Are we saving enough for retirement?


Hello Dear Reader,

Whilst we’re in the middle of our month long fiscal fast we take the time to re-evaluate our long term finances. As retirement in the UK is at 67 year, then our desires to retire at 60 are effectively hoping to take early retirement. We know we’ll have to revisit those desires nearer the time but our aim is to be financially able to put our feet up sooner than most working people. In the meantime, we carry on as if we might have to work until we’re 67 so we’re not disappointed if we can’t.

Currently, we have made the decision to live on a lot less so we are used to having to do with less money. I’m sure it must be a real shock if people lose their job, get made redundant or retire on a small income if they are not used to budgeting at best or in some cases being frugal to make a small income go a long way. We’ve lived this way since 2009 and always take the cheapest low cost route to what ever we hope to achieve so we can put aside as much as we can into savings and investments. We don’t take the ‘we’ve worked for it, so we deserve it’ attitude and keep reminding ourselves that we can have the money now or when we’ve retired but we can’t have both. Whilst we’re young and fit we can chop wood, dismantle pallets, make the physical time and effort to buy second hand or get what we need for free. We may not have the health for that in our seventies so are making the most of the masses of energy we have now.

So, we live with free TV (no Sky package), get the cheapest energy tariffs, reduce our water and energy consumption, only buy what we really need and then supplement that we freecycle, charity shops and gumtree. We mend everything and always shop in the cheapest supermarkets. Every month, we manage to over pay the mortgage, even if it’s only by £75 off the capital and aim most months to over pay another £100. We aim to pay off our mortgage as soon as we can so we can then direct the money we would have previously put into our mortgage into further topping up our pensions. We also add a proportion of our salaries into savings every month and budget judiciously for every penny we spend.

Pensions always look good at the time but as they are a fixed income well into the future, we know however much we’ll have put aside, it’s probably not going to be enough and we’ll have to spend the rest of our lives economising, making do and being as thrifty as possible. So, there’s no use us getting used to wall to wall central heating, deep hot baths and frequent new clothes as we’ll not be able to afford them when we’re retired.

Also, like a lot of people, we didn’t start paying into pensions early enough. Just the same as a lot of people, we didn’t have decent well paid jobs and there were no pensions attached to our jobs that we could pay in to. Now, all employers have to provide a pension service and everyone should pay in although we all know the reality isn’t that great for everyone. If I was going to give advice it would be, if you have spare money that you would choose to spend on a holiday or new car, then it might be better off going into a pension unless you can afford both a ‘treat based’ life style and a pension. It’s probably likely that most people need to make some tough financial decisions that they may not like if they don’t want to live hand to mouth as a pensioner.

If you can, start early at least earlier that I did at 38! The sooner you start then the sooner you can retire as you’ll have a private pension that you’ll have saved into. I’m not counting how long I have until I retire as I don’t want to wish away my days so I’ll take each one as it comes and just keep saving.

In case you’ve arrived here today for the first time, we are not all dull. We lost a very close relative and took some money we inherited (£25K) and bought a second home with it. We didn’t just put the lot into our mortgage as we wanted a life as well as saving. We also spend £1600 a year on ferries and as little as we can on renovating our second home in our holidays. We’ll then rent out our UK property when we retire and add that income towards our pensions. Frugal I can do, penury I can’t.

On balance, we have a bit of fun, spend a bit of money on ten weeks of holidays a year and balance that out with saving the rest and doing what we do as that ideal of retiring at 60 is still a real dream for us. It’s not all dull, I think we’d curl up with boredom if we saved every possible penny every single month and have trips away to look forward to. I know we’re lucky that we can make these decisions but we could choose to live it up every month, have new clothes every month, live in a bigger house, have the central heating on when ever and eat steak at the weekend but we choose to save for the long term instead of spending in the immediate.

Now over to you, share your retirement stories, your retirement plans. Is anyone living really frugally now in necessary preparation so you can afford to retire at all? We all work so hard in this busy modern world, we’ll all need a break sooner or later and there’s a tiny minority who don’t have to make financial sacrifices to afford that.

I always look forward to hearing from you.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxx


The frugal thing to do with an unexpected windfall

Hello Dear Reader,

Today, I had a tax refund. I started a job and was taxed at basic rate for a while as I was employed initially through an agency. I’ve just got the over payment of tax back. I didn’t for one minute think of going out and spending a penny of it. I didn’t have it yesterday and I did without.

On the very same day we got a few hundred pounds back of reclaimed Payment Protection Insurance. We didn’t take out any new loans or credit after spring of 2009 and we rarely had PPI. We claimed back what we could (we had to have paper evidence) and between the PPI refund and the tax refund, we had a windfall of £938 this morning. Life went on as normal and on the first day of our staycation, where we didn’t have any money to go out and do anything that cost anything, we carried on as if nothing had changed.

