Tuesday, 18 March 2014

March 2014 Hair Update

Well that month went quickly!
I am now into my 3rd month of washing my hair every other day. I never thought that would happen.
As I mentioned in my previous post I have been alternating between washing and using a dry shampoo/style extender in the form of Bumble & Bumble pret a powder.
Here is my 2nd day hair in all its glory.

This pot of wonderfullness is worth every penny. A little has gone a very long way and leaves no residue. I think this could easily last 6 months at the amount I am using.
I am starting to prefer day 2 hair (shock horror). My hair has more bounce and volume and my natural wave is more defined but with a bit of frizz.
It was 6 months since my last cut. I can now scrape it back into a pony but still a long way from the desired top knot. However there were signs that breakage was on the horizon so I bit the bullet and had a trim. Normally a trip to the hairdressers for me would be a drastic change in style that warranted the price tag of £27.50. I know £27.50! I will say it again £27.50 for nothing more than a trim.
Alas that equates to £4.58 a month so not all bad in the scheme of things and even better as I had been putting said amount away in another account for this day. So all accounted for! It was worth every penny. For that hour I felt pampered and it has given my hair some direction.
Growing out an inverted bob can be hard work when the style warrants an upkeep of a trim every 6-8 weeks.
It is now less inverted and getting to one length.
My ends are feeling a little dry so on the 2nd day I have been applying a cheap hair oil mask that I picked up from the local B & M store. For £1.99 this adds a bit more moisture.
Another dilemma I am having is the appearance of a few grey hairs. Having not dyed my hair for 4 months they are rearing their heads. At the moment it is not enough to reach for the dye but I am hoping with summer on its way a bit of sun will disguise any more that may decide to come through. I am 33, not old by any means but I don't want to look older than I am, but want to age gracefully and with minimal future upkeep on colour. This is a wait and see issue I think.
This month I picked up this to banish the frizz and tame those dry ends.

This is John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir £6.99 from Superdrug. In one pump of oil this claims to nourish and block frizz for 50% smoother healthier hair.
Watch this space for an update at the end of the month.
Do you suffer from frizz? How do you achieve glossy hair?

Friday, 14 March 2014

Budget update March 2014

The budgets have been drawn up and spending is planned and allowed for. I came in £4.72 under target in the food spend for February which I am very happy about. I was determined to hit this target. Come the last few days there were a couple raised eyebrows on what was served up for dinner from the other half. I simply said it's ifits. If it's there we are eating it! 
March has started rather nicely and calmly. I have discovered the Money Hub app from Yourwealth.co.uk. This is an app that does it all. It allows you to budget your spend on each area of your spends and allows you to link these budgets to your bank and savings accounts. It also enables you to do some future financial planning such as setting savings and debt goal and works out your financial worth taking into consideration what your assets and liabilities are. 
It updates regularly so takes out the hard work of updating budget spreadsheets, but it costs £9.99 a year. This is worth it in my eyes there is no excuse of not having enough time to update as it is all done automatically. Therefore I have no excuse not to know what I have left to spend and where I have to make cutbacks.
A great app to have for on the go financial management.

Now back to business...
We are nearly half way into the month and I am on track to come in under budget for everything. I have had to move some budgets around though. There was some body lotion on offer at superdrug that I needed and wanted to take advantage of a buy 1 get 1 half price deal. Therefore I have decided to cut my fuel budget as this is way there is the most scope for change. Easy enough as I was under last month. I find it so liberating to be able to chop and change my budgets according to the current months requirement. There is simply no point in beating myself up about going over on one element. This is not set in stone and should be flexible within reason.
Do you change around your budget? 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Is it worth skimping?

During my family's quest to get more for our money it goes hand in hand that you try to get the same things you always have but for cheaper.
This for everyone is trial and error and before you realise you have trialed a dozen varieties and are still none the wiser and perhaps out of pocket after ditching the cheaper alternative.
A few items come to mind:
Ah black bags! The pain in the proverbial in our household. The cheap and overfilled ones that end up all over the floor caused by the slightest jagged edge. No one wants to pay more than you have to for these but at the same time you don't want to end up on your hands and knees retrieving mouldy bags and banana skins.

