Today I have added a few more to my 101 list as I chose my part time courses for the autumn. I'm going to continue with my language classes and pass my AS level, and also take a dress making course. I was considering a GCSE photography course as well for Saturday mornings but I think it might be too much to fit in with a full time job and trying to study hard for my AS level. Plus I take language conversation classes every fortnight, and need to fit the gym in -hopefully 3 times a week or more.
I promised to explain more about the change in my financial situation this year and how I've adapted so here goes....
I owe slightly over £140,000 on my own home, which I bought almost 3years ago and redecorated from scratch, this costs me £400 a month interest only (I'm overpaying to reduce the capital). I also have 2 rental properties I bought a few years ago and fixed up, they both have mortgages that are covered by the rent and I have long term tenants. I also have a loan of £7,800 which is interest free and I pay back at least £200 a month on. I pay my credit card in full each month if I use it, and I'm suceeding at the Live on £4000 a year challenge so far. I keep track of what I spend with an Excel spreadsheet separated into categories, and every month I save money - to overpay my mortgage, save for a new car, and to build an emergency fund.
Before I changed jobs I spent every penny I earned, and there were at least twice as many pennies to spend! I owed almost £4000 on my credit cards and had no savings at all. I couldn't afford to overpay my mortgage and I was spending about £40 or £50 a week on food alone, plus endless amounts of eating out, cheap clothes, and magazines. So I took steps to change this, I joined the library and started catching up on all the books I'd never read and always meant to. I made meal plans and went to the supermarket with a list, and started batch cooking and eating in more. I went through all of my outgoings and researched cheaper options - gym membership, life insurance, household insurance, everything I bought! In some ways I was lucky that interest rates fell so dramatically because it cut back my mortgage costs so much I could afford to overpay and start saving on a smaller wage, and my husband starting paying for half of everything.
I thought I would feel as though I was missing out by giving up so many meals out and cutting back but I haven't once felt like that. Because of the credit crunch everyone is cutting back so I'm not the odd one out, and 2 for 1 offers and discounts have meant I've been able to enjoy myself without spending a fortune. My supermarket own brands are no different to premium brands once they're made into a delicious homecooked meal - I have to admit I still buy branded ketchup, cola, and a few other items. I also feel part of a community on Moneysavingexpert - some of the frugallers are really inspirational with their own animals, creative pursuits, and ways of saving money and the environment - that's what I'm aiming for.