Saturday 14 December 2019


One of my most important possessions is my trundle truck.  Or as other people might call it, my mobility scooter.  I can walk short distances - on a good day I can manage about a hundred yards but sometimes I can't leave the house - so having any sort of life depends on my trundle truck.

Last Saturday I was out and I realised that the TT wasn't quite right and eventually it ground to a halt.  A kind person drove me home so I could fetch my (adapted) car and then she helped me get the TT into the car.  On Monday I took it to the repairer.  The quote was £600.

£600 in December!  A few years ago that would have defeated me.  However, these days I am VERY careful with money.  I hadn't counted on there being much surplus cash in December but I am so pleased that I have saved  hard throughout the year and especially in November.  I was able to say to the repair shop, "Go ahead".  They lent me a scooter for this week.

I could have done much happier things with that £600.  But there is nothing which I could have done with it which would have made so much difference to my life.  

Sunday 1 December 2019

Reviewing November

It's been a pretty good month as far as income is concerned.  Overdue fees have been paid to me and  I had my winter heating allowance.

I've had a few big things to pay for though.  A radiator sprang a leak and ruined a carpet and although the insurers will sort it I had £100 excess to pay.  My car insurance was also payable.  Christmas presents had to be bought.  On the plus side the lower phone and broadband bill came for the first time and I didn't have much paid help.  And of course deciding not to spend on food saved a lot!

The best thing is that I managed to squirrel £455 and I'm carrying a  much larger than usual current account balance.  I want to keep extra in my current account until I have finished Christmas preparations.  My average monthly save has been £336 so far.  

Not bad.

Friday 29 November 2019

£1.75 left

A week ago I had £6.35 of my original £34 and today I needed to get a few bits to last me over the weekend.  I bought celery, cucumber, butter and bread spending £5.10.  I decided to buy a loaf as I wanted sliced bread to make some sandwiches.  £5.10 seemed like a lot for so little but I shopped at  a local Co-op rather than drive 18 miles to go to Lidl.

So, the budget lasted.  However, I am not kidding myself that I ate only £32.25 worth of food.  I started off with a well-stocked freezer and tin store and they still look pretty full.  I have long been in the habit of making soups and stews and freezing portions.  I shall repeat this project fairly soon but December is not the month to be austere.

What is even more important is that the diet has been pretty healthy.  I have prioritised fresh vegetables and have eaten celery, cucumber, carrots, cabbage and onions very regularly, none of which is expensive.  I have enjoyed what I have eaten but will also enjoy a few treats next month!

Saturday 23 November 2019

One week to go

I've rather enjoyed this mini challenge.  It has been enough to make me think but not enough to make me think that I am wearing a hair shirt.  I haven't done a "normal" shop since 23rd October and I started this challenge on 27th October with a budget of £34.  By 17th November I was left with £14.50.

Yesterday I went shopping again and spent £8.15.  For the first time it wasn't just cheese and fresh food I bought.  I decided that the budget could cover wholemeal flour and three tins of sardines, together coming in at £2.12.  The rest went on onions, beet root, peppers, beetroot, cucumber and cheese.

If anything has surprised me about my spending this month it has been the amount I have spent on cheese.  Over the years my red meat consumption has reduced and cheese has become more important.  On several days I've had soup and bread (both home made) and a chunk of cheese.  Sometimes I've had a chopped salad and scattered grated cheese over it.  I've had a few jacket potatoes, again with  a little cheese and some salad or sweetcorn..  

Celery has been a great budget saver.  It has formed the base for salads, it's been a snack with a little cheese and it's been a great ingredient in soup.  Cabbage (both white and red), carrots, onions and celery are all fairly cheap and have been the mainstays of my five a day.

I've now got £6.35 to last me a week.

Tuesday 19 November 2019


I've been making changes to my normal shopping and eating habits but today, somehow, those changes have bitten a little deeper.

The first thing was in the bread which I've just mixed.  Usually I would use 75% wholemeal and 25% strong white flour but today I've reversed the proportions as the wholemeal is getting a little low.  I could buy some more but I'm going to try and last out.  There's plenty of white flour as I bought some a couple of weeks ago.

Then I made my salad for the day and I had no red onions, my usual favourite in salad.  Instead I chopped a shallot.

I usually eat sardines as a cheap form of oily fish but there's just one tin left.  Olive oil is being replaced with rapeseed .  I've long used it for cooking but not for dressings.  I shall revert to olive oil next month I think but rapeseed tastes better than I thought it would.

I fancied grapes and Stilton for breakfast but there's no Stilton so I've got grated Cheddar.  I want to make the grapes last so I've got a small portion of grapes and some celery as well.  I'm a shocker for nibbling cheese so I grated all the Cheddar in the food processor, again to make it last longer.

None of these substitutions (except the oil) is much cheaper but it's making me look at what I've got and use it better.  

Sunday 17 November 2019

The budget is still holding!

I started this project on October 27th with a budget of £34 to last until 30th November so I am well over half way through.   Last weekend I reported here that I still had £24.21 in my purse.

