Thrifty Finds : third week November 2018

I did manage some Thrifty Finds last week:

1. If you read last week’s post about my Christmas budgeting you would have seen that I use my Nectar loyalty points to buy Christmas items from Sainsbury’s. Last week was their ‘double up’ promotion and I was able to turn £25 worth of points into £50 to spend on selected wines. So now we have bought our Christmas alcohol- just have to try not to drink it!

2. Last Friday I had a training course in a town I don’t normally visit. I had time to browse the charity shops there which are significantly cheaper than Bath. I bought a good quality Christmas jumper for £4.99 (originally from Next) for my husband:



3. I also bought this Christmasey jumper for myself for £4.50. I like that it’s not overtly Christmas and that I could probably wear it for most of the winter:

4. I also went to the school’s Nearly New Sale on Saturday and bought a long sleeved navy t-shirt for 50p, a dress for £2 and this game for 50p. Phase 10 is an UNO-type game and has been on my wish list for ages. I was so excited to buy it!

5. On Sunday we took a trip to Bristol and parked in the free car park that  my husband can use through work.

Thrify Finds: Christmas Planning

 

As I don’t have any Thrifty Finds from the past week (sometimes it just happens like that), I thought I’d post about my plans for Christmas. Sorry to mention that word but it is only six weeks tomorrow!

A couple of years ago I wrote a three part series here called Saving for Christmas which detailed how I intended to save – and spend – for the festive season.

Although our finances have changed slightly (now that I am working part time) I will be using the same sources to fund Christmas 2018:

Annual Savings Every month I put aside some money for summer holidays, large family birthdays and Christmas. I plan to have saved £350 from this fund.

Nectar Points I’ve earned about £25 of Nectar points this year which I hope to exchange for £50 in Double Up points this week. I intend to buy our Christmas drink and some festive treats with this.

Quidco I’ve written about the Quidco shopping site before here and here. While I haven’t been as strict using it this year, it will still yield £43.16 in vouchers, which I will put towards Christmas presents.

Boots Advantage Points Every year I save my Boots loyalty points and spend them at Christmas. If I buy ‘three for two’ on gift toiletries I can actually get quite a lot for my money. At present I have about £13 in points but I’m hoping to grow that to £15.

Shopping in advance At the beginning of the year I shopped the January sales and bought all my Christmas cards and wrapping paper, plus some new (to me) decorations. I have also been buying a book of stamps with my monthly food shop to spread that cost.

Days Out Budget Every month I also save some money for family days out – whether it’s cinema trips, eating out or visiting attractions. I will use the cash from this to pay for an annual family meal and a few smaller treats on our ‘Bucket List’.

With regards to where I will shop for presents, I think that the days of buying charity shop gifts are drawing to a close. That is for my daughters, at least, who (at 16,12 and 10) are more fussy about first hand presents. If I can find some small, well presented items in good condition, though, I may still buy them. At present I’m looking for money boxes as they have a big summer holiday next year which we all need to save for. I will still be looking for Christmas tableware (esp napkins), books and games, though, for us to enjoy at Christmas.

Whatever I decide to buy, though, the one message that I stick to every year is don’t get into debt for Christmas!

Thrifty Finds: first week November 2018

This past week we have enjoyed a half term break from school and celebrated Halloween – I also got to use some money-off vouchers:

1.As mentioned last week we were given three huge pumpkins from a friend. Two were carved for Halloween…

The remaining one was turned into soup, toasted seeds and (I’m hoping) pumpkin pie!


2. As it was half term, I treated the girls to a McDonalds, with a voucher I’d received from WHSmiths.

3. We also took a trip to our local garden centre which already has all its rooms decorated for Christmas. This is becoming an annual family tradition and doesn’t cost a penny.

4. As it’s November we now have money in the budget to buy some clothes (having spent A LOT on uniform back in September). I bought coats and boots for two of the girls and picked up a new (to me) pair of work trousers from Dorothy House. They are originally Per Una and cost me £7.

5. I bought some shopping from Sainsburys with a money-off voucher.

Now that we’re into November I’m going to have to start planning my Christmas spending, working out budgets etc. Where has the year gone?!

A glass bottle turnaround…..

Last week I received this email from my doorstep delivery service:

(Actually it was sent to me in error as I don’t get plastic bottles but I’m so glad I received it!)

This note marks an amazing turnaround for the UK milk delivery industry as, only a few years ago, they were planning to cease glass bottle production altogether (see my blog post here).

