Saturday, 24 June 2017

A Trip Out

I'm off to this rather splendid building today to do some training for children and young people. There is a free lunch, which unfortunately I can't eat, but I shall enjoy a picnic in the 12 acres of National Trust grounds !

The site once housed the workhouse for the surrounding area and specialised in inmates who had escaped from other settings as it is far away from everywhere. I hope that we are treated with rather more hospitality !

I always enjoy a trip out and since this is to a rather lovely place and includes free training, I'm looking forward to a free day out !

Friday, 23 June 2017

Frugal Friday

A round up of frugal living this week in spite of the scorching weather !

The most frugal thing I did was claim tax credits, I wasn't sure if we could do it for this year but the helpful pack and telephone line said we could and sorted it out very quickly so I am looking forward to getting the money !

I bought a new cookbook using Swagbucks, so effectively the book was free and we ate a lot of leftovers and very basic cold meals as it was too hot to cook. We cooled down the house naturally by opening doors and windows night and morning and closing the curtains during the day and I also used the sun to dry my hair rather than using the hairdryer !

We needed a red shirt for MrShoestring for a Midsummer celebration but found an old rugby shirt that would do, so did not need to go hunting round the charity shops. We also needed a new computer mouse but found one in the workshop which could be used so no extra shopping this week !

I downloaded a few free Kindle books for reading over the Summer and got a free magazine through the Royal Mail survey. I packed my supper to bring with me one night rather than eating out and filled up at the cheapest petrol station when we were passing rather than the closest !

I hope that you had a good, frugal week too !

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Packing your Supper

I am going to be very busy today, so busy that I won't make it home to eat any supper before heading off for my course. I pondered various frugal options like eating beforehand or buying some food on the way. Then I realised that there is no need for packed meals to be confined to lunchtime, I can take one for supper too.

Since the weather is so hot I will have to be careful that everything is kept cool whilst I am whizzing about but the nice thing about using the car is that having a cool box along is no problem.

If I was travelling by public transport I would just change what I was taking so that would be no problem. A tasty packed tea that I can eat on the way is just what I need on this busy day and no more expensive than eating out at home. I'm so glad that I thought of this in time I was already being tempted by the idea of cooled water from the college vending machines !

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Living on a Shoestring - The Emergency Fund

You might be shocked to hear but a long time ago I thought my credit card was my emergency fund ! Then one day there was an emergency and there was not enough credit left on the card to pay for it ! Oh dear ! We had to get a loan and I had to learn to save !

The recommended amount in an emergency fund differs according to who you speak to, with most suggesting 3-6 months worth of living expenses. This took us a long time to save up and we only have 3 months worth saved not 6. Since we have had 2 earners in the family this seemed enough as it was very unlikely that for instance both of us would be without income for longer than 3 months at the same time. But we started with just £100 emergency money. That was enough to visit a sick relative or buy a second hand washing machine !

After that we saved £500, enough for a  ticket to Australia or USA where we have close family. After that our target was £1000 and then one month's living expenses. Now we keep £5000 in an instant access account which pays interest but is not easy to get to on a day to day basis. That money is for real emergencies, not new boots, haircuts or medical expenses we can budget for.

Now that we have the account fully funded we have never used it, but we did use those smaller amounts on the way to having it ! We think that it is important to know that you have a cash flow problem covered so that you can take your time thinking through the best way to tackle an emergency.

What do you do ?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Keeping Cool when it's Hot

We have been blessed with some gorgeous June weather but I am glad that our time in the USA also taught us how to stay comfortable in such high temperatures.

The first thing to do is open up the house night and morning to let the cool in, we also keep all the doors open during the day to let any breezes circulate. All the curtains on the sunny side of the house are closed to stop the sun heating up the house and jugs of cool water are kept in the fridge. Cold water is much more thirst quenching than fizzy drinks. A jug of iced tea or coffee is good too.

