Thursday, 16 November 2017

Returning to the Mall

I returned to the mall yesterday, to do the errands that I couldn't do at the weekend due to the emergency evacuation.

First thing on the list was to return a scarf to Primark. I bought a very colourful scarf, but it wasn't really something that I'd wear, as I tend to wear infinity scarves and this wasn't one.  I decided to exchange it for a few bits that were needed instead, i.e. a new bra for LB and some new pillowcases.  A few other very small Christmas stocking fillers for LB found their way into my basket too.

Next stop was Lush for LB's requested items on her Christmas wish list.  I threw a couple more items into the bag too, so there's a few surprises there for her. Hopefully she'll like them.  This concluded my Christmas shopping for LB, save for some chocolates which I got later from Waitrose.

I got a little distracted by a new Monki clothing shop that had recently opened in the mall.  I've bought their clothing online from ASOS before now, so couldn't resist a look.  I should have known it would have been fatal and it was as I ended up buying this winter coat.

My old coat, which I was wearing on this shopping trip, is starting to look a bit shabby and bobbly and has no hood.  This one seemed a perfect solution and I really like it.  It's nice and oversized, so I can wear thick sweaters underneath it too. At £60 I didn't think it was bad for a winter coat, even though I will look a little like Paddington Bear in it.  I'm hoping it keeps me warm enough, otherwise I'll just have to layer up.

Final stop on my shopping trip was Waitrose, to spend another £8 off a £40 spend voucher. I decided to use it to mainly buy lots of chocolates and consumable stocking fillers for Xmas presents, so quite a few more gifts got crossed off the list.  I also bought a few food items to use now and some to put aside for Xmas.  I'm collecting some dry goods together to soften the blow of the Xmas grocery shop. The branch I went to didn't have the best choice for the chocolates though, so I may need to visit another store and use another voucher in the next two weeks before the remaining vouchers go out of date.

Although I spent more than I expected due to stepping into Monki, I'm pretty happy with my purchases as I managed to pick up quite a few outstanding items.  I'll definitely be over on the Xmas budget again this month, but I don't mind if it means getting some things at a better price than I'll be able to get them next month.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Freebies, Frugal Measures and Frugal Fails 19

It always seems to me that life gets expensive in the lead up to Christmas, with less frugal bargains to be had. Or maybe, I just haven't made enough effort to look for them these last few weeks. Anyway, here goes with my summary of frugal and not so frugal measures this month.

Freebies and Frugal Measures

1) I paid into my work pension scheme for the first time this month, in order to try to make some provision for my future finances. My employer pays a good amount into it too.  It's as good as free money and surely must be worth having even though it meant that I was paid less.

2) I used a 10% off voucher plus free delivery to order an item from LB's Xmas wish list. I saved £2 plus the £3.99 delivery charge, which saved me the bother of  a trip to the local mall to get the same item myself, so I'm happy enough.

3) I hand mended a few items of clothing, so I can now put them back into circulation and wear them again.

4) I made an effort to ensure that we ate down the freezer and cupboards this last couple of weeks and tried to use most of the things in them that have been hanging around for a while.

5) I used an £8 off a £40 spend voucher at Waitrose the other day, which allowed me to buy OH a bottle of single malt whisky for Christmas, for well under £20.  Result.

6) I bought some envelopes from Poundland for my small business and instead of paying £1 for 18, I managed to find two packs of 15 plus 5 extra free, so I got 4 extra for my money.  Not a massive saving, but every little bit of money saved helps.

7) I cut up lots of LB's old school exercise books that she was throwing out, to make a heap of scrap paper for list making. I certainly won't need to buy any for a good long time now.

8) I managed to remove a longstanding mark on our stereo speaker using a solution I had in the house, which saved me from replacing them and buying new ones.

Frugal Fails

1) I paid £3 in bus fares to travel to our local mall to return an item I'd bought elsewhere the day before and to use a voucher at Waitrose. It wasn't a wasted journey though, as a few more Christmas presents came home with me, all paid for from this months Xmas budget.

2) I had to buy another 10p bag for life this week at Waitrose, as I didn't have enough bags with me to carry home the shopping.

3) I bought more Xmas wrapping paper, although I already have loads, but I did want some new designs this year, so I don't mind too much.

