Saturday, 21 December 2013

ALMOST THE END OF MY YEAR OF NOT SPENDING!

My year of not spending (YONS) is about to draw to a close. For almost 12 months I have only spent very frugally - take note - it was not "a year of not spending anything"!
I have spent on food, normal household bills, car expenses and birthday presents (and a few plants for my garden on the spur of the moment -whoops!). 
Now it's Christmas and I will admit to buying a tad more food than usual and a few presents, but even those presents for the most part, have been sourced from charity shops, online auctions sites, or my own "creative kitchen". I haven't bought any new clothes to wear at Christmas, in fact I haven't bought much in the way of clothes at all this whole year- a couple of tops (because I've lost a bit of weight on the 5:2 diet) and that's it. I am however, in need of some smaller jeans and some underwear now!
I'm not avoiding spending next year, but I am going to be frugally aware of everything I do spend, as usual. I will use discount codes, cashback websites and coupons - I will never just buy something unless I know it's the cheapest price I can get it!
To round up the year, I'll leave you with an awe-inspiring story of a 16 year-old boy who saved so many coupons he was able to buy £600 worth of food from a supermarket for 4p and then he donated it all to charity! He does this extreme couponing on a regular basis to save his divorced Mum money on her food bill every week. I'd love to know more!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Frugal year!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 39

Image result for petrol pump


Save your petrol
It has been found that drivers waste £8 per month driving around to find the cheapest petrol! 
So, when looking for cheap petrol, use the "2 for 1" rule, that is, only drive 2 miles extra for a minimum 0.01p per litre saving.
Even better, collect supermarket petrol discount vouchers when you do your grocery shopping and think about your route home or to work on any given day and make sure you call in at the supermarket for cheap petrol!

Friday, 15 November 2013

IT'S COLD AND GETTING COLDER - SAVE YOUR MONEY AND LAYER UP!

I was watching a feature on the TV this morning about fuel poverty and how many people are not putting their central heating on, or at least not as much as the lower temperatures demand. They are having to cover up with blankets to keep warm.
However, I was struck by the thin clothing one interviewee was wearing (even though she picked up a blanket to cover herself with) as it was just a very thin looking hoodie, probably made from cotton or acrylic and she didn't appear to have much on underneath it!
Now at this time of year, I am either out at work (warm) or sitting at home typing and being too still - unless I'm gardening! No-one else is at home in the day and to have the central heating on just for one person would be a waste of money - so - I layer up my clothing!  
Activity also keeps me warm - hoovering or exercise, dancing etc all work well, but I take a layer off each time Ifeel too hot and put each layer back on as I cool down.

My layering recipe for keeping warm at home goes like this:
First layer: underwear (bra plus knickers) or a vest/boxers for men!
Second layer: some kind of fine-knit long-sleeved thermal vest if you have it (I wear a thin long-sleeved cotton tee shirt), warm wool or cord trousers or thermal long johns under jeans. Thermal socks if you have them, long socks if possible, two pairs of any other kind worn together if you have to! Slippers are essential - choose ones with a good sole and this will keep you a little bit insulated from cold floors.
Third layer: a thin polo neck sweater or a v-neck sweater with warm scarf or cowl (neck-warmer) to plug the gap!
Fourth layer: a warm sweater or cardigan (think Aran, think long!), a hat - preferably knitted and real wool, fingerless gloves or wristwarmers, but if you don't have these, cut the sleeves off an old sweater, double them over (so you have a double thickness tube) and cut a hole for your thumb - that will be just as good!
Fifth layer: this is desperate measures and would need to be easy to move about in, so I choose a gilet, preferably padded with down, but any kind will do. Mine has a fur-edged hood as well and cost £2.99 from a charity shop!
Hats, wrist warmers, scarves and gilets are all very fashionable - so don't worry about looking like a Michelin man! 
Try to make sure your outer layers are wool or a wool mix. Look out for real wool charity shop jumpers - these are a great find and will keep you warmer than any acrylic layers! Old real wool blankets are also sometimes to be found in charity shops (since we all have duvets now) - although these appear to be getting rarer so snap them up quick if you see them!
Drink hot drinks all day and make soup! It really will make a difference!
Last of all make sure at least one of your under layers are tucked into your jeans! Remember your mum telling you to "tuck your vest in!"? It works!
Keep warm and save money!

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

LUCKY ME- FREE APPLES!

I'm so lucky- I've just picked up this bag of free apples whilst out on a walk - someone in my neighbourhood must have an apple tree in their back garden and regularly leaves HUGE bags of apples out for passers-by. They are lovely big apples, but are eating apples I think. However, I have already made an apple crumble for 6 of us, an apple cake, and still have plenty left over to make my usual Christmas Chutney and at least one more crumble!
Free food is a wonderful way to supplement your grocery budget, so look out for some on your walks - my local allotment holders also leave out courgettes and marrows for passers-by when they have a glut.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

FREE FUN FOR HALF TERM!

If the bad weather is keeping you in this half-term, here's some ideas for free or cheap things to do!
  • drag out your old Monopoly set and teach a another generation to play!
  • gather together blankets, bedspreads, cushions and pillows and build a den in your living room! Equip it with books, comics and sandwiches for a cosy hideaway!
  • use a cereal box with one large side removed to make a collage of all those pretty leaves you've collected on your autumn walks!
  • Cook! Anything- get the kids baking cakes, making biscuits or cooking dinner! And make sure they help with the clearing up as well!
Happy frugal holidays!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

FREE KIDS DIY CLASSES AT B & Q!