Yesterday I went to Lidl and spent £9.71, by far my biggest weekly spend since I started.  £4.20 of that went on Mozzarella and Cheddar cheese.  The remaining £5.71 went on celery, cucumber, potatoes grapes and tomatoes. 

For various reasons I keep a food diary.  The day before I started I wrote a simple annotation, "SERIOUSLY UNHEALTHY CHOICES".  Since then I have kept a note of how many vegetable/fruit portions I have eaten each day.  On one day I had only one portion but some days I've had ten different veggies and most days I've had more than five so I'm happy with that.  I've had at least ten portions of oily fish, mostly sardines and salmon.  

So I feel very happy with the month so far.  Thirteen days to go.  

Sunday 10 November 2019

Treats for others

One of the hardest things about not having much money is having little to give away.  I love giving small spontaneous gifts, choosing the right Christmas present or bunch of flowers "just because".

And home-made food gifts are a very special pleasure.  Making biscuits because a friend is coming or even just sharing a bowl of soup and some home made bread is wonderful.  One of my favourite words is "companion", literally someone with whom one shares bread.

It would be easy to take gifts of food out of my food budget into another category but  I feel it would also be cheating.  My dear friend Clare, who lives along the road, had a knee replacement op last week and I offered to make a meal for three and take it along to her house to eat with Clare and her husband.  I looked through the freezer and found several small amounts of fish - pollock, smoked river cobbler, salmon, prawns - and combined them all in a fish pie.  Actually  I found enough fish to make several pies which I have frozen for myself.  I made parsley sauce using probably the last parsley from the garden for this year and then topped the lot with mashed potatoes.  Delicious.  And Clare agreed!  

I also made a rice pudding to take to 94 year old Auntie Hettie.  A rice pud is such a simple homely thing and she loves it.

I've had to go shopping again, this time to buy potatoes, milk, carrots and cucumber, totalling £3.72.  This means I have spent £9.79 out of my £34 so I have £24.21 to last for the next twenty days

Thursday 7 November 2019

Creeping treats

Today has needed more thinking and more creativity than I have used so far this month.  Using up stuff in the fridge may be boring but it doesn't need much thought!

First of all I love breakfast.  I would go so far as to say it's my favourite meal of the day.  However, my breakfast choices maybe wouldn't be for everyone.  Forget, cereal, marmalade on toast, porridge - I like interesting flavours and a great variety to start my day.  Breakfast might be apple and peanut butter, beetroot and Stilton, spinach and eggs, or tomatoes and feta - I've got about twenty breakfast choices - but it's usually a protein and some fruit or veg.  

Today I had the last portion of my favourite yoghurt with some fruit.  My favourite is Greek yoghurt from Lidl.  Over the past few months the price has fluctuated between £1.34 and £1.49 a kilo and it is lovely.  

When I ate my breakfast today I had the last portion with some stewed fruit so I needed to decide whether to put it on my shopping list and I have reluctantly decided "No".  Before I discovered it I was quite happy with home-made yoghurt with the occasional carton from the supermarket as a treat.  What was once a treat has become  regular thing but for this month I shall just make my own using a sachet of culture which I still had and which is still in date.  (I've tried using the Lidl one as a culture before and it didn't come true to type.)  I shall freeze some to use as culture next time I need some.

Another home made goodie which I am reviving today is home made bread.  This is very risky as I have a habit of making lovely bread and then eating far more of it than is good for me!

Sunday 3 November 2019

Replenishing where necessary

The last grocery shopping I did was on 23rd October, so ten days ago.  I could probably continue without but this isn't a no-spend month, just a low-spend month with £34 to last me from 28th October to 30th November. 

My focus is on my vegetable intake.  Today I chopped the last of my cucumber, peppers, celery and tomatoes to make a chopped salad, something which I eat regularly.  I've still got one leek as well as onions, carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  There's also red and green cabbage so I can concentrate on saladings.

I also needed eggs and cheddar cheese.  I'm doing egg fried rice this evening which will leave me with just one egg  and I have no cheddar at all.  I've got Stilton but I don't like that on baked potatoes and I think that jacket spuds are one of the mainstays of a frugal diet. 

So, armed with a strict list I called at Tesco and bought tomatoes (.49) celery (.50) cheese (2.25) cucumber (.60) peppers (.91) and eggs (.84).  Total £5.59.  I also treated myself to some grapes which had been reduced to .48 so grand total £6.07.  My budget is now £27.93.

Saturday 2 November 2019

October reviewed

It's quite a long time since I did a monthly review of my finances on this blog.  I do a monthly report to myself regularly, noting where I have been extravagant as well as what went well but it's a very confidential report!

Earlier this year I decided to aim at an average of £400 to be squirreled away each month.  There have been several months when I haven't managed it but this month wasn't one of those as I saved £435.  My average monthly savings have been £325 so although I am short of target I'm quite happy with that.  My earnings have taken a huge cut this year so the savings have been real economies.

I'm ashamed to admit that although I regularly change my energy suppliers I have been lazy when it comes to my landline/broadband/TV/mobile phone deal.  This month however this particular worm turned and my new set-up will save me about £25 per month.  I've changed supplier for my mobile phone deal and got BT to reduce the rest.  

