The Angelicscalliwags Challenge: Week 3

Pull em up!


The challenge is on to pay off our mortgage in 2 1/2 years (mad goal) or in 5 years (sane goal).

For the rest of the posts in this series see here

In the interest of complete honesty, a sense of the ridiculous hit me this week.  I am making my own washing up liquid, merrily mixing away, when it occurred to me.  If I could give up fresh coffee I could buy enough washing up liquid to last me a month, if not much longer!  So this week I am going to pull up my (very) big girl panties and give up whether I want to or not.  And just for the record I don’t want.  Not even slightly.

Okay, now that’s out of the way, how did we do this week?

We did manage to put £100 into our mortgage account, but it wasn’t without some difficulty.  However, once my pants are where they should be (pulled right up) and the coffee is where it should be (in the shop instead of in me) we’ll sail through.

Number crunch time

Gary has asked me not to put specifics, which I will of course honour.  He is happy for me to use percentages.  This monthly sum up will be an overview since January 2013, which is when we doubled up our payments.  For the past three weeks we have paid an extra £100 per week.

Drum roll please……

We have paid off 8.1% of our mortgage since January.

We have 31 more months left until our mad goal, 55 until our sane goal.  And if I could just give up coffees we might make it!

So what have we been doing this week?

T11 had spotted some pallets which the local butcher had used to transport their Christmas turkeys on.  He asked the butcher if we could have them for fire wood, and glad to be rid of them, Ken said yes.  T11 fetched and stacked them beside our house for future use.  Gary and I got thinking and came up with an alternative plan to use them.  My husband is very good with practical hands on projects and has a real knack for making something out of nothing:

First he made a fence around a small area of our garden, to partition some space off for picnics and the such.  An area the children will not be allowed to play in.
First he made a fence around a small area of our garden, to partition some space off for picnics and the such. An area the children will not be allowed to play in.

He also made two compost heaps, which we will be able to alternate.  We have a large one now, but with the rabbits and soon to be chickens we really needed two.  One to use and one to pile stuff into to rot:

Here he is making them, including some removable doors to make using them easier
Here he is making them, including some removable doors to make using them easier

But T11 didn’t stop there.  Oh no.  Having seen a neighbour taking down a fence and putting up a new one, he went and asked if he could dispose of the old fence in our fire over winter.  The kind man said yes.  We now have enough firewood to keep the whole of Great Britain warm over the winter.

What have the children been up to?

T11 has been concocting.  I’m beginning to think my children might take after me a little bit.  I found T11 in the kitchen yesterday boiling up some leather we had kept from an old leather sofa.  He’d emptied my entire salt canister into a big pan and was boiling away furiously.  When I inquired, quite nonchalantly, what on earth he was doing.  He replied that he was in the middle of an experiment to stiffen the leather so he could make a lighter armour to wear in battle (???) and was hoping the salt would strengthen it.  He then went on to tell me he had enlisted the help of Gary who would be shooting arrows at the unsalted, unboiled leather and at his stiffened leather to see which would hold up as the strongest.  Not with him inside it, he was just going to pin it on the tree or something.  Well. that’s okay then.  Anyway, I digress.  He’s been concocting with his herbs and his concoctions are going to heal all.  I’ll say no more.  But if he thinks I’m drinking any of them he has another thing coming.  I’d rather be shot at wearing his (stiffened) armour.

What have I been up to?

Very little, if truth be told.  I’m still playing about with washing up liquid recipes, but I’m not convinced so far.  It’s not that it doesn’t work, it does.  Better than store-bought.  The problem lies in its appearance.  It looks revolting.  I’m not certain how something that smells so good can look so yuck but it really does.  We live in a very hard water area and this means the liquid separates leaving some curdy looking thing on top and some whey-y looking thing on the bottom.  I can give it a good shake and squirt it into the water and all is well.  That is until anything dirty goes in the water.  There lies the problem.  Its job is to be partnered with dirt, thereby removing it from the dishes, but without the bubbles to hide the gunk, it’s just not pretty.  I’d put up a photo but I’m fairly sure no one would come and eat at our house if I did.

I have also been gathering supplies (all of which I have on hand) to try out Tonyia’s recipe for home-made laundry powder.  Tonyia very kindly left me the recipe in a comment, and as she tells me it works even in hard water areas, I’m looking forward to giving it a go.  Thank you Tonyia!

I also checked into the price we’d pay for eggs and toast every morning and when I compared with our oats it really didn’t come out frugal at all.  Does anyone know what I could add to the oats to make them more filling.  My mum adds nuts, dried fruit, a banana and some blueberries to hers.  If I did that to all 7 of us, we’d be bankrupt by the end of the week!  Any ideas?

Frugal Tip #3

My frugal tip this week is a slight extension of last weeks.  Each Autumn and Spring all five children get what we call a clothes package.  These are clothes that they need to last them through the up and coming season.  The packages might contain clothes they wore the year before, if they haven’t grown out of them, but more often than not they are new to them clothes.  They are not new clothes, however.  As a family we go charity shopping often.  The local salvation army gives us £2 to spend each time we take in a bag of bits for them to sell.  Given tops sell for 40p there, you can imagine the veritable treasures we can pick up.  I buy the children’s clothes, using this money.  Obviously, you never know what you might find, so I buy clothes I know they will wear even a couple of years from now and I save them up.  Currently I have about two years worth of clothes put to one side for my older ones and about 7 years worth for my littles.  In this way I pay out very little money to cloth our family.  We buy shoes and under wear new and one new, matching outfit for church every Autumn.  Usually a dress for the girls, this will do for any smart occasions as well as Christmas and of course Sundays.

When the time comes to put together their packages, I probably spend about a week shopping our supplies.  Now the older ones are, well, older, they shop with me so I am never giving them clothes they don’t want to wear.  On the odd occasion we have something neither girl wants, I will either keep it for the little ones or it will go back into the bag for charity and help earn us £2.  Again, it is a win win situation.  And yes, all my children enjoy it!

What am I reading?

Crystal’s blog is a treasure trove of ideas.  She and her husband saved up to buy their own house debt free and she really knows how to stretch a penny.  She has written many e-books and this published book, available on Amazon:

I thought I would reread this and maybe apply each chapter, one at a time, to my life.  The first chapter is all about setting goals.  Yup, done that.  S’easy peasy, thought I.  Flying through to chapter two, I gave myself a congratulatory pat on the back.  Chapter two was my undoing however.  It said before I could move on to the actual budgeting I had to declutter my life and home.  Brilliant idea in theory.  Problem is I want to pay off my mortgage the next five years, and frankly it would take me that amount of time to declutter.  I may, by necessity, have to skip this chapter and (without patting myself on the back this time) move on to chapter three.  We’ll see.  I could do a small amount of obligatory decluttering.  Maybe I could tidy up my bedroom.  After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

And for a more English based look at frugality this blog is worth popping to for some ideas saving pounds rather than dollars.

What will we be doing next week? 

  • Trying the home-made laundry liquid
  • Buying ourselves some hens (tomorrow hopefully).  Then maybe we can have our eggs for breakfast after all.
  • Figuring out which foods will fill for less
  • Trying to give up buying fresh coffee

And on that note I leave you with a self penned farewell ditty:

Ode To Coffee

Goodbye, oh cup of coffee,

Goodbye dear caffeine hit.

I’ll miss you every morning,

More than a little bit.

You’ve been my support,

For just over two years.

Through sleepless nights,

and excessive baby tears.

But alas! you’re not cheap,

and you’ll get in the way,

Of me reaching my goal

of this mortgage to pay.

 So it’s goodbye dear friend,

and on to pastures new,

I have worthier ambitions

than imbibing you!

Yes, I know, is that really the best I could do?  Yup!  Just think what I could achieve with some caffeine inside me…..


    1. Thank you! Can’t wait until your home and we can have a loooong catch up! Praying for a safe journey for you.
      Caroline, have you managed to talk to the Scottish girl about Liezel? Is she willing to email her?

  1. I just LOVE it…. such an inspiration to me at this season of our lives. Your quest for frugality has inspired me to such a degree that I think my dear husband is getting concerned about his wife and her plans… not being close to keep a supervisory eye over my ever-growing enthusiasm… But, my dear Claire, our paths do digress when it comes to coffee… I have yet to meet a nurse who is not a great lover of coffee… I can’t imagine how I would have made the long, cold night shifts without regular caffeine ‘hits’… even though I am not nursing anymore, the love of caffeine remains and I have not received this personal epiphany to stop buying it….so I shall keep you in prayer and mind dear fellow coffee-drinker! I am seriously impressed with your courage and fortitude though! Well done! 😉 Our Charity shops in South Africa are not nearly as nice as the ones that seem to be popular in Europe. I spent some time in Sweden a couple of years ago and purchased many clothes there. Excellent quality and a wonderful bargain…I can’t wait to aquaint myself with Charity Shops again soon! Have a wonderful week and I very excited to read about the chickens!

