Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 - Final shopping totals

No update for a while, but that doesn't mean I gave up on monitoring and working on the shopping challenge, However with the increased interest in couponing, I pretty much stopped using them after Oct/Nov's disasters and refusals from local stores. With more and more people using them to try and save money, then term 'coupon abuse' was thrown around way too much by staff - so I no longer try to redeem coupons that are printed from the internet.

Anyway - Totals from weeks 40+

41 - 90.73
42 - 85.21
43 - 93.00
44 - 93.00
Total 361.94

45 - 96.5
46 - 97.63
47 - 77.38
48 - 69.14
Total 369.14

49 - 79.55
50 - 88.21
51 - 66.85
52 - 76.00
Total 310.61

Making the entire year

BUDGET -£5200
SPENT - £4462.76
SAVINGS - £737.24

Left - Normal purchases / Right - Food shopping for a year

So, in the savings area alone - I have managed to pull back £730 - which I plunged straight into my driving lessons. My test is due in the new year, so I aim to pass.

I know I could make more savings, by simply shopping around at different stores, bulk buying etc.. but time constraints are really nipping at my heels. So this sizeable saving is something I am happy to have achieved. 

My best tip - is to try and grab the reduced items that appear in stores at the end of the evening (fruit,veg,meat etc). It can make a real impact on your pocket over time.

At present I am still considering what will be my 2014 challenge. Possibly a way of reorganising my time, as I am always so busy.. or at least - I feel like I am always busy.

This is the first year though, that I have stuck to a new years resolution, and achieved it, so pat on the back for me! :)

 Happy New Year all x

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Food Budget Task - weeks 37-40

This month is turning out to be the busiest month of the year and we are only two weeks into it.

My Open University course has started again, this time its my first ever level 3 module - and already has been very heavy going due to the huge amount of content I have to cover. In addition to this I am ramping up my driving lesson's (which I really should be enjoying by now) to four hours a week, as my test is looming at the end of the month. In addition to this my community group work is also heading towards our first ever large scale community and partnerships project - a local park clean up and renovation.. and I am about to undertake further training at CAB where I volunteer..
All this on top of a busy family life, where school activities, meetings and assembly's eat into study time.. laundry, housework.. the shopping appears to be taking one of the last priority slots now - especially as I have not been sleeping very well at all - because the children have been ill and restless.

Phew.... just.. counting to ten is one of my favourite things to do currently... ARGH!!

So anyway, down to business.
Week 37 - £88.91
Week 38 - £91.61
Week 39 - £85.31
Week 40 - £96.26

Total - £361.70

Twenty pound up on last months £342.70 - but still under the £400 4 weekly budget.

I have not been participating in any sort of couponing at all, and the time I used to spend reading money saving threads / forums has gone completely - as time is running away from me.
I am not even finding time to enjoy my hobby as much as normal, which isn't usually an issue - but I'm in that period where I am feeling numb from everything being thrown at me. The only place I can get five minutes solace is in the shower - and I am firmly back on the coffee! Tea just didn't quite cut it.

I am still baking my own cakes and piped biscuits, these I have down to an art now - thanks to a mixer my gran gave me, but the money I am saving is just pence in the grand scheme of things. I have a good larder stock, so maybe over time these pennies will add up and be a little more significant to notice. Double nectar points are a welcomed bonus - as they are running a promotion at Sainsbury's too.

Right now, money isn't an immediate issue -  I just wish I had more free time.
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Friday, 4 October 2013

Twitter and the new notification system


With all the confusion that appears to be raised in regards to the new notification system on twitter I felt, I should try to explain what is happening for those who are unhappy about the sudden and un-welcomed change.

Before I start, I have to outline the difference between a tweet and a retweet for those who are still unsure - this will help later on

 A Tweet is a status broadcast by a person on twitter - See below

 A retweet - is the action taken when you click the RT button on a tweet. See below

This status by @tetley_teafolk has been RETWEETED by me (as indicated by the green arrow in the top corner)


As you know RETWEETING and TWEETING means those messages are displayed in your own timeline for others to see.
Therefore, Its quite possible that over time other people have spotted you enter competitions, and have added you as a friend on twitter (or to a list)
This way when you RETWEET a competition tweet, it appears in their home feed, (or list feed) so they can also click RETWEET to enter the competition too.
Up until now, this has not been an issue until Twitter changed the notification system.
Now, if someone RETWEETS a COMPETITION TWEET that YOU have RETWEETED - This appears in your notifications..



