Financial Freedom · Organising

Financial Friday – Why I’m signing up with Money Dashboard

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This time of year most blogs are reviewing how they did the previous year and where they want to steer this year’s progress. I however, am not…

…cause my spreadsheet is incomplete for pretty much half of last year! I hang my head in shame!

See, my spreadsheets go back to 2010. I can tell you how much we spent on food, utilities, presents, holidays, you name it, in pretty much any month going back ten years. I’ve always been proud of that fact and normally I’d sit down with all the account records and update my finances for last year.

This year I find that I simply don’t have the inclination to be arsed, I’m shattered and part of me wonders – why should I?

  • In general our money habits are better than the majority.
  • We have a three month emergency fund set up.
  • Standing orders drip feed different accounts.
  • We have no debt apart from the mortgage.

Yet I can’t sleep. How can I possibly budget for the year ahead without knowing the averages for last year?!? How can we increase our savings/investments? How can I figure out where we are overspending on pointless, unworthy things? How much can we afford to redecorate the stairway? How, HOW, How?

Simply put – it would be bloody difficult.

So this weekend I’m going to put aside half an hour and get an account set up with Money Dashboard. The reviews looks decent and it’s time to jump in.

Financial Freedom · Organising

Here comes the New Year….

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….hopefully just as good, if not better than the last year!

2018 has been a comfortable year looking back. We have built back up our emergency savings (which apparently puts us ahead of a quarter of the British public*) it certainly gives me peace of mind, and I am drip feeding several accounts to fund future holidays, house improvements, children and an F.U. fund.

I’d like a fair bit of 2018 to carry over to 2019, thank you, as we recovered from the Christmas craziness fairly quickly back to our routine of – urgh – keeping the household clean, fed and active. Hubby has mentioned that he may lift a few weights in 2019 which I would be happy about and the kids are getting more confident on their (secondhand) bikes.

Life is never all roses; I need to practise saying no to convenience, no to overtime and actually committing to getting stuff done/shifted/organised.

I may need a swift kick along the way….

Before I start rambling….cider has been partaken of…..I hope that you have had a good year and that the next will be just as good, if not better!

 

 

*although the survey the article mentions seems ridiculously small to make such statements.

Financial Freedom · Food · Organising

The insidious nature of convenience

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Buying lunch from the local shop doesn’t seem like much does it? A few pound here and a few pound there adds up but it’s worth it as it reduces my morning stress and fills my stomach, isn’t it?

It’s been busy – when isn’t it, I hear you cry – and apart from the cookies for Halloween I’ve been choosing convenience. Buying lunch instead bringing in my own – yes. Eating out/getting a takeaway even though there’s food in the house– yep. Ordering a meal box for the week – done that.

Thing is, that even when I have the time I find I just don’t have the headspace to want to deal with the everyday hassle of checking we have the ingredients, meal planning, batch cooking etc.  So the meal deals, the easy dinners…the convenience creeps in and our costs mount up along with that niggle in the back of mind that we should do better.

That £3 meal deal may not seem like a big deal, after all we are not living hand to mouth, but it does add up and I find that by buying lunch I relax on the other ‘easy’ options. And going out for pizza when there’s actually pizza in the freezer is madness, utter wasteful madness.

So in an effort to combat the busyness that comes from being a mum, a worker, a homeowner, a friend I’ve started saying no. No, I can’t work overtime. No, homework is not high on my list of priorities (sorry school). No, you can make/do/get it yourself. No, I can’t make it.

So I hope to be a more active blogger where I can share my cooking, cleaning and I really need to get round to gardening sometime too.

P.S. You know I was going to title this post as The Price of Convenience but when writing I realised that it’s not so much the money that bothers me. Yes it all adds up and we are poorer for it but when I consider that I’m paying for time, for actual time, then when considered and manged I figure it’s a fair trade. Its the gentle creep of going from buying convenience at busy times/once in a while to then continuing to buy convenience regularly because it’s become your new normal.

Financial Freedom · Organising

Be a Tart “oe er” a Bank Account Tart

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If I were to be a tart I think I’d like to be a custard tart all full of flavour with a bit of crunch, not a patisserie tart which is beautiful to behold but generally lacks depth of flavour. Oh now I’ve made myself hungry……

Anyway….. apparently often switching a current account makes you a bank account tart and as I change my bank account at least every 18 months I am now, officially, a tart!

Why do I switch my accounts? Because I make money for a few minutes work (£100 this year and my friend made it too) and ensure that I get the best interest rates available. For the next 12 months I’m guaranteed 3% up to £2500 with a regular saver at 5%. In the now those are pretty good rates as the base rate is at 0.5% for a little while longer at least. Can’t quite believe I’m saying this but..gone are the days when 5% interest was a standard…god I feel old all of a sudden!

Switching accounts  is so easy online that  I’m always taken back when people don’t want to take advantage of introductory offers. Hubby is a prime example; he’s been with the same bank since a teen and has no interest at all in changing. For him the convenience of knowing the system and having the app on his phone trumps any cashback or interest earnt, after all he has yours truly to scramble around for decent interest rates.

Money Saving Expert recently did a poll to find out how often their readers switch accounts and – seeing as it’s a site where you’d think money savvy people go – the results show that the majority of people just don’t switch!

