We’ve come a long way together

Hello Dear Reader,

In 2015, we came to Brittany for a late summer break and to look for a house. Our search criteria was simple- on mains drainage, structurally sound and it had to be cheap! We found our house that hadn’t been lived in since the 1980s and no one had even visited since 1998. We wanted not only a holiday home but somewhere we could retire to in ten years time. We also wanted to be able to share it with friends and some have already made the most of it whilst we’re not there. It took a lot of scrubbing, elbow grease, drying out, warming up and plenty of paint but we now have a habitable home from home.

If you know my blog, you’ll know we’ve been on quite a journey to get here and we know we’ve got quite a way to go. We’ve made some brilliant friends here and two in particular who have shared their skills and expertise to advise us with renovations. They know who they are and how much we think of them. I can not even begin to thank them for their kindness.

These are not my flowers but I couldn’t resist taking a photo of them. We’ve done plenty of relaxing, coffee drinking, chatting, garden snoozing, walking and reading. There’s been a good balance of hard work and good fun. Dear flower owners, we’ll see you at Christmas xxcc

We love Huelgoat forest and get into it for frequent walks and had the chance to share it with visiting friends from Cornwall and share our little town. I bang on about the place but it really is a special place to us.

Like the flowers, the harp isn’t mine either! I think the musician had gone for lunch.

As we have people staying in the house in the cooler months, we had logs delivered to keep them warm and now have a great local contact and supplier of split, seasoned and very dry wood. We’re also grateful to the local support we’ve received in finding our way to local services and suppliers. Contacts are really useful in a local community where you find what and who you need by word of mouth. Whenever I’ve asked neighbours about trees, wood, chimneys or stones, they’ve popped inside and come back with a name and number jotted on the back of an old shopping list. 

DB has been amazing and is a one man marvel and keeps learning new skills and is building a lovely home for us and visitors. He builds and I paint and tend the garden. He studies, researches and reads and then builds when he’s not a builder. I’m still in awe.

Almost every evening, we walked around the lake and had some wonderful sunsets. We meander back through the square and up the hill. That hill! It must be doing me good…..mustn’t it?

We also had the joy of discovering some great cycling routes and we’ll bring our bikes over at Christmas. I can just imagine being wrapped up warm and riding along the tow path with frosty grass. I should work for the tourist board but you really should visit Brittany if you like cycling as there are hundreds of miles of trails where you’ll never see a car.


Today, we’ve scrubbed and packed the house away until we come back for Christmas. We’ll be back in Cornwall tomorrow night and it’ll be great to catch up with family again.

We still pinch ourselves that we’ve come this far and we have such a fabulous life. Thinking back to 2009 and the predicament we had to dig ourselves out of, we’ll definitely raise a glass to where we are now. 

Until we’re back at Thrift Cottage,

Love Froogs xxxxx

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Renovating in France on a budget 


Hello Dear Reader,

Today, I’ve given the bedroom walls two coats of white emulsion, sanded the skirting boards and given then two coats of eggshell. Scrubbed down the shower room walls and given them the first coat of paint. My thrifted side tables have had a third coat of paint too. We have painting to finish but it’s all just tidying from now onwards.

We want to get all the major jobs done by the end of the day tomorrow so we can get onto the fun easy parts. There’s snagging to do but a massive day of work has made such a difference. We’re also pleased that we’ve kept costs to an absolute minimum.

DB fitted the balustrade today that he’d previously painted. Everything needs a light sand and a final coat of paint. He has lights to fit, doors to hang and we have to move furniture around and tidy. We’ve got to keep going even though I’m fed up of renovations and just want to go out and visit about five places I’ve got on my list. Fortunately, none of them are going anywhere so I can save the for trips in the future. 

When I look at the photo above, I marvel at everything he’s done: cutthe hole in the floor, customised the stairs to fit, built the stairs, built the wall and built the balustrades. DB – you are a star! I am so proud of you xxx

It’s slow going but we are getting there.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Debt freedom will change your life

debt-freedom

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve long been a supporter of Christians against poverty. They work to help people and families clear debt. Unlike many debt management companies, they do what they do for free and if you follow the sensible advice they give, you will become debt free. They then continue to support families and individuals to remain debt free.

