Christmas Preparation Part 1

I got a little bit excited/anxious today about Christmas and bought the remainder of the Jillett’s Christmas presents this morning. I did it mostly with Amazon vouchers I had earned, not as epic a saving as last time, but a nice and much appreciated £45.55 was saved on my shopping. I spent £12.35 which is probably the most I have spent on an Amazon order since February.

I say I got a bit excited/anxious as I could have saved even more money as I have about £20 in Amazon vouchers from my various side hustles (all legit, promise!) which are waiting to clear, but this second batch of presents I bought today contains my little bro’s Christmas present, and part of his Girlfriend’s present, and I am seeing them next weekend and plan to exchange presents then. I didn’t want to risk the presents not arriving in time.

I have so far spent just over £40 on Christmas 2017. I need a further £80-100 in order to buy the in law’s presents.

As for the other costs-the Boxing Day football match, sending Christmas cards, Alcohol gift bags-well, I still haven’t figured out how I can afford them. I made good headway on Friday with the job hunt, but it is artificial headway, by which I mean it seems that I have progressed, but I am still in the same position.

(I applied for 2 jobs and called a temp agency who asked me to send my C.V. over)

So despite working so hard to prioritise my debt this year, where has it got me?

Sure I paid off over £3000 in a combination of bank debt and money I owed The Boy, and yes I have cleared my overdraft…but I had to borrow £750 off The Boy on Saturday to pay my bills. That’s the rate of debt I will get in every month I am unemployed.

I once heard the average time it takes someone to find a job is 4 months. 4 x £750 = £3000. Maybe I would have been better off saving that money instead.

Today I will sit down with whatever remains of my Irish Cream, put on the Christmas CD for about the 20th time already this Winter, and wrap the presents that have already arrived.  I can toast my success in getting nearly £200 worth of presents for about £36 in cold, hard cash.

But maybe what I am toasting is I get to save face in front of my family, that I can provide them with gifts when I have zero net worth.

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I Have Wombled over £2000 This Year

I have ‘wombled’ over £2000 this year.

Now, I bet you are thinking ‘What is wombling?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Is wombling some sort of weird British sex game?’

Ha ha…no.

You may have heard of a lovable British children’s book series and later a television show called The Wombles. The Wombles were little furry, pointy nosed creatures who lived in Wimbledon and they aimed to help the environment by collecting and reusing and recycling rubbish in new and creative ways.

The Wombles TV series became so popular that they later released pop songs, and grown up performers and musicians would dress up as The Wombles and perform on Top of the Pops.

This is an important part of British history…maybe.

Anyway, originally ‘Wombling’ became a term for people (like me) who are obsessed with a bargain and saving money and may do slightly legally ambiguous things to save some cash. It has come to mean a lot more than that, but I will just explain it’s origins.

It all comes down to receipts.

Receipts can earn you money.

So, I will give the example of a certain big chain supermarket. If you find a receipt for certain big chain supermarket and it has the magic words ‘If you had a (store loyalty card) you would have earned X points with this transaction’ on it.

And any money saver will have that loyalty card, so they can take this receipt to certain big chain supermarket’s customer service desk and say a little story of how they recently did a shop and ‘forgot’ their card and could the points be added on.

So it is recycling…to a degree.

You can make serious dosh with another big chain supermarket who do a price match guarantee, so if you find one of their receipts and enter in the special code at the bottom on their website, you may find the person that did the original shop could have gotten their shopping cheaper elsewhere, and thus big chain supermarket number 2 will give you a voucher for the difference.

So that is what wombling originally meant (outside the context of the TV series), but it has come to mean (at least on the Money Saving Expert website) anytime you get a bargain/money off/get given something.

So no, I did not make over £2000 in ‘wombled’ receipts (most supermarkets have cracked on to us wombler’s and thus a discarded receipt is very hard to come by anyway). BUT, I have used coupons, vouchers, special offers, promotions, discounts, and free gifts (such as my recent OLIO squashes) to have effectively retained the value of £2000.

So, if I had paid full price for everything this year, it would have cost me over £2000 extra.

I’ll give an example of today’s wombles.

I went to have an eye test done, I had a voucher for a free eye test at Vision Express. Their eye tests are normally £25, therefore that was a womble of £25.

The boy bought some ciabatta rolls that were on offer for £1. They are normally £1.96, therefore that was a womble of 96p

And remember when I did my Christmas shopping and got over £120 off because I paid for it almost entirely with vouchers I had earned? Or when I got £64 worth of clothing for £2?

