to take up the case. But no. it is gone. I am annoyed with the bank and myself. £30 I can't afford to waste. Hmm you live and learn. Grrrrrr. You would have thought there was something they could do- a trace or something I have the details fo the account I sent the money to. NO It has gone. I hope it has gone to someone who needs it for important stuff like food and bills. Probably a business however.

Am laughing now The gorgeous one and the chap in the owls shirt ( boyfriend) are counting cat poos - good for counting practice - a different educational tool granted but whatever inspires!

Friday, 25 February 2011

todays mission!

I have come to the conclusion that I need to pee off my bank. I need to open a new account, transfer direct debits and write letters offering meagre payments rather than drain my rainy day pot. So so undignified. I could afford it BD- before Dave. Comfortably in fact - well comfortably for a fugal thrifter with green leanings like oneself. I take control of the repayments and annoy my wonderful lovely bank. I know the staff and see them in the street at lunchtimes and say hello. Bollocks - humbling, undignified but a need to be done.

As I have no margin for error these days its essential that I conserve what I have. My resolutions after filling the car up for the second time in two weeks is to drive more efficiently. Keep to speed limits nice and steady. I have a budget of approx 25 per week to get me to work and back and a few frugal journeys into town -4.4 mile round trip. As a rural dweller I need to commute. I use the car sparingly and always try to acccomplish multiple tasks. It is mostly for work and for this I have no choice. I drive diesel and it is economical. It is a banger however and its emissions could be improved. This was to be the next on the list BD.
Public transport would really be a luxury!!!! - A complete hour on the bus/train to de stress, read. Ahhh the peace! But not for me - journeys would take more than an hour and would not fit with child care arrangements. I need a car so the best I can do given the green leanings and the budget is to drive sparingly.
Radio 4 is a saving grace most of the time.

Things could be much worse. I could be being treated like  a second class citizen  and completely powerless about my situatution signing at the job centre. Client I suppport   is working incredibly hard to put his life back on track has been crapped on by the wonderful job centre! Literally by the Martinas of the job centre. If anyone can remember Bread from the 1980's they should be able to remember Joey Boswells dole officer with starchy flicked up hair and a sour mush.  My client turns up every week to the employability drop in to work on his basic skills - literacy and numeracy and complete his job search and application forms. He is there for at least three hours per week using the internet and printing facilities.  He had an interview- notified the job centre as his interview clashed with his signing on time. He completes his job search diary in full each week btw. They asked him to sign on before his interview. He needed to catch a bus just after nine to get to his interview for ten. Signing on  before his interview they attempted to make him complete an in depth job search . He all suited and booted and prepared for his interview objected explaining he needed to catch a bus. She - for it was a Martina, warned him that he would lose his benefits if he didn't play ball and go through his indepth job search which would take approx 15- 20mins. HE WANTED TO ATTEND AN INTERVIEW FOR A JOB! He left after explaining where he was going, advising her that the job centre had proof in the form of a photocopied letter. He  went to the interview, returned to the job centre to sort  out the issue of not being allowed to sign on.They said No. No money for two weeks. No crisis loan. No electricity. No money to visit his son. No electricity meant the freezer defrosted. No food. How he managed I do not know- relied on friends to cook his food I suppose. The CAB have taken up his case but there will be no compensation for his lost freezer food. He was judged and even in the face of overwhelming evidence the little Hitler would not back down.  We were happy to advocate on his behalf to 'testify' to his consistent efforts to improve his situation but to no avail. He has had his benefits reinstated now and a kind of apology from the job centre.  As a frugal I get how pissed he was about his food stocks. Hard work, wasted money to buy them, money to prepare the home made frozen meals - all gone because of a judgement. He has graciously accepted this state of affairs andd is getting back on with his job search and studying. I doubt I could have been so gracious and have moved on so well.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Frugal living!

I have always enjoyed the challenge of being thrifty. I save everything. Food - I hate waste.  Left over veg - into soup. Fruit - frozen to be used in smoothies, pies, sauces, cakes.  I recycle t shirts - They become dusters and cloths. Other items of clothing recycled to charity shops or the fabulous enviro clothes who pay you for the weight of your items. From 11 bags of clothes (bin bags half full) I made £16.  Every penny counts these days so off it went to lessen the debt. (The debt - yes I once had a plan with the end in sight  now it is a distant dream, a tiny whoo ville like speck on the horizon. but keep chipping away I will. )

I free cycle, car boot, charity shop, scan sale rails for bargains and this includes the sale rail at primark! (Don't like to pay full price for their chat).  Focus on frugality  - where shall I start!

