The Angelicscalliwag Challenge: Week 2

My babies
My babies

Change always comes bearing gifts

 Price Pritchett

The challenge is on to pay off our mortgage in 2 1/2 years (mad goal) or in 5 years (sane goal).  Thank you to everyone who commented last week, for all your encouragement and great ideas.  How fantastic to have company! (And thank you especially to Linda who offered to baby sit for free-what a blessing!)

For the rest of the posts in this series see here

How have we done this week?

Another £100 has been transferred to our mortgage account.

What we have been doing this week

This has been a week full of the most wonderful blessings and I am so thankful.

  • We were given two load of logs, from two different sources for our wood burning stove, which whilst doesn’t add anything to this weeks budget, will certainly help over the winter.
  • We aquired a water-butt for free to collect rain water to water our plants
  • Mum gave us many clippings from herbs and shrubs.  She also gave us two violet trees (tiny ones the birds had planted for her!)
  • I spent the least ever on my family of seven (plus a menagerie of animals), just £109 for the week.  However, we then needed to supplement throughout the week because we didn’t have enough food.  And if I hear ‘Mummy, I’m staaaaarving!’ just one more time I might scream!  If I’m honest, I think I will struggle to decrease our food bill.
  • I know how long most of the products we use last for, and I have been trying to find ways to eek them out one more week.  I am doing this by encouraging less usage; I am watering everything down just slightly and I am researching the cost of home-made cleaning and beauty products.  I dabbled (rather unsuccessfully in fact) in home-made products last year when I attempted to make our own soap from scratch with the children.  My first attempt I nearly killed us all by using the wrong metal pan which reacted with the sodium hydroxide and produced the most noxious fumes.  My second attempt looked like grey play dough.  It smelt good, was perfectly good to use, but looked revolting!  No matter, I shall try again.  I’m stubborn like that.
  • We all gathered a big jar and sealed it good and proper!  All our pennies go in there and any money the children might want to donate out of their earnings (They all earn money from various different sources).

What have the children been doing this week?

I know I’m biased, but I think I might just have the most wonderful children in the world.  They have come up with one very viable way each can either help by making some money, or else can save us some money.  I am impressed by how much thought and research they have put into the whole process.

T11 has decided to grow herbs, which he has bought out of his own money.  We have a very sunny front garden so he is growing herbs in pots, berries and raspberries in beds, he had taken a cutting from an elderberry tree and is hoping to root it.  I use a lot of herbs in cooking and salads so every bit helps.  Also he has researched their medicinal use and if any of us complain about any bodily issue, he’s there suggesting remedies!

T11's herb 'patch'
T11’s herb ‘patch’

C10 has wanted to keep chickens for a while.  We weren’t sure if she would lose interest, but it seems to have grown rather than diminished with time and she now has a folder full of hand written notes, knows how to care for them, where to buy them from locally and even designed how she wanted their home to look.  In addition she has found no less than four potential buyers for her eggs.  We had already very kindly been given an Eglu (a small purpose build hen-house, large enough for four chickens) but we had no run.  Well, you can imagine her glee when the family who gave us the Eglu mentioned they still had bits and pieces to drop off.  We thought food and the such like, but Gary arrived home with a full run, feeders and food.  Basically everything, bar the hens, that a hen keeper would need.  Thanks so much Tim and Sarah!

Our new to us hen Eglu from a company called Omlet!
Our new to us hen Eglu from a company called Omlet!

L10, who is our resident homemaker, chose to grow flowers she could pick.  All summer she strips our garden bare picking little bunches for friends, neighbours, local shop keepers and of course for her mummy!  This choice won’t save or make money, because she wouldn’t dream of selling them, but (as she told me) they will bless all who receive.  I couldn’t argue with that.  So I didn’t.  She has a bed that her daddy made for her from some cut off wood around the garden.  She was given a few shrubs which produce copious amounts of flowers and has planted a heap of bulbs, all bought with her own earnings.  And then, because it is in her nature, and she simply can’t help herself, she embellished her whole patch by decorating the perimeter with shells.  They made me smile.  As does L10, every day.

See the shells?
See the shells?

So what am I doing?

Of course, I can’t let my own children show me up, so I had to get myself into gear to be able to have something to offer to the proceedings.  Worryingly (for my family) I’m trying my hand at natural products again.  I have sworn a solemn oath not to nearly kill anyone this time.  I mean how hard can it be?  So this week I am making my own dish soap.

As I used my own recipe and as I’m not known for my pristine safety record, I’ll be testing it for a few weeks before sharing the recipe.  I’ve always used Ecover and over the years have saved a plethora of Ecover containers.  These are SO useful to have around, primarily because their labels come of really easily, leaving no residue and they are good, strong bottles.

If this works (I’m not holding my breath) it will save me £2.25 per week, £117 per year and £585 in the five years.  The girls said it works better than the shop bought one, and it smells divine.  I’ll tell all in a couple of weeks!And my frugal tip?

Anyone who reads my blog knows what a huge fan I am of charity shops.  I would say over the years I have saved the most money by buying almost everything second-hand.  This includes almost all of our clothes (not shoes) and the children’s toys and about 75% of the children’s school things.  Our children enjoy charity shopping as much as their parents, we all put aside money to be able to go often and if there is anything we need we pray.  Almost without fail prayers are answered.  The children never really worry about us not having enough money.  They know if they need something God will provide.  If He doesn’t it wasn’t a need.

