I’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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.