De-clutter and make some money

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Hello Dear Reader,

Yesterday, I invited you to take part, should you choose in my month long fiscal fast, I also said that I’d have a clear out and try and make as much money as I’d save. Well, you can join in with this one too and with a little bit of help from yours truly, make a bit more on top as well.

I had a serious de-clutter of DVDS, some of which were Disney films and relics of the long grown up offspring. I could have listed them one by one on an auction site but I wanted them gone and wanted to get a few quid for them too. I used Ziffit which is an online site where you can sell books, DVDs and games for cash. I downloaded the app to my phone and then just scanned the bar codes and instantly was told how much each item would be bought for. If you don’t have a smart phone or tablet, don’t worry as you can go to their website and enter the codes. It soon added up. I had a box full of books and DVDs and I found a box and parcelled them up. I printed off the free label and stuck that on the box and all I had to do was take that to a local drop off point which in my case was a local shop, then scanned the parcel, gave me a receipt and I walked home. I’ll be paid via paypal, which I like as that’s a secure payment. It was easy and I’d got rid of a whole load of clutter in no time at all.

Whilst I was scanning away, I kept thinking that each amount wasn’t very much but I was motivated by space in my office and the total. Each book, each DVD soon meant that I had a tidy amount of return for the small amount of effort.

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In a few days, about thirty quid will wing its way to my pay pal account and help towards my extra savings. Now, here’s where you can make some money and a bit more too. If you choose to use the service, you will be able to make an extra 15% on each item that you sell. The code to use is FRUGALQUEEN15. It would be lovely if you could not only share your money saving month but your money making month too.

Go on, make some space. Ziffit.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

 

 

Sponsored post.

 

 

 

 

Prepare for a frugal fast? 


Hello Dear Reader,

Every year, I take it upon myself to not spend any money in October. Some times, some of you join in with me. If you’ve never taken part in a fiscal fast, you could try: not spending any money for a day a week in week one, two days in week two and so on. 

Also, you may never have saved up for anything before, what if you could cut back on living costs to save £20 a week and have £80 at the end of the month? I’ll cut back on groceries for the four weeks and have some spare money at the end of the month. When you’re already in a budget or a low income, it can seem impossible to save any more but every year I surprise myself that it can be done.

You could see this as a thrifty reboot? A personal challenge or just because you need to save.

Yesterday, I asked you, do you budget for everything? Today, my question is this, do you put saving first or save what’s left? This could be part of your reboot. When you get paid at the end of the month, you could decide, maybe for the first time to move a budgeted amount of money into a savings account. This month, for you, that may only be £10 by that may be the start of a whole new life style and may even be part of building an emergency fund. 

So there’s my challenge. No spending in October on anything other than food and diesel for the car. I’ll also have a clear out, declutter and try and make as much money as I save. You could join in with that too?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Have you really budgeted for everything?

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Hello Dear Reader,

Sorry, if you’re seeing my blog in capital letters. I didn’t type it like that. There’s some sort of glitch in WordPress that I can’t fix right now. My apologies. 

I had a bit of a chat with folks on Facebook about this. I was inspired when you contacted me Dear Reader, no more details than that but I thought I’d open the debate on this one. If you don’t budget for everything then those little bits and pieces can and will just pop up and catch you out and the next thing you know is that you’ll be spending money.

So, do you really budget for everything?

Here’s what I’ve got to budget for over the next twelve months.

Dog’s booster injections

Four trips to the vet in France before we come home each time – 32 euros each time for all three.

Two dental check ups and any subsequent treatment.

Eye test and any subsequent change of prescriptions and need for new glasses

Four ferry trips to France about £1200!

Four Christmas presents and four birthday presents

Car/home/French home insurance

Replacing my hair straighteners (feel free to send me yours if you don’t use them😉

New work clothes/shoes next August for September for both of us.

Wood for the fire here and France.

Taxe Fonciere and Habitation in France, one payable by October and the other by December.£780

Materials for stud walls and two doors – for France

Materials to build a new shed here.