B & Q are offering free* kids DIY classes where they can learn DIY skills such as sawing, drilling, glueing and nailing. From the 1st-27th October they can make a Halloween sign, but other choices are bird boxes, planters and mug holders.
Check the site for classes near you.
*for Club members. Join HERE if you are not already a member (it's free).

Monday, 21 October 2013

FOOD WASTE IS BIG NEWS!

Food waste has hit the headlines today just because Tesco has published some figures about its 28,500 tonnes of food waste- generated by its own stores in just 6 months! I think it may be trying to win favour by "coming clean" about that and then promising to do something about it!
I'm not surprised at their figures - I waste very little food indeed and not shopping at Tesco any more has helped that. I found that their fruit, veg and salad, generally, does not last very well beyond one day in the 'fridge. I can buy fresher, longer lasting fruit, salad and veg in the so-called budget supermarkets.
As their wasted food figure includes a percentage wasted by the customer, (how do they know that?) Tesco could help with that by replacing all their BOGOFF offers with 50% off ones!
But in the end, it's up to us. We can all wise up - we mustn't be persuaded into buying perishable food we cannot eat in time and will end up throwing in the bin, just because it's cheap.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

POTATO AND PEA SOUP

This potato and pea soup is a tasty frugal soup made from a very few cheap storecupboard ingredients!
Ingredients
2 tsps butter or oil
1 large onion chopped
600g potatoes, peeled and chunked
1litre vegetable stock (use a cube with a litre of water)
250g frozen peas
2 cloves garlic (optional)
a handful of mint chopped (optional or use minted frozen peas)

Method
1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saucepan and gently fry onions and garlic (if using) for 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the peas 3 minutes before the end of cooking time.
2. Blend the soup with a stick blender or in a liquidiser until smooth (loosen with a little water if too thick), season with black pepper, reheat if necessary and stir through the chopped mint if using.
3. Serve with buttered toast or chunky bread - or any bread you have!

Serves 4
Happy frugal eating!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

EMPTYING THE MARMITE JAR...

 

Those of you hate Marmite - look away now! 
I always struggle with the awkward shape of the Marmite jars (I love them, but they're difficult) when it comes to those last iddy biddy little bits all round the inside of the jar, but now I have a neat little frugal tip that will use every last bit of Marmite in the jar.
When you have used all the Marmite you can scrape or spoon out of the jar and given up, boil some water and fill the jar, screw the lid back on and leave to stand for a bit (half an hour should be enough). Shake gently (be careful as I've discovered to my cost that Marmite jar lids are not always water-tight) and you have a quantity of stock (depending on jar size) which you can use in gravy, soups and stews or as a nice warming winter drink - but then you may have to reheat it in a mug!
Freeze as you would normally freeze soup if you can't use it straight away.

Friday, 30 August 2013

FREE HERITAGE OPEN DAYS

This is your once a year opportunity to visit places not normally open to the public and for absolutely no charge- yes! Free!
Heritage Open Days takes place this year over 4 days; Thursday12th - Sunday15th September. This is a great opportunity to explore on your own doorstep (or away from home if you still have holiday time) and all for free.
If the kids are back at school this will make a nice weekend treat or if you'd like to explore without them- go on Thursday or Friday!
Just check out the Go Explore search to find places near where you are!

OOPS! I JUST FELL OF THE YONS WAGON!

Yes, I have to own up - today I bought something I didn't need or have to have. These 5 little Heuchera plants were sitting in the hardware shop just asking for me to pick them up, so, for the first time in my YONS, I've fallen off the wagon so to speak. 
I'm a bit of a Heuchera fan and, as they always seem to be around £9 each in the garden centres, and these 5 medium sized plants totalled £I8.75, thought it was a good opportunity to further stock my new garden. I'm trying to persuade myself that in the spring, they will all be bigger and I will divide them and get a lot more plants for nothing!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

35 FREE THINGS TO DO WITH THE KIDS!

If you are struggling to find free things to keep your kiddies occupied through the rest of the school holidays, take a look at these 35 ideas from Mu Cheese's Fun Activity List
It's a downloadable pdf booklet with loads of ideas including pavement chalk art (no harm done it all washes off!), mini sports days in the garden or park, making cress heads or ice lollies, miniature gardens (use a food tray, garden soil, leaves twigs etc), making your own magazine and much, much more!
Get busy and these last couple of weeks' summer holiday will fly past!
More things to do in the school holidays!

Monday, 5 August 2013

FREE NEWSPAPERS AT WAITROSE!

Get a free copy of your favourite newspaper at Waitrose. You need to be a  My Waitrose cardholder and spend £5 or more in store. Choices are a free copy of the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Scottish Daily Mail, The Guardian or the Observer! 
You can also swipe your card at any time and get a free cup of coffee or tea from the bakery counter/café!

