Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Savings and interest...

Weather wise, the past few days have been hot and humid and the next few are forecast to be the same. Today however, is very different. It is 20C, cloudy with a cool, brisk wind. I have on my thinking cap, it is cool and lovely!
 
Living a simple life which is often frugal, being able to save in any way in this household, is our number one priority. If you are in debt, you need to know how much, what kind and where to make savings in your 'entire' household to begin to tackle it. I use the word 'entire' to speak not only for everyone who lives with you, but 'entire' as in using your brain as well. Everyone who lives with you, should ideally being singing off the same page, many brains make 'light' work! Your debt will diminish more quickly if you are all able to face up to it and tackle it as a unit. If not, don't despair, you can still do something. Anything is always better than nothing.

There are many blog's around that offer better advice on this but here is how we do it.

We no longer need to be as frugal as we once did as our financial circumstances have changed over the years. Do we stop? No we don't. It would be so easy once finances are better to quickly revert to the old slip shod way of running your life. That is the road to ruin my friends and once travelled, you should never, ever, want to travel it again.

If any of you have monetary savings, how often do you check the interest rate? Most good on-line savings accounts, offer a reasonable rate for just one year. On the anniversary of them opening, it will drop down massively, usually to just a fraction of a percent. This includes ISA's (or the new ones NISA's), especially if they have a fixed rate. Write down the end date of any account and check it close to that date to see what the rate will change to.

For example, we have a monthly savings and a bills account. We try to keep it all with one bank for ease of transfer from one to another although the new banking system is quicker than the old. However, our rate finished on the 19th July so a couple of days before that, we started looking around. Not much out there, and our bank in particular is one of the least attractive. The first things we did was to get them to convert the old ones into new ones, lot less work for us!

As their rate is low but we still want to use them, the amount in there will be kept as low as it can. What isn't needed in the next month will live in a higher interest ex fixed rate ISA, whose rate has dropped but is paying out more than any savings account I can find and more than some ISA's.

Yes, it may seem a lot of work but as we check and move money around all the time, we are used to it. If a company isn't willing to invest in us, we don't invest in them.

The same thing applies to your mortgage, check it, could you get better elsewhere? If so, can you move it. If you can, do so, if you can't why not? Find out the reason then move when you can.

More next time.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

De-frosting...

Welcome to three new followers, Kate Walters via Bloglovin, plus Leanne Bower and Morning's Minion via here.

The freezer check list that resides on the fridge door, had become a mess of incorrect items. Off we trundled to the outside freezer first, checked and chucked away just a few items of way outdated fruit juice. Ah well, can't be on top all the time.

Indoor freezer received the same check, no throwing away in here, now we are up to date. There are still a few winter meals inside that can be used up on cooler days - again, this is a screen shot so a little blurred - hope you can read it:
I kept out half a bag of our own blackcurrants from last year (painstakingly picked a few at a time and frozen), plus a bag of our rhubarb (which this year seems on strike). Once thawed, they were weighed and had equal amounts of sugar added to them to make blackcurrant and rhubarb jam.

Here they are in the pan, sugar slowly dissolving:
It took twice as long to set as normal, due to rhubarb being low on pectin. I had added quite a lot of lemon juice, which has made it quite tart but we like jam that way. Finally, it set, and here it is, so dark you can't even see through it!:
Look at those bedraggled hydrangea's in the background:)



Friday, 18 July 2014

More wild plums

Having harvested some wild cherry plums the other day, we went to 'our' spot to see if any
more were ready. Nope!

Not giving in that easily, the next morning, we set off to drive to the nearest location, we could have walked but it was roasting hot even at 9.00 am. Not many more red ones, but the wild yellow Mirabelle ones were beginning to show, so picked those instead:
We think maybe 3lb or so in the sink, soaked off the dirt and dust. There are a few red ones in there as you can see, we added them to our harvest from the other day and managed to a second tub of those, ready for the freezer:
We don't often have a Chinese takeaway but when we do, save the tubs. They get used time and time again. We froze 1.5lbs of the plums in a bag, for turning into plum and date winter chutney. The rest, 2 tubs with about 12oz in each, plus another tub of red ones, were frozen ready for pies/crumbles in the winter:
Such fantastic colours don't you think? You can read about Mirabelle plums here
I didn't know until I read it recently, that both types of these plums are banned in America.