Paint for our utility room and down stairs loo floor and walls.

£500 a month to go into a long term savings account.

£250 a month to go into an immediate savings account, mainly to pay for the French water/electricity/tax/garden maintenance/renovations.

I think sometimes, we don’t take the time to think ahead at the year and budget for everything. We’re mostly on top of the bills, the housing costs, our food cost, the expense of transport, whether that’s rail season tickets or the running cost of a car. We also know, we do don’t we? how much we have spare each month after the immediate bills are paid.

If you have children at home then I remember well, in the days when I was less financially astute than I am now that costs can and will creep up if you’re not ready. If you’re a parent can you all join in and leave comments about the ‘fund raising’ over the year. You’ll know about World book day, Children in Need, CLIC sargent, Christmas parties and schools can often have information on their web page. I remember those dreaded letters in the bag! (Seriously, they used to make me seethe, I barely had money in those days to feed and clothe them, let alone give money away!) So, let’s help each other out of this one.

Then there’s family issues such as weddings, but remember, you can always say no. We turned down every invitation for years as we couldn’t afford to go. Now, I can admit, I don’t like weddings at all and still don’t go but not many people are like me. There’s Christmas, again, we don’t like it and don’t bother with either but most people do and it’s 91 days until Christmas so if you haven’t made financial arrangements, you have three salary payments to put what you can aside.

If it happens every year, then it needs to be in the budget every month or you’ll have to have the front to just say no and having done that, I know it’s tough. We stopped going to ‘works do’s’ in all the years we couldn’t afford to go and now we still don’t go. We budget differently and it is tough saying no but it can be done. If you want to go then it needs to go into the budget. £25 Christmas work do? You better get saving £2.08 a month.

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you’ll know I’ve given up having my hair dyed and it was partly an economic decision as the white roots came through every three weeks. It cost £750 a year to get my roots done professionally. Now I just factor £25 a month for a hair cut and have saved £450 a year. As you can see from the list above, that money will be subsumed into the budget very easily. I intend to spend some of that money having more fun instead of coloured hair. Today, we went to see the new Brigit Jones film. It was the first time we’d been to the cinema in seventeen years. I wish I could have pressed pause when I went to the loo! Next month, we’ll do something else as well, I’m eyeing up the Cornish Pirates rugby home fixtures and we’ll go and see them.

So, if any of us are going to get on top of finances and on top of our budgets then we have to budget for everything that we’re going to spend money on any way. You can of course decide to not spend money which is more or less what we’ve done for years or you can be realistic and set aside money every month so you’re not squeezed by: new glasses, a costume for World book day, the office whip round for the retiree, new tyres for the car.

Over to you Dear Reader, if you’re a parent or work in a school, what can families financially prepare for? Also, leave a comment about anything any of us can be financially prepared for?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

 

What a bargain!

Hello Dear Reader,

I had a trot round our charity shops today on the hunt for books and got three for a pound so that’ll keep me amused for a while. I donate them back when I’ve read them so everyone’s a winner.

Called into the hospice shop and couldn’t believe my eyes. A like new Joules dress for £5! I think some of the charity shops are coming to their senses and are charging less.


A thriller, but if travel writing and an autobiography, oh and a new dress!

Bargain.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Five Frugal things on Friday

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m going to round up or should I say round off my week by sharing the little things I’ve done this week. Nothing massive, but you know what, it’s often the little things that we just make a habit that add up and eventually make a real difference. Sometimes, it’s the inconsequential things that seem minor and not worth bothering about. I’m sure there are people who are not of our thrifty mind set who really can’t see the point of the little things. That’s ok, we’ll save the money and leave them to it.

Here’s the little things I’ve done this week.

