Monday 31 January 2022

January Spending


It's time for me to take a final look at my spending for January and work out how much I've saved towards my 4 year challenge.  Here's Emma being cute playing with her dinosaur and costing me a small fortune this month!

I was married to an accountant for 24 years.  He took complete charge of all things financial (big mistake ladies!!) so it has taken me the last 11 years to fully understand how to budget and manage my own money.  I still have a few doh moments but on the whole I'm doing ok.

Last month I worked out how much I was spending on house and car costs.  For example, looking at my car costs.  I pay a monthly amount to the loan company (it includes servicing.) I need insurance.  I pay road tax and I pay for fuel.  I worked out how much that costs me per annum.  But what I didn't take into account was that while I pay my loan repayment monthly, I pay my road tax and insurance in annual payments to save money.  Meaning I hadn't averaged the monthly cost of having a car.  I had been thinking my car cost me £250 a month when it actually averages out at £329 per month! 💡

I'm trying to keep things as simple as I can so that I know exactly how much spare money I have over the year.  I don't want to be surprised in September when my house insurance renewal comes round and I have to use what I've thought are my savings 💰

So, on to January spending.  I'm not including the massive vet bill of £1038.50 as I'm taking that out of my savings account from last year.  But I am including all the meds and check up visits.  Emma has cost £144.28 including food!  Tuppence's bag of food cost £8.79 and in return she gives me eggs! The cost of having pets is my biggest luxury!

I had to buy a new kettle and mice repellent plugs.  I needed a black ink cartridge for my printer.  I did a small Sainsbury's delivery so my son could cook me simple meals while I was isolating.  I had a book box delivery that I forgot I had on a quarterly subscription (cancelled now!)  I needed to buy a baby shower gift for a colleague that was going on maternity leave.  And I took advantage of free delivery on my seeds.

Total spend for January (excluding known house and car costs) was £326.32.

Savings account now has £1012.72.

I won't bore you every month with details 🥱 but thought it was useful to number crunch for the first month.

It's a good start to the challenge.  One month down, 47 to go!!

Sunday 30 January 2022

Storms and back at work prep


Storm Malik had fun in my back garden.  My wee greenhouse (despite being tied to the chicken enclosure) got blown about and all the contents were scattered across the garden.  Emma is helping me sort it out!  I managed to save some of the plants but the wind is picking up again so I'm hoping they survive Storm Corrie tonight.  I did smile to see some snowdrops blooming already 😊

I went back to work on Friday 😞 I tested negative on Thursday night which was day 10.  In an ideal world I would taken a few more days to get back on my feet but since 5 teachers were off school last week I felt 'slightly pressured' to return.  There seems to be a culture of "It's only a mild version, you've been off for the whole 10 day isolation period so you should be back at work now."  Talking to my colleagues there seems to be a wide range of symptoms and after effects.  I still have ringing ears and I'm exhausted.  Hey ho, only 2 weeks to half term.

Over the weekend I've been cooking and using up stuff in the fridge.  While I was isolating I wasn't allowed in the kitchen as it's a shared space with my son and his girlfriend.  They kindly cooked all my meals but I did notice that they haven't got the hang of fully using the oven when it's on.  For example they cooked 1 baked potato and 3 sausages for 1 meal for me.  I gently suggested they could have done loads of potatoes and could have cooked all the sausages to use in other meals.  They hadn't thought of that!! 🙄  But they know now!

Yesterday I cooked a big pot of soup (7 portions for lunches) a vegetable lasagne (6 dinner portions) and a batch of sheet pancakes with last of the garden raspberries from the freezer.  I forgot to take a photo before I sliced and froze it.

Today I did a load of Linda McCartney sausages and baked potatoes.  Enough for my Sunday lunch and some for meals for the rest of the week.  I do love having my meals prepped for the work week ahead.

