Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Item number 27 on my bucket list is to make myself a winter cardigan/ jumper. On Saturday I decided I would make a start on this as I knit slowly, it'll be ready for next winter.

However, I have been enjoying a few days of doing not a lot I have not felt like going anywhere so I have sat on the sofa watching TV interspersed with a few short visits out. I have managed this;

Yep, a whole back of a cardigan for myself has emerged off of the needles. I have surprised myself with how much I have achieved knitting wise. The rest of the cardigan won't happen so quickly as I am back to work next week. Who knows I may manage to complete this by the end of this winter.

We have plans to complete several more items off of the list by the end of 2014, stand by whilst I make plans to help with this.

Monday, 30 December 2013

off to a flying start

Yesterday I set out my goals for savings for 2014. It may be classed as a  slight cheat, but already in the savings account where the car repayments are going was almost enough money to make January's saving target- it was £50.00 short. So I log into my bank this morning and there is a £24.00 from quidco for switching my energy supplier. So that money was swiftly transferred. Then I thought as I know I have enough food in the freezer/cupboards to have our dinners for the next month I only need to buy perishables as and when needed I transferred the rest of the money to make up to the £50.00. So I have already made January's target.

That doesn't mean I won't be saving at all in January, it just means the extra money I save will go into the other savings account I hold to build up an emergency fund. Currently I don't have one but it's time I built one. Tightwad year here I come!!


I am looking forward to this challenging year.


Sunday, 29 December 2013


It's that time of year when we all set about fixing our lives- budgets, health, family goals etc etc. I'm no different. I want to know what I spend and what I don't. I wanted to make a spread sheets which sets out my spending, except I don't know how to start with making one. So I googled it. I found an online one which you can download and use- bonus, why reinvent the wheel!? I used the money saving expert one here. I put in all regular monthly payments, but didn't include things like the weekly shop. I wanted to know exactly what I have going out each month so I can set my shopping budget accordingly.
 once I had number crunched I discovered this;

  You spend LESS than you earn... £687.56 £8,250.68    
HAPPINESS Hurrah! You balance your budget. Well done!  
Providing you've been honest with yourself, it's time to relax a little - but MoneySaving doesn't stop there. In fact it's just beginning. Paying less for things means you have more money in your pocket to enjoy life more (and possibly save some for the future too!)

The typical savings from doing this can be £3,000 - £5,000 a year. My estimate is it'll take a full day's work but look at the return. It'll be the best paid work you've ever done.
    Now save yourself even more money….    
    Give yourself a money makeover  

Now before you get too excited remember I have not included things here like food, the ever growing need to cloth the growing children, home repairs etc. However it is nice to sit and look at that happy little figure isn't it.

Now factor in that I have a car I need to make a £6500 payment for in 19 months as well as the shopping etc mentioned above, not so rosy now is it? in fact if I am to make the payment on the car without resorting to more finance I need to save £342.11 a month from today. So take this figure from my monthly left over figure gives me  £345.45 for everything else. Still sounds a big figure left over, I know there isn't that much in my bank account now, and I don't get paid until the end of January. Why is this- oh yes because these figures do not factor in the costs of popping to the shop for a pint of milk, or the weekly veg and seeing something that looks like a good bargain. Such as this

Beautiful cake holder, now I am well aware that I don't need this, but I did WANT it and it was only £2.00! Blah blah blah and so the justification goes!
but factor this in every time I go to the shops and it adds up. Also included in this is not the fact that people have birthdays and there is Christmas. I need to get better at saving. I have bought Christmas presents and birthday presents for 2014 already- I took advantage of the sales.
I am determined that next year (2014) I will get more money savvy. I will eek out my wages because I do not want to be taking out further finance to pay off my car. I love my little car, and is so true for many people in todays world I need a reliable car to get me to work so that I can afford to put food on the table/ pay the rent etc. Taking out the car loan was a big commitment but it was the most financially sensible method for getting a reliable car for me when my old one died in the summer.
I started NO SPEND DAYS in June 2013, and I am carrying this challenge through into 2014. I set my sights in 2013 at what seemed like an impossible task of 10 no spend days per month. This challenge really helped me to avoid the shops and therefore unnecessary pretty impulse purchases. I an going to set the bar higher for 2014- here's to 20 NO SPEND DAYS per month. That equates to 240 NO SPEND DAYS over the year. Sounds do able doesn't it, however from last years experiences the hardest no spend day weeks were those that fell in the school holidays. Although we don't participate in many expensive days out, I do like to buy a treat such as an ice cream for the children when we are out.
So challenges for this year to find a way to save at least £4105.32 and to have 240 NO SPEND DAYS. Oh my gosh put like that it seems insurmountable! Please wish me luck, I think I shall need it!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

national gallery- bucket list

In April this year I was lucky enough to go to the national gallery as a part of a training course with work. As we were there on training I didn't get to have a proper look around so I added it to my bucket list. I finally made it back there today. Both children are at their dads which left me on my own- bliss.

