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.