Saturday, 31 December 2011

How I manage Christmas budget

I put away a set amount every month ready to budget for Christmas - this means that during the year if I come across any great bargains I have the money and can stash away presents. I dont have a huge amount of people to buy for which helps!

The presents I got at BHS are for the babies in the family because there the ones who cant ask for anything! lol - as they get older and know what they want it gets more difficult.

What I used to do is say I budget £20 for somebody - if I got something reduced from £20 to £10 I would also spend the other £10 on them to make it up. Now however, if I see something for £20 reduced to £10 thats all they get! £20 is what I would have spent if I hadnt got that thing reduced and if I save £10 that goes into my savings.

I was quite lucky last year - got nearly everything reduced - even before Xmas the on-line discounts were really good. I also used my Tesco credit card to pay for everything (direct debit set up to pay off in full every month) so I can collect the points for magazine subs as presents. I always go through Quidco - even 2% cashback all adds up. I also check various sites (including my favourite - for vouchers and free delivery codes - didnt pay for any delivery at all this year.

Extra food is included in my budget - I do 2 shops for Christmas food which I keep seperate from my household budget - first one is for stuff that will keep and the 2nd one is for the fresh stuff. Got a great piece of brisket reduced from nearly £10 to £1.87 (I actually got a lot of bargains that day - have a picture on my camera and when I can find it under all the mess in this house I will post a picture!)

So on gifts and christmas stuff (cards etc bought in previous years sales!) for Xmas 2011...

Spent - £396.50
Would have cost - £703
So saved a whopping £306.50

Food - on both shops together spent just under £90 (including stuff for New Year)
My budget was £540 (12 x £45)

Total spend - £486.50

So very pleased I can put another £53.50 away in my savings!

Friday, 30 December 2011

Christmas bargains

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas - I was very pleased that there was hardly any waste food wise and we didnt stint on getting nice nibbleys but nearly all were reduced too!

Hit the sales with xmas money given to me and had a great time!

Started my next years xmas shopping on-line today at BHS - got £87 worth of presents for £30 (scored an extra £5 off a £25 shop, got free delivery, got 8% cashback through Quidco and used my Tesco credit card to get points)

When it arrives it will be all added to my spreadsheet! I fully intend to wrap up the presents when they arrive to save time (bought a few birthday presents too)

And the best son proposed to his girlfriend on Christmas day so will have a wedding to look forward too! Roll on 2012!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Refund from Scottish Power on its way.....

God it was like extracting teeth! First I emailed them to say I wanted a refund - I put on the boxes my meter readings.....2 days later I get another email from them saying before I can get a refund could I put my meter readings in! So I did that AGAIN and got a nice email this morning saying I will be getting a cheque for £179.33 (I originally thought it would be more) and they are putting my direct debits down from £122 per month to £88 per month!


I also went onto my account and compared previous years usages with this year.....

Electric - slightly more - 145 previous year and 150 this year - my electric heating in the caravan could be blamed for that

Gas - previous year I had used 3305 but this year is was only 2221 - very pleased with this. Although we used much more last year (thick snow) hopefully our cavity wall insulation we got put in for free in the summer will help too.

I am now being manic about switching off lights and the telly - we dont have anything except our freeview recorder on all the time - everything else is switched off - we have no phone chargers lurking anywhere - they are only plugged in when needed. Even the dishwasher and washing machine get switched off the minute they finish - you never know how many pennies that flashing red light it using up!

Its chilly here today but I have a thermal vest on under my jumper, thermal socks, a body warmer and havnt had to resort to hand warmers yet - that heating is not going on until we feel uncomfortable.

I am off to bake mince pies for Crimbo so the oven will keep me nice and warm for a while!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Busy, busy....

Lots been going on so havnt had time to blog!

Wrapped all dds birthday presents (19th December) and nearl all Christmas presents. Been very careful with the budget and am off to Asda later on this evening to get any stuff I need that doesnt have sell by dates.

Sent off my next OU essay - not too thrilled with it but was getting so stressed about it decided to stop trying to get it perfect and send it thing less to worry about.

Had a driving lesson today which was pants - i have a lot on my mind and wasnt too happy about my driving at all! My test was booked for next week but I have cancelled it and am having no more driving lessons until the New Year.

Got the old sewing machine out and made 2 single duvets from a king size one I bought for £7. Also made some christmas gift bags out of material I bought for £1 from a car boot - bit lopsided but I am still a learner with a sewing machine!

Its extremely windy here - not looking forward to going out shopping but trying to go when its quieter at Asda.....

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Just passed first bit towards a History degree!

Have just got word I passed my Level 1 towards getting a History degree with the Open University - I now have 60 credits and you need 360 credits for the degree so it will be a while yet........but I'm still chuffed!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Raging at Scottish Power,...

Been a while since I blogged due to back/flu etc.....

We pay £90 per month direct debit to Scottish Power for our gas and electric - I got a lovely (?) email from them saying there were going to put my direct debits up to £122!!!!!! Thats a £32 price hike every month!

I logged onto my account and saw on their graphs I am actually using less electric than last year and much less then the year before AND I am £313 in credit with them!

Robbing I have sent off an email cancelling my direct debit and going back to paying quarterly and demanding a refund.

We went round the whole house last night and made sure there were no chargers etc on, have put the telly, dvd, wii etc all on 1 extension so when the telly is switched off everything else goes off too. All my lights are energy saving bulbs, we got cavity wall insulation in the summer so that has made a great difference to our heating as we either dont put it on or put it on very low.

So I am now on everyones backs about switching off lights when leaving a room, not leaving the telly on mute while go off and do something else (dh's favourite trick!)

I also got out my huge vacuum flask jug and instead of boiling a kettle every 10 mins (dh and his coffee habit) the kettle gets boiled and the hot water put into the flask. As its such a big one it keeps the water lovely and hot.

One of our big electric guzzlers is we have a huge (but very old) chest freezer in the shed - its great for stowing food bargains in but is never over half full - maybe with the refund we can get another more energy efficienct one - came across this site which looks interesting

It shows which are the most energy saving applicances.

Nearly finished my Xmas shopping - mostly done on line with discounts and free delivery codes - noticed there have been a lot more discounts available this year - 30% off is not uncommon - last year it was quite hard to find discounts - sign of the times I;m afraidn.....