Stock up on pay day


Hello Dear Reader,

If you’ve been paid today and can afford a bit spare, then here are some ideas to stock up to keep you going if you have an unexpected bill or expense.

Tinned : veg, meat, fish and fruit. These can be the staples of meals or can be added to fresh produce. Suggestions would be tuna, pilchards, sardines, mackerel, corned beef, stewing steak, chicken curry, minced beef. Tinned fish can go into fishcakes, in sandwiches, in a tuna pasta bake and with a white sauce into a fish pie. Tinned meat can go into a pie, eaten with veg or into a corned beef hash. Tinned veg can be added to a cottage pie or bulk out bolognaise sauce.

Pulses, either tinned or dried. We love using pulses instead of meat and they are a great source of protein. We use lentil in soups, kidney beans in burgers and stews and they’ll keep for years. They are cheap and they don’t take up much room

Oats- we buy bags of value oats and use them for porridge, date slices and flapjack

Rice, I just use long grained brown rice but add pudding rice and arborio rice for risotto.

Dried fruit, apricots, raisins, mixed fruit and dates. Look out for large bags of these in Poundland. Great in lunch boxes and baking.

Staples: gravy granules, ketchup, stock cubes, jelly granules (when you’re skint and the children want something sweet, then try mandarine pieces in jelly) tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, mustard powder, spices and dried herbs. When you’re broke, a simple tomato sauce with pasta will keep you going and can be made in bulk for lunches.

UHT milk, try and buy this in bulk and check the longest dates. We use it all the time, it’s a bit more expensive but to always have milk spare in really helpful.

Sweet treats: jam, lemon curd and marmalade. We only buy the value brands but they be added to jam tarts, sponge cakes and the marmalade can be used to make a sweet and sour sauce. 

Now, I’ll leave the rest of the list to you. What’s cheap, affordable and storeable and will keep you going in the skint weeks which every body has from time to time.

I always look forward to hearing from you.

Love Froogs xxxxx


Good financial habits

Hello Dear Reader,

In 2009, I decided to change the way we lived to pay off our debts and even though we remained debt free (with the exception of our mortgage) since 2011 we’ve maintained the life style that got us out of debt and now affords us the ability to save half our income.

It only takes thirty day to break old habits and form good new habits. These are mine and I know lots of you will share these simple ideas that save you and I a fortune. They all add up.

I cook from scratch. It might sound like a lot of effort but I’m no Gordon Ramsay, I’m not a fancy cook and we eat simple homemade dishes that don’t take long and don’t cost much. 

We repair things whether that’s clothes or appliances and we’ll always repair before we ever consider replacing. We can afford new but we stick to the habit of keeping what we have going for as long as we can.

We have productive hobbies. I make curtains, soft furnishings, quilts. DB refurbishes and resells vintage radios, he dismantles pallets and we both do DIY and enjoy our hobbies.

We use every last drop, ever last bit, every time. Years later, I’m still cutting tooth paste tubes open, leave sauce bottles stand upside down to get every drop, laundry liquid bottles, shampoo bottles and dishwash liquid are all rinsed out and the diluted liquid is used. Slithers of bars of soap are dampened and squished together. It might seem crazy to scrimp when we can afford not to but these habits stick with us.

We never shop for entertainment. In fact, I hate shopping. We don’t charity shop or car boot sale for the fun of it even though we know it could be fun. I don’t shop unless I need something. We can afford to bimble around antique fairs, flea markets and charity shops but don’t unless we specifically need something and are actively looking.

We enjoy being at home. When we were forced to stay home to save money and it wasn’t any sort of hardship. We like our own company and entertaining ourselves. Now, we can afford to eat out, go to the theatre and events but we choose to make long term financial decisions instead of here and now decisions.

If we need to buy anything we do so thoughtfully and with planning. First, we always try to get something for free or secondhand. We could go into any shop and buy whatever we want but that’s no longer our financial priority. When I do buy new, we make sure we get it at a sale price, for a discount or the very best product for our budget.

We save regularly. Our monthly minimum is 30% but our optimum is 50%. This means we always have a financial cushion so if the dogs get sick, we need new glasses, something needs repairing, the boiler or car needs servicing or to pay for our trips to our French home; we have the budget set aside for this as well as long term savings. We used to have to save up for every little thing but now we do this as it’s an entrenched good financial habit. You might call this an emergency fund, we just call it savings.

We stick to old tech. There really isn’t a big difference between one smart phone and the next so when we do replace every five years or so, we buy secondhand old tech but techy enough for us. We don’t upgrade as we leave that to brand loyal, new, tech needing people and don’t stand in that queue. 

We save pennies every where we can. We check fuel prices, switch and swap energy and insurance suppliers. We shop around for food and anything we need. We don’t need to do this but it’s a habit that we just can’t shake off. I check my supermarket for food prices, I stick to discount supermarkets and I save money wherever and whenever I can.

