Thursday, 31 May 2018

Monthly Roundup - May 2018

Once again, it feels like it's been a pretty spendy month.  It was OH's birthday in May and although I'd bought his main present in April (some very expensive cycling shoes), I still ended up buying a few more bits and pieces this month. I also treated myself to a few bits this month so my personal budget was affected by this. Anyway, here goes with the budget totals:

Food - This month my food budget of £400 went over by £25.17.  I was helped by our going away to visit relatives for a few days at the end of the month, as this meant I didn't really need to do the last weekly shop of the month and could just about eek things out until the beginning of June, using things we had in the freezer and cupboards.

Household - Surprisingly, this month the household budget of £50 was actually £2.38 under spent, which is astonishing, as this has consistently been overspent for months now.  I don't know what I did that was different, but perhaps I'd stocked up on some things in previous months and reaped the benefits this month I guess.

Misc. - The Miscellaneous budget of £50 took a bit of a hit this month due to birthday presents, cards, gifts for people leaving at work and eBay postage.  It ended up being £58.68 overspent, which is quite a lot for this category, but with OH's birthday being one of the main ones I buy for each year, I guess this is acceptable. I also bought some car parking tickets for the gym this month which cost £12 and which should last me at least 3 or 4 months.

Me - My personal budget of £25 also took a hit this month and came in at £66.42 overspent.  I bought myself a new black rucksack from ASOS, which I've only used twice (for my interview and Chelsea Flower Show) as yet, but intend to use when my current one starts to get too worn out. It's a bit more roomy, which will be useful to carry lunches to work. In addition, I also bought a brand new pair of Vans skater shoes from the CS, and another brand new pair of brown leather Chelsea boots for next winter, which I just couldn't resist, as they are just so comfortable and easy to wear.  I haven't worn either yet, but I think I'll get lots of use from the Vans over the summer months.  I'm kind of saving them, which is crazy, as I don't really know what for.  I just like them and don't want to get them messed up too quickly.

LB - For once LB's budget of £25 was overspent this month by £34.90, mainly because I bought her some new school shirts for next year, to avoid any last minute panic in the summer holidays.  I did this last year and it just made that getting ready to go back to school thing so much easier.

Home - The Home budget of £20 came in at £2.03 underspent this month.  I bought a few bits from the CS and IKEA.  OH, on the other hand, did spend a heap of money this month, on bits for the kitchen renovation.

Travel for Work - This budget which is set at £40 came in at £4.50 under this month, mainly due to the fact that I took the last week of the month off work, so had no travel expenses to incur for the week.

All in, the month was a bit more spendy than I would perhaps like, but not too crazy I guess and quite a bit of expenditure was at the CS, so at least it went to a good cause. I did spend a bit more money than that mentioned above, when I got the chance to go to Chelsea Flower Show with a friend for the first time this month.  We went on the last Saturday of the show, the day they sell off all of the plants after 4pm.  My friend had some free tickets, so I made sure to treat her whilst we were there, to thank her for taking me, as it was a bucket list experience for me. In total, the day probably cost somewhere in the region of £75, but it was so worth it. I also spent some Paypal funds buying a few small items on eBay this month, which didn't come out of any of the above budgets, so I didn't add them in.

I'm hoping that June will be a bit less spendy, as there's no birthdays to spend money on, or any big events planned and there isn't really anything I particularly need, but we'll see what happens. I may buy a few clothes for work, as I've noticed that some of the things I regularly wear to work are getting very tatty and scruffy, which isn't great.  I would like to start saving or investing more money each month going forward so I may put some extra money into savings accounts or my share account in June.

How has your budget fared this month?

Monday, 21 May 2018

This Weekend

After two weekends where I've been working all weekend, it was wonderful this weekend not to have to go to work. The weekend always start s for me when I get home from work at 8ish on Friday night and we have our regular Pizza night. I always like to watch Monty on Gardener's World to inspire me to get out into the garden. Then we watched the new series of The Bridge, which we just love.

On Saturday morning, I made sure to have a long lie in, the first in ages, followed by a leisurely morning pottering around the house and garden. I weeded one of the raised beds, sowed some more salad seeds into it and harvested the first of our salad crop.

