Money Wise Talks 31/03/2022

I’ll start off with a reminder … Take meter readings for your gas and electric today!

Why you ask?

According to Sara from Debtcamel on Instagram, energy prices are due to go up tomorrow for 22 millions households in Britain by about 50%. But by taking a meter reading today, you can save yourself some money. Sara also recommends you to take a picture of the meter reading as proof.

This means that all of your energy up to now will be charged at the lower rate. Head over to her page Debtcamel for further information and loads more advice!

I was paid last week and I can confirm ALL the missing money came through! I’ve never picked up so much money in a single month ever and not going to lie, I did spend a good few days just looking at it lol! 🙂 I haven’t done the usual and sent it into sinking funds and savings just yet as I may need it for the *bleep*.

I so wanted to share my news with you all today but I’ve still not heard anything with the *bleep* yet, apparently it will be tomorrow now.

The savings challenge I had been doing to pay the MBNA card off has now been completed in full! Whoopie! One card paid off and two left to go. This tracker can be downloaded for free on my blog, under the ‘free printables‘ section.

I also paid off a whopping £801.61 from the debt this month which has now brought the debt outstanding figure to £16,426.77. It’s not where I want to be but at least it’s going down … for now. The *bleep* is going to change this, but it will be worth it I’m sure.

I feel like I’m scraping around for funds all over the place! My focus for April will be selling more clutter, listing items on Vinted and going through the loft. I have some big ticket items like a bike and a Barbie dream house which I will have to sell through FB Market place, but everything else is going on Vinted. You know how I feel about FB Marketplace, but it does have it’s place for those bigger ticket items. Check out an older post of mine which compares Vinted, FB Marketplace and Ebay.

I’ve also started the ‘save 1p a day’ challenge which I spoke about last week. I was going to make my own little tracker but then came across a fantastic one from SkintDad, which you can download for free from his blog. Here’s the link to his blog. Any change I get I will cross off on the tracker and will keep separately in a pot. Although this 1p challenge is meant to last a year, I’m just going to do it until it’s complete, whether it takes me less than a year or more, I don’t mind.

In April, I am also going to try and do a food shop for £10 a week. So this will be for me and my ten year old daughter and won’t include pet shop, toiletries and cleaning products. Not sure how hard it will be but I’ll post my day to day journey over on my instagram, The Money Wise Mum if you’d like to follow me.

What I have Spent This Week

£3.50 Car park

£17.66 Cinema snacks

£31.17 Cards and balloons

£69.38 Pizza hut

£30.35 Ninja warrior

£17.08 Morrisons

£5.50 Car parking

£56.66 Arcades

£2.20 Boots pharmacy

£81.37 Petrol

Total £314.87

Can you spot the missing item?

NO TAKEAWAYS!! Actually I still can’t believe this, but we haven’t had a takeaway since the 18 MARCH!! Which is a whole 13 days!

Now if you’ve been following me for a while, you will know I love takeaways and we usually have at least two a week. But the want has just disappeared recently and I think it’s because of the *bleep* and the serious need to save money like I’ve ever saved before in my life. Finally, something has become more important and has made me stop. Hope it continues.

Of course within my list you can see Pizzahut but that wasn’t a takeaway, it was a pre-planned meal for my daughter’s birthday, with her friend and my parents. I paid for it as it was my treat. In fact, most of the spending this week was on my daughters birthday, such as; cinema snacks, Ninja Warrior, Arcades (never again) and car parking for the cinema trip. We saw ‘Dog’ with Channing Tatum, swoon … I didn’t even mind sitting on my own, one row back and in the corner lol … thanks girls!

The other car parking was for the trip I took into the office for the first time. It so so strange to be in a room with other people. I couldn’t believe how easily distracted I was with people talking and although it was lovely to see everyone, I definitely prefer being at home.

The food shop this week was £17.08 and I just bought the only things I needed to allow me to do 3 full meals a day for the week along with some snacks.

Petrol was £81.37!! I was shocked when I looked at the pump. This was to fill the car up from empty. I’m so glad the weather is getting a little nicer so we can start walking to school and back and reduce the use of the car.

I also notice my national insurance had gone up this month by about 165 % … it just makes me wonder where we’ll all be this time next year. Worrying really. Have you notices this with your national insurance? Let me know in the comments below.

Anyway, I hope and pray I will be able to share my ‘Good’ news with you all next week.

Have a great week,

H

Money Wise Talks 24/03/2022

Wowsers! What a week!

Not going to lie, but I’m on cloud 9 at the moment. Everything, and I mean everything this year is falling into place… amazing job, better salary, better work life balance and potentially a new *BLEEP*!

Sorry, I still don’t have the *BLEEP* 100% yet so I’m still keeping it under my hat. It is costing me serious amounts of cash though, even now before everything’s been confirmed. It’s making my anxiety levels hit the roof! All this money just passing through my fingers like water.

However, on the flip side of that, my general spending is so low right now (must be the fear of getting further into debt that is scaring me) and I’m on fire with no spend days and just general spending! I definitely should have done a no spend month this month!

I spoke last week about getting back into doing money challenges as I feel these really work for me and over the last week I’ve been thinking of things I can do. This is my plan

  • Save 1p a day challenge
  • Eat for £10 a week challenge – and see how long we can go for
  • April no spend month

I’m going to make the trackers for these and will upload them and let you know when these are available via my Instagram account.

Save 1p a day challenge

Pretty obvious what I need to do on this challenge but I am going to save all the money into a jar and not touch it until the challenge is up. I already have a jar where I keep my 1’s and 2’s so will use these as part of the challenge. I’ll get these counted tonight and will share the start of the challenge tomorrow via Instagram and then weekly on this blog.

Eat for £10 a week challenge

I want to only spend £10 a week on food for me and my daughter. This will cover 7 breakfasts, 5 school packed lunches, 5 lunches for me (I work from home), 2 weekend lunches and 7 dinners. This does not include toiletries, cleaning supplies or pet food. I’m sure I can do it, but will need to meal plan and be creative with the food I already have in my cupboards. To be honest, I want to get rid of so much out of the cupboard and I’m hoping by doing this, we can eat through some of the food that never gets eaten.

