Friday, 25 July 2014

Share, Recycle and Save

This past weekend my husband and older son helped my mother in law move house.  They were in need of a lawn mower and my husband mentioned that we have a nearly new one that we no longer need. ( We have slate and pebbles now)  So this one got passed on to them.  It got me thinking about the amount of times we might buy something that we hardly use.  Now a lawn mower will get used regularly in the summer so you may not be wanting to share this but what about tools or decorating equipment?
 I used to have my own wall papering table but it broke, the last few times I decorated I popped to my mums and just borrowed hers then took it back. It is not a high cost item but it would be unnecessary and need to be stored.  Now my parents don't own many tools but we do, so if a job needs doing my husband has gone round to their house and helped them.
  If you think in terms of tools that only get get used a few times a year or decorating items like wall paper strippers or specialist items would you not be better sharing them among the family.  This would save everyone if you decided who would have what then borrow when needed.  I understand this would not work if your family doesn't live close by or you don't get on etc.  There is also the option of just hiring large items if you only need them for one off occasions, a carpet cleaner for example may be more powerful if you hire one than just buy a cheap one and only use it once a year.  I  found this one here to rent for £30, I know that when we bought ours it was about £120 and we have used it twice on a couple of rugs!
I think that years ago it would have been more common to share items in this way but now that everyone is always dashing around and not speaking to their neighbours we all own every item even if it is rarely used.
We go away in our caravan but if you enjoy camping you  could club together with other family members and share a tent if cost is an issue.  You would have to agree on who is having it when, but if you all enjoy the same style of holiday why have one each. (Unless you all go together of course)

I think it is sometimes the same with things we have around the house, we tend to double up on items when it is just not necessary.  I was recently sewing in the back room when I thought I could use a music set up for in here.  This was a pointless thought as I have a digital radio upstairs which I have a cable for to plug in my mp3, all I have to do is bring it down! 
 On that occasion I must have been having a lazy moment, needless to say I realized how pointless the thought was.  I think it just shows that sometimes we need to think things through before we buy, has someone got one we can borrow? How often will we use it? Is it a fad? 
  Some things will be worth every penny, others not so much.  My mum grumbled about me buying my first sewing machine  at 16 saying I'd never use it, on that point she couldn't have been more wrong, however there have been other items over the years which I could have probably done without.  

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

No Spend Tuesday

Had a great day today and it didn't cost a penny contrary to what they keep telling us about how much the kids  school holidays cost everyone.  The key board has made its way out  onto the landing (more room)and was played briefly by one child, lego building and film making by both of them. We visited my mother in law earlier and when I got back I had a go at making some apple crisps that I had seen. I had apples that needed using up.

Now I like them but one son said he wouldn't try them and the other tried three but said ooh no.  I ate most of them.  I like them but I'm not sure they were worth the energy of the oven unless you are cooking at the time, a pie or crumble would probably have been eaten by us all.
On the way form visiting my mother in law we posted a parcel as my son sold a puzzle on ebay.  He made £2.50 which he didn't think was great but as he finished it ages ago he thought it was better than nothing.  We were going to donate it to charity shop last week and he said he would give it a try on ebay.
had some time on the garden this afternoon with my book.
I'm reading Dublinesque which I'm taking a while to get into, but I'm of the mind at the moment that it may improve and I don't want to give up on it just yet. It's from the library  and I really need to get on the site and order some more as I find I get what I want that way. If I just go in and browse I never know what to pick up.
We had curry for tea, Dopiaza sauce from Aldi chickpea and veg for the vegetarians and chicken for the meat eaters. I worked it out and it cost 70p for my plate with everything on, the chicken curry was more like £2 per plate due to the chicken breasts.  Much cheaper to be a vegetarian.  The vegetables were frozen on 
this occasion.  (All items bought while shopping on Saturday so no spending today) 

