Sunday, 31 January 2010

How I budget

I have been asked how I budget so thought I would share how I deal with my money. I cant actually remember where I got the idea from (it was from a website called Frugal Moms a long time ago but actually came from an American book - one of Mary Hunts I think but don't quote me - anyway I adapted it to suit myself and this is my version)

I call it my Freedom account and have been running it this way since December 2003 when I became debt free. I get paid monthly so everything is monthly and I do this on the 1st of each month.

First thing I did was add up everything that had to be paid in a month (ie mortgage/gas/electricity/council tax/groceries/insurances/my & oh allowance/bus fares/daughters dinner money etc - its different for everyone - could include bank loans, debts, hire purchase all sorts of different things - but it must be the things you HAVE to pay every month.

This amount gets left in my cheque account.

What's left I put into my Freedom account - (a separate savings account but I write everything down in a book as its for different things)

S0, my Freedom account consists of 14 difference accounts. The first 6 accounts I always put money away in every month - they are

Road tax
Car insurance
Telly licence

(basically divide what these cost in a year in 12 and put that amount in each one)

Once these accounts are funded I divide up what's left and put that into these accounts

Household (including decorating)
Car repairs

So I know that a) - I wont have any surprises (how many people are amazed when there car tax is due!) and b) if I want something and there's not enough money in that account (ie paint for the hall) I know I have to wait until next month so that way I (ahem!) don't overspend. I have been a bit blasé about this as if I want something I can take it from another account but am trying not to do this as it just encourages more spending! - did have to do it this month as we got a £300+ bill in for car repairs and I had to take some from my Emergency account - this is a buffer account for such things.

My book is an A5 binder - the kind you put put paper in and on each accounts page I divide it into 5 columns like below. So tomorrow say on my Road Tax page it will read -

Date Reason In Out Balance
1/2/01 Monthly payment £16 £0 £112

When I first started doing my money this way is was really hard - I couldn't fund each of my accounts and some only got 50p! Gradually it got better - I think it really take a full year to get comfortable with it but now as its second nature its so easy to run - that's why its called a Freedom account - you don't have to worry about how to pay things that crop up as you have already budgeted for it and the money should be there.

Obviously its not fool proof - things in life crop up and you have to keep an eye on your spending to make sure you don't go over the money you have in your account but it works for me.

And you can change it to suit different times - I got a better job once my last 7 accounts were up and running I realised that there was extra money and started putting the excess away in a savings account - again, a buffer for emergency's but I really try not to touch this at all as I want it for real emergencies.

So tomorrow is what I call banking day - I get my bank statement for the month, any receipts I keep and my diary (I try to write down things every day). I write down all my spending in my Freedom account and balance it - then put down this months payments in. Then I check my bank balance and transfer what I need from the cheque accounts to the savings account where I keep all my Freedom account money.

When I first set it up I wouldn't buy anything at all until I had checked my Freedom account to see if I had the money - now I am better with money I tend to just add it up at the end of the month and balance it but I have noticed that my spending has been creeping up and need to be more aware of my balances.

It probably sounds more complicated than it is but as I said before it works for me...

Jan grocery spend - £248 (and £16.04 to come off Febs!)
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00 (and £15 to come off Febs!)
Household spend - £92.64

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Our caravan!

Heres a piccie of our new (to-us) caravan - we sold our campervan and various tents to get her - shes an old one but we like the layout (seats at the front to make up a double or stay as 2 singles and a seats at the back with a table for meals and to make up a double bed at night - it even has a bunk bed so we can sleep 5 at a push) My eldest sitting enjoying the cold weather!
Its boring brown, beige and salmon pink inside (total yuk!) I dyed the curtains a kind of wine colour to make it more cosy but this year intend to re-cover all the seats and make new curtains so will be on the hunt for nice cheap material to do this. I'm quite confident about making the curtains but am a bit worried about the covers - at least the seating cushions come in various sizes so I can try a smaller attempt out first!

Jan grocery spend - £248 (and £16.04 to come off Febs!)
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00 (and £15 to come off Febs!)
Household spend - £92.64

January round up

Well I thought this only spending on needs not wants would be tough but I didn't realise how much I had got into the habit of it! Yesterday I had my Friday-mocha-latte which added another £1.60 onto next months allowance! Good job next month is a short one!