In fact, we made ourselves less well off by adding a few more pounds to the pot and paid of an entire £1000 off the mortgage balance. We are now just three years from owning half of our house! Each time we pay off some capital, we reduce the amount of interest we pay and in turn, can pay off more capital.

If any of you get any spare money, just remember you did without it the day before. You can do without it today. Take it to the bank or building society and pay off some of the capital balance of your mortgage. 

I am no richer or poorer than I was yesterday but I am a tiny step closer to owning my own home.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogsxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Gambling or playing safe with money?

 Hello Dear Reader.

After DB spent the day on the phone and researching, we decided against looking for a different mortgage provider and here’s why. We have already spoken to more than five mortgage providers and one independent advisor. We kept being offered interest rates at a fraction of a percent lower (lowest we could get was 4.9) than we’re currently paying. We have no debts and we’ve reduced our mortgage capital by £27K in the last twelve months. We’ve done everything we can to improve our financial standing so we can downsize our lives and it’s the very fact that we’ve done that which has put us in a unattractive position to new lenders. 

We’ve had an interest only mortgage for five years and if we had made repayments each month, then we would have paid off £30K of the balance in those five years. By the end of the fixed term of this mortgage, we will have done exactly that. However, we are not attractive customers because the entire amount we have paid off has been wiped off by the down turn in the market and our loan to value status is not great and effectively we have made no difference to the percentage of the house we own.

We have asked all the right questions and know, if we go through an application process and are turned down because we have reduced our salaries (DB’s not by choice he was just one of those public sector workers who had his salary cut by 10%) and don’t have a good loan to value ratio, then we will get a negative score on our credit reference (FICO score). 

Just like the players in Deal or No Deal, we have a reasonable deal on the table from our current lenders and it would be sensible to take it. We can move over to a repayment mortgage on a variable rate, no questions asked and we can over pay what ever we like and if and when we have built up better credentials, then we can leave that deal with no financial penalties. We could gamble and end up with the 1p box! There are better mortgage deals out there and I could risk it and might get accepted. I’m going to play safe with my money and know I can afford an interest rate rise as I’m already paying a higher interest rate. Most of us will remember interest rates of 15% and we just got on with paying it! 

I will be paying less interest and I will be able to pay off more of the capital. I will continue to do what I always do when faced with difficulties and that’s just hang on and get on with it. I am more determined than ever to reduce the amount I owe and I see a mortgage as a debt no different than car payments. It’s not mine until I’ve paid for it.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogsxxxxx

Budgeting for the big stuff!

 Hello Dear Reader,

It’s the first banking day of the month and I’ve paid the interest on the mortgage. I’ve also saved up and paid off another £2015………the odd £15 was left in my purse so I put it back into the bank and paid off some mortgage capital with it. I’ve also done the ‘big’ super market shop for the month. We ‘spend’ every penny we earn on the first of every month. All of our utility bills are paid by standing order on that date. We pay all of our insurances annually as well as all major car expenses in one go. To do this, we have to set aside slightly more than the agreed amount each month.

We do our ‘big shop’ of storable and freezable goods. We bulk buy and store when there are very good offers on items that we will definitely use. We also treat savings accounts as bills and ensure that the money goes into our several account on the first banking day of the month. It takes discipline and leaves us with next to nothing in the way of disposable income. We don’t leave ourselves ‘fun’ money as I don’t need money to have fun! 

The biggest amount we save each month is the minimum of 1% of the mortgage balance per month and we try to aim for a little more. It’s the same amount of money that was furnishing our debts in the past and we lived without it. Now we live without it and pay off our mortgage at the rate of 10% a year. It means we leave the equivalent of one month’s capital repayment for: car tax, car/home insurance, servicing the car/wear and tear replacements, house repairs, boiler servicing, wood, pet costs. We then save half of one month’s capital repayment for long term savings and half a month for an annual holiday. 

If we need clothes or shoes, or anything else, we make the money from ebay trading or out of our food budget. We get most clothes and fabric from jumble sales, charity shops and car boot sales. We get household items from similar places. 

This all seems a bit drastic but none of us have a certain future any more. Dearly Beloved and I have pension projections which seem adequate now, but none of us know what the financial future holds so we need to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible and put money aside to meet the needs of the ‘pension gap’. Many of you who read this are living off a pension, and were careful, and did make prudent plans for your future and still find day to day costs a struggle. We all have to budget for the big stuff and making sure we eventually have a bought and paid for home, a private pension of any sort and all bills paid have now become the big stuff. I’m sorry if you thought I would share how I save up for and pay for a cruise, but like everyone else we have to be very careful stewards of our finances just to keep afloat.

I have enough money in my account to buy diesel to get us to work and back for the month and enough money to top up the shopping each week. We have enough, and under the current circumstances, consider ourselves blessed to have that.

Weekly weigh in Froog’s frugal fat fighters – I have now lost 11lbs

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs 

Pay it down!