April No Spend Month

After a month of huge spends because of the *BLEEP* and my daughters 10th birthday, I need a reset and a no spend. However, my daughter is off for two weeks in April so I am going to set aside some cash for that. I also have a meal planned with friends at the end of April and I’m not missing that either. However, the rest of the month there will be no spending on;

  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • Takeaways
  • Food outside the weekly budget

You may be wondering why I’m still prepared to spend money in the half term and to go out with friends and I want to explain that I don’t want us to stop doing the rare things that we enjoy. It’s just not the point for me or the reason I do these type of challenges and no spend months. For me, it’s to get out of the habit of careless spending. I mean if I was out every weekend with my friends, well that would be another matter but I’m not. And I don’t know about you, but getting four friends together that all have children and some having husbands well it’s a task in itself. So when we’re all free and want to see each other we go for it. As for my daughter, this is her childhood and I want to spend the holidays with her making memories and if that means saving a very small part of my income for these times, well that’s what I’ll do.

I think it’s important as well, if you’re on a debt pay off journey, like I am and you’ve been on it years because you have a single income or whatever other reason, you need to have some elements within the journey that you look forward to. For me it spending time with my daughter and not saying no all the time and seeing my friends every now and again. Yes it may take me a little longer to pay down the debt but I want to live as well as be debt free.

What I Have Spent This Week

£10.18 Macdonalds

£6.34 Asda

£1.40 Co-op

£7.63 MoonPig

£15.87 Morrisons Food Shop

£31.00 Hair

£10.00 Cash out

£23.97 Cinema for 3

£10.92 Vet

£18.49 Trampoline pole

£33.00 Ninja Warrior

£200 Daughters birthday present – New bike

Total £368.80

Total spend on food was £33.29 which isn’t that bad at all, and that includes the takeaway. The cinema, Ninja Warrior and new bike I have paid for by pulling £300 out of savings. So although my emergency fund will have decreased, my debt hasn’t increased which is perfect. I hope to pay that back in dependent on what my salary comes out at for March. I’m hoping for great things from my salary this month so I better not be disappointed.

The trampoline pole was a replacement part from the damage to the trampoline in the recent storms. I was surprised at how easy it was to fit. Let the free entertainment continue 🙂

Moonpig cards were just because I left it to late to post someone’s birthday card. I thought if I did it via Moonpig it would get there for the next day so that’s why I was happy to pay the higher price. Anyway, it turned out it still got there 3 days later and late so I would’ve been better just buying cheap and posting it myself. I’ll know for next time!

Hair was just the usual root top up for me. This is the cheapest I can get my hair done for as I don’t have it blow dried, it’s just left wet. Last year I used to go every 3 weeks because I hated the sight of grey. Especially when it went completely white during lockdown and our hairdressers had to close. However, by me going every four weeks, it saves me an £124 every year! Amazing really that these small changes can add up to so much!

This time next week, I should know if the *BLEEP* is going ahead so I’ll of course let you all know on here all the ins and outs. But until then, have a great week.

H

Money Wise Talks 17/03/2022

It was my Nana’s 90th birthday at the weekend and she had a lovely party where we all got together again. It was nice to see the family under better circumstances following the death of my brother and us all attending the funeral a week last Monday.

We laughed and cried together and reminisced the old times when the people we love very much were with us.

It was a 4 hour drive to my Nana’s and back, which although was worth it – the petrol costs were out of this world!

That coupled with the ‘new’ gas and electric bill going out on Monday of £146 made me wince. I know we are all in the same boat but putting everything up at the same time when people are stretched is just horrendous. Although I have debt and a single income I feel incredibly lucky I have money left at the end of the month and can make overpayments on debt, some people aren’t that lucky and I’m generally worried about what our situation will be like by the end of this year. It makes me feel really sad.

I dug out an old smart meter box that was installed a few years ago to see if I could try and keep a handle on what the daily costs were for gas and electric. It does install a little dread when you put the kettle on and see the pound sign start to increase. That being said, I’ve heard both positive and negative things about these smart meters and although I can’t tell at this stage whether it’s a good or bad thing to have one but it is making me more mindful. For example, seeing the sun out today made me think about getting a load of washing that could dry outside. I mean, I know this stuff isn’t going to make me a millionaire but every little helps doesn’t it?

I decided the other day to have a little mission and try to find different things to cut back on with the cost of gas and electric going up and below is what I tried and what tips people gave me;

  1. Wear fingerless gloves in the house. Great for anyone working at home on a laptop.
  2. Wear leg warmers. I actually love this and embrace my inner Flashdance. 🙂
  3. Wear a dressing down.
  4. Use hot water bottles when at your work desk, on the sofa or in bed.
  5. Wear a woolly hat indoors. This really keeps you warm!
  6. Extra blankets and/duvet on the sofa and/bed.
  7. Turn all plugs off at the wall apart from the fridge freezer (and internet, if you need it for work).
  8. Close all doors.
  9. Use draught excluders.
  10. If your freezer is not full, fill it with cardboard as it runs more efficiently when full (tip from someone who used to work for a utility company).
  11. Turn the thermostat down in the day and have on for 30 minutes to an hour when family is all together.
  12. Make tea in a flask to save putting the kettle on every time you want a drink.
  13. Don’t use the tumble dryer or dry your clothes on a hanger until 90% dry and finish it off in the dryer for the last ten. minutes. This is great for keeping towels and other things fluffy and soft.
  14. Batch cook so you make a number of meals in one go, to save using the oven or cooking every night.
  15. Meal plan so you can have days where you don’t use the oven at all.
  16. Wear more layers.
  17. If you have a duvet that fits together as two parts, separate it and put a duvet cover on each part and this traps the air between the layers and can keep you warmer.
  18. Swap the electric tooth brushes for battery ones or non powered.
  19. Tuck curtains behind the radiators.
  20. Put curtains up over doors.
  21. Turn off radiators in rooms you don’t use.
  22. Use energy saving bulbs.