All of this scrimping and saving means we are on track to retire seven years early at 60, have a house to rent out to pay towards our retirement, have two occupational pensions, no mortgage and no debt. Personally, I think all of that is worth all the belt tightening.

Over to you my lovelies, what habits are new because you wanted to change or sustained as they make sense to you? As always, I love hearing from you. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Want less, own less, live more


Hello Dear Reader,

When someone new comes into our lives, and they know nothing about us and they live very differently from us, they can be surprised. They are surprised that we don’t eat out and choose to live as cheaply as possible. They are surprised we are scrimping when we have two good jobs and we’re saving for retirement even though that’s a very long way in the future. They are stunned that we spend so little on food, clothes and household items. They were shocked that we use free cycle, free ads and always aim to get what we need for free first. They didn’t understand why we bothered.

Then we learned about them. Seven day working weeks, away from family, two weeks of holiday a year but an income much much higher than average. They made very different choices and had ‘the best’ as it wasn’t much more in cost than cheaper. Every thing new, replaced regularly and bought now with the pay later method because life their way was important to them. Every one lives their own way and it’s entirely their choice.

If I could give any advice it would be simply to want less. Enjoy what you already have  and don’t compare your life to another. If you are happy living your way then don’t worry what anyone else thinks. People will be surprised, stunned and even shocked but if they are happy living their life and you are happy living yours then just carry on.

Today, I’ll split some logs for winter, cook for the week, go for a walk and do the ironing and that’s just fine.

Over to you. Does your lifestyle raise eyebrows ?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xx

Tuna pasta bake 45p per portion 

Hello Dear Reader,

If you have children, they’ll love this. If you’ve very little time, not much money and you don’t want any waste then you’ll love it too. 

I’m really off cooking at the moment but I’ve my very own man mountain who needs feeding so he’s got the cheap version with gluten. My ingredients and prices came from Lidl. 

For four portions, you’ll need.

160g of penne pasta – 10p – cooked and drained

1 tin of tuna -59p

Pasta sauce – 65p

100g grated mature cheddar – 45p

Combine the lot, sprinkle with cheddar and bake for twenty minutes in a hot oven.

Scroll to the bottom.

It’ll easily feed four. You could add some cooked veggies to stretch it further. It’s a winner with DB, it reheats well in the microwave and goes well in a lunch box. 

Scrummy cheap lunch, try it on your family.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Five frugal things on a Friday 


Hello Dear Reader,

Today is payday and budget day for us and it’s also good to look back at a thrifty week and reflect on money saving.

Here’s our week.

1. Moved half our income into savings on payday. That means we live on a superscrimper budget and there’s nothing for: new clothes, going out, takeaways or household items. We make the most of what we already have. If it breaks? We just go without until there’s room in the budget to pay for it. 

2. Mini groomed the dogs. I trimmed around their faces and feet, which means I only have them professionally groomed every other month. I bathe them weekly and found some great dog shampoo in Poundland.

3. Pared back our food budget. I’m really off cooking right now which is uncharacteristic for me. Meals are very simple: egg, chips and beans, baked potatoes and tinned pilchards, vegetable soup, veggie paella and keeping it really cheap.

4. Topping up mortgage payments. We’re aiming to reduce our capital by an additional 5% this year. Our mortgage has five years left but reducing the capital makes a great difference to the interest we’ll pay. 

5. Our weekend job is to split some seasoned logs to fill up our log store for winter. We’ll also split some pallets for our kindling supply. 

Nothing amazing but we’ve planned a no spend month in preparation for our summer break. Now it’s your turn, how’s your week been? Have you kept finances under control? Any family readers making cutbacks to fund the summer break?

Always lovely to hear from you,

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Staying cool on a budget

Hello Dear Reader,

We are experiencing some heat! I know, in the U.K! Parts of it were hotter than Rome today. I felt as if I’d stood in front of an open oven door for most of the day. It’s due to be hot tomorrow and here’s a few things I do when we have a rare burst of heat like this.

1. Keep the curtains shut in the day to keep the sun out.

2. Cool the house at night, leave front and back windows open to bring cooler air in, then stop the heat getting in.

3. Place margarine tubs of water in the freezer, place the frozen blocks, still in the tubs in front of an electric fan.

4. If you have net curtain in your bedroom (which we do) give them a wash and hang them up damp in the open window with a through draught. A very old fashioned method but it works.

5. Have a cool shower before you go to bed.

6. Keep hydrated, plain tap water for us.

7. Ice cubes in the dog bowls to keep the dogs cool.

8. When you get home, soak your feet in a washing bowl of cold water. It really cools down your entire body and will help reduce any puffy feet.