Wombles, my friends, wombles.

Next time you have a deal like that, take a moment to register that you have saved money on it, maybe make a note of it (to be honest I am very surprised I don’t have a a spreadsheet for it). It does get a bit addictive after a while.

 

Financial Review of Week 46

Hmmmmmmm.

Something is amiss.

As I went to do my weekly transmitting of bar code’s to Shop and Scan I noticed that I had 13 food shopping receipts.

One show I love is Eat Well For Less on the BBC. On this show they take a family who are struggling with their food bills (although one family of four was spending £14000 a year on their grocery shopping, which may stretch the traditional definition of ‘struggling’) and every show the family is asked how much they spent and how many times they went to the shops. And the poor family never get it right.

And I would feel a little flabbergasted and be like ‘How can you not know?’ as I have a meticulous record of everything I have spent since April 1st 2015.

Well….

I have this saying which is ‘I write things down in my diary so I don’t have to remember’

So I had no idea I made 13 food shopping transactions this week.

And I don’t know how much I spent. I will soon find out how much I spent, as I do have the records, but I’m going to play a game and make a guess now.

I guess that I spent around £40 on food this week.

I guess that I spent around £40 on non food things this week.

Let’s see how far off the mark I am.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Batteries, Rice x 4, Prunes, Toilet Cleanser £4.63

Soup x 2, Bread Rolls, Eggs, Mincemeat, Food colouring x 2, Treacle £8.85

Milk, Self Raising Flour, Carrots £2.16

Sweetcorn, Demerara Sugar, Paprika, Soft Brown Sugar, Spaghetti £5.10

Laundry Cleanser £2.99

Scampi £1

Rice Krispies, Orange Juice £3.69

Sandwich tins x 2, Bramble Jelly, Baking Tray £2.25 (Used a £5 off Voucher)

Teabags, Milk, Bread £4.24

Naan Bread £0.49

Milk, Orange Juice, 2 x Men’s Shower Gel, 3 x Hand Wash, Frozen Broccoli, Quorn Pieces, Apples, Baking Potatoes, Sponges, 2 x Cheese Rolls £10.35

TOTAL = £45.75

So in this category I have spent more then I thought I had. So that’s one I’ve got wrong.

Let’s see the disposable income now.

DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING

CONTRABAND

Weighing myself £0.70 (my scales are broken and I am trying to keep track of my weight, it is so far not going well)

Coat Hangers £2.99

4 items of clothing £2

TOTAL = £5.69

SOCIAL

Coach to Birmingham to see Queen in December £40.20 (ok, so my guess is completely f***** now)

GIFT

Present for friend £2

2 x Cards £1.18

TOTAL = £3.18

POSTAGE AND PACKAGING

Envelope £0.75

Posting Present to Friend £3.40

TOTAL = £4.15

HOMEWARE

Plant tray £1.74

CLOTHING MAINTENANCE

Re-soling shoes £14.95

Fixing 2 items of clothing £8

TOTAL = £22.95

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING = £77.91

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING THIS WEEK = £123.66

So I was out on my guess about the food spends by about 14%, and I was out on my guess of my disposable income spending by a huge near 95%.

Let’s is, oh, how do I say it? TERRIBLE.

Given that I now only have about £4.65 in my wallet, and about £9 something in my savings, and still no job, I may have to look at selling some more stuff.

Sainsbury’s Double Up Promotion: How I got £64 worth of clothes for £2

Sainsbury’s is not my main supermarket, but I still have managed to get £10 of points on my nectar card (with nearly £5 spare) through a series of deals and manipulating offers to my benefit.

Sainsbury’s have normally done two ‘Double Up’ promotions each year, where you have a week to double £10 worth of points (up to £40) for a coupon for a particular category (sadly not food). There are many, many restrictions, so many that in order to get today’s voucher I had to do a week of preparation. Basically, there is only one Sainsbury’s I can walk to in Cardiff that stocks clothes. But I had to have shopped there within the last 6 months, which I haven’t, so last week I trekked to Sainsbury’s to buy groceries, swiping my nectar card at the till, which meant I could go there today to get my double up voucher.

(I could go into detail about the restrictions, but there is a very good blog post about it from a site I follow called ‘Be Clever With Your Cash’, and they would do it so much better than me. You can read the link here)

So, bam, I had £20 to spend on clothes. I generally really like Sainsbury’s clothes and as I saw it as a way to get free/nearly free clothes I wasn’t too fussed about finding a dream item, and thought I would just stock up on basics. The clothes selection was tiny, but I still found a long sleeved white shirt (I love a long sleeve white shirt), a yellow sweater vest and 2 skirts.

