Helping others to avoid debt.

Hello Dear Reader,
The biggest difficulty of having either debt or a low income is access to ready cash. It puts people in a debt cycle as there will always be a time when the washing machine breaks down or you need new bedding. There are charity shops but I’ll be bold enough to say their pricing takes the biscuit. Fortunately, there are furniture and clothing banks and we donated some of furniture that we’d bought second hand in the first place. We have one in Liskeard and volunteers will even collect it for you. If you have no money at all they will let you have clothing, household items such as a washing machine for free but if you have an income they will sell items for far less than charity shops.
My ‘new to me’ table was bought from eBay and came originally from a high end oak furniture store and would have cost around a thousand pounds. I bought it for ninety quid and got a courier to deliver it for forty. It’s a very fancy find and ‘like new’ in condition.
So, where am I going with this? Look out for furniture and clothing banks instead of turning to debt. If you can, donate clothes, household items and white goods so others can have them for nothing. Debt is pernicious and has a terrible grip that is incredibly difficult to get out of. 
A massive mention of in Liskeard and to all their volunteers for the work they do in the community. It’s great to donate and to know that people in genuine need can avoid debt because of your service.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

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

We need to share these skills!

Hello Dear Reader,

Like many people, I sat down last night and watched ‘Famous, rich and hungry’. The first of a two part documentary about poverty in the UK. Like so many people, I wept with disgust that thousands upon thousands of people in my own country are cold, hungry, unwashed and living in misery. There are so many reasons why people end up on benefits, why the benefit system of payments are flawed and why the cost of living is just beyond the reach of anyone not fit enough or lucky enough to have a job.

The reality brought on by this incredibly cold winter is that thousands of families suffered poor health due to malnutrition and through being constantly cold. On paper, families on benefits had just enough to live on…..only just. Where families and individuals were in dire straits primarily due to debt. Doorstep loans and  pay day loans are legally allowed to charge 1800% APR. The shysters at companies who sell domestic goods to families who have bad credit legally charge 68% APR and over charge for goods in the first place. Energy companies are legally allowed to charge the highest rate for pre-paid meters which are always installed for people who already have debt to energy companies and are already choosing between eating and heating.

Families need to know how to be financially astute! The rich work their money and turn a penny into a fiver whilst the poorest turn a fiver into a debt of hundreds that they are unlikely to pay off. Savvy mums fill their shopping trolleys with supermarket value brands and turn them into simple but nutritious homemade food. 

We Dear Reader, hold the answers.

We are the thrifty and frugal people. We get by and live well on as little as possible. We know to stock pile when times are good to get us through when times are bad. We know to buy bags of logs and coal all summer long when prices are good. We shop for birthdays and Christmas all the year round  and we put a few quid (and I know for some that it’s hard to do that but you still do) away on every pay day as we know we have to save for what we need. The thrifty people turn their garden to vegetables and grow their own. The frugal folk make their own clothes, their curtains and quilts. Thrifty people buy their clothes from carboot sales, off ebay and from charity shops and we alter them to suit us. Thrifty people learn to knit and keep their children warm with homemade clothes. 

The days of plenty are over. Food is never going to be cheap again! We have the answers and have to share them. We have to teach our friends, our families, our children how to stretch every pound. We need to share our cooking skills, our thrifting skills, our gardening skills and our craft skills. We are the modern day survivors! We need to share our skills. 

Anyone can become unemployed. I don’t want to demonise the poor, the government are doing that all by themselves. What I want is for everyone to safeguard as best they can against the poverty we may all face one day. We already know we will have tiny pensions and may never get a state pension when we reach ‘retirement’ which also may not exist when we get there. We know that gas and electric are currently unaffordable for some pensioners and we may well be in that situation. 

Everyone needs to get used to living under their means so they can save for the future which most of us may not be able to afford! Everytime you think of eating out, stop and put the money into a savings account or use it to pay off some more of the mortgage capital. Every time you want some paid for entertainment or new clothes, stop and put the money away and make do with what you have.

Menu plan, stock take, batch cook, buy a few extras when you have some spare money. Learn a new skills, dig up part of your garden and think of what you can plant there. When you walk in the woods, pick up kindling sticks off the path and make it a new pastime. Learn a crafting skill of you tube and upcycle something in your home to give it a new lease of life. 

