Thursday, 21 September 2017

Time to stop spending

Hello. I've been doing some quick calculations of what the latest holiday cost me. Yes, walking is free, put one foot in front of the other, so apart from the cost of sturdy boots there isn't any other equipment needed. You don't have to buy special walking clothes, as long as you dress according to the weather. It doesn't matter if you don't have designer labels.

Six nights accommodation cost me £317. These ranged from a Youth Hostel at £33, and a hotel at £62. No expensive Radisson on this trip, ha ha. I budget £3.50 a day for picnic food that I can eat in my room, snacky things from small shops. Then there was the cost of the petrol to get to Bradford and on to Cleveleys, and back home again. And the train fair from Blackpool to Carlisle. Tot all this up and it comes to about £418. So not really a cheap holiday.

When I first started doing these long walks I looked for the cheapest B & B I could find, because I didn't have much money. It was not easy to keep walking past a hotel, in the hope of finding a cheaper place further on. All I wanted to do at the end of a days trekking was sit down. However, things are not so financially dire now, I save enough money to be able to pay for a bed wherever I choose. I can stop more or less wherever I like now, within reason.

People ask me if I camp. The answer is no, not on a long walk. I don't want to carry the gear, I want a real bed to sleep in, I want a real bathroom, and I want a good breakfast. Having to put a tent up after a long days walking does not appeal, and definitely not on a day when it's raining and windy. No thank you.

Looking at my recent expenditure I seem to have got through a fair chunk of money in the last few weeks. Chair £100, specs £200, and camera £100. I have no regrets for these purchases, I have saved and there is money in my emergency fund to cover for them. All I have to do is to continue my frugal lifestyle and I will have money to spend on needs and a few wants. I've just had my credit card statement, £564, this includes petrol, food, vet, mobile phone top up, one hotel, specs and chair. This will be paid in full when I am next in town in a few days.

So now the focus now will be on saving money to recover some of this spending, and top up my emergency fund. So what will I be doing in the next few weeks? For a start I will not be putting on the heating just yet, it isn't cold enough. I will not go mad spending on food, I will get a few fresh things, fruit and veg mainly, and eat what I have already got in the cupboard and freezer. I want to cut down on my dairy, mainly cheese, and experiment more with plant based food. Not going completely vegan, but I think there is a middle ground to be achieved.

I need to drink more water, I don't drink enough. I will continue to rinse my pots and pans under a trickle of tap water as soon as I have finished with them, no mounds of washing up for me. I will assess the state of my clothes before I do a wash, making sure I have a full load each time, and only wash when it's a good line drying day. I will continue to scour the shops in town for the best prices on cat food. I will keep my food cupboard tidy so I know exactly what's in there. I will cook two or three portions of food at the same time so some of it can be heated in the microwave the following days. Now it is raining more often I will keep a large bucket in the downstairs toilet and use rainwater for flushing. The nights are getting longer so I will be more mindful about switching lights on. Switch them off when leaving a room.

So, I will step up the money saving tactics I have learnt over the years, and hopefully not slip back into 'stuff it who cares', mode. We all need a treat now and again, but it's so easy to comfort spend and go a bit mad. Self control and self discipline is the order of the day. It is for me anyway.

Are you re jigging your budget in readiness for the larger winter fuel bills? Don't be caught out, start your plan now. Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

59 comments:

  1. This is a very sensible post. Yes, it's good to treat yourself sometimes, really good, but the trick is to know when to stop and draw back into money saving ways. That way there will be funds in the kitty for more treats further down the line.

    It's the folks that get into the 'I'm worth it' and 'I deserve it' modes and stay there that ramp up the debts very quickly.

    No heating on here yet, but the log burner has been lit a few times and there is currently a lot of washing drying over the airer in the spare bedroom. We were running out of things to wear while I was waiting for a good drying day so I had to just get on with it.

