The 2014 Christmas Comping Challenge: First Update

I promised to update you regularly on how I am getting on with my comping challenge where I hope to make Christmas as cheap as possible. I haven’t won any vouchers this month which is a shame and the majority of things I have won have already been opened, however I wish for a better month next month.

This month I won:

Smurfs 2 DVD from a blog giveaway – This will be put away for Jack’s Christmas stocking

DAIM Chocolate – this hasn’t arrived yet but obviously won’t last until Christmas.

Family ticket for Empire Cinemas – the money we save from going to the cinema I am going to put away in the Christmas fund.

£20 Frankie and Benny’s voucher – Going to use this for a nice treat around Valentines Day

Kids pyjamas set – Depending on how small/big they come up on Jack, he may have them now or may be put away for Christmas

Debut book from Books, Biscuits and Tea blog – As it is for me, I am having this straight away!

Heroes of the City book, DVD and toys – Would have put this away for Christmas but Jack got there first…Oh dear!

Random black mug with chalk – Unsure about this – may decorate and use it as decoration somewhere.

As you can see, I had some nice wins but nothing that I can really use to keep Christmas costs down. I haven’t been too lucky with my surveys either – I have just cashed out £20 from one site though so hope to add that money to the Christmas pot.

Are you trying to keep Christmas costs down this year?

The Importance Of Lists

What an ominous title. But here today I am going to talk to you about the importance of lists. It may sound silly to some who like to live their lives on a whim but I find I am definitely more organised if I have a list. Of course, sometimes I forget to write one or even take it with me but by listing stuff you may find yourself not having to worry about money as much.

What lists do I make?

Shopping List – This one is very basic – I have the basic food stuff on there like pasta, bread, milk, tins etcetera but when it comes to meat and fruit, I don’t tend to use a list and generally just decide on what I want when I get there. I know how much I want to spend on meat so I don’t overspend but it leaves me more choice. Next time I go to the supermarket I actually won’t need to buy any meat because I got a whole load of it for £20 from our local meat van today – much better prices than the supermarkets!

Bills list – Know what bills are going out when. I have a list on my phone and in my diary so I know what is due out when and also add to this if I know any one off bills are due out.

Income list – Obviously if you are self employed, this is pretty self explanatory as you need to keep a record of your income for tax purposes. However, even if you are employed and tax is sorted through your employer, it is handy to know what you have coming in so you can work out how much is going to bills, savings, general spends.

Spends list – I am a nightmare with this and never remember to do it – but this is basically listing what you are spending on with the money from your general spends. This can help you to easily identify where you are losing the most money (when I was in retail, it would have been Costa Coffee) and you can go about sorting it out.

Do you use lists? Do you think they have an importance in everyday life?

Extreme Cheapskates – Step Too Far?

I’m sure most of you have come across the show Extreme Cheapskates, whether you happen to be in the US or the UK – perhaps across the world. Here in the UK, it is shown on the TLC channel – what can be known as my ‘guilty pleasure’ channel.

We all like to budget and make savings where possible but where would you draw the line? Sometimes I see what these ‘extreme cheapskates’ are doing and actually think – ‘hang on, I am guilty of that too!’ but other times I find myself utterly disgusted!

One lady doesn’t buy toilet roll and instead uses water and soap to clean up after using the toilet. I also saw an episode where a guy takes over his colleagues leftovers from work and serves them up for dinner – despite the fact his wife has been ill because of them at least two times! He also chose to hold his daughters Sweet Sixteenth at a strip club because it was cheapest – although his daughter didn’t mind too much on the day, the family were mortified when he first broached the idea with them!

Some people on the show do have great ideas such as repurposing items, picking up dropped coins and pretending that the value stuff is really the premium stuff – I think we can all be guilty of these and they are nothing to be ashamed of. However, when I see families sharing brown bath water and not buying toilet roll – I cringe a little inside.

To me, certain items are necessities – clean water for a bath, toilet rolls etc – these aren’t luxuries for me and are included in my monthly budget. It seems that some of these people are taking their penny pinching ways too far – can living that frugally ever make somebody happy?

What are your thoughts on this?