What I Spent Last Week

£42.41 Takeaway for 4

£8.87 Macdonalds

£49.46 Petrol

£45.00 Faulty wiring on car indicator

£71.96 Petrol

£3.60 Vinted refund

£15.00 Jellycat Toy

£16.23 Cat litter, cat biscuits and sweets

£45.99 Dry dog food

£10.00 Cash spent on food shopping

£10.00 Next – tights for party

£62.00 Next – Dress for party

£15.00 Cakes for Mothers Day

Total £395.52

Extra expenses due to petrol and the party but only £70.00 put on the credit card for my dress and tights. I plan to pay that off as an extra payment when I get paid next week. With hopefully a little more too.

Takeaways were down this week as well which is great. I have decided to do only have one a week, although last week I did two which was down to circumstances as opposed to me just being lazy. I have decided that we will go for a Macdonalds on Thursdays as it’s usually a late finish due to a club my daughter goes to.

£121.42 spent on petrol to include 400 miles round trip up North and a 500 mile round trip down South! I was given some money towards petrol which I used on the food shopping and to put even more petrol in.

£45.00 on faulty wiring on my cars indicator. 😦 … after I paid £100 for tyres last week. Hope this car isn’t going to cost me loads again like last year!

£3.60 back to a customer on Vinted. They weren’t happy with what I sent, apparently it had a small hole in which I’d not noticed. To be honest I had sold them in the week my brother died so my head was all over the place and I clearly hadn’t checked them well enough. It’s certainly not my style so I refunded it immediately, told her to keep them and apologised profusely.

£62.22 on pet food (plus a small bag of sweets for the chilc). I tend to buy anything relating to the pets in bulk so it’s good quality food at a cheaper price. Same for cat litter and cat biscuits.

£15.00 Jellycat for a toy for my daughter. She had an outstanding school report after me attending a parents evening and I said I’d get her something as a treat. I also spent £15.00 on cake treats for Mothering Sunday! A close friend who is a chef and has his own business makes these incredible edible flower pots and they are so cute and taste amazing! We had them last year, so when I saw he was advertising them again, I knew I couldn’t pass on them. Will show you the pictures when I pick them up.

Finally, I have something up my sleeve that is so big that’s it’s going to blow you all away! But I can’t tell you yet because I don’t want to jinx it – sorry for the huge carrot dangling moment. I can let you know in a week or so even if it falls through. What I will say is this a dream for me, one I have been manifesting for years, with the universe pulling what can only be explained as so many strings, so if it pulls off, I am going to be ecstatic, shocked and grateful. Keep everything crossed for me 🙂

Hope you have a great week,

H

Money Wise Talks 10/03/2022

I feel like I’ve been away for ages, but it’s only been a few weeks.

Time has stood still since losing my little brother. And the motivation to do anything disappeared entirely.

Grief is a crazy thing isn’t it. One minute your eating a bag of crisps, next minute your crying into them. And I still can’t believe he’s gone. Taken far too soon at 34 years. Life is really cruel.

It’s made me feel abit like I want to go ‘YOLO’, but I know I’ll be undoing all the good habits I have been building, abeit not perfectly but with definite effort on my part.

In terms of my money, I’ve not been tracking it and feel it has got out of hand. However, I have not used my credit card at all and even cash flowed two bald tyres on the car.

What I have Spent This Week

£15.80 Hobby Craft for World Book Day

£3.50 Next T Shirt for World Book Day

£17.40 Tesco

£13.61 Just Eat – Takeaway

£3.00 Drinks

£17.30 Just Eat – Takeaway

£100 Two car tyres

£0.87 Car Parking

£10.38 Macdonalds

£5.99 Football

£20.00 Donation to Epli

£10.18 Macdonalds

£60.36 Morrisons

£10.00 Cash (just in case cash – still got it)

£42.65 Petrol (to drive to funeral 250 miles away)

Total £331.04

It’s definitely as bad as I thought. My absolute worse habit at the moment is takeaways. If I’m tired or down I have zero energy to cook so always, and unfortunately more often than not, reach for a takeaway. I’m not going to be to hard on myself after what our family has just been through, but it is one of the things I’d like to do better on for the rest of this month. I’m not going to say we won’t be having any takeaways because that won’t happen, but I think trying to have just one a week at the most would be a good start.

I’ve nearly paid off my MBNA card now with two lines to go worth a total of £156.74. It doesn’t feel like it’s taken me that long to pay off now looking back when I started it in October. Once this is paid off I will keep it free and available for when my Barclaycard comes off the balance transfer rate at the end of the year so I can transfer the balance across for 0%.

With Barclaycard, I currently have a total of £5299.51 not at 0% and £6151.36 on 0% so when MBNA is paid off I’ll be putting everything I can at this to clear as much as possible off the £5299.51, so when the other amount comes off 0%, I can hopefully transfer the lot onto MBNA for 0% again.

Having a plan for my money now I’m earning more definitely needs to be my main focus now and intend to pick myself up and make it a priority again.

Thank you to my readers that have stuck with me whilst I took a few weeks off from writing. Your messages and support has not gone unnoticed and I am entirely grateful to you all.

H

Money Wise Talks 17/02/2022

This is turning out to be one of the best weeks!

I won’t keep you waiting ….I GOT THE PROMOTION!!

I found out yesterday and am still smiling ear from ear. I just can’t believe it! I am so very proud of myself and proof that if you work hard and DON’T give up, you really can get what you want.

As you may know, I left teaching last year. It was such a hard decision because I’d not only left a great career in banking to pursue a career in teaching, a career I thought would be best as a single parent … LOL! But because after leaving the bank, I’d then gone on to do a full time degree in biology and a one year teaching degree. All when my daughter was only two! Let me tell you, it was bloody hard work!

So four years of hard work to then decide teaching wasn’t for me. What a nightmare. But after months and months of not seeing my daughter and being so unhappy I knew I had to leave. I had no idea what I was going to do and was working at an agency at the time just to make a bit of money. I wasn’t earning much though, just a minimum wage. I’d not been on minimum wage since 1998 so was feeling pretty low.

