This week marked the return to normal, after the excitment of half term.
Even dashing in and out on the school run, I still smiled every time I went past the carpet of snowdrops emerging by the front wall. A few crocuses and a solitary winter aconite are also showing through. I’ve been getting overexcited on Instagram posting these first signs of spring – do come and follow me on Instagram if you’d like a daily dose of flowers!
Meanwhile I’ve had a couple of different work deadlines, so have been nose to the grindstone while the children were back at school.
I suppose the frugal advantage of being busy is that you don’t have so much chance to splash the cash!
Anyway here are the five frugal things we did this week.
Took my daugher swimming at the local leisure centre
At the end of half term, while my son has his turn for an outing with the grandparents, I took my daughter to one of her favourite activities – swimming.
Hadleigh Pool runs afternoon sessions with a big commando inflatable for kids to crawl all over, for the bargain price of £3.10. Even better, now my daugher is nine and a confident swimmer, she can go in the pool on her own, while I can sit at the side without shivering in a swimsuit!
Many local leisure centres are run on a not-for-profit basis, with distinctly cheaper charges than swanky gyms and water parks, so it’s worth checking them out.
Made quiche for a Meat-Free Monday
On Sunday, I cooked a cut price yellow-stickered chicken unearthed from the back of the freezer as a big roast meal. This provided plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day, and in fact for chicken and egg fried rice a couple of days later, but in the meantime I opted to make a meat-free meal on Monday night.
Including veggie meals a couple of nights a week can really help with cutting food costs. Depending on what you cook – so perhaps not a massive pile of chips – it can also be a healthier option too.
I’d picked up some yellow-stickered chestnut mushrooms that morning, so we had mushroon, spinach, red onion and cheddar quiche with salad. This had the added bonus of using up some of the frozen spinach that’s been hanging around in the freezer for ages too.
Also meant there more leftovers ready for lunch the next day!
Spotted signs of life from the seeds
I’m glad to report that some of the vegetable seeds my son insisted on planting during half term are showing signs of life. The photo above shows our windowsill seed tray after 10 days, although to make it easier to see the seedlings I removed the transparent plastic top which creates a kind of mini greenhouse
The salad leaves and kale sprouted first, and the carrot seedlings nearest to the camera emerged next, but we haven’t seen any progress on the onion or pepper front yet.
Who knows whether we’ll actually emerge with anything edible – or money saving – at the end, but it’s certainly fun trying!
Given I got the seeds, seed tray and potting compost last year, and they’ve been hanging around ever since, this is a very frugal activity.
Been sent a Nest Thermostat by Octopus Energy
This week I was particularly overexcited because the nice people at Octopus Energy sent me a Nest learning thermostat (I lead a quiet life).
The attraction of a Nest thermostat is that it’s meant to help save energy and therefore cut heating costs. It learns to adjust your heating, to keep the house cosy when you’re home, but avoid heating an empty house.
Apparently you can also adjust your heating and your hot water using your smartphone.
I’ve booked an appointment for a professional installer to come round and fit it, and we’re raring to get going, and find out what else it can do.
Given our chunky oil bills, any help with cutting our heating costs will be very gratefully received!
Octopus Energy meanwhile are a new gas and electricity supplier, focused on clearer, simpler pricing and top notch customer service. They invest in loads of different forms of renewable energy, from solar to wind generation and anaerobic digestion, which is based on breaking down plant waste.
This means if you want to do your bit for the environment, you can opt for the Super Green Octopus Tariff using 100% renewable electricity, and full carbon offsets for gas, but there are a range of other tariffs too.
Contacted customer services about my broken Fitbit
Last year, my husband got me a Fitbit for my birthday, to encourage me in my attempts to get fitter.
I have worn it ever since, and it has definitely encouraged me to walk more, aiming to beat the 10,000 steps target each day. I opted for a Fitbit Charge HR, and do like fiddling around on my phone to check graphs about my resting heartbeat and how much sleep I’ve got.
It’s been fascinating to see how my resting heart beat came down when I actually get off the couch towards the 5K part of my running programme (remember what I said about the quiet life?).
Anyway, much to my distress, the strap started coming away from the screen, so my Fitbit was losing charge really quickly and didn’t always work.
I finally got my act together and emailed customer services this week. After sending a photo of the damage, and some details about when and where I got it, they confirmed that it was still within the warranty, and I can return my broken Fitbit to exchange it for a brand new one.
As I was poised to buy a brand new fitness tracker, then forking out for tracked postage to the Netherlands instead is a big saving.
I’m still concerned that the replacement will be the same model, where the strap problem is a known issue and could reoccur, but it will be great to have a working Fitbit again.
That’s my round up of five frugal things I did this week. Now over to you – any frugal successes to celebrate? Do share them in the comments, I’d love to hear.