When OH came back from walking the dog, he wanted to go over to the allotment to water the potatoes, so I accompanied him and did a bit of weeding and harvesting of the rhubarb, which had gone mad. The plot itself was not looking too bad and we've got tomato plants, cucumbers and courgettes to go in yet, when they are big enough and there is no further risk of frost. I'll post some pictures when it's fully cultivated.

Once back from the allotment I found that I had received a statement from my current work pension provider, which made interesting reading. It's great to be receiving free money by way of my employer's contributions into the fund. Definitely worth taking advantage of.

For lunch, it was bacon sandwiches all round whilst I sat down to watch the Royal Wedding.  I can't say that I've been following the press coverage in recent weeks, so I didn't even know what time it started. As a consequence, I missed the lead up and the first 10 minutes of the service and had to catch up later in the day.  I enjoyed what I did see though. Fabulous weather for a wedding.

After lunch, OH started to do some more work on the kitchen, fitting some of the cupboard storage solutions that we bought on Thursday from IKEA, namely some pull out baskets to hold the cupboard contents. We already have some of these fitted in our pan cupboard and they make it much easier to get to things at the back of the cupboard. I assisted by refilling the cupboards after the baskets had been fitted and it finally feels like the kitchen is coming together a little more now. I did find that quite a few things wouldn't fit into the cupboards once we'd fitted the baskets, so it was a good opportunity to declutter a few things that we rarely use.

OH also rehung the clock and a picture that we had hanging in the kitchen.  They went back in different places though to change things up a bit. I also ordered some drawer organisers on eBay on Saturday, to better organise the cutlery drawer and the kitchen junk drawer. I'm determined to get things in proper order once and for all this time around.

Later, we decided to have a BBQ supper, so I headed out to the supermarket for the things we needed. I also had to buy some cards and a bottle of whisky, because it was OH's birthday on Sunday.

On Sunday itself, I didn't go to the gym as usual, due to the fact that it was the local Half Marathon Day and some of the roads were blocked off, which made my route to the gym very long. I didn't fancy spending two or more hours stuck in traffic, so I cancelled and gave it a miss. OH was supposed to be running it this year, but after damaging his knee after running in New York earlier in the year, he has conceded that running isn't great for him and I for one am relieved, because he was mighty grumpy for a month or so until his knee recovered.

Anyway, this meant that I could take a leisurely walk with the dog and then wrap up OH's presents, which he opened after he got back from his early Sunday morning bike ride. I didn't do a whole lot in the afternoon, but I did get stuck into a fiction book for the first time in months. I picked up Anne Tyler's  A Patchwork Planet and I'm really enjoying it. I've been reading non-fiction for months now and to be honest, I'm just a little tired of it and fancied something a little more fanciful.

I turned out to be a lovely leisurely weekend, with some progress being made on the kitchen and we finished it off by watching the new series of A Handmaid's Tale.

This week I'm at work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, so today was spent grocery shopping, going to the gym, doing odd domestic tasks, so that I leave the house in a tidy state when I disappear off to work for two days. I also took an hour to complete a Health and Safety course on line for work, which had been sat in my inbox for a couple of weeks and had a deadline looming.

Courtesy of Lidl, it was Tapas for supper, which is a rare treat, before completing the washing up and having a bath in readiness for work tomorrow. Monday nights have become the new Sunday night for me, when I get myself and my act together for the working week ahead. I hope you had a great weekend.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Kitchen Update

As  I've mentioned a few times, the kitchen renovation is coming along pretty slowly.  It's back to being functional now though, as most of the painting has now been done and the table is back in use, so we are no longer having TV dinners.

We've spent very little on the kitchen really, maybe £1000 or so, on bits and pieces.  New paint of course, new light fittings and bulbs over the table, new sockets and switches down one side of the room, new LED under cupboard lighting (this was the most expensive thing), new curtain (which I'd bought a couple of years ago and just needed to re-hem), new tap (this will be the most expensive thing when we get it) and under sink composting caddy holder, new colour co-ordinated glass splashback behind the hob, new bread bin and canisters, new microwave, new chopping board and condiments box and some new pull out racks for the tall utility cupboard and two of the kitchen cupboards, to make access to things at the back of the cupboards easier.  All very small changes, but ones which make the kitchen function better and look better too.

It's far from finished, but I'm enjoying the refresh.  I'm thinking of putting very few ornaments and things back on the window sills, as I like the minimal feel of the room without everything.  It does, however, feel quite echoey without any curtains currently up to absorb sound. I may change my mind about the knick knacks, but for now it's my intention not to have too many out.