Did you know the Salvation Army shop gives you a stamp for every £5 spent.  When you collect 10 stamps they give you £5 credit to spend in their shops.  In addition, for every bag of things you bring in for them to sell they give you £2 to spend in their shop.  Apart from our Sunday clothes (which we always buy new) we have not spent a penny towards our clothes for the past four years of living here, thanks to these policies and the generosity of friends giving our little ones clothes their own children have grown out of.

You all know how many activities the children and I do together in our school.  These activities all cost money and yet I pay minimum amounts because almost everything is second-hand.  I am so grateful because this enables me to school the children in the way I dream of but at a fraction of the cost.  For me charity shopping is a win-win situation.

What are we reading?

I am reading Simply Amish by Nancy Sleeth

This is about my fourth time reading it and whilst I know it has mixed reviews, I love it.  It is not so much about frugality as it is about simplicity.  It all appeals to me and gives me the warm fuzzies reading it, and increases my resolve to do better in the following week.

Gary is not a reader, so I am kindly sharing all I read with him.  He is kindly trying to muster up any enthusiasm to listen.

The children have all read The Money Secret from last week, and really recommend it.  They say it is definitely child friendly and easy to understand.  It does introduce the topic of suicide briefly at the start of the book as the main character grapples with the best way to handles the enormous debt she has got herself into.  T11 is itching to start his next money book.  The whole subject fascinates him.

I’ve also been perusing the blog Down-to-Earth.  If you don’t know it you should take a peek.  This lady makes all her own products with very little fuss and without endangering anyone’s life (!).  I’m hoping to learn how she manages it….

What have I found hard/ can I learn from this week?

I think the biggest lesson, is finding out what we are willing to go without, or not as the case maybe.  I am hoping this is a journey during which I will become more self-sacrificing.  There is one habit I am finding it hard to break.  This habit is very much a want not a need, but it does make life all the more pleasant.  Caffeine, you know I am talking about you….

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and not being anywhere near a perfectionist, I am far too easy on myself and can shrug and hope I’ll find some self-control, somewhere, soon….anyone?

Let’s just say I’ve cut down by 50% and leave it at that!

What are our goals for next week?

  • Work out the most cost-effective breakfast for everyone.  Whilst oats are inexpensive they really don’t fill us up for very long, so about an hour later the children are hungry, which is not cost-effective at all.  I’m going to look into all sorts, but focus on ones containing proteins.  If anyone has any ideas, they really would be welcome.  Stuff like this is not my strong point!
  • Cut down on my fresh, expensive but gloriously wonderful coffee consumption a tiny bit more
  • Make one more product at home, from scratch, whilst maintaining the safety of those around me.

If you have any tips or successes to share, please do leave a comment.  I need all the help I can get!

Next weekend I’ll post an end of month round up post of how we have done since January.

Highhill Homeschool

14 comments

  1. I SOOOOO love these posts… and after my e-mail to you, may have to come borrow some frugality tips soon as frugal South African living may not be the same as frugal UK living. But have you tried Baked Beans on toast for breakfast? Because of my exercise regime I focus quite heavily on protein and Baked Beans are a staple as is eggs. Beans offer excellent nutrition and are cheap…. BUT that said, I only feed myself so a tin lasts 2 meals. 😉

  2. I love these posts too! So inspiring. And I can see your children are learning so much from the project (they really are very lovely, I think you’re right :-)) How perfect that the older ones are each doing their own projects. I love T’s herb garden, C’s extensive hen research and L’s flower blessings (bless!).
    And not forgetting your household cleaner project, OF COURSE! You really made me laugh with that one 😀 Good luck with the dish soap!
    Have a great weekend!

  3. I know it’s redundant, but I also love these posts – your honesty and humor -your children’s thoughtfulness, creativity and perseverance – I smile throughout.
    Good luck with your project!

  4. Claire, I have a hard time with our grocery budget too – no matter how much I buy, our swarm of house locusts polish it all off in the first two days! To combat this, I’ve been making meals for the freezer that go straight to the crockpot without passing go, and I have a lot of bulk baking mix and breakfast recipes. If you want any of them, let me know and I’ll scan and send them over to you.

    I love this series. It gives me pause for thought as we are always trying to squeeze extra money out of a very tight budet. It’s wonderful to see someone else’s take on it. Thanks!

    1. Yes swarm and house locust are exactly what we’ve got here. I’d love some recipes. I’m a good but very unimaginative cook, and serve up the same things each week for dinner. I’d love some new, frugal ideas, especially crock pot meals. I’ve got one but I only ever use it to make yogurt and cheese with. Actually cooking with it would be great!!

  5. I really enjoyed this. Hand me down clothes are such a blessing! Many children’s clothes, except little boys’ trousers, are hardly worn when out grown. Learning to make decorative patches for trousers is on my “to do” list.

    This sounds really mingy but when, a little while ago, I looked at the cost of making soap/washing power/household cleaning agents, it seemed that for many it wasn’t cost effective. Using white vinegar and bicarb for cleaning seemed to be the exception if brought in sufficient quantity. My comparison was the supermarket value/basics ranges which are very economical. That was a year or so ago so might not be the case now.

    1. I completely agree, I think it probably is more expensive. However, I’m doing it to use up the stuff I bought when I was dabbling last year, so anything I make for the foreseeable future is free for me. Plus I have copious amounts of gross looking soap to use up!

  6. This sounds like a challenge that really makes you think about your priorities. With food I try not to save too much. Healthy is pretty cost effective, so I would stick with that. Beans are lots cheaper than meat, but they don’t always fill either. Good luck with this project.

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