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On a reasonable income but can't sell our old house

(30 Posts)
drspouse Fri 11-Aug-17 21:05:23

We are managing OK and this is more of a "we need to pay the other mortgage [which isn't that big really] and it would be nice to have a holiday next year" rather than on our bare bones type of saving.

We are really going to benefit from the 30 hours free childcare thank goodness.
Older DC doesn't do that many expensive activities (swimming is probably the most pricey, if we add anything we'll drop something else. We may add Beavers but usually that is not too much).

I've totted up how much I spent on clothes last year and can easily halve that.
I sew some of the kids clothes (and mine) which does not save much but I have a huge stash of fabric so no new fabric! Same for knitting which relaxes me but I have plenty of yarn to keep me going. Cute kids clothes are really tempting though!

I've decided to start taking lunch to work - leftovers or sandwiches. I usually make coffee at work anyway, rarely buy it. DH unfortunately commutes an hour (yuck sandwiches on a warm train for an hour!) and works in a variety of offices so can't really leave coffee making stuff (but gets the Waitrose free coffee!).

We have a cleaner and I really don't want to stop that but could cut the hours.

I've also worked out we'd save about £500 a year if we switched supermarkets and brands using

We have some house things to do we can put off I think, I may be able to get my dad to help me with a big garden job (DH and I can do the heavy lifting but we aren't experts).

What am I missing?

I think the problem is because we have a relatively large income, and big outgoings for the extra mortgage, small one off savings don't help that much.

I'm going to try Wally for budgeting, any other (preferably free!) recommendations?

OP’s posts: |
Gizlotsmum Sat 12-Aug-17 07:53:30

Have you done the unusual checking energy tariffs, tv packages, cool bag for hubby's lunch?

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 08:53:00

DH has just got the TV package down and he's in charge of energy. He's normally very penny pinching so I'll check but I suspect he's right.
I'll suggest a cool bag, there's no microwave either I think which doesn't help!

I've decided what would be really helpful is an app that logs in to all your bank accounts - I don't spend much cash.

OP’s posts: |
BeyondThePage Sat 12-Aug-17 09:03:17

Are you trying to sell the old house or do you not want to? Drop the price of the house and it will sell. Every house will sell, if priced appropriately.

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 09:21:34

We are trying to sell it. We can't go below a certain price because extra mortgage for, say, 10 years is the same as Y reduction in price.

OP’s posts: |
BahHumbygge Sat 12-Aug-17 09:39:40

For sandwiches to survive a commute, you could get a small coolbag and a couple of icepacks frozen overnight. Or you can freeze sandwiches on Sun night, just grab a round as you leave, they defrost during the morning. Best for something plain like cheese & chutney... not salad lol

Re coffees, could he take a jar of naice instant with him (decant into mini jar) or get an aeropress, they come with a travel pouch? Contigo to keep hot & is leakproof.

Aldi/Lidl for the bulk of your shopping... rotate the top ups at the other supermarkets so you surf the best offers. Plan a basic meal outline, but build in flexibility so you can take advantage of offers. Have one meal a week where you're eating up tired veg/leftovers in the fridge etc veg soup/stirfry. Shop late afternoon in the main supermarkets & pick up heavily reduced yellow sticker bargains. Street markets? Go later on Sat pm... bowls of peppers, avocados, bananas etc for pennies.

Stop buying snacks, just have things like frozen bread, peanut butter, HM tea/banana bread/ flapjacks, popping corn on hand.

Cut back on takeaways... huge expense. Buy the Curry Secret/Takeaway Secret (cheap pb on amazon) and make your own 'fakeaways'

Spend an afternoon doing a money makeover, get out all your mortgage, utilities, bank accts, insurances etc details. Go through & check you're getting the best deals for everything. If you go through Quidco/Topcashback you could earn cashback (also do this for online shopping). Look on the main section of Martin Lewis' site, and sign up for his weekly tips email.

Make sure your immersion heater is always off until you need to heat it. It can be a huge energy draw cycling thru 3kW same as a powerful kettle. Get an OWL meter to see your consumption in real time. Sometimes they can be borrowed from libraries. Invest in insulation like radiator foil, foam door draught excluders, hot water tank jacket etc.

Use a budgeting program/app like YNAB. Free trial available, or you could just read up on the basic concepts and apply it to your own system.

sandgrown Sat 12-Aug-17 09:45:38

I hate warm sandwiches but I got a lunch bag in Home Bargains that has its own ice pack .

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 11:47:24

We don't have an immersion, we do have a smart meter so can check that more.
I work nearly full time (0.8 plus some evening catchup plus I volunteer) and I cannot spend what would be a whole evening at least every fortnight doing our supermarket shop with travel - it would probably be cheaper to shop online than pay the petrol. I do go to Aldi when I'm passing but it's so far it's not worth driving there specially. We are going to try switching online shops as above.

As I say, DH is really on top of switching etc. Switching mortgage though - easy to say, massively expensive to do! We can't switch the mortgage on the old house because a) it's usually a couple of thousand to do that b) it's really hard to get a mortgage on a house you aren't living in and c) it's on a current account mortgage now and they are really the cheapest way to borrow, but post 2009 you have to be a really high earner to get a new one and we aren't in that bracket.

I tried Quidco in the past and got nothing. Chased it up and they said it's not guaranteed.

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 11:48:55

Don't have a water tank either and have plenty of insulation (though a large old house). We will eventually get double glazing but the outlay means a) we can't afford it at present and b) the return is something like 20 years.

