Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Well... first day of the new start has been somewhat of a let down. Day 1 of the £317 for June and June hasn't even begun yet. CAR TAX COSTS £215!!! Onwards we go with £102...and this is actually the richest we're likely to be for a long time :( Really not happy news - at all. Still... its sunny and we're taking the children out tonight to a free gig and my parents have just brought round their fridge leftovers before they go away... so we have some basil, bacon and tomatoes... I can make us all a sandwich! Every cloud :)

Monday, 30 May 2011

Well this is a poignant day. Today is the start of the new approach to finance in the Toombs house and I'm quite excited. I almost feel a bit stupid having never thought to do this before - and feel a bit like 'Ohhhh...does everyone else do this?? - I've never thought to' ...but better late than never... and it just never occured before. From today we are splitting back to using 2 accounts. Not his and hers but fixed bills and living non fixed costs. When money goes in at the beginning of the month it always seems to be such a nice big amount and I feel so much more chilled out and thats when spending can go wrong- I feel like budgets are fine and I'm not as cautious. By the end of the month I'm more aware of making everything stretch as the account is getting low and I've a far more realistic view of how we're doing. But fixed costs are fixed costs so they're always there, they go out on direct debits and basically they just happen to pass through the accounts. So why not clear them out of the way and then I know how much I'm actually living on??!
Our basic bills come to just over a grand. Thats mortgage, council tax, insurances, phones, gas, electric, water etc. So on pay day that amount can stay in and whats left gets transfered over to another account and THAT ONE is for petrol, food, spending, presents, school trips, clubs etc... basically EVERYTHING and ALL cheques need to come out of there. Most importantly when I check that balance I know that is all we have AND that there are no bills due to come out of that - so it should make for better budgetting. So here goes!
I have transferred over the leftovers for this month and am a little wary that we have £317 to live off for the month...and car tax is due in 3 days so thats 1/3 gone already! Looks a little frightening to be honest - but then I know that that amount is always what we have - its just normally hidden at this stage of the month amongst lots of other pennies that are promised to some company! So since its also 4 family birthdays this month too we'll be pushing the weekly shop amount to the very extremes and I'm not going till the cupboards are actually empty!!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

