Saturday, 1 July 2017

Uber Frugal Month

Hi friends,

In July I'll be taking part in Uber Frugal Month.

This is a month long money saving challenge. You can read more about it HERE, and I'm starting today.

We aren't an extravagant family, we rarely splash out on material things, but recently we have had a lot of payments going out and no improvements on money coming in.

There are several reasons I am participating in this challenge:
  • To recharge my commitment to non-consumerism/ materialism,
  • To learn new ways to save money,
  • To make steps towards paying off overdrafts,
  • To make steps towards putting aside money for things we need (new living room floor, kitchen units) and things we want (holiday). 
  • To be able to put more money aside to donate to charity,
  • To focus on the important things in life that money can't buy, family, fun and friendships. 
By the end of this month I don't expect to suddenly have a bank account overflowing with money, but I do hope that we are able to see a future where we have money to spend on things our family needs and some money left over for the things that make life enjoyable (like more camping trips), unlike our current situation where we seem to be working every month to pay off the overdraft. As well as avoiding waste and needless purchasing. I hope we will have re-focused our minds to non-consumerism, so that we need and want less, this is good for us as well as the environment. 

Where I would like to see us in 10 years time is for my husband and I to both work part time.  I would like to be able to make a living from my art so that my husband can work half as much. This way we can share the massive burden of childcare and home education and there is less of a burden on my husband to be the "bread winner". 

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts HERE  we are living in a very small house in a very pricey area, so another part of my ultimate goal would be to be able to move into a larger house (specifically three bedrooms with a second toilet and utility room, (easily pleased)).  I don't dream of mansions and fast cars and loads of clothes and jewellery (too much responsibility) but on a purely practical note, our house is getting too small for our needs and a little bit more space would make life less stressful.  A lot of boxes would have to be ticked for us to be able to achieve this goal, so in the mean time I would like for us to have enough disposable income to be able to pay someone to look after the children perhaps a couple of days a month so I can work on my art and business. 

In the longer term, I would like to see us being able to take our children travelling, to see the world a bit and to be able to live mortgage free, moving towards self-sufficiency. 

So this month is just the start of a much bigger plan and I know it won't be easy.  Children are demanding and the nag factor is hard to resist.  Buying things is just so easy these days I do it without thinking sometimes, I'll buy a book from Amazon that I could have borrowed from the library, or I'll buy something brand new that I could probably have got second hand somewhere, but that takes more effort. So effort is something I am going to need in bucket loads, but I'm making that commitment to the challenge. (I'm going to miss our takeaways on a Friday evening).

So what am I going to be doing to save money in an extreme way?
  • I'll be eliminating all non essential spending, (I'll be calling this a "no-spend month") so we'll be cutting our things like monthly payments to online subscriptions,
  • Reducing gas and electricity bills by being more careful with gas and electricity use (easier in summer!)
  • Reducing expenditure on food, by eating what we have already got in the cupboards, buying at the market, and having a fast from all processed foods, planning ahead, and by price comparing and buying from the cheapest place,
  • Seriously think about our need for a third car.

These are the steps I have already taken on the first day:

  • Cutting up an old dressing gown to use as reusable cloths,
  • Putting my one year old in a cloth nappy at night to reduce our use of disposables (he wears cloth during the day but disposables at night),
  • Putting my three year old in pants at night with an absorbent sheet to eliminate use of disposables (we already have a pack of the sheets so no extra cost there),
  • Setting up a monthly direct debit for my car tax so I can account for monthly out goings more easily and we can work on getting out of the overdraft,
  • Cancelling subscription to and Netflix, 
I'll also be hustling to get more money IN through my business and have a variety of things up my sleeve that I am going to implement and put into place in the next month, so stay tuned for that.

In conclusion I want to make it clear that we aren't about being miserly or having an attitude of lacking, I want our family to have an attitude of abundance throughout this challenge and that may well be one of the hardest parts about it, the frugality should be our first step towards wealth accumulation. 

Wish me luck, and let me know if you decide to join in with the Uber Frugal Challenge too. 

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

National Breastfeeding Week

Breastfeeding gets a lot of bad press these days,  so I thought I would take a moment to big it up a bit in honour of National Breastfeeding Week, by sharing 10 things that I love about breastfeeding.

1.  I love that it instantly solves almost any problem, baby wakes in the night, no problem, a few minutes of breastfeeding and he's back off to sleep, it contains chemicals that help both him and me off to sleep, baby falls and bumps himself, no problem, breastmilk has pain relieving properties and the crying stops, teething, same.

2. I love how my breastmilk changes consistency depending on the weather.  During the hot spell we recently had here in the South of England my boobs went into overproduction of watery milk to re-hydrate my baby.

3. I love how it's helped me lose weight, I am back at my pre pregnancy weight, it's taken a little longer after this third baby, but I'm there, and let me tell you, I have not reduced my calorie intake one iota.