Mt food spend was rather high at £175 although that includes some Christmas preparation.  However, as you know, my food budget for November is just £34!  Should be interesting!

One of my biggest extravagances is eating out, which in October came to £120.  This is my main social life and I don't want to cut it out but I am making efforts to reduce it.  We shall see.   

In November I need to renew the car insurance.  I've already checked the comparison sites but won't be changing supplier as my insurer gives a loyalty discount and very good service.  It's not quite the cheapest for me but it's not far off.  As with my telephone/broadband I'm happy to pay slightly over the odds for  reliable service.

Thursday 31 October 2019

Not just fresh

Our five a day do not necessarily have to be fresh food even though that's what I usually aim for.  At the moment I have quite a lot of dried fruit in the cupboard, the remains of packs I bought to make the Christmas puddings.  Apricots, prunes, figs, sour cherries and dried cranberries may appear on my menus over the next few weeks.  Actually I had a few cranberries with my breakfast yoghurt. 

Tinned fruit and veg can also be used.  I use a lot of tinned sweetcorn in salads and am rather partial to a tin of mushy peas with red sauce or mint sauce.  Just on their own.  Comfort food.  (Come on, a girl is allowed the odd guilty secret.)  Those are about the only tinned vegetables I buy and there are several tins of each in the cupboard.

But there's another tinned veg which I never think of as tinned veg - and that's baked beans.  I buy the reduced sugar, reduced salt variety and I think they may be consumed several times before November ends.  I don't often buy any other tinned beans.

And of course there are vegetables in the freezer.  Beans I've frozen, ramekins of cauliflower cheese, portions of braised red cabbage, bags of frozen peas.   I should be able to eat healthily one way or another!

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Five a day

My biggest problem is going to be getting my five a day*.  Oh no it isn't!  My biggest CHALLENGE is going to be getting my five a day.  There's not a lot left in the garden and there's not a lot of free food from other people's gardens once November is here so I shall have to some  some creative thinking.  (By the way, I give away garden produce as well as receive!)

I decided first to check on portion sizes.  I tend to think the more the merrier with vegetable (and to a lesser extent fruit) portions but although that will continue with cheaper veg, I want to make sure that even when I have the more expensive stuff I get enough  of each "five".   So I looked on the NHS website here.

The first place to check is (as always) the fridge and vegetable store.  I need to know what fresh food I have.  I  waste very little anyway but with a very limited budget I have to be extra careful.

First, I've got plenty of root vegetables.  When it comes to carrots, parsnips, potatoes and onions I'm covered for at least a couple of weeks.  

Salad vegetables have a much shorter shelf life.  I've got a portion of cooked beetroot, a portion of pepper, about three portions of tomatoes, one portion of celery, and one portion of cucumber.  I've also got a small green cabbage and a rather larger red cabbage.  

I think there may be some coleslaw on the way using some cabbage, carrots and a red onion.  There's a couple of days worth of chopped salad and maybe a tomato salad as well.  I may need to shop for fresh food before the weekend but I'll make sure the fridge is much emptier than now.  

*The current advice from our Health Service is that we should eat at least five portions a day of fruit and veg.  I am also very well aware that this is way below the recommendation in many other countries so I try and get more than five a day.  A quick count tells me that yesterday I had damsons. celery, cucumber, onion, pepper, tomatoes, sweetcorn apple and peas.  

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Starting on the goodies

Low budget months sometimes sound a bit dreary but not here at Frugal Follies!  My freezer has lots of lovely stuff in it which I've cooked but not got around to eating.

I started off with a free breakfast.  Last week my friend Sarah gave me a huge tub of yoghurt.  It's my favourite sort (Lidl, Greek) but she doesn't like it so I relieved her of it.  Last month I relieved some friends of the embarrassment of damsons which they had.  I cooked and pureed them (the damsons, not the friends, silly) and froze them in small quantities so I had a portion of yoghurt and a portion of damsons for brekkie.  Very nice. 

Lunch was simple: a chopped salad of celery, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and pepper with sardines.  Tins of sardines are only 34p at Lidl so for a portion of oily fish it's a bargain.  

A friend delivered a salmon (which I paid for last week): a bargain at £10.  I made ten fillets which have gone in the freezer and I made pate with the trimmings.  That went down a treat with oatcakes.

The first few days of a challenge like this are never difficult.  I think the only thing I might get very short of is salad vegetables.  This will take some planning.  

Monday 28 October 2019


Yet again I need to take myself in hand!

Yesterday I made rubbish food choices - it's a long time since I had a whole day of bad choices but yesterday was devoid of healthy fruit or veg and alarmingly high on both fats and refined carbs.  So tackling the diet is must become a focus.  I'm not trying to lose weight  - I'm talking about "diet" as my total food intake

I defrosted the freezer a few days and it's full of lovely food, dishes I have batch cooked and frozen.  I really have no excuse for poor dietary choices.  What's more unless I eat some of that lovely food I will have no space to store the lovely foods I expect to buy or cook in the lead-up to Christmas.

My grocery spend this month is a little higher than I would like - not much but it has definitely been a "could do better" sort of month.