Now loyalty is a wonderful thing but not to companies ok? Companies exist to make money. Banks wants your money, hell they’ll even pay you to switch accounts! The trick appears to be able to take advantage of introductory offers is to read those pesky T&C’s, to have a good credit rating and not to get suckered into the wonderful products golden handcuffs.

What’s your reason for not switching current accounts?

 

P.S. Because I’m a tart, naturally, I have experienced the current accounts of eight different banks thus far. You know what? There’s only one that I wouldn’t go back to so that’s a pretty good record for the switching service and the banks themselves imo.

Financial Freedom · Food · Organising

Make Do March and A Quick Catch Up

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The philosophy Mend and Make Do may bring to mind wartime rationing but looking through my house there’s an awful lot of stuff that just isn’t getting used. Who needs 5 deodorants? Lasagna sheets dating back to 2011? Scales with no batteries? 7 jars of jam?*

We’ve started from ground zero in regards to savings this month which gives me the chills but one consistence throughout financial freedom/independence blogs is the need to live below your means. Hell, it’s just good sense but over the past few years I’ve taken my eye off the ball. Cooking good food from scratch, using things that you already have rather than buying more and fixing what you can is good for everyone and something I feel we’ve lost.

I’ve decided that the simplest way to start is to simply use up the easy stuff first, the low-hanging fruit I heard it referred to the other day. So far Hubby has been asked to drink the random herbal teas I found and to use up the bubble bath that we have which happens to be a pink sparkly wand! I’m working my way through the deodorants that Santa always pops in my stocking despite them not being the brand I actually use and researching what you can use cornmeal for apart from cornbread since there’s a large bag in the back of a kitchen cupboard.

Can we make do in March with what we have or will that must have item lead us astray?**

A Quick Catch Up

Yes I know we’re in the second week of March already and I’m just coming up for air. Seven birthdays in one week together with the unexpected amount of snow we had is sure to scramble anyone’s brain but add an energy sucking virus into the mix and I’ve been concentrating on simply putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to sing ‘Just keep swimming’ with me if you like, or shout ‘I’ve lost my Mojo’ Austin Powers style if that’s more up your street.

I do feel like I achieved Domestic Goddess status in February though as I made my first successful lasagna, baked bread and even made my own butter! I have lots of half written food articles/posts/whatever-you-want-to-call-them to finish and publish when the old grey matter gets up to speed again.

*It’s bloody good jam though. Blackberry Jam made by Mum and Apple Jam made by my fair-self.

**I’m joking, promise. Although I did see……

 

 

Food · Organising

Ugly, but Scrummy Freezer Food.

Some plates of food just make your mouth water by looking at them. And others do not, yet the taste and comfort of a bowl of rice and lentils is hard to beat.IMG_20180224_165549226

We’re having a cold snap at the moment where the days are bright and frosty. The kids and I venture outside wrapped up warm (today we went and played poohsticks) it’s too sunny to stay indoors and too cold to stay out for long.

So chilly and having built up an appetite we want something warm and comforting but quick to prepare and 10 minutes later there’s a bowl of beige goodness on table. It’s even vegan, one of the few vegan dishes that I can make without someone asking “where’s the meat?“*

Originally cooked for us by MIL from a recipe in Good Housekeeping I’ve cooked a variation of this cauliflower curry at least once every month. I often soak my own lentils to keep costs down, forget about the lime and coriander and double the ingredients because if you freeze it without the cauliflower then it reheats like a dream.

There’s really no need for rice as I can happily eat mild lentil curry by itself although hubby would protest. We ended up stuffing the pitta with the lentils as it was far more fun than eating with our forks!

The way I tend to make my lentil curry now is to:

  • Fry an onion
  • Add ginger, garlic and curry paste
  • Stir in cauliflower, green beans, lentils, coconut milk and stock
  • Simmer and add creamed coconut if it’s in the cupboard
  • Taste, season and maybe play with some spices like cumin and ground coriander, a spoonful of mango chutney is nice if you fancy some extra sweetness
  • Eat all the cauliflower the first day and freeze the rest.

What freezer foods have you eaten recently that warmed you up?

 

*I used to add chicken to the dish so the carnivores would be happy until one day I didn’t and nobody moaned.

Food · Organising

Corr, how leftovers make wonderful lunches.

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Does that plate of deliciousness just not look too good to be true!?!

Here we have roasted peppers, green beans and spicy aubergine with homemade gluten free bread, piping hot and enjoyed thoroughly. Well, by myself at least as the other family members declined to eat said dinner last night and filled themselves up on cereal and peanut butter sandwiches.

While they missed out it meant that I had more than enough to eat for today’s lunch and being such a freezing cold day at that it was much appreciated. Good food can really brighten your day, especially when it’s a no-effort-heat-it-up from leftovers lunch.

I was especially pleased with the bread as I simply followed the packets recipe weeks ago and froze it after slicing. The bread mix is about a year out of date, a bag I found hidden at the back of the cupboard!

It was warm, comforting and starchy with that extra feel good factor that comes when you eat your vegetables and I give myself plus points for using up cupboard fodder, even just a little.

Feeling flushed with my success at accidental ‘batch’ cooking I made extra mushroom stroganoff with pasta today – unfortunately not photo worthy as the chestnut mushrooms turned it a strange browny grey colour – but I know I’ll be looking forward to it at lunch time.