  1. I had a quick stock take of the pantry and freezer, put a menu plan together, then a shopping list. It’s amazing how expensive impulse can be when more than we need goes into our shopping baskets. This way meant that I could stick to our shopping budget with ease and we didn’t feel deprived as we always build ‘something nice’ into our list. This week it was some snacks to have with a movie on Friday night.
  2. I bulked cooked over the weekend and froze meals so we had an easy time of it when we got in from work. We have a commute and it can be variable and unique to Cornwall. Nothing feels as hungry as a tired teacher stuck behind a tractor on the A374 who’s only comfort when chugging along at fifteen miles an hour is that dinner is virtually ready when I get home all late and grumbly.


3. I made and packed all our lunches at the beginning of the week and they are ready in the fridge to grab and go. Wrapped in foil, a cheese, ham and pickle sandwich lasts all week and means we’ll never be late or tempted by a meal deal as those few minutes extra under the duvet tempt all of us from time to time

4.I got free exercise at the weekend by splitting logs for our wood stove. I’d like to say I was heroic and wielded and axe but I used our log splitter. We bought the wood green and have laid it down like a fine vintage to be burnt next year. I got hours of amusement playing ‘log jenga’ and then covering them so they get some air but not the inevitable rain.

5.I’ve had a one spend week, meaning I did our shopping last Friday and haven’t needed to spend anything else all week. Tonight, after work, I’ll go to my nearest discount supermarket with my list and buy everything we need for the week ahead.

 

All such little inconsequential savings that means I’ve kept to the family budget, that we’re on track with savings targets this month and we’re heading towards the end of the month with healthy finances.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

 

 

Butternut squash, chickpea, sweet potato and spinach curry


Hello Dear Reader,

Normally, food bloggers have a set, lights, back ground, variety of plated, natural or diffused lighting. I popped this into freezer bags, in a Tupperware tub and took the photo with my iPad! I really should try harder. DB doesn’t like certain spices and certainly doesn’t like heat. I serve this, for him, with natural yogurt and we both eat it with brown rice. It freezes and reheats well. I take it out of the freezer before work, leave it in a pan, just reheat whilst cooking the rice, which takes around twenty minutes.

To make this, you’ll need

3-4 tablespoons of oil 

1 peeled cubed butternut squash – about 65p in Aldi

1 diced large onion

1 peeled and diced sweet potato

1/4 frozen spinach (I bought it in Morrisons for £1.40 for a kilo bag).

1/2 tsp chilli flakes – you can add more

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander 

1/2 tsp of garlic granules or 2 cloves of crushed garlic.

1 tin of chickpeas 

1 tin of tomatoes

Use the tin to measure another tin of water the other ingredients.

Salt to season.

It’s so easy to make,

Heat the oil and fry the onion and spices 

Add everything else except the spinach.

Continue to cook until the squash and potatoes are cooked so a softness you prefer. We like ours quite soft.

Then add the spinach and cook for about another fifteen minutes, or until it’s melted and mixed through.
Add more spice to suit your taste, you can also add freshly grated ginger. When you serve, a squeeze of lemon juice or a splash from a bottle of lemon juice. 

This makes enough for four huge portions and we’ll eat this sometime this week. When this is frozen solid, I remove the bags from boxes and just leave them in the freezer in sealed bags.

As for the ‘presentation’, I promise to try better.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Slow cooker coq au vin and colcannon


Hello Dear Reader,

My slow cookers were set to work on Sunday when I cooked for the week ahead. If you wanted, you can dismember a chicken and cook everything on the bone, which is lovely along with wrapping your own bouquet garni, shallots and lardons. As I didn’t have any if those I ‘ll share my cheap version instead.

1 pack of frozen chicken fillets from Aldi, it’ll have around seven small fillets.

1 diced large onion,

6 peeled sliced carrots

1 tsp garlic granules

1 tsp mixed herbs

1 cup of red wine – about 2€ a litre where I get it. 

1/2 pack of cooking bacon, about 250g

2 cups of water and 2 tubs of stock 

Stick the lot in the slow cooker, set to high and leave to cook for the day.

Gravy granules to thicken – add these after the hours required, about six, for this to cook.

