Tuesday, 18 March 2014

March 2014 Hair Update

Well that month went quickly!
I am now into my 3rd month of washing my hair every other day. I never thought that would happen.
As I mentioned in my previous post I have been alternating between washing and using a dry shampoo/style extender in the form of Bumble & Bumble pret a powder.
Here is my 2nd day hair in all its glory.

This pot of wonderfullness is worth every penny. A little has gone a very long way and leaves no residue. I think this could easily last 6 months at the amount I am using.
I am starting to prefer day 2 hair (shock horror). My hair has more bounce and volume and my natural wave is more defined but with a bit of frizz.
It was 6 months since my last cut. I can now scrape it back into a pony but still a long way from the desired top knot. However there were signs that breakage was on the horizon so I bit the bullet and had a trim. Normally a trip to the hairdressers for me would be a drastic change in style that warranted the price tag of £27.50. I know £27.50! I will say it again £27.50 for nothing more than a trim.
Alas that equates to £4.58 a month so not all bad in the scheme of things and even better as I had been putting said amount away in another account for this day. So all accounted for! It was worth every penny. For that hour I felt pampered and it has given my hair some direction.
Growing out an inverted bob can be hard work when the style warrants an upkeep of a trim every 6-8 weeks.
It is now less inverted and getting to one length.
My ends are feeling a little dry so on the 2nd day I have been applying a cheap hair oil mask that I picked up from the local B & M store. For £1.99 this adds a bit more moisture.
Another dilemma I am having is the appearance of a few grey hairs. Having not dyed my hair for 4 months they are rearing their heads. At the moment it is not enough to reach for the dye but I am hoping with summer on its way a bit of sun will disguise any more that may decide to come through. I am 33, not old by any means but I don't want to look older than I am, but want to age gracefully and with minimal future upkeep on colour. This is a wait and see issue I think.
This month I picked up this to banish the frizz and tame those dry ends.

This is John Frieda Frizz Ease Nourishing Oil Elixir £6.99 from Superdrug. In one pump of oil this claims to nourish and block frizz for 50% smoother healthier hair.
Watch this space for an update at the end of the month.
Do you suffer from frizz? How do you achieve glossy hair?

Friday, 14 March 2014

Budget update March 2014

The budgets have been drawn up and spending is planned and allowed for. I came in £4.72 under target in the food spend for February which I am very happy about. I was determined to hit this target. Come the last few days there were a couple raised eyebrows on what was served up for dinner from the other half. I simply said it's ifits. If it's there we are eating it! 
March has started rather nicely and calmly. I have discovered the Money Hub app from Yourwealth.co.uk. This is an app that does it all. It allows you to budget your spend on each area of your spends and allows you to link these budgets to your bank and savings accounts. It also enables you to do some future financial planning such as setting savings and debt goal and works out your financial worth taking into consideration what your assets and liabilities are. 
It updates regularly so takes out the hard work of updating budget spreadsheets, but it costs £9.99 a year. This is worth it in my eyes there is no excuse of not having enough time to update as it is all done automatically. Therefore I have no excuse not to know what I have left to spend and where I have to make cutbacks.
A great app to have for on the go financial management.

Now back to business...
We are nearly half way into the month and I am on track to come in under budget for everything. I have had to move some budgets around though. There was some body lotion on offer at superdrug that I needed and wanted to take advantage of a buy 1 get 1 half price deal. Therefore I have decided to cut my fuel budget as this is way there is the most scope for change. Easy enough as I was under last month. I find it so liberating to be able to chop and change my budgets according to the current months requirement. There is simply no point in beating myself up about going over on one element. This is not set in stone and should be flexible within reason.
Do you change around your budget? 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Is it worth skimping?

During my family's quest to get more for our money it goes hand in hand that you try to get the same things you always have but for cheaper.
This for everyone is trial and error and before you realise you have trialed a dozen varieties and are still none the wiser and perhaps out of pocket after ditching the cheaper alternative.
A few items come to mind:
Ah black bags! The pain in the proverbial in our household. The cheap and overfilled ones that end up all over the floor caused by the slightest jagged edge. No one wants to pay more than you have to for these but at the same time you don't want to end up on your hands and knees retrieving mouldy bags and banana skins.

