(image from telegraph.co.uk)
We got up really early, keen as mustard, the girls and I, and we headed off into the nearest big city, Peterborough, for some sale shopping this morning. We didn't really need anything, but we thought we would have a day out together and see what we could find in the sales. The car park was a nightmare, and the shops were heaving with other people, desperate to spend, spend, spend. By lunchtime, we had a couple of bags each, and were getting weary, so we headed back to the car to leave those things before we went to buy some lunch. The cafes and tea shops were also doing a roaring trade today, and it wasn't easy to get a table............
You don't really believe that, do you?! You know me better than that! That little scenario would be my worst nightmare!!
The only sale shopping I have done today was to walk around Lidl and pick up a tray of 12 cartons of skimmed milk because they were all on offer at 40-something pence per litre, so I stocked up! The other kind of sale shopping is something we definitely do not do!
Looking at our spending for the last year, it has been easy to see where we have spent more than we budgeted: clothes shopping went hugely over budget, but that was largely down to the holiday that the girls had, and their need for the kind of clothes they don't usually wear! The food budget was also bust, so that needs some looking at for the year ahead. It wasn't mad, but we could do better, I know.
Fuel continues to be an expensive commodity and with the FH's failing health, it is costing us more to keep warm since he needs the house to be a little warmer, and the supply of free wood which he used to scrounge is harder for me to access and deal with now that he is no longer able to do it. The price of oil has gone up, and where I budgeted £650 last year, I actually spent closer to £850, and I can see that that will only keep rising. The house is a new-build so insulation is already installed and there is little that I can do to improve the efficiency of the building itself. We have hot water bottles, rugs, thick jumpers, etc, so we have done all that we can in that respect too.
We may be approaching the time at which getting rid of the FH's car is a good option, as I can't see the need for it much longer. He has found driving increasingly difficult since he had the bad attack of gout in his wrist and that may be a very sensible economy. My car has also had a very expensive year, costing me a substantial amount in repairs, so I hope that it has a better year this year!
The girls had their holiday with their Grandad and then we had a few days in Norfolk - this is not going to happen again as my sister and my uncle decided not to renew the agreement and have let the caravan go. We can't blame them as it was a huge financial commitment, but it does mean we will miss the woods and walks there! There may not be a holiday in 2014....
My earning potential continues to decline in proportion to the FH's health, and so I am beginning to wonder about having to give up altogether - it is difficult to get the school to take me on to run after school club gym if I am going to have to abandon the course part way through like I did last February when the FH was very ill. I have only done one 8 week course since then, and I am reluctant to book another one in for the Spring as that is when his health has been at its worst.
And how did we do overall in 2013? I didn't achieve the £9K improvement in our finances that I was hoping to get, but I did manage £7K, so I am very pleased with that. Looking at the figures for the coming year, I may have to set my sights even lower this year, which is a little disappointing. But there are things we need for the house which will have to be bought this year, not least a new oven, a new bath panel, a new shower enclosure and possibly some paint.......The shower enclosure is a health issue as the FH struggles with the shower as it is, and we have talked about replacing it before, but not done so. Now that he is struggling with the bath as well, he is going to have to make more use of the shower, and so it has become a priority. I can't have many more minor tsunamis like we had this weekend when he fell into the bath with rather a wallop.......
Tomorrow I shall think about some ideas for moving forward with a more positive flavour, because tonight I feel like I am wallowing in the difficulties a little - sorry, folks!
I wish you all a very happy new year tonight, and that the year ahead brings you enough of all that you need! Especially good health here!