As usual, at the beginning of each year I will reassess our budget to include changes. For example, my daughter is going to senior school and we promised we’d get her a mobile phone for when she does. She is the only one in her year who doesn’t have one and throughout this year has been very mature about that, not giving in to peer pressure. So there’s an extra monthly expense. Not much, but it all adds up. The insurances need to be reassessed as I have an additional insurance to take out for Annie, so that needs to come from somewhere. Also oil has gone up since 12 months ago and I think our budget still covers it, but I will check to be safe.
A big one that can easily spiral out of control is groceries as per my previous post. Last year, on average I went over our (£250 a month) budget by £15 a month. Some people spend that on coffee each week so it won’t seem a lot to them, but taking into consideration what we are trying to achieve (self sufficiency and 1 dependent wage only) then again it all adds up. However I am really pleased that we got anywhere near the budget and that I think, is the home raised meat, fruit and veg earning its keep. So if we do even more this year, we should be able to meet the new budget.
2018’s grocery cash budget is £2650 which works out at ~£220 a month. However I expect to spend more in February-April before we reap rewards of this growing season and then at the end of the year as things tail off. In the height of summer, I hope to have this down to a minimal amount. Throughout January we are eating from the freezer for the teas, which I will need to top up with fresh veg etc but for the main expensive part (meat?) will be from the freezer.
The grocery budget also includes household items which I think I said – so shampoo, laundry liquid, bleach, toothpaste etc.
Vouchers and freebies will not come out of the budget – let’s call that luck.
Now remember, I have 2 young kids who have packed lunches every day and who I won’t see go short for things they like (they aren’t demanding, this is my decision). So sometimes, there’s things on the list that are not necessities, but if they fancy having their friends round and eating junk a few times then that’s fine with me. To be fair, they very rarely ask to do this, but I’m just making my point. I also have a huge husband who eats almost as much as my horse! Ste and I are taking lunches to work, usually soup, salad or left overs.
I am updating my standard shopping list for each week with items that go into the packed lunches including fruit, wrap/bread/croissant and filling, yoghurts, a treat, pepperoni or equivalent, a drink, cheese (if they feel like it). This may be the actual item, or the ingredients to make them (like the bread and treat).
Once January is through and we’ve made a dent in the freezer, I will then look at batch cooking again and doubling up on what I am cooking to make one for the freezer.
I plan on giving weekly updates with grocery/eating out spends.
As is customary on long text posts, here’s a cute photo 🙂
On Friday we were due a delivery of oil which would see us through the worst of the winter. I received a text and an email to say there was to be a delay in getting it. Now that was very unusual. Typically I’d let the oil go lower than we normally would, so we were desperate for it come Friday. That was a mistake which I won’t repeat!
I rang up BoilerJuice which is where we place our orders through and they informed me there’s no oil for delivery in the north east of England at the moment. Not just where I am, but the north and north east! Apparently there’s a problem with the ships docking due to bad weather conditions. Now I don’t know where they dock, but we’ve not had any conditions that we haven’t seen before. The lady on the phone told me it was unprecedented. It all sounds a bit off to me, but it didn’t change the fact that we had no oil.
I went out and switched the main supply from the tank off and then the AGA. Boy that’s sad to do. Luckily I had a day off work on Friday so I set about getting the wood burner going ready for the kids coming in and checked the electric oven was working (we never use it except at Christmas!). It was. However I have never used the emersion heater for the water (normally ran off oil) so I had to guess as to how to switch it on. Not hard, you press the button, but when you don’t know if it’s the right button, it’s a bit tense! These are all costs I wouldn’t normally endure and I do think overall will be more expensive that the oil would cost me to provide the same service.
Anyway, we have log upon logs so I know we could stay warm, but the coal was low. This wasn’t like me, I am normally super organised and typically this series of events was going from bad to worse! Ste managed to source some coal on Saturday fairly quickly.
So we still have no oil, but are stocked up on coal. We’ve dug out the oil filled radiators and put them on in the kids bedrooms as the house is truly bitter, we’re at -5 here tonight. I kids you not that I am sleeping in a hat my nana knit me! The next problem is, the electricity is going off for 6 hours this week, it’s making me wonder what we’d do next if the cooker and emersion were to be out of action for a while. Would you be prepared for the worst? I know I didn’t feel it, but I’m going to make sure we’re ready for the next time.
We actually don’t have snow here today, I think we’re the only place in the country! These are a couple of days old now. The landscape is changing so much as we move deeper into winter.
Last night, when I was hoping for a full night sleep due to being up with my son the previous night, my daughter came in at 1:30am to tell me she couldn’t get the bathroom light on so she didn’t dare go to the loo. I said the bulb must have gone, so use mine. She said that’s not working either. In a part sleep, part awake state, I realised we were having a power cut. No big deal right? Wrong. We have 15 duck eggs with 6 days left in the incubator that’s reliant on the power. The piglets are under heat in the barn and the greenhouse bench is on to look after my tender seedlings.
The saw me on the phone to the power company to find out what’s wrong. It will be back on by 4:30 they say. Feeling rather sad and acutely aware that we’re relying on someone to supply our energy, I sat and waited with Ste. At 2:30 I had dozed off and he woke me to say it’s back on. He checked the incubator and it had gone down to 25 for 37+.
Please keep your fingers crossed that the ducklings make it.
The piglets were fine when I went out to feed, blearly eyed and with a stinking headache (unrelated to the night’s events) and I just hope the seeds/seedlings that are reliant on the heat were unaffected. It wasn’t too cold last night, no where near freezing so may be a lucky escape.
It has started me thinking about producing our own energy though.
Incidentally, we would still be able to cool and heat the kitchen off the Aga, so that is a bonus.