Angelicscalliwags Challenge: July Sum Up

For all my other posts in the series see here.  My last post was written in March, 4 months ago!  We are still at it.  To recap, we were trying to pay our mortgage in 5 years and had done really well in our goal until September when we got a bill for the car for over £1000, then the boiler broke done (£600) and finally we needed to remove a large tree which was threatening to fall onto our house (£800).  These unexpected and unprepared for expenses made us regroup.  Suddenly we were in debt!  At the beginning of this year we made the decision to follow Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover The following shows the basic stages of his money makeover:Dave Ramsey plan in a nutshell -- need to print and hang up in my classroom
We have our emergency fund, have paid off all debt bar our mortgage and are currently working on saving six months income.  As the next thing on the list is to invest 15% of our income we are trying to increase our savings each month to reflect those levels.  This means once we have reached our savings goal we can invest the monthly savings amount without making any changes to our income level.  So far we are saving 7%.  We intend to increase by 1% each month until we are at 15%.

Gary has just started a new job.  He is now head green keeper of a golf course which has been his dream for forever.  He has been given a pay rise, which means both our giving and our saving will go up without it affecting us unduly.  We have also decided to have a date night each week again, which we are both looking forward to.

We have just needed our car serviced, insured and taxed and it was gratifying to have the money put away to meet this.  Likewise, Gary needs to have a crown on his teeth and we have an emergency fund to pay for it.  We paid for our holiday to Ireland in cash and already have savings in our holiday account for spending whilst we are there.  Even though we are not paying off any extra on our mortgage it feels like we are in a more sensible financial position than we were before.

I am looking ahead school wise to next year and attempting to put together a curriculum of sorts using Dave Ramsey principles but rewritten to be more applicable to children and the UK.  They have all read The Money Secret  and are excited by the prospect of learning more.  Another goal next year is to school for 12 months without spending a penny.  This will free up £100 each month if I manage it.

Another thing we are looking into is buying all our groceries and animal care products monthly and in bulk.  The Economides do this (see America's Cheapest Family Gets You Right on the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing in on Your Dreams)

This will be a huge jump for me, but Gary is helping me put together a monthly recipe index using fresher ingredients first and learning to use larder ingredients at the end of the month.  The Economides have an extensive chapter which will be of help to me.  This is a long-term project for me and I hope to have it up and running by the new year.  Gary and I are planning one big shopping day per month, when we will go to different shops to achieve the best price for all the items on our list.  Milk is the only thing we will buy daily, because we get through waaaaay too much each week to store for a whole month.  We have also invested in a water filter to replace the bottled water we buy each week.  The water where we live is hard and very chlorine-y, and tastes very much better for being filtered.

We are also renovating our hallway.  Actually renovating is too strong a word.  I used some left over paint to paint it all in green whilst Gary ripped up the carpet.  We inherited the carpet and whilst it was always a bit shabby looking it was fine.  The problem has been that recently the house began to smell of dog, which I really hate, together with another undeterminant  smell which we believed came from the carpet in the hallway.  So we ripped it up.  underneath are some fairly newish looking wonky floorboards.  They are neither safe enough nor aesthetically pleasing enough to have bare so we looked at getting a runner.  I wanted something which I could take outside and clean when necessary, rather than a fitted carpet.  So last weekend we trooped around the carpet places until we found one who offered to piece together some beautiful wool off cuts for us into a runner for a very good price.  Also, whilst Gary was off this week he made me 11 book shelves.  We used gravel boards instead of book shelves because they were significantly less expensive.  The whole shebang cost us less than £65.  It’s not quite finished yet (we’re still awaiting the rug) but I’m over the moon with it so far:


I know I have linked to the following websites before but they remain my go-to sites for the frugality training I am so much in need of:

Down to Earth

Frugal Queen

Life feels good right now with us taking care of our finances, eating more healthily and exercising more as well as cutting out a lot of our screen time.  Our family life is balanced and moving towards greater health and energy.  For the first time since B3’s birth we feel like we are in control of our lives rather than life controlling us.  And this is a good place to be.