So, my focus from now to the end of November is to have a food budget of just £1 per day.  So that's £34 for 34 days. 

I'll let you l know how I spend it and what I find in my freezer and other stores and whether my menus improve.  They really couldn't get much worse.

Saturday 19 October 2019

A Cautionary Tale

I love Christmas!  I love birthdays!  I love making things! And I love giving away things which I have made!

The problem is that as we give things we also receive them.  And somehow or another, year on year, very gradually, the value of the presents we buy and make gets higher.

A couple of years ago I won a £500 voucher for clothes.  I spend very little on clothing so I invited three friends to share in my good luck and choose £100 worth of clothes each as my Christmas present to them.  I explained to them that it was a win, that this would be a one-off, and that the following year normal service would be resumed.  It seemed like a win:win - they would get a very nice gift and I wouldn't spend anything!

Two friends responded as I had hoped - I received a "normal" present from them and they were delighted with the very nice clothes they received.  The third found it more difficult and felt that she had to spend nearly £100 on me!  I was SO embarrassed!

So last year we had a serious discussion at my instigation.  I apologised for having been tactless in giving a very expensive gift but said I thought we ought to bring the gift giving back to earth and we agreed a spending limit.

I think many adults find giving easier than receiving.  There is an unspoken etiquette in gift giving between friends (I'm not talking about family or inter-generational giving) which involves giving roughly equivalent gifts.  We hate to appear mean and are happy to give a gift of much higher value (taking into account making time too if we are giving home made stuff) than the one we receive but are embarrassed at the reverse.  

Christmas is a time of ridiculous spending for many.  The run-up to Christmas is a time of stress.  Since the conversation I wrote about above I have instigated conversations with a couple of friends and I think that both of them were relieved that I raised the subject.  I shall still be generous to anyone who works for me or who helps me out, and to my nearest and dearest.  But I know I have arrangements with several friends to our mutual benefit.

And the best thing of all?  I think that each of those conversations has deepened my friendships.  

Monday 16 September 2019

Market Research Surveys

These are a way of earning a little extra without leaving home. The downside is that the screen-out rate is very high and the pay rate is very low!  Over the years I’ve completed surveys for a huge variety of sites but I’ve now settled for a very small group.  

My favourite is Prolific Academic.  “Prolific” send surveys from academic institutions all over the world who want a quick survey.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a terrifically brainy type – yesterday I had to watch a video of chocolate chunks being dropped into hot chocolate then answer questions about how much I fancied the product.  I think most people can answer questions like that.  Other surveys from Prolific have been about looking at weird pictures, answering questions about ethics or giving opinions about political viewpoints.  I check into Prolific several times a day to see if there are any surveys.  You don’t get screened out although I have returned the odd survey where I have felt uncomfortable answering and they do have a lot of attention check questions.  It’s very important that you keep the “about you” section up to date as if you don’t you get less potential surveys.     The minimum payout is £5 and they pay me via Paypal.  It’s been around £150 in total this year.

Another favourite site for me is .lifepointspanel.  I complete surveys for them most days.  They have a fairly good pre-screening method so I get screened out on about 25% of the surveys I start.  However, if you are screened out they normally credit a couple of points anyway: it’s not much but I feel that they have an incentive to make sure I am invited only to appropriate surveys!  Occasionally I get some longer surveys from them – Recently I did the National Buying Survey which was long and rather tedious but paid 1500 points.  (550 points pays £5 in Amazon vouchers, rather less via Paypal.)

There is no way that I could make a living answering surveys but they d make for a small (but very welcome) addition to my pension.

Thursday 15 August 2019


I don't often get defeated by vegetables but these peppers?  chillis? in this week's wonky veg box are new to me.  

I'm not wildly keen on chilli and as far as peppers go I buy a few for salads and sauces but they aren't among my favourite vegetables but as these came in the box I'd like to have a go.  So, can you identify them?  I've put a £1 coin on to give an idea of size.

Then, what can I do with all this bounty?  Help!

Saturday 10 August 2019

August activities 7 Dippy stars again

Dippy is getting the Jane problem sorted!  He sent me one of his collars which needed refurbishment and I made him a collar to match Jane's bag.

Here he is I'm sure you'll agree that he's a very handsome fellow.  

His only problem might be that I too have a garment in the same fabric.  Curse these humans!

Friday 9 August 2019

August activities 6 Veering into the kitchen

Although most of my August Activities will be of the crafty variety I shall have the occasional foray into the kitchen and that's where I was yesterday.

When I went to Lidl  found three packs of six chicken drumsticks in the "Waste Not" section at 70p a pack.  At that price no way will they be wasted especially when I also found packs of button mushrooms at 20p a pack.   I bought shallots (full price) and found some red wine in the freezer.  I've now got five packs of chicken in red wine in the freezer.  If I were feeling posh I might have labelled them Coq au Vin but I wasn't feeling posh.  The remaining drumsticks were roasted to have with salad.

There was also Aberdeen Angus diced beef reduced so that was cooked, again with mushrooms and shallots but this time with stock and I've got three packs of braised beef in the freezer.

