Monday, 31 July 2017

Breakfast with a View

This week I have some time off work. Eldest and I decided to head out early(ish) and have breakfast with a view. Marmalade sandwiches at the top of the hill on a sunny morning were wonderful.
Old John tower looked gorgeous in the morning light, and we had the place to ourselves.
 I could have stayed for ages but the boy wanted to move on after he had taken some photos of his own. The path leads down to the stream came across lots of pretty deer. I was fascinated by their velvet covered antlers.
This visit to Bradgate Park was a simply wonderful start to my "staycation" week.
Jacquie x

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Thrifty Times :: Six Months On

Hello Lovelies,
back in early February I wrote my first post on my attempts at money saving. It's HERE if you want to take a look.

 So many kind people had great advice to share on that post and my subsequent monthly updates. Thank you.

My new year's resolution was to spend less and save more. So, how are things now?

Well I'm still attempting to cut costs on a day to day basis. I've got a better deal on the insurance for our second car this month, by using a price comparison web site.
 Previously we had been with the same company for 22 years!! I can't believe I was so lazy about that.
It turns out that my new company (who provided the cover for half the price) is actually a branch of my old company,  so I didn't even need to send proof of my no claims discount. Not that they admitted that. The letter just said  " we have managed to obtain proof of your no claims." Funny that :0)

I'm far from feeling relaxed and safe with regards to our financial situation though. We have suddenly had a lot of expense this month, then when hubby twisted his ankle it reminded me that as a sub-contracted worker he would get no pay if he couldn't work. That's still decidedly scary in my book.

It's at times like this that I am happy  I have been managing to over pay our mortgage every month for about 3-4 years now.

I've read so many inspiring stories about families being able to pay of their mortgages super early due to the combination of low interest rates and frugal living.

You might think "what's the point?" but interest rates can't stay low indefinitely and we could easily have a change in circumstances that made us worse off.
If I had my time again I would have paid off the maximum the lender would allow each month without penalties, from the very start.

But I guess I should not be too hard on myself. We have a largish family ( including 3 hungry teenagers)  and I have been trying to overpay where I can.
The general advice is that you should have a 3 to 6 month emergency fund before thinking about over-payments.....ummmm.

Summer brings the holiday season and we are lucky enough to afford a week away every year. Usually the balance goes on a credit card which is not paid off till Christmas. Then there are no Christmas savings and that goes on a credit card, which is not paid off  until it's time to pay for the next holiday. Crazy I know, but that's how things have been. However I'm not going to repeat that this year. 

Keeping an eye on day to day spending, along with shopping and cooking as frugally as possible means we can save up to afford these regular big expenses. This year we are going without lots of small treats and days out to fund a special holiday and I feel very fortunate we are in a position to do that. It's not a big splurge to some folk, but foreign holidays, however basic, are a big deal here.

So week in week out I'm trying to make sure we waste nothing. It's good for my purse and the environment. I picked up this book at the library recently and it's full of great suggestions for thrifty cooking and avoiding food waste.

I will be trying this in the autumn.

I'm still using basic Aldi bubble bath as hand wash.

works out at under 30p a 500ml bottle.

I'm eating strange but sometimes surprisingly tasty lunches made up of whatever needs using before it spoils.

I'm batch baking and batch cooking.

One Lemon drizzle cake for now and one to freeze.

Two Lasagnas using cooked chicken, one for now and one to freeze.

I stock up on things that I know we will need when I'm in the shop with the best offers.

Home Bargains in this case.

I'm squeezing the last little bit out of every jar and tube.

Here's a little round up of  the changes I have made so far this year.

