The Cost of Living Part 2

Last time I focused on food and cooking, but lots of people have been asking me lately if I’m coping ok with the cost of living crisis, so I thought I would share what else I am doing to cut costs.

First of all I am thankfully on a fixed-rate mortgage for another year so I do not need to worry about my mortgage going up for at least another 12 months.

Secondly, I am lucky that we have had such a hot summer, so I haven’t needed to put the heating on since the end of March! That has certainly saved me a lot of money and means that the increased gas rates have not affected me much as yet. As I have continued with my increased payments I now have a few hundred pounds in credit with the energy company and in fact we were away so much in August that my bill actually went down last month!

However, as the incoming price hikes loom, and the uncertainty of how much it will cost us to heat the house we have made several contingency plans. Most of them are old-school moves!

First of all – wear a jumper! Add an extra layer to stay warm! I am planning on buying the girls new slippers and dressing gowns (if the old ones don’t fit anymore) and we have plenty of warm, snuggly throw blankets on the sofa to snuggle under.

We plan to keep the thermostat low and only turn on the heating for an hour or so every morning and evening as needed. Depending on what kind of winter we have this may or may not be enough… Our house thermostat is currently holding nicely around 22-23 degrees so I am waiting to see how long it retains the heat naturally….

We also have hot water bottles! You can get lovely kids ones with furry animal covers on (S has a hedgehog and A has a penguin). We took them camping and in winter both girls love to cuddle their snuggly warm hot water bottles while watching tv. It’s such an old school concept but hot water bottles are simple and cheap as a way to keep warm.

We also have winter quilts that we put on top of our duvets in winter for an extra layer of warmth – I’ve used one for years in winter and my bed is always toasty under it!

Lastly, I plan on going back to the office to work as often as I can. Originally I had planned to continue working from home as it is generally easier for my work-life balance but frankly I don’t want to be sitting in a cold house all day or having to pay to heat the house during the day. So I will be heading to the office as many days as I can to make use of their free heating. It feels incredibly sad to be saying that, but there we are. I also have a little electric mini-radiator and a hot water bottle so on the days when I do need to work from home I can hopefully heat my little workspace without needing to heat the whole house.

I am hopeful that these measures, along with whatever support the Government cooks up next will be enough to see us through the winter without too much drama.

I have a few big purchases coming up which are being paid off in installments (new sofas, loft boarding etc) so I’m aware some of my outgoings will be increasing for the next year but I have also cancelled my gym membership and some other subscriptions which will balance out these costs. I have also received my first pay rise in about 3 years, though it was only 4% which has not quite kept up with the current inflation, but it certainly helps and gives me an extra £100 a month to take home after taxes etc.

September has been an expensive month (on the back of the summer holidays which are always a bit pricey too!) however there are a few tricks I have for that too. Last year I opened a new bank account with several savings pots, so that I could save for really specific things. So for example I currently have a pot for: Swimming Lessons, Food, Petrol, Childcare, Holidays, Camping, and Clothes/Household Goods. Every month I will put a certain amount in each pot and it helps me to save for the bigger items as well as everyday needs.

Over the summer I had 1 pot for our trip to Kent, and another pot for our camping trip, so on our week away I knew exactly how much money we had to spend on eating out and ice creams and treats etc to help avoid going massively overboard and eating into our food or petrol money etc. (Although of course I spotted a dress I really liked, and a jumper, and ended up splurging on myself with some new clothes, but I hardly ever buy new clothes these days so it felt ok to treat myself!).

This meant that August holiday costs were planned for and budgeted, and I bought the girl’s uniforms back in June and July in second hand shops and supermarket sales to spread the costs out. The things I forgot to budget for are shoes! A has been given loads of hand me downs and doesn’t need any thankfully, but S has very wide feet and can only really buy shoes at Clarks as very few cheaper shops have wide fit options.

I bought her some lovely new leather school shoes but they light up and we found out those weren’t allowed (she had already worn them out in the mud so they couldn’t be returned) so we had to buy a second pair of regulation school shoes, and then I realised that she would also need new trainers for PE and new football boots! At £45-£50 each suddenly that’s £200 on shoes that we weren’t quite anticipating, but other than that we have managed to plan and budget reasonably well for everything else.

Thanks to my planning and organising we have built up credit with the energy company, as well as having at least a month’s worth of money in the childcare and swimming lessons pot, and I have gotten my food shopping and batch cooking down to a fine art. I have also signed up to JustPark and am occasionally renting out my driveway to people who need parking, although I must admit I don’t live close enough to anything useful to get many people wanting to park here! My friend who lives close to the hospital makes £5 a day almost every day but so far my bookings have been sporadic at best! I have already started a new savings pot for Christmas presents and I have lots of ideas for low-cost homemade presents so will hopefully not need to spend much on that either (though it always surprises me how much I actually do spend!).

Perhaps my next post will be homemade Christmas ideas, although I don’t want to give away all my cheap ideas before the big day!

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