All the items were on sale, full retail value was £64, the total at the till was £22, so bam, I only spent £2 on four items of clothing. Yes, none of them are exactly the sexiest things in the world, but they are all fine basics for work. (Ok, so I’m currently unemployed, but I won’t always be).

I have decided that since I want to lose weight, I am not going to buy any clothes full price (other than under garments and shoes) until I reach a healthy BMI. In theory this is because I don’t want to invest in clothes that will hopefully be far to big for me in a years time (I hope), so expect more posts like this until I reach my target weight.

 

Financial Review of Week 45

Hello all.

This is the last of these till Sunday when I do a review of this week’s spending, how exciting (not).

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Big Tesco Shop £61.86

Marmite £2.25

Toilet Roll £3.99

Milk and Bread £1.85

Probiotic £8.09

Lots of tins, Lots of noodles, Lots of tea £12.85

Coleslaw, Gum, Icing writing pens £5.34

Milk, Chocolate, Sandwiches, Mozzarella, Cucumber, Bread £7.57

Crisps, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Sweetcorn £4.25

Pizza £3.90

TOTAL SPENDS = £111.95

DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING

GIFTS

10 x Coffee Jars for Food Bank = £7.90

New Baby Cards £1.38

(Total = £9.28 )

CONTRABAND

Money tin £2.39

Weighing myself £1

It’s a Wonderful Life DVD £7

Coffee £3.05

(Total = £13.44 )

POSTAGE AND PACKAGING

Posting card to my cousin in America £2.27

SOCIAL

Indian Night £8.05

Dessert £2.50

(Total = £10.55 )

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING = £35.54

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING LAST WEEK = £147.49

Well, I’ve definitely run out of money now, I think this week will show much leaner spendings.

 

Financial Review of Week 44

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do regarding these weekly reviews so let’s crack on.

FINANCIAL REVIEW OF WEEK 44 (October 30th – November 5th)

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

(Things the boy bought whilst I was away)

Chocolate, Fries, Pizza, Pepsi £7.29

Plasters £1

Strawberries £1.49

Chicken, Orange Juice, Bread Rolls £3.81

Flu Max, Cold Remedy, Deodorant x 2 £5.50

Pizza and Cherry Tomatoes £4.75

Milk, Butter £2

(Things I bought once I returned)

Frozen Chicken, Chicken Dippers, Chicken Tikka £11

Chickpeas x 3, Carrots, Parsnip, Potatoes, Apples, Bananas, Grapes, Sausages £9.98

TOTAL SPENDS = £46.82

DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING

GIFTS

Food things for my parents £6.17

Mother in Law’s Birthday Present £19.14

(Total = £25.31)

SOCIAL

Train fare to meet friend £6.90

Train fare to meet Aunt £4.50

Train fare to meet Granddad £3.40

Beer £5.20 

Round of drinks £15 

Takeaway Pizza £7

Contribution to Petrol £5

Breakfast £9

Train home £5.10

(Total = £61.10)

CONTRABAND

Lunch £4.09

Tea £2.10

(Total = £6.19)

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING = £92.60

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING THIS WEEK = £139.42

A lot of money was spent, but I was ‘sort of’ on holiday.

 

 

 

 

My Top 10 Own Brand Products From Sainsbury’s

Disclaimer: The prices quoted in this blog post were what I most recently paid for the item, so it is possible they have changed since then. Also this blog post is entirely of my own doing and is not affiliated with or endorsed by Sainsbury’s in any way.

As a student I almost exclusively shopped at Sainsbury’s as it was the biggest supermarket nearest to where I lived. I was not aware at that time that Sainsbury’s had a reputation for being upmarket and therefore expensive until someone I worked with asked where I shopped and when I said Sainsbury’s they said in disgust ‘Huh, you’re rich’

(Despite the fact I only bought Sainsbury’s basic products and was from a low income family, the people I worked with thought I was rich because I chose to shop at the supermarket I could get to on foot, and they were sending their kids at University money each month whereas I was working two jobs just to survive. C’est la vie.)

Anyway, as my funds decreased I had to become a bit more savvy about where I shopped in order to get the best deal, and Sainsbury’s rarely made the cut.