Saturday, 3 August 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 38

Checkout the garden centre casualty corner!
All garden centres have a casualty corner where they put reduced plants that have been damaged, have finished flowering or just need a little TLC. Providing these "casualties" are at least 50% off  you will probably get a bargain. 
When you get them home, check if they are dry and if they are, stand in a container of water for 24 hours. Keep out of strong sunlight, just until they are acclimatised and, if you are planting them out in the garden, check the roots for vine weevil grubs (little creamy white grubs) and remove and destroy. These grubs eat away at the roots of your plant and even if it is planted in fresh soil they will soon kill it. 
If your bargain is a pot plant, you will need to re-pot it in fresh compost as there will be almost no goodness left in the original soil. Although there is no immediate rush to do this as sometimes, it is better to leave the roots undisturbed just at first.
It may take until the following year to see the best of the plant and if you are due any low temperatures in the winter, it may be best to protect it from frost, but with any luck, you should have a lovely plant for the new season. 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

Friday, 2 August 2013

MY YEAR OF NOT SPENDING!

For those of you who have been following me on my YONS - I'm still "not spending" and doing well! I have 2 new gardening books (bought with Amazon vouchers earned from doing surveys) but nothing else. I may have to buy a new mascara soon, but at the moment I'm making it last!
Sitting in the garden with a cold drink, when it's so hot you can't bear to do anything is very cheap! It's even too hot to barbecue! 
I've had a couple of birthday presents to buy (for men) and so that did necessitate me dusting off my purse and going to the shops - if they'd been presents for women, I'd probably have found something in my "present stash", but men are soooo difficult to give to!

FRUGAL SUMMER GARDENING

It's the height of summer and all those spring plants and flowering bulbs have finished and you're thinking a bit more colour would be good in the garden - but before you head off to that very expensive garden centre, make yourself a list - and stick to it!
Garden centres have one aim in mind and that's to get you to buy much, much more than you went in there for! All those tables of pretty flowers, coloured pots, flowery gardening gloves and tools, suck us all in!
Decide what you need - potting compost? Check out the big supermarkets- they are selling compost quite cheaply, but check the size of bags- if you need a large amount, you may be better off researching local garden centre offers such as 4 bags for the price of 3 etc. However if you need a small amount to repot a houseplant or sow a few late seeds then may be a small supermarket bag is best - potting compost can get saturated and go off during a wet winter even if unopened, so buying a large amount that you won't use up before winter is probably not worth any saving you might make. 
Supermarket compost seems to work well for me - any compost loses all its "feeding" properties after about 6 weeks, so it's really only a medium to plant in and I've found the texture of supermarket brands to be finer than garden centre proprietry brands. All potted plants containers will need feeding (I buy plant food tablets from pound shops- works well!) about every 4-6 weeks in the growing season.
If you need pots, ask on Freecycle or Freegle - just Google for your nearest group. Many people have a clearout or downsize their pots and some offer plants and topsoil too. 
Look out for keen gardeners and allotmenteers in your neighbourhood who sell excess plants at their garden gate - real bargains can be had this way as many people only charge around 50p per plant.
Get to know your gardening neighbours by hosting a plant and seed swap party - this way you can expand your range of garden plants and knowledge!
Buy pots, plants and tools at boot sales, many small growers and individual gardeners sell there.
Think perennial! Perennial plants come up year after year (often called herbaceous plants) so these will fill your garden and, along with other "framework" shrubs and roses, will make it cheaper to achieve a good show in your garden every year. You will only need a few annuals for summer colour that you can cheaply grow from seed. 
If you have any large clumps of perennials dig them up and split them - into 3 if you can and then replant all 3 together but spaced apart. This gives a good effect the following year as 3 or 5 plants of the same type really have the wow factor when they're flowering.
Lastly - check your own garden for bargains! The end of the early summer flowers means you can start to collect seed from perennial plants such as Aquilegia, Lychnis and Alchemilla Mollis, but make sure the seed pods are very brown and dry before harvesting. You can allow them to drop and self-seed for next year or you can pack them in paper envelopes and label carefully with their name and the date. Check when it is best to sow them next year ( Gardeners' calendar) and write this date on your envelope too.
Happy frugal gardening!

Thursday, 18 July 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 37

Don't get foreign cash on credit!
Don't use your credit card to withdraw cash while you're abroad - you'll pay interest on it from the day you take it out, even if you settle the amount in full at your next credit card statement. 
Consider getting a prepaid debit card that you can load with currency before you go and also think about getting a specific credit card to use abroad for purchases, one that has no transaction charges.
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

Monday, 8 July 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 36

Make your own body scrub!
Don't pay inflated prices for pretty jars of body scrub - make your own with 2 parts sugar to 1 part olive oil and add few drops of your favourite essential oil, pack in a small jam jar. 
If you can get small mason jars you can pack them full of your body scrub, add a home-made label with ingredients listed, tie with ribbon and you have a lovely frugal gift!
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 35

Use cheap cleansers!
Your cleanser only stays on your face for a short time - just long enough to dissolve and remove your make-up, so buy a cheap one! 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 34

Make your own garden cane toppers
Cane toppers are used on the top of the garden canes you support your plants with, to stop you gouging your eye out as you bend over and reach through the flower bed weeding, hoeing and planting!
They are usually green, you have to buy them from garden centres (around 20p each), they get lost easily when they fall off and get buried in the mud! They are also too small for my liking, so I'm using drinking yogurt pots instead, they're free and they work well!
You can of course, use any yogurt pot, but I find these long narrow ones stay on better and don't blow around the garden in bad weather! 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 33