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  2. Sounds like a very sensible plan. I recently purchased my forever home, having retired early due to health. I've used my life savings on the purchase and remodel, correcting mostly known ahead of sale, issues with the home. Expensive investment but the way that I was able to get back into home ownership. I've invested in many mechanical upgrades, addressing lapsed maintenance on the part of the original owner of this modest, circa 1960 home. Much smaller than what's the norm now around here, an affluent area of the US. I am quite happy, however. In preparation for what is predicted to be a brutal, snowy Winter, I've added insulation to the attic (grossly underinsualted at R value 6, when it's supposed to be minimally 49!) as well as the sill plates in the basement and the ceiling in the cellar/the underside of the flooring (it's a one story home). All mechanical systems have been tuned up, I had a repair on the oil fill line, window caulking, replaced the ill fitting and unable to lock (!)sliders with an energy star, patio door; replaced the last old window (former owner did all but this one) with a construction grade (not a vinyl replacement), energy star casement window. Windows and doors have been caulked, I had an energy star, insulated door installed down cellar where the Bilco doors were (so odd that there was never a door there-I can imagine how cold the cellar was in Winter-ack!). Other than in the kitchen and bathrooms, all windows have lined, thermal insulating drapes. I have throws over the couches and chairs in the living room, we wear warm socks/slippers and put on extra layers this time of year before switching on the heat, there are extra quilts at the ends of the beds, additional blankets have been added to the beds. More hot soup and lots of hot tea being consummed. I've even dropped off some soup (I tend to make cauldrons of it) over to a widower neighbor, who appears to struggle financially. In exchange, he saves me quart tubs for freezing homemade stock. : ) Early this Summer, I made sure to top off my 500 gallon Propane tank (for new gas range I had installed, as well as the new on demand water heater (not commonly seen here), and the instant on generator for outages, which came with the home), and I also had my 250 gallon heating oil tank topped off. Going into the heating season well prepared is vital. I am a native New Englander, it's just what we do. I have a full pantry and freezer as well. If the weather is awful, there is no reason for me to go out. We make do and make out quite well.
    Carol in Connecticut

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    1. Thank you for your tips, Carol. It seems like you are well prepared.

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    2. Sounds like another world. So much preparation- but absolutely brilliant. I hope you enjoy your new home and have peaceful retirement.

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    3. Good work Carol. I'm a born and bred Connecticut Yankee, but have not lived there for decades. Have a good winter. Although it may be brutal and snowy, it will help kill off the overabundance of ticks from the past couple of mild winters.

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  3. Yes we have been thinking about the winter and the bills, time to be more frugal.

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  4. I think I'm always re jigging my budget a bit. An unexpected crown at the dentist in July put me back a bit ...£244!! but I consider it a must and not a luxury as you've got to look after your health and that for me includes my teeth. Hopefully winter will be kind again this year but I do like to see the seasons move through. We have a stack of wood over from last year so thats one saving already. Take care. Rae x

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    1. Wow that was a whopping bill for one tooth, but you're right, you've got to look after them.

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  5. We won't be doing anything special just keeping a careful watch on the heating (when it goes on). As we don't go berserk over Christmas (sorry got to say it) we are not buying all the rubbish that is starting to fill the shelves as we just send a couple of small presents and have a very simple lunch. I see now some people loading the trolleys with it all, and I think 'wait til January when you have to actually PAY for it'. Good luck to them. Amanda

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    1. We just have a small chicken out of Aldi - less than £3.00 - tastes just as nice as a big cooked turkey dinner and I make a pudding. I don't feel deprived.

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  6. I've been thinking ahead too and making sure I have enough easily available to cover things without dipping into longer term money. The boiler has been serviced and I'm looking out my warmer clothes so I can keep the heating low during the day while I am moving about. I like to have a bit more warmth of an evening and have bought some fluffy socks and washed my lovely, warm fleece. I've been busy freezing garden and allotment produce for the winter too, and making jam, etc.

    It's a good feeling, isn't it?

