It’s the little things!

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That is part of my current Amazon wishlist that I now have on order from the library!  And I’m excited by this!  Mark seems a little bemused by my new found enthusiasm for my library membership.  But I’m just amazed that I haven’t thought of reserving all the books I’d like to read before. Doh.

See, the first unexpected but really positive thing to come out of my new frugal lifestyle! 

And – get this – the county’s library service has it’s own app from which you can search for,   reserve and renew books and even download ebooks! How the library has changed in a few short years.

All of this has made me very happy. So maybe it is the little things in life…!

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All is forgiven…

…at the library.  As I won’t be spending any money at all on books next year I decided it was about time I went to the library to find out what my outstanding late fee bill was.

£46.70

 

Whoops! After I’d had my public flogging and stint in the naughty corner (actually they were really nice about it and said I could pay it off slowly) we had great fun choosing a few books to take home.

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We had Paddy’s parent’s evening today. His lovely teacher said what a lovely child he is and that she loves having him in her class – proud Mummy moment – and he often brightens her day when he shares with her random facts about dinosaurs, or fossils, or ninja turtles! However, he is falling quite far behind with his reading levels. We knew he was struggling but hadn’t realised by quite how much.

So we need to find a lot more time to read with him, and to him. He needs a lot more practice with frequently used words to work on his instant recall of them. And the other usual things such as the 2 5 and 10 times tables and number bonds to 10. I’m hoping that frequent visits to the library will help him to get lots of different types of books and that he might find something to really spark his interest. Fingers crossed.

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Mo’ Money

I’ve just cancelled my Cineworld Unlimited membership.  While I LOVE to go to the cinema I haven’t been going enough to justify the monthly cost. So it’s gone!  Last payment will be in January so from February onwards that’s another £15/month off our debt.

This morning I cleared the amount on my Very account.  Add to that the money I paid to Next to pay off that account, and I’ve paid an extra £520 off debts this month!  Not a bad start I reckon – whooop!

I’m cooking homemade Tarka Dahl and homemade Naan Breads for dinner, with mango chutney, raita and basmati.  These recipes I tried last week, using channa dahl with a best before date of 2010!  Oh the shame!  Still, they took much longer to cook but were DE-LI-CIOUS when they were done.  Can’t wait.

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I’m continuing to make S-L-O-W progress with Lily’s Granny Square Blanket.  My mind has been full of ideas on how to save money, I’ve been reading blogs and generally getting myself keyed up to take some action.  So crocheting has taken a bit of a back seat a bit.  But I still find it incredibly relaxing so I really should make a point of sitting down to do some more often.  And while I really MUSTN’T start anything else until my huge life of WIP’s starts decreasing, I find I’ve lost my wrist warmers.  And I NEED wrist warmers.  Especially as I’m now a person who TAKES THE BUS.  Wrist warmers are practically a tool of survival on our winters!  So maybe I could just start a new little project.  Out of necessity, rather than my inability to see one project through to the end before starting something else.  So there.

Time to make a change.

Debt_SettlementI’ve been making some big changes around here, and dragging Mark along for the ride too (kicking and screaming in some cases).  I feel like a fundamental shift has taken place in my outlook and lots of things need to change in order for us to get the life that we need.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about priorities, and what I want them to be.  Life at the moment feels very stressful, tiring, and nothing short of manic most of the time and I feel like I’m missing out on so much…time to connect with the kids…time to connect with Mark…time to make our house a proper home (a real retreat from the outside world).  I continually feel bad that I don’t have either the time or energy to put the effort into the relationships that are most important to me.  Like my Mum, my friends and other family members.  My lovely big sister has come back into  my life this year, and I just need to find the space in my life to help let our relationship really thrive.  And it’s just not happening at the moment.