Coffee yum yum! A good cup of this can make or break my day. I tend to only buy branded coffee as I just cannot find a good value brand anywhere. If you know where let me know as I have given up looking. I am a definite snob on the coffee front I will not drink it for the sake of it especially if it's bad and will go so far as to snub a local coffee shop if they serve a latte from a machine. I mean how hard is it to froth some milk and add a shot?! A latte in a coffee shop nowadays is a treat so therefore it has to be good.
Clothes and shoes need to be good quality in order to last. I am by no means disputing that you can't get good quality items of clothes for cheap. For items like coats and boots I prefer to pay more. These are items that are likely to be worn for many years and are classic in style to take me from season to season, are functional and built to last such as a brown winter boot, waterproof coat and flip flops. I do skimp on seasonal fashion that updates my wardrobe that will either only be in for one season or what I know will not be my taste as I get older. I do like to peruse the online auction sites such as eBay for these items. More often than not getting good quality used items for a fraction of the price of what it would have been had I bought it on the high street. There is no better feeling than someone saying how much they love your dress and being able to proudly state you got it on ebay or from a charity shop for £5.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Shop your wardrobe

I had been guilty for so long of wearing the same combinations of clothing getting bored and then going out on a shopping spree to relieve the boredom. Then wearing said shopping spree items to death and beginning the cycle all over again.

My wardrobe was fit to bursting point and only when I was moving house did I realise my faux pas!
Discovering you have a multitude of black vests showed I had a shopping problem!
Sorting out your wardrobe and having a good delve in regularly is almost like going on a shopping spree without the credit card bill at the end of it! Hurray!
Since ditching my emotional and habitual shopping addiction I have changed the way I treat my wardrobe. 
For quite a while I have been rotating my wardrobe. What I mean by this is that I wear everything from right to left. When it is washed it is cleaned and hung on the left side of my wardrobe. (Geez OCD alert!) I have in my wardrobe enough items to rotate and wear something different for about a month. Then I am back to trying new combinations all over again. They key here is to mix it up or clash a few colours or prints. Accessorising is key for me. A statement necklace or a scarf can transform an outfit from casual to smart very easily.
This process has taught me one thing, Faddy fashion are just that Faddy. Any additions to the my wardrobe now are thought through and try to be timeless pieces. 
Every 3 months I take an afternoon, usually while Dexter is having his afternoon nap to assess my wardrobe. I take out the items that I just don't love wearing anymore. I no longer push these items to the black hole that is the bottom of my wardrobe. Instead I pop them on eBay. Boy do I love eBay. eBay is my mothership of retail! That is a post all if it's own. I literally could talk eBay all day.

I digress... 

So once I have had a quarterly rummage I deduce what I need and don't need and of course what I want. From this assessment ( I kid you not it gets a little obsessive!) I sell the unwanted items. Then with my mental list I trawl eBay or sales in the high street should there be any for the items that I need/want. This is the majority of the time paid for from the proceeds of the unwanted items. 
I do love to look good and feel good in what I wear but I just point blank refuse to pay full price. I rarely if ever buy anything that is full price. Unless it's primark of course!

This month I picked up this Joules gilet. I had my eye on this one last year. At £50 in the sale I could just not warrant the cost. I knew I wanted it and if I could be patient I would be able to get it eventually. So imagine my delight when I saw said gilet on eBay with just 10 minutes to go. I was all over it! Winning it for £21.50 including postage. Yes it's not brand new but who knows apart from me and now you. 
Looking good does not have to cost the earth...

How do you shop your wardrobe?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Budget - Feeding the Family

Feeding the family on a budget is something I have been trying to do for a while.
It is the probably the main area that most families including myself try to focus on to slim the monthly spend.
Some months it is more some it is less than expected
For our 2 adults and 1 child household this is £325.00 per month for 2014. It would be so easy to just accept that as food prices increase so will my budget. As we know for most of us unfortunately our earnings don't increase in line with that. If only!
At some point a line has to be drawn in the sand and we have to get creative with the figures.
To some people my budget is too much and to others this is not enough. I don't know what it is to us just yet. It is a work in progress.
Tracking the family spend is an eye opener. You soon realise where your unneccesary spending is.