9. If you have a big freezer (I don’t but I wish) then freeze your pillow in a dustbin bag before bed.

10. Any domestic jobs can wait. This is England and it’ll be cooler any day now.

Failing that, there’s always a huge pack of ice lollies in the supermarket for about a quid xx

I’m off to soak my feet, refrigerate my pillowcases and have another ice pole with my feet up.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Clean, shiny and cheap

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m making the most of this weather to get loads of jobs done. The duvets have been washed, dried and the bed is freshly made. All the laundry has dried outside. I’ve finished weeding the patches, we’ve been to the tip with bags of garden waste.

On the way home, we called into the discount store and stocked up on laundry soap and softener; half the price of even the offers in any supermarket. I bought five bottles of soap and two softener and have stored them for when we need them.

Whilst the laundry was drying, I painted the floor then cleaned the rest of the house. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re determined not to spend any money. We’re having a cheat day and not eating properly tonight. No take away for us, just good old ham, egg, chips and beans. You can’t get more budget than that for a Saturday night. 

It’s suddenly very warm here and we’ll spend this evening sitting in the garden (romantic drone of the A38 in the background !) with a glass of something cold. It’s quite ok for us to spend the entire weekend at home, potter about and get ready for another week at work. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx

Fun evening entertainment 

Hello Dear Reader,

I’m the odd one out and that’s ok. There’s always one on every street and on mine it’s me. I scrape and dig up the weeds, cut the hedges, sweep the path, clean up fallen leaves, bag it up and take it to the tip in my car. I pick up litter from the car park too and take it home and bin it. I can’t bear a mess. 

I’m in the middle of the path clean. Other neighbours do a bit too. We don’t have vehicular access to our cottages and everything has to be schlepped up and down this path. It’s ok. Tomorrow, all those bags will go to the tip and I will tidy up the border too. 

Now, after a fun tidy up, I enjoy sitting on my front step with a cup of tea and enjoying my handy work. The next fun part of my evening is to get the housework done. I’m easily pleased. 

Over to you my lovelies, who else tidies up the tatty bits and doesn’t mind either. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Date day for £15

Hello Dear Reader,

We had a rare day out and it was lovely. We headed up to Plymouth and onto the Barbican and walked around in the sunshine. We bought lunch of sausage and chips for him and chips and mushy peas for me, followed by some very indulgent ice cream sundaes all for the massive sum of £15. We ate lunch and our sundaes on the steps of the harbour, over looking the boats and the crowds milling around. 

It was a big expense for us but I know people reading will think nothing of spending £13 on one starter and wouldn’t think of a takeout on the side of the street as any form of a treat. When you pare your life back to what you need and no more then the good things, the fun things in life become a lot simpler.

Now, a treat for us is a cliff top walk, a flask and homemade sandwiches and a big treat is a takeaway and little pots of ice cream with a plastic spoon. 

I had to show off our sundaes and it wasn’t even our birthdays! We took the little pots and sooons home with us and they’ll get used again.

It was a lovely day and as we didn’t spend our food budget last week, we used what we had left for a date day. 

It was lovely and worth the expense.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Money left at the end of the month?


Hello Dear Reader,

Do you sometimes feel there’s more moth than money? Does the cost of living mean you are stretching your budget further than ever? I know it’s really hard and it’s getting harder. 

I’m a normal person, I like a nice house, to dress well, to smell good and to wear quality shoes but just because I want something doesn’t mean I’m just going to go out and buy it. I like to save up and buy what I need and I certainly don’t go without. What I have learnt to do is take time to think about and plan my purchases and wait until I can afford to buy what I need. Sometimes, I have to have a word with myself and remind myself I have plenty of shoes or dresses but it doesn’t stop me from wishing and wanting.

I thought I’d share a few of my ´don’t spend’ questions that you can ask yourself if you’re tempted to spend when you ought to be saving.

Will I really use it?

Do I already own something that I can use in place of this?

Can I get one second hand ?

Can I make one myself?

Will it serve more than one purpose?

Will this be cost effective to maintain?

Will using this require a lot of energy?

Can I wait a week before buying this?

Will buying this make me happy? How long will it make me happy?

Would it be better to rent?

Can I swap for it?

Will I get my money’s worth out of it?

Will I continue to use it after the novelty wears off?

Could I get the same product somewhere else for free? Freecycle?

Will I actually use this product?

How many hours will I have to work for this?

Can this help me financially?

Do I have the room to store this?

Can I find this cheaper?

Is it on my shopping list?

Do I really need it?

By the time I’ve asked these questions, I talk myself out of buying and remember that my aim is to have money left at the end of every month. Of course I budget but I also have to make sure I rein in spending and say no, even when I want to say yes. I don’t always like it but I know I have to do, what I have to do. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx