newbie here in need of help..please

(26 Posts)
princessconsuelabannahammock Fri 16-Sep-16 20:06:24

Help needed please. Due to a cock up We have received an unexpected bill for £1700. This is being looked into but they are unlikely to give us long to pay.

So I need a budget. I shop at aldi, we don't have an extravagant lifestyle or much in the way of childcare costs.

We live on one salary and with ctc we bring in £1800 a month and have no mortgage yet still can't make it stretch. We have no savings and I fear something breaking.

Tell me how I can get better at this as I need to find £1700 in a few months. Spent all afternoon crying just feeling overwhelmed right now.

Allalonenow Fri 16-Sep-16 20:17:06

Well mop up your tears to start with.
Before you can start to save up money for the bill, you need to find out where your money is actually going each month.
Start by listing all your monthly outgoings.
Also keep a detailed record of everything that you spend on a day to day basis, do this for about two weeks.

Once you know where you are spending, you can come up with stategies for cutting back. It should be doable on your income.

princessconsuelabannahammock Fri 16-Sep-16 20:29:15

I know we have a good income. I must spend far too much food shopping and on random Amazon purchases. I always thought we were quite frugal. I have no nice clothes, rarely go out, no holidays no expensive hobbies etc. Just a quick for up and bills come to £600 a month with out food and fuel. They add another £550. No idea where the other £550 goes 😢

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 16-Sep-16 21:43:10

Ok, so the random Amazon spending can stop, if you don't know where money is going frittering is likely.

It's fixable though.

Have you been through bills and bank statements to see what went where?

princessconsuelabannahammock Fri 16-Sep-16 22:08:30

Thanks for your replies. I have no energy to do it this evening. Tomorrow I will get my big girl pants on and tackle this. Yes all non essential spending will be stopped. We had a lot of success a couple of years ago with only dealing in cash so will try that again - it's too easy to just pop things in the card.

I need to start meal planning and start doing a few more meat free recipes - luckily family not very picky.

I will be unsubscribing myself from all shopping related emails as I can't resist a bargain.

Luckily I have already saved with park for Christmas so I don't have to budget for that.

Kids and hubby need new clothes but I can stretch a little more wear out of them.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sat 17-Sep-16 08:45:58

So first step this morning is to work out a month long meal plan. I aim to spend £40 a week to feed 2 adults and 2 dc. Hubby and son will eat leftovers for lunch and daughter gets school dinners.

Is that doable? Happy to slash meat consumption. We don't really drink. I can cook and have time to cook from scratch and batch cook. Does anyone have a any good recipes? I am trying not to rely on cheap carbs.
Currently I shop at lidl .

We have eggs or porridge for breakfast. I have an Apple tree so will be making puree to enhance it - off BlackBerry picking today.

Lunch will be leftovers.

I thought once or twice a week we could have a nice veg curry or stew.

We rarely eat red meat but I am thinking of buying a big joint a week and stretching it over several meals a la the mumsnet chicken. We have a local market where there is a butcher in a van that does some good deals so I might head there and stock the freezer.

I think I am quite good at not wasting food but I am a sucker for deals. So I have a cupboard full of ingredients - 8 cans of coconut milk for example. So I am going to take an inventory and use them up before buying anything else. I add lentils to mince to stretch it out already but I think currently my food shop is in the region of £80 a week so this is going to be quite an adjustment.

This afternoon I will go through the bills and see what I actually spend.

Fluffycloudland77 Sat 17-Sep-16 09:27:47

£40 is doable if there's school meals too. There's lots of frugal meals on moneysaving expert plus winter is cheaper to cater for than winter.

Unlockable Sat 17-Sep-16 09:33:18

Writing an inventory of your food stuffs will help. I do this as a routine now
I bet you have loads in freezer and cupboard and can get away with buying bare minimum to make what you have Into meals

My food shopping is in 2 parts. I pick up the reduced stuff at the end of the day and freeze it, the dented tins etc in the whoops section when I see them and then make a meal plan each week based in what I have managed to get cheap. I then buy the fresh bits to go with, almost daily as I get that reduced too. Very time consuming but my supermarket bill including cleaning and shampoo and stuff is £25 a week for 1 adult and 2 preteens.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sat 17-Sep-16 13:45:30

Thanks for your replies. Good to know Its doable. I had 6 tins of toms, 4 lots of the same curry paste, 8 tins of coconut milk and enough oats to keep us in porridge all winter.

Found loads of frozen fruit and veg.

Next job to coombe through bank statements and see what I have been actually spending, then stop spending it.

The thing is I think I am very frugal and we don't have an extravagant lifestyle by any means but I suppose it's all relative. There are lots of worse off people than me so I should count my blessings. I have decided to be positive about this and use this experience to learn to budget properly then when we have paid this bill off i will use the excess to actually save.

Charlesroi Sun 18-Sep-16 02:48:35

£1700 - ouch.
Excellent advice already given above but
- if you've got any insurances/utilities/broadband renewals coming up, make sure you go through cashback sites
- check you are getting the best deals for the above
- Like Unlockable I always look in the reduced section at supermarkets. Often it's a load of processed rubbish but you do get decent stuff you can make a meal with, or jazz up a plain meal
- give yourselves 'pocket money', so you can afford the odd small treat
- would it be possible to get an interest-free credit card and stick the bill on that? Obviously you need to sort out where your money is going first (and check the bill wouldn't count as a cash withdrawal) and not put any other spending on it.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sun 18-Sep-16 08:32:32

Charles- we looked into a credit card but as we have virtually no borrowings we were declined! As a desperate measure I can borrow it from my dad but I would still need to pay it back obvs. I am trying to find out whose fault it is, I think the company are to blame and whilst I am prepared to pay it back we need a decent lenght of time in order to do so. I am looking at a Xmas evening job, currently I am a sahm. A proper job would use my whole salary in childcare cost and my youngest doesn't get his funded hours yet so it's difficult. It would mean working all evening after having my son all day but needs must.