As I said, I don’t want to demonise the poor but the savvy, thrifty, creative eschew debt and live on less. There are folk with the tiniest incomes who stay warm as they know how to trap heat and wrap up. Plenty of people on benefits eat healthily as they know how to cook and can create a lentil stew or pasta bake. There are many pensioners feeding themselves, their families and their friends really well as they know how to grow veg all year round. I watched some young men, who looked like students, fishing off Plymouth Hoe and were landing mackerel and I saw one teach the other how to dispatch it and gut it. It was literally a situation of ‘teach a man to fish’. I over heard the same man telling the other how to sprinkle it wish salt and pepper and dust with flour and then fry it. He was sharing his skill. We all need to do this. 

How can you do this? Make a film with your mobile phone of : pie making, hemming a skirt, casting on knitting, chopping kindling, cleaning windows with newspapers and upload it to Vimeo, Facebook orYou tube. If you don’t have a blog then email the link to me and I will put the tutorials up on here! If there’s something you want to learn, then feel free to leave a comment and I will make a film or find one for you. Then, we need to keep sharing this! Tweet what you see, link it to your Facebook page and share with your friends.

As I’m on my soapbox, enjoy this recipe and then share it. It’s nothing fancy, you wouldn’t want it in a restaurant but you would want it to fill your children’s bellies and you would know you’ve fed them something nutritious and tasty.

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables. (I can’t eat wheat but you could use Cous Cous instead)

Any veg you can roast – Courgette, tomatoes, beetroot and peppers in the summer. I used carrots butternut squash, mushrooms and red onions as that’s what I had. I cooked one cup of quinoa in three cups of vegetable stock. I always rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse the quinoa before I cook it. I part cook the veggie in boiling water first so they roast quickly as the oven is expensive to run (I have two ovens, I just use the small one) . Quinoa is really nutritious and also full of protein. Share meat free recipes so more people get some inspiration and ideas of what to eat and how to cook on a tiny budget.

I made a dressing to toss the veggie and quinoa in. A big squirt of runny honey, soy sauce, garlic salt and ginger (I had a job lot of sushi ginger from Approved Food and we’re working through it) some oil and vinegar in equal amount. It gave the dressing an oriental flavour.

Stir the dressing through the quinoa (or cous cous) and veggies and serve, hot, warm or cold.  We’ll have some for supper tonight and some for lunch tomorrow.

Where ever or how ever you use social media, please promote thrifty living blogs. Please promote debt charities such as Christians Against Poverty and Step Change. Please promote the Money Advice service so people can get help with budgeting and money issues. Please promote and support community activities in your areas. If there’s a jumble sale, a car boot sale or you know of a charity shop, then tweet it, blog it and put it on Facebok. When you send a birthday card, send a thrifty recipe. If you see food reductions locally and might not want to benefit from it, snap chat, Facebook and tweet so others can. If you know of jobs advertised then promote those vacancies! We all need to share the skills we have

Please share these ideas. At the bottom of the post you will see Google + , Twitter and Facebook links. Please press these and share the frugal ideas to everyone you know. We have the answers and we need to share them. We have the skills to get us through tough times. People are living through tough times and we need to help them get through them.

We have the answers and we can help……………..who’s with me? I’m determined to spread the word and who’s up for the challenge. I challenge you to teach one person, one new skills once a week. Come on…. we can do

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx

Please nominate for: blog of the year, best thrifty blog and best food blog – nominations close at midnight 14/3/14 – keep frugal living in the spotlight  – thanks lovely readers. MAD Blog Awards

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 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

Pigs in Blankets!

Hello Dear Reader,

Today is supposed to be Blue Monday. So called because families total up the costs of debts they’ve run up over Christmas, folk have already capitulated and given up giving up what ever they tried to give up. Families have spent two weeks together and the solicitors are rubbing their hands all the way to the bank as couples line up to get divorced. Not here! No apologies for sounding smug but I love this time of year. 

It was great to get back to work, there really is only so much being at home I can deal with. I like being busy and enjoy the routine of the alarm going off, jumping in the shower and heading off to work. I enjoy a busy day and the gym after work. I’m still maximising the gym membership by going every day and flogging myself half to bits when I get there. Today, 40 minutes spin class followed by a weights session and topped off with some killer crunches. It certainly assuaged the guilt of eating a calorie ridden supper.

If you’re not British, then you probably haven’t eaten pig in blankets. You take one gluten free sausage (Black Farmer – freedom food – outdoor reared pork) and wrap each in smoked streaky bacon (also from the freedom food section) and then grill them under a medium grill until the bacon just starts to crisp. 

I served the pigs in blankets with steamed veg and potatoes and the left over braised red cabbage from yesterday’s lunch. I also managed to squirrel away a portion for my lunch tomorrow. I’m running 5K after work tomorrow so I’ll need to stock up on calories a few hours before I set off.