Just goes to show how much is just habit - buying stuff when you really really really don't need it. That was the whole point of my monthly allowance was to be able to indulge myself but even that is getting too much....

Time to rein things in....

We want to go away for a Mon-Fri trip in the caravan soon so I really need to concentrate on my spending!

Jan grocery spend - £248 (and £17.64 to come off Febs!)
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00 (and £15 to come off Febs!)
Household spend - £92.64

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Trying not to spend.....

but I just cant!!!!

Planned a cheap day (Tuesdays is going out day with dd) - so decided on movies - she is disabled so she has a cinema card where you can get a carer in free so it only costs £5.60 for us both. Also I had £4.10 left on my Vue card I got as a Xmas present from my son and his girlfriend to make it cheaper. Went to Boots first and got a meal deal each which I paid for with luncheon vouchers I get from the internet for doing surveys (long story but I save them up all year and usually use them in Asda at Xmas but this year they wouldn't scan! - worked ok in Boots though....) Arrived at the cinema and decided to see Sherlock Holmes - the Vue card wouldn't work! so rather than miss the beginning of the film we paid and will use it next time....thoroughly enjoyed the film too.

Before we actually got to the pictures we had to pass the Body shop - I got some lovely stuff at Xmas and wanted to get the shower gel to go with it (well, look at the price of it anyway!!!) It was £6 for the shower gel but they had a couple of gift sets left in the sale with the same size shower gel, body butter, body scrub, soap and a sponge - for only £8 - I couldn't resist!

The only other thing I bought was Aveeno cream in Boots (totally a need as my youngest dd has really bad eczema and finds this really good) and thats was on offer so pleased with that (unfortunately there was only 1 tube left or I would have bought more) - added £3.32 to next months grocery bill....

And I had to pop in to Tesco to get more vegetables (Oh is still on restricted diet but can now eat veg) and spent £12.74 (included stuff for my packed lunches at work) - that will have to come off Febs grocery total!!!!!

Then I joined an Aqua-fit class tonight - cost £4.20 - I am entitled to a Leisure pass card with gives me a concession price of £2.90 so have filled it in and will hand it in next week (we are on Working Tax Credit as I only work part-time)

So I am now well over my £50 budget and am having to take it off next months!!!!!!!!!!

I am really glad I am doing this blog as it really keeps a track on where my money goes. And on a good note, I have now got £40.03 to spend in Boots vouchers - this has taken me 2 years so guess where this years Xmas pressies will be bought from! lol

Jan grocery spend - £248 (and £16.04 to come off Febs!)
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00 (and £15 to come off Febs!)
Household spend - £92.64

Sunday, 24 January 2010

New slow cooker

Went on Amazon and ordered a lovely new slow cooker - definitely a need not just a want as my old one died on me and I really cant do without one. Nice looking cream one and at £17.12 I thought that was good (and of course free p&p) Got a smaller one this time - 3.5ls as opposed to my last one which was 6.5ls and really far too big just for 3 of us. Behaved myself and didn't even look at anything else!

Jan grocery spend - £248
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00
Household spend - £92.64

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Catch up on spending...

Catch up time....

Went out with my eldest dd on Tuesday as she had a hospital appointment - went 1/2s for lunch (eat all you can Chinese buffet which I always take as a personal challenge!) so that cost me £8.50. Popped into Dorothy Perkins and got 2 really nice necklaces and a pair of earrings for £5 in the sale (full price - which I would never have paid! - was £27!!!) Also spent £9 in the Pound shop on "needs" ie bird food, toothpaste etc.

Bought my lunch for 2 days at work this week - 1st day because I left my lunch in the fridge (but ate it for tea!) and on Fridays I always treat myself to lunch and a latte - £5.20

So next Tuesday (me and eldest always go somewhere on Tuesday) will see how cheap I can make a day out cos my allowance is only £50 and I have been a bit naughty and now spent £53.03! So that extra £3.03 I have had to take out of my grocery spend....

Talking of grocery spend - just did an on-line Asda order - spent £59.40 including delivery (annoyed as couldn't find a free delivery voucher anywhere!) The next order I due will be for a months shopping so I can use my Asda credit card and get free delivery. So my budget for this month was £250 and I have spent £248 and pennies - nothing extra to go in the holiday account this month (apart from the original £50) - must do better next month!

