Tag Archive | Budgeting

Back To Basics & Making My Own Cleaning Products.

This weekend I spent a happy hour checking our finances were in order.  I regularly make sure that I have entered every little purchase to make sure we know exactly where every penny has gone to.  This helps us to save money in the long term as we can see if there are any problem areas that we need to concentrate on.

Unfortunately we are not perfect and one thing I noticed this time, is we are starting to visit the shops more and more often.  Each time is for something I have forgotten to buy on my ‘big’ shop at the beginning of the month.  This wouldn’t be quite so bad if we just bought what I needed, but the supermarkets are clever and we nearly always come out with an extra something that we don’t really need and it uses up more of our food budget.

Recently, I have been working so hard on my allotment (due to being poorly in Autumn) that I have started to take shortcuts when I come home and I have been making ‘easier’ meals and not sticking to my meal plans.  So I know this is at the root of the problem and this has got to stop and it’s back to strictly keeping to a meal plan for us.  Luckily I have just about ‘caught up’ with my winter jobs at my allotment, so hopefully I can get back to normal now.

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Regular visitors to my blog will know that one thing I do regularly to save money, is to make laundry liquid.  On Saturday I ran out of my last batch of liquid, so I made some more.

I prefer to wash our clothes using homemade laundry liquid, as I know what goes into it….I suffer quite badly with excema and I used to find that shop-bought powers and liquids always made my excema worse.  My homemade laundry liquid doesn’t seem to affect me all, which is great and it is really really easy to make.

The laundry liquid only takes 10-15 minutes to make and it lasts for weeks.  It is great for every day washing and the last time I worked it out a few months ago, it cost me approximately £1.75 to make and I managed to get 71 washes out of it.  This works out at a staggering 2.5p per wash….the supermarkets can’t beat that!

The recipe for the liquid is here.

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I use old ‘pop’ bottles to store the liquid in, which I label and keep under my sink.

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This weekend I also made some more dishwasher liquid using ‘soapnuts’:

I know there will be people reading my blog today who use them regularly for washing clothes, but unfortunately I didn’t think they washed our clothes very well even though I followed the instructions to the letter and I did try using them various times before I decided to give up.

So my soap nuts sat unused for ages, but I couldn’t bare to throw them away as I had paid good money for them.

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In January I discovered that you can use soapnuts to make a dishwasher liquid and this is something I have been trialing since January and I have found it works really well.  When my stash of soap nuts finally run out, I will definately buy some more.

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  I find that if I use the liquid in my dishwasher every wash, then grease builds up inside my dishwasher, so I have found that it works best if I use it for two washes and then wash once with a shop-bought dishwasher tablet once and then use the dishwasher liquid twice etc.  This way it still saves me quite a bit of money.

You can find how to make it here.

My Dishwasher Liquid

My Dishwasher Liquid

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Incidentally,  I also topped up the rinse aid compartment in my dishwasher this week.  Again I don’t buy a shop-bought rinse aid, I use white distilled vinegar which is very cheap to buy from your local supermarket and works just as well.

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Another thing I did at the weekend was to make some more ‘multi-purpose vinegar spray’.  I use this to clean down my work surfaces in my kitchen, our table mats, my cooker hob etc.  Again it is really cheap to make and it lasts ages, but more importantly I know what goes into it.

All it is made of is distilled white vinegar (which most supermarkets sell), with a few drops of ‘Tea Tree Oil’ (which I buy from Wilkinsons).

Distilled white vinegar is great as it’s cheap to buy and cuts through grease and dirt and is antibacterial too, so it kills most germs.  It does smell when you first spray it, but the smell doesn’t linger and no one will know you have used it.  White vinegar is milder than malt vinegar and dries odourless.

I mix the vinegar with a few drops of Tea Tree Oil which has anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties too.

This makes a fantastic natural multi-purpose cleaner and it lasts for ages:

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I use a lot of ‘old fashioned’ cleaning methods as I like the thought of not using chemicals and saving money at the same time.  I wrote about all the ‘old fashioned cleaning methods’ I could think of here if anyone is interested.

I find that I feel rather smug now when I see people with expensive chemical cleaners and washing powders in their trollies, knowing that I wash and clean for a faction of what they are paying.

My cleaning cupboard consists of only a few things that clean eveything in my house…and that’s the way I like it..

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

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Budgeting Can Save You Money

Every month, without fail, I work out our money to make sure that we are budgeting correctly.

Some people think that budgeting means that they are going to have to stop spending money on all the good things they do in life.

In fact it can be the opposite, as it quite often can increase the money you have to spend on the good things in life, as it stops you from wasting money on the things you don’t need.

