Thursday, 18 August 2016

Making the best of a disaster

I had a feeling of uncertainty each time I walked across the kitchen.  Something didn't feel quite right.  The vinyl flooring was lifting slightly.   Nothing major - or so I thought.

As I am planning on redecorating the kitchen this year I decided to ask the landlord to check.  So a chappie came.  You know the sort of chap.  Favourite phrase is "Tut, tut" uttered just after a rapid intake of breath.  Drives you crazy.

Unfortunately he couldn't even manage a "Tut, tut".  The kitchen floor will have to be replaced.  I am not looking forward to it.  Emptying a kitchen so that all the floor standing cupboards can be taken out is not a prospect which fills me with glee.  The thought of all that mess doesn't make me happy.

I don't know when all this joy will be visited on me.  The surveyor has to come and this will not be a cheap job so the landlord will need a budget.  Oh dear.

So, I have decided that one sensible thing would be to eat down my food stores to minimise the stuff which will have to be stored whilst the kitchen is out of commission.  Ah well, that should benefit the budget.  

And as the contractor will have to make good I won't have to pay someone to decorate the kitchen myself!  

Friday, 12 August 2016

Comping update

Earlier this year I decided to have a go at doing on-line competitions.   You may remember that I won some fridge storage boxes but there have been other wins.

So far this year I have won, those fridge storage boxes, a one hour life coaching session (interesting experience), tickets to a West End show, tickets to a country show, a pair of "designer" trainers, two books, and my latest win, a selection of Milton hygiene products.

Now entering a competition for Milton products might seem strange for a childless woman in her sixties but the first prize was a whole-house spring-clean.   Anyone who knows my housekeeping habits would think that to be a good idea and the cousin whose daughter is expecting her baby will receive the products I don't need,  Can't be bad.

Further update  The postie has just been!  The Milton stuff has arrived but so has a parcel of books from a competition I didn't know I'd won!!!!  Postie enjoyed my glee.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Sometimes I quite like Amazon

Actually, my life would be a lot more difficult if it were not for Amazon but it's not really my favourite company.

A couple of weeks ago I received a parcel of stuff I hadn't ordered.  The address label was correct for me but I hadn't ordered the stuff and when I checked my account I hadn't been charged for it either.  So, grumbling under my breath at the necessity to waste my time contacting the company, I started an on-line chat.  I won't go into details but the result was that I was asked just to keep the things or donate them to charity.  I think the total value of the things would have been about £30.

Two items went to the charity shop but with a big "Whoo Hoo" I kept the third.  It was a pack of Sugru.  Sugru is mouldable silicome which sets just by being exposed to the air.  I'd heard about it and wanted to try it and now I could do so at no cost.  The pack I got would have cost £12.99.

It is fantastic!  I mended the handle of the bowl of my Magimix.  I was making do with a bowl with a broken handle as a new bowl would have cost £42.12.  I had a lovely play with the sugru (it's just like playdoh!) and I've saved myself £42.12,  This is the handle with the repair - you may have to look extra hard to see it.  It has been through the dishwasher several times since it was repaired.

Quick update.  I've just had to contact Amazon about something marked as delivered but not actually received by me (the reverse of the above situation) and they have refunded my money and given me an extra month Prime membership in compensation.  The non delivered goods were worth £8 and an extra month prime is worth over £6 and I get my stuff anyway.  Thanks Amazon!

Monday, 4 July 2016

Surveys 2

A couple of people have contacted me to ask about the survey sites I use so here's some of the lowdown.  I must repeat what I said in the first post about the huge numbers of screen-outs and the very low rate of pay but if you want to have a go I can suggest several sites.  Please remember that I am UK based although some of the sites I mention operate in different countries.

Have a look at  This is a site which sends one or two invitations to me each week.  A survey earns me 50 points and when I have collected 50000 I get a payment of £50 via BACS.  The surveys are well written and if I get an invitation I know I will be able to complete the survey - no screen-out.  It takes about a year to earn £50 so don't get too excited!

I get a lot of invitations from Toluna but I also get a lot of screen outs which is very frustrating.  However, I complete enough surveys to get a £15 voucher every six weeks.  Until recently I had Tesco vouchers but last time had Sainsburys but they offer garden vouchers, book tokens etc.

If you care to e mail me (go to my profile and there is an e mail link) I can send you referral links.  Good luck but don't expect to get rich quick. 

I'll write about some more sites another day.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Frugally Challenged

I was reading blogs for quite a while before I took the plunge myself.  Maybe you are in that position now.  You need some sort of user name (maybe your Real Life name?) so you can leave comments on other people’s blogs.  I was reading a lot of blogs about living very frugally and I have to admit I was amazed at the lengths that some people go to in order to save money.  I was very aware (and still am) that I wouldn’t be going as far as some people so rather tongue-in-cheek, I chose the user name “Frugally Challenged”.

I was brought up in the fifties when the make-do-and-mend mentality was much more prevalent than today.  The sleeves of my school sweaters always had darns in them.  There was no choice in the food I ate – I had to eat what I was given and clean my plate and whether I liked the food was totally irrelevant.

In some ways I’m glad those days have gone.  It is only in recent years that I have learnt to listen to my body and stop eating when I am full.   My body shape tells me that is a lesson I should have learnt much sooner.  In other ways I think the ideas of my childhood were absolutely right and I am re-learning and re-adopting them.

Each of us has to choose the right level of frugality.  I am aware that my standard of living is lavish compared to many as I have an adequate pension which allows me to satisfy many of my wants as well as my needs.  However, there are still things I want to do, ambitions I want to chase, dreams I want to do more than dream.

I want to live a rich life, rich in experiences rather than possessions, but experiences can cost money so I want to live as frugally as I comfortably can.  My choices may not be yours (nor yours mine) but the choices I make are allowing me to have a great time in retirement.  I’m no frugal expert:  I am definitely Frugally Challenged.

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!