I’m have linked the books mentioned to Amazon.  I am now affiliated with them and will earn a small commission on any purchases you make there, which in turn will support our home school and this frugal challenge!


  1. I’m your latest follower and I am pleased you are continuing with this series. We are a home schooling family in the UK with two children and have found it hard since I have given up work in order to home school. I’m hoping to learn lots of frugal tips from you!

  2. Nice shelves Gary. Maybe you could give my hubby some tips?!
    You sound like you are doing really well Claire

    1. It is very exciting to me to see space on our bookshelves – a perfectly good excuse to go and buy some more to fill them with – or so my 11 year old daughter informs me…..

  3. I will be interested to hear how the buying in bulk goes. Our grocery costs seem to go constantly in the wrong direction. I’ve been thinking about doing some cooking in bulk to save time so this would fit in well.

    1. That’s my plan too. The Economides book gives lots of tips on how to manage it so you are eating a good selection of fruit and veg all month long rather than just at the start of the month.

  4. Lovely shelves. I really need to put into practice what I know to be the proper way to save money. I just am lazy. That’s the whole truth right there.

    1. You have a much more complicated situation than most. It is probably more to do with feeling a bit overwhelmed than laziness. I find cooking for seven hard work and shopping for everything even harder. I keep thinking it will get easier, but it never does! It is probably my weakest area of house keeping.

  5. Bookshelves dominate homeschooling families’ homes for sure! You can never have too many books. Buying in bulk has helped our family tremendously – do you have Costco or Sam’s in the UK? I make a trip once a month for bulk items and then buy fresh foods locally more often. Keep up the good work!

    1. I don’t think we do, or if we do there is not one near us that we know of. We have Asda and Wilkinsons as well as Lidll so I can see visits to all these in my future!

      1. Costco does exist in the UK, there are 25 warehouses around the country, but I don’t remember where you live. The risk with Costco is that you buy a whole lot of things you don’t need, or get suckered into thinking it’s better value than it is. But if you can be disciplined and only buy what is really a bargain it’s a good place! We used it when I was a kid. You do have to pay to join though, so you need to fact that in.

  6. You should also check out this website – Mortgage Free in Three. You might find some great ideas about being frugal.
    Myra, from Winnipeg, Canada where I just had a wonderful day taking my g’kids to the part of the country where I grew up. Wonderful memories for me.

  7. It sounds like y’all are doing a fantastic job of getting your finances in order. We have our van in the shop right now getting the air conditioning repaired. Ug.. It is fourteen years old, but I thank God we still have it because it means we have no car payment. It looks better than it runs. It is like me, slow.

    The Economides came to our homeschool convention, but we didn’t get to attend their session. I have looked at their site and they seem to have some great ideas. I am going to check out the other sites you mentioned.

    I don’t like to shop. Period. Grocery shopping, for me, is right up there with the dentist. I wish we had a grocer who delivered.

    Tell Gary he did a fantastic job of making bookcases. Maybe he’d like to take a little trip to the U.S.! Books are just wonderful. I love them. :))

    Sorry I am so late in visiting. I visited this site and then took action:
    I have been cleaning out every drawer and cabinet and keeping only what we need. (The rest is in storage in the garage. I have a husband who is just the opposite and if I got rid of everything I wanted to, well, let’s just say, no we won’t say anything. HAHA!)

    P.S. I am happy to say not a book was disturbed throughout this cleaning process.

    1. LOL! You are funny! I’ll check out the link. I will NEVER be a minimalist but we are trying to clear out our house to make room for the humans who live here!

  8. There are so many great links in here for me to check out. I really need to work on clearing out and being better with our budget. I think I’ll just leave this post open to visit the other links people have mentioned later.

    1. We have been clearing out for over a year now and finally it is just what will be our school room that has boxes in to go through. Soon, very soon, I will have finished!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.