Friday, 6 January 2017

Five fabulously frugal New Year's Resolutions this week

Soup, using up bendy veg in the fridge. Healthy AND money saving!


I had a cracking year on the frugal front during 2016, and it really made a difference to our family finances (post here).

One thing I really enjoyed was starting to write these "five fabulously frugal things I've done" posts each week. They definitely helped celebrate any frugal successes, and remind me how much the small changes add up.

So now I'm starting 2017 with five fabulously frugal New Year's Resolutions - all very familiar topics, I'm sure, but hopefully with a thrifty spin!

I'm also sure that I'm not alone in seeing many resolutions fall by the way side over the years. However, in a triumph of hope over experience, I always get enthusiastic about January as a fresh start.


Grabbed the wrong headphones to start running again - doh.


Resolution 1: Get Fit For Less

I'm about as far from a gym-honed fitness freak as possible, so I could definitely benefit from doing a bit more any exercise.
Rather than signing up for expensive gym membership, I recommend running as exercise involving less time and even less money.
Last year I surprised myself by having a go at the Couch to 5K running programme, which is based on a completely free app or podcast. I really enjoyed feeling fitter, having a lot more energy and getting outside for half an hour or so three times a week. I even staggered around a few (free) 5K Park Runs. However, what with one thing and another, I got out of the routine of regular running, and now I'd like to start again.


Progress this week

After dropping the children back at school on Wednesday, I headed out for my first run in absolutely ages. I've gone right back to the beginning, with the very first run of Couch to 5K.
However, I now know that if I keep going for the next nine weeks, I'll be able to run for 30 minutes straight by the end of it.
I'll be posting quick updates on Twitter, but you might want to check back mid March to see if I've managed it...

For more on Couch to 5K, including info on equipment, downloads and how I found it:
Cheapo Fitness: Couch to 5K
Couch to 5K: The Return of the Running Shoes
Couch to 5K in tweets
Summary for Mirror Online: "How I got fit for free"


Lose lbs, win £££s - let's see if this will keep me motivated!


Resolution 2: Lose Weight For Less


Well, it wouldn't be New Year without my perennial resolution to lose weight!
As ever, I would like to be fitter not fatter.
I still valiantly believe is it possible to shift lbs without spending a gazillion £££s, so I'm aiming to eat healthily on a budget. I can't promise earth shattering revelations - I was thinking more of watching my portion sizes, making healthier choices (eg more fruit & veg, less cake) and moving more (see Resolution 1).


Progress this week

Project "get back into my jeans" started on January 2, right after I'd scoffed the last of the coffee & walnut birthday cake for breakfast (oops). Turns out having to buy new clothes because you grew out of your old ones is not a frugal option...
In a thrifty spin, I've joined a Diet Bet set up by the amazing Emma Drew (do check out her money making / money saving blog if you haven't already).
You place a bet - in this case $20 - that you can shed 4% of your body weight in 4 weeks. If you don't, you lose your money. If you do, you get to share the pot with anyone else who managed it too - and could end up getting more than your original stake back.
Let's see if the chance of getting paid to lose half a stone can keep me motivated...

For more info:
50 diet-friendly options from the value ranges
Slimming on a budget - shopping
DietBet website


Stretching a chicken over multiple meals


Resolution 3: Spend Less on Food

Anyone else keen to cut their food costs in January?
I've started another storecupboard challenge, hoping to spend less on food by using up the contents of our kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer.
Right now, after freezing an array of yellow-stickered bargains, I'm playing freezer Tetris every time I want to add anything else. It is definitely time to Eat the Freezer, as one of my friends calls it.
When we tried this last February and in June the year before, it lopped more than 30% off our food bills.
This time, I'm keen to see how it affects the pounds spent when I'm trying to shed lbs at the same time. At the very least, we should gain more space in the cupboards and freezer to store healthier options!


Progress this week

We got off to a good start by defrosting a whole chicken, bought half price on Christmas Eve.
So far, it's provided the basis for:
- a roast meal for our family of four, with potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli and gravy.
- chicken stir fry for four, with onion, peppers and rice
- chicken sandwiches for my husband's packed lunch
- creamy mustard chicken and pea pasta for two, as the kids preferred creamy ham and pea pasta instead).
- chicken stock to be added to soup or risotto

For more on the storecupboard challenges, see:
Storecupboard stock check challenge
Storecupboard challenge results: clearer cupboards & 40% lower food bills
10 tips for cutting February's food bills


Switching electricity provider: let there be light for less


Resolution 4: Make 2017 a Money Saving Year

Last year, I was amazed at how small tweaks each month to cut costs and earn extra really added up (this is the post).
I'm keen to continue our money saving efforts this year. I'm not talking about shivering under a blanket, eating gruel. Instead, I mean the kind of things like switching insurance companies that don't affect your lifestyle but can save serious cash.


Progress this week

We switched electricity provider last January, which means our one-year tariff at a fixed price is just about to finish.
Rather than rolling over onto more expensive charges with the same supplier, I've switched to a cheaper option. It doesn't save the nearly £400 we netted last year, but it should still cut our costs by almost £50 compared to staying put.
Someone asked how long all my money saving changes took. In this case, I'll fess up that I spent an hour and a half, from start to finish.
It needn't take that long, but I faffed around taking our meter reading, calculating how many kWh we use each year, comparing the figures for a couple of comparison websites, searching for cashback, checking customer service comments for the firm that was cheapest, and then ringing the company with a query about their website. Will let you know whether the eventual switch goes smoothly or not!

More info:
Small changes, big difference: how I saved thousands in 2016


Climbing rose running rampant over the back door


Resolution 5: Make More of Our House and Garden


I've been back and forth over my fifth resolution, but I think what I'd really like to do is focus on our home.
We have way too much stuff, and could do with shedding a lot.
We're hoping to get a couple of rooms repainted, and even put ceiling lights in some of the rooms that don't have them. (Who knew when viewing a house you should check if all the rooms have ceiling lights? It's right pain in the middle of winter darkness when they don't, I'm telling you)
I would also like to get to grips more with the garden, whether that's hacking back plants that have run rampant, banishing more weeds or growing a few of our own veg. I have a box of bulbs and a stash of seeds down the side of the radio that are making me feel guilty!

Progress this week


I really have to face up to the great Drawer of Stuff For eBay (and that's while still igoring the Mountain of Clothes For eBay, or the Box of Random Rubbish For eBay etc).
I mentioned on the #MondayMoneyUK Twitter chat that I'd been putting off selling some stuff on eBay, using the excuse of waiting for an offer on final value fees. Then bingo, two days later, an email from eBay offering 25% off. Spooky.
So I've now accepted the offer, ready to list some stuff this weekend.

More info on eBay (I really should follow my own advice):
Make a mint by selling hidden treasures online


Hopefully, I'll be able to write some follow up posts so you can follow the progress of my resolutions.

Now over to you - what are your New Year's Resolutions? Do share your ideas in the comments, I'd love to hear!


I’m linking up with this CassEmma and Becky in this week’s ‘Five Fabulously Frugal things I’ve done this week’ linky.



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