L is for Lunch

Day 12 of the A to Z Alphabet Blogging Challenge.

And by lunch, i mean making your own…

I work full time and that inevitably means that i have a mealtime while i am there. Now, i am quite lucky that my place of work has a complete kitchen that i can access in order to cook something should i so wish, however, time is not always on my side in order for this to happen.

There was a time when i would think nothing of saying that i didn’t have time (read as couldn’t be bothered) to make a packed lunch and i would then buy sandwiches/wraps or pasties (gotta be done when you are Cornish) for my midday meal. This adds up though. Even getting the local shops meal deal at £3.00 a time x 5 equals £15.00 per week. Multiply this by 48 (omitting four weeks holiday per year) and you have a total of £720.00. Add this onto the total of over £800 for take out coffees that i talked about in K is for Keep a Diary or Journal, and you have a costing of over £1,500.00!

How many holidays can you take for that?

Lunch doesn’t always have to be boring either, you can be the envy of your workmates with a little creativity. Fresh salads with added extra’s that you would never get in a shop bought one. Wraps or sandwiches filled chock full of so many foodstuffs that tickle your tastebuds.

Personally, i add my home made chutneys to both salads and sarnies adding that personal touch and flavour that i just cannot buy anywhere.

Autumn chutney jars

 

I don’t sell these although that is my label. I just like them to look cool when i give them away as presents.

 

 

 

I also make a lot of soup with random flavours, depending on what vegetables i have in the fridge, and add herbs and spices to flavour exactly to my taste.

Occasionally i will just take an egg, some milk and some bread in with me and make scrambled egg in the microwave and a couple of pieces of toast. It takes approximately 3-4 minutes and you have a nice filling meal that cost you pennies.

And if i’ve cooked a big batch meal the night before, then box full of the leftovers is always tasty the next day!

Be creative with your lunch and see how much money you can save over a very short time.

And don’t forget the lunch bag as well – you can be really cool and funky with your choice of those…

You can find a PDF tutorial on how to make these bags in my ETSY shop Baby Dreams Stitchery

Let me know what your favourite home made, quick and easy lunch ideas are.

Have a happy day.

Anita x

K is for Keep a Diary or Journal

Day 11 of the A-Z alphabet blog challenge.

It is easy to lose motivation once the initial impetus has worn off so i find it helps to have a visual record to remind me of my goals and achievements so far. The best way i have found of doing this is to keep a diary.

Writing on knee

Diaries or journals can be anything you want them to be. Personally, i stick with plain A5 size lined notebooks where i am not constricted in the amount i write. I guess you have noticed that i have a tendency to waffle a bit and my diary is no exception. They do have to look pretty though.

Notebook and pen

 

Although, i’m not always quite so fussy on my choice of pen…

 

 

 

In the past i have written:

  • Daily journals: detailing what has happened during the day.
  • Craft journals: detailing the items i have made and working out the costings for them.
  • A Happiness journal: during a particularly sad part of my life when i needed to acknowledge that there were good things that happened within the day as well as the sad things.
  • And a Spending journal: to show exactly what i spend in a day/week/month and then identify where the wastage is and what can be cut back on.

If you want to be able to see where those stray pennies go when you aren’t looking then start to write them down, pin them to the page so that, even if they do try and go walkabout, you can drag them back and make them account for their wandering ways.

If just writing in a diary or a journal is too plain and, quite frankly, boring for you, then make it fun. Doodle some pictures, learn some funky writing, download some pictures from google images and stick them in to highlight your point or look in the pound shops for one cheap and cheerful stickers. There are lots of really funky ideas over on Pinterest to spark your imagination.

Also, don’t just write an accounts book for it – that really would be boring. You can see that on your bank statement.

Write how you felt about the spending, before you spent, what made you decide to buy that item?

How did you feel when you handed over your card or the cash? A heady feeling of exhilaration as you heard the familiar ching of the cash register?

How did you feel after you got the purchase home? Pleased? Or guilty?

Acknowledging why and how we spend is half the battle to becoming in control of our own spending, learning what part of us we are trying to appease through the handing over of our cold, hard earned cash to a stranger in return for another piece of stuff, another cream cake, another mug of steaming vanilla latte from the coffee shop on the corner where they just taste too good to go without – my diary worked out that i was spending over £800 per year on regular take out coffees during my working day. That was just two coffees per day on average, 5 days per week. It is amazing how much it adds up.