4. I love how convenient it is.  At Forest school?  No problem, just get my boob out and give him a feed.  At church?  No fussing, boob is right there, Looking at the skyline on the London Eye (you've guessed it)  boob! Even walking round the supermarket, I have him in the carrier and boob is right there to keep him happy for the rest of the shopping trip.  It's always the right temperature, the right consistency, sterile and it's virtually hands free.

5. I love that breastfeeding reduces my risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis, I know that it doesn't eliminate the risk altogether and that there are other factors involved in these things, but it is great to know that the benefits aren't just for baby, they're for me too.

6. I love that it's virtually free.  You could argue that I need to eat a little more to breastfeed, but I think the financial cost of this is negligible (especially if you go to toddler groups with free biscuits!) The only other cost for me has been breast pads, which are washable, so over a period of 5 years (so far) the cost has been very small.

7. I love that only I can do it.  For me it's a wonderful privilege and blessing that only I am able to breastfeed my baby.  Not daddy or grandma or a childminder, only me. And you know what this means don't you? I get to sit down more! Woo hoo! (I love a good sit down)  "Yeah, sorry husband, can't help with the dinner right now, I'm breastfeeding!".

8. I love that Breast milk is still such a mysterious substance we still don't even know what all the ingredients are.  It's packed with good bacteria, and anti-bodies, it's literally a living substance.  People like to be able to deconstruct everything, medicalise everything, analyse and in some sense, own, it.  But breastfeeding is still full of mysteries and we are still learning all sorts about how it kills horrible bugs, cancer and how it affects children, and only we, the mamas can really own it.

9. I love that I can breastfeed and still have a drink.  The amount of alcohol in your breastmilk is the same as your blood so anything more than 0.4% blood alcohol and you'd be practically dead. This amount is actually less than is in your average glass of orange juice! The main thing to be aware of is your own ability to care for your child under the influence, and of course, co-sleeping and drinking is a no no. Cheers!

10. Finally I love that the fact my being disorganised and forgetful (yes my child arrived at Forest School this morning with no shoes on. NO SHOES!!  I had to put nappy bags on his feet!)  has no impact whatsoever on my ability to breastfeed.  I literally can't forget to take my boobs!

Breastfeeding on the London Eye!

Monday, 19 June 2017


There is so much horrible stuff going on, all the time, all over the world, but more recently things a lot closer to home, it's scary and worrying, I worry for my children and my husband (who commutes to London daily) and my sister and brother who live and work there.  It also makes me sad and some of it makes me feel ashamed and guilty, and if I think too hard about it my heart just can't take it.  

I can't do anything to make these things go away, I haven't the facilities or capacity to do anything to help, I am helpless and this could well lead to hopelessness.

The only option for me is escape.

So that's what we've done.

For my birthday we bought a tent and every weekend for the last three weekends we have been camping.

It's been mostly great,

It was a lot of work,

There were tears,

There were arguments,

There was cooking in the rain,

There were pancakes and tea in the sun,

There was waking up freezing cold,

There was waking up boiling hot.

There were lakes,

There were beaches,

There were woods,

There were cosy evenings,

There was wine,

We learnt a lot.

The first weekend we went to a campsite just ten minutes from our house, we forgot a washing up bowl, a dustpan and brush, dish sponges and washing up liquid. But enjoyed walking round the lake and the playground, and a good breakfast at a cafe.

The next weekend we went about an hour away to a campsite in Wiltshire in the Savernake Forest, it was wonderful being so near the forest.  I thoroughly enjoyed peeing in the woods in the very early morning with the sunlight shining through the trees and the birds all waking up.

 Last weekend we went further still to a campsite in Dorset, we stayed out late on the Saturday night, having a meal in Weymouth (a restaurant called Restaurant 43 which in spite of a very meat heavy menu made me a delicious oriental stir fry a la carte).  which was a lucky thing because we returned to the tent to the sound of very loud karaoke in the pub just behind our tent, so thankfully we had missed most of it!

So I am loving camping, mostly.   I love the slower pace of life, and how everything just takes longer, in the positive sense of it being leisurely.  Walking to the tap to get water, cooking the meals, even going to the loo.  I enjoy the simplicity of it, you're not surrounded by stuff, you just have the bear minimum.  I enjoy the low-tech-ness of it, I don't use my phone, no hoover, oven or TV (though I do read books on my Kindle) This also means I can avoid any more heart-wrenching news, at least temporarily.

How do you deal with all the trouble that's going on?  Do you escape too?  How?  If you don't escape, what do you do?

Going camping was one of my goals for this year and I hope I will share lots more camping adventures with you over the summer.  I really hope we're going to be a "camping family" and that this will be something that brings us together, can eventually relax us and help us unwind and be an important part of our lives. I am also hoping that camping with friends will be something we will be doing in the future too.