Living Frugally

I really need to start saving some money. Things have got so expensive lately (I don’t even blame the VAT rise, because things seemed to go up before that) and I would love to have a bit of a bumper in case of unexpected expenses, not to mention the holiday I need to pay off in six weeks.

So, I am setting myself a challenge of saving £1000 this year. I know this isn’t a huge amount, but hopefully it’s achievable and it’s a nice round number, which I always like.

  • I have already switched our energy provider, and am nervously waiting to see if that pays off (it claimed it would save us £200 a year).
  • I have been signed up to the Money Saving Expert newsletter for years, and am heeding the advice given by Martin Lewis, which should save me a few pennies.
  • I am going to look into getting milk from the milkman instead of Asda. It costs slightly less, and means that I don’t get caught out nipping for milk, and all of a sudden I have spent £15 on things I could live without.
  • On the topic of food, I have tried meal planning, but frankly, I suck at it. I like the idea, and I am a pretty organised person (our Lego is sorted by colour, for goodness sake!), so it should suit me, but for some reason it just never works out for me – I think I like the spontaneity of looking in the freezer and just deciding. What I am going to do, however, is have a vague idea, and not shop for specific meals, and then end up throwing unused things away.

I am going to make myself a little spreadsheet (see, organised!) detailing my income and expenditure, so I can see how much money I spend on unnecessary things each month. I used to have one years ago, and certainly when Lee and I were saving for our wedding, it really helped to focus us on saving and economising.

If you have any handy tips for how I can save even more money, please do let me know. It doesn’t matter how big or small – every penny counts.

Thanks x

Photo credit: P.E.S.H on Flickr

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10 thoughts on “Living Frugally

  1. Gemma Bell says:

    Funny that you are doing that I’ve decided to do it too – I’ve wasted money on ridiculous things. I always use voucher codes whenever I’m spending, and if I’m buying dvds or blu rays I use which finds the cheapest. Price differences are shocking!!
    I recently took the brave step of getting an electricity meter fitted, apparently they can be a little more expensive but I really needed to learn – we were spending £100 a month on that bill! Now I carefully switch everything off, it’s scary how much money I was throwing away because I was too ‘busy’ to do it.
    Most of the meals I cook from scratch, make big batches and freeze portions. Any vegetables left I make soup with to freeze as well. I used to refuse to buy ‘smart price’ but when I look at the ingredients there is no difference for the price. Especially tinned tomatoes, kidney beans etc.

    Eating out and going for coffee and lunch is my biggest waste – other than getting pizza express vouchers and sharing cooking duties I can’t see any way around this!! Any ideas?

    Gem x

    • Claire says:

      Well, for coffee, what about getting a starbucks card and putting a set amount on it each month? or costa points and then at least you might get one freebie a month? I thought the thing you did where a few of you cooked a course for dinner was great too.
      With you on the smart price stuff – except on beans… I won’t compromise on Heinz, lol.

      Let me know how you get on and if you have any more tips 🙂 x

      • Lee Willis says:

        The good thing about the Starbucks card is that if you load it up then you get “extras” (Like syrup, or extra shots) free, so you can save money while controlling your spend 🙂

  2. Ruth says:

    See if you have a CAP Monet course near by. It’s free and teaches you everything you need to know about budgeting and living on cash rather than card. If you only use cash (and get out a set month each week) you can see exactly what you are spending.

    The other thing is don’t go to a supermarket! Find a farm shop (note not a farmers market!) you can get everything you need there food wise. We can get 25kg of potatoes for £6 much much cheaper than asda! Then buy the washing powder etc. online and when you have just eaten, so you’re not tempted to get sweets. We have saved soooooo much money doing these things, probably somewhere around £80 a month. It’s all about being conscious of where the pennies are going.

