This is the next thing to be crossed off the wedding list. I suppose the most frugal thing to do would be to use a pair of shoes I already have, but since I have a pair of trainers (sneakers!) that I wear to work everyday, and my hiking boots, it's probably not the best thing to do. For our engagement we got some vouchers for a local shopping centre, so I used some of those to buy the shoes (not on sale, but the only things that were were those too-high, wooden or cork soled platforms I have mentioned before!) and fiance will use the rest to put towards his suit hire. At least we have sorted something else out without it costing us any actual cash!
This weekend we went to buy our wedding cake this weekend. It is a traditional iced fruitcake and can be stored until the wedding - we have been keeping an eye out for the cakes that have end dates after our wedding to hit the shelves. We used vouchers to pay for it, that we received for signing my fiance up to my car rescue plan, so essentially it was free! This has saved us £250! Or a little less once the florist has dressed it with greenery. Now all we have to do is not eat it for 3 months. Hard, because we both love fruitcake. Especially with some good, strong cheddar... On second thoughts, maybe the cake had better stay at my mum's.
I was reading Baselle's entry about wedding gift lists and inspired to write about our dilemma. When we first started planning the wedding I was absolutely determined not to have a gift list, for so many reasons. For starters, I know that fiance's guests are spending a lot of money just to come to the wedding (a 3500 mile plane trip will do that) and it is more important to us that they come and spend time with us as we won't be seeing them too frequently in the future, than it is that they bring us stuff. Add to that the troubles of bringing/shipping gifts from the far side of the Atlantic, or buying them online in a foreign currency, and it just wasn't an ordeal we wanted to put our guests through. Then I read an article which suggested that the average cost to a guest to attend a wedding (between transport, outfit, gift etc) is £400! That's just sickening! I don't want to cost all our friends and family that much! (We're already doing as much as we can on the other fronts by having our wedding at a cheap-travel time of year and a "come as you are" dress code) Finally, we are not really "matching set" kind of people. I think picking out china would suck my life right out of me. This seemed to be going ok for the first few months, and we've had some really lovely alternative gifts from some people - some friends of my parents have offered us the use of their holiday home for our first night, someone else is making a quilt. But now my mum keeps passing on messages from people about the wedding list - they want to know where it is, why don't we want presents, we have to have them . Stuff like that. I don't seem to be getting my point across.
We are in the new house at last, and it hasn't been a cheap weekend. Between our first grocery shop (fortunately I have been saving my customer reward vouchers from the store for this) and paying the rent and deposit I am now spent up until payday.
Have spent my lunch break wrangling with various utility suppliers to find out who supplies the propertyand get the bills into my name. It's a good thing I arrived at work an hour early today and can afford a long lunch break! (I totally misjudged the traffic coming in from the new house)
Yesterday we went to see the registrar who will marry us, and "give notice". This is where you give all your details (name, address, age, occupation), and declare that you're free to marry, so they can put the date of your wedding up for anyone to see in case there are objections. The registrar was really nice and really helpful, but he still relieved us of £60, and reminded us that there will be £300 more to pay on the day. It was nice to be able to go and do that together as until now, I have done a lot of the planning on my own. We had a fun time looking at all the other declarations on the notice board too - if I was going to write a novel I would definitely go to the registry office for inspiration! It's amazing how much of a backstory you can make up just based on those bits of information.
Edited to add - the registrar talked about readings too. I'd love to hear about all your ideas for wedding readings! We're not allowed to have anything religious because it's a civil ceremony, but we're open to ideas!
Our new house won't be ready until the weekend, but at least the tenancy agreement is in place. This month already looks like being an expensive one, as we are trying to get fiance set up to drive my car - I need to add him to my insurance, but we also need to pay for lessons and his driving test as he needs to get a UK licence within 12 months of moving here. We could do without the lessons, as he can already drive and passed a test in his own country but certain things are different here (like using the handbrake) and I think it'll work out cheaper for him to have a couple of lessons and pick up on things like that than to have him resit the test. I can cover it all out of this month's wages though. I got paid yesterday, and had £170 left from last month's pay to go into my wedding account. (I normally pay into my savings at the start of the month, but anything left over gets added to the wedding account too) Maybe I should start some kind of log for exactly where I'm up to with my wedding account. Something to think about...
I have just checked my spreadsheet and realised that my total expenditure last onth was £475.81, not whatever I posted it as. I had forgotten that I would have to pay to park at the airport when I went to pick fiance up. In the first week of May I have spent £96 - over what it normally is, but that includes filling up my car after the trip to the airport.
