Thursday, 11 September 2008

Clearout for Autumn

With the UK weather treating us to wind, rain and flooding again, it seems a good time to admit that Summer is truly finished - I don't want to pin my hopes on September!

I have now collected some items round the house to donate to charity, and promised that we will not buy many new things for September and October unless we really, really, really need them. Given that we need nothing desperately, this should go ok, although clothes are excluded from the deal... in any case, we have cleared lots of old unwanted clothes too, to allow space for new items.

This the perfect time to review dvd's, cd's, clothes and books that may be sellable, and that we don't want anymore. It might even be taht we can make enough profit for example, so we can put this towards the cost of Christmas.

In saying that, I am also happy to buy items, if and only if, I believe I can sell them on ebay or Amazon. I recently purchased a £2 brand new terramundi ceramic piggy bank jar with tags, which sold on ebay for £7 plus postage. I made £5.20 clean profit right there... needless to say this has gone into my snowflaking account!

As I read recently in a book, imagine that the clutter you have at the moment is actually taking up valuable space and so it's 'costing' you £70 a month, which you could be making in food and gift savings on purchases, or ebay sales. That made me sharpen up my act pretty quickly, as we live in a small flat!

Anyway, my recommendation to you is that given the current weather, you take the time to make space for the new season. Space to start buying Christmas presents you might see at a good price, to stock up on food that may be on special offer, to buy items to sell on and generally get yourself some more value from space in your home.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Small steps, big payoffs

Well September has started without a hitch – new budget, new start.

Shopping wise, we are again taking part in MoneySavingExpert’s monthly grocery challenge and have set ourselves £120 budget for the month, covering 2 adults. This includes food, wine, any cleaning materials. However, as my hubby won lots of wine last month for reaching sales targets, we should be ok, and as I bulk shopped for quite a few things in August, that will also help. Cleaning wise we don’t spent much in supermarkets, as you will see below.

Small stuff we have started to do in the last 2 years, that doesn’t ‘hurt’ much:

Downgrading from brands – I have never been a brand lover but trying the supermarkets own has started to feel easier, we try bread, tinned items, and much more. I find that especially with tinned items there’s much money to be saved.

Using Freecycle and other networks – when you need something, you ‘put the word out’ on networks like that and you may find someone has it as junk that they need to get rid of!

Squirreling / snowflaking savings – At the end of each month, if we have any money left, it gets put into savings. Sometimes I even do this during the month and save as I go… makes a surprising difference, the odd pound here and there. I used to do it so that £53.89, would mean I would transfer £3.89 to savings. I have an IceSave savings account for this and keep tabs of what that total is made up of in a spreadsheet. For our joint account, anything in there at the end of the month goes to our ISA.

Printing vouchers – It’s true that so many more restaurants, bars, brands and leisure companies are trying to get our attention now. I have found more eat out vouchers in my e-mail inbox than anything else recently. So when I want to go out to one of our favourite eateries, we choose the place that has the best vouchers on at the time. This for us is Yo Sushi, Ha Ha Bar and Strada and you can’t turn around these days without at least one of them having an offer on. My friends are all into this as well now to save some cash, I like to think I have converted them! Of course there are also supermarket vouchers and other money saving opportunities on travel and more...

Household cleaning – A while back I discovered a) soda crystals and b) that washing powder is cheaper than liquid powder overall for washing your clothes. So by pouring boiling water into the tray prior to washing, and mixing half the normal amount of powder, plus half soda crystals, my washing is much, much cheaper, and with the boiling water treatment, no white marks.

I am also a huge fan of Stardrops if you can find it – around £0.70p for one bottle and as it is concentrated it will last you a long, long time. Use is sparingly diluted in water for most household cleaning. I like to add a little to a spray bottle with some aromatherapy oil, fill up with water, and use this for all kitchen cleaning. SD is also great used neat for stubborn kitchen stains and so much more. Just type in ‘Stardrops usage’ into Google and you will get the idea! Best £0.70p you have ever spent and I have even given it to friends and family!

I am also a convert to baking soda, now available in 500g boxes from Tesco for £0.99p. I order mine online and save on carrying it home…

Making your own – We have started to make our own bread and yoghurt, as well as keeping our own basil, parsley, thyme, a chilli and a red pepper plant. It’s a small start in a small flat, but we’re happy and will see what else we can do in time.

Top notch savings – We ensure we both have the best ISA account rates, so that interest is growing on our savings at the highest level it can. Once both our ISA’s are full, and we have therefore kept the taxman from taking any of that money, we then save to the best instant savings accounts. I rarely have the patience for fixed term deposits, the only exception being a deal that IceSave did recently, and my account matures in November on that one. I will then return to normal instant savings with them. By transferring money electronically each month, the transfer hits faster and so starts to earn quicker. I can’t recommend highly enough that you start transferring a small amount per month into savings, as soon as you get paid. ‘Paying yourself first’ is an essential building block in getting some money saved up for rainy days. You never notice it, and it should be a priority for anyone who has no debts to pay off.

I will add more tips as I can think of them but do drop your own comments here so we can share money-saving ideas!