    In terms of take aways, we are rather partial to curry. But I learnt how to make a brilliant korma. If we do buy out we save cook potatoes and bulk everything out. Plus then you don’t need to buy rice. Our culture is to eat so much meat, we have cut down and have more lentils and beans. Jacket potatoes, tuna pasta bake, lots of home grown salad when the weather gets warmer. And finally check your portion sizes, especially if you cook in bulk, it’s so easy to over eat.

    Hope the saving goes well.

    • Claire says:

      We used to use a farm shop and it was the best ever! But since we moved there don’t seem to be any near us.

      £80 a month is fab saving, well done! I must start shopping online too. I am rubbish at making lists and wander round picking up what takes my fancy, so if I do it online I will only get what we actually need.
      Thanks for the tips 🙂

  3. CJ says:

    I know it’s not always fashionable but I am a bit of a fan of second hand shopping especially for little bit around the house (not junk just pretty little things). This is a bit different because it’s not a necessity and therefore could be cut out altogether but sometimes it’s nice to get something new (to you at least). There is a huge range with second hand shops etc from the local charity shop to a big antique fairs Kirsty Allsopp style.
    Food wise I’m the same as Gemma cooking in bulk and freezing individual portions to use at a later date. I’m a big fan of homemade soup which is fantastic for this time of year and can use up most leftovers. I tend to use a lot of student cookbooks mainly because I am truly awful at cooking but they are also good for making (fairly basic) cheap meals. My favourite is Sam Stern who is still really young himself (he was like 15 when he did his first book) very simple but good food –
    My biggest expenditure each year (even though I say I’ll cut down) is home entertainment. Last year I spent more on DVDs than rent. I’m lucky because I work for the University I have access to all the libraries over all campuses including the media library that used to be at Brampton Road so I can get DVDs, Books and CDs for free and for a lot longer that at a public library. This is a facility I’m going to try and use more often this year. Also we have a book exchange programme where you can bring in a book you’ve read and swap it for a new one. The selection isn’t fantastic especially if your tastes aren’t as mainstream as the rest of the staff but there is normally something to read.
    I don’t know how useful any of this is as most of it is about none essentials but everyone needs a bit of fun from time to time.

    • Claire says:

      CJ, that’s all great thanks! I think it’s important to still have some of the things I enjoy, otherwise I will feel totally deprived and splurge. Great tips x

  4. Everything has got so pricey hasn’t it and I definitely think getting a milkman is a great idea – I regularly pop into the supermarket for milk and come out £25 poorer!

    My main tip is to shop the sales and bulk buy children’s presents – my kids go to so many parties and I always end up spending more than I’d planned if I have to go out specifically to buy something. So now, when the sales are on I look out for something cool at a good price and buy two or three of them. I also plan ahead for my friends birthdays and mother’s day. I get a bargain and spend less than I would have done, and they get a present that is generally worth more than I would’ve spent (if that makes sense) so everyone’s a winner!

  5. Claire says:

    Oh Zoe, I hadn’t even thought about things like birthday presents for the boys’ friends – that really adds up! I will keep an eye out when there are offers on and stock up – they will always get used. Thanks x

  6. I agree, I think things are more expensive. I started doing this last year after I was made redundant and the main things I do are:
    – Use Quidco – if you buy something online then eventually you will get cash back if they have brought into the scheme – great if you are spending a lot on something. Think you need a paypal account though
    – Search for discount codes online, if I am buying something then I usually do a quick google search to see if I can find a code to get 5% or 10% off or free delivery etc
    – Defrost your freezer – sounds simple but not only can you get more in (whilst you are buying two get one free etc) but it will run more efficiently
    – Use loyalty points wisely, we save our Tescos points and then get Merlin tickets, saves us a fortune and little man loves it!
    – If you travel a lot by train you can get this for free – and save money when you buy food etc at train stations
    – Freegle and Freecycle – make sure you join your local group – not only to get “rid” of your stuff but also to see if there is anything you need going spare! I got loads of containers and seeds for growing my own veg (but thats another post altogether!)

    PS – I think I saved over £1500 doing this last year!!
    There are more and when I think of them I will let you know!!
    Great post idea

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