Z is for Zero Spend

Day 26 of the A – Z Blog Challenge

For the final day of the A – Z blog challenge we are going to look at Zero Spend time. ThisLocked wallet is basically a set amount of time where you decide that you are not going to spend any money…on anything apart from your normal direct debits. Household bills aren’t included in this as i don’t think the mortgage company are going to agree if you tell them that you’re not going to pay the mortgage this month because its due date falls in your no spend time….

Now, if you are one of those people that have a tendency to wander into the local shop on your way home from work and decide then what you fancy for eating for your evening meal (as i was), then this is going to be a shock to the system and is where all of the hints and tricks that i have spoken about throughout the month come into play.

You need to decide how long you are going to aim for and plan in advance what you are likely to need to get through the time you have allocated as no spend. Whether it is a day, a week, a fortnight or a month, you need to make sure that you have planned your meals and have the food that you require to cook those meals in your house already. Then you won’t have to think, oh, i forgot this item so i’ll just nip down to the shop and pick it up. I can just about guarantee that you will pick up other stuff while you are there as well.

Think about any special occasions that are coming up. It’s going to be difficult if you have to go out to a colleagues leaving do on your no spend day, so be realistic about the time that you choose.

I can also guarantee that there will be times within that where you will have to change your plans – unexpected people dropping in for a mealtime, accidents and emergencies that crop up from time to time, meetings that suddenly appear out of nowhere. So what do you do so that you don’t fail your zero spend challenge?

One idea is called ‘shop your own kitchen.’

This is basically taking stock of all the foodstuffs you have in and making something out of that. It may be a bit weird and wacky at times, but that can be added to the fun and adventure of it. There are also many websites that will give you recipe ideas if you enter the ingredients you have to hand. On a quick google search that i have just done, this one was top of the list Supercook. Give it a try and see what you can make with what you already have.

You can shop your bathroom as well, all those bottles of shower gel and bath salts that you have been given in the years – give yourself a right old pamper session…for free!!

money in jarIf you want to keep a track of how much you are spending, then make it visual. There are many ways to do this, and you can be as simple or creative as you like with it. Keep a money jar and put into it the money that would have spent if you had gone to the shop. Write a list of how much you haven’t spent. Go all out and get yourself a spreadsheet on the computer and input all of your savings. When you can visually see what you are saving all the time, it gets easier.

And a tip that i use? I don’t like being told that i can’t do something, therefore i like to be able to make the choice for myself that i don’t want to do it. In order for me to work this in my mind, i always make sure that i have a fiver in my purse so if i want to purchase something, i can. If i get to the end of the week and that fiver is still there then i really consider that a win. This works for dieting as well by the way. I have had a dark chocolate, four bar kit kat in my work lunch box for two weeks now. While it is there, i don’t need to eat chocolate because i can if i want to. If it goes, i will want to eat chocolate.

I know, i’m weird, but trust me. It works.

I found my mum’s emergency cigarette when i was clearing out her belongings just after she passed away. It was five years since she had given up smoking and no matter how bad the pain from her cancer got, she never smoked it because it was there if she really needed it. I figure if she can go through that, it has to have some merit.

money crossedSo, set a date, set a length of time and plan ahead. Use whatever psychological tricks you need to in order to help you to achieve your goal and go for it. You’ll be surprised at just how imaginative you can be when you really don’t want to break into that fiver.

Thank you for joining me on my blog challenge journey, i’ve really enjoyed doing it and i hope you have enjoyed my posts. Let me know how you have found them and if you want me to continue with this theme in future blogs, or whether there is anything else that you would be interested in.

Have a happy day.

Anita

W is for Work at it

Day 23 of the A-Z Blog Challenge

Saving money certainly isn’t an easy thing to do. I guess if it was that easy, then everyone would be doing it and nobody would be struggling to find the pennies.

In this throwaway age, it is unfortunately, so much easier to just replace stuff with new, buy stuff instead of make it and live for today rather than forward thinking to tomorrow.

Saving money actually involves hard work. For most of the situations i have spoken about over the last month, it is necessary to do a lot of the ground work for yourselves. Whether that is by learning a new skill, researching other options either within your community or online or by being creative and thinking outside of the proverbial box for a solution to your potential spending problem.