    J x

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  7. Thats just how we live here aswell.Making every penny count and useing all our food up before buying any more.That way nothing gets wasted.Ive managed to save really well this year so that will go on us having 3 days in Brighton in a couple of weeks and still have some left for Christmas.Most weeks i dont spend anything from Mon to Fri,yet i seem to have more selection of food in the house!!.It suddenly all starts taking shape and being more organised.I gave my self a pedicure and manicure yesterday,with a bottle of nail varnish from the pound shop.And i enjoyed doing it and made it into a bit of a treat for myself! This would have cost 20 to 30 pounds in a salon.Im getting more thrifty by the day!I use to use the pound bottle of washing liquid from B n M for my washing machine...now i use a tiny bit of washing up liquid,any dregs from the shower gels or even grated soap .I just put it in a bottle top and stick it in the washer!,Every thing still comes out clean and smelling fresh!.My mam reckons that my next step will be standing naked in the the garden when it rains to have a shower,lol.Debi,x

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    1. A bottle top Debi? is that the plastic top from a laundry washing liquid bottle-I might try that x

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    2. just a word re 'real' soap in the w/mch; it can clog up the mch with residue, so run a cycle occasionally with just vinegar in the dispenser - i do this every few months.you can put your towels thro at same time so it is not an empty mch, and vinegar will soften the towels

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    3. Good timing for your post now that the weather has turned. I started yest to swap over the winter and summer clothing. You're abs right that it's time to be careful rather than splurging. Glad you had a good hol - worth every penny of the saving-up.

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    4. Hi Flis,Yes,i just use the top from a laundry bottle.I used to fill it to the top,but now only about a third of the way up,15 min wash n it comes out fine!...Hi Gillian,Thanks for the advice Do you mean just ordinary vinegar or white vinegar?.I like the thought that it soften the towels too..Ive not had a tumble dryer for years n thats the only thing i miss about it...Soft towels!!..As it is,i just think of mine as a cheap way to expholiate my skin,lol,Debi,xx

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    5. I've just done it earlier Debi-I washed my knickers and socks in lidl w 5 lemon washing up liquid ! It's great fun -thanks x

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    6. Hi Flis,Glad it worked for you too...Many years ago,i tried using them bubble type things...Anything from £4 to £6...Never again!!,Debi,xx

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    7. I agree with using what food you've got before buying some more - so many people just shop out of habit. I hate waste.

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    8. Re the vinegar in the washing machine: check the instruction booklet for your machine. Mine says clearly NOT to use vinegar, as it will erode any aluminium parts and ruin your machine.

      Siebrie

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    9. i use white distilled vinegar - 39p a bottle from tesco! - not malt vinegar. a small amount in the dispenser is plenty. i haven't heard of the erosion warning, but i'm only talking about using it a couple of times a year, definately not on any regular basis.

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  8. It's getting cold here too but I'm wrapping up indoors.I don't like breathing warm air into my lungs anyway.Last week had a truck load of seasoned wood delivered as I have an open fire in the sitting room( not used that often)and a very small wood burner in dining room /sitting room cum dogs den-not lit yet.Lots of fleece involved though.Your holiday was a treat though Ilona and you would still have had to eat at home.I am quite careful with money each day but also at times I buy what I feel is important to me personally-others may think its silly.Regarding outdoor clothes I used to only buy from specialist shops for walking-now I have a mixture of charity shops and waterproofs.I have to be very tight now as November is quite costly for me and then of course December.I'm looking forwards to the challenge though x

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    1. Hi again Flis!!,I agree that you have to get just what is needed for your lifestyle at the time..no need to deprive yourself if it is going to make your life better........Errrmmm...so today,when donating about 20 things to my animal charity shop,i just had a quick look on their rails....as you do...lol.And i saw the summer dress i have been looking for for about the last 6 years!!..It has beach huts,boats,seagulls,whales on an orange background.I just had to have it!,£1 49p!!.Wearing it tomorrow.With black baggy C n A vintage jumper,thick black tights n my Docs!,lol.So happy i got it,they charge about £40 pounds for these new,Debi,xx

