Well, this week we've been reviewing our finances and have found we should have more disposable income than we actually do have. Slightly concerned about this, and a bit sad, as I'd love more money to spend so have entered a new money saving, thrifty living phase.
Our fixed costs are quite high, including mortgage, council tax, utilities, debt etc etc. And these can't be changed, much anyway. However our variable costs, like food, and entertainment, and communication can, and will be changed. Plus, I guess clothes and shoes and beauty budgets...
Firstly food budget; I'm going back to menu planning. It's the only way we ever save money, and stay healthy, as it avoids freezer food temptations and makes sure we (ok, me) plan around protein and vegetables. We've also had retro breakfast of real oats and golden syrup all week, which is far far far cheaper than cereal. In fact, might go as far as most 1970's mums used to and ban all branded cereal, sticking simply to the basic (yucky) varieties. Or oats, which are delicious.
Secondly, entertainment and communication costs. Sadly in Hastings, we don't have cable so can't do cheap cable/TV/phone and broadband deals. After extensive research we've gone back to sky now. We've managed to get all three for £28 a month, and that is no more than without the telly. We did not really want the extra channels, because apart from the movies, which we have not got, its pretty much all dismal.
However, we do have, gasp, gasp, Sky Plus, which was (almost) free last year. This wonderful device has revolutionised our family television watching, so much so that the month we did not have it even four year old Ol was despondent for pausing telly. Course when people do happen upon our planner they find it hilarious that we Sky plus (or record) such a lot of rubbish. But I say loud and proud, its blooming great to have the whole Desperate Housewives series on there, or um, Holby City! Even random Monday nights can be wonderful telly nights with Sky plus. Ok, free ad space over.
The other free entertainment we have is via fre DVD trials. Yes, I am a DVD whore. We nip from service provider to service provider and I find that as long as I write the end dates of trials on my calender I always cancel them before we pay. Saw Hook with the children last week, and loved it, despite the annoying Robin Williams, and the wonderful Son of Ranbow. Don't feel guilty about these free trials at all either, which is a bonus.
My other big saving news, is changing my phone provider, as well, I just can't get a decent signal with current provider in my house and rather than getting a new phone, tempting as current one is same as Stacey off Eastenders, simply getting a SIM. Have to find dodgy person/shop/market stall to unlock old one but they are usually about somewhere. Very delighted with concept that I can save £120 a year with this, and be green to boot.
I'm also going to start freecycling and friday-ad ing all our old bits and bobs like crazy. There is nothing like a good clean out to make you feel all frugal and fresh. Plus saves on Mr Sheen and dusters.