I've not given up on my food plan. The next installment will be on its way... but since it involves making large quantities of one type of food to get the best value for money it has meant that for the past week the only meal I have made has been bean chilli and rice. We've had a few night off- the kids got taken out to pizza express last night and have had tea at my parents house when they've been there after school and Joel and I are at marriage course on Friday and last night had curry at a birthday party... other than that if we're in for tea I've made us bean chilli...and theres still a good few portions in the fridge before we use whats in the freezer. There was just a bit too much maths to rush onto the next meal - but I've not been to the supermarket in a long time - got to be good right!?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Golddigger have been assessed for a grant this week. I feel like, on the one hand, of course we wont get it - because we've never got a big grant before so I can't imagine how on earth that would feel. On the other hand, aside from the fact that our family really could do with a little more stability in my wage, this funding just seems so significant for Golddigger at the moment- so I really think we will! What it will mean is that we have 3 days a week for a girls course base. This means we can take on girls and run our own courses (rather than only being booked in and given a list of girls the organisation wants us to work with) and that we can open drop in time so that we can spend more time with girls who are in need of a bit more support - or who have finished a course and just want to carry on talking through things. I'm so excited about this. We see it as being a bit of a resource base - not just a drop in with no content but that we'll have all our resources there so we can use activities to make this time a bit more structured and useful but make it bespoke to each girl who comes in. We've recently done a course where in the sessions dealing with sex, one girl who is only 13 told us that she wished she'd done this course earlier as it had made her realise she'd been letting this boy just use her for sex. She'd not wanted to say no - but that she suddenly felt she could go and tell him that want going to happen anymore because she deserved better than someone being with her for just one thing. 2 weeks later she was really positive because she had done that and that he'd shown her respect and not tried it on since then. That was our final session with that group though and we have no formal way of keeping in touch or offering her any more support. Having a drop in space means we will. Another a group we're working with have a high percentage of eating disorders. We asked them to tell us what they would be like in an ideal world and most of them wrote that they'd like to be 6 foot and weigh 6 stone. One girl said she would choose to be 5'9 and weigh just 4 and a half stone. Sure they know they can't change their height... but so many of them are never satisfied with their weight... and thats because they are aiming at a bmi which doesnt actually exist- its off the scale! I know that in the course time we'll be able to work with some of these girls enough to reassure them that they're ok and to be content being healthy... others need to sit and work 1:1 specifically on nutrition and issues that are causing them to have such an unhealthy body image. Again, the drop in space means we can do that. I've never felt quite so emotional about my job as I do at the moment. I'm sure its not hormonal - I think its because we're dealing with some really really sad issues and we're also seeing some really dramatic changes in the girls. Its amazing and completely soul destroying all at the same time...and I'm really glad I do it.
So the challenge is on to hopefully have this space in September! We need to find other funding to pay for the changes we'll have in rent - which will go up by about £75 a month from what we have now as well as this grant - if we get it - (please Jesus) so its a challenge but its quite nice to have a different financial mountain to climb as well as my own - a change is as good as a rest isnt it?!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Thursdays is the new budgeting day... Normally Joel and I will sit and handwrite out where our spending is up to and keep each month in a pretty folder (yes that part was my idea). Budgeting software and spreadsheets are all great I'm sure - but they compute themselves and don't seem to get enough into my brain...which is where they need to be to be most helpful really - so pen and paper is the way forward. So Joel's not here today and its over to me. Its basically going to be a tick list of all the normal bills that come out, a supermarket table and then other tables for other things. Right now I know that its the 19th May and we have £150 left. What I dont know is whether that's all for food/school stuff and whatever or whether there are any humongous council tax bills due out before the end of the month (did I seriously just spell that word right first try!?...yes it seems so...nice one) So I get to look at the statement, tick things off as they're paid and write in EVERY trip to the supermarket for milk, any cash machine withdrawals etc into the tables and I can keep adding up where they're all up to. Seems like a lot of work... is that what every other family has been doing for years?! I always just guessed everything... which doesn't work so well apparently.
So anyway, before I started I also just gave myself a little spending fix by splurging £50 on the credit card- not spending from my credit card...but paying it off. I don't know whether we can afford it - but that made it feel a bit more exciting. I like barclaycard... they give you a colourful target board thing - a bit like a blue peter fundraiser thing - so that you can see how much further you have to go. I DO have quite a way...but I'm looking forward to seeing whether I can go on it again when I've ticked off all my bills and have £150 left to spend!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hurray for earning £34 just by quite quickly sorting a bag of old clothes for the school toy and clothes sale. Yes, I would have probably got a bit more on ebay but the reality of me getting round to listing a load of stuff is not great as most of these things have been sitting in ebay bags for years waiting for their turn to get sorted through! Anyway... 35% has gone to school and my £34 will come in nicely - as well as going to the toy sale resulted in me getting an amazing monsoon dinosaur shirt and waistcoat for Elijah for £4 which will last him a few years of smart dressed occasions (as its a nice big size) and a gap cardy, a next dress and a pair of rollerblades for Holly for £3.80. Super. Only down side is that sorting through the bags of clothes resulted in me crying when I labelled up one of Hollys little dresses to sell... I now think I need to have another baby girl... so in the end I kept that one.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Why do I always have a guilt trip about money and a real urge to save every penny just before my birthday? I've been stopping myself getting GHD's for so 3 years and had decided they would be my birthday present this year... so now, because I feel the need to save money I feel like I shouldn't have any presents and save all of the money instead. My mum will knit me a jumper that doesn't fit - so its not like I would go entirely without... loft insulation is always handy :S Silly guilty sensible feelings... sure they'll fade away soon and I can fit a quick impulse buy in!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Sainsburys £50 for a weekly shop?

Sainsburys are doing a big new campaign – showing you how to feed a family of 4 for £50 a week. Well I am quite a fan of Sainsburys and still contend that it is the cheapest place for me to buy the food we eat (because its basics range is really good) but since Sainsburys has a good reputation with the slightly more upmarket shopper, and as I am currently already sending £50 a week without their meal plans – I reckon I can go further and half it. Well... since our income may be dropping to 1/3 of what we live on now... I need to at least half it...and then maybe try to push it further! So meals for a month for £100 is stage 1 of the plan!