Those of you who’ve read my blog over many years will know that at one stage Dearly Beloved and I were £45K in personal debt. We changed our lives forever the day we decided to work our way out of debt and then work towards staying debt free. Other than our mortgage, we have no borrowings of any sort and have lived without any form of credits since 2011. Now, we live beneath our means and save everything can towards our retirement even though that’s a long way off in the future as we know we’ll have to live on a very reduced income one day and in a sort of way are practising for that now.

Here’s the latest press release from CAP and it’s good to read good news.

DEBT HELP COULD BUY YOU FINANCIAL FREEDOM FOR YEARS

A new report shows nine in ten who ask for help with problem debt learn skills that keep them in the black for years afterwards.

Charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) carried out in-depth telephone interviews with 214 previous debt clients who had cleared their debts up to five years before. The results were astonishing: 93 per cent were still free of problem debt. “Once you’ve lived with constant calls from creditors, the stresses of rent unpaid and visits from bailiffs, you really do not want to go back there,” said CAP’s Chief Executive Matt Barlow.

“The fantastic thing we see from The Freedom Report, as we’ve called it, is our clients have the personal determination and have learned the skills to keep them out of debt crisis. They know how to draw up a household budget and stick to it, allowing them to live within their means.”

Low income is the main cause of debt among CAP’s clients and, despite average household income being just over £14,000, the results were very positive:

• Three quarters (74%) had not used credit since becoming debt free

• More than eight in ten (85%) still felt in control of their finances

• Eight in ten (82%) were still living to a budget

• Nearly half (46%) now had savings

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who campaigned for better regulation of the payday lending industry, and is CAP’s Patron, said: “It’s easy to imagine that someone living with poor finances will always be in that state, that poverty is too big a problem for us all to tackle.

“This report is exciting because it shows that if someone gets the right level of support, they can conquer their debt problems – not just to become debt free but also to stay in the black, without the need for expensive credit, successfully managing their household finances for years to come.

“It tells us that no matter how hopeless a situation can first look, significant change is possible.”

CAP, a charity favoured by TV’s Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis, is set to help 20,000 people in this, its 20th anniversary year.

I have included several links throughout this post to CAP’s website, you can use the search box to look for support in your area, whether that’s with debt, addiction of any kind, finding a job or going on one of their money courses. You don’t have to be in debt to get support and help with money, you just might be struggling each month to ever save even the smallest amount of money or just wonder where your salary goes every month.

Debt is vicious and it doesn’t care who it hurts. It grinds families down and keeps people awake at night. I  believe that living without debt is truly liberating and lightened my soul. If you want debt freedom and really don’t know where to turn, please try the support available from Christians against poverty. You don’t have to be a Christian, you can have any faith or none at all, they will help you without judgement and you don’t have to continue to live with the blight of debt.

I have been privileged to share the journey to debt freedom with many of you and have been more than delighted to have received emails from you about your stories. I always reply and love it when you keep in touch.

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Sharing good news


Hello Dear Reader,

I received this joyous email and asked if I could share it with you. Knowing people are working their way out of debt and towards saving literally has me doing a happy dance.

Here’s what this Dear Reader told me

Hi Jane , loved your blog on takeaway/ wine and entitlement to treats .

This week , despite being in debt,  I treated myself several times ! .
 
Firstly I treated myself to paying my annual car insurance  with money from the ” car savings  pot” without having to put in on a credit card for the first time in years .

I then spent a lovely chunk of money making the final payment on my final credit card … a couple of months earlier than planned ( I have had a credit card since I was 18), and also splashed  out on a mortgage overpayment meaning I have  just under a year left to pay till  mortgage free .
 
Next month I plan to treat myself to a shopping day when I buy the ( much reduced) Christmas shopping/ gifts for immediate family only… all from the “Christmas pot” without a plastic card in sight “.

Unfortunately my extravagant treats  have meant I will give our works Christmas meal a miss, buy no new outfit for the festive period and limit additional food costs to  the one day when all the family are with us for the day…paid for with some eBay sales  .
 
Strangely I don’t feel too deprived !

As promised, no names but isn’t that just such a wonderful email to get and I’m sure you’ll join with me in wishing this Dear Reader all the best for Christmas and a debt free future.

I love it!!!