I am almost over the stress about the wedding now, because we seem to have found a few places that have not increased their rates. They are closer to where my parents live than the city centre (where we are actually getting married) but that's ok. Fiance is now getting stressed out though because he feels personally resonsible for checking out the hotels our overseas guests plan to stay in.
On the bright side, it looks like we may be able to move into the new house this week, and my parents will be able to pak their car in their garage again because all my stuff will be out.
We were doing quite well at planning our wedding on a budget. The venue we found was a bargain, and I made all my own invitations, save-the-dates and favours. We bought the champagne for toasts from a warehouse store on a greeat deal. The dress, well I've got to admit that noone could call it frugal, but it's covered (maybe I'll write about this some other time). We know that all the people coming from abroad will have to spend money on flights and stuff, so we've said we don't want gifts because we'd rather just have them there. And yesterday, fiance phoned a hotel, researching somewhere for his family to stay, and they said "Sure, we have rooms but our rates have doubled that weekend, because there's a major political conference in town" Booo! I booked my wedding way before they booked their stupid conference! And now, hotel prices have rocketed, we'll struggle to find a place to hold a rehearsal dinner, and noone will be able to get a cab to the wedding venue, because they'll all be busy!
I suppose a way of looking at this would be - if people can't come because they can't get a hotel room, I won't have to pay for as much food! Somehow, that doesn't feel like a major consolation.
Fiance arrived on Saturday, so I haven't been here much. But I am so pleased to have him here at last! We spent a relatively frugal weekend, which is good, because the gravity of supporting another person on just my wage has hit home. I know we can do it, but it's going to be a struggle until he can finally work in September. Need to buckle down and do my books for last month - I've been letting them slide.
I haven't been writing much here over the past week, because I have had so much to do. On Saturday, my fiance finally arrives in the UK for good! I have been trying to make some room for him at my parents' house, and get my stuff ready for when we move to our own place next month. I've also been to look at the house we will probably be moving to (long story, but we'll be renting from a friend and saving a lot of money by doing this)
All of this has meant that I haven't had time to spend too much money. I did go out on Saturday to look for some shoes for myself and my bridesmaid, but I didn't see anything I liked. Apparently, cork wedge heels are going to be the big thing this summer - but they're not quite what I had in mind for the wedding!
So, according to my excel sheet my total expenditure this month has been £464.82, and as my last bill went out of my account first thing this morning, that should be it until May. If only I could keep it to less than 50% of my income every month!
In other news I've increased my voluntary pension contributions to 3%, which takes up the whole of my most recent cost of living raise. I thought the maximum I could contribute to this was 9%, but apparently tey have just removed that cap altogether, and I can put as much as I like in....
My mum and I took my young cousin out to the cinema today. He had told her how much he wanted to see the Narnia film. We didn't think it was still on anywhere, and were surprised to see it at the local shopping centre. We took him down there this morning, and my mum went to get the tickets. When she cam back she remarked it was a real bargain at £3.80. I agreed this cinema is normally over £5 each. It turns out it was £3.80 for all three of us, as they have a promotion on during the school holiday for morning screenings. They are showing a different kids film every day, and for each child one adult gets in free. I just wish I was off work the rest of the week - I would take him down there every day!
For quite a while now, I have been using a 2 account system for my regular ingoings and outgoings. Basically, I have a regular current account with a large UK bank. The interest on this account is negligible, but it provides me with a debit card, free cheque book and free overdraft. I also have online access to this account. With the same bank I have an online only instant access savings account, which has unlimited withdrawals and instant online tranfers to my other accounts with the same bank. It also has a much better interest rate. (I'm talking a difference between 0.1% and 4.2%) As soon as my salary hits my account in themiddle of the month, I transfer it to my savings account, and then as I need the money to pay out rent and things, I draw it down into my current account. I also draw down an amount each week to cover any spending on my debit card - groceries and such. At the end of the month, I transfer any remaining money to a savings account I have with a different bank (one that is much less easy to access, but has a slightly better interest rate - the difference in the interest rate doesn't matter to me as much as the fact that I can't just get at that money whenever I want) This system has been working well for me for a while, as I actually make some interest on my salary while it's sitting in my account. I have also discovered that once the excess money is in my second savings account I almost never use it, even in emergencies (what it's there for). I usually just find that money from somewhere else - perhaps by going superfrugal on mygroceries for a while, or forcefully calling in any loans to friends and relations!