I was on a roll and found a pack of mince which I'd bought (reduced) a couple of weeks ago and frozen so I combined that with some Quorn which I had been given, a few chopped onions plus chopped mushrooms, grated carrots and some beef gravy also from the freezer.  Today I shall cook mashed potato and complete several cottage pies.

And while I was at Lidl I even found these roses in the reduced section.  Not a bad shopping trip, methinks.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

August activities 5 Introducing Dippy

Dippy is a retired greyhound of my acquaintance.  He takes care of a friend of mine, name of Jane. 

I made this picture bag at Dippy's request so that if Jane wanders off passers-by will know to whom they must return her.  

Printable fabric from stash and the poppy lining and handles are leftovers from a skirt I made last month.  

Sunday 4 August 2019

August activities 4 Helping a Brownie

I'm disabled and I often need help so it's a deeply appreciated pleasure when I can give help.  Marie is a Brownie of my acquaintance and she's very keen on taking badges, both at Brownies and at the swimming club.  What she isn't keen on is sewing her badges onto her Brownie blanket and neither her mum not her grandma is much help in that direction so I've become badge sewer in chief.
A couple of weeks ago I received her latest batch of badges, three for swimming and one for Brownies so today I set to with my needle.  Marie is away on her holidays at the moment so it will be waiting for her when she returns.

Just a small project to report today but I've also been working on two more projects which I'll report on soon.  

Saturday 3 August 2019

August Activities 3 Hats

For several years I have knitted a few hats to send to the Sailors Society.  This charity exists to help merchant seamen, including giving warm hats to sailors working in extreme weather conditions.  The Society distributes more than ten thousand hats every year.  Each hat is hand knitted so that as well as giving physical comfort they give the recipient the great feeling that someone s/he has never met has spent time making knitted hats for them.

I live on an island (Great Britain) and I know we all depend on merchant seamen for an awful lot of the things we use everyday, whether it's food, or textiles or any number of other things.  I rarely think of the people who bring all these things from overseas but this knitting is a little way of saying "thank you",  

I try to send about ten a year but although I enjoy knitting them I hate sewing them up.  Recently I've taken to knitting them on circular needles but  I had three which still needed stitching up so I've now completed them and they will be in the post this week.

Friday 2 August 2019

August activities 2 Twiddlemuff

So here's my first no-longer-PhD.

Maybe you can't see what it is so I'll tell you.  It's a twiddlemuff.  And maybe that has left you none the wiser.

It's a double thickness hand muff with bits and bobs attached inside and out.  It's designed for people with dementia to have something to occupy their hands and maybe to keep them warm as well.

I've knitted mine using all sorts of bits and pieces of wool from my stash including two very fancy yarn leftovers from knitting scarves.  I found a couple of metal keys and some beads from my craft box and I attached those too and a few ribbons finished it off.  Everything must be firmly attached so it can't be pulled off easily.

This is mine before I turned half inside and stitched it up so you can see all the attachments. 

Thursday 1 August 2019

Oh dear!

It has to be said that budget-wise July was disastrous.  Instead of saving my hoped-for £400 I managed to set aside a mere £37.  There, that's the worst bit over with.

I had a trip to London to go to a garden party at Lambeth Palace.  The rail fare was about £100 (but that was paid in June), taxi fares came to £45, a new blouse £55, skirt £55 and sandals a further £55.  Add to that essential repairs to my laptop which were £140 and a replacement iron at £70 and maybe you can see why the budget was such a disaster.

I had a very whoopee moment when I discovered that my energy economies had paid off but sadly the very next day I got a letter telling me that my Civil Service Pension is to be reduced by almost the same amount.  Apparently I have been paid the wrong amount for quite a long time.  As it wasn't my fault I don't have to repay it but my pension will be reduced.  Shame about that as my retirement earnings have been slashed as well.

Tuesday 30 July 2019

August activities 1

Each box is at least one PhD.  And there are several more boxes!
I need a project!  Well, actually I don't.  I already have several projects half done.  So, I've decided to make August a month of creativity when I shall try and complete a few things.  I may also make some things from scratch but using stuff from my stash.  This is a frugal project as its aim is to make the best use of things I have rather than acquiring even more.

You might not want to hear this but there are from 1st August there are 146 days to Christmas so, like it or not, some of my creations will be Christmas related as by the month there will be only 115 days. 

Friday 26 July 2019

A Whoopee Moment

I've just had my six monthly statement from my energy supplier and they've reduced my direct debit by £28 per month!  Definitely a whoopee moment!

When my last statement came I was £90 in debit.  This was mostly pre-Smart meter but over the last six months I've really kept an eye on those figures and I am now £40 in credit.  Next month I shall be doing my annual comparison to make sure I am on the best deal I can find.

I've achieved savings by various means.

I reduced the time the heating was on each day during the winter.  I usually get up around five o'clock but I stayed in bed a while longer.  I set the timer to switch off earlier in the evening too and enjoyed curling up in a blanket and a shawl.  