For January our grocery spend to include nappies and toiletries came to £374.81. A whopping £49.81 over budget. In that there was a few convenience food purchases which were unnecessary. I know if I cook all meals from scratch they are going to be tastier and cheaper. A win win situation. I love my food really I do. This girl didn't put on 4 stone during pregnancy eating lettuce!

This got me thinking did I need to buy that 4 bird roast on offer that was reduced and did I need that pizza that looked appetizing.
The answer is no.
I do believe in buying items if the deal is right and you buy them regulary and they aren't perishable. In January this was nappies for Little D. Morrison's were having a baby event where nappies were half price. I bought 2 boxes which are still going strong now.
In my defence though the freezer is full of meat and vegetables so I could take a good chunk of that off my total theoretically but I won't because that is cheating and it has been spent.
So far for February my spend is at £273.56. This leaves me £51.44 to spend until the end of month. From this I have to buy all the food for little D's 2nd birthday party and top up of bread, milk and fresh fruit and veg.
In an ideal world this should be easily achievable, the stores are full and menus are planned but a kids party too this is going to be a challenge.
I have to focus on using up what I have, after all its not there to be looked at. It isn't going to keep me warm at night. Although there is something very comforting about being able to open your fridge and cupboards and see they are full. Reflecting on it though I have lined the supermarkets pockets before I had to when it could have been sat in my bank account keeping the other pennies warm
More effort needed for sure.
I will update at the end of the month as to how I got on.
Going forward I have realised it's all well and good making a list and doing a meal plan but I have to incorporate and use what I have already. I am therefore for March going to take a stock take of what I have in the kitchen. Every morsel of food and condiment will be counted.
From this I will know what I have and don't have. I have never done this before so should be quite the eye opener as I like to think I know exactly what's in my cupboards.
From this I will be able to devise a meal plan utilising what I have and be able to make a more accurate list of what I need. 
Nobody wants to spend more than they have to on anything especially not me. Not the new me!
What are you doing to feed your family on a budget? 
What is your budget?

(Boy do I need to organise those food cupboards - excuse the mess!)

Monday, 17 February 2014

National chip week 17th - 23rd February

Today is the start of National Chip Week


Like me you are probably wanting to head to the nearest chippy for a portion of that oh so naughty fried potato. Is there actually a better smell that chips with lashings of vinegar!

Erm No....

I do love a chip shop chip but boy do they pack some calories.

Here is my recipe for a much healthier version.

Home baked healthy chips

Serves 1- can be multiplied to serve multiple easily

250g potatoes - Maris Piper is the usual potato of choice

Fry light

Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar to serve

Calories = 260

1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees (200 degrees for fan oven)
2. Peel the potatoes if desired or for extra fibre leave with the skin on
3. Slice each potato into chip like sticks and place in saucepan of salted boiling water.
4. Simmer for 5 minutes until partially cooked and drain and leave to air dry for a few minutes.
5. Spray a baking tray with fry light to coat  and then place the partially cooked potatoes in one layer. Spray the potatoes generously to coat and place at the top of the oven.
6. Leave to cook for 10 minutes, take out and rotate. Respray with fry light if needed and return to oven. Do this in 10 minute intervals until you have the desired bake.
7. Take out of the oven and season with sea salt and vinegar to your taste and of course lashing of tomato ketchup. Enjoy!!

How do you make your chips?

Friday, 14 February 2014

To the man in my life.. Happy Valentines x

You're not just my friend
You're my love
You're not just my love
You're my heart
You're not just my heart
You're my life
You're not just my life
You're my everything xxx

Thursday, 6 February 2014

To wash or not to wash...