For example, if you buy a £2.50 takeaway coffee, on your way to work each morning, this adds up to approximately £587 per year!  I’m sure this money could be well spent on something better than cups of coffee.  You could quite easily get up a little bit earlier and have a cup of coffee before you leave the house, or even when you first get to work?

Looking at where your money goes to each month is a good way to stop you from overspending.

If you do overspend each month, then you can find yourself very quickly spiralling into debt and paying more and more interest every month on credit cards, bank loans, store cards etc.

There is no right or wrong way to budget and it’s important to find a way that suits you, but this is how we do it:

At the very beginning, when I first started to budget, I listed down all our outgoings.

Here is a list of the things we budget for monthly:

Mortgage

Council tax

Water rates

Gas and electricity

Buildings and contents insurance

TV licence

Food, toiletries, cleaning products, prescription charges

Mobile phone charges

Car expenses (incl petrol, breakdown service, MOT, services etc.)

School transport costs

Allotment expenses

Dental charges

Hair cuts

Clothes and shoes (incl. school uniforms)

Girl’s karate expenses

Christmas and birthday presents

Holidays

Spending money (for odds and sods, outings, etc.)

Absolutely everything above is budgeted for.

When I first made a list of outgoings, I hadn’t a clue what we spent on some of these things.  For some things, I needed to look back at old bank or credit card statements and other things I had to check old receipts if I still had them.   For example, I needed to look back at my last three months’ worth of food shopping receipts, so I could work out our average monthly spend.

I was lucky as I could work most of our expenditure out, but If you haven’t kept your receipts or statements, then it is a good idea to write down a list of every little thing you spend your money on for a whole month, so you know exactly where your money goes to.

This really is an eye opener and sometimes, even when you have been budgeting for years, it’s a worthwhile exercise to do again.

Afterwards, my husband and I looked at each of the things we spend money on and set a budget for them.  Some things we knew exactly how much we pay for each month e.g. gas and electricity and other things were harder to work out e.g. christmas and birthday presents.

We then looked at our monthly income and took it away from our monthly budget, we found out exactly why we were overspending every month, as our income was far less than the amount we were actually spending.

At this time, I had just had my eldest daughter and I didn’t want to go back to work, so things really had to change.  We sat down and scrutinised each and every category to see if the budget for that area could be reduced further.  It’s amazing what you can do if you try hard enough.

We switched gas and electricity suppliers, cancelled magazine subscriptions, re-looked at our food purchases, stopped having takeaways etc. and eventually managed to bring our outgoings down.

One of the areas we did struggle on, was reducing our spending on christmas and birthday presents.  Strangely enough, we did find it easy to spend less on each other and even the kids, but we have two large families and a large circle of friends and we did find it hard to reduce the amount of money we spent on presents for other people.

We did try and explain to people that we just couldn’t spend the same amount on people anymore and most people were fine about this and understood, but not all did, which hurt at the time.  Since then I’ve realised the opinion of the people concerned, really didn’t matter anyway.

I’m not saying it was easy at the beginning, as it wasn’t.  In fact, it is hard to cut back on your spending when you are used to buying whatever you want to, whenever you want, but in time your attitude towards money does change.  It can actually become a challenge each time you need to buy something and to spend less on it than you are expecting to pay.

Since we first made a budget, we have always kept a close eye on it and we have made changes along the way.  For instance, shortly after my first daughter was born, we worked out that we couldn’t afford another baby on the budget we had, so we needed to find something quite substantial to cut back on.  We decided our car was not a necessity, but a luxury, so we sold it!  It was hard to adjust at first, but after a while it didn’t seem so bad and I went on to have another beautiful baby girl.

Today, my daughters are nearly 15 and 13 years old, so budgeting is a normal way of life for us now.  We have our ups and downs with money still, but we are certainly more prepared for emergencies now than we were before we budgeted years ago.

I will be writing about our birthday and christmas money saving, in the future.  For the moment, you can read about ways to reduce your food shopping bills here and ways to reduce holiday spending here.

You really can still enjoy life on a small budget, you just need to look at things from a different perspective.  You don’t have to be the same as everyone else and keep up with the ‘Jones’, in fact it can be more fun to actually do things differently.

Finally, if you are struggling with debt in the UK, please do not contact a debt specialist that charges to help you to solve your debt problems.  There is a wonderful free website with all the information you need to know when you are in debt.  It gives details of people that will give you advice, free of charge.  It is called ‘The Money Saving Expert’ and you can find it here.

Thank you for reading my blog today.