Oooppps I cant actually afford to eat!

“Every time you borrow money, you’re robbing your future self.”–Nathan W. Morris

So a terrible thing happened after posting my I&E report last week. I started using Excel! Why is this such a terrible thing I hear you cry? Well I’m terrible at it for one and the other is that Mr Fire is a bit of an Excel genius. Its part of his day job so basically anything I can do, he can do way way WAY better! (but you know anyone is better at Excel then me including my 5 year old!) Plus its kinda hard to ask for help with it since he’s sick of the site of it by the time he comes home from his 9 hour day job and 80 mile commute.

Anyhoo, I have become afraid obsessed with the need to cut my living expenses. Again referring back to my report, I think we have lost our way a bit with the food budget. So this post is going to be about steps to reduce the foodbill and then I will provide an update next month on if its worked! I will keep going until this food bill is reduced! Our budget for food is £260 a month which isnt bad for three of us really. Is it?

Food

  1. Make a meal planner
    I’ve literally had this on my list of things to do for months. Why my resistance to it? I hate to think I’m tied into what to eat. Maybe its a commitment thing, but I dont want to be told what to eat each night and when! But if FIRE is at stake then I guess i’m willing to give it a try (reluctantly I might add) The jury is out on whether a monthly or weekly planner is best but I’m going to start fortnightly and then go from there.

2. Make a shopping list based on your meal planner.
A no-brainer I suppose, only buy for the meals on your planner. I’m going to create a shopping list in Excel and tick/untick what I need each week. I’ve been telling Mr Fire I will be taking a “weekly stock take” of the food in our cupboards to which I got a raised eyebrow. Did I mention the word “obsessive” yet?
3. Buy household items once a month and fresh once a week.
I’ve never heard of this one before. Sounds like a good idea since you simply calculate what you need for the month on the items that are non perishable. I think this should help us alot since we live in the middle of nowhere now and running out of something simply means going without it until the net shopping trip.

4. Skip the meat
Yeah I’m not going to do this one……. I can see how it will save ALOT on the food bill but we love our chicken so maybe this can be edited to swapping to cheaper cuts and buying it as cheaply as possibly.

5. Batch Cooking and freeze
I used to do this way back when I lived a different life with my abusive ex. Did it save us money? Not a clue to be honest since only me and the little one ate it whilst Mr X reached for the microwave ready meal stash he had in the freezer…..

6. Swap to own brands
Another good one but we already shop in Aldi so not much wiggle room there. Well worth the swap though if anyone isn’t already doing it.

Food

How do you save money on your food bill?

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Investing in me: Epic fail all round

“For I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love.”— The Beatles

I’m ashamed to admit that I have slipped since announcing to the world  that I was planning to invest in myself as well as a the Financial side of investing (Its here if you missed it)

The joy/burden of moving took a toll on me and I had to watch I didn’t fall back down into the darkness that is depression. I took a break over Christmas (naturally) and whilst I’m not so sure I nurtured my mental health to the best of my abilities I almost definitely nurtured my greedy appetite and I find myself typing here even wider than ever. I’d like to pretend I did it all in the name of research so I can then turn my flabby excess excuse into a buff ripped machine, unveiling the steps that everyone can take to achieve a body worthy of the gods. But the truth is, I LOVE to eat and I’m greedy!

I was always one of those girls. You know the ones with the skinny body whilst wolfing down a big Mac Meal. I used to have people coming up to me in the street to ask if I was a model as I was so thin and slender.  Do you know what? I hated it! I could never put weight on. On my 21st birthday I weighted 6 stone and I ate like a horse. I wasnt even gaining weight through pregnancy and on the day of my daughters birth I weighed 9 stone 7lb. Yep at 9 months pregnant thats all I weighed. But then it happened. I couldn’t put any weight on at all during the first two weeks of my daughters birth and whilst she (very normally) doubled her weight, mine halved. I under went every test there was until they found it. I have colitis.

Of course its a good thing they found what was wrong with me and they fixed it with medication which I have to take unfortunately for life (notice my constant medication tab in my I&E reports?) The only downside to being healthy is putting on weight. I am now a normal 30 something year old so if I look too long at the cheesecake then I put on weight.

