Spending – frugality

I am now focusing on my monthly expenses as I need to keep these down to keep within budgets and ideally, reduce my spending down by 8% overall so that I can officially be FI – as based on my original calculations I am just short of my target but jumped off the treadmill anyway.

I wondered how being at home all day in comparison to going out to work would impact my utilities costs. At the moment it has not made any difference. It is the summer though so it will be more appropriate to evaluate this in the autumn/winter. My recent bills show that water costs have remained the same (I am on a water meter) and my gas/electricity are lower. Some of this is due to the summer and part of it is down to the fact that my fridge thermostat had broken and was pretty much constantly on. Something you don’t notice when you are out all day – but soon notice when you are home 🙂 So I swapped the fridge for the one that I had been storing in my garage from my old house as a spare. I took the old one down the tip, the ‘new’ one is pretty old too (it must be about 10yrs old) but seems to be using less electricity based on my smart meter and the recent bill backs this up. I doubt this fridge will last too long so will keep an eye on discounts and sales to pick up a new ‘eco’ fridge when my finances allow.

The next two months will be hard on my outgoings as I have two family birthdays this month and insurance renewals – this month and next. This month I have to renew my BTL insurance – in typical style – I have gone online to get a quote and then my renewal email came through – if I just renew it blindly it will cost me £50 more than going for one of the new quotes – and that is with the same insurance company and, from what I can see, exactly the same policy. It is silly that a renewal is pushed up so much, I will be taking out one of the quotations instead.

I expect to be in the same position next month when my residential home insurance comes up. Last year the difference between the quotation and the renewal (for exactly the same policy/company) was £80! Yes, that is 30% difference based on the total cost of the policy. It just show shopping around makes a big difference and what really annoys me is that if you renew it still doesn’t make any difference to the policy terms – they still impose a XX-day claims exclusion period from the start of the policy (depends on the policy) – that annoys me too as it means that if anything happens during that XX-day period around your renewal date you are not covered – something that people don’t notice in the policy when they blindly renew, it is quite often in the small print terms and yet another way of getting out of playing out when the need arises – it is just unfair and wrong. The insurance companies should factor this into the costs for offering the policy not put these ‘get-out-of-paying’ clauses into the policies. (enough of my ranting 🙂 )

My food bills are the main area I need to work on, I spend too much each week on food. I buy fresh fruit and veg and this is costing me too much. I don’t waste any if at all possible, I will cook and freeze the fruit/veg if it looks like I will not be use in time to prevent it from being binned. I have started buying frozen veg instead where I can to reduce these costs. Cheaper, yet as good nutritionally as fresh and easier to keep.

I have also started to grow my own food: lettuce, chives, broad beans and tomatoes. The lettuce is a small success – it has provided some leaves but not enough – it was attacked by snails 😦 . The chives are a resounding success as they are growing well and providing a great source of ‘onion’ flavour to my dishes. The tomatoes are still a ‘work-in-progress’ they are just beginning to flower, they are a bit behind but now seem to be picking up and I should get some tomatoes from them at the end of next month or the month after. I grow them in my conservatory and in previous years this has been a great location and had provided a good crop.

I have been making my own flatbreads and pittas and these have worked out really well. I use recipes posted by Thrifty Lesley and these are now my favorite forms of bread. I very rarely buy bread.

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3 thoughts on “Spending – frugality

  1. Once in control of my own time I found that being outside much, much more all year round has a significant impact on my happiness, in doing that I got used to not being ‘heated’ so much. I only put the heating on in the late afternoon when the kids are home from school, if it’s really frost on the ground cold during the day I might chuck a couple of logs on a fire to thaw myself out, but being home has no impact on my gas bill.
    For landlord and domestic insurance, the best place I found for it this year was through quidco, prices were in line with other comparison sites with the eventual cashback taking it down a further 20% or so. Landlord insurance is still 2 to 3 times the price of my domestic insurance though, meh!
    My food bill is a mild irritant. Aldi is a 5 minute walk away, I cook from scratch, there is no waste… but our food bill is twice what it could be. Pets, slugs and a shady garden preclude any serious attempt at growing my own vegetables. I did however have a nice tasty herb garden going at one time but all I have now is a couple of vaguely perfumed rabbits.

    Although my own personal discretionary spending is minimal, my overall budgeting is pretty loose. I expect around £300 a month to evaporate in largely discretionary spending and that is fine, I don’t want to impose my values on my family.

    The key thing is that we live comfortably, no sacrifices have ever been made and it’s within 4% of the stash. In realising this I realised more completely that that gnawing feeling of “having” to go back to work “right now” was not rational, my children won’t go hungry or cold or homeless because of any action or inaction of mine.

    The thing with FI budgeting is that it’s never really about the bugdeting 🙂

    • Hi Nathan,

      Thanks for posting your experiences of freedom so far.

      I am a bit skeptical of quidco and other discount sites.. When I have searched using these in the past they have a habit of excluding some of the companies with good policies and prices. They have only offered selective policies which didn’t cover what I needed. When looking for mobile deals, I found that I was better off going with a deal not on a discount site rather than going with a deal on one – the discount deal offered less for the same price after the cashback was taken into account.

      My food buying habits have been lax, now I am trying to stick to a budget and a meal plan, my groceries expenses are starting to come down which is great. You are fortunate to have Aldi 5 minutes away – although that can also mean you visit more often as it is so local – …I just need xxxx…I will just go to Aldi… – something that is so easily done, maybe you need to ask the question – “do I really need it?”

      I need to learn what living comfortably is and if my freedom fund is ‘enough’ to cover this as I am 8% short on my original calculated target.

      It’s all a learning journey…..

  2. Well being in Britain you do have the gigantic advantage of Tescos and their mark downs of stuff near the sell by date. Another blogger Mean Queen in suffolk goes to Tescos after 7.30pm and gets stuff for 1/10 price, including fresh produce. Its almost like eating for free. There is no store in the US that does such drastic markdowns on food. They must just trash it all instead.

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