The internet can be your best friend in helping you with this though. Youtube tutorials are amazing for showing you just how to get to grips with a sticky skill or repair that you need to know and don’t forget there are the amazing bloggers who also take the time and the trouble to present a page of tips and techniques to help you out for free.

kids-talking-clipart-people-talking-clipartAnother source of help can be friends and family, even if they don’t have the time to do the physical stuff for you, they may be willing to have a conversation to help you, and the older generation are generally a minefield of information about the make do and mend lifestyle. There was a time when they didn’t have a choice, and they didn’t have the internet to help them either. If they wanted something, they had to either work out a way to provide it or go without.

To start this lifestyle can be quite daunting though, and it takes time. My suggestion is to break it down into smaller tasks of what you want to achieve and then use that list to figure out what your priorities are.

  • You want to save money? Why? Write it down.
  • How much do you need to save? Write it down.
  • When do you need to save it by? Write it down.
  • How are you going to make those savings? Write them down.check-mark-1292787_960_720
  • Which are easier to achieve now and which ones are goals for the future? Write them down and prioritise them.
  • What will you do when you reach your goal? How will you reward yourself? Write it down – you need to be able to see a positive outcome at the end.

I would make a file of these notes and leave gaps for more ideas to be slotted in as they occurred to me. I don’t know about you, but i can never get everything out of my brain in one sitting, i do some, i go away and cogitate, i do a bit more.

businessman-with-a-great-idea_1012-219I would also leave space for comments and reflections. What if something doesn’t happen the way you wanted it to? What are you going to do then? How are you going to stop yourself from feeling a failure when real life decided to kick you up the Jacksy just to make your day? These are important points to note as well, Life can truly be a right pain in the arse sometimes and there is very little we can do about that, but we can do something about how we react to it.

Remember me saying that earlier this monthdesperate-screaming-woman-clip-art__k16052356 i had to purchase two new front tyres and have a wheel alignment on my car? Cost me over £200. That was a pain in the arse. Wasn’t expecting it. But it did save me from having a tyre blowout which could and probably would have cost me an awful lot more, and maybe not just in money.

So, plan what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Add in your contingency plan and make sure that you find a positive, no matter how small, about any set backs you face.

Then you can make this saving money thing work for you.

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

E is for Economics

Day 5 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge

 

According to the British Dictionary the definition of Economics is ‘the social science concerned with the production and consumption of goods and services and the analysis of the commercial activities of a society.’ 

Or to put it in my way, making sure you don’t go broke by buying stuff you can’t afford.

‘It makes sound economic sense’ is a phrase that i have often heard although i will admit to not always adhering to the message.

I’m not going to sit here and preach about what you should or shouldn’t buy, you are the one in control of your purse strings and you are the one who decides whether to open it or keep it shut. But all i am going to ask is that you think before you make that final decision to purchase.

And the only thought that i ask you to consider is the one i mentioned above: Does it make sense?

Particularly if you have to go into debt to be able to afford it.

Look into whether you can afford the repayments. What the interest rate is? How long will you be paying for it? How much will the item have depreciated in value by the time you have paid it off? How much will it cost you in total if you do buy it on credit?

How confident are you that you will still be earning the amount you currently do for the length of the borrowing term?

Will you actually use it? Do you actually need it?

When you have answered these questions, then you will have your answer as to whether it makes sense or not and can make a rational decision whether to sign on the proverbial dotted line, or flash the plastic numerous times, forgetting the purchases almost immediately and then panicking when the bill comes in two months time.

Better still, leave the plastic at home, odds are, if you have to go back to the shop a few days later then the impulse will have passed and more than likely you don’t buy it anyway.

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My dad always told me to live within my means. Earn it first and save up for the big stuff. I’m no hero, i didn’t always do as he said and i learnt from my mistakes.

He also told me to always reverse park into a parking space because you never know what pillock will have blocked you in while you were away from your car. I have always listened to that advice and been thankful for it many, many times.

Maybe i should have listened to his economic advice earlier……

And no, Thomas Jefferson wasn’t my dad…

But my dad was my hero…

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Have a happy day.

Anita x

Reference

British online dictionary, Economics, Available at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/economics?s=t

 

C is for Crafts

Day Three of the A -Z Blogging Challenge

Well, that’s a shocker isn’t it! I guess me being me, i couldn’t do anything different than crafts for the letter C. But how do they tie in with the theme of Make Do and Mend, Reuse, Recycle and Spend Less? I mean, have you seen the cost of craft supplies???