Jan grocery spend - £248
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £50.00
Household spend - £72.52

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Reductions in Asda

OH is feeling better after his op so wanted soup and I scrounged a lift to Asda (too far to walk at 9pm at night!) to get some fresh veg etc.

Got dd a bra reduced from £4 to £2 (clothing budget) and got some 1p bargains...

Small meat pie - 1p
2 x 6 hot cross buns - 2p (now in freezer)
Pack of 4 cakes - 1p
Finest Mushroom & marsala sauce - 1p (now in freezer)

I am trying to avoid popping into Asda as I always spend more than I want but this time of night seems to be very good for bargains......

Anyway - grand grocery total for tonight - £7.66

Jan grocery spend - £176.64
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £34.43
Household spend - £72.52

Saturday, 16 January 2010


I don't know if there is even such a word but I use it for those little bits to treat myself - I budget a personal allowance for me and OH with which to do as we please - its currently £50 per month. Mine so far this month has gone on a dressing gown, once-a-week latte and a couple of lunches - anything left at the end of the month will be put in a tin and saved up for a bigger treat (like a spa treatment - haven't had one of those in ages!) The dressing gown could have come out of my clothes budget but as I already had one it was a "want not a need" and therefore I have to pay for it myself.

I found when I was really not spending anything at all it all got too much and I would splash out on something really big and unnecessary - doing it this way I get wee treats and it doesn't feel so bad - all in the mind but it works for me!

Jan grocery spend - £168.98
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £34.43
Household spend - £72.52

Thursday, 14 January 2010

I fear IKEA!

Not true - love the shop but am unable to come out without buying! So to take my mind off OH's op my eldest dd and I popped off to IKEA on Tuesday allegedly just for lunch and a browse........

Lunch was £9.72 (which comes out of my monthly allowance - I budget myself a set amount each month for treats - that way I don't feel hard done by!)

First buy was 3 sets of washing up brushes at 30p per set (a good "need not a want"). Then I looked at the pans - I have been after new pans for a while - my last set were Tefal but very lightweight and the non-stick was really badly starting to come off. Looked at IKEA pans before but find them either far too heavy (and expensive!) or stainless steel and I like the non-stick. Anyway, must have brought in some new pans because there was a perfect set of 4 pans - 2 large ones with handles both sides, a small milk pan and frying pan. Loved the handles as I have problems with my left wrist and cant grip things sometimes. Also, the biggest pan has a setting on the lid so you dont have to hold the lid while draining liquid out - and the 2 pans had metal lids not glass ones which never seem to clean properly.

After much humming and hawing (I'm not one for impulse buying!) and threats from my dd that if I didn't buy new pans we would all die a horrible death from non-stick food poisoning, dear reader, I bought them! Once the dam had burst I also bought a pasta insert for one and a "bain marie" insert - grand total - £53.97! This comes out of my Household budget so I did have the money sitting for them. I also bought 2 bulbs for my youngest dds nightlight so again, a need not a want as the lamp will only take IKEA bulbs.

Then as a last flourish - they had their dressing gowns reduced from £24.99 to £7.49 - again, dd persuaded me to buy one as my last dressing gown (bought for 99p from ebay) is really on its last legs (wasnt up to much in the first place!) - so that came out of my monthly allowance too.

Next was Sainsburys as I needed lentils - of course, couldn't just come out with JUST lentils - also managed to get 2 packs of reduced salmon fillets for £5 which was really good for 6 fillets (also bought needs of sponges,washing up liquid - Fairy reduced to 65p, tomato puree and barley) And true to form - bought a basics hand mixer for £4.18 as i don't have one and thought that was a really good price - my dd has one and swears by hers - I'm afraid that was a want not a need.....

Have now dutifully thrown out my old pans (honestly, it nearly killed me!) and have washed my old fleece dressing gown ready to make covers for my floor swiffer and mop (waste not want not!)

Jan grocery spend - £168.98
Holiday fund - £50
My allowance - £17.22
Household spend - £72.52

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Jan monthly shop

Spent a grand total of £149.23 in Asda - bit of a funny shop as we had to buy custards and smooth stuff for oh.