    1. He, he!! Yes, of course! It’s the nursing that made me a coffee addict! Ha, I like that.
      So pleased this is inspiring you and tell your husband not to worry. It is better you are saving money than spending it!!

  2. Hey Claire! If you concentrate on the mortgage, I’ll sponsor your coffee habit! Just let me know your favourite and I’ll deliver it. Life’s just too short to give up coffee and what are friends for?! Hil xx

  3. This is just incredible! I have tried to give up coffee many times, but that never worked so I’ve given up on trying to give it up! 🙂 But you keep going! I think you’re all doing so very well. Your husband is so handy it’s unreal, and T11 is also so very alert to great opportunities to support the family project. Thumbs up to all of you!

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Hwee! Yes coffee will be hard, but good for the character!! It could do with a bit of strengthening!
      I’m loving the fact everyone in the family is so on board, the support of our friends is amazing and I love the fact that there are people I’ve never even met cheering us on. Thank you!!

  4. This is a real inspiration! I love the way that the children are joining in. Hope the caffeine withdrawal is OK.

    You’ve probably done this but in terms of relatively painless moneysaving, have you checked your insurances? We check ours annually but we still managed to save, almost your weekly goal, swapping to a virtually identical car insurance, this week.

  5. I have pain killers at the ready for the first few days for the inevitable caffeine head ache, but I’m sure it will be fine.
    We’re renewing our car insurance this week, so we’ll definitely shop around. Thanks for the idea!

  6. You’re giving up coffee?!!!I’d rather give up….well, I can’t think of anything but that may be because I’m only of my first cup of the ambrosial nectar! I hope it goes well for you and that it doesn’t lead to mumbling incoherent posts 🙂

    If you have a crockpot, do a quick search for crockpot oatmeal…lots of ideas and additions and they’re usually pretty good. Either way, Phyllis at All Things Beautiful has a recipe blog as well with some great frugal ideas.

    1. You mean more mumbling and incoherent than normal? I’m not certain that’s possible!
      I love the idea of crock pot oats but I’ve never mastered the ability to cook them in a crock pot without turning them to mush. And morning mush is not good!

  7. Sorry to comment twice but I remembered about the oats. I make a cheap granola recipe using golden syrup rather than honey and value sultanas for the fruit.The recipe is on my blog.
    It is great with yogurt and berries although the berries will make it much more expensive until blackberry season!

    Hope you have lots of eggs from the chickens soon.

  8. Awesome inspiration! I love how the whole familiy is in on this! Love, love, love, love it! As for the oatmeal-can you add some other grains to mix in it? Make a multi-grain warm breakfast? What about a “Baked french toast” casserole to use up any bread scraps? My family has made something called “scrapple” for years of cornmeal that is then cooled-in a bread pan usually and then sliced and fried for breakfast- sometimes with syrup, sometimes not and of course grits are a staple and yummy if made right- Also, I checked the bottom of my 5 gallon bucket and there was some seperation of my “jello” soap mixture- the blender to the rescue!!!
    Good luck and brew up some really strong tea and have a lot of choloclate with it to get through the caffine haze! A GREAT way to start the day!!! hahaha- as always your blogs are a gift in so many way-Take care- Tonyia

    1. Ha! Starting the day with strong tea and chocolate? That is something I could see myself doing VERY easily!
      I’m not sure what grits are. I’ve heard of them from American books but I’m not sure we have them over here. Unless they are called something else. I love the idea of Baked French toast, it sounds a bit like our bread and butter pudding. Yum!!
      Wish me luck with the laundry liquid, I’ll be making it this week!

  9. I hooted at the bit about you nonchalantly asking T11 what he was doing with the leather and the salt and his explanation. Definitely a chip off the old block!
    I’m amazed people are hungry after porridge. I find it one of the most filling breakfasts ever. How about double helpings?!
    Love your clothes system. So organised!

    1. I’ve never boiled leather in a sauce pan with salt though – many things, but not that!
      I think we are just a generally greedy family, so much so that a full roast dinner doesn’t fill up my son who is complaining of actual hunger pangs just 1/2 an hour later!

  10. Read this… Makes you thankful but also slightly awe inspiring… Cx

    Sent from my iPad

  11. Hello! I found your blog via SarahElisabeth at Delivering Grace.
    Re the porridge: when we are camping we stir in either peanut butter or (naughtily) nutella and the fat content and protein in these make porridge a much more substantial offering. And both options are really yummy!

Leave a Reply

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