The onion gravy was made from the very last of my home grown onions.  These were the size of a golf ball or smaller!!  I'm impressed they lasted until January without any special storage.  They were just flung in a tray and kept in my wee greenhouse!!  A few had rotted but overall they kept well.  Annoyingly, I can't remember the varieties.

While it was fresh in my mind I ordered some onion sets, seed potatoes and beetroot seeds.  My vegetable planning is now complete.  I just need to sit on my hands for another month before I set up the heated propagator.  I'm in a few gardening/allotment groups on FB and some folk are already sowing seeds.  It's too early for my growing zone so I need to be patient.

In between doing some cooking I was being sensible and was resting.  I was looking at how much I've spent so far and trying to work out how much money I've saved in Month 1 of my 4 year challenge.  Tomorrow is the last day of January (already!!!) so I'll do a financial round up then.  I'm hoping I'm on track!! 

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Seeds and subscriptions


Since I have the luxury of time 🙄 I've spent some of it sorting out my seeds.  These are all from last year either unused or gifted.  It's interesting to see them all laid out and wonder why I've got 7 different varieties of lettuce and 9 different pumpkin/squashes 😲

I've made a list of all the types/varieties and when they should be sown.  I think all I 'need' to buy are beetroot seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes.  Next step is to work out where they'll be planted.  Most of it will be on the allotment but I'm planning on using my back garden raised beds and containers for salad and herb crops.  I'm going to dismantle my big chicken run (it takes up a lot of space) and give Tuppence a smaller area.  She can free range the rest of the time without doing too much damage (I hope!!) 

I've also got some flower seeds, saved and gifted so I'll be sorting these out today.

Yesterday I got my Box of Stories which is a subscription thingy to save brand new books being pulped or sent to landfill.  I'd forgotten about that subscription when I did my annual spending review!  As much as I love the idea I've found that I've only actually read one of the books in the last couple of boxes.  So I've cancelled this subscription along with the Craft Gin Club (I've got loads of unopened bottles) and my wine club.  The wine club one was good because I'd saved enough money/points to get a case of Prosecco for Christmas that I used for gifts. 

The only subscription left now is Emma's monthly dog food that gets delivered.  It's been interesting this month to keep a detailed account of every penny spent.  I always had a rough idea of how much money I was spending but writing it down in black and white is very illuminating.

Monday 24 January 2022

Still positive!


I'm still testing positive so I need to to do the whole 10 days self isolation.  Current rules here are if you have 2 negative tests 24 hours apart from day 6, you can end isolation.  And since Friday another 3 teachers plus the P1 SLA (Support for Learning Assistant) and a nursery worker have all tested positive too.  The school is literally running out of staff to cover classes.

I've been chatting to the folks who are positive and the range of symptoms is wide.  I've just had rotten cold like symptoms but some have had terrible headaches and joint pain.  And 2 have absolutely no symptoms at all, not even a sniffly nose!!  

My main symptom atm is ringing ears.  I looked it up.  Covid ear is a thing!! 👂

I've also been reading about teachers who are getting it for the second time.  We have an SLA who has had it twice.  There is a teacher in England who has now caught it for the third time!!  What does that do to your long term health??

Friday 21 January 2022

I needed a laugh today


This made me laugh this morning!!  Clearly I'm not an intellectual then 😂 I do love Billy Connelly and was lucky enough to see him live before his health started failing.  My friend posted this on FB after I received a rather different photo from my stage partner at school.

We have a safe enclosed garden for both P1 classes as outdoor learning is a huge part of our play based learning approach.  Unfortunately it's a safe and enclosed magnet for local teens to hang out in and our play equipment often gets damaged despite having lights and CCTV.  Our shed gets broken into regularly but last night they took it a stage further by setting fire to the toys.  At least £1000 worth, some of it brand new as we only got delivery of it last week.  Apparently it was quite a ferocious fire and the fire service had to attend.  This was at 4am!!!

