Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

So, as part of my super-frugal January (like Frugalwoods ‘uber-frugal-January’ except not as hard-core!) I have been extra careful this month with my spending:

  • Cleaned and packed my thermos flask and took it to work, so that I could fill it with coffee I made there, just before I left to drive to my moms. Didn’t buy coffee at the service station when I stopped for a break. No horrible disposable coffee cups!
  • Packed extra food (partly thanks to my lovely partner who had bought me something special when they had been food shopping) and made sure I didn’t buy any food at the service station. Less rubbish, and some home-made food using up things from the cupboard.
  • Repeated the whole thing early in the morning on Monday, to make sure I didn’t buy anything on the way back from moms, even though a lovely sweet milky coffee would have been rather enjoyable! Again, no disposable cups or fast-food rubbish.
  • Drove carefully and kept my speed under control, so I managed to make it to moms and back on a single tank of petrol – good for my pocket and the environment.
  • Taken all lunches, breakfasts, snacks to work, made coffee at work, avoided buying any food at all. Used tupperware or old jamjars, and totally saved on waste packaging!
  • Managed to realise I needed to cancel my gym class booking early enough that I avoided paying the late-cancellation fee! This is all new to me, so I feel like I did damn well on that one!
  • Sorted through one of the coin pots to pull out the pound coins into a separate jar. We’ll need to get these changed once the new coin comes to the UK in March, or we’ll run the risk of losing the cash completely! Only one jar left to sort…but it is the biggest :/

After a weekend away, I’m really looking forward to being at home this weekend, and getting on with some gentle decluttering. I also really want to start running down the outrageous overstock of food we currently have in the cupboard, which means I need some time at home to think through our pantry contents…preferably not when I’m starving to death after having been to the gym! Hopefully I’ll have a successful and completely frugal weekend; I wish the same to you!

As ever, this post inspired by Katy’s lovely community.

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Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

3 things that are saving my life right now

It’s been ages since I wrote one of these. But right now, there’s one thing that’s completely saving my life right now, and that’s running.

I know. I never thought I’d say it, either.

Exercise is a real psychological knotweed for me. I’ll probably explore it a bit more in a later post, but basically my current focus on running/exercise in general is down to two things. One, I’ve recently been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the hands. Two, I am trying to grow as a person, and tackle those things that scare me.

Exercise scares me. Because I’ve ‘never been any good at it’, because I often feel fat (I’m not overweight), because of a whole host of things. But being diagnosed with a chronic, incurable, frankly not-even-very-treatable-at-all condition like osteoarthirits has made me rather keen to have something that I can do at those times when my hands give out and I am stuck at home feeling like I’m trapped and useless. So that something is running. I don’t know if it always will be, but right now I’m enjoying the challenge. I have short-term goals, and longer-term dreams, and that’s keeping my brain happy and focussed.

The weird thing is, running is also kind of eating up my headspace. I find myself thinking about it when I’m not doing it. Thinking about when I will get to run, whether I can fit it in tomorrow, whether it will go as well tomorrow as it went today. It’s quite strange. I assume these thoughts are occurring because the whole running thing is completely new to me, and I’ve made it goal-orientated in the short term. That’s basically crack for my brain, which is now super-fixated on ‘doing the thing’!

However it’s working, I’m definitely keen on it, and it seems to be good both for my brain and my hands. I’m not sure why it’s reducing the pain in my hands, but I’m definitely happy about it!

 

Being at home is also a really big thing that’s saving my life right now. Just having time to be at home, to potter around, to tidy things, to make food, to do the washing. Boring, every day types of things. I’m not sure when I became so aware that having time at home is so good for my sense of wellbeing. Perhaps it just crept up on me. But these days, I look at back-to-back full weekends with a sense of dread. I need down-time between working weeks, time to ground myself in my own space. I try not to turn down too many activities, but I do turn down some. I just hope it doesn’t make me too boring!

Okay, so only two things, but they’re big for me 🙂 I hope you’ve got something good going on in your life too.

3 things that are saving my life right now

Frugal January

Argh, argh, argh, I spent way too much in December. Special food, presents, and charity donations all added up – as did the fact that I joined my work gym! More on that later – though for now, it’s worth noting I had to pay the whole year’s fee up front in one go. Ouch! Eminently worth it though – it works out that I get each month for less than £15, including classes. I still managed to make my regular savings payment at the end of December, but right now my everyday account is not looking particularly flush.