Flippin’ fantastic news and all the very best to a different way of debt free living xxxxxx

Love Froogs xxxx




Change the way you spend……forever

//player.vimeo.com/video/98104501
where does your money go from frugal queen on Vimeo.

Hello Dear Reader,

Here’s another in the webinar series. They will be free to view forever! You can go back and recap at any time.

It’s too easy to ‘pop’ to the supermarket, or pick up a coffee or browse and buy online. I want you to start mindfully spending from now on. 

I will leave you to the webinar.

See you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Let me help you out of debt


Hello Dear Reader

I was approached a few months ago by a webinar company who thought I could help others get out of debt by hosting online tutorials.

I gave it some thought as I always promote ways of making extra money. The problem was, it would make money out of people who really couldn’t afford it. It didn’t sit comfortably with me.

I decided to run a series of tutorials to help people get out of debt.

This is just an introduction. Come back to my blog and I will let you know when the webinars will be loaded and the time that I will be available for live direct feedback via twitter. As always, I don’t say I have the answer or suggest that you do things my way, however, if you want advice or to know how I manage to stay debt free then I am more than happy to help.

I hope you enjoy the vlog as I give you a taster of what’s to come.

I really hate to think of families struggling in these difficult financial times and really hope I can give some reassurance and even guidance to anyone I can.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

It’s time to stop doing what ever is holding you back!




Hello Dear Reader,

Over the last five years of my life, I have done more to change my life for the better than I’ve ever done before. Previously, I thought I was doing OK but actually I was just shuffling along quietly. Now, I look at every way I can improve my life. If something isn’t working then I literally bin it! I’ve not the time, energy or desire to do anything any more that doesn’t enhance my life. I’m acutely aware at 48 years old that I’ve lived longer than I’m going to live. I’ve no time to procrastinate and now is the time to get things done.

I put off getting fit for years and year and now, it’s part of my everyday life and there’s no stopping me. It’s proven that successful people do more exercise, eat more healthily, read more, move more, focus on achieving goals, volunteer more often and watch less TV. No one is ever going to achieve much in life sat on a sofa!  If you’re looking for tough love then you’ve come to the right place!


This may or may not be popular but I abhor laziness. I find great happiness in ‘getting it done’. I like to start my day at five thirty every morning so I can leave for work with a clean and tidy house, the laundry put away, dinner made and the bed turned down. I like to wash and blow dry my hair every morning and leave the house looking my best in pressed clothes and with my makeup on. I get great pleasure in coming home and working on a quilt, recipe plans or writing projects. A good day is one that leaves me exhausted but feeling smug in the knowledge that I leave others standing.


I take the same philosophy into the gym. I’m there to sweat, work hard and there is nothing better than leaving aching. I no longer have my trainer (he went off to join the Met) but as he would say, you know you’re working hard when you’re blowing out of your arse! No one ever lost weight, improved their health, reduced their BMI or wore considerably smaller clothes by just chatting to the person next to them on a static bike whilst updating Facebook!

I was once someone who genuinely thought I couldn’t do anything to improve my life. I was once at absolute rock bottom. We both earned minimum wage, neither of us could save and money just seemed to run away from us. It took a total change of our lives to begin to live the life we actually wanted to live. We now have that and it just gets better. 



We now know that it’s our good habits that create our financial stability. We now know that our choices cause the results of comfortable living. Luck has nothing to do with it and we’ve worked our way to where we are. None of it happened by sitting on the sofa. It happened because we were prepared to get our hands dirty.

This is my challenge to you Dear Reader. Ask yourself, what is holding you back? Why are you not earning more so you save or pay off debts? Why do you clear your debts only to create more? Why are you waking up at the last minute and getting to work in a rush? Why do you have no time for your family? Why is your house disorganised or cluttered? Why do you watch so much TV? Why are you promising to exercise and then you never do? If the reason is you: can’t be bothered to do two jobs, can’t be organised enough, can’t be motivated enough……….then you and you alone are the reason that you are not making the changes that will move your life forward.

Over to you Dear Reader, leave a comment in the confessional and literally leave it there and walk away! Walk away from what ever is holding you back and move forward with your life. It’s time to stop doing what ever is holding you back.

As ever, I look forward to hearing from you.