Get the very last drops of product from all those plastic tubes (make-up, eye cream, facial wash etc) by storing them upside down once you find you cannot easily get any more out of the tube. Here you can see I've used a small lid off a shaving foam aerosol and this has given me 4 weeks more (after it had seemed empty) of using my cream every day!
To increase the flow of cream to the tip, after every use I take hold of the very bottom of the tube between finger and thumb, then bang the whole tube against my other outstretched hand (keeping the tube upside down all the time), then place back in your little pot.
The last step in this money-saving strategy is, when you can't get any more out of your tube even after storing upside down for weeks, then cut the tube in half. You will find that there is more product easily reachable to squeeze out or reach in with your finger. To store, crumple one end up a bit and stick back inside the other cut opening. That has given me another 10 days use of my cream! 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...




Friday, 21 June 2013

10% OFF CODE FOR TRAVEL TO THE ISLE OF WIGHT!

I've heard it said, that mile for mile, the small watery expanse of the Solent, between the south coast and the Isle of Wight is the most expensive stretch of water to cross in the world! I can well believe it, as the IOW is a favourite destination of mine and the ferry costs for a car and occupants are always around £100.
However, Wightlink are offering 10% off their ferry crossings (not much, but you have to get your savings where you can!) until 31st December 2013. 
So if you are planning a staycation this summer, just use the code MP13WHV for car bookings or MP13WHF for foot passengers, valid on both Standard and Economy tickets on all Wightlink routes.
Happy frugal holiday!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

IT'S FESTIVAL TIME - FIND A FREE ONE IN YOUR AREA!

It's summer (in seasonal principle, anyway) and that means festival time! All sorts of festivals are being put on all over the country now, since their revival a few years ago, but they can be expensive! However many of them are free and you can find out where and when they are, on this free festival map.

THAT EXPENSIVE BOUGHT LUNCH COULD COSTS YOU £90K!

Yes, it's true, workers spend an average of £7.81 on sandwiches, snacks and drinks a day, and this adds up to around £90,000 in a lifetime! However, those who take a packed lunch and make a hot drink in the office, spend only an average of £1.50 per day!

FRUGALLER'S 10 POINT MANTRA FOR NOT SPENDING!

We all like to buy things (why is that I wonder?) and often come down with a bump from that high of buying something, when we get the credit card or bank statement. It's a lesson we can't ever seem to  learn - that buying stuff doesn't really, really, in the end, make us happy!
So, with frugality and my own Year Of Not Spending very much in mind, I've got a 10 point mantra for you to go through if you are thinking of buying something! (and we do have to think about spending - no impulse buying for frugallers!).
  1. Do I really need it?
  2. Do I have something that I could use instead?
  3. Can I borrow it from someone? 
  4. Can I actually afford this right now?
  5. Have I researched this item well enough?
  6. Is it something that's going to be on offer/reduced soon?
  7. Can I find it cheaper elsewhere? 
  8. If I buy it do I have somewhere to keep it? 
  9. Is it good quality? 
  10. Will I regret buying it?
I often find that by the time I've thought all this through I've gone off the idea of buying whatever it is any way!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

BROKE? CHECK DOWN THE BACK OF YOUR SOFA!

I remember some years ago being very, very broke and, for some reason I can't now remember (I think I may have been trying to retrieve a piece of biscuit), I stuck my hand right down the sides (warning this can be painful!) of some big squashy armchairs we'd been given years before - and bingo! I found some cash! (along with many bits of broken biscuit and cake crumbs). It wasn't an awful lot, about £3 I think, but as this was back in the early 1980s, that seemed quite a bit to me!
Another time, when on holiday and sitting in a pub on a big leather sofa, I found £4 in pound coins all down the side of my seat cushion!
So don't snigger or sneer- when you need some cash, think of all those places that money may hide; under car seats or mats, in old handbags, in coat or trouser pockets and down the sides of chairs - I've even found coins in the filter of the washing machine - but they broke the pump and cost me £80 - not very frugal!
Happy frugal cash hunting!

DON'T PAY THROUGH THE NOSE FOR HAYFEVER TABLETS!

It's that time of sneezy, eye-watering, cough spluttering year again! Yes, pollen counts are up and, apparently, because we had a cold, fairly low pollen spring, we are going to have higher pollen counts now! 
Hayfever remedies can be very expensive and prices vary greatly, particulalry if you are buying "branded".
However, you don't need to pay through the nose (see what I did there?) for your hayfever tablets - do your frugal research as there are many non-branded substitutes and online chemists that will save you money!
The first thing you need to decide is what active ingredient you need/prefer. For example, Zirtec, Clarityn, Benadryl, Piriton (brand names) all have different active chemicals and when you are choosing a generic non-branded substitute, you will need to check the back of the pack to identify which one it is you're getting.
Take Zirtec for example, active ingredient Cetirizine Hydrochloride, the price ranges from £3.29 (for 7 tablets) in Boots right down to 99p (for 14 tablets) in Tesco's for their own brand substitute.
Remember to also check for any 2 for 1 offers which may also save you money.
But of course, if you are living in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland, or are in England and over 60 years old, then a prescription for a hayfever remedy from your GP will be free!

