A Frugal Year!

A Frugal Year!

In September Jonny decided it was time for a change in career. It had been a long time coming and after a 6 year degree on the Open University it was very definitely about time he did something with his hard earned qualifications. He had wanted to be a teacher for the longest time and so finally, and 3 years after his degree had finished, we made the leap and dove into a year of student life. With that comes a student income of course and we are having to be incredibly frugal!

A frugal year for this family of five!

We are super lucky as we have a very supportive family – my Mum lends and gives us money whenever she can, always wanting to help us out. We are also very lucky as we bought our house in what ended up being the right area of London even though at the time of purchase it was the wrong area – (right place at the right time we were) and a move to Norfolk after selling up saw us well. We are also incredibly lucky because we have saved and have a buffer… But luck can only take you so far. We have had to be inventive, careful, thoughtful and thrifty. It is one year, 12 months, a short period of time that we have to negotiate this path of not being able to extravagantly spend but actually… There are ways we are managing that I thought might be helpful to share.

Some of the ways we are saving, being careful with finances and thriftily living:

  • Food

I think our old food shopping bill was absolutely ridiculous and even when the year of Jonny’s study is up and he hopefully is in gainful employment as a teacher, I myself am still going to employ the methods I am using to create less food waste and save myself a packet. I meal plan on a Friday and shop accordingly for the whole week on Saturday after I’ve been to the gym. We waste far less food AND time in shopping for the extras we need each day and I feel so much healthier as well. Cooking food like a roast chicken on a Sunday then using the left overs for a packed lunch, a pasta dish AND a soup is thrifty, nutritious and DELICIOUS!

  • Planning

It’s not just the food shopping I plan in advance but other things too as I find if you know what you’re doing, when you will be home and when out then you can make plans to save money in lots of areas. Have the heating on a timer for when you will be home, make car journeys so that trips close together can be completed at the same time and having a calendar of events for everyone in the house really helps with this!

  • Electricity

Electricity uses up a whole heap of money and so as well as the timer going on for the heating I am trying to make sure my family are mindful about how much electricity we use in general. Think, does a plug have to be switched on if you are not using the appliance? Can you wear a jumper instead of a T.Shirt and save having to up the thermostat and does that tumble dryer REALLY need to go on when you can watch the weather forecast and make sure washing is ready to go on the line for a dry and windy day while you’re off out to do something fun!

  • Annual Passes

I always say it but buying an annual pass for your favourite attractions will save you a packet. I HATE having to say to the kiddos that we can’t go anywhere because we can’t afford it so having a few in the bank so to speak is a real saver. We ask our families for money towards passes for Christmas and birthday presents which saves on the toot and tat in the house too – winner!

  • Presents

Like annual passes I am a firm fan of the present which doesn’t bring too much toot into the house and so experience gifts are always on the agenda when buying for my own children. This kills two birds as it’s a present on the day and then a day out in the bank. Of course the children get invited to birthday parties all the time and that’s where financially it can be a bit crippling even though it’s only a tenner here and there. A tenner here and there adds up so what I’ve taken to doing is buying appropriate present type things when I see them in the sales and keep a present box so that I am ready for any celebration!

  • Recycling

Just because something seems a bit useless don’t be a fan of throwing away when you could rehome or re life an item. Jonny was given some jam at Christmas from one of his students and I upcycled the jar by painting it after we’d finished using it. It got me thinking that a bit of paint and a zoosh up could save a lot of items: make, do and mend as they say. It saves in the long run!

  • Charity Shopping

I have never really been a charity shop shopper but recently have started to have a look in and have found some fabulous items. My top tip is to find a really fancy area and shop there – children’s clothes are especially good in affluent neighbourhoods so quids in!

  • Passing On

I have also, in the same vein as recycling, been passing on items that we no longer use to friends who could make a home for them and in turn have found people are passing us stuff too. It’s been really helpful especially with growing boys who go through clothes like there’s no tomorrow!

What else?

It’s tough finding yourself having to mentally add up the cost of things as you go around the supermarket but sometimes needs must and actually sometimes you can’t be as totally frugal as you’d like to be, not as a home owner. The car might break down (as ours did last week) or any other many number of things which would cost money and perhaps, if you’re on a really tight budget, you won’t immediately have the readies. You could be really great with your budget, I know I am, but when there’s little to play with then there’s little wiggle room if something unexpected like the car thing happens. This is when it’s good to know you can find help in the short term from Polar Credit who are a company able to offer access to money even if it’s a really small amount that you need to borrow.

As little as £25 can be applied for which could make all the difference if you are on a methodical budget. This means you can borrow only the amount you need and pay interest only on that small amount too. Mainstream services often offer larger amounts only whereby you’d have to pay the interest on the whole lot AND you may be tempted to spend something when you really don’t need to. Interest rates may very well be lower on these mainstream product loans but with Polar Credit, who do actively try to keep costs down reducing the interest rate by 10% per annum upon the first anniversary of an account having been opened and continue to reduce the interest rate by 5% every six months until it is lowered to 29.9% per annum, they do feel often their customers can end up in a worse position if forced to borrow a larger sum of money when they only want a very small one. So, with access to funds on demand, faster than a credit card application, significantly lower interest rates than pay day loans and lots of other plus points as well as remembering they are helpful for short term money shortfalls then they are definitely something to think about.

Polar Credit is a revolving credit product and not a loan.

So… One to think about if you find yourself in a bit of a financial pickle especially if you know that you can easily sort it and pay it back because you have all the skills and knowledge to budget accordingly.