We have been for a walk this evening down to the park as it was a bit cooler, no one is bored and we don't intend to be but that doesn't we will be spending money on loads of activities either.   We are going to the pool on Thursday, Dip for a quid for the kids and I use my membership  ( which will expire in September) also meeting some friends tomorrow so lets hope for another sunny day. 
I  don't intend on being part of the statistics that show parents spending hundreds on holiday activities. They can amuse themselves sometimes you know, and if they can't  now then the worry is they might never be able to. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

Free Exercise

I've just been out in the heat for a run, well I say run  it's more run walk at the moment, but that's how frugal queen began and that is also how I began a couple of years ago and then stopped.  I stopped because I was getting a lot of pain in my ankle and it was causing me to limp the following morning after I had been running so I just stopped. I continued with swimming as this puts no pressure on your joints but I was a bit put out as I am only slim and could see no reason why I should have a dodgy ankle.
  Well I have been a few times a week for the last couple of weeks, I'm not sure how far and as I say part of it is walking but so far no ankle pain so maybe it was just an injury isolation, time will tell.
What made me want to do it was it is just so accessible  and free if you can motivate yourself to get out there. I feel a bit silly I have to say and I take the two dogs which may have caused ankle strain before (they do drag me about!) so as I go down the main road I tend to walk fast when I first set off, then run as I get to the park and can let the dogs off the lead ( so I can move arms properly) through the wood then three laps of the park field then run back up the hill.  It was very hot just now but I was pleased I only needed to slow to a walk for a few seconds on the way back up.
I hope I can continue as I have my music on and there are no time restrictions like there are when I want to swim.  When swimming lessons are on  I can't go or swim team sessions, plus early bird doesn't start until 7.00 am  which is too late for me as I leave for work at 7.30.  Our pool has a very tight schedule so if something happens to mess up my timings in the evening when I want to go I've had it.  So if I can keep at it and improve I can do it when I want.
My son has been with a few times last week but he gets fed up, my main concern is that dark nights will come along and then I wont want to go alone for personal safety reasons. I know loads of people do it, but if I get fit enough I may be able to out run shady characters.

Now it looks very scenic where this guy is running.

The above image is from running world and there are tips for people who are new to it here 50 Best Beginner Tips It does say get a buddy to run with but again that involves relying on someone else to go when you want to but it would solve the fear of running alone in the dark.  Maybe I can convince my husband at some point.
The main thing I think is so appealing is that it is some time alone, it is free, involves no gym timetables or restrictions and I come back feeling better.  Please share your thoughts if you are new or an old hand at this I would love to hear how you started and where you are now.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Shopping Zombies

A strange title for a post I know but we saw many of these this morning when we popped to Meadowhall. My son had won a voucher for 100% attendance at school for three years and he wanted to go and spend it in the Lego shop.  I said we could go but we would be in and out, it's a lovely day and there is absolutely no need to be wandering around that place for hours.
  Well! It seems many people think it is the perfect way to spend your Sunday. My son even pointed out to me the amount of bags that some people have (quietly in my ear, not shouting and pointing!) and everyone seemed to be shuffling along, we had to overtake in a few spots as it was getting ridiculous. The whole scene brought to mind a zombie film, vacant faces, shuffling along with no purpose other than to spend.
 If these shoppers were in there with a purpose I'm sure they would have been moving quickly in the direction of the shop they needed to get to, made their purchase and left. However I don't think that is generally the case any more, people just use shopping to kill time and buy what ever takes their fancy at the moment. They will often worry later when the credit card bill comes.
After a busy week at work I don't believe time should be killed, it should be used wisely, lots of people have concerns about when they will be able to retire and have time to enjoy themselves, yet when they get some free time they use it to spend money. This is why people feel they will have to work into their seventies in the future because they want to retain their shopping lifestyles.
I understand you may be thinking well you were their too, well my son had earned this reward from school, it was in the form of a Meadowhall voucher so it had to be spent there and it was his to do with as he wished.
He sat and enjoyed building the model.
One of my dogs getting his nose in the picture.