So, the aim for 2014 is to really simplify our lives, and to start making to proper, big inroads into our debt.  And I’m making good progress already!  More so on thinking about ways to maximise our income, and minimise our outgoings.  So far I’ve:

  1. Halved our Virgin media bill from £80 to £40 (Mark didn’t put up as much fight as I thought he would on this one!).  We’re keeping Netflix as we all use this ALL the time and really get our value for money out of it.  We won’t be spending money on DVDs from blockbusters for the foreseeable so this feels like a good compromise.
  2. Started taking the bus!  This is a biggie for me!  Using my NHS staff card I get reduced bus fares and it only costs me £1 each way.  I’m trying to prove to Mark that we can manage with one car.  I have always had a car, ever since passing my driving test at the age of 17, and I expect it will take some getting used to.  But, adding the figures up, I can’t ignore the saving we could make…I pay approx £35/month for car insurance.  I SHOULD be saving £20/month towards car tax and SHOULD be saving a minimum of £50/month towards servicing/repairs.  Add to the the £100 – £150 a month on fuel and we’re looking at saving some BIG numbers.  I also have to pay £5/month for my NHS parking permit and it costs me 60p a day to park at work – both of which of these things REALLY annoy me, grrr.  So if I can make catching the bus do-able then we can look at getting rid of one of the cars and using these spondoolies to make extra payments towards our debts.
  3. I’ve found some AMAZING websites and blogs which have a wealth of information and inspiration on frugal living, debt repayment and simplfying life.  Some of my favourites so far are frugalqueen which is the journey of a woman who did what needed to be done to pay off 45k on two years.  I also love Mortgage Free in Three – the lady who keeps this blog is A-MAY-ZING.  Totally inspirational.  And full of frugal recipes and advice for living minimally.
  4. I have been totally inspired by the idea of a ‘spending fast’, which I first read about here (where I also got the image which sums it all up).  I need to decide what is going on each list.  Hmmmm.want-vs-need-1
  5. I’ve spent the last month finding ways to spend less and it’s really made a difference.  The second and fourth week of every month we usually spent absolutely skint, as we would have reached the limit of our overdraft.  This month, we’re ending the month being overdrawn by only half the usual amount.  The question now if whether to use the difference to pay off another debt, or leave it put and aim to do the same again next month, so that we’re working to a zero balance, rather than -£1000.  More decisions…and me a Libra.  Not a good combination.
  6. We have started shopping as Aldi’s. O.M.G.  How have I been missing this trick?  It’s incredibly good value for money and great produce.  Last week we managed a shop for all of us from £75 and this week was £43.  I’m not buying meat at the moment as we have plenty in the freezer, but even so that’s a minor miracle for us!  I always struggled to get our shopping below £150 a week!  A work in progress but we’re heading in the right direction.

So, plenty of food for thought going on and I’m hoping to start feeling a little more positive about things.  Probably the hardest thing will be leaving the house in the dark, rain and wind to catch the bus for an early shift at 6.15am!  Noooooooooooooo!  I’ll just have to remind myself of all the £££s to be saved.

A Sunday at home.

Today’s weather has been typically Novemberish…drizzly, grey and dull. But still not  cold. It’s been a surpringly mild month so far, although having just listened to the forecast it seems that is about to change over the next few days.

I feels like I very rarely have a whole Sunday off at the moment.  If I’m not rotared on I tend to try and pick up an extra shift (more ££s) or I’m sleeping between night shifts. So having a whole day off today felt like a real treat.  After a lazy lie in and a cooked breakfast Mark went for a round of golf and Paddy and I decided to take the dogs for a walk. And we decided that he would be the photographer for the trip! Despite nearly having palpitations about handing my phone over to my 7 year old, off we went to see what we could see.

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We talked about autumn colours,  and how having more than one colour in a photo made it interesting…

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…then a quick photo to admire his walking boots!

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Then a bit of leaf admiration…

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…before spotting some funny graffiti.  Talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous!

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I took this one. I love the contrast of the colours.  And that yellow just screams ‘AUTUMN’ at me!

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Back to Paddy for some more rsndom shots…

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..and we were surprised to see this in the front garden of a nearby house!

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A few more naturey photos…

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…after which he got bored of taking them. But it was fun while it lasted,  and a great way of really taking a good look at the area where you live.  We walked a total of 4 miles and both he and I and the dogs came home worn out ready for a hot drink and a cake.

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We’ve been making some big decisions over the past week and there will be some major changes for us coming up soon.  So a relaxing day at home, complete with a decent dose of fresh air was just what I needed to relax and blow the cobwebs away.