When cooked, leave to cool or you could eat it straight away with Colcannon. There’s a theme here…….I didn’t have anymore bacon or any cream to make the proper recipe. Here’s my make do recipe.

Steamed greens, any will do as long as they are finely shredded. I spied a bag of Cavolo Nero, or black cabbage, in Aldi. It’s delicious.

Cook the potatoes and mash, mix in the greens.

Serve with anything you like.

This freezes well and can be reheated, either in an oven proof dish in a medium oven along with the defrosted coq au vin if you’re going to eat them together.

Yesterday, plastic bags and no setting, today…..a cheap but tasty alternative of a classic. It’s a real favourite of mine and as it’s becoming autumnal, it’s turning into casserole weather.

  
Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Braised beef with cheese scone topping 

Hello Dear Reader,

I don’t cook on Mondays and always leave a plate of food for each of us that we just reheat. 

It really couldn’t be any easier to make, you just add all the ingredients to a slow cooker, set it to the high setting and leave it for six hours. You could do this before work and come home and eat this.

You’ll need ( to serve two greedies or three less greedy)

350g of diced stewing beef.

200g of chopped cooking bacon

1 diced onion

2 beef stock cubes, I use the little stock tubs as they are gluten free.

1 teaspoon of mustard, I used hot Dijon 

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce. 

You’ll also need 200g of button mushrooms and some butter and salt to fry them and add them just before serving.

I thicken mine with GF gravy granules, I use Bisto best, to the thickness you prefer.

When you’re almost ready to serve make your cheese scones. Place casserole into a oven proof dish and heat oven to 200.

I used

250g of gluten free SR flour

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp gf baking powder (Aldi’s is GF)

60g butter

Salt to season

100g of finely grated strong cheese

180 ml of milk – you need to have anything gluten free wetter than normal as it’ll be drier otherwise.

Mix together with a spoon, tip onto a floured surface and lightly kneed and flatten to about four cm thick at least. 

Cut out with a cutter or small glass, arrange on top of the casserole and brush with milk.

Bake for twenty minutes if your casserole is already hot.

You can find plenty of cheese scone recipes online if you don’t need to wrestle with gluten free. You can of course omit them altogether if you don’t fancy them.

You can make this, without the scones, in advance and make the scones on the day. We like cheese scones instead of bread rolls with soup.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Buckwheat pancakes with spinach and mushrooms


Hello Dear Reader,

I adored these gluten free galettes when we spent the summer in Brittany. To make these, ideally but not necessarily, you need a crepe pan, which I don’t have in the UK! Sounds like one of those ‘overheard in Waitrose’ conversations. Where’s the crepe pan? Oh, we’ve left it in France! Anyway, I just used a non stick frying pan and made them a bit smaller.

They are a devil to make. There’s no gluten and the aim is to make them as thin as possible. You also have to cook to time and be prepared to waste a couple to grateful dogs as you may not get them right for a few attempts. Buckwheat flour isn’t easy to find, we bought ours in Morrisons but you can probably find it in bigger supermarkets, oh any any shop in Brittany!

You’ll need 

Butter for the pan, apply it with a scrunched up paper towel and just wipe the pan.

A non stick pan, it’ll try and stick to that too!

A palette knife to loosen the edges and turn it.

2 cups of buckwheat flour

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

5 cups of water

A k mix or paid staff as you have to beat this for what feels like hours.

Add all the ingredients to a mixer and turn into medium, mix for a minute. Use a scraper to make sure you have all the ingredients combined. When you’re sure, turn in the mixer for another ten minutes.

Then, pour into a jug and refrigerate for an hour…..at least.

This is not a supper to make if you’re hungry. You can make these in advance and keep them in the fridge for about twenty four hours.

When you are ready to cook, take them out of the fridge and give it a good stir as it can settle. 

Get a pan very hot and wipe with butter.

Use a ladle to pour in, in my case, for my sized pan, two ladles full and using the handle with the pan raised off the heat, swirl the batter around the pan. They need to be thin.