But enough of the wallowing, lets get something done about it. A funny thing happened over Christmas. Mr Fire and I remembered that we joined a health spa a few months back and now that we have moved we are very close to it! We did join with a lot of discounts but its worth a quick check of how cheap we actually got it.

spa

Hmmm so it wasnt really that expensive as long as we use it I guess…… Anyway, there is no excuse for me to not get fit now so over the next month I will  be building up my fitness again and hopefully I’ll see some change on the scales (actually need to buy some first…)

Remember my FIRE triangle?

fire

After looking again at my expenses I think I need to spend alot more effort reducing my expenses opposed to striving forward trying to make money. So Food is a horrific area of spend for me so that’s the one thats getting the attention first.

Any ideas on how to save on a food bill?

How to Make Money: Making Money from Blogging

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore” –Yogi Berra

After scaring myself silly last week with my Income and Expense report, I’ve decided to write out some Financial Independence Goals based on my many Powerpoints of how I will reach FIRE. Strangely making money from my old blog seemed to demotivate me. I used to make money from my old blog without really trying, so why would I have such an aversion to it now?

I never really knew how I made the money I did from it and it certainly wasn’t my main focus especially with a full time job. I decided to do some digging and create my blueprint for making money from a blog from the various sources on the net.

Firstly its important to remember I haven’t touched my blog since 2010 and its a fashion blog. I don’t really have too much interest in fashion anymore so I might as well be starting from scratch! All my readers have long gone and I’m left with an empty shell of a site (sob!) Its also on Blogger which I have no clue how to use! (Will have to pop that on the to do list!)

The Plan

The Basics

Obvious as it sounds but you have to have a blog! So if your hoping to follow along with this once I’ve made my millions from my fashion blog (yeah right……) After that you have to start writing content. There’s a whole heap of advice on Google about making the content interesting and engaging but I’m not sure how that works when its fashion?

So my take on this is to begin. Content will improve as I gain more practice and hopefully become more enthusiastic about it.

Find Readers

After some more research I wildly sifted through the hundreds of fashion blogs out there and some of them I really enjoyed (surprisingly) Once I read through the comments I noticed just a hint of self promotion in each one and that seemed to be ok with the fashion blog community!

I am going to start commenting on fashion blogs that I enjoy and do a tad of self advertising and see where that gets me. I’m going to dedicate a whole heap of time to gaining readers so I’m sure I’ll end up creating a guide at some point!

Build Engagement

This one is tricky to me.How can you engage people with mere fashion? I know it seems like I’m really berating fashion bloggers (and I shouldn’t as some make thousands!) but I’m really not. This one will be a work in progress!

Make Money

Ah the fun one! If only we could all skip to the end! Bloggers on th whole make money through a variety of streams should as affiliate links, sponsored content, marketing campaigns.

The Plan

How awesomely scary is this picture that I found over at Pro Blogger!

How-to-Make-Money-Blogging

Does anyone have any hints or tips for me? If you use Blogger then please help me!

How to save money: A beginners guide to ISA’s

Since my post about saving money last month, I’ve been researching the heck out of good old Individual Saving Accounts (more commonly known as Isa”s) I’ve had my cash Isa since they first came about when I was the tender age of Seventeen and I didn’t have a clue what to do with it. My sister was the brains of the family and she ordered me to open one as soon as they came out but then left me to it! I’ve come along way since then and my poor old neglected Isa has come with me. I’m amazed now at how much they have grown!

Guide to Isa's

Isa’s are a way of earning interest on your money without having to pay tax on the money invested or the interest earned on that money. Isa’s are commonly known as a tax wrapper as it is protected from tax. Isa’s are only available to those within the UK.

There are currently five types of Isa in the UK:

  • Cash Isa
  • Stocks and Shares Isa
  • Innovative Finance Isa
  • Help to buy Isa
  • Lifetime Isa

 

Cash Isa

A cash Isa is essentially a savings account that you open with any bank/building society. It tends to have a higher interest rate then a regular savings account and has the added benefit of being tax free. Your initial deposit is always returned and that is  guaranteed with a bonus of any interest earned on it. The money is usually available instantly making it perfect for short term saving or even as the emergency fund account. There are still a variety of account types – Instant access, regular savings and fixed rate deals so be sure to open up the account that is right for you.