The kids were really upset this morning and I feel awful that I'm not there to talk about it with them.  How do you explain to 5 year olds that someone burnt their toys for fun?

Wednesday 19 January 2022

Second Sock Syndrome


Thanks for all your good wishes.  Just feeling rather crappy, chest a wee bit wheezy and got a bit of a headache today.  And feeling very tired.  So I've just been lounging about listening to my audiobook and knitting.  I finished the turquoise sock this morning and debated whether to cast on the second one or finish the half done grey one.

I decided to finish the grey one then I've got a finished pair.  Shaped the heel, picked up stitches for the instep and now I'm shaping the instep.  I remember now why I abandoned this one.  The colour is hard on my poor eyes.  Definitely one for daylight and not night time so need to find something else to keep me busy in the evening.

Second sock syndrome is very real as you're always tempted to start a different colourful one and not knit another one the same.  I know there's a method to knit 2 at a time on circular needles but never tried it.  Might go look it up on Youtube later!  

Monday 17 January 2022

It got me!


It's a faint line but it's there.  I've got Covid.  There's a big outbreak at school with 4 teachers plus our Family Support Worker and dozens of younger kids all testing positive over the last few days. So far it feels like a stinky cold with a blocked nose, scratchy throat, bit of a cough and my face feels like it's burning.  I've heard if it's Omicron that day 5 is the worst day. *SIGHS* 

Saturday 15 January 2022

Halfway point


Well I'm halfway through January and my fridge looks like this!! 😂  I have a quarter of the red cabbage left (might use it in a stir fry this coming week), a bowl of home made coleslaw, half a pack of dairy free spread, small pack of hard sheep's cheese, 500g soya yoghurt and a range of condiments.

I cleaned out all the sorry looking veggies this morning and made enough soup for lunches for a whole week.  Grated it all and chucked it in a big pot with rice, red lentils and a bit of stock powder.  I didn't have any leafy green veg so added a pack of frozen parsley (home grown 2 years ago.)  It's actually very tasty!

This is my second batch of coleslaw, simply made with some shredded red cabbage and grated carrots/apples/onion mixed with a splash of apple cider vinegar and mayo.  I tossed in a few walnuts too.  Really tasty!!

I opened my last litre carton of soya milk which usually lasts me a week. I mainly use it for breakfast (GF rice crispies from my Approved Foods order last year or porridge) but I sometimes make a white sauce. I'll use it sparingly this week!  

I took the last of my homegrown tomato sauce out the freezer this morning as well as some vegan bacon.  I'm planning to make some pizza bases tonight, hopefully there will be some leftovers to freeze for the end of the month.  The freezer is full pretty full of fruit, veg and GF bread so sould last easily until the end of the month.

So far this month I'm pleased to report at the halfway point  I've only spent £91 on a new kettle, pest repeller plug ins (we have mice in the walls of the extension!), a baby gift for a colleague and meds for Emma.  

We went back to the vet last night to get her stitches removed.  The wound has healed and no further action is needed on the fatty lump.  However, her ears are still not fully healed and she needs more steroids. The painkillers she was on have had the benefit of helping with her arthritic shoulder and she's had a new lease of life this week.  Much more playful and alert so we're keeping her on those for a further 2 weeks then she'll be reassessed. Another £30 spent.  

All in all a decent frugal start to the year.  I'm not including the vet op costs as I'm using my savings from last year.  But I'll add the on going costs as it will give me idea of how much it costs to keep an older dog.

Wednesday 12 January 2022



One week back at school and I'm tired.  Not just a lack of sleep type tired, deep down body and soul tired.  Pretty sure it's the same for a lot of professions right now.  I daydream A LOT about retiring and how I could afford it 😂  But it's that dream that's keeping me motivated and stopping me from going to Lidl on my way home from work to buy tortilla chips and guacamole!! 😂😂  Funny how you (ok me!) obsess about something when you're trying to be 'good.'  It's a WANT not a NEED!!! 