Monday, 10 June 2013

WHAT DOES A YEAR OF NO SPENDING INVOLVE EXACTLY?

I'm half way through my Year of Not Spending (YONS), so I thought I should explain exactly what a YONS means for me and how it works...
Of course I am spending - we can't live without it costing something unfortunately, but this is a Year Of Not Spending, not a year of spending nothing - there's quite a difference.
I buy groceries, pay household bills and car costs including petrol. 
I don't continually buy new clothes, shoes, make-up, perfume, etc or coffee and lunches outside the house.
I get a lot of free perfume, toiletries, face creams etc from freebies on the 'net - some of the bigger things I win in free to enter competitions, I keep to give for birthday and Christmas gifts.
I don't pay for diet club memberships - I do the 5:2 diet, there are plenty of free recipes and guides to it on the internet (no need to buy a book!) and I walk, garden and work on my allotment when I can, for exercise. I do not pay for gym memberships.
I buy birthday presents (if I have to - see above) and cards (at the cheapest place I can find - they only get thrown away!) as necessary. If possible I use loyalty card points from grocery shopping and Nectar Adpoints (which is a non spend earn) to buy gifts and any small items I have to have for the home.
I only buy clothes if they are "cost neutral"- this means selling some old clothes/items on Ebay and using the cash to buy the necessary cheap clothes from charity shops!
My philosophy is "Do I really need it? If I do, can I get it free? or what can I sell to make the money to get it if I need it?"
So far it's working. As I've said before, the mere act of paying attention to every would-be purchase raises consciousness and makes me thing about everything I spend.
Happy frugalling!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

MAKE YOUR OWN FREE PLANT LABELS

If you're anything like me, your plant labels get trodden on and broken each year which means you have fewer and fewer (and I seem to need more and more!)! I resent paying out for these little pieces of white plastic that get buried deep or smashed - or just plain disappear, so I've made my own this year from small drinking yogurt bottles.
You need a clean empty yogurt container and a pair of tough scissors - I happen to have some old kitchen scissors that do the job nicely. 
  • Cut into the neck ring and then cut it off.
  • Cut down to the base several times to create even sized strips - don't go too narrow as the plastic is a little flimsy, so the wider your labels are, the better.
  • Cut off your strips where they join the base and remove any decal plastic (it should just pull off).
  • Cut points at one end - done!
 
You will need a permanent marker to write on the plastic - I used a pen that writes on CDs.
One small pot makes 4 labels, they're quite flexible so won't break easily and, as we have at least one of these pots each day, we'll always have a plentiful supply!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

YONS UPDATE...

My YONS  (Year Of Not Spending) is still going well - I'm nearly half way through the year and my only spending recently has been on other people - May is a busy, busy month for birthdays in my family!
But I'm still pulling myself up short before I spend and thinking "Do I need it? Can I afford it? Is this the cheapest price I can find it?". 
And it's working well...

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 32

Never throw away a hand-knitted garment.
Never throw away* a hand knitted item of clothing as you can unravel it and use the yarn to make other clothes, scraves, mittens, hats and knitted or crochet blankets. 
Start by carefully unpicking the seams (a very small, sharp pair of needlework scissors helps with this), then start at any cast off edge of a piece and begin to unravel, winding as you go around an A4 size hardback book.
Fasten the skeins with a scrap of yarn, then gently wash by hand and hang out to dry. When dry, put back onto the book and wind into balls. Make a note of the weight for future reference.
*of course, it goes without saying that if you get the chance to pick up hand-knitted garments for pennies at jumble sales or charity shops then go for it! I bought the wool in the picture, when it was an actual jumper, for 90p and the resulting yarn weighs nearly 600grams. I admit I have not yet wound it on to a book and have made myself an extra job by ball-winding it first - but I find that easier!

Friday, 24 May 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 31

Make your own tumble drier sheets
Yes, if you want to, have to - must, use a tumble drier, then make your own tumble drier sheets using the normal fabric softener you have for your washing machine.
Use old tumble drier sheets or small squares of J-cloth or old tea towels and dip them in fabric softener. Wring them out and leave to dry. Use in your drier as normal. Each home-made tumble drier sheet should be able to be used 9-10 times. When it no longer works, just repeat the process. 
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

QUICK HOME-MADE MARMALADE!

Mmmmmm - quick and cheap home-made marmalade, made in about 30 minutes! I have just made some marmalade using a can of Mamade ready prepared oranges, water and 4lb (1.8kg) of plain old white granulated sugar. I've done this many times over the years and have always preferred it as the marmalade (and jam) you buy, "breaks" after opening and starting to use, causing a lot of watery syrup to be present in the jar - I think this is due to gelling agents.
Unfortunately, I've just noticed that Mamade have added Citric Acid and a gelling agent (Pectin) to their cans- which I don't remember being there in the past - so we'll see if the marmalade breaks and gets syrupy after using. I've also noticed that shop bought jams and marmalades need to be refrigerated after opening or they go mouldy in a short time - my home made jams never go mouldy and are not kept in the fridge!
On the plus side, I have found that Lakeland sell a prepared orange product to make marmalade and list only Seville Bitter Oranges and water as the ingredients and still only £1.99 per can. They also do a lemon and a chunky peel one for marmalade - and next time I'm in town I'm buying some!
Anyway - to get back to the frugal facts of making marmalade this way:
Can of Mamade (or similar) £1.99, 1.8kg of white sugar (from Asda), £1.56 which equals £3.55 - really frugal for 6lbs of marmalade! This is approx 0.59p per jar, comparing very favourably with the cheapest I can find today (0.51p, Asda Fine Cut Marmalade with Sodium Citrates) which is not even a full 1lb jar at 454g.
* A Christmas festive twist for gift giving (or just for you!) - add one or two tablespoons of Grand Marnier or Cointreau liqueur for each pound of sugar when the marmalade reaches setting point!
Happy frugalling!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