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 11:52:52

Oh and we don't get takeaways - maybe 5x a year we get fish and chips - two fish and one large chips between us - cutting that out won't save much!
Can't shop late afternoon as I'm working then! We do get in multi packs of crisps as they are cheaper to take out and about than buying a snack but don't buy many other snacks. I'll try and persuade the DCs onto rice cakes and peanut butter (we buy a massive jar!)

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 11:53:46

(Should also say, sorry, we get Tesco vouchers now for our electricity etc - they are useful for days out etc)

OP’s posts: |
smu06set Sat 12-Aug-17 11:56:34

Can you look into renting the house out?

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 12:00:55

We'd have to either rent it for a year (so putting off selling it) or sell with sitting tenants making it a lot harder to sell. We will look at that in a few/six months or so if no luck selling, but the market for rentals is also really slowsad

OP’s posts: |
MadameCurie210 Sat 12-Aug-17 12:03:43

Systematic finances overhaul to do list here:

Does your DH know how much he spends on lunch? Even if he's getting something basic, it could still add up to £40/50/60 a month and if he's spending a fiver a day or more on something nice like Pret or fancy salads etc, it could be over £100 pm so still scope to cut down.

I agree with the others who say he needs the right coolbox/lunchbag combo and he's likely to half whatever he is spending if he makes his own and if he takes drinks/crisps/chocolate bars it's loads cheaper if they come from supermarket multipacks than if buying them from Greggs or even one at time from the supermarket.

Check you're still getting the Tesco points. I got them with Eon but they ended the scheme a few months ago.

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 12:20:18

I have to say frozen sandwiches sound disgusting to me and I can't see myself selling them to him! He does take his snack bar/crisps bought at the supermarket (he's also pretty good with Home Bargains) but I'll have a chat about his mains.

Will look at that list thanks. I already get the MSE email but I tend to find it's on offers for things we don't need, or those heavily in debt (which we aren't apart from mortgage).

OP’s posts: |
AndNowItIsSeven Sat 12-Aug-17 12:31:38

Frozen sandwiches taste the same once defrosted. Your dh sounds a bit spoilt , if you need to the money you do what you have to do.

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 12:46:30

I assume though you can't freeze tomato, cucumber etc? So you can have bread and cheese or bread and ham, but no actual veg/salad? It just sounds really unhealthy.

Despite being a fairly big government office, DH's workplace is not very budget lunch friendly. I'm not quite sure it's helpful to be rude about my family members. In fact the opposite.

I think we are already too frugal and sensible. All the suggestions on MSE we've already done (checking energy suppliers, switching bank accounts) or don't apply (no unused direct debits we never had PPI because we both worked out it was a scam).

I'm going to try and cycle to work more (we only have one car anyway). But our car is only about 10p/mile to run and it's only 3 miles to work. At least we are closer to work now we've moved!

OP’s posts: |
Pizzaexpressreview Sat 12-Aug-17 13:03:28

Have you looked at a months outgoings and worked out where most of it goes?

Pizzaexpressreview Sat 12-Aug-17 13:05:25

We use the Contigo flasks and they hold coffee (make drippy coffee at home first) hot for ages. I've been out shopping and it's still warm in the car on the way back.

We've been strict on coffee and it helps.

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 13:29:51

Pizza that's the next step though MSE says to do a year since some expenses are really annual.

I'm fine for coffee at work (coffee at home, nice machine at work, no coffee deficit! I'll see if I can persuade DH to take one on the train as that could be a good start to his day.

OP’s posts: |
Pizzaexpressreview Sat 12-Aug-17 13:50:10

Definitely a year with all the planned expenses like car tax mot etc, but looking at what you've spent in the last month or two should show you where the incidental spending goes.

Good luck .we're doing something similar at the moment (hence reading these threads!)

BahHumbygge Sat 12-Aug-17 14:23:18

Frozen sandwiches are fine (back when I ate bread). They don't go soggy and the bread goes back to its normal springiness. Keep it something simple like cheese as I said, and you can always put some cherry tomatoes or cucumber batons in another tupperware tub in the coolbag. Look up breakfast burritos... basically scrambled egg and veg in a tortilla wrap, which you can freeze and go.

Now I'd take something like a tin of tuna or mackerel, a half tin of white beans/chickpeas and a small tub of cherry toms for a portable lunch. Or hot soup in a thermos.

Re the house, I'd look into presentation and marketing of hard to shift houses... there'll be books/blogs/forums/pinterest etc out there to help or even hiring a consultant... could be cost effective if they get results.

Write down everything you spend for a month (down to the last pack of gum)... you can quickly get a picture of where all the leaks are. Use the demotivator tool on MSE site eg £1 a workday on a snack bar = £250 per year with nothing to show for it (besides several mm on the waistline)

drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 15:21:40

Demotivator sounds good!

OP’s posts: |
drspouse Sat 12-Aug-17 20:54:29

Oh yes I do like Demotivator!

I've just signed up with Money Dashboard which looks at all your online accounts and you can tag them. I really like it but DH isn't sure about the security.
I also looked at Wally but I'm not sure I can be bothered to enter everything manually.
So far from MD the message is "we have put masses into our wreck of a new house" but that is slacking off so we can get a better picture from the rest.

OP’s posts: |
allthebestplease Sun 13-Aug-17 21:22:58

You should check out

Defo, as others have said, write everything down

Also use ynab

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