It doesn’t help that January is a long month. In fact, in my world it’s extra long. I got paid for December on the last working day before Christmas Day…and I won’t get paid for January until the very last day of the month! I have to admit to feeling a little bit perturbed when I looked at my calendar and realised that is still three weeks away from today.

In order to deal with this, I’m going to have as frugal a January as I can. I’m feeling very inspired by Frugalwoods, who are doing an Uber Frugal Month. If you go to that post, you can even sign up to receive an email a day for the next 30 days, with encouragement, tips and tricks. I find it really helps to feel part of a community, and her tips are pretty good.

So far we’re ten days in, and I’m not actually feeling ground down by the experience, which is good. I have a tendency to let a perception of ‘being broke’ make me miserable, and then sooner or later I give up on the whole thing. Not so this time! I’ve just got to remember I’m not broke, I’m saving.

In terms of spending this month, I’ve been pretty good. I’ve done extra work to keep spending down, with the result that I’ve spent next to nothing. Exclusions are paying now for events that will happen later in the year, and thus getting a reduction in fees, and a few bits associated with visiting my mom at the weekend. So, a couple of cups of tea and snacks whilst we were out, and the toll road fees to get there. I even managed to take my mom around a number of shops and not by anything at all for myself, even though I was tempted!

I have a day in the city scheduled next week, to meet up with a friend who just happens to be down from up-north, but hopefully I will be able to avoid spending too much. It’ll be worth it, for sure. I’m really looking forward to it, and that’s worth a little expenditure, as I need to have good things to look forwards to. Thanks to a very kind friend, I even have a giftcard for a coffee shop I can use if I need a pick-me-up this month, which will be really handy.

The aim of all this is to build up a buffer of cash in my regular account. I avoid using an overdraft facility, even for surprises/emergencies, but that only works if I make myself my own little ‘overdraft’ buffer. And of course, I’d still like to replace my phone, if I can just build up enough cash…!

 

Frugal January

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Oh god! My stomach is groaning. What a week.

  • We manage to eat almost all of the Christmas leftovers within the alloted time! The only thing we didn’t mange was the packed sage-and-onion stuffing. I think I’ll cut it from next year’s menu: my partner normally insisted on it, but didn’t really eat any of it this year. I made and froze amazing soup from the roast potatoes and parsnips, froze the special gravy, used the left-over yorkshire pudding batter to make pancakes, fried the leftover cinammon rolls in butter and syrup, and generally ploughed through everything else. I’m pleased we wasted so little.
  • Repaired another pair of jeans, this time for my partner, using the method I’ve discovered.
  • Made curtains for the white room using predominantly leftover fabric from the stash. I had to buy some lining, but everything else came from things I’d kept from previous projects.
  • Had a lovely meal out with family that was paid by someone else.
  • My mum bought gave me exactly what I asked for, for Christmas! I’d asked for a new electric toothbrush, and sent a link to the model I wanted at the cheapest price. I opened it with family at the above lunch, and I’m at the age when everyone was fascinated and impressed by it! I will use it so often, and I really appreciate it, particularly as January will be short on cash following the bacchanalian excesses of Christmas.

I hope you all got what you wanted to for Christmas, and hope your coming New Year is full of satisfaction and frugal achievements!

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Almost there! Christmas is just around the corner, I’ve seen all the people I’m going to see, the fridge is groaning under the weight of food, and there is finally the promise of peace and quiet. Hell yeah!