Kids clothes - I love hand me downs - who doesn't. Children play, Children get grubby, Play can be grubby.Clothes get grubby. Children grow alot faster than there clothes. Its really quite simple.  The gorgeous one wears Next, has a Little Rocha coat, pumpkin patch and other silly labels. She looks ace. She has play clothes and going out clothes. One thing I do fork out for is shoes - Clarks. I do not begrudge the £30 they cost however they can be sourced form Brantano and ebay for much cheaper once the feet have been professionally measured. The only problem is the upset child who is expecting new shoes! Once the season has got warmer I will cut off the arms of sweatshirts to make t shirts - a simple hem using a sewing machine- takes all of two mins. Hey presto more wear out of an item that would have been destined for the recycling journey (profit making or for charity or the ;duster drawer) or has horribly stained cuffs!

Na na na na na - My carbon foot prints less than yours!

I would do this even if loaded for sheer self righteousness! Being skint - its a bit less virtuous but hey h

Na na na na na My carbon foot prints less than yours!!!! lol

I also buy in advance. At the moment I am working on the 4-5 yr old wardrobe. I buy from sale rails  for a year in advance so the seasons don't really matter. I have a £2 rule for t shirts, long sleeve shirts, leggins etc Jeans, dresses and Coats obviously more. Today's bargains were long sleeved shirts for 75p - I bought 2. Woolen white polo neck 1.50. Woolen thick legging - pinkish colour £2 and a pink sweat shirt  with butterfly pattern also for £2.  All new all from Asda - £7 total.  Bargain!!! Not preloved and not as eco friendly but its not very often  we go new.

Cheers - speak soon
Eeeek (as it eeking it out)

Blog One!!!

Ho hum - first blog entry. I shall bring you up to speed! Read the about me bit!

OK you are nearly there. I am a single mum to  the gorgeous girl the light of my life still a bit weeny and not at full time school yet. I work used to work full time till I was made redundant by the new condemning government and a bunch of toady management who crapped on front line workers to save their own and their other management friends skins - but this happens. We all know it does- they just didn't have to be so shitty and down right rude about it!

I now work part time and commute silly distances for the joy of work on a much lower salary than previously to do a job I find to be lacking in integrity. As a public sector type person in a helping type field I do not earn nice amounts.This I accept- it is my choice however I was getting by and doing quite well till Dave and his buddies decided to go for the slash and burn budget cuts impacting on the little chap IE me.   Prior to this I had what I thought was a reasonably steady job - certainly I was appreciated by some lovely clients and agencies I worked in partnership with ( shpiel  -I know but I need to remain anonymous). I  bought a house invested the life savings on the deposit  and was chipping away nicely at  the debt one had accrued and was saving a tidy amount for a new car. The end was in sight! Financial freedom was within my grasp only 24 months left and the financial plan was coming together!!!! Then big slap in the mush from the government bye bye salary and the icing on the cake snotty up their own arses management dipping me in vinegar after the paper cuts that constitute redundancy - C'nuts that they are and bollocks!

Thought I would document  via this blog either my descent into insolvency or my phoenix like ascent from the ashes or may be it will be both! ha ha hark at me with the flowery language. Its complicated by being a single parent and living in the country and having no family support close at hand. I am an exiled southerner. My life is also full of smiles and cheeky grins, and cuddles so I am rich really!

I was living within my means and paying my debt, eeking it out  like you do when you discover a meagre last dollop of butter in the tub after you have made you morning toast! I was doing ok. Now I have bugger all and its necessity to be frugal in order to feed and clothe the gorgeous one and myself and keep the big bad form the door. The barricades are getting a little thin and I can hear the snarls!

I am not a hippy. I do not smell of patchouli oil. I wash. I wash my clothes and make sure they do not smell of foost! I do not have greasy hair.... often.  I despise consumerism. I do not and never have leched after silly shoes, leather sofas, cream carpets or other such must have home decor or gadgets the stuff credit card bills are made of. I am unimpressed by large wads of cash ( good for you if you have it but it doesn't mean you are a better or more worthy person), designer labels, tony and guy haircuts, beaverbrooks jewelery, - you name it I really don't care about it! I yawn loudly  when the scs or dfs advert comes on the tv.
I am a functional person with green leanings. I recycle, I free cycle. I attempt to tread as lightly as I can upon this old planet of ours. I do not participate needlessly in the economy - I try to buy non vat items - privately sold cars, essential food  and make my own goodies, second hand, preloved!  I am unimpressed by expensive cars, flash suits or clothes and as such it has never been a hardship  for me not to have them. I am stubbornly independant-
What do I value - food and freedom, fresh air, the moment, experience, peace and tranquility, a good book and a cup of tea. My daughter telling me I am her best friend. Security and a good nights kip.

So here goes I shall document my sadly enforced frugality. ( I felt  so much more smug  and  virtuous when it was a choice ).