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I have lots of crafty skills and hobbies, my main one being that of hiding behind a sewing machine and losing myself in the flow of the fabric as it glides under the needle. When i wake from my reverie i am usually quite chuffed to discover i have a complete new garment in my hand. Can i call that C for Couture? I am also known for playing around with Crochet hooks, Cooking, Cameras, Clay (well Fimo but that doesn’t start with C) and Jewellery Making (sorry, couldn’t think of a related C word for that so gave up) and i feel that every single one of these has helped me to save a lot of money over the years. Quite a few of these i will be talking about in later posts during this month so for today i am going with the Craft of Crochet. The picture is my current work in progress, an ordinary granny square blanket made from all the odds and ends and scraps/almost finished balls of wool i have lying around here. My youngest son has already bagsied it for his bed when it’s finished.

Scrap blanket

Many, many years ago a close friend was pregnant with her first child and i wanted to make something special for her. I decided it would be nice for her to have a white baby shawl but i had no idea how to make one. My mum had tried teaching me to knit but although i grasped the underlying principles, with her being left handed and me being right handed it wasn’t much of a success. I can sort of knit now, but i much prefer one needle to two, it works up quicker to get the finished result – just call me impatient, on this subject it would be true.

I took a trip into the local library and borrowed a book to teach me how to crochet. Yes, this was in the 1980’s, before the internet properly existed and most definitely before the explosion in Youtube tutorials. In this way i managed to create an OK granny square shawl, it wasn’t perfect and it wouldn’t lie flat, but i was delighted with it, and my friend said she was too. I tried several granny square blankets after that but found that i had to keep to small squares and stitch them together if i wanted them to lie flat. Eventually i put away my trusty hook and stopped doing them because i just didn’t know what i was doing wrong and knew nobody who could tell me. Unfortunately, as this was the 80’s and digital cameras were also not around, there are no photo’s of my works of art.

Fast forward to about two years ago when i was having a random conversation with another friend while i was at work when she said that i needed to chain the corners.

‘Chain the corners?’ I said, ‘is that all i’m doing wrong? I need to just chain three around each corner?’

I went home, dug a crochet hook out from my discarded (and well buried in the cupboard of ‘he who goes in might not come out alive’ ) wool bag along with an ancient ball of wool and gave it a go.

Would you believe it?

Tadah!!

A fully flat square that just got bigger and bigger and bigger. I then went onto Youtube (i can highly recommend the Bella-Coco tutorials) and taught myself more, and then i subscribed to a crochet teaching magazine and i was off.

‘But Make do and Mend!’ I hear you shout.

‘Wool is not cheap!’ I hear you cry.

‘How is this Reuse and Recycle?’ I hear your tirade as you beat the air with your tightly clenched fists.

(Ok, i might have got a bit carried away there).

But yes, crochet is brilliant for reusable items; for making do with what you have or, as with yesterday’s beeswax wraps, for making from scratch in order to save money in the long run.

In my kitchen i have crocheted cotton dishcloths which are so much better to use than the J cloths that used to go in the bin, my cloths go in the boil wash with the tea towels.

Dishcloth

In my bathroom i have cotton crocheted flannels and bath pouf’s (the second photo was all Christmas presents for the females in my family – needless to say, their bathrooms are also full of my hand crocheted goodies).

And on my dressing table, for make up removal and facial cleansing i have cotton crochet scrubbie pads that leave my face feeling so much cleaner and fresher than cotton wool pads ever did. They go in the wash to be used again and again and again.

Yes, the wool isn’t cheap, but it’s a darn sight cheaper in the long run than buying all those disposable products. And better for the environment. Believe me, until you have cleansed with a crocheted scrubbie, you really don’t know how clean your face can feel – yep, even better than with the cream with annihilated apricot stones in!

I am generally quite popular when friends and family have babies……

So, crochet can be time consuming and i think we can agree that wool isn’t cheap, but in the long run, i find it a satisfying hobby that i can sit and do while i watch telly in the evenings. I have awesome, unique accessories and blankets throughout my house – i even have a pair of crocheted baby converse booties dangling from my mirror in my car.

Booties-2

 

The ultimate point about it though, is that i get to pretend i’m a wizardess, wave a pointy magic stick around and make amazing things happen with it…

Have a happy day.

Anita x

Oh, and most of my crafty goodness can be found on Facebook at Baby Dreams Stitchery

 

B is for Beeswax Wraps

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

A recent discovery in my bid for a more sustainable lifestyle are Beeswax wraps. I am so totally in love with these!

Beeswax wraps-2

I take a packed lunch with me every day to work. Quite often this consists of home made soup which i make in batches and freeze in reusable plastic containers that i can then put straight into the microwave. However, when i have had a lazy weekend which involved me not getting around to making said soup i revert to the good old favourite of a sandwich which would then be put into a plastic sandwich bag. This piece of plastic would then go in the bin once i had eaten my lunch. In my hunt for a more planet and purse friendly option i came across these. If looked after properly, they can be reused again and again, they are chemical free and the perfect alternative to cling film, sandwich bags and foil.