On Thursday afternoon, after I returned from the gym, OH and I headed out to buy some of the above items.  We'd not had much opportunity previous to this, so it was good to finally get some of them. We struggled to find a quality tap that we both liked, so may have to resort to another trip to more expensive plumbing shops today or we may just buy one online and take a chance. I want the kind they have in the US with a pull out nozzle to spray around the sink.  We used one in the apartment in New York and I really liked it, so want to replicate it at home, but some of the ones we've seen are just too clunky and awkward to use.

I've realised that it's often the small details that make such a difference to your enjoyment of a room, and they often hardly cost anything to install. I know that some people spend tens of thousands on a kitchen, and I'd love to do that, believe me, but we just don't want to spend that at the moment, so we are just doing the best we can with what we have.

We have somehow managed to acquire a new dishwasher for free, although ours is okay and functions well.  The new one is the same brand, but a better model, so we may go with it or keep our original one, it will depend how it functions by comparison to what we have. It's nice to have the choice I guess.

A new fridge freezer may also be a consideration too, as ours has been with us for nearly 20 years and is getting a bit scuzzy. I keep looking out for one I like at the local electronics store, but haven't quite seen the right one yet.  I'm working on OH too, as he's happy with the one we have, but it has quite a small freezer compartment, which can make it quite a struggle when it comes to fitting in all those yellow stickered items and also it's not frost free, so I'd quite like to take advantage of the new technology in this area. I'll keep you posted on progress on this score.

No pictures yet I'm afraid, as there's still too much to do, but hopefully some will be coming soon.  OH is already talking about getting decorators in for any future rooms we decide to redecorate.  I don't think he's particularly enjoying the experience this time around, which is fair comment.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

A New Week and a Surprise Discovery

Apologies for the distinct lack of posts this last week or two, this was due to the fact that  I was working solidly from Thursday to Sunday in the Manager's absence.  Monday I spent going to the gym and grocery shopping and Tuesday (or part of it) was spent being interviewed for my job. I did get it thankfully, so I'm happy to have a paid job for another 12 months. I'm also grateful that the whole recruitment process is over, as it was eating into my days off  what with having to complete applications, attend interviews, etc., although don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the opportunity to re-apply for paid work.

Just before my interview on Tuesday, I took the dog out for a walk as usual, and came across a litter of kittens in the bushes alongside the footpath. They weren't really hidden, as I'd expect them to be if left there by their mother, they were just huddled together shivering and a magpie was squawking above them in a tree, which is what alerted me to their presence.

I stopped and looked in at them and they all climbed out and started circling me.  They were obviously not feral and definitely not scared of humans. I called OH to come over with a box.  A few people came over and we were all discussing what to do with them. We're pretty sure they'd been dumped, as I don't think a cat would leave her litter in such a public place, where people with dogs pass by constantly. They were probably about 4 or so weeks old.  Way too young to be left alone in the open with foxes and other potential predators around.

We decided to take them to a rehoming charity, so OH drove them 10 miles away to one who was happy to take them.  They were so sweet. Here's a few pictures of them.

Once in the box they all really settled down and made themselves comfortable.  I think they were really frightened out in the big wide world alone.

I think we did the right thing, but I do keep thinking of the poor mother cat who must be shocked to have suddenly been parted from her kittens. We keep returning to the place we found them to check there's no notice or mother cat, but there's nothing. Hopefully they will be well cared for and find loving homes.

It took my mind off my interview anyway, but the excitement was just too much for the dog.  She couldn't settle to going for her walk after finding them and had to come home with us.

A Bit of Basking

On the second of my two days off last week, I finally started to feel relaxed enough to do a bit of basking in the sunshine.  I hadn't seen any of the hot weather over the Bank Holiday weekend, as I'd been working Friday, Saturday and Monday and on Sunday I was at the gym and catching up with grocery shopping and other tasks inside.

On my first day off proper last Tuesday, I just wasn't feeling it and the neighbour had a friend around and they were chatting in the garden with the children. I hung out some washing, but it just didn't feel quite so private and relaxing.

