Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Budgeting...

I have so much going around my head right now, I could write ten posts. But I'll try to condense all my brainwaves into a coherent post...

Perhaps if I wrote this with headings? Hmmm, ok.

Saving Money

We are unbelievably skint right now. Since hubster took his current job (after being made redundant in January last year - his current job is lower paid than his previous) the cost of living has rocketed. For example, a loaf of Warburtons is now £1.20 and supermarket bread is awful (hence me making my own bread right now), diesel is now £1.10 a litre (that, my American friends, is US$6.78 a US gallon), school dinners are now costing me about £70 a month, and our gas and electric bill for a MONTH is £124* (I have negotiated it down to £105, but more of that later). *I've been online and I've read two separate average gas and leccy costs - one said £149 a month and the other was £71 a month.

My budget is shrinking and shrinking. I won't say exactly how much hubs is earning a year, but it's not huge - however, neither is it tiny. I continue to look for jobs in schools - my next application is to be an examination invigilator at a local school.

So, what am I doing to save? Well, nothing spectacular.
  • Moving to a cash only envelope system;
  • Trying to use the tumble dryer less (although this is hard, as I have said before - particularly in autumn and winter. In summer I love using my washing line outdoors);
  • Switching off appliances when they're not in use;
  • Switching to economy on the dishwasher;
  • Turning down the heating a degree to 20 oC (68 oF);
  • Planning my meals for the week.
The hubster and I have discussed a variety of ways to save money. Trying to find an NHS dentist is one, so that we can cut out the dental insurance payments. The other is getting rid of my car, though hubs is against this idea. What I am going to do is see if I can avoid using my car for the next few weeks, to see how much I can save.

The one place I don't want to skimp is with food. Cheap meat, in particular, isn't as good quality as the decent stuff. Cheap ham, for instance, is 'reformed meat' - urgh! However, by planning meals, using ingredients we already have, and not going shopping when hungry (lol) I hope to make some savings. The average cost of food, apparently, for a family of 4 (two adults, two children) in the UK is around £100-£140 a week. To me that seems to be a lot, what do you think?

Oh and we're having roast cat tonight...she has to sacrifice too...hahahahaha JOKING! Seriously though, with all the redundancies, etc., during this recession, we are SO grateful to God that hubs has a job. As I have already said, I continue to look for term-time work and there are opportunities for me to pursue. We have family and a church that will always support us if we do get into trouble, we are mightily blessed!

Lol, run out of time...I will have to put my thoughts into multiple posts after all!


TTFN xxxxxx




11 comments:

  1. I'm working on my budget in 2010 as well. I have to say the envelope system is working wonderfully. For the first time in I don't know how long, I actually spent only as much money as was in the envelope and not a penny more. I felt like I was more conscious of what I was spending because I only had so many green bills to work with.

    I make a menu plan each week, and then the corresponding grocery list and shop alone (Vic and Sophia always tend to slip extra items into the basket when they are with me!). I've been baking more from scratch - I have so much flour, sugar, and things like chocolate chips and coconut - it was time to pull out the cookbooks and find a recipe that worked with the ingredients I had.

    Sophia is a grazer/snacker and can often be found with her hand in a Tupperware container of chips or cereal, consuming massive quantities as she snacks while she on the comupter or watching tv. I portioned all of the snack-type foods into small containers and ration it out so it lasts for the entire week.

    We're also going meatless one day a week - or if you want to be posh, having a vegetarian entree for dinner once a week!

    So far, so good.

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  2. I hear you!

    We are trying to get our spending under ontrol so that we can save to travel to the US. I don't particularly like to save money.

    But its a good thing.

    I'd wish you luck, but you don't need it. Just hard work and faith in a good God.

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  3. I admit the envelope system doesn't work for me. Things that DO work
    Trying to push back when I do the 'big shop' and eat up all the random stuff in the fridge/freezer cupboard
    Asking myself 'do I NEED to buy this?'
    Making up dried milk and keeping it in fridge for use in cooking [custard/rice pud etc]
    Making own bread
    Using an airer in the bathroom to drape&dry washing rather than tumble dryer
    Starting Big Shop at Aldi, then topping up at Sainsbury with the things A didnt have.
    Menu planning
    blessings xx

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  4. Yep, budget is a huge thing. From September-December I took the Dave Ramsay "Financial Peace University" class at a nearby church, where he stresses living by a budget....managing your money so you'll have some. :) (Don't know if you've ever heard of him over there but he's quite good, Christian man, very practical/common sense, and very funny to listen to).

    As a result, I have abandoned my ostrich ways and have grabbed onto the cash system for weekly groceries. It's a start! I've been doing this since September, and only now do I feel that I'm really getting a handle on it. I'm trying to spend $80 or less a week on groceries for the 4 of us. This means meal planning. I do it one month at a time and stick it on my fridge. I also know exactly what's in my freezer and pantry and try to eat from there. (With the exception of last night, where I insisted that I did NOT have a can of creamed corn to make chowder, and Andy insisted I did... well, he was right, but it was only a 69-cent mistake and I like corn chowder so no harm done.)