4) I bought another silver ring from the CS this week, and this time it was a bit on the large side, although it seemed to fit when I first tried it on.  Anyway, I ended up buying a small device on eBay for a couple of pounds, to help it fit more snugly so I don't lose it.  I really like it though, so I'm happy enough now.  At least I can wear this one.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Ticking Things Off the Wishlist

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm a great believer in keeping a Wish List, of those items that I want to replace or need to buy for around the house or for any other reason. I find it actually helps to control my spending, as whenever I go out shopping, I try to concentrate on what is on the list and try not to get distracted into impulse spending on more stuff that I don't need.

I've done a bit of ticking off this week of a few small things on the list. To be honest there's very little left on it at all. Currently, all that is on it is the following:

1) New sofa covers for the large sofa in our second reception room (£300) - yes, it's a biggie, but we've had this sofa for over 15 years and we love it as it's long and deep and very comfortable. We bought it from IKEA years ago, but it is now discontinued, so I can't get covers from there, although they can be bought from other companies. (Obviously other people feel the same way about it as we do) Anyway, I want to keep it for years more, but the beige sofa covers are marked in places and I'd like some new ones.  It's not essential, but it would be good to save up and get some.  I may, however, change my mind about this, so it's definitely a backburner item that will take a while to save for.

2) Spend another £50 on clothes for LB.

3) Slip on plimsolls for the spring/summer - my old ones are very shabby now, but I live in these in the summer months and want to find another pair I like as much as my current ones, which I bought from ASOS.  Still looking!

4) Established plants for the garden (£100-200) - I'm thinking of re-planting one of the borders in the spring and want to buy large plants to replace some that I want to remove. Again, there isn't a hurry for this one, so it can wait until spring now.

5) New speakers for the stereo system (?)

6) Paving slabs to make paths on the allotment (£30-50).

Everything else that was on the list has now been bought, which is all good, although small things do sometimes get added on here and there.

This week, OH bought one of the items for me.  It was a new cover for the record player. Several years ago, I made the grievous mistake of setting down a plug in air freshener on the lid, which subsequently leaked and damaged it like this:

A while back, I found a new one on eBay for £40 and was saving up my Paypal balance to buy it.  When I told OH, within minutes he'd found another online for £25 plus £2.50 postage and bought it himself, which was kind of him.  It came the other day and has made a big difference. 

Here's what it looks like now, restored to it's former glory:

I was also going to replace the speakers, one of which I likewise damaged with the same air freshener.

Whilst replacing the lid cover, I got to looking at it and gave it a scratch and realised that the speaker casing is aluminium and the mark might scratch or rub off. The speakers belonged to my father who was a serious music lover and are a set of old Bang and Oulfson speakers.  I didn't really want to part with them and I tried one last attempt to get the mark off with some alcohol solution.  It worked and it now looks so much better, so I'm keeping them.

To celebrate, I put on some vinyl, which I haven't done in a long time. It's such a wonderful medium through which to listen to music. It takes me back to being a teenager and listening to LP's at home on the stereogram.

Anyway, another thing crossed of the wish list. Do you use a wish list to help control spending?

This Weekend

This weekend has been another weekend focussed on decluttering more stuff. Having the weekend off work and after LB's mammoth declutter last weekend, I spent some time on Saturday morning going through all of the items she donated and then recorded them here on the blog, as part of my challenge to declutter 1000 items this year. I'm currently at 897 items and I am hoping to increase this figure by the end of the month. So close, it would be a shame not to have a last push and meet the target.

Later on Saturday, we decided to head to the local Mall, which we rarely do.  I needed to return something I bought last week, that I decided just wasn't me, OH wanted to start looking for a phone for me for Xmas, I had another £8 off a £40 spend at Waitrose voucher to use, so I wanted to do part of the grocery shopping whilst there and make good use of it and we decided to have supper out as a treat, in an effort to make the most of my having the weekend off.

Only trouble was, when we approached the Mall, there were crowds of people all milling around on the pavements. Straight away, I knew something wasn't quite right. LB checked the internet and it transpired that the mall had been evacuated due to someone letting off a firework in John Lewis, which triggered the fire alarms and a subsequent evacuation, which apparently led to a bit of a panic and stampede to get out of the building.