So, if you want to see where your money goes, track it, write it down, make it fun, identify your motives and stop what no longer needs to be spent.

So far this year i have spent less than a fiver on take out coffees. That is about £245 saved already.

Oh, and i’d recommend the happiness diary as well. It helped me out of a really deep hole.

Have a happy day.

Anita x

H is for Healthy

Day 8 of the A – Z Blogging Challenge

It goes without saying that we all want to be healthy. Often though, that means that we feel we have to spend money on things that we don’t really want to. You know what i mean: the gym membership, all those vitamins and minerals in tiny little jars, premium foods that promise the earth, quick fix slimming plans and diets, alternative treatments…i’m sure you can think of many more to add to this list that are pertinent to you and your current lifestyle.

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to stay healthy though. Here are some areas where you can cut your spending right now, and still feel the benefits:

Exercise is actually free.

takesteps

  • Take a walk. Take a jog or if you are really motivated (or mad?) Take a run.
  • Do some exercises at home, press ups, sit ups, jog on the spot, squats, bungee jumps.
  • Play football outside with the kids, get a skipping rope and see how many jumps you can do before you trip over it.
  • Park further away from your destination and walk the rest. Unless you have a physical or mental disability (or a baby/toddler where safety is paramount) that means you have to be in the parking spot closest to the supermarket door. It is actually possible to park at the back of the car park…there are spaces there too and quite often, they are empty because everybody thinks they have to park as close as they can get to the supermarket door…
  • Similarly, no car? On the bus? Get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • Dance to your favourite music and sing it loud and proud while you do – although if your voice is anything like mine then i suggest you close the windows first so you don’t upset the neighbours…

noisy neighbours

Basically, anything that gets your heart rate up is classed as exercise, and the more you do, the more you will benefit from it. And isn’t it better if you can get that for free?

Eating doesn’t have to cost more to be healthy. 

  • Buy foods that are in season, they are much cheaper then and don’t forget, you can chop them up and freeze them ready for quick meals another day.
  • Batch cook foods and freeze them so you aren’t tempted to buy something in when you are too tired or running short of time another day.
  • Buy out of season vegetables from the freezer section. They are cheaper (because they were probably picked and frozen when they were in season, see the first point)
  • Plan your meals in advance to ensure you get the vitamins and minerals, protein, carbohydrates etc that you need every day. And stick to it.
  • Unless you have a specific medical reason for taking vitamins and supplements, the odds are, they aren’t doing a thing for your body, they are just making your pockets lighter. If you eat a full balanced diet then you should be getting everything you need in it’s natural form.
  • Grow your own fruit and vegetables (See my post, G is for Grow your Own). It is cheaper, you get some exercise while you are tending to it and you can’t possibly eat any fresher than straight off the plant.

Eat clean as part of a normal healthy diet.

  • The quick fix diet plans may work in the short term, but they are expensive and more often than not, once normal eating is resumed, the weight creeps up again too.

Ultimately, don’t be a sheep.

It is not necessary for you to shell out on the latest fad because social media or your peers tell you that it is THE thing to do. Make up your own mind. Find what works for you.

And just do it. Follow the crowd

Most of all though, whatever you choose to do, enjoy it. You’re more likely to stick to a plan if you are enjoying the experience rather than thinking it is a chore that has to be got through.

Have a happy day.

Anita x

 

The A to Z Blog Challenge

Have you ever heard of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge?

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Nope?

I hadn’t either until a couple of days ago and then i thought,

‘Well, that might be fun.’

Then i found that the done thing was to not only write a blog post on each day of the month, but it should also revolve around a theme.

‘Oh,’ i thought, ‘that makes it a bit more difficult. Still might be fun though, what theme shall i do?’

And lo, i asked my trusty Facebook friends what they thought would be a good fit for me to theme up a month of blog posts in extremely short notice and the reply was:

‘Crafts.’

I should have guessed that really, most of my Facebook posts are to do with my crafty hobbies. However, while i was on  a thinking roll, i thought again (i was getting a headache by now with all this cogitating) and i figured i could maybe go one step further than that. My crafting these days has centred around a more thrifty, planet, money saving type of focus (as my previous posts have talked about) and so i have decided to construct an A-Z list around this.

Now, apparently it was to be the big theme reveal last week, which obviously i missed because i didn’t know it existed, but never one to let an opportunity slide, i’m going to do one anyway so…

Wait for it….