I recently bumped into a representative from Milk and More (formerly Dairy Crest) as he was knocking on doors trying to encourage my neighbours to get a doorstep delivery. He explained that the public are so much more aware of the problems of plastic and since the ‘Blue Planet’ series, interest in reusable glass bottles has dramatically increased. In fact Muller (who own Milk and More) were investing in their own glass bottle factory.

It’s amazing what a change in public attitude can do! So when you wonder if ‘doing your bit’ for the environment really makes a difference, the answer is YES!!!

Book Haul: October 2018

I currently have a lot of books in my reading pile:

Tombland by CJ Sansom

I’m a huge fan of the Shardlake series by CJ Sansom. The lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, lives and works in one of the most tumultuous – and exciting – periods in British history: the Tudor era. Having previously worked for Cromwell, Henry VIII and Queen Catherine Parr, this latest novel is set during the short reign of King Edward VI. Shardlake now works for the Lady Elizabeth (the future Elizabeth I) and is asked to solve the murder of her distant relative. The case takes him to Norwich and he becomes involved in one of the largest people’s uprisings of that period: the 1549 rebellion under the leadership of Robert Kett. Sansom’s attention to detail and descriptions really draw you into the era. The author has recently recovered from cancer and it’s a delight to be reading a new Shardlake novel.

The Read Aloud Family by Sarah MacKenzie

I’ve been wanting to get this book for ages – even before it was published.  Sarah MacKenzie is founder of the Read Aloud Revival, which emphasises the importance of families reading together. She believes that reading to, and with, your children is key not just to their academic success, but also to the emotional well-being of all.

I have always enjoyed reading with my children and have been feeling sad that, as they get older, books have become less a part of their lives 😦 My 16 year old – who used to devour every Jacqueline Wilson novel – barely reads now, and even my 12 year old hasn’t picked up a book for ages. I know that screens have replaced books, which makes me feel very sad, but I’m determined to keep reading going with my 12 and 10 year olds. Sarah’s book is full of lots of tips of how and when and what to read with your children and I hope to use some of them.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I loved The Hunger Games the first time I read the series. Although the films are enjoyable, the books reveal more and provide a deeper understanding of the life of Katniss Everdene and the Dystopian country of Panem.

I am currently reading this aloud with my 10 and 12 year olds and we are really enjoying it, especially the 12 year old who, as I mentioned above, rarely reads now. Although classed as Young Adult, by reading to the girls I can choose to edit any scenes that are too grown up. So far this hasn’t happened and, in fact, we’ve had some great conversations about the plot, characters and themes.

I am, I am, I am by Maggie O’Farrell

This is my current book group read and I was pleased to find it in the local library. Although Maggie O’Farrell is known as a novelist, this is actually autobiographical and it recounts her ’17 brushes with death’. Each chapter details a near-death experience, from plunging turbulence on a flight to complications in childbirth, and a chilling close encounter with a murderer. The chapters can be read in any order, rather like reading a collection of short stories (although you have to catch your breath after reading some of them!)

A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates

I found this novel by chance at the local library and the tale immediately grabbed me. However, due to the arrival of the other books in my pile, it has taken a back seat. So far, the novel tells of the murder of a doctor working in an abortion clinic in the US. The opening pages are quite shocking and I expect this to be a timely read on a subject which is a controversial one in the US.

Raising your Spirited Child by  Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

I managed to get this book second-hand via Amazon and, already, I have covered it with scribbled notes and post its. I have a daughter who is clever, funny, loyal but with big emotions which sometimes swamp her (and us as a family). So far this book has shown me that we are not alone in parenting a strong-willed, emotional and sensitive child and has provided some really useful strategies to engage with her and help to create a more harmonious family life.

What are you currently reading? Do you find that the darker evening s make you want to snuggle in bed and read a good book? My reading pile definitely increases in the winter months!

 

Thrifty Finds: last week of October 2018

 

We are now on half term so I imagine this week will be full of Halloween preparations. This is my Thrifty Finds for last week:

  1. I didn’t buy a magazine! I came across the Breathe Christmas Special and it seemed to have so many good articles on how to have a mindful Christmas and alternative gift giving. .However at £7.99 I just couldn’t justify the cost.
  2. I did, however, pick up a couple of free magazines this week: The Boots Health & Beauty magazine which is free to card holders, and a copy of a food magazine that had been left in the kitchen at work.
  3. We received an extra pack of waffles in our Sainsbury’s delivery.
  4. I was also given three free pumpkins from a friend who grows them on her allotment. Every year she distributes them, in exchange for a donation to Diabetes UK (both of her sons have Type 1 Diabetes)

 

5. The girls have already carved their pumpkins, in preparation for Wednesday night. I saved the seeds and roasted them with soy sauce to make a really tasty – and moreish – snack.

