Monday, 6 October 2008

Autumn now, Xmas next - scary!

Well the cold is definately settling in now, and in our household we had held out until 1st October to put the heating on... it finally happened on the 4th, this Saturday, as it was quite chilly. Here are some points we have been talking about which may help you...

In August we called our energy supplier and switched to a fixed tariff for gas and electric, I guess for us it's worth the peace of mind. I have also made sure they are going to take a bit more from my Direct Debit every month, to cover the fact we will start to put the heating on more now. Could you benefit from switching suppliers? Even if not, what about a fixed tarff so you get no nasty surprises? Also to avoid some of those, why not set up or increase your direct debit, so you know you will have enough for gas/electric when the bill comes? Paying by DD saves money as they usually give you a discount, and it also allows you to save paper/postage stamps/ envelopes and those horrible big bill days. I love DD and wouldn't go back!

We also decided this weekend we would look at our goal for the next 6 months, which is to really bolster up our savings, as we are hoping to buy a place next Summer. We keep our eyes peeled on the markets but for now we are waiting and seeing, like so many other millions out there. For now we are holding fast with our Icelandic bank called IceSave but we're glued to any news about the Icelandic economy.

In September was interviewed on a local radio station as a first time buyer and what my thoughts were - and in a nutshell, I explained that whereas family and friends used to look down at us for now being 'on the ladder' yet, now they see it as a wise move that we are renting and saving, waiting for more sensible prices to come along. We have friends who bought last summer and are probably now in negative equity - not a pleasant prospect for anyone. In time we will hopefully see some more acceptable prices that reflect people's real wages and with some luck, a balancing of the current market turmoils.

We also took the opportunity last week to cancel our joint gym membership and buy a second hand cross-training machine, which just barely squeezed into our flat. At £60, this is the cost of our joint membership, so in October it has already paid for itself. I have also sourced some free weights for my husband from FreeCycle, which he is happy to collect as there was no spend involved. This has saved us £720 a year and even if I join again in Spring, it is still worthwhile. For now I am using the machine almost daily, sometimes twice a day, because the weather and effort of travel are no longer an excuse!

We bought a counter top freezer for £20 too, which again, just about squeezes into our kitchen, but we feel for the cost will easily pay for itself and much more. We can now batch cook and obtained some free containers from a recent work take-away meal. This means so much to us - and easier dinners from now on. It would also allow us to make homemade pizzas for example in advance and then pop them in the oven which is extra lazy as making them from fresh (pre-bought base) only takes 5 minutes... I can now take advantage of more Buy One Get One Free offers!

My husband agreed to buy a hair trimmer a while back so I am now designated hairdresser! Each time I cut his hair he puts the cost of a haircut in a savings tin, which is great and I have to admit, the first cut was scary but now it's not so bad!

So there you go - some ideas to keep you going as we head into Autumn - I would love to hear what you are up to and what tips you have!


Jo said...

Hi. I'm sure you'll find the freezer very useful. As well as recycling plastic boxes, I also like the "zip" type plastic bags. When I make soup or a pasta sauce, I make a big batch and make it really concentrated. Then I put two portions worth in a bag on which I have already written the date etc etc, squeeze the zip bit together almost to the end, press the air out and finish sealing it. Then I freeze it flat. When it is frozen, I stand it upright. I'm always surprised how many of these bags fit into a small space. The soup just needs thinned down and reheated - my version of Campbells condensed soup. Best of all, if it just a vegetable soup or sauce, I wash out and reuse the bags a time or two. I find them at about 60 for £1 in our local £ shop.

SGist said...

This is such a great idea Jo - and those bags are so much cheaper than the tupperwares, not to mention so much better for space! Hmmm, must check my local pound store!

Jo said...

I appreciate all the tips I pick up from you and from other people. It is nice to be able to share!

Slice of life said...

My best tip is if you make dinner and have left overs, freeze them immediately. If you put them in the fridge and think you will use them, if you are anything like me they will be forgotten. It then has to be thrown out.

The next thing is batch cook, I work fulltime, so I make my own take aways. Saves me time in the long run and a heap of money.

I have cut PB's hair since we have been together. As the current pirce of a mans hair cut around here ranges from £8 to £25. With a hair cut needed every 3 weeks, this was a lot of money down the drain..

Also zip lock bags maybe cheap but they wont break down in the landfill. Ask work colleagues to save take away containers for you. You will be amazed at how many people will bring in.

Also if you have Indian or Asian shops near you bulk buy pulses and spices there. also check out the asian section in the supermarket. We bought basmati rice in Tesco's, in the ethnic area, 5kilo for £5. It was twice the price in the normal rice aisle.

SGist said...

Great suggestions Slice Of Life! Yes since writing this entry I have reconsidered the plastic bags for now as we have plenty of tupperwares that are fine for now.

In terms of leftovers I freeze these only when I know I will not be eating the leftovers next day or night. I do freeze elot of stuff though. To the point that the little extra freezer we bought, is now full! I am now able to buy those cut price supermarket deals (yellow stickers) etc and really benefit from Buy 1 Get 1 Free offers (BOGOF). Throughout the Winter it will be a life saver. Also I know that the £20 we paid for it has already paid for itself in savings! Like the author of TightWad Gazette says (Amy) - you have to invest in items that will repay for themselves as quickly as possible to get the most gain. We did this with the freezer and also the hair clippers I got my husband.

Spices are something I use alot of, so I won't pay more than £0.99p for a 100g bag, a far better deal at my Asian store than the supermarkers ever offer! x