I also use my first savings account for the regular monthly amount I put away for gift buying, car maintenance and road tax, and regular health items (sight tests and dental check ups). This isn't working so well for me at the moment. I don't like having the 2 sets of money in the same place - it's just so untidy. I've resorted to keeping a note on a scrap of paper to remind me how much should be in my "regular expenses" account. And I keep losing it! It's not possible to "subaccount" money with this online account, so maybe it's time for another savings account?
This is a handy name my sister and I use for a trap weíve both fallen into at one time or another. It describes a situation where you might be out shopping, not actually on purpose, but because youíre passing the shops on the way to somewhere else or killing time while waiting for someone. Whatever the reason, youíre browsing aimlessly when you see something, say a pair of shoes or a CD priced at £9.99 or £7.99 and you think ďOh, thatís less than a tenner, thatís not a lot of money!Ē and before you know it youíve spent £30 on stuff you never knew you wanted.
Well, since this time last year, when I started my budget Iíve managed to avoid the £10 trap mostly, by only buying things Iíve budgeted for, but I think Iíve discovered the frugal version of the £10 trap Ė and itís the £1 trap! I donít tend to go into £1 shops all that often, but just occasionally I will get some things for the Guides in there Ė large packs of candles in particular tend to be cheap, as do colouring pens and paintbrushes. While I was in there recently, I found myself standing at the counter with the stuff for Guides, and also a pack of cleaning cloths and some clothes pegs. I looked at these last 2 items again and realised that I could easily find them for cheaper than £1 elsewhere in the same shopping centre. They werenít a bargain Ė I just thought they were a bargain because, hey they were only £1, and I was in a shop where the atmosphere said ďeverything in here is a bargain! Look at it all stacked on the floor and improperly labelled, with bad lighting! Bargain!Ē Needless to say, I put the merchandise down and headed out of the shop!
Received a letter from my tax free savings account to say that they received my money Ė it squeezed in at the last minute on the 5th of April. I wonít be making that mistake again, and intend to open this yearís sometime this month Ė even if I only put £20 in it, itíll be there for me to add to later on in the year.
About this time each year, I compile all my financial information together and add all the totals together on a sheet of paper. This week some of my end of tax year statements should start to come through and Iíll be able to do that. Iím waiting for Ė my pension illustration document, my AVC statement, my 2004/5 ISA statement, my student loan statement (I phoned for an automated update on this last week, but the system ďcouldnít access my informationĒ).
Iíve managed to get through the first week of the month fairly unscathed. Spent a total of £38 (These figures are rough, and I haven't checked them yet). £5.10 on groceries. £1.25 on snacks. £12.50 on fuel. £1.98 on stuff for guides. £3.10 on postage. £9.80 on books. 24p on toiletries. £3.60 on stationery. This is well within my budget for the week. Letís see if I can keep it up next week.
3 weeks on, and I still haven't had anything back from the bank I opened my savings account with. They promised to get back to me in 2 weeks, and I need to get my money in there by Wednesday. Long story short, spent another 20 minutes on the phone to them this morning to get the details for the account (which they assure me is open) and finally get the details and am told to call my regular bank and get them to transfer the money today. I told them I have internet banking, and ask if I can transfer the money that way, and the reply is yes, but I must do it at once. So, I've transferred £3000 to an account I don't have any paperwork for. This does worry me slightly, but the bank is a reputable high street operator that I already have a regular saver account with.
However, because I was only given about 5 minutes to decide how much I was going to put in, I decided to suck it up and put the maximum amount in, leaving me with £15 to last me the 10 days until I get paid. Probably a good thing - it'll be a challenge but a manageable one as long as I don't have to do any unforeseen work mileage.
This brings my current saving totals to:
2004/5 ISA £3000
2005/6 ISA £3000
Regular saver £120
Next week I should get my interest statement for my 2004/5 ISA too, so that probably has more in it.
On the wedding front, I've got an appointment to go for my final dress measurements next week before the dressmaker starts cutting it. I spoke to her last week, and she started to tell me about some new fabrics she has in. I thought I'd made this decision last time I was there, and I wouldn't be surprised if she was trying to direct me towards something considerably more expensive. I've already set my budget for the wedding though, and I'm not in a mood to be swayed!
