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Archive for April, 2006

Excited!

April 25th, 2006 at 02:16 am

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....

Cheap day out

April 17th, 2006 at 10:00 am

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!

2 Account System

April 14th, 2006 at 10:54 am

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?

£10 trap

April 12th, 2006 at 05:20 am

This is a handy name my sister and I use for a trap we’ve both fallen into at one time or another. It describes a situation where you might be out shopping, not actually on purpose, but because you’re passing the shops on the way to somewhere else or killing time while waiting for someone. Whatever the reason, you’re browsing aimlessly when you see something, say a pair of shoes or a CD priced at £9.99 or £7.99 and you think “Oh, that’s less than a tenner, that’s not a lot of money!” and before you know it you’ve spent £30 on stuff you never knew you wanted.
Well, since this time last year, when I started my budget I’ve managed to avoid the £10 trap mostly, by only buying things I’ve budgeted for, but I think I’ve discovered the frugal version of the £10 trap – and it’s the £1 trap! I don’t tend to go into £1 shops all that often, but just occasionally I will get some things for the Guides in there – 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 weren’t a bargain – I just thought they were a bargain because, hey they were only £1, and I was in a shop where the atmosphere said “everything in here is a bargain! Look at it all stacked on the floor and improperly labelled, with bad lighting! Bargain!” Needless to say, I put the merchandise down and headed out of the shop!

£3000 not disappeared into the void

April 11th, 2006 at 07:23 am

Received a letter from my tax free savings account to say that they received my money – it squeezed in at the last minute on the 5th of April. I won’t be making that mistake again, and intend to open this year’s sometime this month – even if I only put £20 in it, it’ll 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 I’ll be able to do that. I’m waiting for – 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 “couldn’t access my information”).

1st week over

April 7th, 2006 at 08:06 am

I’ve 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. Let’s see if I can keep it up next week.

Finally made a decision

April 3rd, 2006 at 05:31 am

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!