Thursday, 9 October 2014

My Priorities...

I had written this post a few days ago, but noticed that there were a lot of similar post on other people's blogs so I wasn't going to bother.  But actually I think it might be useful for me to think about what our priorities are and how we spend our money.

I love reading other people's blogs.  I particular enjoy reading different perspectives of money, how people spend it, how they save it, what their future plans are. What they can live without, what they can't, what lengths will people go to in order to save a pound or two.  It is interesting because ultimately we are all different, we may all have the want to save money but none of us are the same.

Many people survive amazingly on a very low income, their priorities are staying nourished, keeping a roof over their heads and staying warm.  It is not a choice, it is the way it has to be. Then there are those on two good wages, making sensible, well planned decisions and choices about how to spend their money.  Yes they are well off, but it is equally fascinating and valuable to see how they stretch their income to create their dreams and future goals.

We are somewhere inbetween.  We have 1 very good wage coming in, plus a small wage of my own.  We have more than enough money for the basics, plus a few luxuries (holidays, a car etc) and still have money left over.  I am very grateful for that, I know how good life is.  But that doesn't mean I am going waste what we have.

Here is a list of what we spend our money on.

Mortgage (obviously) gets top priority.  We are overpaying on this to try and save on interest.
Council tax and water rates
Home insurance
Lfe insurance

Holidays -  We try and go away every year, always to the British coast.  We shop around and get the best deal possible, paid in full.  Spending money is saved. We haven't been abroad for 20 years and none of us are that fussed about it.  We like hiking, coastal walks and exploring.  Me and DD go away together for a weekend once a year.  We get cheap train tickets which are issued 12 weeks in advance  and use laterooms to get a basic hotel room.  School trips are always paid for as I think it is important.

Car - We drive one 10 year old small run around.  We paid £5000 for it 6 years ago with cash.  We will keep running it until it needs scrapping.  It has served us well so far and very cheap to run. We are walkers/cyclists so only use it when absolutely necessary so about £60 pm on petrol, £20 PM insurance, £20 PM tax, £30ish PM service MOT plus maintenanc.  We rarely pay for parking as there is nothing wrong with our legs. 

Clothes - Neither me nor DH are bothered about fancy clothes.  We wear practical clothes and have a small selection of posh things for evenings out.  DH wants cheap stuff for work and the odd nice evening shirt.  They don't get replaced until they are shabby.  I am happy to buy clothes from charity shops or have my sister's handmedowns ;0)  I have a pair of boots for winter, walking boots, and a pair of summer shoes - that's all. The boots get re-cobbled until they cannot be repaired. I spend much more on shoes than I would on clothes as I expect them to last for years.  I buy the kids new clothes and shoes as and when they need them, it is a bit of an unknown quantity but they want for nothing.  Neither of them are fashion victims, thank goodness. 

Going out - This used to be a priority for us when the kids were little.  As they grow we don't feel the need for a break as much as we did. We enjoy our movie nights together with the kids.  We do go out every now and then, mainly on special occasions or to the theatre with friends.  It is not high up on our priorities but we enjoy it when it happens.

Gadgets and subscriptions - We all have cheap second hand laptops that my DH pimps to make them useable.  I have a very old phone which I have had for probably 10 years. This costs me £8 a month on contract.  DH's is free from work and DD had one bought for her birthday (grandparents) and credits it with her own spending money.  We don't have SKY packages or anything like that, it would be a complete waste on us.  We have broadband and telephone (£22).  We do have a Netflix account for £5.99 - definitely good value for us and my personal luxury is an Audible subscription of £7.99. This is cheaper than therapy. DH pays badminton subscription of £5 a month (very cheap and is good exercise and socially valuable).

Gas and Electric - £100 PM We try to be careful with this and do our best to use as little as possible, we are definitely an extra jumper family and we are active.  The heating never goes on during the day as we keep busy, but if it is cold enough it will go on for an hour or two in the evening and an hour in the morning.  We do a lot of cooking via the slow cooker plus our mini oven, we all have showers everyday, tumble dryer is for emergency use only.  We always shop round for the cheapest tariff and use cashback sites when we change suppliers.

Hair - None of us go to the hairdresser.  DH gets a buzz cut and I trim the children's (both long).  I trim and dye my own hair. Henna dye works out at £16ish for the year.

Toiletries - All our toiletries are from discount stores, we do like certain brands but always shop for the best price possible and stock up if it is cheap.  I do like expensive make-up but I use it sparingly and is bought with birthday and Christmas money. 

Food - Last year after keeping every receipt and a running total over 12 months it averaged out at £76 PW.  This includes toiletries and anything to clean the house.  I know this isn't particularly frugal, but I don't think it is bad either.  I cook everything from scratch, we eat vegetarian several times a week, we don't eat a lot of rubbish in between meals, we eat a lot of fruit, veg and pulses, we don't waste anything, I plan carefully and shop around (we are lucky enough to have access to most of the supermarkets), I cost everything out as I am preparing it. I also do surveys which pay me in Sainsbury's vouchers as well as M&S vouchers we get from our credit card (paid of in full every month).

House maintenance - We have a nice house, we keep it clean and tidy, but we don't keep changing furniture or buying new stuff.  Most of the furniture we have has been given to us over the years or bought cheaply and refurbished.  Our bed is new (we bought a very expensive bed as we expect it to last a lifetime) and our sofas were new (again we didn't skimp because we expect them to last for 20+ years, they are 8 years old and still look like new). Good quality paint is a must as it looks better for longer (cheap paint is a false economy).

We have a some savings for an emergency fund but have never needed it yet.

I think that is it?  There are many areas we could cut back, but at the moment I don't think we need to.  I think we have a good balance on being careful, making the most of what we have and enjoying life. I know we are lucky to have these choices. 

(P.S. SAM - I am going to do a rice pudding recipe tomorrow.  I have already done the pics but have lost my camera)


  1. Always enjoy your posts, and I will look forward to reading the recipe, and making some this weekend. Sunday sounds like a good day for Rice Pudding! I think we may be kindred souls across the pond from each other. I could have prioritized almost the same way as you. I also think we are "in the middle", and very blessed, so I'll add charitable giving, when we can, as a priority too.

  2. New to your blog - looking forward to following you on your journey. X