I thought for a moment of how good life is today, not to mention every day. No debt from Christmas or otherwise. No stress over Christmas as we keep it very very low key. We are deliriously and happily married. The weather doesn’t bother me as life just goes on. 

I’m about to spend a happy hour at my sewing machine working on a quilt that I’m making as a gift and then head off to bed for an early night. 

Over to you Dear Reader, who is happier this year because they didn’t run up any debt over Christmas? Who is happy to get back to the normal routing? Who feels in control because they have a budget set for the coming weeks and months? Not to mention, who else loves pigs in blankets and feel they are a meal in themselves?

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxx

A strangle hold grip on debts.

Living on a budget! Not always fun but necessary for everyone! I used budget brain and updated it to show alterations of standing orders and overpayments. Please excuse the big gaps between pictures today but I have screen copies from the budgetbrain website and the format isn’t easy to port over. Double click to see the budget below.
You can see these pictures by double clicking them. It makes you put everything on the sheets, from boiler insurance to life insurance. Our clothing allowance is £30 a month and that includes shoes for both of us although that’s mainly limited to a new pair of work shoes once a year. As you may already know I buy my clothes from car boot sales, charity shops and posh things from ebay.

Living off a immovable budget is difficult. It means you have to forgo spontaneity and plan for activities. You can never just ‘go shopping’ unless you have set aside a specific set amount to take and you take that in cash and nothing else. You can not afford meals out and birthday and Christmas presents are always handmade. You start to live very very differently and start to put money aside for trips to relatives as you know you need some spare money for the fuel to get there.
What ever we have left at the end of the month goes onto credit card bills. Every so often, we’ll log onto our accounts and see what the ‘odds’ are. If I have £243.26 in my account, I will often transfer £3.26 over to a credit card account and what ever I have left at the end of the month goes onto my 0% credit card to over pay it even more and pay off what I can. It leaves so very little for anything else that a day out, or something for the house has to be very carefully thought through. If I need a new coat, then I have to make some extra money to do this. If we need anything at all we try and sell something to pay for it, or we wait until payday to spend what’s left if there is anything left.

We also try to have a treat, usually on pay day it’s about ten quid which we spend on wine, some chocolate and a big bag of crisps. We always factor in a couple of days out a month where we spend a few pounds on some diesel and get out for a day here and there. I also buy a few craft items to make presents from. This month I bought coconut oil, cocoa butter and Shea butter to make some ‘posh’ soap for presents for family and friends. I will spend money on ingredients for mince meat, Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings, which are also for presents this month too. So a bigger than average spend for the end of September.

I know there are people who read my blog who are: careful with money and are living OK, some are in debt and are already doing something about it, some are on low fixed incomes such as a pension and are using their frugal skills to live as comfortably as possible and some people who need to embark on the journey and lifestyle I am on, but haven’t jumped in with both feet just yet.

Where ever you are and who ever you are, make a budget. Know what you have. Know where it’s going. You may see, like we did, that there is a little bit of slack and we can pay a little bit more to our debts each month or not worry when the dogs need grooming. We have as Foster Mummy says ‘nuff pence’ and we’re getting by in style. I don’t mean to boast but I’m blogging on my lap top whilst wrapped up in bed with the leccy blanket on and I’m deliciously toasty. DB is next to me and reading and our pets are at our feet. All is well!

Getting a grip of debts the painful way!

I’ve been talking to a few people recently about debt reduction. I feel some people have been badly advised and may take the route of debt consolidation or even debt management,where they hand their debts over to a management company and pay a fee each month, not realising that the only thing that makes debts go away is bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is dreadful for your immediate future and means you sometimes can’t hire a car, rent a house and certainly not move house or get another mortgage. By far the best route is biting the bullet, accepting a very much reduced standard of living and paying off debts.

Once you get used to living on less money and living differently; soon enough and after a while, it just doesn’t matter! I can so easily tell who is and who isn’t ‘on their arse’ by their access to ready cash. So many people that I know have nothing left at the end of the month as they are either living on credit or they have maxxed out! Below is my debt repayment plan. You can only see this properly if you double click it to enlarge it……….I’m not ashamed of being in debt and not ashamed of how I have to pay this off and certainly not ashamed to share the payment plan with anyone who cares to see it.

We decided to pay off everything, which means in the first instance that you stop spending anything at all. Complete cold turkey! If you are in the position that I was in, you can’t afford to drink, to smoke, to go to the pub, to have a mini-break, to eat out, to go to the pictures or theatre………………………….YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT! You can’t afford to use your credit cards EVER! STOP IT!

