- I'm a happy bunny. We reduced our overall debt by £9,387.83 and whilst I'd hoped it would be £12,000 (and we haven't progressed much at all from the end of June) it represents a real achievement for us. We still managed to go on our lovely holiday, which was partly paid for by Big Man's tax refund, and we've stayed reasonably warm and haven't gone hungry. I'm willing to be more strict with myself but I've come to realise that Big Man has his limits (one of which is refusing to eat the same meal two days in a row, making leftovers an unviable option most of the time) and does like his little extras, such as wine and the odd takeaway. Food is an area where we had epic fails every month. I made menu plans and shopped at Lidl all through the year but either we have expensive tastes (don't really think so) or I'm too extravagant in my menus. I budgeted on average £250 per month for all shopping, including Otto's food, and missed it every time. It didn't help that various kids kept coming home for weeks at a time and then permanently, and expected to be fed! I can't complain about that though ;P. Radical rethink needed.
Fab pic from here
My spreadsheet has been very useful in showing me where we are spending frivolously; I think nearly £300 on takeaways and eating out in a year is mighty high but Big Man thinks it's a piddling amount; I have spent over £140 on vitamins and medication that could've been avoided if I put my repeat prescription in on time (a personal goal for 2012); and so on. It's food for thought.
I have come up with a few financial goals but I feel sure that I'll add to the list. I hope they'll help me to shape up!
1. Remember to take my coupons with me whenever I go shopping. I have a special wallet for money-off tokens and I MUST keep it in my bag at all times! I opened an old letter today from Tesco to Red that had two coupons for double points, valid up to January 1. Big Man paid £300 for a new TV from Tesco on New Year's Day and although he used my Club Card I'll only get £300-worth of points instead of the £600-worth I could've had if we'd opened the letter in a timely manner. Scowl.
Nifty little coupon wallet. Handy, and only a chazzed 99p!
2. We paid £333.61 in bank charges last year through our (for 'our' read 'my', since I seem to have ended up in charge) stupidity and lack of attention. I absolutely refuse to pay any bank charges this year. I will be hyper-vigilant!!
3. Paring the expenses alone is useless - I will have to make additional money in any way I can. I want to make £100 a month on eBay; the money will be handy PLUS I will be able to declutter my 'stock'.
4. Pay for everything I can through Quidco. One of my jobs today was to arrange pet insurance for Otto - he's 8 but still quite a rascal so I think it's a good idea. I compared quotes on Compare the Market, found a policy that seemed right then checked on Quidco for cashback offers. The policy is £9.04 a month (£108 the year) but I get £40 cashback, bringing the cost down to £68. Incidentally, it's costing as much to insure Otto, a basic moggie, as it does to insure me. Something wrong there, surely?
5. Go through all our expenses and direct debits with a fine tooth comb to see if I can't bring the total down even more. I pay £6.99 for phone insurance and I plan to call our contents insurer to check out the policy on mobiles. If I can save £84 a year, well, why not do it?
6. Keep an eye on MoneySavingExpert.com every day. There are some great tips and offers on there. It's a brilliant place for advice too. Plus advance heads-ups on free cinema previews, another of my personal goals.
7. Continue to ask myself 'is this a want or a need?' before I waste money on things. For example, I've read several blogs whose owners wax lyrical over their mini-ovens, and according to my Lidl newsletter they will be on sale there from Thursday for £29.99. I'd like one, but do I need one? No. So I won't spend £30....I'll use it for something I really need.
There's bound to be other things that I just can't remember right now - extreme cold has that effect on me. Overall I guess I am aiming to keep a tighter rein on the finances whilst trying to throw as much spare cash as I/we can at our debts. Not very interesting, just more of the same. Grind away.
Anybody else gloomy about having to tighten belts even more? Or is this whole recession thing passing you by?
* Another personal goal is to donate blood this year and I have already booked an appointment for Friday this week. I'm O Rh Neg, a 'Universal Donor', so I am really just fulfilling a civic duty (she says in a holier-than-thou way:)). One job under way - go, Keshling, go!!!!