See you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxx

If you haven’t yet, please vote for http://www.frugalqueen.co.uk for: Blog of the year, Best thrifty blog and best food blog. If you have……………….thanks lovely reader xxxx Click on the link below xx


MAD Blog Awards

Some is plenty and enough is too much


Hello Dear Reader,

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Natalie Gavern, the Truro centre manager, from Christians Against Poverty. She came into Radio Cornwall to join the discussion with myself and Tracy Wilson about managing debt. I also had the honour of meeting a lovely young man called Craig who is currently working with CAP to repay debts. It was humbling to hear just how big a difference it made when someone supported him with paperwork, had time to listen and helped him cope with creditors as well as helping him set a budget and live within his means.

To hear this wonderful discussion and humbling example of the devastating effects of debts, then click HERE to listen to the radio programme. Move the cursor to the last hour and we’re on straight after the news.

For anyone who may be affected by issues raised in the radio programme today. Please call Christians Against Poverty on 0800 328 0006 from a land line. If  you only have a mobile, please call 03335 558800 – it will then give you the link to call the free phone number above and you will not be charged for the call. 


Craig, as an ordinary young man, had lost his job and was unable to pay debts. He openly said how hard it was to see everyone around with good clothes, a car, their own flat, holidays and nights out. It made me think of how much we think  people have. They seem to have so much and yet the likelihood it’s all being paid for with credit. That in turn made me ask the question; how much is enough?

I know I’m preaching to the choir here but I’m always aware that someone might be reading for the very first time. I’ll repeat what I said on the radio. It’s ok to make do with less. It’s ok to buy what you need from charity shops and car boot sales. It’s ok to collect pallets from the industrial estate to break up for firewood and kindling, it’s ok to upcycle, to use freecycle and to barter, haggle and get by with a lot less. It’s ok to make quilts from shirts bought on the £1 bargain rail from the local Woodside Animal Shelter shop. 

To anyone who has decided to make a real change in your life, feel free to never again have to have a catalogue delivered to your house. Feel free to cook everything at home and never order a takeaway again. Next week, find one day where you don’t carry money and don’t spend anything. In our thrifty world, we call that a ‘non-spend day’. Build them up so you can eat from the freezer and store cupboards and stretch your shopping so you only have to go once a fortnight. 

It’s also ok to have less than other people. I’m acutely aware that my car is aging fast, that my clothes are certainly neither fashionable or stylish. I’m fine that I don’t have a shoe, handbag or nail varnish collection. I’m ok with what I have and what I don’t have.

Listening to Craig today reminded me of the crippling insecurities that some people feel when they can’t keep up with the Jones family. It is hard. We lost friends along the way when we didn’t want to live our old life and gained new ones too. My message to Craig and anyone else who is young and feeling as if you must get swept along with the crowd is to believe in who you are and what you want to be. Take any job, any changes and any chances. Listen to reason and common sense and a lot less to trends and advertisements. If someone doesn’t like the fact that you are working in a bacon factory, meat processing plant or cleaning caravans then just remember you are working for you and not them! Build your self up from the ground and start again. If you fall over ten times then get back up eleven times. But most of all, remember this…………some is plenty!

Until tomorrow

Love Froogs

A swift kick in the butt?

Hello Dear Reader,

As an avid reader of Elaine’s Mortgage Free in Three;  her post today asked people to set a date when they would stop using credit. I too would ask anyone to do that as I wasn’t in the position to choose to get out of debt but forced to  as the bank refused my mortgage. I had to get rid of my debt and you may be in the position right now where you need to get rid of debt too.

If you want to get a mortgage. Banks and Building societies are really fussy. They will want a 25% – 45% deposit if you want a decent mortgage rate. The current 5% deals with government loans (stupidly sub-prime in my opinion – if you can’t afford the full deposit then you really can’t afford the full loan) don’t offer the low mortgage rates. Also, if you have any other debts, you are unlikely to get a mortgage! The before you save for a mortgage deposit, then you need to clear the debt you have first so you can secure the very best deal.

 If you want the freedom to move to a different rented property, as agencies will run credit checks, you will also want to get rid of debt. If you want to move on and get your first home, rented or otherwise, you will need to get rid of debt too or you will carry it for years to come.