Hello Dear Readers,

Thanks to the so so many of you who sent me lovely messages about the ways that you too are frugal! After my scintillating weekend of dismantling pallets, chopping firewood and not shopping! (Other than food) I came home to my mortgage statement today. Due to being a total tightwad, I’ve now reduced my monthly interest payments by £100 a month. You can imagine what I’m going to do with that ‘spare’ £100! You bet……it’s going to go straight onto the capital repayments! I can only pay 10% of the balance a year and next month’s payment will see me do that for this year. I’ll then put away December’s payment, into the savings pot, until the new year, when I can start to pay off another 10% of the balance.

It takes some doing! As I type, whilst there is a fire alight downstairs, there is no heating else where. My taps run cold and then I recycle the water for the loo. There are days when all of this is utterly dispiriting and I could just turn all the lights on, the central heating on and run round bare foot. Then I realise what has to be done, shake myself, pull myself together and just get on with it. Paying off a hoofing great mortgage is a pain in the proverbial but I signed the papers! No one made me. No one said……….go and buy a house in a nice district, with low crime and lovely open countryside, oh and by the way, that’ll make it really expensive. Dreams are all very well but they don’t come cheap.

I really enjoyed the comments yesterday and I smiled as most of the money saving things we do are part of the game I play. Winning that game means I can pay anywhere up to 1% of the balance of my house capital each month. Sometimes, it isn’t that much and as little as 0.5% of the balance but every month it decreases. It’s tough, no one said it would be  easy but I’m living proof that it can be done.
Now over to my fellow froogles………..what do you do that’s tough, that’s part of life’s game and that you know will be worth it in the end.
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxx

Frugal, frugalish, not so frugal and free! P.S I’ve given up, giving up swearing!

Some how, I don’t think the paint is going to make it onto the wall of its own accord!  However,  I’m only heating my house with prepaid wood and not buying gas!

 Hi everyone,

Many, many thanks for the messages of support. There are things I can say on this blog and things I can’t say, and I can’t say why. It does feel as if I have the thought police breathing down my neck and it irks me to the point of the utter fucking depths of misery, but I live in a complicated world and I’m not actually allowed to say or do as I please. Enough of that and I’ll move on. And no, I don’t have a book deal…………but there’s an idea!

Dearly Beloved and I went on a shortened and slightly later than planned anniversary trip. It was eventful. We went over to France in a force 8 gale (or as the Shipping Forecast said……..cyclonic). I medicated myself with some Jack Daniels and strapped myself (I mean fucking literally!!!!) to my bunk and got there on time and in one piece! The weather instantly improved when we got there and we had the most lovely forty eight hours in Morlaix, St Pol de Leon and Roscoff. We had a frugalish ‘menu formule’ in of all places, a local supermarket restaurant for 12 euros for a three course lunch, with wine and coffee. We had coffee and croissants sat in market squares and had the loveliest of times. We also did what we rarely do in the UK: we shopped. We stayed in a thirty nine euros a night hotel which was warm, friendly, did a good breakfast and had lots of deep hot baths!!!!

I am no wine specialist. I’ve been on wine tasting evenings and after the third bottle, it all tastes the same to me. We’ve bought five litre boxes and many many bottles. Mostly for around 1.09 a bottle, which in UK pounds is a pound a bottle. Here, the cheapest paint stripping plonk you can buy is about £3.99 a bottle. I now have a year’s supply, plus gifts for family and friends for the next year. We will go back within a year…………but it’s better to be safe than sober  sorry! So, there’s the frugalish – wine with a 75% discount.

We don’t have a Netto store near us. Oh the very joy of the place! I noticed there were no Brit cars in the car park but kept hearing familiar accents. So, I found where the Brits abroad go shopping. We did the usual thing of buying the local cheese, wine and onions (they are pink and so fragrant and delicious) and I added a couple of new plastic bowls to my ‘chariot’ at a euro each. After washing our hands, in cold water of course, we use the water to flush the loo. I think it’s a sin to flush the lav in pure drinking water, so we continue, even in our debt free state, to use second hand water in the toilet. (Oh, that’s the frugal bit)

Finally and most importantly, a massive thanks fort Ali for sending me some Lacura eye creme and serum. She bought them for herself and didn’t suit her and she very thoughtfully sent them on to me. I am so very grateful and even though life it a deep crevice of shite at the moment, I am astride it without wrinkles! (That’s the free bit and it has really cheered me xxxxxxxx All my love to Ali!!!!)

 Frugalish,  I was sent another discount code for shoes! If you go to the Clarks website, with the discount code of BERRY, you can get 20% off and free postage. Everyone needs shoes at some time. On a deeply frugal note! I haven’t used any gas for a month! I also made a payment off my mortgage capital and will be on target to pay off 10% of the balance this year and hopefully, will do so again next year.

p.s – I don’t like odd numbers so if six of you, who are not already followers, could become so, it would tidy up the numbers xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Again, thanks everyone. I’m dragging myself out of this and I couldn’t have done it without you xxxxxxxxx

All my love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxx