Monday, 3 February 2014

Day 3 of Extremely Frugal February - Toasting my Buns

28 Days of Extreme Frugal Living

Day 3 of 28, I have spent £4.28 of my household budget

Free Hot Cross Buns
After a very blustery but mainly dry night, the temperature was a sweltering 8 degrees C in here this morning. Stove got lit and the fire's cleaned out ready for kindling if it gets too cold. It's wet and windy out now and we've had intermittent power cuts. A neighbour popped in with some hot cross buns, so they made a fine, tasty accompaniment when spread with homemade hedgerow jelly and a steaming mug of hot tea. (I'll allow 24p per day for all the tea/coffee we drink.)

Monday is meter reading day for those who follow the Frugaldom energy saving challenge. I have been logging my meter readings for several years but decided to delete previous address and stick with just this one, seeing as this is meant to be my permanent home for the foreseeable future.

Driving down the reliance on electricity has been a bugbear of mine, so 2014 is about halving our consumption and keeping costs to below £10 per week. This is how my chart is looking right now:

Charting power consumption since moving here in June 2011

As you can see, electricity consumption has reached some fairly lofty peaks over the past two winters, reaching an astounding 275 kWh. Last winter we had the pot belly stove fitted. The open fire had to be ripped out to replace the backboiler and then we'd to have a new fireplace built, so electricity was our only option. As you can see by my chart, October to April over the past two winters has shown massive increases on summer figures, but look at October onwards for this winter... we're still driving down the power usage and are now at one fifth of our top winter use. Today's reading shows 55 units for the past week, 10 of these for an electric oil-filled radiator running in the outbuilding that will become our 'ecoarts' studio this summer.

Breakfast was the usual 12p porridge and I thought it best to mention that we eat Scottish porridge in this household and we have greatly reduced the sugar used to the point that I sometimes don't bother with any at all. We use 2 x 50g scoops of oats (7.5p) with 5 scoops water and a pinch of salt, which is enough for two, then serve this with a splash of milk and, if preferred, a little sprinkle of sugar. By reducing or omitting sugar, this becomes an extremely frugal meal that can be eaten at any time of day. I am pleased to say that the cost of this is cheaper now than last year owing to cooking for less time and allowing it to stand for a minute or two to complete the cooking process on its own.

Intermittent power cuts today meant stove top cooking and kettle boiling. When we boil the kettle of water for coffee or tea, whatever is left goes into flasks for later use. It means there's always some spare for rinsing dishes, mixing up a cuppa soup or making instant custard. Tea is made by the pot and kept warm on the stove. I keep my mug warm using a USB mug warmer - a novelty gift I got several years ago. It doesn't keep the contents hot, just slows down the cooling process. We also have USB heated slippers and an assortment of rechargers for torch, radio, Kindles and iPods! Anything to save using electricity. The laptops are run on battery power until such times as the warning signals flash up to save work and recharge or switch to alterative power. Apparently, this also helps prolong the life of the batteries.

Lunch was beans (heated on the stove) on toast - almost a luxury now that beans cost 33p per tin! I used the outside slices of the bread and now need to make another loaf. We'll call lunch 39p. I have bargain, bulk bought flour and plenty of yeast that was part of a gift from someone. I love that my visitors bring practical gifts rather then cut flowers! My vase is still filled with winter greenery in the form of holly and conifers, but through summer, it gets filled with garden herbs or wild flowers of the most common varieties.

Dinner was a carb fest! Baked potato with lasagne mince and grated cheese, costing 82p for two, plus yet another pudding of 21p rhubarb crumble and custard. (Did I mention that we eat dessert or pudding most days in this house?) Cheese is now becoming a luxury item, so I always grate it fine to make it go further. Slicing, dicing and grating is a great way of making most things go further.

Total spend on meals for two for the day = £1.78

Just out of interest, I took a look back at 2012's menu list for a fabulously frugal February. You can visit it here, although you may need to register to read the posts, as we get targeted by spam if that's not in place. Quite a few price changes since then, too!