Hopefully, this will last quite a while - I had budgeted £250 for this month (putting £50 away in my holiday account from our usual £300 spend) which means I have £91.28 left - would be great if I could put something away from this too.

I always like to budget extra - that way if I come across some really good deals or even a big pile of reduced items I have the money to pay for them.

Looks like we wont get away in our van this month (or even Feb) due to the snow and oh's op etc so thats more money in the pot for March!

January grocery spend - £158.72

Money for holiday account - £50

No day out

Woke up to quite heavy snow today so cancelled the pictures - seemed daft to do a 60 mile round trip that really wasn't necessary (definitely a want not a need!)

Will have to pop to Asda as our freezer and cupboards are now verging on bare as we have lived out of them since the New Year - off to make a list - not really doing a menu plan as such as oh is going to have his stomach op on Tuesday and is off solids for 4 weeks so it will be just me and dd for teas... could be challenging!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Just a wee spend but budgeted for.

Did treat myself to a latte and lunch at work today (I have a monthly allowance for such fripperies!) totalling just under £4 - other than that there was just my bus fare (again, budgeted for)

Must admit I was tempted tonight - went on-line and been looking at some of the sales but really I dont need anything at the moment. There are some good bargains but again, all wants and not needs so I am not buying anything! (ooooo it was hard!)

Might be an interesting day tomorrow - we are going to see Avatar in 3D - both my dds have disabled cinema cards which means they can get their carers (ie my and oh) in for free but its still quite pricey at the weekend (and also the 3D is dearer) Never seen a 3D film in years. We intend to have breakfast at McDonalds (cheap option!) and take our own sweets/drinks.

I have an "Entertainment" budget every month - this month its £50 so this will put a bit of a hole in it - will post how we get on tomorrow.......

Also, will be let loose near actual shops - will see if I can go cold turkey and not spend anything else!

(tea tonight was bangers, mash and a giant h/m yorkshire pudding done in the remoska)

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Back to work...

Back to work today -always sad after a holiday! Spent £3.10 in bus fare and took the remains of last nights soup in so didnt have to buy lunch.

Tea was bitty - oh and dd had frying steak and I had a ready meal found at the bottom of the freezer whoopsied to 99p - ok but I am not a ready meal lover but hey ho - filled a hole!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Make do and mend (and crafts!)

I have been a busy bee today - took down all my Christmas decorations and re-cycled the cards (blank bits for shopping lists and made some gift tags for next year) I acquired a laminator from my mum (who never used it) and made 3 lovely book marks from a card sent by a pal (thanks Jackie!) - I will upload a picture when I can figure it out.

I am going back to work tomorrow and am taking home made soup in a flask - had problems with this as the flask kept falling over in my bag so I have taken one of my cotton re-useable bags and simply sewed about a third into the bag making a pocket for the flask to stand up in!

I also found a bath sheet with a huge hole in the middle (no idea what happened but there was quite a bit missing!) so made 2 hair turbies (the ones to wrap around your head to dry your hair) - all I need it a small piece of elastic to secure them.

Have had my sewing machine for quite a few months now but as I had a really bad back I havent been able to use it. All I have done so far is to sew up some fleece to make inner curtains for my sitting room, some re-useable bags made out of an old IKEA duvet, christmas gift bags and some other bits and pieces so it was nice to use it again. With my Christmas money I bought Sew by Cath Kidson which has all the pieces for a wee bag to sew so that will be my next project.

Tea tonight is chunky lentil soup (found some lovely h/m stock in the freezer from the last time I had a smoked hough) followed by summer fruits (another bottom of the freezer find) and I will make a crumble mix to go over it and use up the last pot of cream.

So another no spend day!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Pork joint

Very well pleased with the pork tonight - got it from Morrisons as I had never seen a pork shank before and seemed very cheap (only £1.68) and it was very tasty with enough meat to satisfy the 3 of us - did it in the slow cooker with remoska roast potatoes.....mmmmm. Will buy that cut of meat again.


I think part of my wanting to spend is I love getting parcels!! So today my cup runneth over - my sale stuff came from Debenhams and Lakeland. Bit disappointed that 5 things were missing from my Lakeland order as they were no longer available but pleased with the bargains none the less.

I have been a good girl and NOT looked at Ebay at all since before Xmas - one of my weaknesses - yes its cheap but I really do not need anymore stuff at all. Browsing for me turns into buying.