On Wednesday, however, all was quiet out in the garden and I had a few small jobs to do, so I ventured out. It was actually lovely to feel the sun on my skin.  It's a feeling I haven't really felt in a very long time and it felt good.  I dressed in vest or tank top and knee length denim shorts, my arms bare and exposed to the world.  I even went on the dog walk like this, which is unprecedented. It was my turn to enjoy the sunshine and nothing, even self consciousness was going to stop me. It felt very healing and just what I needed.

Although I might not be at work, when I'm left in charge in the Manager's absence, it is hard to fully switch off and not think about what might be going on in the shop, especially when you have left a young person in charge. To their credit, they didn't contact me at all on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I did get to relax a bit on my days off.

I'm really hoping that should I get the job, another Deputy Manager is going to be recruited soon, to work the rest of the full time hours of the post, as the shop really needs it. All the time they don't recruit someone, I feel like I have to make up for my post being just three days, which I know I don't, but I feel like it all the same and it's exhausting. Anyway, I'm trying not to think about work, so that's all I'm going to say on the matter.

Back to the garden. It's suddenly shot into growth. Everything is now so green and bushy. I daren't think what it will be like in a couple of months' time. It's peaceful out there though and pretty private.

Anyway, here's a little video of the view around the garden.  Ignore some of the messy parts, there's a few things to take to the tip and Give and Take. You'll notice that at the end I let you get a sneaky peak of progress in the kitchen! I hope you're all enjoying the sunshine too.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Doing Better

After reading a comment by Marlene from Poppy Patchwork, on one of my recent Monthly Roundup posts, it started me thinking how much better things are going financially recently, now that I've got into the habit of minimising my spending. Whilst not wanting to tempt fate in any way, when I look back to the time she mentioned, I was regularly overspending by hundreds of pounds, on things I probably didn't really need.

As I've mentioned in a couple of posts, I now often have money left unspent in my current account at the end of the month, which is such a change for me, as for many years I lived with a constant overdraft, which was almost always maxed out. I don't know how I managed to live like that. I guess there was probably low level stress as a result, low because I could have paid it off with savings, but needless really, if I'd just got my act together sooner.

Going out to paid work for the last 11 months has helped, as my income has increased and I have less opportunity to go shopping, but in addition, seeing how much stuff gets donated on a daily basis to the CS, does really help to make you think differently about buying things and makes you really consider whether you actually need them or not.

I guess we can only do things when the time is right for us. The time may be right for me to spend less and save more, but it obviously wasn't the right time for me to stop spending altogether, as my failure at the Buy Nothing New Challenge this year highlights.  Maybe I'll get to that point sometime in the future, or maybe I won't, but I'm pleased that for now my spending habits seem to be under much better control.

One example of this is my credit card usage or non usage to be more accurate.  I used to regularly spend £200-300 each month on one or both of my cards.  I would always pay it off in full each month, but I just allowed myself to buy whatever I liked (usually online), whenever I liked, utilising them.  Now, I tend to only use them for essential expenditure online, such as paying for my daughter's school lunches and school trips, or for occasional online purchases, where I don't want to use my debit card details online

I have to admit that I succumbed to the latter kind of  purchase just the other night, when I bought a new backpack on ASOS for £24. I'm considering it to potentially be a last treat to myself whilst I'm still earning money at the CS.  My current contract ends at the end of this month and although I've re-applied for the post, who knows what will happen.

In other areas of my finances, I've been transferring at least £200 each month into various savings accounts and watching the sums grow.  I've also been paying into a pension scheme at work which has generous employer contributions. In addition, by selling various small things on eBay on a regular basis, I find that my Paypal account tends to always have a reasonable balance, which facilitates my buying the various small things that I might need to buy during the month, (i.e. books, toiletries, pet care products) without spending any money from the budget at all.

Daily on the way to work, I listen to Dave Ramsey podcast episodes and little by little my resolve strengthens and it feels like I'm in a much better place and heading in the right direction. I know things can change on a sixpence and life has a way of throwing us a curved ball from time to time, but with no debts as such, I've at least got one less thing to stress about and when I do want to give myself a small treat, I not only appreciate it a whole lot more when I pay cash, but I know I really can afford it too.

If you are struggling with debts or feeling like your finances are out of control, just start and continue to take one small step at a time in the right direction and you will get to a much better place too. I'd recommend tuning into Dave Ramsey, for some no nonsense financial advice. It takes a while to get used to his particular style, but very soon he'll have you on board with his babysteps and you'll be changing your life and your finances forever.

