Figuratively speaking

Always on the lookout for ways and means of saving money, I read with interest a headline

“50 ways to save money in 2014”

Being the hopeful gullible fool I obviously am, I clicked on the article, and the more I read, the angrier I got. It had obviously been written by someone who had no money worries whatsoever, had never shopped on a budget and was probably in a well paid job, with perks.

With high unemployment figures and government cutbacks, those on limited or low incomes are feeling the pinch more so than others. With the influx of migrant workers coming to the UK, some employers are modifying their workforce by laying off their full time regular workers and employing instead cheaper labour on a day to day basis.

With less money in their pockets, people now have little to spare for luxuries, though for some, that luxury could be food for the entire family rather than just the kids, heating their home or paying their rent. Sadly this is a fact of life for many, and from our Chancellor’s speech on 6th January, it is only going to get worse as he admits the UK is borrowing too much and thus they need to reduce Public Spending (at least 50% AKA the welfare budget) by a further 25 billion during the next parliament .

I am not going to get into politics. Yes I voted, but not for this lot that are in Power today. There are tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of families living on, or below, the poverty line, and all our government seems to do is move the goalpost calculations so that their figures look good. It’s a LIE.

My old boss would have been proud of me as I entered the 50 ways into a spreadsheet and then sorted it by various categories. I’m a bit rusty so it took me a while, but it’s the job I used to do (and loved)….. give me a list of figures and I’d balance it 20 different ways.spreadsheetOf the 50, 4 related to holidays. Those on limited budgets would have scrapped those years ago.

Work and the phone had 2 each, saving costs by car sharing or walking to work, and recycling your old mobiles and using a landline for premium numbers (many are free after 6pm and at weekends anyway) .

There were 3 relating to children, making sure they don’t pay tax on their savings (an adult can get £100 pa in interest on a kid’s account) , ensuring they got any free entitlement to school meals or uniforms, and my favourite, paying your kids to do jobs around the house such as walking the dog or washing the car, rather than using professionals (I know someone who paid for a man to come and clean her cooker) .

Six related to money, swapping credit card balances over to free transfer accounts (doesn’t resolve a personal debt problem) and taking advantage of cashback and reward cards (encouraging you to spend more) . Bank accounts were fun too: open a savings account they said and the example given : on a balance of £5000 you can earn £1072.88 in interest over SEVEN YEARS after deduction of tax (but you can’t touch any of that money for the seven year period) . They also suggested switching to an interest paying cheque account. Small print: must pay in £1000 per month, and there is a monthly management fee of £2 (up to £12 on some) . There was mention of ‘passive’ funds over ‘active’ ones to save on paying out managerial fees, but that was for heavy investors I think and way above my head. But the best?  Save pennies and loose change in a jar and by the end of the year you could have saved as much as £50. Just a little note here: Years ago I had a customer come in with a large whiskey bottle full of coppers which she proceeded to tip into my till. I was too slow in shutting my window to go to lunch, and it took me more than an hour to count them. She had over £70. Today, bank tellers have no obligation to count such deposits, and will give you the coin bags for you to do it. Some major supermarkets have coin counting machines which take out all the hard work, but will deduct 10% before paying out your money.penny jarAnother little note, we put all our 50p and 20p pieces in a tin to cover the tumble drying at the launderette on wet days (3 of our washing machine loads is one tumble dryer load at £3 maximum and half an hour).

There were seven suggestions saving money on your bills, from using energy saving gadgets, to turning off appliances when not in use, watching TV on catch up rather than when broadcast to save on needing a TV licence, cutting down on your car insurance (tell the companies that) , install a smart meter (no need, read your meter every day, make notes of what extra you used on high days and you’ll soon learn what eats the electricity) , switch energy suppliers (they’ve all just put their prices up 10%) and cancel your gym membership (walk the dog!) .

Some of the eleven ‘others’ were a laugh too. Rent a dress instead of buying one (it’s not unusual for women to buy a dress, wear it once and then take it back to the shop for a refund!) , rent out a room as you could earn ‘hundreds of pounds’ a month (the tax man will want some of that and if you don’t provide meals, increases will arise elsewhere folks) , sell your collectible comics and postcards, stock up with Christmas decorations now (!!) , avoid the January Sales and say NO to things you don’t want or need. DUH!

Most of the savings to be made were with food, topping my sheet with 15 entries. The writer thought they were so clever here and included: Bulk buy foods that don’t go off, especially if they’re on offer; buy shop brands and shop at discount stores; don’t buy bottled water but fill up an old bottle from the tap; don’t waste food; use shop loyalty cards; shop on line and get cashback; have a dry January (no alcohol); make your own meals instead of takeaways; grow your own veg and herbs; use coupons. Most of these are normal practice for many already, but I’ve saved the best suggestion until last:-

Use a spreadsheet to budget your household finances.

I’ve said in previous posts that 2013 was not a good year for us. To prove it, this is what my spreadsheet told me, all figures are against our joint income:

Cars 25% (fuel accounting for 50% of the figure), domestic heating and electricity 10.5%, local taxes and water 12%, phone (incl internet) 3.8%, insurances 7%, medical 5%, dog care 5%, clothes 1.2% and finally ‘entertainment’ (books, DVDs, CDs) 2.3%.

Last year, we spent £1670 on food, almost £300 less than 2012 (I’ve been spreadsheeting the household budget for a few years now) so adding everything up on paper, we actually had a surplus. Out of that though came our repairs to the fences, some interior maintenance not covered by our car boot sale money, Christmas, birthday gifts and the occasional treat on a ‘good month’ such as a sticky bun or bar of chocolate! Oh, and we bought a lottery ticket once a week, with a return of about 16% overall (well, you never know) .

The first bill of the year, which was my car insurance renewal (2014-15) , hit the mat this morning. Surprisingly, it’s almost 5% cheaper than last year.

Oh well, it’s a start. I don’t suppose anyone would like to hire me?


About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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9 Responses to Figuratively speaking

  1. Sure, come and save me from bankruptcy.
    You’re obviously a money cruncher extraordinaire.

  2. What thorough and exhaustive calculations! Not to mention incredibly sobering. Yes, I can see your skills could still be in high demand. Put up a shingle, maybe?

    • It was good fun doing it, and I have now modified my 2014 sheet to reflect ongoing totals and percentages (I may have to go back into the work place, so it was good practice).
      Now that January has ended, it’s official that it was definitely better than 2013 !

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