The trouble is many adults feel like this about all their income, ''well I earned it can have whatever I  want'' yes you are right you can,  just don't complain about it later or when you are still working right into your old age.  The trouble with this kind of thinking is that many people who don't work also feel the same way.
I didn't buy anything while we were there as we went with a purpose and then left to come home and get on with other things.
Having no real interests or hobbies can create this need to go out and shop because it gives people somewhere to go, the other side of this is that some hobbies can be expensive in themselves.  With the school holidays ahead for me and the children I will be making lists of things we want to get done (free or low cost like dip for a quid at our pool) we will be busy but not shopping.
On a positive note a good conversation was had between my son and a young lady who worked in the Lego store, she said she was a new team member and that she would be building some of the display models soon.  She explained how long they took and how she was looking forward to that.  My son has said when he is older he would like to get weekend or evening work there.  It would be nice if his hobby helped him save a little for some independence in the future.

I do not intend to offend anyone with this post but I would hope it might make a few people look around at the zombie faces the next time you are in a shopping mall and run like hell!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Leaving Primary School is Expensive for Many Families

It has been quite an emotional week as my younger son left Primary School yesterday  and he and many of his friends were a bit overwhelmed by the time the leavers party finished.  I say leavers party but apparently a lot of people were referring to it as a Prom  and had spent the appropriate amount of cash they deemed fit for such an occasion.
 The children left the School in a party bus and stayed on this an hour then had an organised party complete with red carpet and food for a further two hours. The party bus was split cost wise between all us parents as was the venue which we had at a reduced rate due to a fellow mum working there.  I know my son enjoyed it all but you sort of feel, where does it end as these things seem to get bigger with every passing year.
  When my older son left four years ago these celebrations were already an expected thing but they had a stretch hummer to take them to a nearby restaurant where they all had tea then ran around outside.  I might also add they remained in their school clothes for the whole time.
 Now, the parents have been discussing outfits for weeks! The children mostly had expensive prom gowns and some boys had waistcoats and ties. My son was asked if he would like a shirt, he replied no I have clothes already I will wear chinos and a T-shirt (good lad I raised him well) I was also pleased to see that a couple of his closest friends were also dressed similar to him, you know, clean and looking like eleven year old boys not mini adults.   He told me one of the girls dresses cost £300! I thought that wont fit long they grow so fast at the moment!
 I may be cynical but what has happened where people feel the need to spend those amounts of cash on a disco? Lets face it that's what it is, I know they would all have loved the party just the same without all the bling as long as they were together having fun.  It's a shame that many of them are already programmed to feel that pull towards image and what their outfits cost. Clearly it is already in their minds that it is important for them to be comparing dress prices. One of the boys had also mentioned to my son that his suit was £500, not sure if he was exaggerating but again it shows that some kids think this stuff is what matters.
What really made me laugh is that a TA spoke to me on the drive and said these have been playing on the adventure playground (with a tut as she said it) gesturing to my son and his friends. I just smiled, they had to wait for the bus to arrive for forty minutes while children got dressed, had hair straightened, applied make up etc. Then posed Hello magazine style for the camera, my son and friends were on the adventure playground  after one photo running around in their change of clothes, being eleven. I was pleased to hear this because he is after all, a child and these years pass too quickly.
I wonder what will happen next year at the same school to top the event as that seems to be what is happening, I'll never know as both my children have left.  Now that is over we all have the expensive uniform to buy, and all the necessities for secondary school, fortunately as I didn't blow the family budget on one outfit we will be fine.
They are all such a super bunch of kids and have been really good friends all through school I just hope they don't lose too much of that as they move into their new school and popularity becomes the thing to aspire to for many. 
I did feel that if this is happening at most schools now it must be a tremendous strain for a lot of families.  people who are already worrying about kitting children out for the new school year but also don't want to disappoint their child.
 Maybe if schools all decided to have the end of year  6 disco there it might eliminate some of the expanding costs of limousines, buses and venues which all have to be booked and arranged sometimes a year in advance.  I know teachers will be groaning as these things have to be supervised and many just want to get going at the end of term. I work in school myself so I know what I'm suggesting but I just think it would really take some of the pressure off some families out there and maybe even a little off the kids.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Used Goods Save You Money, Lose the Fear