So, working out how much things cost is a bit more laborious than I first expected... but counting cherry tomatoes and division sums with my receipts in hand is the way forward I guess!

Yesterday I made a load of mushroom soup and a big vat of bean chilli... and then I got calculating and got all the tupperwear out and portioned it and stashed a load of it in the freezer. I now have a 1 day plan that comes to a grand total of £3.58 for 4 people.

Breakfast: Wheetabix (Sainsburys 48 pack is 6p a wheetabix) x2 each + milk (10p ish each??)

88p for 4

Lunch: Mushroom soup (600g value mushrooms £1.70, 3 value onions (30p) 2 cloves garlic 10p-ish, water (free), spoon of boulion (10p), butter, bit of milk)

2 slices bread

86p per meal for 4

Dinner: Basmati rice (4kg bag from Tesco £6.35 and 3 cups per family meal EQUALS 88p per meal... oooh thats quite a lot more than pasta did you know!

Bean chilli (olive oil, 2 onions, 2 cloves garlic, 1 red chilli 25p, 8 tins plum tomatoes £3.92, 1 jar pasata 98p, 1 spoon boulion, mixed herbs, - blend it with mixer – 2 cartons kidney beans, 2 cartons canalini beans, 2 cartons chick peas £3 for 6 cartons) Makes enough for 10 whole meals – thats 40 servings!

£1.84 per meal for 4

Grand total of £3.58

So... theres no snack allocation here...or puddings... or drinks. I will certainly need a tea bag allowance and to add in the price of a few apples and biscuits but generally we all drink water. We fill up a bottle in the morning (2l each for Joel and I and 1.5 for the children) and each try to get through that each day.

£3.58 would come to £25.06 in a week if we had that every single day...which is on target...but of course is far too much mushroom soup and bean chilli in your life... but the good news is that pasta is cheaper and interestingly organic porridge is actually cheaper than wheetabix – so there are still savings to be had on the meal plan journey!

Credit card journey has also moved forward. £-8201.93 – thats a nice chunk of my wages and expenses I've comitted to paying across! – and I'm trying to work out how much more we can free up from the rest of this month.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The clearer picture

So I've not really blogged on money for a while. That's not just because I haven't thought to or because I've not got around to it but mainly because its a bit of a raw issue in our house at the moment. On the one hand we have a fairly healthy bank account - because we have extra mortgage to buy the land next to our house. That is due to all happen quite soon - so we'll have to work on that, fence it off and maybe put an extra door in the kitchen. That's the happy news. The slightly more stressful news is that we're about to go down to just one income. And the scary thing is that that one income is actually mine. My income can range from between £110 a month to £750 a month - yes - and it's not all that predictable until the very last minute. Joel's contract is about to end on his job and there are just not many jobs out there. He's looked and he's tried...and is still looking and trying- but we're also having to think outside the box on how he can be working with some business ideas to start bringing some money in... but it's not a very comfortable time. Actually its been a tough time - and mainly because we feel a bit like we're living in limbo. On the one hand we can afford a few things at the moment - not much, but we're able to do things. Our printer broke last month and we were able to replace it, we've put money aside to buy Holly a bike for her birthday... But we're also feeling like we should be saving every penny possible for the summer when things could get really tight. We've made the decision today not to take our trip to Italy in the summer. Its a friends wedding and we've already bought our eurotunnel pass and all the insurance...but we figure we'd be wiser to make a loss on all of that rather than try to afford the petrol and accommodation. We were planning to camp for most of it but even so - the cost of eating while away seems to be so much more than when you're home - not ever sure why!? But as much as we'll be gutted to cancel that - we're just not in a place to cover that sort of cost. So instead we've decided to plough all our efforts over the next few months into paying off the credit card - the longstanding aim! So its all been consolidated... 1 card... no interest... and the target figure stands at £-8701.93. Yep. Our aim is to have it paid by October... not sure why we picked that but the sooner the better :) So here starts what feels like a brand new adventure... here's where we find out how little we can really live off! My quick sums tell me that with £421 for the mortgage £93 for council tax, £150 for gas, electric and water...£30 insurances and thats pretty much the end of my possible £750 wages... Oh man.