    Also, I'm a terrible clothes shopper (it's VERY STRESSFUL for me, silly, I know, but I stand there in the store and literally am paralyzed standing staring at racks wondering where to start!) ---HOWEVER, that said, there are many thrift and secondhand stores around here that feature quite good, in-style clothes. I swear by it for D. and S. because they're growing so quickly that as soon as I turn around they need new shoes or pants. No doubt you feel the same way about Squidge and Chatterbox.

    Reading your post, though, it sounds like you're off to a great start on Stewardship Whilst Skint. ;)

    One last thing - I have a great Excel budget form - not original with me, but I tweaked it for my use - that helps me with weekly allocation of income vs. bills. You're more than welcome to it if you'd like a look-see.

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  5. Pamela - I think it is good to go meatless at least one day a week, I've read that we eat far too much anyway.

    Rhonda - faith in God is one reason why I don't want to use the credit card anymore. We always paid off the full amount every month before any interest is charged. But we were trusting the credit card rather than God, the thought was always there that, 'If we run out of money, at least the credit card will carry it.' I'm not saying there's anything wrong with using credit cards, just that I realised I was trusting credit rather than God.

    Angela - I have great trouble drying stuff in our house because it is a damp house and very prone to condensation and mildew. My Mum has offered to dry some loads at her house. But I have managed to dry two loads today and only used the tumble dryer for 10 minutes to fully dry our duvet and bed sheet (I even had them outside for a bit - but a birdy did its doods on the sheet so that didn't help!). Our bathroom is too tiny to have an airer it's about 5ft by 5ft!

    We have a saying in our house, when one of us says, "I need...", we say, "Let's analyse the word 'need'!" Lol.

    Annecourager - I've heard of Dave Ramsey, but not read/heard any of his stuff. You do well only spending $80 a week on groceries, although I don't know the differences in cost of living for groceries between UK and US.

    An Excel spreadsheet is a real bonus, I have one now that I use (thanks for the offer though). We want to go to cash only so that we can see the week's allocation of funds reducing. I think it's so much easier to spend too much on plastic.

    Trusting VISA rather than God isn't good.

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  6. Hope you are doing well with your budget. It sounds like you're quite organised. I think the first hurdle with regards to finances is 'recognising the need' and as you have done this it puts you off to a good start.
    I always use cash as it makes me much more concious of how and what I'm spending.
    Also, I sometimes don't plan my meals but see what's on offer at the shops and then put something together - the other day 3 of us ate for £2 so that was really helpful. If you have a Farmfoods shop near you they sell Kingsmill bread - two loaves for £1. The bread is quite nice, although not as nice as Warburtons!!
    We have really had to tighten the belt recently, but I have enjoyed looking round for bargins and seeing what I can find - not easy, but it makes me realise exactly what's what.

    On a different note, the film 'Time Changer' can be ordered from a Christian bookshop called Wesley Owen. I managed to order a copy and I think it was £10.99 - usually takes about 3 weeks to arrive.

    Bless you and may you know God's provision more and more in your life.

    Carol x

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  7. hey sarah.

    our gas and electric is £42 a month combined, our house has recommended loft insulation and cavity wall insulation. it has done wonders. we keep the temp at 18 oC

    there is only pb and I in the house, so our food shopping bill is £35.

    budget budget budget. we check it again and again! some times I get really fed up thinking about saving money

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  8. Hi Carol - thanks! :)

    Hi Slice of Life - yes our bills are high I think because we have the heating at 21 C (since been reduced to 20 C). We have loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and double glazing, and a condensing boiler. So we're set with all that. But I run a few baths a week for the girls, I do about 12 loads of laundry a week and during Autumn/winter the majority is tumble dried...I could go on, but I won't bore you, lol.

    Anyway, we're working hard at getting the costs down, I've only tumbled dried once this week. But I'll need to keep an eye on the dampness in the house because of it (it's a damp house).

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  9. I *do* think £120 is a pretty big amount for a weekly shop. We're currently paying between £75 and £100 for food, and this includes top ups.

    Ironically, since I've been back at work I've been sticking to our food budget like glue. This is because I don't have time to fairy about the shops going, "well, I'll just get some cheese tonight to go with the cauliflower..." (as was my previous inclination). If I don't have cheese in the house we just have plain cauliflower with the chicken and the spuds.

    Oh, and get this! I have to work a month in hand! We will therefore we completely lacking in pennies until the end of February. When my pay does come, however, I will withdraw it all and roll about in it for a bit.

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  10. I suppose, as well, the £140 'average' cost of food is people who buy a lot of ready meals and snacks perhaps. My shop yesterday was just under £50, but I had quite a bit of meat in the freezer. I think mine would probably be around £70 a week if I stick to a meal plan.

    I can't believe you have to work a month in hand! Hubs had to work a week in hand before he got paid. He won't get that until he leaves the company. Don't tell me you won't get the money until you leave the job?! That would be ridiculous! You should march on government!!

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