Friday 24 June 2016

Expensive but essential

It's nearly two years now since I bought my car.  The old one had become just too old.   Fuel economy and expensive repairs forced me into the decision to dip into my savings and buy a new-to-me car.

My old one had seen me through caring for my disabled Mother and the final years of ministry in my parish.  It had had a lot of hammer and owed me nothing.  However, my lifestyle is now vastly different and I want this car to last as long as possible.  It was quite expensive for an eight year old car but it had less than 7,000 miles on the clock and it had the necessary ramp so I can get my trundle truck in so I bought it.

 I need to take care of it mechanically and aesthetically so it is always regularly serviced and Jack often runs a sponge over it to keep it looking good.   I insure it for 10,000 miles per year.  I allow myself a "mileage budget" of 800 miles each month and any miles I don't use are added to the "float" of 400 miles which is very handy when I want to go on holiday.  I bought my car 1st July 2014 so my year runs July to June and this year I expect that I will have 1000 miles in hand before I zero my budget on 1st July 2016.

Motoring is expensive and there is no getting away from that.  However, for me it is essential.  The nearest bus stop is over half a mile away but I can barely walk a hundred yards and that's on a good day.  Errands however are clustered so that mileage is kept down.  With care I can still afford a car.  Other things get cut back but I'm hanging on to my wheels!

Thursday 23 June 2016

Tubes, scissors, tubs and designer labels

My tube of hand-cream ran out today.  I have a skin problem and I use a lot of hand-cream but today I couldn't squeeze anything from the tube.

So out came the scissors and I cut the tube to shreds to get at the last bit of hand cream.

Using my fingers (so that  they got creamed whilst I did the job) I scooped out all this cream from the "empty" tube.

And put it in this tub which was originally filled with a very expensive face cream sent to me for testing.  It looked like a very useful pot (as Winnie the Pooh would say) so I removed the label and kept it, because I don't like displaying labels and I do like my plain white toiletry dispensers.

And designer labels?  Well you won't find many labels of any kind in my house.  When I was a child showing labels on anything especially clothes, was not acceptable.  Mother refused to pay for a carrier bag displaying an advert for Tesco, Asda or wherever.  She did have some favourite brands (I always had Clark's shoes!) but the idea of her handbag or blouse showing the maker's name would have been anathema to her.

My plain white dispensers for shampoo, conditioner and shower gel feel more stylish to me than any brand label, no matter how trendy.  It would never have occurred to Mother that she was teaching me frugality but she did.

So I've got at least a week's worth of hand-cream, just because I take an alternative view of stylish.  Whoopee!   

Monday 20 June 2016

No pheasant will get the better of me

It was all the fault of a pheasant.  Pheasants exemplify the phrase "bird brain" as far as I am concerned.  This one made its latest suicide bid between Tesco and home on Saturday evening and I did an emergency stop to be proud of.  Unfortunately I could not be so proud of how I had packed my shopping and I broke three eggs.  

The eggs stayed (more or less) in their shells but they had to be used fairly soon.  I'd noticed earlier in the week that bread crumbs were making their bid for world (or at least freezer) domination so the solution to both problems seemed to be bread pudding.  It's got to be over twenty years since I made one but I just flung things into a mixing bowl.  Breadcrumbs, eggs, milk, muscovado, spices all went in but I decided to add dried apricots instead of raisins or sultanas.  

It was wonderful!  The apricots gave it just a nice degree of tanginess.  I've cut it into sixteen pieces so there will be scrumminess in the freezer for quite a while.  
I might even forgive the pheasant.

Sunday 19 June 2016

I don't believe it!

Just occasionally my inner Meldrew gets out.

Well not really.  I don't think I'm ever that miserable but "I don't believe it" does occasionally pass my lips.  Today I am definitely NOT miserable.

Having written about payouts for market research surveys this week I was amazed that after the cheque for £50 mentioned in my last post I then received £45 in Tesco gift cards from another company.  I was short of ready cash this month but last night's trip to Tesco was free!

Research companies pay out in various ways.  The commonest, especially for small amounts, is either Amazon or PayPal and I'm happy with either.   It's just those with a higher payment threshold who use cheque or BACs payments.

I've never had anything like this level of payment in one week before and doubt if I will again, but somehow the endless questions haven't looked quite so inane these last few days

Tuesday 14 June 2016


I had a lovely letter in the post yesterday.  It contained a cheque for £50.  At the moment I’m watching the pennies extra carefully so it was truly lovely.  It was from one of the companies whose on-line surveys I complete on a boringly regular basis.

I am registered with a lot of survey companies and each day I get seemingly dozens of invitations to complete surveys.   I get screened out of 95% of surveys even when I have been invited which is a bit disheartening.  Surveys can take up to forty minutes to complete and are normally paid in points which have to be collected (the value of points varies between companies) and when one has reached the payment threshold payment is made often by PayPal or in Amazon gift cards.  Some send BACs payments, others various gift cards.  That £50 cheque represented two years of filling in mindless questions for the company concerned although I reach most payment thresholds quicker than that.

If I were still working I don’t think I would bother with surveys as the rewards are too small and the time required too great but my earning potential in retirement is very limited and I do like to earn a little.  I reckon I earn about a pound an hour but I can do the job whilst watching TV or having a cuppa between other activities.  I occasionally get asked to test products like laundry detergent, face creams and “butter” spreads and have also done one on line focus group and I’ve been to a company’s head office to test their website as a user and those opportunities come through the survey companies. 

I reckon I average about £60 a month, enough to pay for an annual holiday.  And if there is WiFi available I still do surveys whilst on holiday!