That’s when I decided to go back to banking. It was a career I’d done for over ten years and I enjoyed it so why not. But what role to do? Whilst I was pondering what role I wanted to go into at the bank, a friend of mine told me about a job going at an organisation she’d just started to work at. She said it was perfect for me with my previous experience of banking and teaching. I looked at it, liked what I saw, went for it AND GOT IT.

I started with an agency but worked for the organisation and smashed through my training. I really enjoyed it. I worked from home, wasn’t on minimum wage anymore and only worked for 37 hours a week. I had never had so much time off in my life lol! I loved the extra time with my daughter, no commute, no paying breakfast club or doggy day care. It was a dream. AND I LOVED IT!

I knew this was the place for me and after a small interview I was successful in gaining permanent employment on 4 January 2022. Now I was a permanent member of staff I could work overtime, which was double pay. OMG – This meant I could give up my courier job which I had been doing the last 18 months in attempt to pay off the debt quicker.

My daughter was made up! No more freezing mornings in the car driving around delivering parcels. Secretly I miss it, but I do have to think of her aswell.

Pretty much as soon as I started working for this organisation, I had my eyes on the next role as I thought it would be perfect for me. It still had an element of case work which I love doing but then you also looked at the more complex cases and training new starters. I thought this role would encompass all my skills into one. But then the doubt starting setting in and I starting thinking about whether I should consider going for a promotion when I’d only been there officially 2 weeks (by the time I’d put the application in). “Stuff it”, I thought, “what’s the worse that can happen?”.

So I applied, had the interview last week and got it!! I’m still in shock but can’t wait to start my new role.

And it’s £6000 more a year – that’s £500 a month! WOWSERS!

What will this mean for my debt pay off journey? Hopefully it means I can bring my debt free date forward from July 2023 but I haven’t worked it out yet. I have an idea of what my new monthly income will be and will be soon redoing my budget to maximise the time so I can debt free sooner.

As you know for February, I haven’t really set many finance goals. I knew this month and next would be expensive so wanted to take the pressure off myself and this has resulted in me spending millions (in my eyes).

From Spa days (mums present) to giant vet bills to half term, this month has been an expensive one! And a naughty one with most being put on the credit card 😦

What I Have Spent This Week

£10.30 Takeaway

£9.98 Macdonalds

£149.45 Vets

£10.73 Birthday cards, valentines card and gift for daughter

£35.28 Morrisons

£310 Spa day

£16.00 spa breakfast

£32.97 Dinner, cinema and snacks

Total £574.71

WOW! Told you it was bad!

Even without the usual analysis I do with my weekly spend, it easy to see that I am spending too much on takeaways. It’s also obvious I am going out a little more with my daughter and family and friends which I’m not going to beat myself up about. It rarely happens and these last few weeks it seems to have come all at once.

I just can’t wait to know what my bottom line is that I’ll be bringing in so I can redo my budget.

I usually run my budget month by month as it worked well when I was being paid weekly from the agency, but now I am being paid on the 25th every month, I think I’m going to run my budget from 25th to 24th. I’m also going to rejig what I put into the sinking funds which should allow enough in them that they cover the costs like the vet bills without them being put on a credit card.

I also need to think about whether I want to continue the focus on the emergency fund or spread amount over the next 12 months. I have saved £750 in the emergency fund so far, so only have £2250 to go. This is saved into the Help to Save (HTS) account at £50 per month and then the rest into a cash ISA. By the end of the year, I’ll have put another £500 into the HTS, which leaves me needing to put £1750 into the ISA. If I split that into payments from the end of Feb to end of Dec it works out at £160 a month. (1750/11=159.09). Or I could just focus on putting £1750 into the ISA now and leave the debt overpayments until it’s done.

I don’t suppose it matters either way, but I feel I need to get back to paying off debt again and I need the emergency fund building before my car dies. Maybe I’ll do both! Will let you know what I decide next week 🙂

Have a great week

H

Money Wise Talks 10/2/2022

Do you ever have one of those weeks where the whole week goes by and you have absolutely no clue what you’ve done or if anything has happened?

Well, that’s been my week!

I’ve had the all important two day interview for the promotion at work. Still don’t know how it went. I think most of it went well. I made a couple of errors on my written test 😦 and my mind went completely blank when answering one of the questions but the rest went ok.

Did I give my best?

I think I did, but on reflection I’m thinking I could have done better. Urgh, hate the wait but I should find out next week.

But I want the job. I really really want it. No, I don’t just want it, I need it.

I really can’t go another year or so paying off this debt before I do anything else with my life. It’s so boring!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way!

I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel going full pelt and getting nowhere.

I don’t like being a negative Nelly so will try to look at the situation rationally.

I think that I’m feeling so impatient because I have gone from weekly pay to monthly and therefore I have to wait the whole month before making any dent in my plans. That’s the obvious reason anyway. I think I’m also feeling flat because I’m not overpaying on my debt. It’s weird that it makes me feel like this, but if I’m not overpaying on the debt it makes me feel physically sick. It’s like I’m choosing to be in this current position forever.

In January I paid £529.73 to debt. The majority of that is minimum payments apart from a couple of extra payments to the MBNA card.

My side hustles in January came in at £379.22 (£375.22 from courier work and £4 from Vinted). Not bad but did include the extra parcels I delivered in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

February Goals

For February, I decided to have a rest from financial goals and focus on getting more sleep and exercise. I still want to track my no spend days as I’d made a new Owl No Spend Tracker to try out. However, I can confirm that this last week has been shocking!

I did join the council gym though. I know it’s an extra expense but I really need to start going for my health. Since I’ve stopped teaching and working from home, I literally just sit around on my laptop all day. Also, I’m not getting any younger and don’t want to be someone that starts looking after themselves before it’s too late and damage is already done. I managed to get a rolling monthly gym membership so can cancel anytime I like. It’s only 22.99 per month, which is pretty cheap in comparison.

Emergency Fund Update

I have a total of £750 in the Emergency Fund now against a target of £3000, so only £2250 left to go!

Not paying the council tax this month helped me to put a little extra in. I’m hoping I’ll be able to pay a good chunk of cash in there on payday too.