In the summer I switched off the boiler most of the time.  My shower runs off the hot water system so I need to have it on occasionally but I found that half an hour every other day gave enough hot water for me.  My tank has good built in insulation but I also put the winter duvets around it - I don't know if that helped but it certainly won't have done any harm.  

I used my air fryer as a mini oven as often as I could.  It uses less electricity than even my small top oven.

Although a near fall has made me abandon outdoor clothes drying I haven't used this as an excuse for using the tumble dryer.  I set up a clothes airer in my conservatory which is very well ventilated, not to say draughty, and dried almost everything on that.  I am hoping to set up a clothes line in the garage this winter.  

My energy bill is always likely to be fairly high - I need to charge my mobility scooter most days, I have no gas fire to keep me cosy - but I'm certain that pounds are better in my pocket than in the energy company's bank account.  

Friday 19 July 2019

Never let it be said . . .

. . . that I overburden you with reading on this blog!

I have two blogs, this one and Trundling Through Life.  Over on TTL I write about how I see the world and how  I try to make sure that my eyes see what is good and kind in the world around me.

This blog though, is supposed to be about frugality, decluttering and similar themes.  When I first came to Blogland there seemed to be a lot of blogs but many of them have disappeared over the years.  I really miss "Frugal Queen", "Frugal in Essex", "Bonnie the frugal apprentice" and "Baroness Prudent Spending" among many others.  Others have appeared but I rather miss the old favourites

I wonder if they had the same problem as I do - what on earth can I write about?  Frugality is a bit repetitive.  Frugal Queen included her faggots recipe many, many times.  Others write about soup, car boot finds or yellow sticker shopping or the wonders of home grown produce - whatever their speciality happens to be.  It's a case of more of the same - is that why bloggers run out of steam? 

Wednesday 3 July 2019

More wonky veg

I was in Lidl fairly early yesterday morning and I grabbed a wonky veg box whilst I was there.  This is stuff which is still OK but needs to be sold fairly quickly.  This what I got.  That's 1 pear, 3 bananas, 3 mushrooms, 1 tomato, 1 cauliflower, 1 mango, 1 satsuma. a bunch of red spring onions, 1 aubergine, 1 swede, 1 bag spinach, and 665g carrots.  Definitely not bad for £1.50.

I have had several of these veg boxes now and I've realised that what I really enjoy is the challenge of using everything so as soon as I got home I set to.

I'd also got two packs of low fat Aberdeen Angus mince from the reduced section whilst I was in Lidl.  One pack went into the freezer but I got a pack of breadcrumbs (made from the heel of a loaf) from the freezer and combined the mince, breadcrumbs and an egg in the food processor to make 18 meatballs which I fried before putting them in the slow cooker.  I made the sauce from the aubergine, mushrooms, and tomato plus a bag of frozen Mediterranean veg, a couple of onions. a bag of sliced mushrooms (frozen from a previous veg box) and a carton of passata.  I've had a portion and it was lovely!

The cauliflower will be cooked today and made into cauliflower cheese to be frozen.  The mango will be pureed and frozen in portions to be eaten with yoghurt.  The spinach will be very nice with scramblers over the next couple of mornings.  The swede, onions and carrots are in no danger of going off anytime soon so I'll keep them for a few days.  The satsuma is in the fruit bowl and the pear has been given away.

And the bananas?  They seem to have disappeared!

Tuesday 2 July 2019

End of the month

I've reviewed my finances for June so here's a brief report.  

First of all I am back on track as far as living below my means goes as I managed to set aside over £400.  My total for the half year is well over the £2400 target so the May blip was just a blip.  I've had a drop in income so I'm pleased to have managed this so well.

Food purchases have again been too high at £165.  I was doing quite well almost to the end of the month then I needed to take food to a family event and I just couldn't be bothered to do the home-made thing so I spent too much.  There, I've said it!

I've spent over £100 on railway tickets for a special journey this month.  This will be a very expensive day out!  Petrol has been high again as I've had quite a sociable month.  

I've needed a lot of paid help, especially in the garden.  However, this improves my quality of life and is important for my personal safety so that's how it has to be.  

Friday 14 June 2019

A Semi Finished Project

Amy came but did she have anywhere to sleep?

If she'd come just a month earlier the answer would have been a resounding NO!!!  That was definitely A Project.

By the time she came I'd used a rich mix of decluttering, dash-and-stash and disguising stuff and she was met with 

But I have to be honest, dash-and-stash had been quite important so quite a bit had to go back so it now looks like this.

There's still a lot of stuff but each of those boxes contains a single UnFinished Object so I can now finish a few and maybe have the room looking a bit more like when Amy came than how it looked before she said she was coming.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Reporting back

A little while ago I posted about receiving an offer from Amazon Prime.    I did as they asked and streamed a film and last Thursday I got the promised code.  It's a useful deal for me - there are some things which I  get from Amazon regularly, especially stationery which I need when I work.  The deal was only for items which are sold by Amazon so it doesn't include items just sent by them.

This seems like a good time to mention something else which I use regularly, namely Icebox.  This is an extension which sits on my Chrome browser.  When I choose something on Amazon the button for putting something into my basket now says, "Put it on ice".  The item sits in my Icebox for  a day and then, if I still want it, I can order it.  There are ways to bypass the icebox but it's a bit of a faff so I don't often do that.  Usually I just wait a day and order then.  Sometimes I change my mind so that's a saving!  