Charity Shop Haul

After a rather unsuccessful trip to the mall last week, a more recent trip to a local charity shop (NOT the one I work in), was much more successful. As a consequence, I thought I'd treat you to a reduced spender's charity shop haul.

I spent £7.25 in total. A satisfyingly small sum, but managed to buy 5 pretty useful things, which is amazing really. So here goes:

The first thing I always look at in this particular charity shop is the books and this visit I managed to find a book that I think I'll enjoy reading. It cost £1. A complete steal.

I've started reading this already and am enjoying it. It sounds like it might actually be helpful to my life situation at the moment, as I'm struggling sometimes to get a good work/life balance.

The second item I bought was this hanging shoe organiser. I bought it to use in the tall kitchen cupboard to help me to keep things better organised in there, as it doesn't have many built in shelves.  I'll post a picture of how I use it when we eventually finish the kitchen. This cost £2.

Next was this infinity scarf, which is nice and light for summer and I can see myself wearing a lot for work.  You can never have too many scarves, well that's a lie actually, I might need to cull some that I don't wear so much any more. This was £2 too.

I then found these 4 small cute little dressing pots, to use when I take a salad to work.  I've currently been using one for 2 or 3 years now and it is getting a bit nasty, so it will be good to replace it with one of these.  They're BPA free too, which is a plus. These cost £1.50 and should therefore last me for approximately 4-8 years, if the use of my current one is anything to go by.

Finally, I succumbed to a slightly less useful item, this small wooden leaf shaped brooch.  I just like it and at 75p it was hard to resist.

All in all a very satisfying shop. I think sticking to charity shops might be the answer for most of the things I need. Much more interesting than the bland commercial mall.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Catch Up

There's been quite a bit going on this last week. I was working on Tuesday, but as opposed to being in the shop, I attended an area meeting for managers, which made a change.  It's only the second one I've attended in my 10 months in post. It was interesting to meet more of the managers in our area and there were some very nice sandwiches to eat too.  I headed into work for an hour after the meeting, to do some paperwork, to find it had been a really busy day and our intern had done really well holding the fort.  Needless to say, he was congratulated.

I wasn't working again until Friday/Saturday, but work still dominated as during this time I had to fill in the application form to re-apply for my current job, which has now been advertised. I had to update my CV and also supply more paperwork for the application, so it took a good few hours over a few days to complete it.  It's done now, so I am just waiting to see if I get offered an interview, which I believe will take place in around 10 days time if I do. I'll be pleased when the whole process is over, whatever the outcome.

In the mean time, the manager has gone off on leave for 10 days and I'm left in charge, with lots of help from volunteers and interns. I worked on Saturday and was able to get the new curtains (that used to be my kitchen curtains) put up in the changing rooms.

I also spent both days at work in engaged meeting potential new volunteers, (amongst other things) that answered an advert I placed. I'm not sure how many of them will actually become volunteers, but we'll see. Responsibility for recruiting is new to me and I'm finding my feet with it at the moment.

I was off on Sunday, as one of our volunteers agreed to take charge of the shop, which was good of him. I managed to catch what will be my only class at the gym of this coming week, as I'll be working on the days I would usually go there. OH was cycling most of the day, so I got to chill at home on my own which was a treat. In the evening, LB had some friends over for a sleepover, so I had to do a bit of cleaning and grocery shopping to accommodate them.

I'm actually quite desperate to book some leave from work. I'm hoping to take the last week in May off, as it's half term. LB is doing some Duke of Edinburgh expeditions on both weekends, but we may go up North to visit family for a few days mid week.

Other than the above, the kitchen is coming along slooooowly. There are now two coats of colour on one wall, so the painting is virtually finished save for the floor and cupboard doors. OH seems to be busy with work and cycling, so progress is slow. I can't really argue, as I've done precious little towards it myself. It's usable, but the table isn't, so it's still TV dinners in our house.

I'm off today and Wednesday this week, bar any problems, and I am hoping to get to spend some time at the allotment, as well as catching up with all the usual housework stuff.  It's been a couple of weeks since I last visited.  It will be nice to have an excuse to get out into the sunshine, if it's still with us.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails - April 2018

Freebies and Frugal Measures

1) I found a free raised bed surround for the allotment, that someone threw out on the street. I placed it next to the pallet decking (that I got from a neighbour the other week) and planted dahlia tubers into it. It helps to add a bit of structure and interest to the plot, gives it another life thus avoiding it going to landfill for a while and also should hopefully help to provide me with some cut flowers eventually.