TMWM Energy Experiment

With the huge hikes in energy bills this year, last month I decided to do a little experiment to see if I could reduce my energy consumption and see what that would look like in pounds saved.

Part 1 :-

The first part of the experiment, which ran for 31 days from 4 January 2022 to 4 February 2022 was just to see what my actual usage was for gas and electricity from our normal daily life.

Part 2 :-

The second part of the experiment which runs from 4 February 2022 to 4 March 2022 will be where the heating is reduced, plug sockets are switched off at the wall and not left on standby, lights are always turned on and lots more.

When the experiment is complete I will compare usage of gas and electricity between the two months and see what difference (if any) it makes to my bills. I will do a full post on this because I will include all the amounts and costs I currently pay on my gas and electric – will keep you all informed!

What I Have Spent This Week

£19.76 Gym membership for Feb

£35.11 Morrisons Food

£10.20 Tesco snacks

£1.79 Morrisons – cheese!

£103.00 Vets

£65.00 Petrol

£90.00 Meal, drinks, taxi there and back

Total £315.86

Vet bill was due from the dog having a consultation because she was limping :(. Luckily it was nothing serious but she was given an anti-inflammatory to help. She was also due flea and worming treatment. This was put onto the credit card, as I only had £80.00 in the vets sinking fund. I’ve also got both cats due their boosters, flea and worm so this is going to be an expensive month and will all be going on the credit card.

Anyone else have sinking funds but still not got enough funds to cover things!

Just going slightly off topic here, but my daughter and I were in a pet shop at the weekend picking up some bits and she asked to have a rabbit, gerbil or hamster and I said no. Being the animal lover I am, I have always said yes but my mind seemed to work a little differently this time and I started to think about the long term costs of having a pet and not just about how lovely it would be. We spoke about it and discussed food costs, toys, costs to get them looked after if we went away and also vet bills. It was such a grown up conversation, and not just for my daughter, but for both of us! And ultimately, we both decided it was for the best we didn’t have anymore – I mean we do have 1 dog, 2 cats and 2 fish!

Petrol costs of £65.00 but this was for a full tank. I was fed up of going every week so I think this should cover me until I get paid. I think I will change the weekly budget for petrol to monthly just to save time. I hardly use my car now which is great so going monthly should work.

First night out of the year with a girl friend from uni! I was so excited to be out after 7pm and have a catch up. We ate amazing Mexican food and drank lots of passionfruit martini’s and even though it cost an absolute fortune, it was worth it! I was even home for 11:30pm – I’m such a lightweight!

I’m off out again next week with my ‘Gossip Girls’ with dinner and a cinema date. I can’t wait to see them! Although I won’t be spending close to what I spent on Saturday!

You know as I’m writing this blog post, I’m seeing a common theme of spend, spend, spend! I guess this what happens when you stop the focus. I think sometimes it’s needed though, as it can be really restrictive. I mean, I’m still on my journey towards debt freedom but also want the balance of having a life. Hard isn’t it. Especially when you’ve been on the same, boring journey for so long. February and March are usually expensive months for me anyway as I have my mums and daughters birthday and then there’s mothers day. So, I’m going to give myself a break and stop being so hard on myself.

Hope you all have a great week

H

Money Wise Talks 03/02/2022

Welcome to the first Money Wise Talks of the month!

Considering I am usually very motivated by the start of a new month and love reviewing goals from the last month and setting new ones, this month I’m not feeling it at all.

I’ve been thinking of taking a month off from setting goals and maybe how I feel at the moment is a sign that this month is the right time to do it. The journey of me paying down debt has taken a back seat whilst I build my emergency fund to £3000 (a figure that came about after me paying just over £2000 in car repairs last year). I have saved £650 so far and have £2350 left to go.

I am hoping my wages in February will have my overtime and the monies back from when I paid emergency tax in January and then I can look to pay a large amount into the emergency fund. My plan was to have £3000 saved by the end of March 2022.

At the end of January I totalled my debt up and it stands at £16,666.85.

The debt has still reduced since December, but only by £28.57. Which although is pretty disappointing, I have spent on my card and it was expected.

I had some good news this week and started to receive weekly amounts in from child maintenance service (CMS) again. These stopped completely last year so it’s nice to see them again. Unfortunately, I am unable to rely on them as they are so sporadic, so don’t include them in my monthly income figures. I am currently using the money that comes in to pay down the MBNA card – which I am pleased to report is nearly paid off!!

In this last week I have sent two payments of £78.37, so have been able to colour two lines 🙂

And I only have £391.85 left to pay on the MBNA card before it’s paid off in full!! Although, since December interest is now being applied so it may be a little more than that. It won’t be much though.

The No Spend Month lost a little momentum by the end of the month and I ended up having another out of budget spend. That being said, I had a total of 18 no spend days which isn’t bad at all.

For February I have made a new Owl No Spend Days Tracker which looks to track days of no spend and spend, instead of it being based around whether I’ve stuck to a budget or not. Clearly, I’ve not started strong but I hope to have 20 no spend days.

You can of course download it for free :). Let me what you think of it in the comments below.

I successfully completed Dry January, yippee but have no current plans to have another dry month yet lol! Let me know if you’re doing a Dry February. You can use my Dry For …. Tracker for free

What I Have Spent This Week

£7.76 MacDonalds

£35.00 Dog Groomed

£11.00 Single Duvet

£57.47 Daughters Coat, gloves and head torch

£20.68 Desserts

£8.46 Present for party and birthday card. Photo frame for us.

£ …… Morrisons

Total £139.38

Absolutely no idea what I spent in Morrisons for food and petrol! This is due to me using cash and not keeping the receipt. As soon as I get home, I scan the receipt into a receipt scanning app and then bin it. This WILL definitely be a learning point for me to take forward this next week.

My daughter was in desperate need of a new coat and gloves so I bought them from Mountain Warehouse. I love buying from there and they had a 70% sale on which was even better! We also picked up a head torch for her camping trip she is due to go on in September. They will soon have a kit list and that will be one of the items, so my plan is to get something off the list each month so it’s not a huge expense.