MY YEAR OF SPENDING NOTHING AND HOW IT'S GOING...

My YONS is not going too badly, but I've slipped off the waggon a bit, paying out for a week's holiday at Easter!
However more importantly perhaps, I mostly resisted the urge to buy anything while I was away! Comfortable shoes to walk in and a scarf! Apart from that, I only bought food - so considering it's halfway through April I'm still quite happy with my efforts. 
The conscious effort to not spend still holds me back from silly, unnecessary purchases, so it's having a positive effect on my finances anyway!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

MOTHER'S DAY FRUGAL GIFT IDEAS

Yes, in case you've missed all the cards, junk and chocolates in the stores and the adverts on-line, it's Mother's Day this Sunday 10th March!
Whatever your budget, remember it really is the thought that counts; think about what your mum really likes - her favourite colour, favourite flavour, choice of plants, favourite author etc., etc.,
There are always expensive off-the-shelf gifts in the supermarket, chemist and newsagent, but they are often poor value for money and, even worse very impersonal. If you can cook, make your mum a special cake or cupcakes, but think about her tastes - does she like orange flavour? Try these Candied Orange Cupcakes, does she prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate? Try this lovely Rich Chocolate mousse cake. is she a fan of Banoffi Pie? What about these Banoffi cupcakes?
If you can knit, there are thousands of free knitting patterns on the internet for small items like scarves and shawls but if you have more time, a simple cotton sweater may be great for her for summer and make sure you choose her favourite colour!
Time is also a great gift for mums - can you take her out to a local garden centre for coffee and cake and treat her to a plant? Or if funds are really tight, plant up a small container with seasonal plants like primulas or pansies. If you are a keen gardener you may have even grown some bedding plants from seed - even a small terracotta pot crammed with 3 small plants and wrapped prettily will be a hit!
No money at all? Do you have Tesco Clubcard, Boots or Superdrug points to spend? Use them to buy a gift for mum - Tesco Clubcard points can also be used to buy a magazine subscription (can all be done on-line if you have left it a bit late!) - a gift that last all year.
Imagination and thought will often save you money, whilst still creating a great gift!


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 30

Borrow, don't buy!
You can borrow CDs and DVDs from most libraries and although you'll usually have to pay a small fee for them, you'll save £2-£3 each time in comparison to renting them from a DVD rental shop, and possibly up to £10 in comparison to buying! Libraries let you borrow them for up to a week - check with your local council to see which libraries in your area have DVDs and CDs.
In the garden - do you need a rotivator? They can cost hundreds, better to see if you can hire one or borrow from a neighbour, relative or friend! The same goes for cement mixers, shredders, ladders, drills - you name it! 
Do your research on prices, work out if you will use the item in the future and then see where you can borrow or hire.
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

YONS UPDATE!

I can report that I have spent nothing since I last fell off the wagon at the charity shop - oh, no, wait yes, 99p on a cushion cover in the same charity shop - perhaps I should stop going in there - but it's soooo cheap - everything is 99p!
Still 99p in 13 days is not too bad!
Of course, I'm buying necessities like groceries, but very, very little else!
Of course, I realise that my Year Of Not Spending is only 7 weeks old and that when I go on holiday next, I will indeed have to spend something - otherwise it's not worth going -right? But I'll be doing a lot of walking/reading/relaxing - not a lot of shopping!

Friday, 15 February 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 29


If you're shopping online, and you really, really have to spend money anyway, why not see if you can make money from doing so? This can be anything from 3% to 20%.
Cashback websites allow you to buy from a huge range of online and high street stores, and earn money back, but beware, some cashback websites may ask for a joining fee.
Once you've registered with them, every time you buy online, just log in, find your preferred retailer, click the link through to their website and make your purchase. Your purchase is tracked and eventually you will receive cashback (be warned this can take some time).