This has caused a large number of people who enter competitions to freak out, thinking they have had entries invalidated by others who are Retweeting these.

In fact this notification serves no purpose other than to tell YOU that someone has simply RETWEETED  a COMPETITION TWEET that you have RETWEETED.

* No one is being disqualified,

*  Both you and the other person who has RETWEETED that company status has a VALID entry (Permitting they have followed all instructions, such as following etc) so DON'T PANIC.

*If you UN-RETWEET or cancel your entry, the other person will still have a valid entry - it will not delete their entry, as by clicking your RETWEET of the COMPANY TWEET - they actually RETWEETED the COMPANY TWEET - but twitter notified to let you know that they have done it. 

In my opinion, its a useless feature, and only serves to show me who has been looking at my wall and entering competitions that I have, which I am more than happy to have happen.

There is a slight difference however, when you have others RETWEET your own personal tweets - Some people who enter competitions choose to copy and paste the text to gain an entry like this -

I have copied and pasted the text above, to gain an entry into the @nectar prize draw.
Sometimes other people will RETWEET this - thinking they will gain an entry into the competition.
In some cases, superstitions have suggested this action may invalidate my entry - especially if the competition rules say strictly one tweet per person, so if you are worried about this you can rectify this situation.
If this happens (especially if it is a contest that required a limerick or picture entry), I simply copy the competition entry text - delete my original tweet and tweet it again.
This action deletes my tweet that the other person has RETWEETED.
Its also been noted that in the past, people have won by RETWEETING other peoples personal tweets - where they have been copied and pasted or generated via apps such as Twitninja or Twitaculous.

Therefore... With no real system in place for picking winners in twitter, the winner selection process for 99% of competitions is very hit and miss - but well worth the time as a lot of great promotions run there.

I hope this helps some of you who are freaking out at the fact others are RETWEETING YOUR CONTEST RETWEETS...
You are still entered, and so are they - so wish them luck :)

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Food Budget Task - Weeks 33 - 36

Another four weeks has flown by, this covering many weeks of the children's summer holiday too and I am still very pleased with my progress, although we are still under the £100 a week mark, I know we can do much better as in the past I have reduced this sum down. By reading posts on other websites and blogs I know I could do a lot more to reduce this - but at what point do you draw the line over how much time you can dedicate to couponing/travelling to different stores for the best deals when you have a busy schedule?

The past four weeks have found me couponing less and less, even postal mailings from other stores offering me discounts is not enough for me to justify travelling there in light of all the complaints I am reading online in regards to rejections of coupons and embarrassment to customers in trying to save money.

So, I have been simply making the most of what we have in the cupboards - and have stopped buying sweet treats, instead investing into flour, sugar and such to make our own treats. Admittedly they are eaten within days of being made (so I am watching my batch sizes) - but I know what ingredients are in them, and the children love to be involved with the cooking. So, I plan to keep this going for 4 weeks, to see if that skimps any extra pennies off the bill - or if it adds to it.. bags of nuts are quite expensive..

So without further ado - this is the last four weeks totals.

Week 33 - £85.98
Week 34 - £81.43
Week 35 - £84.15
Week 36 - £91.14

Totals - £342.70

Its £30 up on last months total, but does contain two fast food trips where we were out with the children and felt like a treat in the holidays.

I have also felt the twinge of Christmas after feeling the chill in the air, and spotting mince pies in Sainsbury's! This prompted me to have a crafty afternoon with the children, where we cut and recycled half of last years Christmas cards.


I have been keeping large boxes/trays that can be used to make hampers for members of my family this Christmas too, so I am bookmarking craft ideas ready for December in advance to cut back the cost of Christmas, as well as adding my own personal twist on the seasons fun.

