Boy do I hate the winter. Shorter daylight hours mean less work and making the most of the natural daylight, now that I have cut back on using lights. And it’s cold, but so far this year I have been able to keep on working. The heating is still set to its winter allowance (5pm to 10pm at 16 degrees) and as always blankets and my trusty hot water bottle have been my lifesaver as well as an amazing pair of thermal socks my Mum got me for Christmas. We haven’t reached the depths of winter quite yet despite the flurries of snow that threaten to settle here, but I am mentally prepared for what comes.
Budget wise, this year is about incremental changes and making inroads. Many costs are uncertain, and some are going to rise without a doubt. In the first week of January I’ve already been hit by an unexpected £254.95 bill for replacing a faulty indicator stick on my car, so any possible savings elsewhere this year have already been eaten up.
I’ve used less gas and electric than this time last year but my bill has gone up slightly because of the rises that we have already experienced. I spent £26 this month. And it’s going to get worse once the price cap rises in April. Cutting back is paying off and in the next few months temperatures will start to rise and the days will draw out. Here’s how things have been looking since I switched to Outfox The Market which, remarkably, haven’t gone under yet:
There are small things I want to change which, whilst not saving me a lot of money, will make a small difference to my bills going forward and I am a firm believer that every little helps.
Thermos flask: I wanted to stop boiling water every time I have a cuppa (which is a lot at this time of year). Filling a thermos to use throughout the day from one kettle boiling has to be a money saving idea. I borrowed the biggest thermos my parents had as an experiment. It takes 3 large mugs. Then I put out a request on Trash Nothing and picked up another one which takes 4 large mugs (take a look below at how amazing this flask is!). This means that one gas hob kettle boil will do 7 mugs a day which is pretty much all my drinks all day. That has to be a saving right?
Pressure cooker: I was gifted a stove top pressure cooker last May, but I haven’t had the courage or the inclination to use it yet. Given it’s supposed to be a time saver in the kitchen, I am guessing that has to be a money saver too. I have had a large pork shoulder joint in my freezer since last year, and I think this will be the perfect way to cook it.
Paid Surveys: This is one income stream I want to improve in 2022. I’ve tried lots of sites, but because of my frugal lifestyle, I don’t qualify for most surveys as they are geared around shopping, holidays and nights out – things I just don’t do. However, there are several sites which are dishing out cash for the likes of me. Yougov makes me £50 a year without fail, and I’ve been on this site for a few years now, but you have to wait to accrue the £50 of points (5000) before you get the cash (which takes me a year). Crowdology is a new one for me, and it pays out after just £4 and sends me a handful of possible surveys every day. I’m cashing in roughly £4 a week, so I feel like this is worth the effort. Paid Focus Group is another good one for me. You can’t cash out until you reach 20,000 points (£10) but very often you get points for trying even when you don’t qualify for a survey (good for me as I rarely seem to qualify for anything!) so I’ve made this, mostly failing to do surveys. I made £40 from this site last year because I also did one online panel discussion which rewarded me with £30. Branded Surveys is another new site I am using which also cashes out at small amounts, and I am getting enough survey offers to make this worth sticking with.
Last year, I made over £100 from surveys in total, and so far this month I’ve made about £40, so I know I can improve on that with these new sites and I need to find a way to fill some of the money gap in my income.
New freezer: My new freezer means more space for yellow sticker purchases, which can only be a good thing, and I filled it up in my first week. The freezer cost me £20 and will of course add a tiny amount to my electricity bill, but this is a good trade-off long term as I can pick up more yellow sticker offers that I would otherwise have had to of left behind.
Upcycle products: My business is all about repurposing dead stock, rescuing from landfill and recycling things into other things. I’m adding gift bows and tags to my store this year, using discarded cards and wrap. I’ve already sold a few, and I’ve already added lots of new listings to my store. It’ll be limited by what I can get my hands on, but I have plenty stashed in my studio at the moment, so there’s lots to keep me busy. These are small items. There are plenty of other people doing it, but I am hoping to shift a few and add to the variety in my Etsy store. The main point, of course, is to upcycle paper and card that would have gone straight into the bin, most of which can’t be recycled anyway because of plastic coatings and glitter. If you’re curious, here’s a link to my shop store front.
Decluttering: I don’t have a lot of anything that I don’t use. I am not a minimalist, but I don’t like clutter and I don’t shop for fun. But over the years I have acquired a few books and DVDs that I will never read or watch again. I’ve downloaded Ziffit, and I’m going to cash them in. This was inspired by my parents, who have a habit of offloading their unwanted things on to me when I visit because they know I have ways of getting rid of things. I acquired about 12 books at Christmas that I have no interest in, so I am batching our unwanted books together, and I’m going to send them to Ziffit. Anything they won’t take I will list on Trash Nothing. None of it is worth trying to sell on eBay, but I’d rather someone else got to enjoy it.
So that’s my hit list for now. I think it’s enough to be going on with!