Coffee yum yum! A good cup of this can make or break my day. I tend to only buy branded coffee as I just cannot find a good value brand anywhere. If you know where let me know as I have given up looking. I am a definite snob on the coffee front I will not drink it for the sake of it especially if it's bad and will go so far as to snub a local coffee shop if they serve a latte from a machine. I mean how hard is it to froth some milk and add a shot?! A latte in a coffee shop nowadays is a treat so therefore it has to be good.
Clothes and shoes need to be good quality in order to last. I am by no means disputing that you can't get good quality items of clothes for cheap. For items like coats and boots I prefer to pay more. These are items that are likely to be worn for many years and are classic in style to take me from season to season, are functional and built to last such as a brown winter boot, waterproof coat and flip flops. I do skimp on seasonal fashion that updates my wardrobe that will either only be in for one season or what I know will not be my taste as I get older. I do like to peruse the online auction sites such as eBay for these items. More often than not getting good quality used items for a fraction of the price of what it would have been had I bought it on the high street. There is no better feeling than someone saying how much they love your dress and being able to proudly state you got it on ebay or from a charity shop for £5.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Shop your wardrobe

I had been guilty for so long of wearing the same combinations of clothing getting bored and then going out on a shopping spree to relieve the boredom. Then wearing said shopping spree items to death and beginning the cycle all over again.

My wardrobe was fit to bursting point and only when I was moving house did I realise my faux pas!
Discovering you have a multitude of black vests showed I had a shopping problem!
Sorting out your wardrobe and having a good delve in regularly is almost like going on a shopping spree without the credit card bill at the end of it! Hurray!
Since ditching my emotional and habitual shopping addiction I have changed the way I treat my wardrobe. 
For quite a while I have been rotating my wardrobe. What I mean by this is that I wear everything from right to left. When it is washed it is cleaned and hung on the left side of my wardrobe. (Geez OCD alert!) I have in my wardrobe enough items to rotate and wear something different for about a month. Then I am back to trying new combinations all over again. They key here is to mix it up or clash a few colours or prints. Accessorising is key for me. A statement necklace or a scarf can transform an outfit from casual to smart very easily.
This process has taught me one thing, Faddy fashion are just that Faddy. Any additions to the my wardrobe now are thought through and try to be timeless pieces. 
Every 3 months I take an afternoon, usually while Dexter is having his afternoon nap to assess my wardrobe. I take out the items that I just don't love wearing anymore. I no longer push these items to the black hole that is the bottom of my wardrobe. Instead I pop them on eBay. Boy do I love eBay. eBay is my mothership of retail! That is a post all if it's own. I literally could talk eBay all day.

I digress... 

So once I have had a quarterly rummage I deduce what I need and don't need and of course what I want. From this assessment ( I kid you not it gets a little obsessive!) I sell the unwanted items. Then with my mental list I trawl eBay or sales in the high street should there be any for the items that I need/want. This is the majority of the time paid for from the proceeds of the unwanted items. 
I do love to look good and feel good in what I wear but I just point blank refuse to pay full price. I rarely if ever buy anything that is full price. Unless it's primark of course!

This month I picked up this Joules gilet. I had my eye on this one last year. At £50 in the sale I could just not warrant the cost. I knew I wanted it and if I could be patient I would be able to get it eventually. So imagine my delight when I saw said gilet on eBay with just 10 minutes to go. I was all over it! Winning it for £21.50 including postage. Yes it's not brand new but who knows apart from me and now you. 
Looking good does not have to cost the earth...

How do you shop your wardrobe?