I decided as I was going with no children I would dress up and be 'me' not just 'mum'.

So I wore a dress and heels and even put some make up on- almost unheard of for me! LOL

Off I trotted. This is an extravagant treat for me- it cost £19.10 for the train ticket and £5.00 to park at the station car park. There is planned engineering works at our local station so I went to the next stop up on the line which is the posh high speed/Eurostar one so parking is a little more and thee are no side roads to park on. I took my pack up and off I went.

I was absolutely fascinated by some of the paintings I looked at so many, I really like the Constable ones;The Hay Wain
the hay wain and

The corn field

Of all the paintings in the gallery I discovered that I like the ones which depict normal everyday life the most. I'm also very intrigued by Venice- I may need to add that to the bucket list as somewhere to visit!

After looking around the National gallery I headed off to the Tate modern. I came to the conclusion I don't 'get' Modern art! I'll stick with the classics I think.

I sat on the wall outside the National Gallery and ate my pack up, how do the street performers do this- I could not figure it out I think it is amazing!

Friday, 27 December 2013

a finished knit

I am going to start by saying Merry Christmas- I'm a little late but well we have been busy completing another item off of the bucket list!- I will post about this later as I need to get the pictures developed so that I can show you- there is whole new blog post of a story in that!

So back to the point, I have not posted this week as a we went to Disney and then Christmas eve was spent organising the finishing touches for the big Family Christmas. This evening is the first time that I have sat down since I broke up from school 1 week ago1 It has been fantastic.

The children have gone to visit their dads so I have spent this evening chilling and completing this;

Only 2 months after I started to knit it. Not bad going for me! The pattern took a lot of figuring out initially, but it has been totally worth it. I can't wait to see what Stephanie thinks when she gets home.
I am going to cross off another thing on the bucket list and cast on a knit for myself next. I will be keeping up with this years frugal theme by using a pattern and yarn which I will hopefully find upstairs in the stash, meaning that it won't cost me a penny.
I want to make a good stab at progressing through the bucket list this year. -2014 is going to be the year of fun! More about that later I am still twiddling with the fine details but I am determined that this is going to be a great year :-)

Monday, 2 December 2013

We did it!

Last week I began a challenge to see if I could raise enough money to buy Stephanie and myself a 'new to us' bike each. I sold old goods to the total of £34.50 and Stephanie sold £18.00 worth of her things. Stephanie is saving her 'earnings' towards getting herself a laptop which she is adamant she wants. Well if she can save enough then she can get one!

I spent £20.00 of my earnings on Sunday on this;

My little speed demon loves it! It looks huge at the moment, probably because she is only just big enough to ride it and it is a lot bigger than her last bike. First comment was "mum how heavy is this thing?!" However it wasn't long before she had ridden it all the way around the lake at the park we went to. Then time for a quick play before home;

Now I need to organise a few more items and get myself a new bike. I have £14.50 left over from what we have already sold, ladies bikes seem to be selling for around £40.00 so that gives me another £25.50 to find!

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The beginning of our Christmas celebrations

I LOVE Christmas. Anyone who knows me is aware of this. This week we started our Christmas celebrations. Tuesday was the Christmas fair at Brownies; we had lots of fun playing different games, decorating cakes and a visit to Santa, Stephanie also had her face painted;

Then today was the Brownie visit to the pantomime. As I went as a parent helper I only had to pay £10.00, this was a ticket each for me and Stephanie, our coach there and back and an ice lolly in the interval for Stephanie. Just to get to the panto and back would have cost me £10.00 in fuel so a complete and utter bargain!!

This is Stephanie during the show;


We both absolutely loved it. We saw Jack and the beanstalk, which we saw last year at a different theatre but it was still amazing and so much fun. As always with this things so many jokes went unnoticed for the children but amused us grown ups, others had 2 level of jokes. I LOVE the panto. We have gone on Christmas eve or the day before, for the last few years, but it has been a really nice start to our Christmas celebrations, I will consider going earlier next year now.