A not-so-frugal New Year

A very happy and frugal New Year to you! Here’s hoping we’ll save lots of money in 2008. That is – I’m hoping my lacklustre financial start to 2008 won’t continue….!

Christmas augured well. Our little free range chicken (apologies Thelma, Lexi and Molly) was delicious and I was smugly surprised by my delicious homemade Christmas pudding. We steamed the hell out of it for six hours on Christmas Day, but it was fab. What a relief!

Our frugal entertainment on Christmas Day was fun too. DJ & I took our neighbour Nina’s dogs – Arty and Nessie (Arty is a Westie and Nessie is a Scottish terrier) for a walk in Norsey Woods (DJ dragged them through the muddiest places he could find) as she & the family were away. It was great fun and completely free (as was the dog poo we had to scoop up…). Although I felt guilty considering Nina had given them a bath the day before….I’d never taken a dog for a walk before – coming from a cat-loving family – and it was fun. DJ tried out the training techniques he’d learned from The Dog Whisperer, which since he bought us a Freeview box for Christmas has become his favourite programme, but I’m not sure how far he got! I kept finding dog treats in his trouser pockets when I was doing the washing…Strange man.

We were very lazy during Christmas and pottered about, going for the odd walk. The only major trip out was visiting a karaoke booth in Soho (!) for our friend Emma’s birthday. Many songs were horribly murdered and there were several dead artistes spinning like tops in their graves that night. Brilliant fun! James refused to accept any money for the booth hire, but drinks were obviously how the place made their money. One friend paid £18 for three drinks – ouch! Afterwards we visited Bar Soho – it’s the typical West End joint with self-important bouncers and sky-high drink prices, where you can’t hear yourself think (I get more like Victor Meldrew every day…). I got a round in there (still cheaper than the karaoke place) and, for once, dodged the annoying woman in the toilets expecting money for her expertise in handing me a paper towel. Is nowhere sacred?! My heart sank when I noticed her (having a weak bladder means an expensive night out!) but I blanked her and dried my hands under the hand dryer.

But it was my trip to Ireland to visit the folks after New Year that proved the biggest expense. I thought I’d been clever avoiding the Stansted Express and using local buses to get to the airport. A £3.40 bus to Chelmsford, followed by £9 return bus from Chelmsford to Stansted– terrific! But over there I came down with a tummy bug the day I was meant to go home. We went to the airport anyway – Mum was visiting friends in England and I was meant to fly with her – but in the end Dad dropped her off and drove me back as I desperately tried not to redecorate the car interior (thanks for the excellent nursing, Dad!). Annoyingly, it was too late for me to change the flight so I had to buy another one for £65. Aghh!

Let’s hope the rest of 2008 is more frugally successful! What are your frugal New Year resolutions?

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8 Responses to A not-so-frugal New Year

  1. JustMe says:

    Hi Piper
    Loved the blog and catching up on what you\’ve been upto, sorry to hear you wasn\’t well and had to buy another ticket, but the rest of the stuff you got upto sounds fun.
    I have started a new blog so rainbow can be removed from your friends list as Ive sent you an invite for this site that I\’ve visited you from today, hope you\’ve recieved the invite as so many of my friends didn\’t seem to and they had to pop over to me and click invite as a friend on my profile so it would add them.
    Take good care and happy saving Helen 🙂

  2. TONY says:

    i live on £66 a week try that with a mortgage ?????

  3. Donna says:

    Try Living on 59.00 per week, eat and clothe yourself, oh and when the temperature goes below 0 there\’s no 8.50 week, it\’s put extra clothes on or freeze!!!  Pensioners are actually quite well off, yet all they do is moan about what they cant do. 

