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....


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?