Good morning. I will zap off this post early being as I missed yesterday. From time to time I review my money saving activities, to ascertain if they are still relevant today as they were when I first started on my frugal living journey. You might have noticed there is a list of money saving tips on a separate page, link at the top, I have been checking through them to see if they still apply now.
Almost every aspect of living expenses can be tweaked and pruned by making choices. Make a wrong choice and you will find you pay more than you need to. Saying that, everyone's aspirations for a better life are different, so there is no, 'one size fits all'. The areas I save money in may not be the same as yours. So why am I so tight when it comes to spending? Easy answer, because I like to be in control. I will not hand over any money willynilly, every purchase is carefully thought out.
The first question I ask myself is, 'do I need it?' If yes, then where is the cheapest place I can get it. If no, how much do I want it, and do I have enough money to pay for it without skinting myself. At this point treats come into it. Nothing wrong in treating yourself now and again, but a treat to me is something I allow myself occasionally. My treats might be a small bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine, a can of cider, a bag of crisps, or a magnum ice cream. I spread my treats out over several weeks or months. One bottle of wine a month spread over four days. One magnum when I am on a day out or holiday. One small choc bar if I really fancy it, but my self discipline always kick in when I am in a shop and I will not pick one up as an afterthought to add to my other purchases.
So, basically, I save money in some areas to channel that cash into other areas which are important to me. I like a nice car so I save up for one. I have pets so I need money for that. These might seem like fixed costs that I can't cut down on, but as I said, all aspects of living expenses can be tweaked and pruned. I could buy a cheaper car which costs less to run, but I can afford the one I have. I could have just one cat. I am at my maximum of pets cost wise at the moment, and would not take on any more. I have a budget for them and I am at my limit. Utilities are flexible costs, I can choose when to flick switches, when to turn things on and off. I can monitor usage through my meter readings.
So let's have a look at the money saving list. I will pick out a few to review.
Before I wash my clothes I inspect them to see if they are dirty or smell. Yes, I still do that. It's a waste of water, electricity, and soap powder to wash clean clothes. Will they last one more wearing before they need a wash. I wash everything on a 30 degree, 30 minute wash, using two dessertspoons of powder for each load, and dry everything outside. If the weather prevents me from drying outside, I have enough clothes to delay a wash until a good drying day comes along, windy or sunny.
Cut down on tea and coffee, heat a mug of water in the microwave and add a dash of fruit juice. Yes, I still do that. I very rarely use my electric kettle because it needs two mugs of water to cover the element. I know you can put some in a flask for later, but I only have one hot drink in the morning, the rest of the time I have cold drinks, and they are very watered down juice drinks.
Check bank statements and credit card statements for any direct debits that are not needed any more. I keep my direct debits to an absolute minimum, preferring to pay bills by cheque into the bank My mobile phone is topped up at the local shop, £10 every two months. I have an annual DD for my Youth Hostel membership, and car recovery service. £4 goes to googlie for posting unlimited photo's on my blog, and a monthly DD goes out for house insurance, and landline/broadband. That's all, makes it easy for me to monitor.
Buy children's tooth brushes, they are cheaper than adult brushes. Yes, I still do that. A three minute scrub with a small brush gives the same results as a bigger one. My dentist always asks if I use an electric brush, my answer is no. Why do I want to spend money on a gadget that will need charging up, and new brushes to purchase every so often, when I can do the same thing using wrist power. And while on the subject of teeth, I only use toothpaste in the morning. I like to start the day with a fresh clean mouth. All other times I brush with water only. It's the time spent brushing that counts, and using the correct technique, plus flossing, which gets rid of the food trapped between them. I must be doing it right because I've had five years of all clear check ups.
Use wash cloths instead of paper towels. Yes, I cut up old cotton sheets, old towels, and use them as dishcloths. When they are past their useful life in the kitchen they get relegated to floor cloths, shoe polishing cloths, window cleaning cloths, and dusters, when I can be bothered to dust. I have a couple in the bathroom for wiping bath, basin, and toilet down. And the very old cloths get used as cat litter box wipes after I have scrubbed them out and they need to be dry before refilling with fresh litter. When I throw cleaning cloths away they are manky. Just a note to add to this. I do have a paper towel roll, I use it for a dribbly nose. It lasts longer than a conventional box of tissues because it doesn't fall apart so quickly, and my nose is constantly cold and wet, even though I never catch a cold. A bit like a dogs, ha ha. I never ever buy J cloths, wet wipes, dish cloths, floor cloths, or boxes of tissues.
I still wear boys and men's underpants as opposed to ladies knickers. I haven't had to buy any for years, they last ages, never fall apart, and never stretch and go baggy. They are a snug fit, no uncomfortable floss up the bum or cheeks hanging out. Anyone with a small bottom would save loads of money by making the switch. They come in all colours.
Tidy your food cupboard and have a stock check. Yes I still do that. I know exactly what tins, packets and frozen I have, no festering unmentionables lurking at the back waiting to be chucked out. I keep my spices to a minimum, no small glass jars of goodness knows what hanging about. I don't follow recipes for cooking, because if you do, you need to check you have the ingredients first, if not then you buy it. So easy to be left with half a jar of this, half a packet of that, never to be used again. I make my meals with whatever I have in, I improvise, I use up what I already have. No recipe books in my house.
Moving on to food shopping. I don't take a list, I go with an open mind. There is no item of food that I must get, I buy whatever is a good price and I can substitute one item for another. I like expensive foods like they have at Marks and Sparks, but would never shop there unless it has a yellow sticker, and that isn't likely to happen because their big store is on the edge of town. I am not loyal to one supermarket but will cherry pick from those I am close to, or passing to and from somewhere else. I will not waste petrol running around from shop to shop. My motto is, 'pop in when passing', especially if it is between 5 and 9pm. Another motto, 'worth a look'.
Don't buy food out. I know the times when my stomach will be grumbling for food, so if I am going anywhere and I know I will need to eat, I take a snack with me. A sandwich, a drink, a piece of fruit, a few cream crackers a piece of cheese etc. If I don't eat when I am hungry I start getting wobbly, and that means eat something now. So rather than dashing in a shop, I have something in my bag. I eat before I go food shopping, because being hungry in a supermarket aisle will trigger off my desire to grab whatever is available. This has happened on occasions, and not wanting to give in to junk, I have been scouring the shelves for something suitable to eat. I might pick up a cheese and onion pasty or a banana, to satisfy my hunger. One thing I cannot bring myself to buy is ready made sandwiches, even if they have been reduced to pennies. No thanks.
I like to review my money saving and spending habits now and again, just to check I am on the right track. To check I am not slipping back into spending more than I can comfortably afford. I read other money saving sites to see if there is anything I am missing, any good ideas I should be doing. It's easy to take your eye off the ball and slip back. I don't keep a spending diary any more, by keeping my outgoings and incomings simple, all the information is stored in my head. As long as that bank balance stays in the black I am ok. It may dip a little at times when there is a big bill to pay, the next one will be car insurance, but exercising restraint for a few weeks will bring it back up again. Swings and roundabouts comes to mind.
Your priorities will probably be different to mine, but whatever you spend your money on, it has to be what you can afford without going into debt. Some sacrifices have to be made to be able to live the life you want to live. I want a nice car, I don't eat out. You eat out twice a week, go to the gym, get a coffee in a cardboard cup every day, and you make do with a cheaper car. Your choice, my choice. Don't come moaning to me that your car is clapped out and you can't afford the repairs.
Thanks very much for popping in, I hope I have given you something to think about. Time to take my best friend out. He is lying on the carpet, I'll get his lead.
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