Cook for two minutes on each side. You’ll need to loosen off the edges, slide the knife underneath whilst trying not to ruin the pan. If it’s under cooked it’ll taste doughy.

I cooked all if them consecutively, kept them on a plate.

I sliced mushrooms in butter, added salt and garlic, then popped in about ten nuggets of frozen spinach and allowed it to defrost and then cook through. Keep the heat very low whilst you do this.

When you are ready to assemble, pop a galette back in a pan and warm through and spoon in some of the spinach and mushrooms, I added a sprinkle of grated mature cheddar and we had two galettes each. We, as we learned in France, ate our salad first then our galettes.

They take patience and practice but they are heavenly if a little work to make them.

It’s like child birth, I promise, you’ll forget the pain as soon as it’s over.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Sixty is the new fifty

 

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Hello Dear Reader,

Getting older is a real privilege and it’s a growing club of really happy people. I turned fifty without feeling ill, without any ailments and really feeling good about life. Fifty is really young and many people of that age still have young families, have active careers and even change careers and start new ones. It’s no wonder then that many people in their sixties are feeling really good about life.

I make no secret that we want to retire early at sixty and really make the most of life. From what we can see, people are having a great time of it. They are using their time to get out walking, take up creative hobbies such as crafting, love their gardens and often, like the people we met in France, move and start a whole new life after retirement. From what I can see, they are having a great life and we’ve got all that to look forward to and that more than anything makes us stick to our thrifty lifestyle to make sure we’ve made the very best financial arrangements we can. We met really energetic people who’d retired and then rebuilt a house whilst learning French, building skills, how to run a small holding and make new friends in a country that was new to them. Instead of feeling tired, everyone I met was invigorated and had a great time. This really led me to believe that sixty is the new fifty. Well, I am fifty and don’t intend slowing down when I get there but using my retirement to travel, read, learn and explore.

Whilst working with the British Seniors Insurance Agency, I was not at all surprised to find out that older people are not just spending money on themselves. The study found out that people in the UK are perpetually parenting with over 50s spending huge amounts on their children and grandchildren – with an estimated £380 million a month spent on treating their children and £262 million treating their grandchildren. On average the over 50s spend nearly £40 a month on their children and £30 a month on grandchildren. Now, these are hard times and younger families are really struggling with the day to day cost of housing, childcare and transport and it’s not unusual for older people to help out their families by lending money, paying off student loans, paying off debts, helping out with car purchases and providing childcare without payment.

It got me thinking about my own family, my parents didn’t need to help me and I haven’t needed to help my grown up offspring. Some of that has been circumstance and everyone always being employed and some of it just part of our own family culture. We’ve always been a family who are open about money and my own children know we have substantial life insurance to make sure they are left a legacy when we’ve gone and we’ve paid into that for twenty years and will until we die to make sure all our funeral costs, legal costs are all paid for and that our children will be left with a generous inheritance even if our property is used to cover the cost of our elderly or end of life care.

Now, I’m often approached by organisations asking if I would write with them and usually I turn them down. This time, I read up and agreed to write about life insurance especially if it’s  tailored for people over 50, like any form of financially planning, I really think it’s essential. You can’t get a mortgage without a standard life insurance policy and I wonder how many people have stopped paying into it when their mortgage ends? That could mean that people in their fifties and sixties don’t have any life insurance policy at all?

I live a thrifty life which those of you who read regularly know is far from parsimonious. We’re having a great time but I happily share our scrimping and saving so we can make financial arrangements for our future. We’ve got great hopes to be comfortable whilst living a happy active life. It’s part of  who we ‘thrifties’  are to put money aside to pay insurance as well as those contingency plans such as over paying our mortgage and having a family budget. I don’t make it my business to tell you what to do and as ever, I write about what we do and what works for us. I always make financial arrangements for insurance premiums are paid asthat makes as much sense to me as writing a shopping list so I don’t over spend in the supermarket. Food for thought?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Post written in collaboration with British Seniors Insurance Agency. All opinions are my own as you know me well enough to know that this is my story