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  9. My plan for heating starts all year. The money saved in the summer is kept especially for the winter months. My heating oil was bought some time ago (in the summer) when the price was cheaper. That said, I phone a few companies, get their price (it varies daily) and then will ask if one company say will match or go lower than the other. I buy it either that day or the very next. I also have an open fire from time to time - I always buy when there is not much call for it. Natalie

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  10. Yes we all need to splurge now and again and reading about your trip was interesting but wow £200 on glasses, how much! I recently bought two pairs from glasses direct for just £19, yes nineteen pounds! I have them for distance and one pair was prescription sunglasses. We budget for winter bills, always have done, so no nasty surprises. An expensive time for us is Christmas (hubby's birthday is on christmas day and son's birthday is early January). any new clothes for me are from a well known auctions site and I've just bought some winter boots, leather worn once for just £6.50! I bought got hubby £42 worth of M&S clothes earlier this year, probably cost over £200 if we bought them new, anyway have a good weekend Jo x

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    1. Hi. I assume Glasses Direct is online. I want to choose my frames in a shop where I can try lots of pairs. Then I want the assistant to adjust the fitting for me so they are not too tight or loose.

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  11. As for turning lights off to save money, I switched to LED and the savings are amazing. Plus, now the bugs do not come to the LED light on the porch. I could buy the yellow bug light, but the LED is nicer.

    My usual $200 utility bill that includes electric, water, sewage, garbage, and street services like picking up limbs. It went to $691 this month because a pipe or the water heater in the basement broke. I have 2 ft of water in the basement and am waiting on someone to pump it out.

    My house is under insulated and cold. I hate hot air but don't mind dressing warmly. All summer I have avoided using the oven by using the crockpot and having six days of food in it.

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    1. "picking up limbs"! Sounds gory to me :-)

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  12. I don't have to decide whether to put the heating on or not as the heating system's broken. To be expected really as the boiler is 37 years old and has been very reliable so far. It's not the boiler itself but a valve that's gone. It's fine with me - I've put the electric blanket back on the bed and I'm at the age where hot sweats are frequent anyway!!

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    1. Hi. When my heating didn't work for three and a half years I wasn't bothered. It took the decision whether to turn it on or not, away from me.

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  13. We sit with the lights off watching tv, I just have a few candles lit, I am sure the fuel prices will go up in winter when we all use more.

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  14. i love your writing style your so sensible but not preachy or holier than thou....love that you have treats but then take care of business

    tessa

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  15. I have been acquiring wood wherever I can to supplement my winter fuel. I am lucky to have solar panels that were bought outright with the house so fuel bills aren't such a drain for me. Glasses are expensive for sure. Mine were a similar price but good vision is such a gift so it is worth spending that money.

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    1. Hi. I have to pay for super thin varifocal lenses, and I want the choice of lots of frames so I get the right ones to suit me.

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    2. Yes, varifocals are so expensive, but I definitely have them in the 'need' category. They're kind of miraculous really, when you think about it. Karen

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  16. You are van inspiration Ilona, both with your walking and your frugal lifestyle. I'm glad you got some excellent holidays this year, and that you shared them with us.
    Jacquie x

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  17. Winters here in southern California are a money saver compared to the summers. We heat with gas which is economical. However, our A/C in summer can gobble up lots of money. And, we installed power saver pool pump that helps. Your total tally for your trip was very interesting. I know you love to walk, but have you ever thought of going on a cruise? Prices can be a super deal and it's all inclusive, too! I'm happy you're home safe after a wonderful trip. Pat xx

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    1. Hi. I don't fancy a cruise. I know ships can be very large, but even so I don't fancy being cooped up with lots of people I don't know. I would feel trapped.