We were so grateful that we arrived just after it had happened and not before.  As a consequence, we turned around and came home, instead choosing to eat in a local restaurant.

When we got home, I put my feet up with a bar of chocolate and a glass of wine and watched Strictly.  I completely missed it last week due to working all weekend, along with all it's controversy.  In fact, it was that that put me off watching it on catch up, but it was nice to get back to it this week.

Anyway, on Sunday it was the Give & Take, the second this month, this time run by a different organisation than usual and in a completely new to me venue.  The giving time was 11.30am, so I had to forgo my usual Sunday class at the gym (it starts at 11am), as I just wanted to get all of the stuff out of the house whilst I had the chance.

On the way back, I did the grocery shopping, so I was organised in time for going back to work today.

I can now give the spare room over to Christmas.  I took the decorations and wrapping paper out of the loft last week, to stop me buying more when I already have lots. I went through everything in the three boxes and bags again and a few more things found their way into the donation pile that I took this weekend.

The spare bed is currently covered with all the Christmas gifts I've bought so far (Not LB's or OH's) and that need wrapping, plus all of the wrapping paper, decorations, etc. I'll probably start wrapping things up soon and get ahead of myself.  Why wait?

I also spent time this weekend catching up on housework, laundry, ironing, etc.  and I also spent some time preparing more stock to sell on eBay. Sales have been going quite well over the past two months and I've decided to use the proceeds towards my new sofa covers.  There's a way to go before I can buy them, but I'm hoping that I'll make enough money outright to cover the cost.

Anyway, it was nice to get back on top of things this weekend, although I didn't get around to cleaning upstairs.  I'll do that in the week. One step at a time and I'll get there eventually.

How was your weekend?

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Xmas Poundland Haul

I know it's not particularly the done thing these days to do a Haul post, but I thought, as I've recently done a bit of a shop at Poundland, I'd just show you some of the things they have in their store this Christmas, that I thought were worth spending a pound (or 20) on.

Here goes:

Firstly, I bought these two large gift bags for a couple of LB's presents that are a bit bulky. One is particularly awkward to wrap, so these should come in useful.  I thought these designs were really cute and the colours are ones that I know she'll love.

These little Christmas lights always seem to come home with me.  There were some new copper designs this year, which tie in nicely with some of the gifts I've bought LB this Christmas.

These copper glitter dots, should also come in handy for Christmas wrapping.

These were the Christmas wrapping and tissue papers that I bought, one of which matches one of the gift bags. (Sorry, it's hard to make out the designs because of camera glare, but the one on the left has flowers and figs on it and the one next to it, fir branches on a dark pink background.

The copper geometric paper is one that can also be used year round for birthday and other gifts.

I also bought these cute crackers, that don't have any silly plastic gifts in them.  They just have some Xmas selfie props. I like the nutcracker designs too.

At least they're virtually completely recyclable.

Finally, apart from a standard Cadburys Advent calendar, I bought these two cardboard decorative stars, which at two for £1 were very inexpensive.

A few other items made it into my basket and almost but not quite through the till, including a very cute naughty elf, but I managed to resist at the last minute and left them at the till. He may come home with me another time.

I think I will definitely get the Christmas bags and boxes out of the loft now, so I don't spend any more money on things I probably already have plenty of.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

LB's Big Clearout

Last weekend was quite a productive one in a couple of ways.  I was busy at work and managed to get quite a few things done, despite shortages of volunteers and LB was busy at home sorting through everything in her bedroom and doing a mighty big declutter.

I was surprised when I got home on Saturday night to see that she'd amassed 5 black bin bags full of rubbish and a big trug full of items to donate. I was pretty impressed, but as always I do like to go through the black bags and make sure she's not throwing away things I might want to donate or keep. 

Having done so, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was actually very little to pull out and donate instead. She's obviously more careful these days and thinks more about whether things can be reused or sold on, which is good.

I did, however, pull out some of her old school books and magazines.  The magazines I mostly recycled as they were really old, but a few Beano and Dandy comics will get sent to the CS as they can be quite popular.