Martin Lewis uses the analogy of attacking one debt at a time, which we did. We then repaired our credit rating in six months and were able to start moving debts into 0% cards and now we over pay them and we’re attacking those debts.

If you are reading this and you are cutting back because you are in debt, please contact me first before you even think of either consolidation, re-financing, re-mortgaging and especially before going anywhere near debt management. There is another way and YES it’s going to be painful and it will take a few years but you will walk away debt free, with a credit rating in tact, with your own roof over your head and you will have a better future. Who’s coming with me???

For those who have asked – to find the debt snow ball calculator simply google “debt snow ball calculator” – you can also discover how to pay debts off quickly by googling Dave Ramsay or Suze Orman, also watch the ‘good debt, bad debt’ video by Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert on You Tube – search “Martin Lewis” in You Tube and look for his live stage show/lecture – it’s fascinating and will tell you all about paying off debts. Here’s Dave Ramsay and his video on debt snowballing

Special delivery!!!!!

I LOVE opening credit card statements as we’ve paid most of them off!!!!! I moved a huge chunk of Dearly Beloved’s credit card to Virgin Bank’s 0% and I’m now paying that off at £500 a month!! The balance that was left, that I couldn’t transfer due to credit limits, was paid off with my exam marking fees at the end of July! So, after my first day back at work, I arrived home to another zero balance and zero to pay credit card statement! I may be eating from the bottom shelf and the bottom of the freezer, making my own soap and wearing someone else’s clothes!! But hey! I’m on the road to being debt free!
I also found this on my doorstep! I assume my neighbours left these for me, some of the tomatoes are a bit green but they are good for chutney.
So I rustled up a quiche and here’s how I did it.

Shortcrust pastry – 8oz plain flour, good pinch of salt and 4oz of Tesco version of Utterly Butterlywizzed in the food processor, dribble in a squirt of cold water and hey! Pastry – put it in the fridge. Cost 7p for flour – 7p for marg – 14p for pastry

Open a pack of Tesco cooking bacon – £1.08 for 500g, use half of it – wrap the other half in clingfilm and freeze it.

Cut said bacon into little cubes, along with a peeled onion, also cut into little pieces and fry – no need for fat. Onion free from the garden.

After frying the onion and bacon, allow to cool.

Roll out pastry and line a flan dish.

Tip cooked bacon and onions into the flan dish.

Beat 6 eggs – 75p – from Pensilva, sold in the fruit and veg shop for £1.50 a doz. – Pour onto the bacon and onions.

Grate 100g of cheddar – on offer for at £4.98 a kilo (Cathedral City) so 49p. and sprinkle on top.

Slice four tomatoes and layer on top – free – on the door step!

Total cost = £1.92 and there are six portions, we had two tonight, we’ll have one each for lunch at work tomorrow and one each for lunch on Friday as well. 32p per portion.

Tonight we had ours with grated carrot with some raisins and homemade vinaigrette and some sliced cucumber. Our delicious supper, to celebrate paying off a chunk of debt was under 50p per person and even if I say so myself…………it was lovely xx

What do we go to work for?

“Normal” is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, the car, and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it”

Ellen Goodman

Today is a bit crap to be honest. Its a crap cake, smothered in crap, with crap frosting, with whippy crap on top decorated with crap sprinkles. It’s raining, my car is making a funny noise which might indicate an imminent huge expense, it’s cold and I went to work yesterday (in my unpaid holiday) worked all day and today, I’ve worked all day again. I love teaching, but I don’ t like my 60 hour working week when I actually get paid for 32.5 hours! Nor do I like working in my holidays. I’ve read my own blog today and I’ve counted the sum of my days and they are good, nonetheless I want to work to live and not the other way round. I’m in the have no choice but to work bracket as I’ve determined my own future through my own choices and now I must pay…………for a while. Below is the dream I hang on to and I’m almost in a position to downsize and make that a reality.

I have to remember the plan; where I’m going and how I’m going to get there. My personal debts, will be non-existent in 2012 or sooner. I will have received two incremental pay rises and will be better off. Sell big house (economy may be better? or not!) buy tiny two down, with garden big enough to grow a few veggies, a couple of chickens and some where to dry the washing and pay off the mortgage by 2018! Who knows what I might do after I have paid off the mortgage – Oh I know!!!! I will work to do things I like doing instead of just surviving.
Sound familiar??

Now I really must stop moaning and get back to work!