I'm sticking to the eating from the pantry challenge.  Some meals are a bit basic if I'm tired (GF pasta with a bit of grated goat's cheese) but I did enjoy some Punjabi spiced cauliflower last week with the lentil curry.

I got 4 meals worth from those 2 cauliflowers I scored in M&S for 40p each.  It's a Madhur Jaffrey recipe, very tasty and reheats nicely too.  Find it HERE.

Emma is doing well.  You can see her wee shaved patch on her tummy.  The lump is just fatty tissue so thank goodness for that.  We're due back at the vet on Friday after school for a post op check up and to chat about my 'options.'  I really don't want to put her though another op as she's 10 and older dogs don't recover as well from repeated general anaesthetic.  Plus there's the cost too.  My friend has a 12yo cat that keeps getting warts that turn cancerous.  So far she keeps getting them removed but we've been chatting about when is it ok to stop doing that?  Never an easy decision for pet owners though.

Tuesday 4 January 2022



You know that saying that goes along the lines of when you makes plans God/the universe laughs?  

I dropped Emma at the vet this morning for some tests and a biopsy this morning.  She has a very large lump on her tummy that needs looked at plus she needs her ears cleared out again.  Both procedures will done under general anaesthetic.  This was a planned event so I knew it would be costly.  However when the vet casually said this morning it would be around the £1200 mark I actually gasped and said yikes!!  She had her ears cleared out 2 years ago and it was just over £350 so I was expecting the extra tests to add a bit more.  But not more than triple the cost!!!  Oh and did I mention she's not insured??  There goes that £1500 I have in my savings!  She's totally worth it though 💖

Since I was in town any way I popped into M&S as I had £11 in vouchers.  Lots of veg was reduced.  I got potatoes, 2 cauliflowers, red cabbage, 3 peppers, bag of apples, bag of pears, onions, cashew nuts and a tub of soya yoghurt.  Total cost £11.38, so only actually spent 38p.  I'll do some cooking today to keep me busy and make enough meals to see me through the week as I'm back at school tomorrow.

I'll collect Emma after 4pm.  Poor wee soul 🐶

Edit:  She's fine but groggy.  Results in 2 weeks.  Cost £1038 in the end 

Sunday 2 January 2022

January Challenges


My first January challenge to save money is to eat well from the storecupboard and freezer.  I'm going to avoid spending money in the supermarket although I do have some vouchers and Nectar points to spend if I need them.  I don't have any fresh fruit or veg left but my freezer is full of them so I won't go without.

I made a curry in my Crockpot.  I tried to recreate my local curry house favourite Daal Makhani which is black lentils in a creamy sauce.  Oh my goodness it tastes amazing!!!  I'm glad I remembered to cook the black lentils separately first as they made the water go very black!!  I'm also chuffed that I used my own home grown onions (stored in my wee plastic greenhouse) and frozen roasted tomatoes.

I had some satsumas that were a bit iffy so I juiced them and froze the juice.  I'll probably add it to a carrot based soup later in the month.  I found some tubs of soup in the freezer so that's lunches for back to work sorted.

My other January challenge is to finish the 2 pairs of socks I started knitting.  This turquoise one was started in April last year, can't remember why I stopped.  If I get these finished I'll try to finish the grey men's ones that have been kicking around for ages.  I sense this may be the year to get lots of unfinished projects finished!  

Saturday 1 January 2022

And so it begins

Happy New Year!  I hope this year is a better one for us all. I'm trying to be upbeat about the you-know-what despite several friends testing positive this week *sighs*

I came downstairs this morning to find that my kettle had leaked water all over the worktop.  It's the second time that's happened.  So first day of the new year and I've had to buy a new kettle.  I spent some time researching good deals and have ordered a lovely new one.  It was half the price it should have been (or so it said on the website!) so have saved some money I guess.  Not the start I would have wanted but a good reminder to think about every purchase.

Let the 4 year money saving challenge begin!