Monday 3 June 2019

Money in May

Definitely a 'fessing up post.  I really haven't done very well.

I have only managed to set aside £280 rather than the £400 I had hoped for.  My monthly average is still well above £400 this year so I'm not despondent, just disappointed.  

Food purchases have been a lot higher at £165, way above budget.  In my defence I have to say that a friend is arriving today to stay for a few days and part of that expenditure has been putting a few goodies in the fridge, freezer and liquor locker.  I've also booked and paid for some activities for us although she will pay me her share when she arrives.

The killer for the budget has been paid help, always necessary for me.  My cleaner comes every other Thursday but that meant she came three times in May.  I've needed a lot of help in the garden too.  It is in employing help that disability becomes very expensive!  £235 expensive!

May has also been a very sociable month.  I go out for lunch with several groups of friends and in June, July and August it is often difficult to organise dates so May gets busy.  

Thank goodness for a new month! 

Monday 27 May 2019


One kind of post I read with avidity is when the blogger does a round-up of thrifty things she has done that week.  Most of the time I'm just ticking the ideas off in my head as stuff I do already, but sometimes there's a thought I've never had before.

I'm not about to start doing posts like that but I thought that a variation might be a themed collection of how to save the pennies.  You know the sort - how to cut the supermarket spend, how to economise with water etc.  So here''s my first stab at this - how to reduce the cost of laundry.

First and foremost in my list would be to do as little of it as possible!  My great ally here is aprons.  My apron goes on almost as soon as I get up so my "good" clothes are kept cleaner.  I like a good big apron that wraps most of the way round me..  The one I've got on at the moment has very visible bleach splashes on it - thank goodness I was wearing it or I would have ruined a tee shirt!

My other two allies are my eyes and my nose - used clothes are checked and sniffed and if at all possible are put back on hangers.  That's a safer bet in winter rather than in summer but it definitely reduces the wash load.  (I realise life might be a lot more complicated if there are children in the household.)

I chose a washing machine with very good ratings for both energy and water usage.  I can wash at 20 degrees (that would be about 50 Fahrenheit) and can do quite a short wash or a half load.  I rarely use laundry powder or liquid as I have an Eco Egg which is supposed to cost 3p a wash but I reckon mine will last for a lot longer than it's supposed to.  (It was only £16.13 when I bought it in November 2017.  I've just changed the pellets for the first time and I've got enough pellets for two more changes.)  I don't use fabric conditioner but I've found my clothes have been softer since I stopped using laundry powder.  

So far as I can I air dry my stuff.  I narrowly missed injuring myself when I fell last time I pegged my sheets on the line so they now have to go in the dryer - I'm not happy about that but personal safety is important.  However, both bed linen and towels are half dried naturally to cut down on dryer time.  For the rest it's either the clothes line or my clothes racks.  

I'm sure I must have missed things and I'm even surer that you, Dear Reader, will have more ideas on how to cut the cost of laundry, so it's over to you.

Tuesday 7 May 2019

A Quick note for Amazon Prime users

I live in a very rural area and Amazon Prime is very useful to me for deliveries.  However, within my membership are various other "benefits" of varying degrees of usefulness.  One of these is Amazon Prime Video which I have used twice in about five years,

However, this morning an offer popped up - watch at least five minutes of a film or TV show on Prime and you'll get a £5 Amazon credit next month.  I've got a film running now without any sound (not actually watching it but only you know that!) so I'm hoping I'll get my credit.  As this is costing me nothing apart from a little electricity it seems like a good idea.

If you are a Prime user it might be worth logging in to Amazon to see if the offer is available to you.

Monday 6 May 2019


I record all my income and expenditure so I have a pretty good idea of where the money goes and sometimes how I spend isn't as pretty as it could be.  

In some ways I am very good.  My food waste is minimal.  I check the fridge and take a shopping list with me each time I shop.  I've reduced my monthly spend by 15% over the first four months of this year (compared to the same months last year) but I know I could do better.  

My big downfall is "bargains".  You know, BOGOFs (Buy One Get One Free), yellow stickers, special deals and the like which tempt me away from my list.  I usually eat the stuff but it's really not a good way to shop.  The cupboards and fridge become jammed up and I can't see what is in there.  Often too the deals are on products which are more expensive than the items I would normally buy.  

Another silly habit is being careless about portion sizes.  I cook far too much.  I don't throw it away - I was a post war baby and I learnt from an early age to eat everything on my plate - but to be honest it's just as wasteful to eat food I don't need and don't even mention the other sort of waist!

I'm sure other people have their own danger areas but them's my two pennorth!  

Saturday 4 May 2019

Auditing April

Each month I do a review of various things including what I've written about on my blogs, how active I've been, special days out and, of course, how the finances are panning out.

Well, first of all the good news.  I have again smashed my target of living below my means by £400.  I've been doing a little paid work recently and I sold over £50 worth of stuff on eBay so that has helped.  