My hair of course...
Ever since I could remember I have shampooed and conditioned my hair every day until a few weeks ago. 
You see I am trying to grow my hair after years of trying,getting bored and going for the chop.
I have lusted after luscious long locks for so long.
2014 is the year that I achieve this.
I have researched how I can achieve this and the first tip I gained was to not wash my hair everyday. 
A little back ground about my hair. It has a natural wave and since ghds hit town has been a slave to heat. Over the years this has thinned my hair and of course has caused a lot of damage. My hair no matter how hard I tried never grew beyond shoulder length.
The ghds are tucked away and have been for months. I am embracing the wave. Already this has helped but the next step is to only wash every other day.
This has not been easy. My hair has felt dirty. The science behind it is that I am not stripping my hair of its natural oils which nourish my hair and fingers crossed enable it to grow thick and luscious. In my dreams!
Nourishing or not my hair has been looking like an oil slick come the 2nd day.
On the plus side less time spent in the shower, meaning less shampoo, conditioner and water saved. All good in the quest to save those pennies.
Alas I look a state...
I had to do something.

I bought dry shampoo. First up I tried Baptiste £2.99 which can be found in array of fragrances and is available everywhere on the high street.
Whether I am using it wrongly or it's just not for me. This stuff has irritated my scalp am I the only one? Perhaps I am not using it correctly. Tips on this would be gratefully received.


I am giving myself a change.
After reading lots of blogs I have decided to try the Bumble & Bumble Pret a Powder £21.50

This stuff is by no means cheap but figuring that I should get a quite a few months use from it unlike the Baptiste that lasts less than a month, I figured there wasn't a whole lot of difference in the price. 
So far so good, I have used it a couple times and no scalp irritation hallelujah!
It still doesn't beat washing your hair but who knows this whole dry shampoo lark might grow on me. It has given my hair renewed volume on day 2 without my hair feeling like it's been through a sand storm.
As it's still early days I will update again at the end of the month.

What dry shampoos are a winner for you?
Any tips for growing hair?
Seriously I need your pearls of wisdom!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Clothes horse

Having read on twitter last week that the average household has 4k of clothing in their wardrobe of which 30% is unworn has got me thinking.

At the first take I thought no that's not us then I took a real good luck
My most unworn items are shoes. I am a boots in the winter and a flip flops in the summer kinda gal.
Since having a baby that is fast becoming the usain bolt of the toddler world, stiletto heels have become a no no.
Next on the list are party dresses which come out maybe half a dozen times a year now if that. Lovely dresses that look so pretty but no longer cater to the body of a 30 something who has had a baby without spanx!
It is therefore my aim for February to rid myself of these impractical and unwearable items that I will never wear or use again. Who's with me?
So far 7 such items have been sold on eBay for approx £45. Not a bad start eh! Who knew that £'s were literally hanging up in my wardrobe.
It's amazing the feeling that having a bit of a clear out gives you and of course the £'s added to the bank account is always a bonus. 
It's Dexter's 2nd birthday in two weeks so this money will come in handy for his party.
Are you having a clear out?
Is there anything you can't bear to part with?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Tackling budgets

After achieving debt freedom in October 2013 I gave myself a couple months to just let my hair down and enjoy life.
I needed it after being so focused on the goal of being debt free. I enjoyed the Christmas festivities without getting into debt it felt soooo good.
However it could have been so easy to fall back into the trap of overspending. Of course every parent wants to give their child everything on their Christmas wish list. Most people around me were busy rushing around the shops spending money they didn't have. I didn't. 
I feel like I am bragging! I hope I don't come across like that.
Far more important to me was to spend lots of quality time as a family.
We both work full time so time spent as a family is precious. We had been brought up to believe that money can't buy you love. We want to bring our son up to think that too.


Money is needed to pay the bills, put food on the table and provide a future for our family.

I have mentioned already I am a trained accountant. Budgets and allocating money to pots is second nature in my professional life so setting these targets has to come across to my home life also.

Over left overs during our Christmas holidays the OH and I devised a budget with a little help from the budget planner on the MoneySavingExpert website.
This website is a treasure trove for getting more for your money and making every penny go further. If you don't do anything else today take a look. I dare you not to save money. Anyway I digress....

 Image: fijourney.com

It is quite simple...

