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Battening down the hatches

(118 Posts)
gracesmum Thu 13-Sep-12 09:16:00

Ouch! Credit card bill came yesterday. Since retiring I have made a point of clearing it every month, but the last 9 months have given it a bit of a hammering - 3 months of up and down from London when DH in hospital, then with his ESA stopped so I paid for any "extras" or treats, outfit for daughter's wedding etc etc Anyway, I panicked a bit, rushed to online savings account and took out shedloads of money to clear the card. Whew! However, can't really afford to do that again so Plan B comes into action:
My free signed copy of feeding your family for £5 a day is a move in the right direction, but I need to do more with the C season also approaching.
I have decided to bin mail order catalogues (bye bye Hotter, Kettlewell, Lakeland, Wall etc) on receipt, stop "cutting through" M&S and John Lewis just on the "off chance", stop looking at the Amazon Daily Deals (those 99p s can add up) and NOT BUY ANY CLOTHES . I have enought to "see me out as my Dad used to say, but that has never been a reason not to look, touch, try on and (not any more) buy.
My direct debits are things like Pet Insurance, so can't cut that out and I have also cancelled next hair appointment and willl be scouting around for cheaper alternative (my hairdresser took her DH to Dubai for his 40th! I must have been paying too much)
Popping up to the pub for lunch now and then is one of the few pleasures (sad old dear) in life as is meeting up with friends, but those who are still working think nothing of £20 for a quick supper and I can'tdo that every week.Other helpful suggestions gratefully received! I don't want to be miserable, just in control.

Greatnan Thu 13-Sep-12 09:32:49

Have you done a really honest budget, on paper - no being optimistic about bills? Buy a ruled ledger and make headings such as gas, electricity, phone, insurance, etc. and for three months enter all spending religiously. I find I can keep better control if I use my debit card rather than drawing cash. Euros in my wallet just tend to disappear!
I get a little kick out of having a budget week with food, when I have baked potatoes with grated cheese, sardines or baked beans on toast, chicken soup (one chicken leg makes enough for two days), salad with hard boiled egg, macaroni cheese. When I have guests or when I am on holiday, I like to eat well, so I need to balance that with my frugal weeks. Of course, it is much easier when you live alone!
I wait until the end of each month to see how much I have left from my pensions to transfer to my emergecy/travel fund. Some expenditure is unavoidable - in the last three months I have had to shell out for four new tyres and a complete exhaust system, plus a new fridge. Such items cannot be predicted which is why I need my emergency fund.
I have the additional advantage of having no shops around to tempt me, so most weeks I buy only food and petrol.

glammanana Thu 13-Sep-12 09:38:56

Gracesmum Don't go without your trip to hairdressers babe it gives you a good lift and you will feel good about yourself,do what I do and make an appointment at one of the training colleges where the trainee's are supervised whilst they learn,don't be affraid of going as they only allow hairdressers who have been training for a year or two and they are supervised all the time,the last time I had a trim (1inch) instead of costing £18.00 at one salon I paid £6.00 at the college and had a very enjoyable morning.
Also try doing your food shopping after 3pm when the supermarkets reduce prices many times I have bought stuff that can be frozen on the day and it does save a small fortune,don't buy prepacked veg buy what you need :say a couple of carrots and a very small swede,saves you throughing food away when its gone of luck smile

Ella46 Thu 13-Sep-12 09:40:51

I know how you feel Grace as although I don't use a credit card very often, since my dad died I have gone a bit mad and treated myself.
I like to go for lunch with friends nearly every week,(my only outings) and I've been dipping into my savings.

Like you Greatnan I have frugal weeks when I eat Ryvitas, and it's amazing how little you need when you live alone.

Hunt Thu 13-Sep-12 09:41:40

please don't ditch the hairdresser. feeling good about how you look is so very important. If your hair is lovely it does'nt matter if you are wearing clothes you have had a long time. Good luck with the rest of the economising.

glammanana Thu 13-Sep-12 09:44:17

gracesmum just remembered !! ask at your local department stores for sample pots of make-up everytime you go through the store,one of those pots lasts all week and can save a fortune,same with skin products never be embarrassed to ask for free samples.