  • I ordered a DVD for my mom, and when Amazon told me it wouldn’t get there in time for Christmas if I picked free delivery, I just thought fuck it and ordered it with free delivery anyway. It got there five days before Christmas! In your face evil corporation, you wouldn’t get that £1.80 for standard delivery from me!
  • The person I work most directly for gave me a Christmas present…and it was a £20 amazon voucher! Get in! So much better than a bottle of wine, no matter how good the wine is.
  • Used my Network Railcard to buy a travelcard to London to meet my mum for our Christmas lunch. Due to the restrictions I had to hang out for a few hours, as I couldn’t travel 4:00-7:30pm, but I just enjoyed some time browsing books at Foyles. It halved the cost of my train ticket.
  • I picked up bacon for my partner and a massive variety of cheeses ultra-cheap (e.g. more than half regular price) at the town market. I need to try and remember to go there every time I need eggs/cheese/bacon etc (rarely, but still).
  • Although I’m off work, I drove back over in order to use the gym. I paid for membership for a year, so I’m rinsing everything I can from it. I took a Yoga class this week too, and I didn’t completely suck! Amazing. Surprising tough on my crappy hands.

Happy Christmas, one and all 🙂 As ever, this post is inspired by Katy’s lovely community.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

A stitch in time…repairing rather than replacing (eventually)

Sometimes, you don’t know quite how comfy a pair of jeans is until you can’t wear them any more. I have a great pair I’ve worn until several rather important areas were worn thin and have holes – and horror of horrors, in the crotch! I thought I’d just replace the jeans. At first I tried another pair I already had – they proved a good fit, but for some reason tiring on the legs to wear. Then I tried buying a new pair (well, new-to-me at least) during our last charity-shop trawl, but alas! No luck -everything I tried fit terribly. Honestly, I’ve started to hate shopping for trousers. It’s such a thankless task.

So I finally gave in and looked up ways to fix them. I was reticent to just sew a patch on top, as I was concerned about making the area ugly, and uncomfortable to wear – particularly as the damage was in  the crotch area. And I wasn’t about to spend money on a special stick-on patch! However I found this method, and I was really impressed with how it looked in the images.

Basically, you just use zig-zag stitching in a complementary coloured thread to work over the top of the thin/worn out area to rebuild the fabric. I combined this with placing a scrap of thin cotton drill behind the worst of the holes, to support the stitches, and the outcome is really good! It took a little time (and quite a lot of thread), but the whole area has been reinforced, the work is hardly noticeable, and my partner says it looks lovely! Most importantly, I can wear my favourite comfy jeans again!

I only wish I’d just knuckled down and fixed them in the first place, rather than trying to find a replacement. Ah well, live and learn. One upside is that I’ve identified that the other pair of jeans are not worth keeping, and they can go back to charity as soon as they’re clean. If you have a sewing machine and a little time, I can really recommend the method described here, though I would suggest also adding a thin piece of cotton or something underneath to support the stitches and stop the zig-zag stitch from pulling the jean material into ugly rucks. It creates an attractive, subtle fix that works even in the crotch area. Hope the link helps!

A stitch in time…repairing rather than replacing (eventually)

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Argh! It feels like there is not much frugality to celebrate recently, as the force of Christmas gathers momentum. I’ve been buying gifts for my parents (and even my partner), which even though not particularly extravagant all add up. I’ve also paid for a year’s gym membership at my work place. Again, not particularly expensive compared to others, and necessary now that I’ve been diagnosed with osteoarthritis (very motivating at my young age!), but ouch. Add to that raised costs in eating out, booking events for next year, and let’s not even talk about the groceries and damn, this month is going to sting!

I guess I need to focus on the good things, even if they are tiny.

  • The car only needed a replacement battery! The lovely independent garage I’ve been using for almost ten years checked everything, fitted a new battery, and it all came to under £80. Phew.
  • Repaired a much loved pair of jeans, so I won’t have to fruitlessly hunt for a new pair. So happy with this – I love those jeans!
  • Didn’t drink much at the work Christmas party, keeping down the costs (and avoiding drunkenly saying anything regrettable!)
  • I didn’t buy any new Christmas decorations. My kitchen-diner is done up beautifully, including with an ancient string of lights that are probably c.20 years old, and there’s a wreath on my door and it cost me nothing. I had a lovely time decorating on a Sunday, culminating in mulled wine (a gift from last year) and mincepies (made with leftover frozen pastry from a workshop months ago). Perfectly festive.
  • I deep cleaned the kitchen, and my partner altered the worksurface and plumbing in order to fit our dishwasher – zero installation costs.

I’m not sure how the coming week is going to offer any opportunities for frugality…but I will keep trying!

As ever, this post was inspired by Katy’s lovely blog and lovely commentors.

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five