Stocks and Shares Isa

A Stocks and Shares Isa is very different from a cash Isa as your taking the leap from saving and dipping a toe into the world of investing. This can be things like Corporate Bonds (lending money to business/government), Shares (investing in individual companies) and Funds (mix of bonds and shares but with a specific theme). All these will be covered over the course of my journey. You can buy Stocks and Shares Isa’s from bank/building society and online. Its a two step process where you have to choose the provider first and then choose which types on investment you want. Its important to remember as well that if you withdraw money from your Stocks and Share’s Isa then it can not be reinvested and putting it back into the account will decrease your annual allowance so think really carefully before taking it out. Its a good idea to split your money between both Cash and Stocks and Shares if you think you may need the money but still fancy trying investing.

Innovative Finance Isa (IFISA)

A brand spanking new Isa for 2016.  This Isa is Peer to Peer lending which simply, put is lending your money directly to borrowers without the bank. This way you get the interest in your pocket without banking fee’s for lending it out. Typically the interest rates around this type of Isa are double the usual rate of a Cash Isa  however it is important to note that the IFISA is currently not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme so its essential to check what type of protection scheme is in place before handing over your hard earned cash.

Help to Buy Isa

This Isa is designed specifically for first time home buyers and offers a nice little Government bonus as an incentive/ help you get your foot on the ladder. Simply put you put your money in this Isa and the government boost your savings by 25%, pretty sweet huh? The maximum the Government will give you though is £3k. They are available  from most banks/building societies, and you can save a maximum of £200 every month. You can even fire up your saving by making your first deposit £1,200. You can only use this Isa to buy your first house though so its not suitable for anyone  who already own a property.

Lifetime Isa

New for 2017, this account is for First time home buyers or saving for after your 60 since if you use it for something other than these two you are hit with a whopping 25% fee on the amount you withdraw! Your only able to pay £4k from your allowance into this Isa but the Government will give you a nice little bonus of 25%/ max of £1k per year. You can only pay into this account until you either buy your first home or until you reach the age of 50. Then the account will remain open but you can not pay anything in to it. Once you hit 60 the money can be withdrawn fee free and used for whatever you want. This is best for the youngsters out there at the ripe old age of 18 or for people with extra cash that can max it each year and gain a tidy little profit at the end.

Here’s a handy little comparison chart:

Compare IsaSo I hope you’ve gained some insight into Isa’s, I know I feel a lot more switched on to making my money work for me once I have some to save of course.

How do you use your Isa allowance?

December 2017 Income and Expense Report

“Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” –John Wayne

Is it strange I can never tell if I like doing this? This is only my second one of these but it makes me feel very odd and strangely vulnerable? Ah well I guess FIRE is all about stepping outside your comfort zone so here we go….deep breathe….

Positive from last month is that I actually made some money on EBAY! it was pretty painless although I definitely did make some mistakes (see here!) which meant I could have made more.

So here it is:

Dec 17

 

So as you may have read, I’ve moved house! This has come with a HUGE amount of expenses that we couldn’t predict! We did furnish our house with items from the British Heart Foundation so its a win win as we get some really good quality furniture for less whilst also supporting a worthwhile charity. On the other hand of course we spent more money than we have AGAIN!

As you can tell from the Income. Mr Fire and I live together now and he has agreed to let me publish his earnings. Things look alot better with his money coming in however FIRE is not possible with his earnings alone.

We have a HUGE plan for FIRE that is a massive task ahead of us. I’m hoping to share it soon on the blog once I understand the fine details (Have I mentioned Mr Fire is “practically” an a accountant? I’m the exact opposite of that)

After some fab advice from Weenie and TFS I now understand the my “side hustles” aren’t going to be an over night success thing. Matched Betting sounds like the easiest way to make money quickly whilst I bide my time developing and exploring other avenues.

Hows your I&E looking this month? I hope your savings targets are on track and FIRE is there in the distance. Looking for any helpful insights into how to get on track for FIRE! expenses are killing me!

How to Make Money: What you need to get selling!

“Money is a terrible master but an excellent servant. –P.T. Barnum”

Happy New Year! My first post of the year – phew. I had a really good Christmas in the new house and feel recharged to tackle FIRE for 2018. It feels symbolic to really start the “doing” in a new year. But enough of that, lets get back to EBAY! I sold quite a few items last month using my EBAY guide which took me by surprise (you can see how I did in income report on Thursday!) and I had a mad dash to find packaging materials and rushing off to the post office! So it seems a missed a few key pointers out of my guide – what you actually need to get set up. so here is my part two: (told you I’d be honest!)