Not going out today as its tooo icey so unless OH can get some salt for the path it will be another no spend day.

Tea tonight from the freezer is a pork joint done in the slow cooker.

January grocery spend - £9.49

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Teeny tiny spend

Been to my grandsons 5th birthday - the roads are lethal out there and our path is covered in black ice so popped into Asda to see if we could get any salt - none left but did buy diluting juice as we had run out and bird food on special for £1 - I class this as a need as I love watching the birds on the table outside my window.

January grocery spend - £9.49

Cooking and freezing

Well yesterdays meal was really good - never use one of those mixes before (this one was Leek and Mustard) but will use it again. The rostis took forever to prepare - there was 6 left over so I cooked them and put them in greaseproof paper and into the freezer. Will heat them up in the Remoska the next time. Will definitely make them again but next time do a whole batch and just freeze them for when we need them (and will drag out my Magimix to grate them as it took ages to do by hand!)

The chocolate mousse - despite beating the egg whites for over 30 minutes (my dd was exhausted!) they simply wouldnt whip - dont know if it was the eggs or if there was any yolk in them or what - in the end she gave up, whipped up cream and put the melted chocolate straight into that - it was yum!

So now I have a jug with 4 eggs and sugar in sitting in the fridge. So today I am going to batch cook a whole lot of pancakes (adding 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of milk per egg) and do the same thing with greaseproof paper and freeze them for when we want them (one of our favourite breakies - with maple syrup and bacon......)

So hopefully another no spend day today!

January grocery spend - £4.74

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Back to meal planning

Well I have braved the sleet to go out to our shed where the big freezer is kept and made an inventory - have come up with 7 meals without having to go major shopping this week - however, I need fresh veg so that will be a small spend this week.

Normally I have been budgeting £300 per month for 2 "traditionally built" adults and a bottomless pit of a teenage dd. This is quite a lot but I find if I have nice things to eat then we dont feel deprived and go out for meals. My target this month is £250 and I eventually want to get down to £200 - this would mean I could be putting £100 in my holiday fund every month. OH is a definite meat eater but he has to go into hospital on the 12th for an operation for reflux and cant eat solid food for 4 weeks so that will slice the food bill considerably! I will have to get my thinking cap on for nice creamy soups.

Lunches all week tend to be sandwiches, left overs, baked pots, ravioli, beans on toast etc.

So tonights main meal is...

Sausage and leek bake (using frozen chipolatas and a mix I found nearly out of date)
Turnip & Cabbage
H/M Chocolate mousse (my dd was supposed to make this as an Xmas pud but ran out of time so shes going to make it today)

January grocery spend - £4.74

Friday, 1 January 2010

Xmas sales.....

Well as usual I have been to the Xmas sales (both online and real life!) so I have been putting all my purchases onto my spreadsheet (sad I know but I do it every year to keep a track of spending) They started really early this year but I wasnt going to spend my Xmas day thinking of next Christmas!

I have put my budget up this year as there are 2 new grandchildren arriving so this years its up to £540 which I divided by 12 and put away each month. I know a lot of you will think this is really mean but I have great fun hunting for sale items or special offers to make the presents look a lot more.

So far this year I have spent £114 but saved £177 as everything was bought in the sales - well pleased with that as its a start. It includes some specific birthday presents as well as some bits for my gift box.

Luckily I went to the sales with my own Christmas present money and bought lots of nice things for me before I decided to be the Queen of mean again!

And tonight I ordered quite a bit online from Marks and Spencers (all in the above total) except for a skirt from my granddaughter for school (bless her, she's only at nursery now!) reduced from £8 down to a £1 - well, you cant miss a bargain like that! would have got a couple but there was only 1 in stock.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I crawled to my bed at 5am and am feeling rather fragile!

Bought a new phone today for my daughter (with her Christmas money - her "want" but as she paid for it thats ok!) and didnt even look at the rest of the site so quite happy - got it from Tesco direct with free delivery and an offer of 1000 extra club card points - also used my Tesco credit cards to get a few more points too. I always convert my Tesco points into deals and will this year use them on our holidays for visits or perhaps meals out.

We are having a lamb dinner tonight so no grocery spending either - another Frugal day! (although as the shops are actually closed it would have been frugal anyway!)