I generally no longer shop at Sainsbury’s unless I feel like treating myself, because Sainsbury’s do genuinely do some nice, what I consider ‘fancy’ products, and I felt bad neglecting a supermarket that had served me well for many years.

As I am long out of the habit of shopping regularly at Sainsbury’s I have gone for some old favourites and it is possible that Sainsbury’s has a much wider range of quality own brand products, this is just what I have chosen.

#1 Sainsbury’s Instant Vegetable Flavour Noodles

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I chose these for a few reasons. One, they were a large part of my student diet. Two, they, unlike so many instant noodles, are vegetarian and three, they use sustainable palm oil.

And they taste nice too.

RETAIL FACTS – 40p for a 90g pack

#2 Sainsbury’s Indian Style Poppadoms

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I am not fussy about poppadoms, so I chose these because they are the cheapest poppadoms I have seen. As you know from my weekly financial reviews the boy and I get through a lot of poppadoms!

RETAIL FACTS – 95p for an 8 pack (typically about 64g)

#3 Sainsbury’s Fruit/Herbal Teas

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Sainsbury’s have a great selection of herbal and fruit teas, there is really nothing wrong with any of them, but I chose these two as I love anything with apple or blueberry in it and these two flavours compliment each other well.

RETAIL FACTS – 75p for a 20 bag pack

#4 Sainsbury’s Free From Ginger Crunch Biscuits

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Aside from not eating meat, I will generally eat anything and everything and can only think of two things I don’t like – tinned macaroni cheese and lychee’s.

But, some of my friends aren’t as lucky. I have a lovely friend with coeliac’s disease, and another friend who is intolerant to dairy, wheat and gluten. Therefore due to my need to be the world’s best hostess, I always try to have some soya milk and a treat of some description in stock for when they come round.

I chose these as they have always been well received by my friends and are crucially free from the bad trinity of dairy, wheat and gluten.

Sainsbury’s are pretty good with free from products, and I think they have a wheat/dairy/gluten free lasagne, so go them.

RETAIL FACTS – £1.30 for 150g pack

#5 Sainsbury’s 5 Beans

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For when you are feeling a little decadent and normal beans on toast just won’t cut it.

RETAIL FACTS – 40p for a 390g tin

#6 Sainsbury’s  Spiced Squash and Red Pepper Soup

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We are now going to enter the convenience portion of this blog post. As a student I wasn’t a confident cook at all, I knew my way around a pasta dish and soup, but that was about it. I lived with someone who was an amazing cook, to the point he later quit his film degree to train at catering college. I remember being entranced by his array of spices, but now I have a collection to rival his.

I am generally happy to pay a little bit more for soup as long as it has some hint of being nicer then your bog standard vegetable soup. Yes, I could make my own for about 15p, but sometimes you are busy.

RETAIL FACTS – 50p for a 400g tin

#7 Sainsbury’s Vegetable Chilli

IMG_7396

Ok, so before you all come after me with pitchforks as vegetable chilli is the easiest thing in the world to make, let me explain.

I love a good bean chilli.

The boy hates all beans and pulses.

Therefore I rarely bother to make bean chilli as it would take up too much space in the freezer if I batch cooked it, and it would be just me eating it.

So sometimes a tin of the stuff is what you need.

RETAIL FACTS – £1 for a 400g tin

#8 Sainsbury’s Bombay Potatoes and #9 Sainsbury’s Vegetable Curry

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Sainsbury’s has a great range of tinned products, and I am saving my favourite for #10. The vegetable curry made up a large part of my diet during busy times, and the bombay potatoes are something I love but the boy doesn’t, therefore I rarely get to eat it.

RETAIL FACTS – Both £1, both 400g tins.

#10 Sainsbury’s Chickpea Dhal

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This is probably my favourite ready meal of all time. I love this so much that I frequently will enter a Sainsbury’s store to exclusively see if this is in stock.

Yes, again I could make this myself for about 7p, and most of the time I do, as you well know from my previous experiments with Dhal’s. But sometimes I need something like this in stock, particularly for Monday nights when I return from counselling emotionally wrought and need to make something quick for dinner, and having a tin like this in stock will stop me from buying a mega cheesey pizza (also usually from Sainsbury’s funnily enough).

And call me shallow but I like the purple labels on their Indian tins, they look regal and lovely.

RETAIL FACTS – £1 for a 395g tin

So there you have it, my favourite own brand products from Sainsbury’s.

Are there any supermarkets or stores you would like to see similar blog posts for? Let me know in the comments.