2) Some of the bulbs I sowed last month and thought might be too old, are now growing well, which is encouraging.

3) I received four vouchers in the post from Waitrose this month, for £10 off £50 shops over the next few weeks.  They came just as a my Tesco vouchers ran out, so guess where I'll be going shopping for the next few weeks (for some of my grocery shopping!!).

4) Talking of which, I made sure I picked up a free newspaper and magazine for being a My Waitrose member, when I did one grocery shop at Waitrose this month.

5) I qualified for a free cotton shopper when I spent over £15 at Superdrug's Pop Up Vegan Beauty shop this month.  I'm sure it will come in useful and at least it isn't plastic.

Frugal Fails

1) I left my favourite umbrella on the bus on the way to work one day, which was really annoying. It is the second umbrella of it's kind that I have left somewhere and lost and I will have to buy a new one when I next travel up north.

2) Sadly, the majority of the seeds I sowed into the raised garden beds seem not to have germinated.  Only two lots of seeds have. The seeds must have been old, so I had to buy more and re-sow the beds. The new seeds have now germinated which is good. Sometimes, sowing old or previously opened seed packets just doesn't pay.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Free 250 in 2018 - April

It's been a better month this month on the decluttering front, largely due to some tidying up in the garden and also because of the kitchen renovations, which have made me really think about what I want to keep and what I want to let go of in that room. Faced with having to remove stuff from the room to get painting, I realised we've still got way too much stuff.  So here goes;

1) One brand new lampshade from the new lamp I bought back in March.  We bought a replacement to fit in with existing décor at IKEA this month.
2-3) Two waterproof jackets.  I have a surplus of these and some of them just needed to go.
3-8) Half a dozen dog toys that the dog just doesn't ever play with.
9) One huge box of plastic garden pots no longer needed.
10-13) Four ceramic/metal garden pots no longer needed.
14-15) Two pillowcases surplus to requirements.
16-17) Two old watches.
18) One coat with a broken zip.
19-31) 13 rolls of washi tape I have not or hardly used.
32-34) Three old pieces of trellis from the garden that are falling apart - taken to the tip.
35) One broken moses basket frame - taken to the tip.
36) One old and broken picture frame - taken to the tip.
37) One Perspex box - no longer needed.
38-39) One plastic storage box full of floating tea lights - not needed or used.
40) One card of new earrings - I removed the ones I wanted and am donating the rest.
41) One sealed unused concealer I didn't like.
42) One fabric shoe bag.
43) One 1950's umbrella stand that I have found a replacement for and no longer need.
44) One pair of virtually unworn shoes of LB's.
45-65) Twenty one items of clothing and footwear donated by LB.
66-67) Two pairs of swimming goggles donated by LB.
68) One shocking pink plastic storage box no longer needed.
69-73) One bookshelf with 4 fabric boxes no longer needed.
74-79) Six books no longer wanted.
80) One cloth shopping bag donated by LB
81-83) Two fabric covered coat hangers I don't use.
84) One woolly bobble hat decluttered from winter wardrobe.
85) One woolly scarf decluttered from winter wardrobe.

There are some more items, but I need to go through them first and make sure that I'm happy to donate them, so they will probably be included in next month's figures. The number of items leaving the house this month totalled 85, which when added to last month's total of 66, brings the yearly total so far to 151. A much better month all round this month, with a lot of help from LB.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Doing the Opposite

After agreeing with Thrift Deluxe that keeping out of the shops in the days following pay day is the best policy, I did exactly the opposite yesterday.  Call me a hypocrite, it's true, but I suddenly got the urge to get out of the house and go to the local mall.

I'd not been in a while.  I just don't have a need to go these days, as there's very little I need or want to buy, but when I get the itch, I have to scratch it.  Maybe I just wanted to know what I was missing, who knows.  Anyway, I decided I'd hop on a bus and go.

All I actually did need to buy were some food items - a mid week top up shop, and possibly some storage canisters and a cutting board for the kitchen, which we are currently redecorating.