No other spends from the household budget today other than £2.50 for the logs. No coal used and no cash spent, so an overall spend of £4.28 plus the unseen costs.

NYK, Frugaldom

13 comments:

  1. You really seem to be on top of the job. I confess that though I am careful, I couldn't always tell you how much each item costs.
    Your fuel savings this winter are very impressive
    Gill

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    1. Buying extra coal and logs, though, so the actual money savings aren't as much as they would seem. Annual costs normally run in around £1,200 for the full year so I'm trying to reduce that while, at the same time, counteracting the continuing increase in electricity prices.

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  2. Wow thats an impressive lack of spending, you're definitely giving me something to aim for! We're lucky that we don't have to buy logs (alot of tree's) and we buy coal in bulk discounted in the summer. I have to ask, how did you manage to get 'other' to be frugal too?
    WheelbarrowFairy

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    1. That is a good question with a very complicated answer - the short version is that I am single and can't afford to live on my own, 'H' represents 'Houseshare', and he is a reclusive, skint artist who also can't afford to live on his own.

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  3. I must admit I often wondered too how you managed to get your other half to be as committed to being as frugal as you are. My dh would not be happy with living your way......I would though!!

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    1. I can't see why anyone wouldn't be happy living in a way that afforded them to stay free from debt with savings going into the bank to spend however they please but, at the same time, I can fully understand the problems involved in getting that simple point across to others. I failed completely in trying to get my ex to understand the complexities of getting out of debt and staying out of it, hence the reason I am now a single divorcee who is kicking on for 50 and still having to house share - it can be difficult, I assure you.

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  4. I normally allow my porridge to stand overnight in the bowl with milk, (or mixed milk and water in milk's in short supply), it takes only about 2 minutes in the microwave.

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    1. I have never cooked porridge with milk in my life, didn't even know folks did that until they invented blog-space that allowed replies and comments. :) Always, been water here. I'm using quick-cook porridge oats at the minute, so they go mushy if soaked overnight but might give it a try again tonight, see what tomorrow's tastes like. Thanks for the reminder.

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  5. I love porridge but my husband hates it. Consequently I tend to eat it when he is away. If he is just away for the day, I'll have it for lunch or for breakfast if he is away overnight. I must try cooking it on the woodburner - I usually use the microwave.

    We're fortunate that we haven't had to buy in wood so far. Knowing that we were intending to put in a woodburner, I've come home for the past year from every trip out or from every walk with a bag full of twigs or bits of branches (or bigger branches in the car boot - we took to carrying a saw with us...) so we had a good supply of free wood to start us off. It is maybe not the best quality logs but at least it was all free : ) Are you able to source at least some wood for free when you are out walking?

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    1. Plenty written on this subject already, yes, we collect all our sticks and fallen branches plus whatever the neighbours are having pruned or gets brought down in storms. :) It takes a lot of wood to keep a wee stove going and heat an old stone cottage that has no loft insulation and only single glazing. As per previous posts, I do whatever it takes whenever and however I can, if it is at all possible. :)

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  6. Our kettle has to have a minimum of 2 mugs full of water to cover the element so I pour the excess into a flask too and it soon adds up to either refill the kettle later on or to wash the dog bowls or use in cooking. I don't add sugar to porridge but make it with half milk half water. I think I will try just water and see how it goes. I too love practical gifts! For my Christmas my OH bought me a cheap diary and some jam and chutney - happy!

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    1. I managed to get myself a tiny 2 cup electric kettle some years ago and it's still going strong, so that's what gets used if the stove isn't lit and it's just for a cuppa. Not much good if visitors arrive, though. LOL Good luck trying porridge with water. I still feel a bit stupid that I'd never heard of it made with milk until I got to about 40 and went to work in England for a spell. :)

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  7. I make porridge with water and sometimes mash in a banana for sweetness yum. I have been trying to keep my fuel bills down sine I moved here in May. The gas provider has just tried to overestimate my bill by £500 based on previous usage in this house! Thankfully after 3 readings they have accepted mine :)

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