More popular and well known cashback websites include topcashback and quidco.
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

HOME-MADE WHEAT BAGS TUTORIAL

If winter aches and pains still ail you (and we're not into spring quite yet) then just may be a wheat bag will give some relief. One of my readers has asked for a wheat bag tutorial (Valerie, this one's for you!) and it got me thinking about how very expensive they are to buy!
So, without further ado here is Marmalade Kisses's free tutorial for a wheat bag! I suppose whatever shape you choose to make is up to you and I've found some suggestions from Samelia's Mum's blog for using upcycled fabric to make them from - I particularly like the idea of using kids' old tracksuit trousers - this soft fabric would make a nice long wheat bag which is what I have, and we always find that's great for stiff necks and shoulder pain.
There are some pretty wheatbags to make over on A Spoonful of Sugar Designs too and this got me thinking about gifts - you may only be able to buy larger quantities of wheat - I haven't tried yet - but if you have more than you need, wheat bags could be a great Christmas present! Oops! I mentioned the 'C' word and it's only February!
One word of WARNING, please, please do be careful when heating wheat bags - they can be a very dangerous fire hazzard. Follow heating instructions, and if you do give them as a gift, make the recipient aware of how to safely use them. Surrey and Sussex fire services have made this video of wheat bag fires (there's some very surprising demonstrations in it) - please watch it and take note.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

YEAR OF NOT SPENDING UPDATE

Since my last YONS update (21st Jan) I have spent £3.97 at the charity shop! Yes, okay, I've fallen off the wagon a bit here, but there's a moneysaving purpose behind it all! And it was 15 days ago!
For £3.97 I bought a huge pair of beautiful lightweight curtains which will be transformed into a duvet cover with the help of my sewing machine (this is in my to-do queue, you understand), a vintage apron complete with original paper label (Ebay?) and a real cutesy pink and blue striped half apron (also new).
These bargains are from my local charity shop, which for some reason has started selling everything for 99p (well, except large items of furniture and all the stuff in the glass cabinet, that is!). This pricing decision is making the shop very popular indeed, because all the other charity shops in my town have become ridiculously expensive!
What I'm trying to say is... I may have to spend 99p occasionally - but it's all in a good cause!

Saturday, 26 January 2013

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL CHARITY SHOP FIND!

I know I'm always banging on about the wonderful things that can be found in charity shops, but I bought this lovely zig-zag crochet blanket last year and have been meaning to post it up here ever since! 
In true shabby chic style, it has a riot of random alarmingly bright colours, which although they would seem at first look to be too clashy, really work! It is also expertly crocheted with a very firm close tension and no loose ends - and all for £2.99!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

JANUARY IS NATIONAL SOUP MONTH!

How appropriate that January is National Soup Month (who does decide these things?) and it is very cold and snowy!
Soup is frugal, filling, usually low-fat, low calorie and easy to make, so you can't go wrong! 
Soups can be made from left over cooked veg or meat, bits and pieces from the 'fridge that need using up, veg that has been reduced in the supermarket or excess veg from your allotment. There's a few things that you really need in the house all the time to make soup really easy; potatoes (used in some recipes to thicken soups), big white onions, stock cubes, some spices, black pepercorns, tins of tomatoes and a liquidiser or stick blender. 
Here's 8 of my own favourite recipes for soup - enjoy!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

COURGETTE & MARMALADE CAKE


We love courgettes and this year growing them seemed easy - we only had 6 plants, but boy, did they reward us! It made us more inventive with our recipes and we hunted down many a different way to eat them. This Courgette and Marmalade cake was a real favourite and used up some of our crop! The recipe makes a large-ish cake and now, after my first attempt (pictured), I prefer to cook it in a loaf tin as it cuts easier, with less crumbly waste. Cut it into 6 thick slices and then cut those slices in half top to bottom as it gives you 12 pieces, and that may be difficult to do if you cut 12 thin slices.
You will see there are variations given to use up anything you have - of course the taste will vary, but it will be just as nice! It's not worth being precious over a recipe if you want to be frugal!

Ingredients
225g/9ozs self-raising wholemeal (use white SR if you can't get wholemeal)
225g/9ozs grated courgettes (better grated by hand- they get slushy and too wet in a food processor)
125g/5ozs butter (or margarine)
125g/5ozs soft brown sugar (but white granulated will do)
2 medium eggs, beaten
125g/5ozs lemon marmalade (but orange or lime will be just as nice if it's all you have)
175g/7ozs mixed dried fruit (or use any leftover combinations you have - or using just sultanas is nice) 
Small amount of icing sugar
Grated rind and juice of a lemon (before you grate pare a few pieces of rind off with a sharp knife to shred and decorate with - see pic).

Method
  1. Grease and line either an 8" round cake tin or a large loaf tin.
  2. Put dried fruit, lemon juice and  grated rind in a bowl to soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix in courgettes and marmalade and stir well.
  4. Cream butter (or marg) and sugar together in another bowl until pale and fluffy.
  5. Add beaten eggs and beat again.
  6. Add courgette, fruit and lemon mixture and flour then mix well.
  7. Turn mixture into your tin and bake for 55 minutes at gas mark3, 325degreesF/170degreesC.
  8. When cool remove from tin, mix the icing sugar (about 2 heaped tablespoons) with a very small amount of water - add water slowly a few drops at a time as you want it to be quite stiff. Spread icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the shredded lemon rind.
Enjoy!

Monday, 21 January 2013

RANDOM MONEY-SAVING TIP NUMBER 28

Get 0800 numbers for free on your mobile!
Most mobile phone providers charge for 0800 numbers and it can be expensive! 
With 0800buster you can call 0800, 0808 and 0500 for free using your mobile's inclusive minutes. Simply dial 01249 20 0800, enter the 0800, 0808 or 0500 number you want to phone and press # to start the call (not the Call button).
The service is free to use and there is no set up or registration.  
Visit the site for more information.
Catch up with all the Random Money-Saving Tips so far...