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Budget - Feeding the Family

Feeding the family on a budget is something I have been trying to do for a while.
It is the probably the main area that most families including myself try to focus on to slim the monthly spend.
Some months it is more some it is less than expected
For our 2 adults and 1 child household this is £325.00 per month for 2014. It would be so easy to just accept that as food prices increase so will my budget. As we know for most of us unfortunately our earnings don't increase in line with that. If only!
At some point a line has to be drawn in the sand and we have to get creative with the figures.
To some people my budget is too much and to others this is not enough. I don't know what it is to us just yet. It is a work in progress.
Tracking the family spend is an eye opener. You soon realise where your unneccesary spending is.

For January our grocery spend to include nappies and toiletries came to £374.81. A whopping £49.81 over budget. In that there was a few convenience food purchases which were unnecessary. I know if I cook all meals from scratch they are going to be tastier and cheaper. A win win situation. I love my food really I do. This girl didn't put on 4 stone during pregnancy eating lettuce!

This got me thinking did I need to buy that 4 bird roast on offer that was reduced and did I need that pizza that looked appetizing.
The answer is no.
I do believe in buying items if the deal is right and you buy them regulary and they aren't perishable. In January this was nappies for Little D. Morrison's were having a baby event where nappies were half price. I bought 2 boxes which are still going strong now.
In my defence though the freezer is full of meat and vegetables so I could take a good chunk of that off my total theoretically but I won't because that is cheating and it has been spent.
So far for February my spend is at £273.56. This leaves me £51.44 to spend until the end of month. From this I have to buy all the food for little D's 2nd birthday party and top up of bread, milk and fresh fruit and veg.
In an ideal world this should be easily achievable, the stores are full and menus are planned but a kids party too this is going to be a challenge.
I have to focus on using up what I have, after all its not there to be looked at. It isn't going to keep me warm at night. Although there is something very comforting about being able to open your fridge and cupboards and see they are full. Reflecting on it though I have lined the supermarkets pockets before I had to when it could have been sat in my bank account keeping the other pennies warm
More effort needed for sure.
I will update at the end of the month as to how I got on.
Going forward I have realised it's all well and good making a list and doing a meal plan but I have to incorporate and use what I have already. I am therefore for March going to take a stock take of what I have in the kitchen. Every morsel of food and condiment will be counted.
From this I will know what I have and don't have. I have never done this before so should be quite the eye opener as I like to think I know exactly what's in my cupboards.
From this I will be able to devise a meal plan utilising what I have and be able to make a more accurate list of what I need. 
Nobody wants to spend more than they have to on anything especially not me. Not the new me!
What are you doing to feed your family on a budget? 
What is your budget?

(Boy do I need to organise those food cupboards - excuse the mess!)

Monday, 17 February 2014

National chip week 17th - 23rd February

Today is the start of National Chip Week


Like me you are probably wanting to head to the nearest chippy for a portion of that oh so naughty fried potato. Is there actually a better smell that chips with lashings of vinegar!

Erm No....

I do love a chip shop chip but boy do they pack some calories.

Here is my recipe for a much healthier version.

Home baked healthy chips

Serves 1- can be multiplied to serve multiple easily

250g potatoes - Maris Piper is the usual potato of choice

Fry light

Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar to serve

Calories = 260

1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees (200 degrees for fan oven)
2. Peel the potatoes if desired or for extra fibre leave with the skin on
3. Slice each potato into chip like sticks and place in saucepan of salted boiling water.
4. Simmer for 5 minutes until partially cooked and drain and leave to air dry for a few minutes.
5. Spray a baking tray with fry light to coat  and then place the partially cooked potatoes in one layer. Spray the potatoes generously to coat and place at the top of the oven.
6. Leave to cook for 10 minutes, take out and rotate. Respray with fry light if needed and return to oven. Do this in 10 minute intervals until you have the desired bake.
7. Take out of the oven and season with sea salt and vinegar to your taste and of course lashing of tomato ketchup. Enjoy!!

How do you make your chips?

Friday, 14 February 2014

To the man in my life.. Happy Valentines x

You're not just my friend
You're my love
You're not just my love
You're my heart
You're not just my heart
You're my life
You're not just my life
You're my everything xxx