At night we open all the curtains to let the heat out but close the windows before we put the lights on to stop bugs flying in. Getting wet with a hose or puddling pool is good for little ones but remember no more than half an hour in the sun without sunscreen.

We do without sunscreen by wearing hats and long sleeves and trousers in light fabrics if we have to be out and about. However, we try not to be out between 11am and 4pm but do our jobs early in the morning or later in the evening as the nights are so light. A wet flannel on the back of the neck cools you down quickly if you need it. A siesta can be nice during those times, especially as it may be hard to sleep at night.

Roll down car windows if it's safe and use a windscreen shield to stop the car getting too hot too. Also please remember about pets, neighbours of ours put out a bowl of water during hot weather to help all those furry dogs out for a walk !

Most of all enjoy the lovely weather by getting out in it for at least half an hour a day to top of those Vitamin D levels for free !

Monday, 19 June 2017

Getting a Discount

After MasterShoestring came back from his Duke of Edinburgh practice expedition the other weekend he needed a day off school because he had so many blisters and his feet had swollen so badly. He had used an old pair of my walking boots in spite of us telling him that he would be more comfortable if he got a new pair of his own. I guess the frugal apple does not fall far from the tree ! 

Anyway, this weekend he agreed to come to the local outdoor shop and try on a few pairs. He put on a thin and thick pair of socks before we went so he would get the right size boot and have an accurate idea of how each pair fitted. When we arrived we said that we were looking for a pair of 'Duke of Edinburgh' boots as their website said that they have a special brand in stock and keep more sizes in for this type of boot. It tuned out that they only had 3 pairs left in MasterShoestring's size so we asked to try them all and I was preparing for having to fork out rather more money when none of the special Duke of Edinburgh cheaper boots fitted ! 

The first pair were clearly too tight, the second pair MasterShoestring thought would do, I said try on the last pair just to be sure and that was the pair that fitted the best. It turned out these were the cheapest boots, were leather so will last longer and came with a discount when I asked was there anything off that ? The boots were the cheapest in the shop but I still asked for a discount because the website had advertised a discount for participants in the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. So we ended up with 10% off and they were the best fitting boots !

On the way out MasterShoestring remarked that this was the first time he had experienced that " the cheapest were the best". I hope he remembers that lesson and that it is always worth asking for a discount !

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Review of "The Savvy Shopper's Cookbook"

When I was in Waterstones a few weeks ago the manager mentioned this book when she saw I was buying the other budget cookbook but she could only describe it as she had forgotten the name. About a week later another blogger had it on her list of library books and I wondered if they were the same book ? Now I had a name and could search for it, the library round here or county wide did not have a copy but the copy on Amazon seemed reasonable so I started saving Swagbucks to get an Amazon voucher.

The Swagbucks voucher came through, the price of the book dropped on Amazon and I had a few days to run on my free trail membership of Amazon Prime, so no postage to pay ! This is how I got the book for free ! The book starts with lots of information on how to shop at discount supermarkets, what you should keep in your pantry and a one week meal plan. Now, this book is about saving money by cooking meals with ingredients that can all be sourced from the discounters. It does not include prices with the recipes and so there are some fairly expensive recipes included e.g.) " The Best Steak Dinner Ever".

There are also cheap ones such as "Moroccan Chickpea Curry", there is even a useful make your own curry powder recipe at the start which is less complicated than the one I use. Most of the recipes are aimed at producing quick, cheap midweek type meals and snacks so there are no breakfast recipes and only a few dessert and baking ones. There is no information on making your own baked goods such as wraps or pita breads, the author presumes that you buy those !

The author used to live close to where we do and in such an expensive area following these recipes and using a discount supermarket would save you money but I don't think that it is for hardcore frugalistas, we wouldn't buy jars of red pesto, we'd make it ! That said there are some interesting ideas in the book, like with our current glut I shall definitely be trying the roaster lettuce recipe !

All in all I'm glad that I got a copy but I don't think I would have paid £14.99 for it, which is it's full retail price !

Anybody got any other frugal cookbooks they love ?