  4. Jerry says:

    Hi Piper,
    An interesting blog as ever! You prompted me to do a similar audit & I found most costs roughly comparable. A couple of biggies though:-
    1) council tax – Fine if you can get some form of benefit that entitles you to exemption. Those of us living on a work pension have it classed as earned income, therefore not only do we pay income tax on our pensions, we also have to pay council tax from it. This is one of those areas where people able to claim state benefits are genuinely better off than those that earn their income. Add that back in to your bill, or if you live in Exeter, it is an extra £162 every month – enough to feed a couple for a month!
    2) Not only are you skimping on servicing your car, which could be very dangerous, you\’ve also forgotten to add in depreciation. A serious omission. Running a cheapie e.g. a 4 year old costing £5000 for 4 years will cost you £1250 a year i.e. £104.16 a month in depreciation on top of tax & insurance plus fuel. Money saving tip for diesel owners – run it on cooking oil from the supermarket shelves & add 3% white spirit to thin it out – 78p a litre.
    Now some smaller ones.
    Do you really need to rent DVDs or insure your pet? Why not swap your mobile for a pay as you go, then get people to ring you rather than you ringing them? Could cut £30 a month down to £2 or £3 & the first month\’s savings wll buy a cheapie phone. You could halve the cost of your home insurance by shopping around. I saved a further £100 by not renewing but starting a new policy with the same company & they sent me a cheque for £100 as a welcome gift to a new customer!
    Also, while you\’re "claiming benefit" get your loft & walls insulated for free.
    All those savings would be useless if you end up mean spirited though. So one fun one is to look at your charity donations each month, give a prayer of thanks for the amount of money you have left, then enjoy blowing the lot on making life better for pople who unlike us do not have the ability to survive on what they have. I\’m dead serious here. It really makes it all worthwhile!

  5. Elaine says:

    Hi. I\’m a student and don\’t have much at all to live on (I refuse to get a loan), but then being a student my finances are divided quite differently. I get £251 a month from SAAS, which i never have to pay back. Other than that, I work about 10 hours a week on minimum wage. So all together I get about £400 a month to live on. £200 a month for rent. £50 a month to cover bills excluding travel. £40 a month on travel to & from work and uni (in winter, summer is racing season so that\’s about an extra £40 a month for train/bus fares), that leaves me about £100 a month for food. I shop around to find the cheapest deals on all the basics. Milk from somerfield, bread, butter, frozen chicken, tinned food and juice from lidl. Frozen mince from iceland. All our veg comes from Roots & Fruits because, even without the student discount (10%) they\’re still the cheapest fresh fruit and veg retailers in Glasgow anyway. That pretty much does it. So unless I do some extra temp work (which is difficult while you\’re studying), I pretty much have nothing left over for luxuries. All in all, shop around for the best deals on absolutely EVERYTHING! Good luck.

  6. Yvonne says:

    Hi Piper,  Dont even think about try to make your own clothes unless you already own a sewing machine and know how to use it.  Having spent many years making my own suits, skirts etc. I can tell you you need more than just basic skills and with shops around like Matalan, Primark and TKMaxx it really isnt worth it.  By the time you have bought a pattern (approx £5 – £10) then the material, zip, cotton, buttons you are well passed the prices that the aforementioned shops can sell things at.  Oh, by the way,  you only get the £200 a year fuel allowance as a pensioner if you have reached the age of 60 before 01 Sept in the year you start drawing your pension.

  7. piper says:

    Thanks guys – yes, Jerry, you\’re right about servicing the car & the home insurance. Perhaps I should get on with it. Boiler needs a service too. We have too many pets really and my pet lizard Ellie got sick last year so I am paranoid.  Personally I think it\’s better to stash some money in the bank for pet vets\’ bills rather than take out insurance so worth looking at.
    £66 a week Tony – how do you do it?!!!  Please tell me!
    Thanks for message Helen – will check out the new blog. xxx

  8. Jason says:

    I\’m very sorry but welcome to the real world! After my mortgage / Council Tax and other fixed bills I\’m left with less than £80.00 per week and I\’m a full time professional. Appologies but wake up and smell the coffee!! Only more 30 years and I can retire!! Yippee!!

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