My daughter also went to her first birthday party in two years! It was so nice to see her socialising with friends from school. I never spend much on presents and managed to pick up a lovely stationary set for £3.99, a pop it key chain for £1.49 and card for 99p. All those gifts looked alot more expensive than they were anyway!

The £20.68 I spend on desserts was ridiculous! However, in my defence I am starting the gym and a new healthy eating regime so wanted one last blow out before I did that – Lol, how my mind works sometimes makes me howl!

Finally, I have my interview set for Monday and Tuesday – it’s over two days! Monday is a written test and Tuesday is a mentoring exercise and then the panel interview. So the next time I write my Weekly Money Wise Talks, I’ll be able to tell you all about it. I really want this job, so I hope I get it 🙂

Hope you all have a great week 🙂

H

Money Wise Talks 27/01/2022

This week has been an absolute whirlwind!

From being paid my first months salary at my new job, to the realisation I forgot to give them my P45 and was then taxed at the emergency tax rate to then being offered an interview for the promotion I applied for!

My nerves are a wreck lol!

Anxiety is through the roof.

Anyone else feel like this or is it just me? Life is so UP and Down isn’t it?!

The plan was – be paid for the month so I could see what the minimum was I would take home after tax, national insurance and my student loan payments were deducted. When I saw that I’d been paid so little, I checked the tax code that had been applied and BOOM – Emergency tax code – and an extra £300 gone 😦

I then spent the next hour pausing standing orders to our ISA’s and the payments to the sinking funds. Luckily by doing this I have found the £300 needed to make the other payments on my fixed bills like rent, utilities and credit cards.

I’m such an idiot lol.

I have now given my employer my P45 and they have confirmed it will be all sorted for February. I hope I’m given the money back next month so I can make double payments to the ISA’s and sinking funds.

Just before I started typing this blog post tonight, I received the most wonderful news that I have been invited for an interview for a promotion at my new job. I know I’ve only been there for a few months but believe I would do a brilliant job in that role.

If I did get it, it would be a huge payrise and my debt free date could even be brought forward! Ekk exciting!

The worse that can happen is I don’t get it. But at least I will know the interview process and will be better prepared next time.

I’ve been trying to cut our variable expenses down even further and managed to save an extra £124 a year by reducing the number of times I go to the hairdresser over the year. When I go the hairdressers I don’t have anything fancy but like to get my roots done as soon as the grey starts coming through.

  • Going every four weeks means I’d go 17 times a year = £31.00 x 17 = £527
  • Going every three weeks means I’d go 13 times a years = £31.00 x 13 = £403
  • The saving difference = £124!

I know using box dyes would save me even more, but I find they don’t go well with my curly hair, so this is the next cheapest option. I stopped having my eyebrows tinted and waxed and my nails done so am happy to leave the roots to the hairdresser. It makes me feel SO OLD when I have grey hair and unlike others who look trendy and cool when they allow the grey to come through, I look washed out and aged.

No Alcohol Update

I’m 27 days alcohol free! Whoohoo.

I’m not a huge drinker anymore, probably because I hardly go out but if I had a bottle of my favourite from Asda every week it would cost £5.99. This saved over four weeks is £23.96. It’s only a little saving but it all adds up.

Over the year that’s a whopping £311.48

I have no plans to stop drinking for a whole year though. I stopped for a year in 2018/2019 and although I felt great and saved loads of money and calories, I don’t want to do it this year. And hopefully with covid restrictions easing off I can finally get out, see some friends and have some much needed cocktails.

No Spend Month Update

It’s not going too bad, I started the month quite strong (as everyone does) but have become a little more relaxed as the end of the month approaches. It’s always the way isn’t it.

So far I have:

  • 15 days No Spend
  • 7 days In Budget Spend
  • 5 days Out of Budget Spend

The 5th Out of Budget spend was today! But in my defence, it’s a treat for me and my mum. An expensive one lol. Half for her birthday and half for just wanting to do something special with her. She may read this so I’m not going to put anything on here about it until after the event lol!

For February, I am not going to do a No Spend Month, but focus on the number of no spend days and to only use cash. My budget for the next four weeks (until payday) is £50 a week which will cover our food and petrol. My mums birthday will be a separate expense. When I remember to go to the bank this week, I’ll be drawing out £200 in cash and will split it into weekly pots for food and petrol.

Other things I’m going to do to GET BACK TO BASICS are:

  • Take my cards out of my purse and phone wallet.
  • Meal plan – I’m going to try and do this for the month instead of the week to see if that makes a difference

What I’ve Spent this Week

£11.96 Just Eat, takeaway

£6.99 Car Wash

£15.99 Hello Fresh

£24.15 Morrisons Food Shopping

£18.49 Home Bargain, Cat Food, sinking fund

£31.00 Hair, sinking fund

£10.00 Morrisons Petrol

£42.00 Clarks, daughter school shoes

£2.99 Superdrug, leave in conditioner

Total £163.57

I’ve spent this week on things I wouldn’t usually buy, like a car wash and Hello Fresh. I paid for a car wash just because I ran out of time at the weekend and didn’t get chance to do it. It desperately needed it done as I couldn’t even see the number plate it was that dirty lol! I’m not going to beat myself up about it though. There’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done is there?!

Hello Fresh was something I tried for the first time as a friend had a voucher to get some money off. I’m really enjoying the different meals we are having but my daughter is not a fan. It’s a nice treat but not in our budget to have every week. Great news though, Hello Fresh give you the recipes so I can cook any favourites anytime I like!

The shoes are from Clarks and are always super expensive. I’ve tried other cheaper brands but they just don’t cut it and I end up replacing them more often. So the cost you originally save, you end up spending anyway on extra pairs. I always think with shoes, buy cheap buy twice but that’s only my view. If you know of any other cheaper brands that don’t fall apart, please let me know as I’d LOVE to save some money on shoes.

Thanks for reading and for all your comments. Have a great week!

H

Money Wise Talks 20/01/2022

Why does it always feel like there are 9 million days in January! Payday can’t come soon enough!!

I guess that’s the downfall of being paying monthly, you have to wait to be paid!