I was thinking about this the other day when we had a school fair. I was on the toy stall and lots of children were quite happily paying a few pence for their toys when some one said to me 'oh I don't like these things they make me sad'. Well I found this a little confusing as it was an adult who mentioned it and no one was making her buy anything.  Also why is it sad? The children were all very happy with what they bought but then I suppose they have yet to be conditioned otherwise. Also mountains of debt is much sadder I think, some people would never buy used clothes but are happy to use credit cards for new ones and leave no money for bills.

Also it is quite acceptable to most to buy used cars or houses so why the stigma when it comes to clothes and furniture?  I think a lot of it comes down to making a statement for some people, they think  that by buying second hand they might be suggesting they are not very well off.  Some people find this sort of image very important, the truth of it being that people who are better off are the ones who make careful financial choices.  They are more likely to shop used, pay upfront and seek out a bargain.  They are also less likely to be drawn by the designer label as this is only ever going to drain your finances.
I read an amazing post by Mr Money Moustache about saving ten bucks at a time to become rich (about £5.80) now he is not saying the odd amount, this is about all those little decisions that make up these amounts and then eliminating them.  Nobody says you have to give up everything, but lets face it, if we really want something we will try to obtain it so why is this not the case for most people with savings and independence.  It gets me a little annoyed when people think oh you have this and that so it's ok for you.  Well  no it makes me really mad! We both left school at 16 and have worked ever since and saved, we also live within our means and don't ever go down the designer label route. If we were to find ourselves out of work we would make a job  out of looking for a new one and would cut back  further to tide us over.  We would not wait for it to land in our laps as we never have and it makes me crazy that so many people just take and feel sorry for them selves.  What can you do? What can you sell that you no longer need? Also if you are out of work how many jobs have you applied for today?  If the answer is zero why?  There is stuff out there and yes there may be loads of people chasing those jobs but if you are out of work you should be one of them doing the chasing, all the time! There is also an article on Mr Money Moustache that suggests for every saving you make and permanently erase from your weekly expenditure the less you will need forever!  I think that is something worth considering. 
Used! So what, get over it.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Garden Makeover Update

I posted a few weeks ago about the bottom of my back garden which was in need of some attention.  We had bought the garden seat and my husband had made another piece of seating to go around the tree.  The final job was to sort the fencing and remove the middle fence that divided the top of the garden in half in that area.  We used the fence panel that came on the back of the seat we bought, (it was supposed to be fixed to it but we used it as a fence panel) to match up the fence at the bottom and just painted with stain we already had. My husband used random large rocks we had to make a little wall in front and to make a step down, this was because it was too high to level.
This is how it looks now

This is what the tree seat area looked like at first with the old fence around it on both sides.

This is it now and I would say we are finished. We have lived here for 7 years and everything we have done to the garden has happened a bit at a time.  We have saved up and done each bit when we could.  The fences on the right got replaced a few years ago when the original ones blew down in the wind, decking has been done in different areas over the years and is maintained by my husband, when he sees the stain on offer he buys it and puts it away for when it is needed. Like I said yesterday pots have accumulated over time.
We do not know a lot about gardening but fortunately my husband is good at woodwork and if I have an idea for what would look nice he can usually make something and we try to do it on a budget (remember the tree seat materials were free)
We will spend a lot of time in the garden over the coming months so I think it is worth the time and money.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Gardening and Aldi Planters