SNOW IS SOOOOO FRUGAL!

A weekend of snow has added 4 more days (17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st Jan) to my YONS! (Year of Not Spending).
I have not left the house except once to buy groceries and once to collect someone from 25 miles away in the snow - scary!  
I have made parsnip soup, cooked a roast, done laundry, tidied, read, watched TV, spent waaay too much time on Pinterest and blogged - but not bought anything.  
Yay!

Sunday, 20 January 2013

FRUGAL SPICY PARSNIP SOUP

I love the spicy twist to this frugal Spicy Parsnip Soup! It serves 4 (good size helpings for lunch) and is thick and creamy and great with toast, crusty bread, garlic bread or whatever you have. 
I particularly like the fact that everything is just roughly chopped, no grating or garlic crushing because it all gets blended in the end anyway!

Ingredients:
Splash of oil (any will do)
Knob of butter (or marg if it's all you have)
1 large onion peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of Garam Masala
A small piece of fresh ginger (about 3cm) peeled and roughly chopped
6 average sized parsnips peeled and chopped into chunks
500ml milk (you can substitute coconut milk or make up powdered milk if you like)
1 litre of vegetable stock from a cube
freshly ground black pepper

Method:
Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic, ginger and Garam Masala for about 10 minutes, when the onions will be soft and sweet.
Add the parsnips and stir well for a couple of minutes on very low heat until they are coated in the spicy mixture. Add milk and stock, cover with a lid and bring to the boil, turn down to a low simmer for 25 minutes.
When cooked, leave to cool a little for a few minutes then blend with a liquidiser or stick blender season with a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper.
Reheat if necessary and serve.
Happy frugal eating!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

YONS UPDATE!

My YONS is going very well! No spends on 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th January, but I have bought a long-sleeved tee shirt to wear in bed as it's got really, really cold here just in the last few days - but it was only 0.99p in a charity shop - so I think I can be forgiven for that! It looks almost new as well, so I'm happy and I've contributed to a good cause!

FRUGAL LEEK AND POTATO SOUP

This leek and potato soup is simple and has only a few ingredients - and it's absolutely delicious! It makes enough for 4 bowls.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp butter, oil or margarine
2 leeks (trimmed and sliced)
1 large onion (peeled and chopped)
1 large potato (peeled and cubed)
1.5 litres of stock (I use a stock cube made up to 1.5litres)
100mls milk
Freshly ground black pepper

Method
Melt the butter in a pan and a gently fry the leeks, onion and potato until soft, but don't allow anything to colour or catch on the pan.
Add the stock and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and add the milk. Whizz up with a stick blender or liquidiser and reheat if necessary - serve!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

MORE ON MY YEAR OF NOT SPENDING...

Well, despite a bit of a rough start, my YONS is going quite well; no spending on the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th!! And none today - hint: stay home unless you absolutely HAVE to go to the shops!
I fell off the YONS wagon yesterday and couldn't resist a scarf in a charity shop (£2.50) as it was a colour I'd been looking for for about a year and I also found a very necessary reel of cotton thread to shorten my curtains (0.50) - but I'm still positive, because I know what I've spent - and it's not much.
And there I think is the most important part - the knowing. Just the simple act of recording everything I spend is keeping that spending to an absolute minimum. To me a day without spending is another "saving day" - towards my goal, which is to have a fair amount of my salary left at the end of the month!
Happy YONS!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

MY FRUGAL YEAR OF NOT SPENDING...

As of today, my frugal Year of Not Spending is not going well - today's expenditure was £156 - yes, the exhaust on my car suddenly fell apart - great way to start the year!
On the up side, I spent nothing on January 1st, and only necessary expenditure (bread and washing tablets) yesterday, so I will not be downhearted - I'm just going to get on with my "not spending" again tomorrow!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

HAPPY NEW FRUGAL YEAR!

Happy New Frugal Year to all my fellow frugallers! Don't be downhearted - now all the Christmas and new year stuff is safely out of the way, we can set off on another money-saving year!
I've just moved house and am really broke, so my new year is going to begin with the idea that every day I SPEND NOTHING (and I mean NOTHING), is an achievement! My last big spend was yesterday, a much needed piece of furniture for the new house, but now I'm stopping.
I have a plan, every day I am going to keep a diary of my expenditure - right down to the last penny, and if I can get to the end of the month with some salary left then I will save half or use half to buy a necessity (and boy, do we need some stuff!). My overall goal is to save towards a house extension and, although I'll never have enough to pay for it myself, every penny saved is one less we have to borrow! And borrowing is actually not on our "to do" list at all!
My Year Of Not Spending (YONS) will go like this for every item I may need/want:
Do I have to have it? (Is it really necessary?)
Can I get it free? (Think Freecycle or Freegle - I'm signed up to both, locally and you can ask for something you need as well as browse the offers or buy items using points from loyalty cards).
Can I make it for nothing? (look around the house/garden/garage/shed/loft - do we have something to use to make something else?).
Can I get it from a charity shop (I've recently bought much needed curtains, lampshades and duvet covers already, for my new house).
Can I sell something I don't need to pay for it?  (think Ebay, boot sales, Gumtree etc.,).
I'm sure it's not going to be easy, but I'm going to try - so let's see where I am this time next year!