As you know, I have just gone permanent at my main job and will be receiving my first months pay this month. Once I have received it, I’ll know exactly what the bottom line is that I’ll be bringing home and I can start planning on exactly where my money is going.

I have my debt free date set for July 2023 but this is dependent on £800 a month being paid off debt so I need to make sure I can afford this much. I am 99% sure I can, as I’m on the same salary as before when I worked on a temporary contract but I like to see the actual figure first.

Now I’m on a permanent contract I can also do overtime on a Saturday which is DOUBLE TIME!! Whoo-hoo!

I have done the overtime for the last two Saturdays as well as doing the courier work on Sundays and IT WAS A LOT. I know I want to be debt free and want to buy a property but I don’t want to spend the next year completely exhausted. And I want to spend some time with my daughter whilst she still wants to spend time with me before she hits the dreaded teenager years!

So, I made an absolutely huge decision to NOT DO COURIER WORK ANYMORE!

I wrote down a list of pros and cons and decided it was a better choice all round to stop.

Pros – Overtime

  • More money
  • Work from home
  • No cold/wet/windy days
  • No having to drag my daughter out of bed
  • No dragging myself out of bed
  • Daughter doesn’t have to be bored
  • No wear and tear on my car

Pros – Courier work

  • I liked it
  • Exercise

One of reasons I wanted to carry on with doing courier work was for the most part I really enjoyed it! I would rave about it each week on my Instagram page and still think it’s a fantastic job to do especially as a parent and the struggles around childcare. Whether that’s being able to find work only during school hours or find childcare outside school hours, it’s bloomin hard work! For me, being a courier ticked all those boxes.

I always did it on a Sunday, mainly because Sundays you make the most money per parcel and I gave myself Saturday off. I have always worked full time in the week doing my main job so courier work was extra to help me pay off the debt quicker. I took my daughter along and never worried about childcare – it was perfect.

But now I’ve been given an even better opportunity and a chance to make some extra money, working from home, whilst nice and warm so of course I’m going to take it!

I will miss courier work, but onwards and upwards.

I have just found out there isn’t any overtime on this weekend (it’s usually on 3 times a month) so for the first time since August last year I have the WHOLE WEEKEND off!

Not going to lie I am definitely looking forward to having two lie ins and spending some quality time with my girl.

No Spend Month Update

It’s going well in terms of the number of days I am NOT spending. So far this month I have only had two days where I have spent outside of the budget. The first time was a swimming bag for my daughter and the second was on a deposit for the holiday I have booked for me and my daughter to go on.

12 / 20 no spend days

6 / 20 In budget spend days

2 / 20 Out of Budget

I had planned for no holidays until I was debt free, but I had also planned to be debt free in December 2021 which clearly didn’t go to plan.

Having yet another year of no holidays just made me feel so flat.

I think it’s really hard to be motivated for years when paying off debt. And that’s what it’s been for me. I started to focus on paying my debt when I had £35,907.04 in 2019.

The fact we have yet ANOTHER YEAR AND A HALF to go before the debt is paid off, I decided I would get us a small holiday abroad booked this year. Therefore I am pleased to announce we are going out of the country for a whole day! 😊 😊 😊

Yes, you heard it right! A WHOLE DAY!

I have wanted to take my daughter to Lapland for a few years and looking at the prices around Christmas for a 3-day break, you’re talking £2500! And that was for half board only! I know I said I wanted to go somewhere amazing and I’m sure it will be, but £2500 for 3 days is insane.

I just can’t justify it.

Therefore, I have compromised. We are going to Lapland but on a day trip instead. It’s probably going to be the longest day of our lives as everything will be jam packed into the day, but I can’t wait.

We are going to have a husky sledge ride, see igloos, reindeers, the ice hotel, have lots of snowball fights and of course see the real Santa!

The cost is £1385.11 and that is with £200 off. It includes airport parking and insurance.

I have promised myself this will be cash flowed and will not go near the credit card. I have already paid the deposit of £176.91. The next amount is due April with the full amount paid by September. My plan is to pay a little bit off each month so by the time September comes it will be fully paid. That works out at £151.15 per month.

The TUI app has a countdown on it’s app, so I know we have 331 days left until we go! Ekk Exciting Stuff!

I can’t wait. My girl is growing up so fast it’s scary, so I want her to go before she gets to high school and the Christmas sparkle starts to disappear.

It’s made me realise, you don’t have to put absolutely everything on hold whilst you pay off debt. And as long as it doesn’t affect my debt free date of July 2023, I’m actually happy to spend a little on us making memories.

No Alcohol in January Update

This is going absolutely fine with 20 days of no drinking. I’ve had the odd craving, probably caused by the fact there is still alcohol in the house and when I see it next to the fridge, I want one lol! But other than that, not bothered at all.

I do have a catch up with friends in the diary for next month where cocktails will be had so I don’t plan to continue with the no alcohol challenge but I have enjoyed it and will do it again.

What I Have Spent This Week

£55.98 Pet Food

£34.00 Remote Control

£30.00 Petrol

£70.42 Food

£28.47 Takeaway

£176.91 Holiday deposit

£11.96 Takeaway

£102.73 Tax Bill

Total £510.47

Blimey, I’d not realised how much I’d spent this week. Quite a lot when you see it written down like this instead of looking at a banking app.

Petfood is covered by a sinking fund which I pay £50 a month into. This covers our two cats and dog for all their food, treats, toys etc…. I always buy the pet food in bulk as it works out cheaper and lasts longer.

Petrol was within the normal weekly budget of £30.00.

Food was over the usual budget of £30 as I decided to try some new things on top of what we usually buy, just incase we don’t like them. I am also in the process of getting some money back. I use an app called Shopmium, where products are listed are either free or have money off. Once you buy the product, you scan the receipt and the product and complete a review of what you think the product is like. After a few days Shopmium pay’s you through PayPal. I should receive £5.40 back for products I tried this last week.

If you fancy signing up to Shopmium, here’s the link https://www.shopmium.com/uk/referral/ek5c5v it’s completely free and if you use my referral code you get a free pack of pringles (the big tub!) Just enter this referral code: EK5C5V.