We determined what was the minimum we had coming in each month. This gave us the maximum we could spend. Spending beyond our means is no longer an option in our overall goal of mortgage freedom and saving for the retirement pot.
From this essential spending was determined. In this category is the mortgage, council tax, gas, electric, water, insurance, TV license, mobiles, home phone, broadband, mortgage overpayment, household maintenance pot. These are fixed monthly costs that invariably don't change. If they do the whole budget is reviewed. This is paid for before anything else.
Next comes the variable spending. In this category is the food shop, petrol and motor expenses. These vary from month to month but a ball park figure is set and as best we can we stick to it. If we go over one month we cut back the next. We do this by eating up our stores or not making that unnecessary trip in the car.

The rest is what we consider as luxuries. Such as days out, hobbies, eating out, hair cuts, clothes, holidays, birthdays, Christmas. Within this luxury category we set aside an amount each month into a savings account from which these luxuries can be bought or paid for. If it isn't there we can't have it.

If we are lucky and have been careful with the budgets and our calculations we have some free money left. OK its not free but this is the money left that we can buy whatever we want with without guilt or questioning from the OH. So if I want to buy another pair of shoes that I don't need I can!!

And that's it. This is how we do it. How do you tackle budgets? Have you got any tips?

Monday, 3 February 2014

Getting more miles

Fuel prices are forever on the rise. In the last 10 years fuel prices have gone up by 75%.

Gone are the days of filling up the car on £30. Nowadays it's more like £60.
We can't make a difference with how much it costs but we can make a difference with how much we use. Here are my five tips to how I get more miles for my money:
1. Check your tyre pressure. Tyres that aren't fully pumped to the required levels can affect your consumption. Check your pressures monthly. I fill my car up monthly so do this after visiting the pump.
2. Empty your car of unnecessary loads. The heavier the car the harder the vehicle has to work. I try to clean my car every month (try being the operative word) at the very least I will empty all unnecessary contents.
3. Drive less aggressively. Try to avoid erratic speeding up or slowing down of your car. This will also save those brake pads. I live in rural Cornwall where venturing down country lanes is an everyday occurrence and having to reverse back for tractors is the norm. So fast driving is not an option.
4. If your lucky enough to have cruise control use it. This will help to maintain a constant speed and encourages you to look further ahead and react more steadily to oncoming traffic. I don't have cruise control but try to maintain the car in as high a gear as possible.
5. Check you have replaced your petrol cap properly. Put your hands up if you have not done this? What only me!

Where all else fails put one foot in front of the other and walk! Your shoes are bought and paid for....If only it was as easy as that!

What do you do to get more miles?

Friday, 31 January 2014

Those dark days are over...

2011 was the year that changed my life as I know it.

In June 2011 I got pregnant.

I had been wishing for this for such a long time and finally it had happened to us.

Then came the panic. I am in debt, how am I going to afford a baby and be on maternity leave, pay the bills, service my debts and provide for the future.

You are probably thinking why didn't you think of that before you got pregnant. I did but then I had the notion of can you ever really afford to have children?

At this point in our lives we were renting a lovely two bed semi. We came over all responsible and decided we should buy. The OH had savings and we had offers of help with a deposit so we took the plunge.

In November 2011 we moved into a new build three bed house, which incidentally would cost us less than our old rented property. This was when I was six months pregnant and had no baby items except a cute hat

Cue the new me. Everything I bought was either pre loved (eBay is a saviour) or given to me by kind friends and family. I did want that £800 pram from the high street but settled for the £150 one from eBay which was just as good and later sold it on eBay for about the same. Hence free!!

If I didn't need it I didn't buy it, and if I thought I did I checked with Mum to make sure I did.

Fast forward to 1st March 2012

Everything that money couldn't buy filled my life with joy...

That new dress didn't make me happy anymore but cuddles in the middle of the night while feeding my son did.

Cocktail.. No thank you I will have a cuppa!

I had a new focus enjoy the small things and the money spent on the once big things to service the debts.

Fast Forward to October 2013

After a year and a half of getting used to motherhood I have paid off all debts.It hasn't been easy! I did get that urge to go shopping after pay day but not as you know it instead I went shopping on my debts. I overpaid the highest debts first than snowballed that payment to the next one until they were gone.