Capture

 

  1. What are you going to sell?
    You can sell literally absolutely anything on EBAY! Clothes, electrical items, cars, boats you name it! So for me I’m starting with unwanted, surplus items which currently is clothes and definitely not boats!
  2. How will you package them?
    A mentioned above this one really caught me out. I used anything and everything I could find, A4 paper boxes, reused amazon boxes, wrapping paper. I made sure it looked well presented to send but I really hadn’t thought it through when I got to the post office! The best way to tackle packing is to match it to what  your sending. For me, the best way to package clothes is with brown parcel paper, tape and a permanent marker (bought a roll of paper, pen and tape for £1.99 from a local discount store before I moved) Shoes go much better in those little brown packets with bubble wrap on the inside, so i’ll be seeing if family/friends have any left over from Christmas present orders or purchasing 4 for 99p from Home Bargins.
  3. Postage Charges
    This was the death of me. I really had no clue of royal mails sizes and postage prices and found each item was costing £2.90 (small package) to send. This really cut down my profits! The very kind lady in the post office told me as I was a posting my last parcel “Your stupid if you couldn’t fit that into a smaller parcel” Got to love good customer service! She was right though, I had blindly trusted I would get the postage right.  Here’s Royal Mail’s official size document but basic rule of thumb is if its second class and A4 or below, postage is £1.22. Once its above that it jumps to £2.90.

4. Who are you posting it with?
Again my naivety shone through on this one. I hadn’t thought of any way other than standing in the post office with 30 other people to post my packages. I now know there are mutlplie ways:

Post through EBAY – You have the option of using EBAY Shutl service or Royal Mail, you can print the label off too. You get postage at a discounted rate here by taking advantage of online discounts. Thing to watch out for though is the labels “expire” after a certain amount of time and you will need to print a new label out.

Post through Paypal – This is discounted Royal Mail prices and you can avoid the usual post office ques by using the “c,lick and collect” area of your local post office. Your parcel can even be tracked!

Usual way of taking it to the post office and paying for postage – Nothing wrong with this way if your happy to wait in line  and are a dab hand at postage sizes.

I’m really liking the idea of online postage as it also means the money comes straight out. Currently I have been forgetting to transfer my postage fees over after paying for them my self!

5. Your Time

It actually took me much longer than I thought not only to take the photo’s, write the descriptions and check the listing but also to wrap and go to the post office. Many sellers have a designated day they send parcels and have it noted in the description of all their items.

 

Capture

So there you have it. Everything you need to know to go forth and sell (hopefully!) As for me, I’m currently unable to get to a post office since I now live in the middle of no where and still cant drive!

Do you sell on Ebay? Is there anything I’ve missed?

Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs: I am a Triangle

“It’s not the situation, but whether we react (negative) or respond (positive) to the situation that’s important” –Zig Ziglar

During my research of all things money, I realised that I am a little lost. Well actually alot lost. As I’ve mentioned more than a few times, I’m not financially wired. In fact Mr Fire calls my money management “the shop floor” technique. I seem to see money in its rawest form, similar to cash in a till. You pay for something and it leaves the till, you make money and it goes in the till. All my money (or lack ot it) where I can see it. This doesn’t really have any longevity to it. It got me thinking, more than usual.

Could I use my journey to financial independence not just to invest financially but to also invest in myself. I always thought I was quite self aware. I have suffered with my mental health for over a decade and I never conformed to “covering it up” as it has been suggested to me numerous times (more than you could imagine)

This all lead up to me finding Maslow’s hierachy of needs. I’m not a psychologist so I will not try to fully divulge his studies here on my humble little blog. In a nutshell, Maslow created a triangle based on the order in which humans desire to fulfill certain needs with the ultimate goal being self actualization.  A few hours of research brought up that many financial independence bloggers have adapted this triangle to reflect their journey to financial freedom.

I do love a good picture so I decided to create my own version too (Maslow’s original pyramid is the title pic)

Needs

fire

I’m sure these are not perfect but that’s ok. I’m starting out on my journey and I’m happy to change them as I grown and learn.

I actually found it really good motivation, so now I will be aiming to work through both my financial triangle and also my own version of Maslow’s to form a  nice road map to get where I want to go.

What do you think of Maslow’s triangle? what keeps you focused?