Spring blossom down in the secret garden
I’m not quite sure where the last week has gone. At the weekend, my daughter went on a day trip to London with the Cubs, while my son got the excitement of coming to view carpet samples at the shop down the road (unlcuky for some).
I headed to London myself on Wednesday for a work event, and otherwise have been attempting to sort out various work, house, garden and financial stuff.
It really feels like spring has sprung, with the daffodils out and the blossom emerging on the trees, as pictured above. I was able to eat lunch outside on Wednesday, and spend part of Thursday sitting outside in the garden – one of those times I really appreciate being freelance!
Here are the five frugal things we managed to fit in this week.
|…and here’s one I made earlier…|
Contributed a cake to the local rugby club
On Sunday, I got up bright and early to cook a cake. I was heading off for another 5k slog around the Great Run Local at Needham Lake, but the rest of the family were going to the Hadleigh TAG rugby festival as my son was playing for the under 7s. It’s a big event for the local rugby club, and they’d asked for cakes to sell, so I whacked out a Victoria Sponge to help.
I forgot to take any photos, but reckon it looked remarkably like the cake above, baked for last year’s Hadleigh Show. The combination of inexpensive ingredients (mixed weight eggs, value range flour, granulated rather than caster sugar and own-brand jam plus good ‘ol Stork) meant it only cost £1.50 to make a pretty large cake that sold for 50p a slice.
Friday night fun for all the family. Rock ‘n’ roll.
Nabbed a DVD at the charity shop sale
My enthusiasm for charity shops increases even more when they have a sale.
This week the local branch of our East Anglian Children’s Hospice shop started a 50% off sale. With iron self-control, I managed to avoid buying a massive and completely unnecessary soup tureen. Instead, I shelled out the grand total of 75p on a family friendly DVD for Friday’s movie and pizza night.
Buying “Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3: Dog Days” is actually a saving compared to the £1 we’d normally spend borrowing a DVD from the local library. Fingers crossed everyone actually enjoys it – our current low point is anything Alvin & The Chipmunks related, but last week we all loved Pixels.
|Sandcastles from last year’s holiday in Dorset|
Saved money on ferry tickets
For our summer holiday this year, we ‘re heading to the glamorous destination of the Isle of Wight. We’ll be staying in a self-catering cottage (natch) on a farm for a full on trad bucket-and-spade holiday while the children are still young enough to enjoy it.
This week I got round to working out which ferry times we should be use to get there and back. I did it well in advance as we’ll be travelling on popular weekends and prices are likely to rise. By booking through our hosts, rather than direct, we also saved £85 on our tickets, so it was well worth doing.
Share trading from the comfort of my own computer
Used free trades to buy some shares
About 18 months ago, I got so fed up with years of rubbish interest rates that I shovelled the money in our cash individual savings accounts over into stocks and shares. We’re intending to use the money towards funding our retirement, a few decades away, and it can make financial sense to risk the stock market over such long periods.
Anyway I opened an account with Alliance Trust Savings, and got them to transfer across the cash Isa money so I could buy the investments.
One thing I only found out after opening the account was that they charge £5 to reinvest dividends (which is expensive) and only automatically reinvest the dividends once you have £100 or more (which can leave a chunk of money sitting around in cash and not invested).
Alliance Trust Savings have subsequently pushed up the account charges, while now offering the chance to buy shares four times a year without paying any dealing fees. Frustratingly, the free trades do not cover dividends that are reinvested automatically, but only trades you make yourself.
So this week I shuffled around some of the dividends sitting in the account, and used the money to buy a few more shares in two of the investment trusts we already own. By doing it myself and using two of the free trades, I saved £10 compared to waiting for the account to buy the shares automatically.
I also tried to look for a cheaper account elsewhere, but comparing the options is so complicated it gave me a headache so I’ve left that for another week.
Lavender: spot the ‘before’ and ‘after’ in a single shot
Gathered up the garden waste
This week we’ve been out and about taming parts of the garden. The immensely tall Andy the gardener came for one of his twice yearly visits to hang off ladders and hack back some of the climbing stuff. It’s a running battle trying to contain the wisteria, vines and assorted climbing roses from bolting up the walls into the roof tiles. Fortunately Andy reminded us not to leave it too late to trim the wistera, so it didn’t interfere with the flowering. We ask Andy to focus on pruning rather than tidying up, figuring we can cope with the unskilled side of shoving garden waste into bags and bins. I’m always keen to fill up the garden waste bin before the fortnightly collections, given we pay £40 a year for the privilege.
Fired with enthusiasm in the spring sunshine I also got round to trimming and tidying up the lavender beds either side of the front path, and my husband mowed the front lawn last night. This morning the rooks, pigeons and blackbirds were having a field day, pecking out worms from the newly-shorn grass.
Now over to you – and frugal triumphs to celebrate? Do share your top tips in the comments below, I’d love to hear!