Gagagran Thu 13-Sep-12 09:44:49

I absolutely agree about binning catalogues and resisting the urge to buy new clothes when your wardrobe is already bulging (like my hips sadly!). It is hard to resist temptation though and online browsing is just as bad.

I find supermarket shopping the hardest to control despite always having a list and a proposed menu list for the week! One thing I have tried which helps a bit is to go to the supermarket one day later each week so you "gain" a week eventually. Of course it would help to go two or even three days later but I can never quite manage that!

Pete Thu 13-Sep-12 10:19:40

gracesmum if you have a free water-meter fitted it could save you some extra cash each long as you dont fill your swimming pool. smile

gracesmum Thu 13-Sep-12 10:30:15

Good ideas - got the water meter, got the solar panels (Electricity bill direct debit down by £30 a month) the shopping is a bit of a bugbear, but I find that doing it online I can see how much it is coming to as I go along and either get the dishwasher tabs on special offer or the prosecco depending on what the total is looking like. The make up tip is a good one, I doamit I do sometimes "fall for" the gift with purchase but try only to use it for things I woud be buying in the near future anyway.
I think it is Amazon / Internet clothes or shoe shopping that are my particular weakness. I even deleted my Lands End email this morning without reading it!!!

janeainsworth Thu 13-Sep-12 10:46:25

gracesmum I agree with greatnan about having a budget and trying to stick to it. (unlike greatnan though, I do it on excel on the computer so autosum does the arithmetic[smug])
Since I retired I have kept a more or less careful account of what we spend. The only thing I can't keep track of is the cash that DH takes out of our joint account, so that has to go in 'miscellaneous items' smile, however I have been surprised that we have not only lived within our means, but I have some in the savings account too.
It's well-known that as soon as you audit something, you take control.
I too would be reluctant to forgo my hairdresser whom I trust, and I also love good food, but I get a great kick out of one day making dinner out of left-overs, so it seems free, and then another day splash out and have a nice piece of fish or steak.
I try not to impulse buy when it comes to clothes, though it's hard when the emails from Toast, Coast, Boden and Uniqlo drop into my inbox on a daily basis. As I cannot pretend I need any new clothes, I try to buy only in the sales. Then I can tell DH how much money I've saved grin.
Yesterday for the first time ever we went to a retail outlet - I was always too busy to go shopping when I worked. I got a lovely pair of GAP dark denim curvy jeans for £19. Justification was that I have lost half a stone this year so 'needed' some that fit. [smug again]

annodomini Thu 13-Sep-12 10:49:00

I have so many catalogues just begging to be read, but am now inspired to make a trip to the back door and chuck them in the recycling bin. Maybe just a quick peek... no! smacked wrist!

Stansgran Thu 13-Sep-12 10:49:14

Make lentil soup enough for 8 people-I've found a recipe on the web- and freeze it in containers for 1/2 servings-it is so cheap that it almost comes to 6 free meals after the initial first meal -and filling, and have it once a week otherwise it's a bit grim

Anagram Thu 13-Sep-12 10:51:09

If you don't want to be tempted, you can always 'unsubscribe' to the emails you're getting from all those shopping outlets! What you don't see.....wink

glassortwo Thu 13-Sep-12 10:54:11

Like greatnan and jane I have a speadsheet, it does focus the mind to see the effect all those drop into M&S etc have on your budget. I try to fill in all money spent the same day, all DD, standing orders and monthly/quarterly outgoings are already down on the sheet until the end of the year, and you can just go in and amend anything that needs it without messing up a hand written sheet.

glassortwo Thu 13-Sep-12 10:55:47

If you don't have spreadsheets on your computer there are lots of free programs you can download.

