Angelicscalliwags Challenge: November Update

Yes, I take a lack of brain material to a whole new level sometimes.  In this instant ‘Duh!’ is the only response to have.  I often act without thinking and very nearly always speak what is on my mind without considering the effect of my words.  Fortunately, I am a fairly nice person, so being naturally thoughtless doesn’t, on the whole, get me into too much trouble.  In fact, it is what made Gary fall in love with me in the first place.  I am simple to understand, with absolutely no sides to me but the one that is there for all to see.   I am, however, a little airheaded.  My mother says my head is in the clouds. My children think I’m a bit dippy.  I call it scatty.  It amounts to the same thing.  No foresight.  At all.
As you all know, last January I started off the year with a determination that in five years time we would be debt free, if not before.  And up until September we were doing really well.  We had paid off 21 % of our mortgage  and were well on our way to realising our dream.  We did this in a typically Claire way.  Enthusiastically, all or nothing, throw everything we’ve got into it way.  My husband, who is a little bit more pragmatic about the comfort (or lack thereof) that we could realistically endure long-term, put the brakes on me over the summer.  He was fed up with having absolutely no ‘fun’ money at all.  So I relented and we modified our goal.  We still ferreted away every penny we could, (making sure we had some for fun) and were very gratified each month to see the mortgage reduce so quickly.
Problem was, we had no savings (all in the mortgage account), no emergency money, y’know, for emergencies (all in the mortgage account).  In fact, we had no spare pennies lying about at all because it was all in the mortgage account (apart from the previously elusive fun money).  Of course, anyone with a brain could foresee what would happen.  It seems I lack in that area, so when the electric window of our car failed to work and we were quoted over £1000 to fix it, with the MOT looming at the same time, I was a little shocked, not to mention puzzled as to where we would get the money from.  We have a car account for MOT, insurance and Tax, but it could not cover a bill that high (And our fun money?  Well, we weren’t having that much fun that we had a spare thousand pounds lying about!).    This month the boiler packed in.  It cost almost £500 to fix and service.  These are things that usually we would have been prepared for.  We have always had savings of 2-3 months of Gary’s salary – something we learnt to do in Ireland, when a low wage meant we literally didn’t have any money should an emergency happen.  I’m not sure why I failed to ensure our savings account looked healthy, except to say I was swept away with the excitement of paying off our mortgage early.
Consequently, we are not doing very well this month, and possibly won’t recover from this until early in the New Year.  Lesson learnt.  We are now putting some money into savings each month, so next time we won’t be so badly prepared.  One day I will learn that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Gary and Claire’s mortgage won’t get paid off unless I show some sense.  And this is my aim for the foreseeable future – find sense.
So how have we actually done since September?
At the end of September we had paid off 21% of our mortgage.  As things stand, at the end of November, We have paid off 23% of our mortgage.  Not brilliant, but nothing to be sneered at either.  Down is always good.  And finally, I can now say that we are currently pretty much cash only.  I go to the bank on a Saturday morning, withdraw all I need for the week and when it’s gone, it’s gone.  We’ve had a few peculiar ‘larder meals’ and I’m collecting eggs each day (and letting Gary cook the most phenomenal omelettes with them), rolling raw oats for breakfast, grinding grain for flour,  and wondering how I could possibly think that the simple life was simple.  It’s anything but.  That said, there is a sort of earthiness to starting everything from raw basic ingredients.  It just takes so much longer.  No matter, I shall continue doggedly onwards towards our goal.  I’ll probably be milking a cow next month.


  1. Rolling your own oats – Barbara Good would be proud!
    I’m a great believer in throwing oneself into things 100%. If we waited to take action til we’d thought through every last detail we’d never get half the wonderful stuff done that we do. Learning on the job is definitely the way to go.
    I’m just pleased that the Arctic November didn’t seem to come to much down here so our boiler hasn’t been over-exercised yet!

  2. Life is one big lesson and one we often have to learn again and again. Thanks for being honest about your failures as well as your successes!

  3. I was doing the same as you but because the mortgage account was still in its fixed rate I could only overpay 10% a year without penalty. So I put the excess money into a savings account to overpay when the fixed rate ended. My boiler broke last month and the replacement cost £1450 which was thankfully there in the savings account.

    1. Wow! Well done for squirrelling that amount away in the first place, that’s amazing! Hopefully our savings account will look a little healthier in a few months time. So long as we don’t have any more emergencies!

  4. It looks like you are still doing a great job to me. We would love to get going on that as well. We need to pay off the credit card that got charged on with our surprise move last year. I have our savings in pretty good shape. I also tend to jump into things first and then think about the practical side of it all.
    Blessings, Dawn

  5. All I could think of while reading this was seeing you in your rubber boots out milking the cow in the mud! Aw, “The Good Life.” Claire, you are too funny.
    I think you should be congratulated for doing as well as you have done. It is nice to know you can admit your mistakes and can still maintain your sense of humor.
    I say, “Rock On, Claire.” Have a great day!

    P.S. I am wishing you a NO EMERGENCY day:)

  6. Have you come across the Debt-Free Living website and the Everyday Cheapskates column? A woman called Mary Hunt runs both, and although it is aimed at a USA audience (and therefore some of the advice just doesn’t apply in the UK) it is pretty good. I’ve not used it to get out of debt because all of my debt is of the student variety and I can’t pay it back faster even if I wanted to, but I follow many of her money-saving tips and I presume the debt reduction advice is just as good! And as you’ve discovered, one of her top tips is to always have an emergency fund. Good luck keeping on with your goal, you’re doing brilliantly – to have reduced the mortgage despite emergency costs is really impressive.

  7. Despite all this, you have managed to reduce your mortgage. You are working very hard though! What do you use to grind your grain? I looking into grinding wheat some time ago but found it difficult to find suppliers of mills or where to buy the grain in the UK. Now, I’m not sure that I have enough energy!

    1. I have a Schnitzer, which is a good make and rolls and grinds oats, wheat and corn. My suppliers are (they are redoing their site at the moment but still take orders over the phone), which are fairly local to us. Pound for pound it does not work out cheaper, but it is so useful to have a tub that lasts months rather than days and the taste is second to none.
      Gary bought it as a Christmas/birthday present a couple of years ago but I’m really only getting good use from it now due to time restraints. That said, it only takes minutes before I go to bed to roll enough oats for our family, which I soak overnight and T cooks them the next morning. They don’t taste anything like oats from a shop (much tastier) and they are jam packed full of vitamins and minerals.

  8. Oh, I can’t wait to hear if you actually milk a cow!

    You’re doing so good, and I know it’s hard work. I can’t recall, have I ever asked you if you’ve heard of Dave Ramsey before? He’s got some great tips for saving and getting out of debt and such stuff.

      1. I don’t seem to be able to leave any messages on your blog at the moment. Once I press send they disappear! Loved the wedding pictures though and you and Princess looked beautiful!

      2. Hmmm…… I wonder why you can’t reply, how strange is that? Thank you, I was talking with Tara today and she said they’ve got a lot of adorable pictures of Princess from their photographer, and I can’t wait to see them.

        I would love to find an instant self control button, but they don’t seem to exist.

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