Our remote control broke, so I had to buy a new one. I couldn’t believe how expensive it was, but I wanted to get the exact same as the one that had broken as I hate trying to work out technology. It wasn’t until I realised that I bought a remote control you can talk to that then I realised why it was so expensive! My daughter however thinks it’s amazing!

A couple of naughty takeaways this week, one because my parents came over on Saturday to help me so I of course fed them with the most gigantic pizza ever! 18 inches of pure cheesy amazingness!

Final Exciting News

I have applied for a promotion at my new job! I know I’ve only been there for a few months and have only just been made permanent but I feel it’s a perfect job for me and thought, just go for it! What’s the worst that can happen?

I mean, if I got it, I’ll finally be back to the same salary I was on when I worked in finance in 2014. Also, it will have an element of providing training to others which I’ll love as I still have a passion to teach! If I don’t get it this time, I’ll definitely try again. That’s one of my yearly goals – GET THAT PROMOTION!

Hope you all have a great week, let me know if you use any of the trackers I make. They are free to download here. I would really appreciate anyone’s feedback!

Thanks for reading

H

How to Plan a Christmas Budget

It’s January, so let’s talk Christmas!

Ha Ha – No really!

It’s the New year and the perfect opportunity to reflect on the previous year and of course the Christmas spending!

  • Did you stay in budget?
  • Did you have enough saved for everything you wanted to do?
  • Are you saving now for Christmas?

If you answered no to any of the above, I would get your thinking caps on and start planning Christmas now in January!

For a few years now, I have saved a monthly amount for Christmas in an instant access account. I have a regular payment, known as a standing order, that leaves my bank account a few days after payday every month and is transferred straight into the account. I don’t have to think about it as it’s automatically done.

If you have followed me for a while, you’ll realise I am still tweaking this amount to suit our needs and still haven’t quite got it right – but I’m getting there!

My intention is to have an amount that covers absolutely everything, so cards, presents, wrapping paper, postage, Christmassy days out and gifts that I always forget about until the last minute – teacher gifts, pets and stocking fillers!

The ultimate goal for me is to complete Christmas without a single pound spend on a credit card but this is going to take some serious planning. I still think it can be done though.

Over the years, I have made a list of everyone I wanted to buy for and put down an amount of what I wanted to spend. Although this has worked for most part, I have never given myself an amount as a contingency and also never thought about including Christmas days out and activities.

As you know, Christmas activities are usually super expensive anyway so this needs to be definitely factored into the budget. And it’s something we always love to do so I’m not prepared for us to stop doing something we get so much out of.

Just the memory of us at Christmas spending £24.00 on four marshmellow sticks that we roasted over an open fire and had covered in chocolate still sends shivers through my ‘trying to be frugal, without ruining Christmas’ brain. I mean, I want to do these things – occasionally as treats but also want them to be accounted for. Even if they have to be labelled as the category, ‘the most ridiculous things to spend – NO BLOW, your cash on’!

Wouldn’t it be lovely to save an amount for Christmas and NOT use it all up so you had some left to roll over? I mean that would seriously be the dream.

So, let the planning for Christmas commence!

1) Write a list of people you want to buy for. Remember to include pets, neighbours, teachers and anyone else who usually forget (if you’re like me anyway!).

2) Set REALISTIC budget/s. I say realistic because there is no point in thinking I am going to be really good and only spend £10 on this person, if in reality, the last ten years you’ve spent £100 on them.

3) Add a small budget for contingencies and slight over spends. YOU’RE NOT PERFECT AND THAT’S OK! You don’t have to use it but it’s there as a Christmas emergency fund if you need it.

4) Think about what activities you would like to do at Christmas (if any) and price up how much it’s going to cost. What I found last year, is by leaving the booking of these activities till Summer it meant they were booked up or the prices went up so they were super duper expensive . In fact, last Autumn when I tried to book Lapland UK, it was booked up completely for the whole of December! So last Summer, I ended up making a diary note for January this year to book for the coming Christmas. That’s how far advance you need to think about these things. Another thing, by booking things out of season you may get them cheaper. WIN WIN!

5) Check your wrapping, cards and Sellotape stock. What will you need to buy? Could you buy it now out of season cheaper?

6) Check what you spend on food and alcohol last year whilst it’s still fresh in your mind and use that as your food budget.

7) Are you planning to buy the family matching pj’s this Christmas? How much will they cost and add this into your budget.

8) What were the costs from the kids activities this year? Parties, donations, fairs etc. How much did that cost?

9) Do you already know of some expensive gifts that people may already want, that you can start saving for now?

In answering all these types of questions, it will help you to have an idea of the type of Christmas you want and most importantly can afford, without getting into debt – or further into debt.

I have made another couple of trackers for saving for Christmas, which as always can be downloaded for free. This one is Saving for Christmas in 12, for if you want to save on a monthly basis. You can colour each part as your savings grow.

This Saving for Christmas in 52 is if you want to save weekly, so it will have 52 pictures to colour in – Coming soon!

I find seeing savings grow or debt decreasing visually using trackers and money pots really encouraging for me and it keeps me motivated. See if it works for you. I’ve even got my mum into them now, ha ha ha!

In 2020 I saved £40 a month and 2021 I saved £50 a month. Both of these amounts haven’t worked for me so don’t be afraid to get it wrong and try again. Maybe this year I’ll get the amount right!

This year I’m going to save £80 a month. I’m still tweaking my list of who to buy for and what budget I want to spend on each person. I’m even considering not buying for some this year. Not in an awful way but I feel I have to be realistic. I also hope this year I don’t over spend at all. In 2020 I over spend by about £900 and in 2021 I overspend by £300. And unfortunately it all went on a credit card 😦

But although I overspent, I still noticed a huge difference in my attitude towards money and the choices I made this year compared to last. I was more thoughtful on what I spent the money on. For example this year I said no (to myself) to buying the matching family pj’s, amongst other things. And noticeably, I spent £600 less than the previous year.

So I’m definitely not there yet, but I’m getting there!

What do you think about starting Christmas Planning early? Nuts or Definitely good to do? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading

H