Made another payment on my student loan and bought some groceries over the weekend. That takes this monthís outgoings to £736 which is £35 over the budget I had set. I should be able to get to the end of the week without spending anymore as I have all the stuff I need for lunches etc. Decided to have a good look at where that extra went and I discovered: £19 over on groceries, £1.63 on snacks, a massive £62 on gifts, £1 on phone bill, £1.81 on fuel, £8.40 on public transport, £3 on parking, £23.99 on guides, £60 on theatre and concerts, £10.51 on postage, £1 on books, 70p on charitable donations, £2.15 on stationery. Now, it doesnít take a genius to work out that all of that adds up to a lot more than £35. (In fact it makes £195.19) So where did I go under budget? Rent -£40, Food at work -91p, clothes -£10, Car maintenance -£40, car tax -£20, craft -£10, pilates -£20, eating out -£10, social drinks -£5, toiletries -£2.91. This makes £158.82. Some of these things make sense as they will balance out over e few months (for example, my Pilates class is paid for 6-weekly, but comes to £20 a month, and my entertainment overspend includes a yearís worth of theatre tickets, paid for in advance). Some of these things are reclaimable from work (parking and transport). It interests me that I was able to come in under budget on most of my "fun categories". On the upside even with this overspend I can still afford to put a good chunk of my monthly income into savings.
Not been forced into a decision about my tax free savings yet, as I've not had anything back from the bank I plan to open the account with. I should chase them up about that this week before the tax year ends next Wednesday.
I've been flat out this week, and can't see a break in it yet, what with training and other work commitments and Guides.
Over the past 2 days I have spent
£3 on groceries
80p on snacks at work
£12 on Mothers' Day gift (this came out of a dedicated gift account, which I put a regular amount into each month)
£8.59 on posting half the wedding invitations to fiance so he can send them out to foreign guests before he moves here
£4.70 on public transport to training (reimbursable)
£14 on supplies for guide activities (refundable)
£6 on book for sister (refundable - it better be or I won't be doing her any more favours!)
Also got £15 refunded in petrol expenses need to cash that cheque as soon as I can.
Total spent this month
Last year, I lent my sister some money to pay the tuition fees for her MA. It was money I had from an inheritance. My sister had received the same amount, but couldnít release it until her 25th birthday. It made sense to both of us for me to lend her the money until she could release her inheritance and pay me back in time for the wedding and some other stuff. However she approached the solicitor in December and he still hasnít sorted out the release. When she phoned him (after him not returning her calls for 2 weeks) he told her he forgot. All of this wouldnít be a problem, but for the fact that I wanted to maximise my tax free savings allowance for this year Ė and the deadline is the 5th of April. He has now told her there is no way he can clear the money by that date. So now, I canít decide what to do. Do I miss out on my allowance for this year? Or do I scrape together every penny I can from my current account and the easy access savings I have for emergencies and heap it into my allowance pot? And take a risk that this cash will clear before I incur any other major expenses so that I can pay myself back? Itís not too much of a risk Ė because in a real emergency I can always take this money out of my tax free savings. I just canít put it back again, because the limit is on how much you can pay in any one year and not how much you can have in it. Another advantage would be that once the money cleared, if I found that I had managed to pay back my emergency account out of my regular income, I could put it straight into next yearís allowance. The main downside to this is that apart from my student loan payment I would have to reduce my outgoings to almost nothing until payday in the middle of next month. I pay all my bills the day after pay day so it is only small incidental stuff left to come out, but the idea of having no safety net, for however short a time, worries me! Itís one thing not buying anything for 10 days, itís quite another not being able to!
Spent quite a bit on Saturday Ė but fortunately not of it was my money. I run a guide unit (like Girl Scouts) and had to get uniform for 2 of the girls and some other bits and pieces. 1 has already paid me for hers, the other will give me the money at the meeting this week. Also bought some badges and certificates for the girls who are making their promise this week, and some information leaflets for their parents. I can claim the cost of these back from unit funds (as long as I remember to do it)
On Sunday went to meet a friend who was helping me plan a workshop Iím meant to be delivering next month Ė we only had a small coke each so that was quite cheap , but the 70 mile round trip to our halfway meeting point will probably work out a bit more expensive!
Total spend so far this month 518
I've been lurking for long enough and feel it's time for me to start writing to keep track of where I'm up to.
I'm currently saving up for a wedding later this year and also to give us a good foundation for married life. As my fiance won't be able to work for several months leading up to the wedding, it's important I make as much headway now as I can (and I have already made some).
I don't have much debt to speak of - except for my student loans. These are interest free (at least, I only pay the inflation rate on them) so it makes more sense for me to put any spare cash I have into savings.
I have lots of different thoughts whizzing round in my head about my money most of the time, and hope I can use this journal to separate things out and keep track of my successes! (Once money has disappeared into my savings account I tend to forget about it and feel like I haven't achieved anything!)