The half-used school books that she didn't want to keep, I have removed any blank pages to use as scrap paper for writing shopping lists. Here's a picture of the pile before:

And after:

It took a while to get through it and I've still got paper from the last time LB did a mass declutter and I did the same thing, but I just can't tolerate perfectly usable paper going into the bin. It should last me for years.  I just clip a bunch onto a bulldog clip and use it on a daily basis for list writing, then keep topping up as it gets used up.

There were a few other school books that I insisted she keeps, as they may be useful for revision later and a few others I kept for sentimental reasons, but the majority were decluttered.  The bin bags were be taken to the tip on Tuesday and her bedroom looks so much tidier and bigger now with so much taken out of it.  She did a really good job.

On Monday this week, I wasn't able to make it into work, as LB was unwell and OH was out at an appointment in the morning, so I spent the day going through her pile of items for donation.  I sorted them into three piles; Recycling, CS and Give & Take and stored them in the spare bedroom.  There's lots of books, a few items of clothing and toys/other items. 

I haven't totalled up how many items she's decluttered yet, I might do that job this weekend as I'm not working and there's another Give & Take tomorrow, so it should really help to boost my donated total this month and probably almost get me to the target for the year.  She's done me proud this year, as she has really decluttered a lot over the course of the year. I'm just happy that she's beginning to understand that less is more in many ways and I hope it will help her in the future.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Feeling Guilty

I'm feeling a little guilty as I write this.  I did a very petty thing today.

You have to understand, that I'm not a petty person generally.  I'm pretty easy going, would help anyone if I could, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get the feeling that I'm being taken for a ride, or in this instance, that OH is and I decided to stand up for us both.

For a good while now, due to OH working from home, we've been having parcels for both our neighbours and sometimes others in the street, delivered to us whilst they're out at work or just out.  They never warn us that they're expecting them and ask us would we mind taking them. They seem to just assume that it's okay to let the delivery men knock at our house, knowing my partner is likely to be in, and leave them with us.

It's happened a lot in the last six months and I've been getting a bit irritated by it, mainly because whenever we have a parcel coming and we're not in (which is rare, might I add, as we make sure one of us is in, if at all possible), they get sent to the Royal Mail depot and OH has to get up early and get there to collect them before a huge queue develops.

On one occasion, an item OH ordered a week before we went on holiday but never came, was subsequently left on the doorstep for someone to steal, which they did, incidentally! Anyway, the worst occasion in recent weeks, was when in the same day, we were given one parcel for one neighbour, two for the other and our Royal Mail parcel ended up at the depot!

It's one of those irritating consequences of internet shopping. Yes, it's very convenient to have your shopping delivered to your home, but if you're going to do so, make sure you're going to be in.  If you are going to be out at work, have some manners and ask your neighbour if they don't mind receiving it or why not just click and collect?  There are plenty of shops around here that facilitate the picking up of parcels on the way home. I know because I've used them, to avoid inconveniencing anyone else.

It doesn't seem to cross anyone's mind or make them feel guilty that OH might be busy working in his business, often concentrating on complex drawings, and he has to interrupt his work or lunch to answer the door to take charge of their shopping.

Anyway, today, I had a day off, OH was out at an appointment and I was getting down to business doing my WHB (Flylady speak for Weekly Home Blessing).  I was just starting work on the living room and I heard an engine switch off, and a knock next door. I waited, knowing that the next move would be to knock at our door and they did. I ignored them, they knocked again, I ignored them again and then they took the parcel across the road to someone else.

Now I did feel a bit mean, but delivery drivers are also to blame in this situation, as they rely on the good will of neighbours, sometimes on way too many occasions. In addition, many times, they don't even inform the neighbours that they've left the parcel with us, so they never come to collect it and we have to resort to chasing around after them to free ourselves from it, which is even more annoying.

I'm sorry, but it's just plain rude and I'm afraid my good will ran out today. I've been telling OH not to answer the door for a while, but he's too soft and always caves. I stood my ground today as a matter of principle. We're not some public convenience, there for everyone else to abuse.

You may think I'm unkind, so be it, but sometimes you have to make a stand, if only for your own peace of mind. I'm sure the neighbours won't even know that I refused to take their parcel, but if I do it often enough they and the delivery drivers might get the message and make their own arrangements.