2014 is the year that I have started for the first time since 2001 with no debts except the mortgage that is.

2014 is the year we start to overpay our mortgage. We won't go without to do it but we will do what we want as cheaply as possible. Life is still for living but we are mindful of providing for our future selves also.

Why have I called this Spendthriftways you may ask?

I am a spend thrift in nature. I like what I like, I have expensive taste sadly. But I refuse to pay top dollar. So that might be my way but it is not what I do.

This blog for me will be about documenting how I reach my goal of financial freedom. I can't tell you how long it will take me or if things will change but I will show you how I have done it in my way.

It might not be right but it will be my spendthriftway.....

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Spendthrift days ...

So here I am 21 years old single and working. I had no responsibility except to feed myself and a pocket full of money. I spent spent spent until there was no more. I partied hard, went shopping every week without fail for that must have dress and shoes and frittered away all I had. Alongside my day job as a trainee accountant I did bar work which fuelled my social life. I made lots of friends or so I thought.

At the time I thought this was making me happy but all it was doing slowly but surely was making me get into more and more debt. I spent what I earnt and more besides. This was the culture then. Credit cards were offered to me monthly. The thought process then was well if I can afford the minimum payment then yes I will spend. Before I knew it, I was in at least £20k of debt and struggling to make minimum payments.

The me of today would have written down a plan of what I owed and how I was going to pay it. Stupidly I didn't. All the while I am training to be an accountant. I knew if you spent more than you earnt then it was only going to be a slippery slope to bankruptcy. There was no waking up and smelling the coffee. I was in denial I had a problem.

It took meeting the love of my life and best friend to make all things change.

This was not an overnight turnaround. I still liked to socialise and buy nice things but the love of a good man filled the hole in my life that I seemed to have been desperately trying to fill.

Fast forward five years to 2011 and everything and I mean everything changed...

Monday, 13 January 2014

A little bit about me...

I am 33 years old woman and I am a Spendthrift. There I said it!

Admitting this after years of denial in my 20's  has been like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
I am, used to be and still am a little bit (ssshhhh!) that person that you would see with a new hair style monthly and a wardrobe that could clothe a small country. Dominoes was on speed dial and my mobile phone bill would pay half of my mortgage in today's calculation.

That WAS me..

Getting older and maybe a little bit wiser has shown me that all of these things were just material. They covered up temporarily the hurt and anxiety that I was experiencing. I was lonely and sad and spending money made me feel better. Also everyone else was doing it so why couldn't I?

I had a humble childhood. We didn't have much in terms of material things, but I had food in my belly and a loving family.  This love I had as a teenager was misinterpreted then. My parents were strict. I was the eldest and I was treated how my parents were treated at the same age. I rebelled and left home at 16 just like they had.

I can pinpoint my spendthrift ways began at this point.
I didn't become a spendthrift in the financial sense but in the food sense. I comfort ate to replace the love I had lost from my parents and sisters and consequently put on 2 stone overnight. If I saw it I ate it!!
However I did complete my GCSE's and A levels and got a place at university to teach and lost the 2 stone through Weight Watchers!

At this point of my life was where it all had started to go wrong. I was unhappy with my relationship, unhappy with my career choice and generally had hit a cross road. I could carry on with the chosen path of teaching in a relationship with a man who was nice but just didn't excite me or I could change all that. You guessed it I changed everything!

I left university and split up with my long term boyfriend without any real thought. I was a ruthless 21 year old that didn't look back. I literally opened up the jobs page of a local paper closed my eyes and picked a job. The fate of my career future was in that one digit. Luckily for me it was a job that I had a chance of doing. A trainee accountant. Maths had been my favourite subject at school so I went for it.

I began the job with much enthusiasm and with it my first real pay packet at the end of the month.
I thought I was rich and the world was my oyster. I was single could do what I wanted when I wanted and how I wanted. So I did. This is when I became a true spendthrift...

I will tell you how in a few days time.

Speak soon

L x