Friday, 4 January 2013

Post-Festive Activities for Frugal Living

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.

24 comments:

  1. My card making for 2013 Christmas starts Monday after my decorations come down on Sunday.
    Well done on the jobs done, that fireplace must be very draughty.

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    1. Thanks, WP, I think all foreplaces are the same, it depends which direction and how hard the wind's blowing, but they pretty much let out a load of heat when they aren't lit and even more so when they are lit, but at least that also takes the edge off the place while warming a couple of radiators and the water.

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  2. i use old cards to make new cards xxi used the wrapping paper to start the fire and to wrap pressies xx

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    1. Don't we just love recycling packaging? It's even better when it's recycled over and over again - as we both know. My festive kinding sticks are all gone now. :)

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  3. Good job your a strong woman, your weather the storm, actually after reading your blog over the last few year's if anything it will make your resolve stronger, best wishes to you & H..lighter days are ahead of us :)

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    1. Looking forward to a dryer day, never mind a lighter one - haven't been out further than the post box since before new year! LOL

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  4. I'm afraid I rather lazily just packed away the Christmas cards with the decorations, I will recycle them into gift tags etc when I unpack them for Christmas next year :-)

    I love your always optimistic approach, you just can't beat a 'glass half full' kind of girl!!

    Sue xx

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    1. Sue, it has to be fun even when it's not, because it always beats going out and spending 40 hours a week doing something you hate to pay fr something you'll never own in the hope you'll live long enough to enjoy retirement. I want to enjoy life NOW and I'm very easily pleased. Or, as the family say, simple things amuse simple minds! LOL I'm secretly chuffed to bits that I no longer need to worry about stocktaking, order processing, database/spreadsheet management, data analysis and invoicing - a definite cause for celebration, in my book. Speaking of which... I've an ebook to publish this month.

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  5. My happy retirement plans were scuppered when Hubby became poorly 5 years ago so I have to make everyday the best I can. No one knows whats round the corner. I have to say when you balance my drudgery of a working life against living on a pittance now, I am much happier now despite everything. the biggest bonus is I get lots of time with my darling grandson and when I think about it if I were still working I would have missed so much and not been able to help out like I do now because I would have either been at work, travelling for work or exhausted!

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    1. Vixen, I cannot agree more - in the drudgery versus pittance competition, pittance would always win here, too. Life itself is probably the only thing over which we have no control, so keeping tabs on whatever we can is the best we can hope to achieve, in my opinion. Knowing you're doing your best and making the most of it is what makes people happy. I hope OH is as comfortable as he can be and that you are each able to enjoy one another's company. :)

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  6. I recycle Christmas cards into gift tags for the next year. I have used our stash of Christmas paper for the last three years now without buying any new - but it is starting to get depleted. All bows/gift bags and stuffing are always recycled year round here. I am sorry to hear of the self employment contract ending, perhaps your frugaleur challenge will make a bit up. Cheers and Happy New Years

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    1. I'm beginning to think we must all have been Brownies or Guides, all watched Blue Peter, all did crafts in primary school and then home economics at secondary. :) Anyone still got wire coat hangers for making the tinsel-clad 'candleabra'? :)

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  7. I, too, recycle Christmas cards. I also recycle other cards, ribbons, paper, pictures from magazines, stickers and so forth to make cards and collages. Great idea to start on next Christmas now. I have always loved receiving homemade gifts. And, this year, due to limited financial resources I made most of my Christmas gifts which were well received. I am sorry for the loss of your self employment contract. I am impressed with your ingenuity. Happy New Year! Best Wishes!

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    1. Well done ofor making most of your gifts for friends/family. This year will definitely see much more effort put into making mine. I quite like making sweets and truffles and, as it's kind of 'in my blood', I have no excuses for not being organised in plenty of time for special occasions that come along at the same time every, single year. :)

      Best wishes to you for 2013.

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  8. Hope you find some more work soon; frugaling along here this week. I dont buy Xmas paper much; on my forays into the garage sales here I very often see those big shiny Xmas carrier bags and collect them (usually 10c a piece) and by Xmas I have a good assortment of sizes. When gifting the grandchildren I usually retrieve the bag and use it again the following year.
    We heat the house during the day as we are both here and turn it off altogether at night for about nine hours. Can t not heat, it is -17 C here today. I visited a friend yesterday - took her some home made spiced apple jelly and she gave me some jarred horseradish !

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    1. Wow! -17C sounds serious when we've had a return to mild wet weather; it hasn't dropped below zero here since before Christmas.

      Like you, we're here all day, as both work from home. I have a few projects on the go, so now I need to concentrate on making them all pay. I won't go hungry, that's for sure. :)

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  9. I won't be looking for any other contracts to replace this lost one, I have my assortment of Frugaleur challenges and plan on making each of them pay. A tiny bit of profit from each would amount to a fair percentage of my challenge budget if I can achieve my goal of spending no more than £3,000 on running the house and feeding us. :)

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  10. Wow, I didn't know you could pay bt in advance and save that much money....

    Such a shame about losing that contract, but as they say, when one door closes another opens....(hopefully!!)

    Thankyou kindly for leaving such a lovely first comment on my new blog, it was very kind of you :)

    Have a lovely frugal weekend, and take care. <@

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    1. We did this last year as well. Also, we were paying £26 per month for unlimited internet downloads. We dropped that to 40 GB per month for £18 per month. However, hope to drop it again to 10GB as we have found we are using less than this. It would then drop to £13 per month. Quite a saving really!

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  11. First time I've heard of the BT annual payment, just read it and set it up. Thanks.
    (Oh the wonder of the internet, it took all of 3 minutes to arrange)

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  12. Glad you guys could save a little money using the linesaver option, we;ve been making the most of that here for the past couple of years with only a small hiccup while moving house in 2011 but they sorted it out fairly quickly. You'll receive email reminder in plenty of time for renewing it. :)

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  13. our phone and satellite bills have just increased over here, so I need to call them to see how i can reduce them again.......

    Still got my cards up, won't be taking them down until Sunday either.

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  14. I love the way that you budget annually. Slowly moving towards this approach myself (albeit with a larger amount). If I may ask, the GBP3,000 annual budget is that just for you? (Does your housemate also chip in 3,000 or is the budget for you both?) - Pru

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    1. Hi BPS, thanks for stopping by, all questions always welcome. The bulk of the budget is for the household, not per person. Personal stuff, like clothing, toiletries, travel, mobile phone, gift buying, postage etc - we each pay our own. :)

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