 

Hope you had a good week and – if you mark Halloween – a fun evening!

Thrifty Finds: third week in October 2018

It’s been all about books this past week and my reading pile seems to have grown significantly:

 

1. I borrowed a book from the library, which we are reading for Book Group: ‘I am, I am, I am’ by Maggie O’Farrell. I always prefer to borrow, rather than buy, for my Book Group as I’m never sure if I’ll like it.

2. My husband bought me the brand new CJ Sansom book. I love the Shardlake series (detective novels set in the Tudor era) and have been waiting eagerly for the new one, ‘Tombland’. I’m currently reading it and can barely put it down!

3. I also ordered a parenting book secondhand from Amazon which arrived this week.

4. On other news, I’ve decided to stop drinking alcohol. It’s just for the moment and may only last until the end of the month – I haven’t quite decided. So I’ve been researching some non alcoholic alternatives. Buying drinks like no alcohol ‘G&T’ and low alcohol beer is so much cheaper- and I feel better for it.

5. The warm weather means I’m still harvesting tomatoes from the garden 🙂

Hope you are having a good week!

Thrifty Finds: second week in October 2018

 

It’s been fairly quiet here this past week. As I’m on a ‘no spending on clothes’ month I have avoided the charity shops on my lunch break, which may have saved some money…

  1. I turned the large gift of tomatoes into some delicious roast tomato and garlic soup, and took it to work.

2. I was gifted two butternut squashes from a friend. As they keep for quite a long time I haven’t worked out whether to turn them into soup or something else.

3. I borrowed a book from the library.

4. I had a good look at our budgets and started some forward planning for next year. In 2019 we have (potentially) two large financial decisions to make and I want to be sure we can afford them both. I also want to start saving towards having three months’ expenses put away in case of job loss or any other emergency. This is rather ambitious as it will take quite a while to do this but I fell happier having a ‘safety net’. Last year our car was written off and having savings really helped – ‘rainy days’ do really happen!

5. Following the UN Climate Change Report last week my husband and I have been talking about a couple of things we can do. We only own one car (which is a challenge in a small village – see here) and the girls and I use a bus or walk to school/work. I’d like to think our carbon footprint is fairly low as only my husband flies for work (usually once a year). But there is so much more we could be doing. I’ve been talking for ages about switching to a green energy supplier, but have failed to do something about it. We could also reduce our meat consumption. One of our children is vegetarian and we already eat a few meat free meals, but we could make more of an effort to switch to a plant-based diet.

second hand books, charity shop books

The author Mark Lynas will be talking at the North Wiltshire Sustainability Day in Chippenham this Saturday 20th)

Thrifty Finds: first week in October 2018

thrifty finds2I can’t believe it’s October already! I’m starting to hear the Christmas word but I am really not ready for it ….!

Last week’s Thrifty Finds included:

1. I went shopping at the local greengrocers and used my reusable Onya bags. I’d forgotten that this grocers has a loyalty card scheme so was able to earn a few stamps 🙂

2. Talking of loyalty cards, I did download the Caffè Nero loyalty app for my weekly latte treat .But it only gives one ‘stamp’ per coffee – whereas I always get two stamps on my paper card for bringing in a reusable cup. I know I should use the paper free version but I like getting my two stamps!

image4. My collapsible Stojo coffee cup (as above) has proved so handy that I’ve ordered two for friends’ birthdays these month.

5. Finally I was given a huge haul of tomatoes from a friend who had a glut of them at her allotment. I plan to turn them into roast tomato soup to take to work (working in the centre of Bath means there are 101 lunch places so bringing in my own lunch helps with the purse.)

Do you take lunch to work, and if so, is it sandwiches or leftovers?

Thrifty Finds: last week of September 2018

thrifty finds2Yes I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted 😦 I just found that I didn’t have any Thrifty Finds to write about, and had lost a bit of my writing mojo. But a weekend away in London with good friends has got me writing again …..

1. I finally got round to my mending pile which had been waiting all summer! I sewed buttons on a few items that had been missing them.

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2. For my weekend trip away I downloaded an audio book and magazine for free from my library app.

3. I also borrowed a colleague’s phone charger as I was leaving straight after work and had forgotten to pack mine.

4. While in London I visited the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A which I’d been wanting to see for ages. Her story is such an inspiring one: suffering all her life with pain and bad health, she still lived a fulfilling, creative and vibrant life. Her bright clothing, taken from her Mexian heritage, is such an inspiration.  I got half price admission with my Art Pass, which has been one of the best purchases all year 🙂

5. And despite being on a no ‘new’ clothes freeze I did buy this cute top from the Mind Charity shop for a fiver…Oops…

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