What makes them so amazing? They use the heat of your hands to fold around anything, i have recently seen them referred to as ‘self cling fabric’ as well.

And the cleaning? You just wash them in hot soapy water with your normal dishes – not the dishwasher though, that is too hot, and will make the beeswax melt. Similarly, these cannot be used in the microwave (i just bung a plate on top of any bowls etc). It is also recommended that you don’t use them for raw meat because of the risk of contamination through not being able to clean them at an incredibly hot temperature.

On my search for these i also looked out how to make them and where to source the ingredients, mainly because i have a fabric stash a mile high that needs to be used up. The ones in the photos are wraps i made myself and when my next delivery of beeswax arrives i will be having some up for sale on my ETSY page and my Facebook page, both of which are called Baby Dreams Stitchery. So keep an eye out here over the next week for some fab designs – don’t you think the Minnie Mouse one is adorable? That particular one is currently sitting in my fridge covering half a tin of mushy peas…but i have a fair bit of that fabric left to make more. I also have some pretty funky vintage Paddington Bear earmarked for this project as well, although i don’t have much of this fabric left so there won’t be very many made.

So, as far as i am concerned, beeswax wraps are the bees knees. They have resulted in a considerable drop in the amount of single use plastic i use in the house (that tin of mushy peas would previously have had a sandwich bag pulled over the top) and my family are gradually nicking the ones i have made faster than i can make them – the ones for Baby Dreams Stitchery will be hidden from their prying eyes and thieving fingers…

For those of you who are vegetarian, it is also possible to get soya wraps which are purported to work in a similar way, but i cannot comment on these as i have not researched them…yet…

Check back tomorrow to discover what my C is going to be in this alphabet challenge and seriously take a look at making the switch to beeswax or soya wraps, i mean, how much clingfilm and how many sandwich bags do you get through in a year????? I bet you’d be horrified if you stopped to work it out.

A quick google search has told me that in 2017 there were 260 official working days in the year… i’ll let you carry on with the math from there as only you know how much single use plastic you use in each lunchbox for your family…

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Feel free to let me know your answer…

And above all,

Have a happy day.

Anita. x

A is for Action

The A to Z Blogging Challenge

Now, since i decided to do this challenge i had chosen to do A is for Anita: a bit about me and why i feel that the time is now to reduce the waste of both resources and money that we, as a society, put out there. But on sitting down to my computer this morning i changed my mind (that’s my prerogative, i’m a girl after all and don’t mind a little bit of stereotyping when it suits me) because it’s not just me that needs to change, we all need to take action. And if it actually helps us in the long run? I would call it a win win. Besides, you will probably learn quite a bit about me in the forthcoming posts throughout this month.

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  I mean, really? Why would anyone do this?

Far too many years ago, when i was but a lass in secondary school, i took a book out of the school library. What is so amazing about that i hear you ask? That is what libraries are for and as a self-confirmed bibliophile it was certainly not an extraordinary experience. What is so amazing is that i can still remember the message this book brought (even though i haven’t a clue now of the title or author, come on, it was over 30 years ago!).

The story was about a couple of time travelling teenagers. They had come back to the 1980’s from the future to try and change the past because the world they lived in was barren and struggling to cope with the residue of the lifestyle in which we lived. The teenagers sought to change opinion of the people they met by their harrowing descriptions of what would happen if their lives of waste continued. But ultimately they failed in their mission. The reason for this? They hadn’t gone back far enough, they had only travelled to the time of the wastage, not the point where they could change it.

I’m not saying it changed me from that moment, there are plenty of people around on this planet that would certainly take great delight in calling me a liar if i did. But it has stayed in my mind. I have felt guilty when i knew that i was wasting stuff that could be used. There are also a great number of people on this planet who know that i am a crafty hoarder of craft related items, with a view to the fact that ‘it could come in handy one day.’ But at the beginning of this year i decided to call a halt to unnecessary spending and wastage. A buy nothing new year and a significant reduction in my use of single use plastics are the ‘Actions’ i have chosen to start with.

I’m not saying you have to do the same.

If you do agree with me and make even just a few small changes to your lifestyles because of the posts i write over the next month that would be great. Let me know how you get on.

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I took this picture in the car park of a local secondary school.

And if you know what that darned book is called or the author then i’d love for you to tell me, it’s been bugging me for weeks!

Above all,

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.

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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