Start the Way You Mean to Go On.The festivities are over, we're now firmly on our way to beginning the 'normal' year of juggling income and expenditure on a daily basis. For the frugal living among us, it's probably the best time of year to get organised, especially if you know you have post-festive credit card bills to pay off at the end of January. So where do we start?
By now, you should have used up all the festive meal leftovers, turning them into an assortment of dishes both for using up and for restocking your freezer. Stock for soup can be frozen but I made all of mine into soup, then froze that. It gets the job done before 'normality' resumes.
Next job to do is start the preparations for Christmas 2013!
Yes, you read that correctly. Frugal living means always being prepared in whatever way you can, right from the first day of the year to the very last. I can't say I go as far as ironing the wrapping paper received from gifts, but I do save whatever I can, along with tissue paper, gift bags, string, ribbons and bows.
Next job is sorting out the Christmas cards - ideal gift tags for next year and for salvaging the more fancy bits and pieces for homemaking future cards.
From my pile of cards, I split the fronts from the backs, setting aside the backs as spare card for recycling into the feet and bases of future McGonks. This card will either get painted or covered in felt, fur or fabric.
The fronts of the cards are kept for making gift tags, festive post cards and for cutting up to make embellishments for future card-making activities. (The top photos show little bits and pieces cut from the cards, along with some interesting 'jewels' that will make great additions to future projects.)
I apologise to anyone reading this who spots their card sent to Frugaldom but it's being recycled and put to good, future use, rather than binned or burned. Only the little trimmings from the outer edges get added into firelighting materials.
That has been my today's job, in between rejigging the budget to incorporate a hefty drop in income in 2013. (I received notice of termination of self-employed work-related contract yesterday.) In lieu of this (and giving up the car), I have slashed the household budget by 25% to £3,000 for the year.
Believe it or not, the above means surprisingly few changes - the only real one is that there's no contingency fund for everything else, so 'everthing else' needs to finance itself in a self-sustainable manner - garden, poultry, dedicated workspace etc, etc, etc. In addition, there's no gifts budget! Everyone is being told it's homemade or nothing. It should make for a much more interesting and creative year ahead, because I'm not prepared to jeopardise plans for getting the essential home-repairs done. I will not allow the cost of living to eat into savings, I'll simply cut costs further!
That's the plan, as of this evening. Let's hope there are no further surprises to help fire 2013 from the cannon! It's already been blasted by December's events with the car et al.
January is always an expensive month in Frugaldom - there's the annual *telephone line rental to be paid, insurance, extra costs of electricity during winter, the coal bunker needs refilling and the usual start of year preparations include recovering from the extra costs of the recent festivities. Credit card bills need clearing to maintain debt freedom, contingency plans adapted to incorporate any new year resolutions and, as always, rainy day savings still need to be put aside.
Heat preservation is essential, so here are a few of the things we frugalers do: Extra layers are worn, single glazing gets lined with bubble wrap to help preserve heat, likewise with door panels and attic windows, curtains get hung over drauhty doorways, fleece blinds (or curtain linings) fitted as soon as darkness descends and draught exluders are all in place. The worst spot for heat loss in this house is the chimney! It sucks the heat from the livingroom in similar fashion to a giant, blood-sucking leech! When the fire isn't lit, the fireplace needs covered - anything does, even cardboard cut to size, as long as there's no fire lit and no hot embers! The updraught alone is usually enough to hold it in place.
2013 - another year of waste not, want not!
Have frugal fun!
*Annual line rental with BT, who offer a discount for paying 12 months in advance. In 2013, the cost is £129, equivalent to £10.75 per month rather than their standard charge of £15.45 - a saving of £56.40 over the year. You'll find details of it here.