Today I am having a clear out to see what I can eBay. Need to write a month long meal plan.

midnightmoomoo Sun 18-Sep-16 08:58:45

Arrange to pay your council tax over twelve months instead of ten, we did this when my DH was out of work and the £25 ish saved a month meant we could pay my car insurance DD.
You've had some fab advice already. On a tight food budget, take cash and a list and before you hit the checkout, go through your trolley and put back anything that's snuck in!
We have friends whose income has dropped and she keeps raving on about lidl.....I was shopping in there with £40 a week for five of us for months and just the thought of that place brings back all the negative feelings associated with that time.

Allalonenow Sun 18-Sep-16 09:04:37

While it's sensible to have a meal plan which uses up the food you already have in the house, shopping for supermarket yellow stickers can be very cheap indeed, so a combination of the two might work for you.
Find out when your favourite/nearby stores put out their reduced food, often it's at about 6pm, not always convenient for someone with young children.
The down side of the yellow sticker shop is that there is no choice, so your meal plan has to be flexible.

Have you started keeping a record of your day to day expenditure? That is how you will find out where that £500 that you can't account for each month, is going. It's that area where you will be able to make substantial savings.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sun 18-Sep-16 09:10:35

I already shop there but looking at the bank statements there are lots of little too ups at Tesco which amount to quite a lot over the month. I have also discovered dh has been buying lunch at work and snacks and drinks at the garage - that's £50 a month saved.

I need to block Amazon! Problem is now is a really busy time for birthdays. Big sigh. I should find out later this week how long we should have to pay this debt back and I will be negotiating like crazy - sadly they can't have what I haven't got.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sun 18-Sep-16 09:17:44

I am not sure where that £500 has gone in truth, still looking into it. Top up shops, charity shop clothes, school uniform, parking and Amazon purchases. Recently bought some books and Xmas bargains.
The odd coffee whilst at softplay and the very occasional lunch out with the kids.

I did have a cleaner at £120 a month but recently cancelled her as son started nursery 2 mornings a week - I am hoping I won't have to take him out of that.

Getting on top of the food shop and not driving when I could walk will make a big difference. Also sending back my new coat and skirt that have just arrived. Sob sob that's £100 saved.

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 18-Sep-16 09:43:12

So your Dh is frittering it on snacks. He can take lunch with him with a quick homemade snack like vegan brownies (sounds vile, tastes lovely, costs pennies) and a drink/flask etc.

Then he can leave his wallet at home with you.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sun 18-Sep-16 10:41:20

He will be leaving his wallet at home from now on. He has a diet coke habit! I will make him lunch from now on. He isn't a man child and works hard at work and home, so I am happy to do this - he just forgets about food until he is hungry then orders food.

My fear is that I am the problem and I have been frittering away the cash and I feel so bad. I am not one for wallowing so it's time to just sort it out.

Meal planning and food shopping are the first place to start. Until relatively recently I have always been skint so I just need to get back into the habit.

Allalonenow Sun 18-Sep-16 15:12:17

You seem to be doing grand princess.
It would be worth asking the company if you could pay in installments, tell them you could manage if it were split into three or four payments? Surely they would see the sence in that.

Charlesroi Sun 18-Sep-16 16:45:56

Ah right OP. It sounds like you're doing all you can for now, so keep remembering they can't take what you don't have.

You might find the supermarkets are starting to hire now for Christmas and the sales (plus we've got Halloween and Bonfire night coming up). I've noticed the Christmas stuff has started creeping in to our local Asda! Pubs and restaurants will be starting to ramp it up too, so hopefully you'll be able to pick up something

Fluffycloudland77 Sun 18-Sep-16 16:55:51

I do dhs lunch, otherwise it'd be sausage rolls.

Homebargains and b&m can be excellent for bottles of pop like dc.

princessconsuelabannahammock Sun 18-Sep-16 18:37:01

Tomorrow after my shift in a charity shop i am going to trot around the local employment agencies to see if i can get a warehouse job, most of them should offer evening work. It going to kill me after looking after my toddler all day!

I am hoping to negotiate a lenghty period to repay - it was a bill we or they hadnt set up a DD debit for so i will still have current payments to make on top. They are trawling through the phone records to see whose fault it is, i am hoping it proves we did what we were supposed to do and that they give us a discount based on that. Fingers crossed.

Allalonenow Sun 18-Sep-16 18:47:31

YY to fingers crossed!

princessconsuelabannahammock Tue 20-Sep-16 08:00:56

Good news. I will now have to start paying by dd but have been given 3 years to pay off the debt at £30 a month. So I still need to find an extra £130 a month but it could have been a lot worse.

The silver lining is in have discovered I am not actually any good at being frugal and I will be changing that forthwith.

Thanks for all the advice. Today I am doing my first £40 food shop.

Allalonenow Tue 20-Sep-16 12:03:23

Oh that is good news, well done on negotiating that!

If you run out of ideas on what to make with your storecupboard food, post a list of what you have on Food board, posters will come up with some fab suggestions for you.

Charlesroi Wed 21-Sep-16 17:28:12

Yay - good news!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now