Just like Elaine, I’m going to ask you to set a deadline. Elaine asked when it would be that you stopped using credit. I’m going to ask a similar question and ask by what date do you want to be debt free? Say, write it down, blog it, Facebook it but make a public declaration and stick to it. We set the date of being debt free by the London 2012 Olympics and actually managed to be debt free a year earlier. We made that happen as both of us took on extra work and sacrificed every penny beyond mere survival to do it. We are now frugal but we used to be deeply deeply frugal and didn’t let up for one second until all our debts were gone.

Give yourself a swift kick in the butt and make that promise right now! It’s going to be difficult but never as difficult as never starting at all!

I’m on Radio Cornwall tomorrow talking about managing and getting rid of debt. If you would like to share how you are managing your debt or how you got rid of yours then email tracy.wilson@bbc.co.uk and we’ll share your stories on air. If you would like some confidential advice (we’ll not mention any names or locations if you ask us not to) the the Truro Branch manager of Christians Against Poverty will be in the studio with us to answer any calls or give advice on debt management. You can also call on 01872 22 22 22 between 11 – 12.

You can make a pledge right here! When do you aim to be debt free by? Who is debt free and is able to say how long it took them to be so?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxx



Pledge to become debt free in 2014.


Hello Dear Reader,

First of all, thanks and apologies. Thanks to everyone who sent emails to Tracy about budgeting and money management. Apologies, we were not able to read them all out today but will do when I’m on the Tracy’s radio programme again on Sunday 12th January when we will be discussing personal debt and how to get out of debt. 

If you want to listen to Tracy and I, along with Jen, the local vet who gives advice on pet care then click HERE and move the cursor to the last hour. 

Below, I’ve added my radio script of some tips and ideas and contact details to help anyone get out of debt.


The UK is in the grip of a debt epidemic
  • People who can least afford it have the most debt
  • 8M households have no savings
  • Consumer debt has trebled since 1993
  • Outstanding debt on British credit cards – 55.6Billion
Facts from The Guardian Newspaper’s financial section

The poorest are paying a ‘poverty premium’ – mainstream banks won’t lend – payday lenders, doorstep loans and ‘rent to buy’ stores who sell at twice the price of mainstream stores and then charge very high rates of interest to customers who can’t get credit anywhere else.

The best thing any British family can do is get themselves out of debt!

1. Work out what you owe and who you owe it to – if you have no means of paying this back, for example if you lost your job since borrowing the money contact
Step Change – 0800 138 1111 – debt management advice
Christians Against Poverty – 0800 328 0006
These offer free debt advice and will help you get out of debt – beware of debt management companies who make money out of debt.


2. Set a budget

  • food
  • clothing for children – for adults – make do with what you have other than essentials
  • travel to work
  • car costs
  • B/day C/mas for children only
  • The rest goes into debt repayment -a  debt is a bill! Pay it monthly when you get paid! Always aim to pay more than the minimum – Pay off one debt at a time and then take that amount and add it to another debt – it’s referred to as ‘snowballing’.

3. Be disciplined – if you fall off the wagon – get right back on it! You will pay off debts but you must stick with your debt repayment plan.


4. Cash only/debit card only spending! No more store cards or credit cards – burn them, shred them but you can’t afford the debt you have – you certainly can’t afford any more!


5. Organise your bills
  • pay everything by DD on pay day
  • even insurance – more expensive but if this is the best way to discipline yourself then go ahead.
  • put money into a savings account, again by DD for car costs – or annual bills
6. Switch and save – energy suppliers, internet providers, phone providers

7. Get rid of everything you can live without – it’s not forever

  • Contact TV – give notice to satellite
  • Contact any subscriptions – give notice
  • Contact mobile phone – give notice – go PAYG
8.Sell everything you don’t need –
  • online auctions – old toys, clothes, CDS – any money, no matter how small can go towards debt repayment
  • two cars? go down to one
  • 1 car? can you live without it?
9. Change the way you eat
  • put a basic menu together for a week at a time
  • check the cupboards, freezer – use up what you have
  • shop with a list
  • don’t waste food – get portion sizes right – use up everything
10. Learn to control you impulsive shopping behaviour.
  • never shop when hungry
  • have no spend days, build them up into no spend weeks
  • keep a spending diary – look at what causes you to shop.
Over to you Dear Reader. Join the pledge and work towards debt freedom. What initial steps are you going to take to become debt free? 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx