6 Rules for Living Frugally

Frugal Living

We humans have a knack for complicating the simplest of ideas. Our lives are filled with shortcuts that aren’t short, tips and tricks that trip us up, and helpful hints that are anything but. The same is true when it comes to frugality. Let’s scrap all the circular talk and bottom-line it. Here are the only six rules of frugal living you need to know.

1. Know Your Money

By whatever means necessary, become ridiculously well-acquainted with how much you earn, how much you spend, and where every dollar goes. It’s the foundation of frugal living. Without this baseline knowledge, successful budgeting and saving will always be out of reach.
2. Live Below Your Means

Living within your means is a great start, but living below your means is where the real magic happens. The surplus it generates is the capital for saving and investing and the fuel behind long-term wealth building. If you’re unable to run a surplus a majority of the time — either by cutting expenses or growing your income — you’ll never get ahead of the game.

3. Know the Difference Between Spending and Investing

Spending and investing might feel like the same thing, but they’re completely different animals.

Investing is the outlay of cash in exchange for a tangible asset (think job training, a primary residence, or shares in a mutual fund). Spending, on the other hand, is the outlay of cash for something that will likely depreciate in value and not provide any long-term benefit (think dinners out or a new summer wardrobe).

Being frugal doesn’t mean you always have choose investing over spending (after all, spending is part of living), but it does require that you understand the difference and know how to put your income to work a majority of the time.

4. Buy for Quality

Frugality isn’t about always buying the cheapest product; it’s about diligently seeking out the best value. Sometimes that means choosing quality over price. A pair of shoes that cost £20 might seem like a great deal, but they’re not if you have to replace them every three months. A £75 pair that will last two or three years will be a far better value in the long run.

5. Avoid Consumer Debt

Frugal folks know it: Interest on consumer debt is a tax people pay for living beyond their means. And while a credit card can save the day from time-to-time, embracing easy credit as a way to pad your lifestyle can have disastrous consequences. Interest and other charges will bleed your budget and choke your chances at real financial security.

6. Know the Difference Between a Want and a Need

As I write this, there are throngs of advertisers plotting new ways to help consumers confuse wants and needs. It’s big business. In reality, our needs are fairly straightforward (nourishing food, secure shelter, good healthcare, etc.).

But what about that self-cleaning, solar-powered, lavender-infused kitty litter box that you can control with your smartphone? What sort of primitive existence would you be reduced to without this life-changing gadget?

Let’s face it: Being able to distinguish what we want from what we need is a prerequisite for making wise buying decisions. If you can’t master this skill, your needs will be endless and your paycheck will never keep up.

Here’s the curious thing: Today, when we talk about the rules of frugal living, aren’t we really talking about basic financial literacy? It seems over the past couple of generations, common fiscal sense has been reframed as an extreme lifestyle. Maybe it’s time to change the conversation about saving and managing money — and make frugal living a far more fundamental skill.

Top Money Saving Tips

How To Save Some Money Easily

A few small changes could lead to more pounds in your purse
Tired of being told to bring lunch to work or to cut out the morning coffee to save cash? It’s fair to say that some of “ingenious” money-saving tips can be a little bit, well, patronising.
But when Nectar ran a competition to find Britain’s savviest families, some of the ideas that surfaced were genuinely creative – albeit, not for everyone.
Eight finalist families were tasked with writing a money-saving blog over the course of six weeks before the loyalty points provider picked the Staniforth family from Leeds as winners. You can check out their blog here.
Here are some of the best cash-saving tips gleaned from the finalist families:
Order a ‘Weekend Box’ for free at www.weekendboxclub.com using a free code which you can easily find online. Delivered fortnightly, this is a box with four great ideas for kids in – something to cook, something to make, something to explore and something green. They contain almost everything you need (apart from things you will commonly find in your cupboard) and provide great entertainment for a quiet moment over the weekend.
1. LEGO has two kids magazines that are completely free. Arriving several times a year, they are packed with cartoons, model plans and competitions perfect for any young engineer. And with different editions to suit your child’s needs, it really is a great freebie. Sign up here.
2. Let the shower races begin! Armed with a towel and sand timer we all race to have the quickest shower. Check out Soap and Glory’s 2 minute rinse campaign for more tips on shorter showers and a chance to win prizes too.
3. Did you know that any child who has had an achievement of some sort can apply for a Blue Peter Badge? With it they get free admission into a huge number of attractions. I’m sure most children have done something amazing that has made their parents proud so why not apply.
4. With Nectar points you can get an annual Merlin pass for some guaranteed fun days out at fantastic attractions like Madame Tussauds, Chessington World of Adventures, SEALIFE and Legoland. In fact, a huge number of the UK’s most famous attractions are included.
5. Make sure you keep hold of old books and magazines to make your own bunting. Then you have bunting to tie-in with your kid’s favourite theme, whether it’s Moshi Monsters, pirates or Peppa Pig.
6. Try using up the ends of rolls of wall paper or unwanted samples by re-purposing as wrapping paper. It’s thicker than wrapping paper and gives a really nice quality look to gifts – why not add a bit of ribbon at only 7p a meter from the market too? Left over lining paper is great too, for anything from kids’ craft to making sewing patterns.
8. Mobile phones and printer cartridges can be pretty high value items for charities, so don’t ever bin them. Sainsbury’s has a special recycling scheme where they fetch at least 50p each, so that’s a £3 donation without having to open your wallet.

9. Have a weekly ‘no spend day’ and you’ll find it makes a huge difference to the way you manage your weekly budget. Try cooking bread overnight in the bread maker that you can use for lunchtime sandwiches, and then cook from the cupboard for tea. Any purchases have to be deferred, but you’ll find that a little thinking space makes you realise that you don’t need it, you just want it – especially when it comes to sweet treats!

10. Check out your local council website to see whether there is a recycle/reward scheme in progress Some councils put aside money for every extra tonne recycled, and then ask residents to bid on that pot of money for local projects. It’s a great idea that’s also really beneficial for the whole community.
11. There is always a park or a footpath near to you where you can enjoy a lovely day out for free. Use the internet to search for footpaths in your local area.
12. Consider DIY before paying someone else to do some work for you. Search the internet for video tutorials, and then buy everything you need online too – you’ll make some great savings using eSpare and eBay.
13. Grate the whole block of cheese and put it in the freezer, just using it as and when you require. No need to defrost either, it melts in no time, and grated cheese goes much further too.
14. Check out your local Children’s Centres. They’re a really under recognised resource for parents and young children, throwing lots of free community events throughout the year.
15. When having your car serviced, always ask for a breakdown of the labour charge you are quoted. All garages should follow what is called ‘book time’ or ‘flat rate billing’ meaning that if the book states a repair requires two hours labour the garage can’t charge you for three hours. The stated repair time for the brakes on my car is 40 mins, so as labour is usually billed in half-hour blocks, I would query if the labour was higher than one hour.
16. Create your own free recipe collection; it’s easy to make by using a free app called ziplist. Most times when you are browsing the internet for recipes, there will often be an option on the page which states “add to ziplist” which will then store the recipe in your app. This also gives you the function to add ingredients from the recipes to a shopping list to make it handy for when you’re at the supermarket. On a weekly basis you also receive the top 10-12 recipes that other users have saved via email.
17. Blend lemon rinds with water to form a smooth liquid and then added to a recycled container and diluted with water to fill the container. This makes a fab and fresh cleaning solution to clean your wheelie bins, the fridge etc., or to add to bicarbonate-of-soda for a homemade cleaning scrub.

18. Use toothpaste on plastic headlights when they go a foggy/misty yellow in colour and it will revive them.

19. Grind chicken bones into a fine powder as a great free addition to compost.
20. Instead of letting all the water disappear down the plug hole after a bath, have a bucket handy and decant some bath water to use to flush the toilet – instantly reducing water usage.
21. Use a Terramundi Pot – a money savings pot where the only way to access your money is to smash the pot. Feed the pot with your first coin and then continue to feed until the pot is full, then you can treat yourself to something nice and you’re not tempted to dip in before the collection has built up.
22. Always put an empty water bottle in your hand luggage when you’re packing, as you can get water free at the airport that means you can have a drink on the plane for no cost.
23. If you’re getting married or want a memento from a party you’re throwing, whether it’s a birthday or christening, try contacting local colleges that run wedding photography courses where students are coming to the end of the course. Ask any students wish to do your photos for free so that they can use the photos to build their portfolio. They’ll often do this in return for a party invite and good food.
24. Make a phone speaker out of a simple toilet roll by placing a slit in the top and popping your phone inside. Decorate and you have a quick and easy speaker – no batteries or electricity required.

25. Try making your own baby wipes. Container: Old ice cream containers [no cost] Cloth wipes: Cut from outgrown baby vests and t-shirts [no cost] Baby wipe solution holder: A (thoroughly cleaned out) old cleaning spray bottle [no cost] Baby wipes solution recipe: 500ml of cooled boiled water, 1 tbsp of baby wash, 1 tbsp of oil (almond, olive or baby oil would do), 1 tbsp of aloe vera gel. Add everything to the cooled boiled water, give it a little mix and the solution lasts for a few days if kept in the fridge. When you want to make up a box of wipes, pour the solution into your box of dry cloths and leave it a while to give the solution a chance to soak through each cloth.

26. Many charities working with the homeless run a furniture recycling scheme. They pick up your furniture (for free) and either pass it on to someone who needs it, or sell the item with the proceeds going back into the scheme. This is a great way to pass on larger items of furniture you no longer need.
27. Try geocaching for a great day out – it’s the modern day treasure hunt, and it’s absolutely free. You can join at geocaching.com and the website is full of information with everything you need to get started. Get the children involved to make geocache treasure and use it as a sneaky way of decluttering toy boxes. Foreign coins, fridge magnets, pens, pencils, small figures and toy cars are just a few examples of potential ‘treasure’.
28. World of Golf provides free beginner lessons and you don’t need to have your own set of golf clubs. You can enjoy a round of golf for £10 or less, and remember to choose off-peak times to get the cheapest price.
29. Swap children’s clothes with friends – you’re never going to use those outgrown clothes so swap and exchange with a family who have children who will fit.
30. When unpacking your food shop, use the “First In, First Out” rule. Arrange all your grocery products in order of use by date to avoid any food going off and optimise the freshness. You’re more likely then to use all the fresh food before it becomes spoilt and it’s also a great way to organise your meals and ingredients.
31. Buy second-hand board games from the local charity shop for 50p – £1 each! Why not swap them with friends too, so that you can get a selection of different games.32. When selling on eBay, the best time for your auction to end is a Sunday evening around 7-8pm. However, remember to check the TV schedule to be sure there’s nothing of interest to distract potential bidders around your auction ending time.
33. If you apply for Days Out tickets that you later find you cannot use, Facebook has a number of ‘swap’ groups where you can swap your tickets for something you could use.

34. Set a budget for your food shop and take cash only so you’re not tempted to over spend whilst shopping. Always check that what is in your trolley is a ‘need’ rather than a ‘want’.
35. If you are a British Gas customer, ensure you have an Energy Smart Thermostat controlled unit installed. This enables you to control the temperature of your home whilst out and about, via an app. Savings of around £9 can be made per month by using this device, as well as the convenience of turning on heating so it’s ready for when you get home. If you forget to switch it off, you can do this when you’re out and about.
36. Create a ‘lucky dip’ activity box for the kids by writing down an activity and short instruction for the children to do on a folded piece of card, then let the children choose a card. Some great activities to include are plant rubbings (the children use the garden to collect up the leaves or even something they have found), making a fruity desert using two ingredients, playing a board game (get games from the local charity shop for 50p – £1 each and then swap with friends to keep your collection fresh), story time (the children choose a book each and grab a comfy blanket and sit and read as a family), and treasure hunts (leave no more than five clues around the house, when the children find them all, there is a sweet treat waiting for them at the end!).
37. We have a group of friends who have children a little older than ours and they always pass us clothes that they have finished with. We hardly ever pay full price on clothes, always doing our research on how to get an item of clothing cheaper elsewhere. We use eBay a lot, as there are so many bargains to be had, plus collecting Nectar points is a huge benefit.
38. Always use carrier bags for bedroom and bathroom bins, rather than paying out for bin liners.

September is an Expensive month, here is what has happened so far

MOT & Car Insurance Renewal

September is always an expensive month for our household, as the main car costs are due this month. Our car is now 17 years old and has 110,000+ on the clock, bad news is the car has just failed the MOT, this has cost £50 + £120 to get fuel leak fixed. So it was lucky I had enough cash to cover it.

On to my car insurance renewal quote, currently with Sainsburys is £20 more expensive than last year, £460 now. So I have as ever been shopping around online to see if I could beat it……..

 

So I visited the main comparison sites,

(Prior to this I received the usual emails with quotes from the following sites. As I had used them last year.)

http://www.gocompare.co.uk

www.moneysupermarket.co.uk

www.confused.com

The strange thing is ‘i got different prices on the email quotes compared to when #i went in to get new quotes.

GoCompare offered £444 Per year

moneysupermarket £376

confused email £422 then on visiting site £390?

So it definitely pays to shop around !!!! Moneysupermarket came up as the winner with a saving of £84. I have to ring Sainsburys to see if they can do any better if not of to Hastings #insurance it is.

Also where possible pay in one go, I usually put it on a 0% Credit card then divide the cost by 12, so I don’t pay the ludicrous 30% + Interest the insurance companies charge for paying monthly.

https://money.comparethemarket.com/credit-cards/purchases/?AFFCLIE=CM01

Moving From Benefits To Work

Moving From Benefits To Work

Firstly it is important to try and do the majority of the legwork before starting your new employment.
Initially I advise all clients to carry out a benefits calculation, ideally they should look to do one called a better off calculation. As this will ask for your current benefits and then ask you to input employment details and wages. It will then recalculate what your entitlements will be based on your expected income. Although not an exact science it is a good approximation.
When you start work you should do several things, first inform the Department for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre) 0345 608 8545 or if claiming Universal Credit 0345 600 0723 you will need to have NI Number, details of hours and wages, start date, type of contract, etc.
If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or both. You should inform your local authority in writing, typically via a change of circumstances form and explain that you are starting work, start date, hours per week, etc.

Extended benefit payments
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

If you move from benefits into work, or extend your hours to 16 or more per week, you may be entitled to four weeks run on of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support at its previous level if: – the work is expected to last for at least five weeks; – neither you nor your partner has claimed a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support extension in the last 26 weeks: – you (or your partner if you have one) were claiming one of the benefits below before work started or hours increased:

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Income Support
Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
Incapacity Benefit
Severe Disablement Allowance
Contributions-related Employment & Support Allowance.

After the 4 week extension period expires Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support will be based on your new income.

How to claim

You (or your partner) must be about to return to work or have just started work of more than 16 hours per week
When you close your out of work benefit claim with Jobcentre Plus the extended payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support should be arranged automatically
You must confirm that you have been claiming benefits for the previous 26 weeks and that the work is expected to last for at least five weeks
During this four weeks you can give details of your expected earnings to your local council who can process your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claim with your in-work details.

Support for Parents
Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits

An award of Working Tax Credit (not Child Tax Credit) can include an amount towards the cost of childcare with a registered childminder or nursery. This can also include childcare costs such as summer school and after-school clubs.

The amount is 70% of the actual childcare costs up to £175 for one child and up to £300 for two or more children (so an amount up to £122.50 or £210 can be included in the Working Tax Credit award).

An amount towards childcare can be included for

A lone parent working 16 hours or more a week
A couple if they both work 16 hours or more a week
A couple if one partner is working 16 hours or more a week and the other partner is incapacitated, in hospital, entitled to Carer’s Allowance or in prison.

Childcare Vouchers
If a person cannot get an amount towards childcare included in their Working Tax Credit they may should ask their employer if they run a childcare voucher scheme. The employee receives a voucher towards childcare in return for a reduction in their pre tax salary. This allows them to purchase childcare without paying tax and national insurance on that amount and can save up to 30% of childcare costs.

Note that accepting a cut in pay that drops a person’s salary below the national insurance lower earnings limit may affect future entitlement to benefits such as Maternity Allowance and State Retirement Pension.

Not all childcare provision is payable by vouchers so parents will need to ensure that their childcare provider is happy with this arrangement.

Most people would be better off receiving help with the cost of childcare through Working Tax Credit if they qualify, but the calculator can illustrate what the better option might be for someone based on their circumstances.

Early Years Learning
There are free ‘early learning’ classes (for example, a school-attached nursery) available for all 3 or 4 year olds (starting from the term following the child’s third birthday).

This is for at least 38 weeks a year and 15 hours a week (to be spread over at least three days). Families with a low income may also get free classes for 2 year olds.

Help for disabled people
The Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at Jobcentre Plus provides specialist advice to disabled clients on finding work, job retention and getting practical help through the Access to Work scheme.

Access to Work
If you have a health condition or disability which affects your ability to work you may be entitled to financial support for costs such as travel to work and workplace adjustments through the Access to Work scheme.

There is further information about Access to Work here: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work.

If you are unemployed and moving into work or a work trial (not voluntary work) or have been working less than six weeks, Access to Work pays 100% of the following costs:

Travel costs if public transport can’t be used
A support worker or reader in the workplace
A communicator for support in interviews
Workplace adjustments which are not considered ‘standard equipment’. Guidance is available on those items considered ‘standard equipment’ (such as analogue hearing and walking aids) at your local Access to Work Contact Centre.

If you have already been employed for more than six weeks, Access to Work will only pay a proportion of the costs above. The employer will be expected to make a contribution towards the cost based on their number of employees.

How to claim

Speak to your local Access to Work Contact Centre:
South East England/London/East of England – 020 8426 3110
South West England/Wales/West Midlands/East Midlands – 02920 423 291
Scotland/North West England/North East England/Yorkshire and Humberside – 0141 950 5327.

Other financial support available
Jobcentre Plus advisers’ discretionary fund

Personal advisers at Jobcentre Plus offices may have access to a discretionary fund to help certain groups of people in exceptional circumstances. Payments can be made, for example, to buy a new suit to attend an interview or to help pay initial childcare and travel costs.

To be eligible a person must be on a New Deal scheme or entitled to certain benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Carer’s Allowance.

In-Work Emergency Discretion Fund

If a lone parent in work has an unexpected financial problem that could stop them carrying on with their job they can apply to the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund.

A person must be:

A lone parent working for at least 16 hours a week
Their job must be expected to last for at least 26 weeks and
They must have been in the job for less than 26 weeks.

The Jobcentre Plus personal adviser can award up to £300 from the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund. Ask your local Jobcentre Plus office for more details.

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card
You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card to help with your fares during the first few months of commuting to a new job if you’re claiming one of the following:

Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, if you’re aged between 18-24 and have been unemployed for 3-9 months
Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, if you’re aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for 3-12 months
Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, from 3 months into your claim if you are working with an adviser on returning to employment

You won’t be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you’re participating in the Work Programme.

Card holders are entitled to a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.

When you have a Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card you can get:

Half adult-rate pay as you go fares
Child-rate 7 Day, Monthly or longer period (up to three months) Travelcard, or Bus & Tram Passes
Jobcentre Plus discounts are not available on transport for london cash fares.

How do I apply?
To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card, you’ll need to go to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

To have the Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card, you’ll need an Oyster card which you’ve registered at a Tube station, Oyster Ticket Stop or Visitor or Travel Information Centre. You can then ask the staff to add your discount entitlement onto your Oyster card.