Christmas should not be an expensive time, but for many it is a worry. Check out this MSE thread for hints and tips in advance of Christmas to cut back the cost.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Food Budget Task - weeks 29-32

Its been quite a strange day, so I thought I would catch up with things on my blog whilst I tie up the loose ends before I start dealing with the school uniform. The last week has made me think about how far I have come in regards to this saving task, but also the downside - which is something I wouldn't like to admit.

Since cutting back the cost of the weekly shop, I have gained half a stone in weight - whilst saving money. The idea of it is absurd - but it seems that since I have been buying cheaper but better quality joints of meat (at reduced prices or in bulk to freeze) we have just been eating more larger roasted meals than usual. The same with bakery bread - if I buy a small tin loaf, were eating it all in one day, which isn't all that great when were doing it a few times a week. Another issue is also that I am buying many reduced sticker puddings, Sainsbury's taste the difference range choc pots and delicious treats - that I wouldn't normally get which we are tucking into whilst relaxing in the evening.

I have not bought more sweets as such, I have kept the levels of fruit and veg the same as normal, and we did purchase a lot of Fanta during the last promotion in a frenzy to try to win prizes.

So, it is with great dismay that I declare the exercise bike back in use! Wahhh... Today is day one and I cycled for 20 mins, 6km - which wasn't too shabby for breaking me back into the swing of things.
I wrote down in my diary a note to myself to set up a meal planner for the week. Many families do this, so I am tempted to give it a go, and see if I can stick to it.

So for now I am focusing hard on saving money but not being tempted into buying those delectable treats that are not on my list. No matter how much I say "all in moderation" if its in the fridge.. its a temptation!

Anyway :drumrolls: My figures for the last four weeks are -

Week 29 - £76.94
Week 30 - £96.85
Week 31 - £60.75
Week 32 - £70.05

Total: £308.59 which is almost £20 less than last month.
Its my birthday next week though, but no party, so that shouldn't hit the budget too much. I might even skip the cake :)

Happy saving / couponing guys xx

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Food Budget Task - weeks 25-28

Ahhh, are you all enjoying the sun? I know we are but all this extra heat means extra drinks, ice lollies and BBQ's.. pushing the price of food upwards as demand rises

So before I discuss the past four weeks budget I want to celebrate with a little virtual dance as my grade for my previous OU module came back in DD206 - which was a high 2:1 yay!!
I have to say I was a little miffed because it literally was a few points away from a distinction, but it has set the bar for my first level 3 course which will be starting soon.

Also.. the money for my next 20 driving lessons is now saved away, bulked out successfully from cutting back the cost of the weekly shop along side couponing. I think the overall total of how much we have saved this year will be really pleasing - and I am proud to say this is the FIRST ever new years resolution I have made and kept, and I plan to challenge it head on next year.

So here are the results from weeks 25-28

Week 25 - £90.31
Week 26 - £84.85
Week 27 - £83.14
Week 28 - £66.00

Total - £324.30

This has increased a little from the previous month of £317.86 - however my sons 5th Birthday was in there - so cake, and a few extra snacks were purchased in light of this.

I was also very lucky to have won a super box of Mackies Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper Crisps in a twitter competition - This means we will not have to buy crisps for ages! Brilliant.

So as we go further into the heat, stay cool over those impulse buys and save save save!!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Food Budget Task Weeks 21-24

Short and sweet this month, no long winded post about coupon obsession as it seems to have ebbed somewhat - Its become more difficult to obtain the Sainsbury's conditional spend coupons, even with multiple nectar cards on the go - as the self service machines are spitting out hundreds if not thousands of £15 off your first online order coupons currently to almost every customer it can.

I have a stack of around 40 of them, but cant use them as I have already placed on online order, and they are for first time customers only.. Great!

So here are my results.

Week 21 - £100.99
Week 22 - £50.99
Week 23 - £97.23
Week 24 - £68.65

Totals - £317.86

I am a bit miffed however as my purse is short of around £12 which I assume was given to my daughter from the wrong pool of money. I have been quite strict in keeping the shopping money separate.

Must try harder.