1. Day to day shopping done using cash...when it's gone it's gone.
2. Meal planning to avoid food waste or running out of supplies.
3. Writing down all spending to be more aware of where our money goes.
4. Stopped buying "stuff" because it takes my fancy. Online and charity shops were my worst areas for this.
5. Changed insurers for our cars and home insurance. The total save on this is over £700! and it's so easy to do.
6. Shopping at budget supermarkets and ditching brands as much as possible.
7. Changing my bank account to one that gives access to regular savings accounts with the best interest rates. They are still quiet low but I'm determined to build an emergency fund and some interest is better than none.
8. Got a better deal on pay TV by changing supplier.
9. Decided not to upgrade my phone and changed to a sim only contract. This will be the same for our other phones as they come up for renewal.
10. Got rid of our BT landline and use the cable phone line that's included with our internet package. It's hardly used these days anyway.
11. Cancelled product support for a laptop we no longer use.
12. Bought LED light bulbs for the dimmer-switch lights that were still using the old fashioned bulbs.
13. Stopped dancing lessons which were working out rather more than I wanted to pay.
14. No take-away meals and only very occasional meals out for family gatherings.

There's probably more than this but it's all that I can think of at the moment.

Most of all I'm counting my blessings that my frugality can mean fun times and security for my family. I know it's not a choice for all.

Jacquie x

Saturday, 8 July 2017

A Hot Walk in Derbyshire

Hello Lovelies,
thank you all so much for the kind comments on my previous post.

 Today I'm sharing more summer views.  This time from last week's walk with my walking group. They are a very organised lot and thanks to the hard work of the committee we know six months walks in advance. How great is that.

So for what seems like ages, I have been especially looking forward to this walk. I love the peak district and the route was partly familiar, partly new to me. 

As we had quiet a long drive to the start point we set off at about 11am, and began climbing. It was warm work but thankfully there was a breeze as we got higher.

I loved the limestone walls and old farm buildings.

Not to mention the far reaching views.

This pretty ancient gatepost caught my eye.

After about 45 minutes we reached this lovely view.

and stopped for a drink. Members of the group will often bring treats to share when it's their birthday. Pam's home made lemon drizzle cake was sooo good.

I often feel a bit frustrated that we rush past things I would love to take better pictures of, but we had 9 miles to cover so I made the most of the stop to try and capture the beauty of the summer flowers and grasses.

The next section of the walk was beautifully cool, as we walked along the wooded hillside and emerged at this stunning and much photographed viewpoint. The panoramic vista from Monsal Head is really something special.

Next the walk followed a route hubby and I took back HERE. This walk was a lot hotter and the water looked very inviting :0)

It was great to see a good amount of water tumbling over the weir...and the trees still looking so beautifully fresh.

I was just telling the walk leader I had seen a Dipper here on my last visit, when she spotted one :0)

We walked happily beside the river Wye, which flows through Monsal dale. Everybody was glad of the shade and I thought this family had found the perfect spot for a paddle.

Perhaps to soon, it was time to climb again.

and leave the shade behind.

As we trudged up Deep Dale this handsome chap hopped across the footpath. Hello Mr Toad.

By 1pm people were beginning to wilt. And we looked for some shade to sit and eat lunch.
Here's my picnic spot, beneath a little Hawthorn tree.  My umbrella was usefully employed as a parasol this week :0)

People were dotted about on the hillside. I chose the highest tree and loved the view.

I will admit that Iwas rather glad nobody else joined me. Time to lie down and gaze up at the greenery above me.

and the pretty grasses and Harebells beside me. My only complaint was that the hillside was so steep I had to dig my heels in to stay put, so I couldn't really nod off :0)

The next section of the walk was hot, hot hot. No shade but great views towards Magpie Mine.

Making my own shade.

I love walking through pretty villages. Sheldon certainly came into that category.

As we left the village behind one of our group began to feel rather unwell. Heat exhaustion I supposed, so we made like the animals, and sat in the shade for a while.

Some cold water and a rest seemed to help and we began the final leg of our walk.

I was rather relieved when we all made it back.

 I absolutely loved this walk despite the heat. I only wished there had been more time to explore the BEAUTIFUL village of Ashford in the Water before it was time to head home

...oh and a paddle would have been great too :0)
Jacquie x