It has been so lovely today, some might think too hot but I love the summer and the chance to spend more time outside.  We went to the local Nursery to get some plants and we were really pleased with what we bought.  We had a look in B&Q a couple of weeks ago but they didn't have much on offer that we were prepared to pay their prices for, the Nursery near us was much more reasonable.  We use the same pots every year occasionally adding a new one or if we need to buy a particularly large one to re-pot something.  We also had to wooden planters that my husband spotted in the Aldi the other day, they were reduced from £10 to £5 each and he bought two to go outside the front door.  We also had some bright pink wood stain that we picked up reduced in Asda a few weeks ago so here's  what we did. (Or he did)
My husband assembled the planters which looked good as they were but we wanted them to stand out a bit.
He then painted each one in the shocking pink stain, he said it actually smelled like bubble gum, now I couldn't smell that so I wonder if his mind was playing tricks because it looked like bubble gum?
Next attach the inner bags that line the planters and pot up with two pink Dahlias.

We positioned one each side of the front door to brighten the place up a bit.
The other plants we bought I potted up and positioned them on the back garden. We don't spend on plants a lot, we tend to find each year we will get a couple of things that come back year after year and a few cheap bits for instant colour.  We bought three Dahlias at £2.49 each, a cordiline £11 ( the most extravagant thing but much cheaper than anywhere else).  Also a couple of purple leafy things (ha! I can't remember what they are called) and 6 pertunias for £6.   

We have different areas of purple slate and pebbles on our garden so most of what we plant does go in pots  the reason for this is that we have dogs and found that they wore a race track around the lawn when we had one so that did not look good, also dog wee kills grass. I like the way it looks and we have hedges all the way around us and trees so there is no shortage of greenery.  

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Frugal Sewing, New Dress

I sat down this afternoon to get on with a dress I have been intending to make. I bought the fabric a while ago and I must admit that when I bought it I just liked the purple colour and didn't give the actual fabric as much thought as I usually do.  The thing is it has far too much lycra in it.  Some people might like working with this but I don't!  Some people work with tricky fabrics and think I'm going to beat you and see it as a challenge, again I don't. Life is too short,I want to sit down at my table and enjoy the process, not be at war with the fabric!  When my over locker was working properly this made these fabrics easier to work with, this fabric today had far too much bounce.  I made a skater style type of dress that I have made many times before pattern free and the initial making up of the dress didn't take that long.   I used my mannequin ( I also had a battle with that) to hang it on to start, but then decided I'd better try it on as she is larger than me.  It looked nice after all the bouncing around while sewing (ball point needle I know) but the neck gaped because of the give in the fabric.  So I took up the shoulders, still gaping so I decided to put a little tuck at the front to bring in some of the fullness, then I didn't like that but had stitch marks so it would have to stay.  So I must have spent the next hour just staring at it and trying things out, flowers, placket, pleat all to try and hide this mistake at the neck!  I have to admit I was getting very annoyed with it by now also it wouldn't just slide on the mannequin like it does on me because of the fabric it is covered in, it sticks, also she is a little larger and quite wide shouldered I have realised.  So I finally decided on a mock placket with two buttons and I battled it back onto the mannequin.

My husband said he liked the dress but then he was not so sure about me putting the placket on,  well I had to do something or I would have sat staring at it all night.  It looks snug on her but fits me well, when I bought the mannequin my husband did say send it back if you are not sure and get the smaller one, I should have done that.  I may have to go back to taking photos in the mirror as when I was battling the dress on her to take the photo she split some stitches and I had to redo it. She needs a diet!
I am wondering weather I should carry on the purple top stitching onto the placket so it looks more finished any body any ideas? Still after all the drama that is another dress for the summer.  I usually find it more relaxing than I did today though.
I have some more jersey left and I have checked it feels normal, not overly bouncy so that will be next.  I will be trying it straight onto my body next time though to save fitting issues with the mannequin. I was so excited when she arrived as well, maybe I need to reserve her for looser garments.

Another Shift Dress

The dress I made today is from the free New Look pattern I got with Sew magazine last month. It is very similar to the scuba dress I made bu...