Then there's the rest.  Groceries were £127 which is way over my target of £100 but I honestly don't think £100 is enough so I've revised my target this month to £120.  I don't want to live on lentils: cooking and eating good food is pure pleasure. 
Not so good was my motoring budget.  I did 945 miles in the month.  I've been doing sick visiting, bereavement visiting and marriage preparation interviews but I really can't see why I have done so much motoring.  I have now Taken Myself In Hand.  

I've been watching the Smart meter monitor doing its thing in the kitchen.  I've fiddled with the timer on the boiler (I may do a post about that soon) and I'm whittling away at my gas consumption.  As yet this has had no impact on my day-to-day finances as I pay by monthly direct debit and I haven't fully paid for my winter usage.  

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Summer bedding

I love my garden in the summer.  It's quite a small garden and I fill it with as much colour as I can - but colour comes at a price.  Gardening is very limited by my disability.  

Cleome, beloved of butterflies
The cheapest thing would be to grow everything from seed sown direct into the garden (especially from collected seed) but that needs very regular weeding until the flower plants are big enough to defeat the weeds.  I can't bend down for very long (and can't kneel at all) and the gardener isn't here enough to do that.   I shall however direct sow candytuft, poppies and maybe a few wild flowers.  

Garden-ready bedding plants are very expensive.  Last year I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw annual cosmos at over £1 per plant!  This year I have used a windowsill propagator and sown seeds for cosmos, cerinthe and cleome.  I've got a yen for cleome in my garden but I've a feeling it may not be easy to germinate and grow.  Still at £1 a packet it's worth a try!

Cerinthe, or Honeywort
Small plug plants can be good value and this year I bought a "lucky dip" of 270 plugs for £20 which I think is pretty good. I got begonia, gazania, petunia, impatiens, stocks and lobelia in my selection.  I also bought 45 extra impatiens (£9) as I like them around my north-facing front door. I've potted them all on using fibre pots to minimise root disturbance when they are planted out

I am gradually planting a few more perennials.  For these I am hoping to take cuttings from friends' gardens. I had a message last night to say that someone has grown me some dianthus, a favourite of mine as I love the clove smell.  

Thursday 4 April 2019

Qwirkle and coffee

It was a lovely morning out.  We played Quirkle - and just in case you've never Quirkled this picture is a completed game .  It's a good game, easy to learn, demanding a little concentration but not so much that you can't chat while playing.

Quirkle and coffee
My friend Sarah and I enjoyed a couple of games at her house on Tuesday.  We also enjoyed a pot of coffee (or three), some soup which Sarah had made, and some hummus and crudites which I had made.  We could have played Bananagrams or Rummikub or Triominoes or quite a few other games which we have each acquired over the years but Tuesday we played Quirkle.  Two games.  We each won one.

I think one of the most important aspects of a thrifty lifestyle is having friends who share your values.  Sarah and I exchange homemade gifts for Christmas and birthdays and we have (without any discussion) scaled down our gifts as we have got older and our incomes have got smaller.  We go out for occasional meals but we are happy with far less than we used to have.

It is difficult to be frugal if your friends want always to be out splashing the cash, if Christmas is about swapping huge gifts (or bragging about how much was spent on the children/grandchildren).  It's tricky if your common interest is an expensive hobby or a liking for overpriced fine dining.  

Frugality is much easier when it is shared with friends.

Monday 1 April 2019

Sometimes I surprise myself

Sometimes I surprise myself and March was one of those times.  Despite having to have a lot of paid help, despite having my trundle truck repaired and despite paying for wood for a new fence and new gate, I still smashed my target of saving £400 and managed to save £500.  This was helped by it being a "free" month for Council Tax (I pay over ten months rather than twelve).  My hope is that I will save £5000 this year.

I've kept my grocery budget below £100.  Only 8p below but still below.  I have a lot of food in my stores in case of a Brexit disaster and I don't want to run those stores down too much yet, but I needed to do a bit of rationalising and that has helped.  As have getting the cheap vegetables from Lidl and the free stuff from my neighbours.  I've also reduced my motoring.  And I've tracked all my expenditure - no "Money-gone-walkabout" during March.

So, a new challenge for April.  This month I want to make a little money rather than just restrict my budget (although I am still working at £400 saved each month) and with that in mind and also my aim of decluttering, I want to make £100 by selling unwanted stuff.

Saturday 30 March 2019

Even better than a Lidl veg box.

I've been feeling slightly envious this week - my next door neighbours are off to Spain for several weeks.  However, this has definitely been A Good Thing for me!

The first phone call came Thursday.  Could I use the remaining contents of their fridge and freezer?   Now I am definitely a girl who doesn't need to be asked a question like that more than once so I'm now better off by two packs each of cheese and butter, about a dozen Yorkshire puds, plus peas, mince and pizza are all happily in my stores.

The second call came Friday. How would I feel about the contents of the vegetable rack?  I'd feel very grateful, that's how I'd feel!  Which is why I'm now making a butternut soup and I've got all this lovely stuff in my fridge!

I think that must be a whole week's groceries for me - and all free! 

(I shall make them something when they come home though.)