Bags Thu 13-Sep-12 10:56:50

Unsubscribing from emails from places like Lands End is a good idea. Then you don't even have to delete them.

glitabo Thu 13-Sep-12 11:13:40

What a lot of good ideas.
I am going to make a spreadsheet of outgoings and also make a menu list for the week and try to stick to it when food shopping.
i am going to do these things today and going back to a previous thread I am going to buy a slow cooker.

I feel inspired to get a grip.

merlotgran Thu 13-Sep-12 12:45:02

gracesmum, I do my shopping list on You can choose your supermarket and as your 'basket' tots up it suggests savings and special offers. It will also tell you how much you are saving by not going to a more expensive supermarket like Waitrose. I tend to use Tesco and Sainsburys but Asda is on there as well. When you have fnished your list you can then print it out to take to the supermarket. It shuffles your items into departments so you don't waste time or money wandering about looking for stuff. Alternatively, if you want it delivered, you can transfer the list to your supermarket's shop online website. I stick firmly to a weekly budget but also allow myself a little bit extra for something I might fancy.

bakergran Thu 13-Sep-12 14:22:43

Never ever buy anything just because it's cheap. All those "get an extra chocolate bar for 99p" things are such a trick. Buy what you need, and be strict. Good luck!

annodomini Thu 13-Sep-12 14:33:43

That's true, bakergran: a bargain is only a bargain if you need it.

Catalogues I have just put in the recycling bin: Landsend, Hotter, Cotton Traders, La Redoute and a bulb catalogue that I've never used but they keep it coming anyway. I find the local pound shop is excellent for bulbs - much cheaper than the garden centres, as long as you don't want something exotic.

glassortwo Thu 13-Sep-12 15:10:32

anno I picked a couple of shrubs up from the pound shop earlier in the year, I did not think for one minute they would come to much but they are coming on lovely. Well worth £1 wink

medic Thu 13-Sep-12 15:56:27

Swop with friends and family. This week I swopped a dish full of home grown cherry tomatoes with my daughter for home made rock cakes made with fresh eggs from her hens. I swop my copy of the Daily Mail with my sister for her copy of the local Echo every week day. I swop magazines ( bought on subscription so cheaper) with a friend.

baNANA Thu 13-Sep-12 16:13:22

For the last few weeks I've been getting a £6 off a £40 shop at Sainsbury's voucher at their till. I've been taking full advantage of these, as their competitor's might say "every little helps". However, if I don't get another voucher tomorrow I'll be back to Waitrose! Discounts are everywhere these days which is good news for the consumer so I tend to follow the best offers around as long as they don't take me too far off the beaten track. I also got some vouchers through from Tescos £10 off a £30 shop, which is strange because I don't have their club card, I used them anyway and made some pretence at the till about looking for the damn card, but I got the discount anyway as I had adequate proof of identification.

mollie65 Thu 13-Sep-12 17:11:08

this all sounds so familiar - I usually keep a close eye on my bank balance (thank goodness for online banking) but had to move £400 out of my savings account (next to no interest on that) to pay for a measly 650 litres of heating oil (already spent £100 on some seasoned logs for the woodburner) so feeling quite skint at the moment.
I have started decluttering via e-bay - what some people will buy beggars belief
I have disciplined my shopping by sticking to a food shop list
I bin the glossy catalogues that keep appearing
I am trying to resist the discount special offers on things I don't need
I try and use all the money off offers and vouchers sensibly for something I need.

do I occasionally weaken and treat myself - of course I do and enjoy the feeling

the lurcher dog does not suffer from these privations except for a few fewer treats to compensate for vets bills.

merlotgran Thu 13-Sep-12 19:03:15

We need to get our chimney swept professionally (we usually do it ourselves) because we need a new register plate before fitting a new woodburner. If you don't have a signed certificate from a 'chimney operative' (not very Mary Poppins), the insurance company won't pay out if the house burns down. We are trying to get a quote under £60 - for a chimney in a bungalow! shock