I should have known it wasn't a good idea when I got out of the house and realised that the bus stop at the end of the street was closed due to gas works.  I knew this, as I walk past it every day, but it didn't occur to me when I decided to get the bus.  Anyway, I had to walk up the high street for quite a while to the next stop and of course a bus came in that time and I was way too far from the stop to catch it. In fact I ended up walking two bus stops further on to catch the bus which came shortly after I got there.

I got on the bus.  It had a particularly unpleasant smell. It got diverted and then I eventually got to the mall. By this time I was already thinking 'why did I bother?'. Anyway, I went straight to TKMAXX to look for kitchenware. The weather dramatically worsened, it started raining and the wind started blowing shop signs around.  I began to think it was a message from you know who.

Maybe it was, there was nothing in TKMAXX that appealed to me. I contemplated buying a £20 sleeping bag for LB's Duke of Edinburgh expedition next month, but resisted only to receive a call from her later to say she'd found one in the CS during her shift for £7 and was going to buy it.

Next I hit M&S.  I had some vouchers I'd received as a shareholder.  I looked in the homewares and was strongly tempted by some storage jars, but the spend wouldn't have met the required amount on the voucher and I didn't want to buy extra things for the sake of it. I walked away. Besides, the colours weren't quite right.  I tried on a sports bra, that looked awful. In the end it was down to the food hall to buy the bits we needed and use at least one of the vouchers burning a hole in my purse.

Once I'd shopped for the food, of course, and spent enough to qualify for using the voucher i.e. £20, the bag that I had to buy to carry it, was not light and I then had to hump it back through the mall, stopping every few yards to give my arms a rest. Grocery shopping by car is so much easier.

I did stop off in Primark and I did buy one item.  A new pack a mac for £9 to wear to work in the summer months. I couldn't find anything else I liked and the only other shop I wanted to go to in the mall, H & M, I was just too exhausted to make the effort to get to it.

I couldn't even be bothered to go to the café in John Lewis and use another voucher for a free cup of tea and a cake, which was another intention.  Instead I just headed back for the bus, missed another one just as I approached the bus stop, then had to wait 10-15 minutes for the next. Nearly fell up the stairs when the bus started moving and eventually got home swearing that I wasn't going to do that again in a hurry.

I may have completely lapsed on the Buy Nothing New front this year, (you might have noticed that the posts have stopped - it was a step too far for me), but my desire to purchase new stuff is definitely waning. I guess sometimes, I just need a reminder that I'm really not missing out on anything by not going shopping and I certainly got it.

Earn/Save £2018 in 2018 - April

This month has been a much more challenging month in terms of saving/earning more money. Nevertheless, I persevered and managed the following savings/earnings:

1) I saved £23 this month, using vouchers for money off grocery shops at Tesco once again.

Money saved at Tesco this month - £23.

2) We didn't travel north this Easter to visit relatives for one reason or another. We therefore saved money on purchasing Easter eggs.

Savings on Easter gifts this month - £20

3) I sold several more items on eBay this month.

Total eBay earnings (after fees/postage) - £22.56

4) I managed to save some money on a 3 for 2 offer at Boots this month.  I needed some concealers, but was horrified to find that they've discontinued the Seventeen range, which were my favourite. I had to choose some alternatives, which were cheaper and one range offered 3 items for the price of two, so I saved £1.99. I just hope I like the products or it wasn't actually a saving at all. That's two ranges of concealer that I liked that have now gone out of production.  I'm not having much luck with this lately.

Money saved on Boots offer - £1.99

5) I bought a few plants at B&Q on a day when they had 20% off all outdoor plants and saved £2.28 and also saved a further £8 by buying some dahlia and peony tubers on clearance.

Total saved at B&Q - £10.28

6) I saved money on groceries using Waitrose money off £50 grocery shop vouchers as well this month.

Total money saved at Waitrose - £10.00

7) I saved £3.50 when I purchased two vegan lipsticks at Superdrug's Pop Up Vegan Beauty shop this month.  To be honest I didn't even know they were on offer when I bought them, so this was a bonus.

Total money saved at Superdrug this month - £3.50.

When added together these savings come to a total this month of  £91.33 and when added to the total so far this year of £596.92, the new current total on this challenge to date is £688.25.

As I expected, savings/earnings this month were not as good as in previous months, but I'm still just about on target and still plugging away, saving where I can.