The Theme for the A-Z April blog challenge is:

Make Do and Mend: Reuse; Recycle and Spend Less.

Fashion-Revoluion-quote-300x300

 

This will also incorporate a few crafts along the way, just to keep my hand in like….

There, that was worth waiting for wasn’t it!

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

A no spend birthday treat

Blog number two for my no spend, make do and mend year

 

31st December 2017.

I’m not going out tonight. My New Year’s Eve party invitations must have got lost in the post and I’m too excited about my London trip to care about the start of another New Year. It’s just the ticking of a time bomb after all. Although if I get one more flashing, round robin ‘happy new year, you are so special to me’ message in my messenger inbox from someone who hasn’t bothered to personally contact me in the last twelve months (or longer) I’m going to bloody scream!

My evening has been spent packing, I have been instructed that the clothes I wore to David’s 20th birthday back in November will be suitable, luckily they fold well. I have also tried to forego the necessity of spending money in the buffet car on the train by making ham and spiced apple chutney (my recipe) sandwiches and cooking up some frozen sausage rolls and cocktail sausages. The challenge may not have started properly, but I don’t need to waste money do I!

1st January 2018.

I’m on the train. London bound!

Sandwiches going down a treat, eldest son, Ben, is delicately snoring beside me catching up on the sleep he missed due to his rather excessively late night last night. He is obviously not as well organised as I am. So far, I haven’t spent a single penny, unless you count the diesel I used to drive us to the station. It being New Year’s day and the fact that my middle son, Michael, wouldn’t have slept off enough of his alcohol intake from last night to be able to get behind a steering wheel, I opted to drive into my place of work which is about a mile from the train station. Ben and I would walk from there. He was up for it as well, probably another reason why he is now snoring gently away – as I write, I have a lovely view of his lack of tonsils. I live in a tiny hamlet where there are no buses on bank holidays or Sundays (and the rest of the week can be a bit intermittent), the price of a taxi for the ten miles was just ridiculous. Still, look on the bright side, the exercise was good – if knackering, it is a really steep hill up to the station – and I got my 5,000 daily step target on my fitbit sorted before eleven am.

2nd January 2018.

I’m now 50 years old.

cake

I don’t feel it. I don’t know where all those years have gone. I am however, so thankful that I have made it to this lofty age with only minimal scrapes and bruises to show for it. Many of my school friends haven’t made it this far, and a lot of those who did are suffering and in pain. In my mind, it doesn’t matter who knows my age, it really is just a number and every one that I am lucky enough to be given is a bonus.

Philosophy over, I got presents!!! Best of all being tickets to go to The London Palladium to watch Dick Whittington tonight. It’s starring a whole gamut of stars, Julian Clary, Nigel Havers, Diversity, Elaine Paige, Gary Wilmot and Paul Zerdin are headlining and I am so excited. The last time I saw a London show was my first ever musical. It was ‘Annie’ in, I cannot remember which theatre, in the West End and it was a school trip when I was about fourteen. It was a reward for the school choir for learning the Faure Requiem in Latin. No, I can’t sing very well, but it was fun pretending, especially when with a load of others so my own voice couldn’t be heard. There’s probably some more philosophy hiding in there somewhere.

I also received a bottle of Moet Chandon, a silver bracelet, a few CD’s and some chocolates among a few other items but, what the hell…I’m going to the Panto at the London Palladium!!!

presents flat lay

Don’t think the no spend thing is going to work today, definitely a good idea to wait until I’m home.

5th January 2018.

I’m home. Dick Whittington was amazing, Julian Clary was hilarious, Nigel Havers was ridiculously funny, Gary Wilmot did the weirdest song about the London Underground ever and I will never know how he managed to learn it, Diversity were astounding and Elaine Paige has certainly not suffered any loss of voice as she has got older. She can still blow the roof off with those awesome pipes of hers. The costume budget must have been more than I get paid in at least a couple of years and the special effects? Mind-blowing.

London Palladium stage

I didn’t go overboard with the spending though. Mainly because it was my birthday and nobody would let me buy anything, which was unexpected but welcome. I had a cooked breakfast from a really nice café opposite Paddington station before boarding the train which meant I wasn’t hungry all the way back and I refrained from buying myself a coffee from the buffet car on the way home. I stuck to the bottle of water I bought on the way to the station so wasn’t I ultra good?

breakfast

 

Gold star to Anita please, I do like sparkly things.

 

Today is a happy day.

Anita. x