For Christmas I let loose and I was careless with money, I spent what I spent without thinking, after a difficult financial year behind us in 2016 I just lost the plot and thought I would worry about it later when 2017 kicked in and everything went back to normal.
Although 2016 was a financially difficult year, it was also a year of learning a lot of lessons some good and some bad.
I learnt the car was my biggest expense, with crashes and repairs and the cost of general running it works out at my most expensive luxury, a luxury that although seems essential is not essential but it certainly does make life easier although on the other hand is essential for my work.
I get very anxious using public transport and find it difficult to cope with emotionally, I just fall apart, my social anxiety really kicks in, the costs of public transport are shocking to say the least and it is cheaper for us to run a car, the costs that would be involved in getting us to the places we went to last year would have taken the expense to triple what it did cost me to run the car, despite all the extras I had to pay for in repairs and car crashes that I clocked up.
The places we would not have been able to experience is another drawback of not having a car, so although I know that keeping the car running in it's fragile mechanical state is going to cost me again this year it is something that I will have to suck up and work on making cheaper to run and maybe weigh up using public transport vs using the car and parking costs more often than I have done in the past.
My work is also another reason to keep the car running, supplier trips and customer drop off's and pickups are another thing the car is essential for, my business would not run in any effective way without it.
Bills are another thing I have been looking at and only recently decided to do a utility swap and moved to a cheaper electricity and gas supplier which I intend on doing every six months rather than staying in one place paying more than I need to and keeping my heating down to 16 helps my bills an awful lot, if there are complaints it's cold, I usually relpy with 'put a jumper on'. Oh how I sound like my mother, lol...
I have started to dry things on a maiden instead of using the dryer, I have got into a flow with doing that now, usually I empty the washer in the morning when the kids are eating breakfast and throw it on the maiden in my bedroom and take off the dry clothes and put them away whilst I make my bed, it has become a bit of a habit now to do, another load goes in when I go down to wash the kids breakfast things, it feels like my chores for the day are almost done very quickly so it ties in nicely with my cleaning routine.
My 'work smarter not harder' motto from last year will be evaluated at the end of my January accounts preparation, if any of you read my blog you will know I was selling ride on cars and things went a bit pear shaped, there were a lot of returns and faulty items going out that I had to pay to get them back and I lost quite a lot of money, I never made very much profit on the cars in the first place and the returns pretty much wiped me out and some, I devised another method of bringing in income that meant better profits even if it meant working a little bit harder but much smarter on the profit margin level, my real evaluation will come when I do the end of year accounts in April but for now a good evaluation at the end of January will tell me if I am doing the right thing and I can then decide if to carry it on or change direction again.
This xmas has been such a good xmas as far as stress levels go, it is the first year I have not had to work all throughout xmas and could relax with no stress, even xmas dinner went swimmingly, normally we do not get dinner until 6 ish due to the stress I am under with everything in life particularly work, but we were eating at 3ish after an uneventful and perfectly timed execution of the Christmas dinner. I actually really enjoyed the whole season and felt relaxed and stress free so I am definitely working smarter and not harder in that department but financially we will see.
I did a spread sheet of my incomings and outgoings for years but stopped a few years back when the twins came along but I have recently re-started the spreadsheet and that will be my bible this year to keep track of any unnecessary spending habits I may slip into. When I did re-start the spreadsheet last October I noticed how much money we where spending on eating out and coffee which was quite a lot going into the hundreds of pounds so I started to make sure we carried coffee and hot chocolate everywhere with a plastic butty box full of butties, it has saved me a fortune already and something we will carry into 2017.
We already make a point of only doing free or very cheap events and outings although we have gone mad this xmas and boarded the Santa train in bury and attended the Library panto by Hard Graft Theatre which is well worth a visit, we cannot miss it we go every year and I had already paid for the Coliseum panto last year in January so that we got the same good seats again this year, so I will do the same again this year and book next xmas panto early in January so it is one expense I do not have to think about nearer to Xmas and with our in year saving I am feeling no guilt about splashing out on a little xmas fun.
More trips to the charity shops will be done, we have a good little system with that at the minute, whenever we go to Asda shopping we nip into the charity shops, there are four or five all in the same precinct near to the supermarket and we nip in and see what we can find, from household things we need or toys the kids fancy or clothing and even stock for my ebay store and definitely books and educational items, those are always on the top of my list. Stock for my ebay store usually pays for itself in those places so it always pays to pop in and regularly check what they have.
Food is something we have got really good at being frugal with, I have taught the kids the value of good healthy eating anyway so we have very few biscuits and crisps and sweet things along with the dreaded fizzy drinks rubbish in the house, apart from this xmas where we have gone mad, but most of it is still hanging around. Huge savings always come from not having to buy that kind of rubbish. We did quite a lot of baking last year (banana bread is our favourite make) and discovered that it is cheaper to buy many things rather than make them yourself when you factor in the cost of actually using electric to cook it, but we have managed to find ways to make meals stretch like padding spag bol out with lentils, but on the whole we have managed to make good healthy home cooked food for very little and sometimes for far less than £1 each per person per day.
The kids will be having lessons on financial literacy this year, starting with their pocket money. I did introduce the value of money to them last year giving them choices and this year we will be looking more at goals and savings, we had a massive clear out just before xmas and they let their country kitchen go and they still have the money for that which they had planned to spend but I will persuade them that is a good start on learning about savings and see how they fare watching the £40 increase and maybe get them to let some more things go and work on making money from unused items we will be doing our usual camping trips this year so that may be a good target for their savings to have spending money whilst away.
So many of the things we do already are pretty frugal we just have to do a bit more work on the implementation and I will be reading up on a few frugal blogs and websites which I might update and link to here if I find them helpful.
So to sum up this years 2017 financial goals in being frugal are:-
Weight up Public transport against using the car & parking charges more often
Switching Utility suppliers every six months
Use the maiden instead of the dryer
Keep the heating at 16
Work smarter not harder
Spreadsheet monitoring of incoming and outgoings.
More charity shop visits to save and make money.
Frugal foods and recipes
Financial goals and savings education
Lets see how we fare!...
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