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    2. Our friends in recent years have been on two cruises, the Med and Carribean. They are very savvy and good with money and found that they are designed and geared around the passengers spending as much money as they can whilst onboard. That could be on the trips ashore,bars,casino,gym, health spa's etc etc. If you can bypass all that then you can have a fantastic time but I think not really for me either bit of a trapped audience. Rae x

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  18. I'm not a very good manager, one thing I realise about living economically is that you do need to be organised and plan ahead, shop around and so on!! I keep it up for a bit then I lapse and overspend on something. I tend to spend less in the winter as my social life narrows down a lot, there is very little to do in the winter where I live, and some of my friends go abroad for holidays etc. I have to find things to do at home and budget for cheap days out. I feel the cold a lot so I do have the heating on, but will hold out until it gets much cooler than it is now. I am going to try and have as cheap a Christmas as possible, I don't have family so it isn't a big event for me at all. At the moment I am trialling an LED daylight bulb in my hall, I get SAD and my flat is quite dark as flats tend to be. These bulbs seem to be quite economical to run and it certainly brightens the place up. I quite like the autumn but hate the winter when it gets dark at 4 pm, I'm not a cosy up by the fire sort of person, I like to be out and about in the sunshine. Thanks for the tips Ilona.

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  19. Ilona, I have not read your blog lately. I noticed in the sidebar "Remembering Bugsy and Rocky." I searched Rocky's name but could not find out what has happened to him. I think he is in heaven. That must have been tragic. Our dogs and cats are just some of the best things in life, aren't they? I also could not find out if, in the end, the neglectful "owner" of Rocky let you keep him. I hope so, that means that the remainder of his life was good and peaceful.

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    1. Can I say that I understand that Ilona's beloved Rocky has had the mostloving,caring,blissful,contended,fun and happy life since she took him into her home.He lived a full life with Ilona and will remain close to her heart forever x x

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    2. Hi Cat. Yes, they did let me keep him, he was here for the last three years of his life. He died in August 2016.

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    3. I have read all of Ilonas blogs now,and i agree with Flis,that Rocky spent all his wonderful time with Ilona.She loved him to bits and has lovely memories of their time together,Debi,xx

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    4. Caterina - maybe watch Ilona's "Rocky at the Humber Bridge" video. Heart warming. Sharon

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  20. I like the fact that you spend money when necessary. Camera broken? Camera is important to you, so buy another one.

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  21. Ilona if you are going to be eating more plant based food consider cooking in a cast iron pan for the iron & a B12 supplement.

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    1. Hi - most plant milks, including soya, are fortified to include calcium and b12. B12 supplements usually contain very high levels of b12 which are way over the daily recommended amount - you probably would only need to take one every three days or so, although if you are drinking plant based milks and still eating eggs you should not need to take supplements Ilona. Iron is not a problem on a healthy plant based diet as long as you make sure you are getting enough leafy greens such as kale and spinach. Beans and lentils are also good sources of iron.

      Very happy to hear you are cutting down on the dairy Ilona, it is probably even worse for the body than meat is, it is way too acidic for us. Might be worth checking out the site another reader mentioned - nutritionfacts.org. It is possible to still eat a lot of the food you already enjoy, I made a lovely vegan lasagna the other night!

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    2. I used to use a cast iron pan until I read that Dr. Neil Barnard said they are a health hazard due to the toxicity of too much iron. Men and women who no longer menstruate are at risk for too much iron as the only way for the body to release excess is by blood loss. Excess iron can damage the heart, arteries and other organs and might increase the chances you'll get cancer. I miss those pans - a lot - but I've adjusted to stainless steel when I need it and am using my old Corning cookware from the 70's which works in the oven or the stove top. You can still get Corning stove top cookware, but I have read it's no longer made in NY and it's not made from Pyroceram that the old stuff was made of.

