Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Student Loan - GONE!

After 11 years of diligently paying my student loan through my salary every month I have finally made the final payment of £500.33!  Feels great to finally be rid of it, although I'm aware that the interest rates are more or less peanuts.  Can focus my efforts on the mortgage now...yipee


Friday, 24 August 2012

Monthly food budget

As part of our new, mortgage busting budget I have set the food budget element at £250 to include food, drink, toiletries, cleaning stuff and pet food (for two cats).  I have been refining the way I tackle the monthly shopping as it is a million times more difficult with a little one to consider.  What is working for us at the moment is this:

  • One large online shop to include all the essentials to last the month.  Using mysupermarket.co.uk the cheapest supermarket for us has been ASDA for the last two months.
  • Weekly (ish) top up shops usually from Morrisons or Lidl depending what we need.
This month the 'big shop' cost £144 and I've done one top up shop at Lidl which was £13.  I'm happy that with three weeks left I've got £93 and fairly full cupboards!  Hopefully I can keep up the good work when I'm back at work (5 weeks left...) as the meal planning can be a little time consuming.


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Going to try making one of these...

We are going to a christening in a couple of weeks and staying overnight in a small cottage.  I didn't want to lug our large plastic high chair around so I started to investigate the possibility of making a fabric high chair that would attach to any normal chair.

I've seen a few of these around but they cost about £15 upwards so my mind began to whirr and I knew I could make my own from the stash of fabric I already had.

I found this wonderful tutorial on this fabulous website.  Just need to find the time to make it now!


Sunday, 19 August 2012

You give with one hand...

No sooner do I 'free up' about £100 of my pre-tax salary as I'm now paying my student loan direct than I get a reminder from work about paying the new work place parking levy.  It is almost £30 a month to park at work.  I've got no choice but to pay it with dropping off and collecting Little J.


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Cost neutral Christmas - is it possible

Yes, I've gone and said the 'C' word!  I LOVE Christmas and spend months planning and organising gifts, decorations and I even run the office secret Santa each year.   We dont really go over board.  We set a spending limit for close family and as we now have little J we have agreed with some friends that we will just buy for the little ones now rather than each other plus other halves as well.  I don't want to cut back on our real tree (this may be a mistake in hindsight with a 'soon to be walker' in our house) or the nice food and drink we buy so I've decided to try and make it cost neutral.

I save £75 a month for birthday and Christmas and have built up about £300 so far this year.  My aim is to use the cost neutral Christmas so I can put this extra cash into the overpayment pot.  So far I have:

£220 cashback from credit card
£65 Nectar vouchers
£10 Morrisons vouchers
£2 Coop voucher
£44.25 Quidco cashback

Total - £342.25

I'm rather pleased with this, although we are limited to some shops/websites with some of the vouchers I think we could probably manage most of the festivities with this!

Roll on December!


Monday, 13 August 2012

Motivation Monday or how I've spent my salary before I got it...

Seem to have got myself into gear today.  I paid the odd £17.25 off my student loans which takes is down to  a round £500 (and also means I have set Student Loans up as a payee now to make it even easier).  I have also increased our monthly mortgage payment to £800, giving us a monthly overpayment of £200.

I just need to ring our payroll dept this afternoon to pay the £80.35 of my pension arrears I've accrued while on maternity leave.  Although I've been reading about Mabel and Maisy's pension dilemma and it is making me question how sensible it is to continue with a pension these days  I'm not brave enough to stop paying into mine but it has made me think about other possible income streams.


Friday, 10 August 2012

What to buy for a first birthday?

It is fast approaching Little J's first birthday and I'm stumped for what to get her (or what NOT to get her).  A lot of people subscribe to the idea that they are too young to remember it so don't waste your money.  I partly agree with this and to be honest we already have too many toys that we have been given or purchased from charity shops.  I've already had several friends and family ask what she wants as well...

I've been looking on several websites but can't come up with anything that isn't a variation of what we already have.  Any ideas for a first birthday gift (preferably slightly educational!) would be greatly accepted.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Lovely creamy, yet money saving pie

I made this recipe this evening for a chicken and bacon pie.  In my new frugal mentality I didn't want to spend money on cream or creme fraiche that I would only use one spoon of.  So I looked for a simple recipe using ingredients I had in the cupboard.

The pie filling was made with plain flour, stock and milk.  I wasn't hopeful it was going to be rich and creamy but I was pleasantly surprised and it was very tasty. Nom nom.

We tweaked the recipe here and there to be suitable for baby led weaning for Little J.

I would highly recommend it!


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Job dilemma

Since finding out I've got to go back to work full time in October I've come to terms with the fact and decided to really concentrate on paying off our mortgage.  I've discussed it with friends and family and got my head around it.  I've even been planning to find part-time work or work for myself when it is paid so I can be around to collect my daughter from school and be there in the holidays.

I've now found a really nice part-time job BUT it is only 18.5 hours AND a grade lower than I'm currently on.  It's put me in a tizzy.  Do I apply for it and shelve all my dreams of being mortgage free and possibly struggle financially for a while or do I continue with full-time work and pursue the dream? EEkk!

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Nectar bonus!

I got two statements for my Nectar card this week.  One for my current card and one in my maiden name.  Both had a considerable amount of points on them and but I never realised that I had two accounts.

I contacted the nice people at Nectar via email and within 48 hours they had arranged for my points from my old card to be transferred to my current one.  I now have a balance of £65!  The temptation is to buy something nice for myself but in my new 'lets pay off the mortgage' state of mind I know I should put it towards something sensible like Little J's birthday present or Christmas.

I also never knew you could collect points from Amazon or eBay.  We buy loads of stuff from these sites so I need to get a bit more savvy with things like this!