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  22. We've got a wood burner - it goes on for a couple of hours - open all the doors and it keeps everywhere warm - the cobinstion boiler only comes on for water- we hardly ever use the central heating. I never buy ready meals or processed food-my neighbour gives me bread for my four chickens but we always eat it or make it into bread pudding. We are very careful with money.
    I think you have to spend sometimes but defo good to reign it in. Holidays are important but we choose out of season holiday cottages which can be very good value and do our walks based around the self catering cottage.
    I agree with cutting down on the food - just eat what you need x

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  23. Thanks for your swift answer about Rocky. I am so glad he had you in his life.
    I don't remember if I have already "spouted off" about eating a plant based diet so here goes. Read "How not to Die," by Dr. Michael Greger, take a look at his blog www.nutritionfacts.org. It's really extensive but one can pick and choose. My hubby nearly had a killing heart attack in December, 2015,There was a 95 percent blockage of his left anterior descending artery, the one they call the widowmaker.
    Fortunately, he went to the doctor who put him right away in the hospital. He had had some chest pains for a few weeks. He very easily could have just gone out to shut the chickens one snowy night and keeled over, dead, because with that artery it simply stops the heart for good. I don't know if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure but it is possible to reverse those conditions by eating a plant based diet. Just want to spread the word. Hubby has lost 40 pounds and went to cardio rehab for over a year. He's now known as the "rock star" at cardio. I am so happy I still have him by my side. He's a wonderful man and I am a lucky woman. Enough said!

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    1. Yes! Congratulations to your husband and YOU! So many of us are getting on the plant based bandwagon and reaping the rewards of it - a healthier, happier life while inadvertently saving the planet.

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  24. this is a good post about preparing for the next season and preparing and Budgeting for it. I'm trying to get in the habit of planning too. We are coming into into spring and trying to anticipate what I need to budget for Suncreen, school holiday activites (low cost) and summer sandals ect.

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  25. You have a good plan Ilona.
    Here winter is not severe, so I don't expect bills to go up. im also tightening my budget after spending money to prepare for the hurricane season.

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  26. Look on line for cat food, we make a killing each time, www.zooplus.co.uk, if you spent £40 no postage, you will need storage space.

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  27. Hi Ilona. Tony and I occasionally book a local coach holiday 'National Holidays' we can frequently get a five day (four night) holiday with breakfast, evening meal and organised days out for £99 per person. We often just use them as a base to explore an area and don't bother with the trips out. We could go to Folkestone with an included trip over to Bruges for £99 for the five day trip. I wonder if you have something similar in your area.

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  28. glad you raised the topic of preparing for winter. My very cold single walled house has no chimney so I have to rely on the gas central heating. I've put a spare double duvet on the settee and it makes it snug and warm, the summer clothes are put away now and the autumn layers are on to avoid putting the heating on too soon. I just had my annual water bill from yorkshire water and pleased to see it has been reduced to 23 cubic metre usage and £9 a month. I use a water butt in the garden for flushing and do all the usual water saving tricks; wash pots once a day, have a strip wash every day with a few showers and reduce number of baths full of water and reuse grey water.

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  29. I love this post. It's so important for people to read things like this. I had a friend who hated her job and every time she spent a boatload of money on something useless she would say, "if I have to do this job for a living then I need to splurge on myself." For some reason she couldn't comprehend the fact that if she saved that money she could get out of the job she hated and be happy living simply but without a "master".
    I find scrimping and saving and doing things myself gives me a feeling of empowerment that I could not get any other way. It's freedom and strength and happiness and the realization that I'm in control of my own destiny.
    Bravo for tweaking your diet by adding more water and reducing the amount of dairy. As we get older we all need to tweak things constantly to stay ahead of the aging game!

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  30. I'm on catch up as I've been off the scene for a couple of weeks with a very ill relative. Reading today however is very timely, I had my last ever day at work yesterday. I hear what you are saying, it's about not spending when you don't need to and giving yourself extras when you want to. We all waste money, I realised that a few years ago, I changed a lot of things then but it's easy to slip back into old habits. My husband feels the cold a lot since he had a heart attack for which he takes a lot of medication, I run the heating a lot when he is home and turn it off when I'm on my own, eighteen months later I still get scared and feel the need to look after him. Saying that he is a slim laid back vegetarian who walks the dogs daily, just shows it can happen to anyone.

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