Monday, 14 July 2014

Are small savings worth the bother?

Hello Dear Reader,

Every Sunday, we eat a 'Sunday roast' of some sort or another. We ate an odd meal yesterday, 'mock roast'. I wrap a strip of bacon around each sausages, of the eight in the pack and cooked them in the oven along with some roast potatoes. We ate those along with a pile of steamed vegetables and gravy. As usual, I plated up four meals.....two of which we have eaten tonight.

It might seem like a small saving but every time I use my oven for one hour, it costs us 42p! It's a funny thing to be aware of but by having one meal a week that I cook before and microwave, means I save £21.84 a year. I try to use my oven as little as possible. I will often cook a joint of meat in the slow cooker, part boil the potatoes, spray them with oil and finish them in my mini oven until they are crispy. I use a triple stack steamer and cook all my vegetables on one gas ring. All of these things are really minor in themselves but they all add up. I only use my oven once or twice a week, so five times a week I'm saving 42p each time and over the year that adds up to £107.40 a year just by limiting the use of my oven.

I remember showing you photos of my new utility area and readers being aghast that I now own a tumble drier. I have a tiny house and wet winters. I needed it but I'm aware that each load costs 50p to dry. Consequently, I put my washing out to 'blow' all year unless it's wall to wall sleet and rain which of course it can be now and then. I try and dry what I can around the house but face up to 'finishing it' in the tumble drier. By simply being aware of the cost ensures that I use it only when I really have to.

I do the same when I shop. I look for the best value for money. I check silly things such as how many square metres of toilet tissue I'm getting and then compare prices. I check prices per kilo and look for the best deals. Often, prices are per 100g, so times that by 10 to get the kilo price. Supermarkets will do what ever they can to make comparison difficult. I never assume an offer is good value and always assume that BOGOFs have an inflated first price. I check 'mysupermarket' if an offer does look good, for example, I went to Waitrose, who have the reputation for being the most expensive supermarket, when they had on offer on Ecover. It turned out to be cheaper than buying it in bulk online and cheaper than anywhere else so I stocked up.

I think the small savings are worth it. In times when prices just keep rising, it's a small way for us to keep on top of our household expenses and although we never seem to have extra money in our hands, we can keep within a budget so we can save.

Over to you, what small savings do you make that are worth it to you?

As ever, I love to hear from you.

Love Froogs xxxx


  1. I froogs
    I did my usual shop this week and without fail every single item I purchased but 6.85 on my bill and then they had to say it was 8.98 cheaper than the others this week on my branded shop. this was only in reference to the cat food I bought! Like you I use my oven as little as poss and then only if its going to be ram jammed full!
    I have been keeping over time my slithers of used soap to dry out and grate that and ad a little soda crystals so things like cloths my mop heads and the like don't use up expensive soap detergent!I have started opening envelopes very carefully so I can either re use them for mail or to go in my shoe box filing cabinet as dividers. I use empty cereal boxes as magazine holders.I put my printer onto draft quality for all work and if I can get away with it I will print double sided and try fit 2 sides to one page.If I use any canned goods I carefully remove the label and use the other side for note paper. All fruit and veggies that come in a sealed bag I use as bathroom bin liners. Toilet tubes and the like are good for either wrapping around loose ribbon and the like or fab for keeping appliance leads tidy. This week I sat and looked at my books took out only what was necessary and to the ultra minimum and that's that if we cant find away around a need for something and we are not going to get a HUGE problem by denying us the whatever then tough deal with it move on. This week I have started reading from my own library and embarked on so many sewing projects as I would like some clothes for our small honeymoon.Birthday season starts fro me soon so I will be making things fro people and then its on to the madness that is Christmas. and as they say so the beat goes on.
    all the best

  2. Hi Jane, I loved reading this! I do think that small savings are worth it - there is the old saying that if you save the pennies, the pounds will follow! However I think perhaps I err in the direction of small savings, when I could be doing more to make larger savings as well. For me, it's sometimes about time versus money. If it takes too much of my time or attention to make a small saving, then I consider it might not be worth it. But like you I compare costs at the supermarket. I've always had a natural facility for numbers anyway, but it appalls me how ignorant some people are of basic maths, eg percentages. I use them all the time when I'm shopping. I agree about Waitrose. I use Ocado (which sells Waitrose brands) to have some of my shopping delivered, and the past couple of weeks they have had our favourite peanut butter half price, which makes it much cheaper then buying it in bulk from Amazon, so I have stocked up for the year! They are also sometimes cheaper than Poundland for some items, so it is worth being aware of prices in the different shops. I've never understood the British aversion to tumble driers. They are the most useful domestic appliance, second only to the washing machine, and I use mine all the time in the winter because I don't want to have my washing festooned all over the house. It also cuts down on ironing by eliminating some of the creasing. My favourite small saving at the moment is making my own yoghurt. I had a yoghurt maker in the back of the cupboard for years, so I got it out a couple of months ago and now I make it all the time. On Saturday I got 2 massive 6 pint cartons of full cream milk for a total of 96p in Waitrose (they were discounted and I discovered afterwards there was a multi offer as well) so I had a go at making the yoghurt with fresh milk and it worked beautifully for about 14p a litre (not including the electricity). I can then add my own soft brown sugar and seasonal fruit. So much healthier and tastier than the commercial brands! One of the cartons went in the freezer but it won't last long with my family!

  3. Of course the small savings are worth it, it doesn't take many small savings to add up to a big one, and if you have the attitude "it's not worth it" you'll never save anything.
    Slow cookers (2 - small 1.5 lt. and big 3.5 lt) rule supreme, together with microwave and toaster, oven very rarely switched on.
    Also it's amazing how many preserves can be made from last-minute yellow sticker produce; chutney, piccalilli, lemon curd, pickled red cabbage, onions and eggs all come from the reduced shelves, even the vinegar from pickles gets recycled into chutney.

  4. I hang washing on the line or at top of stairs depending on the weather to dry except undies they get tumbled dried We found having a water meter saved us money. Not so much in the summer, but in the winter I always cook casseroles, they last for two/ three meals.

  5. I must admit I struggle with the small savings; the big ones being the most quickly satisfying (oh god, I realise how that sounds!) but I'm going to try to take this more to heart, you're right at how quickly they can mount up!

  6. Hi Froogs I am an avid fan of yellow sticker reductions. I go 2 or 3 times a week and do my meal planning around what I get from my yellow sticker finds. A lot of it can be frozen and used at a later date. This saves me a small fortune on my weekly shopping bill. I just recently blogged about getting £77.62 of food for just £8 over a two day period which I think is my best find so far. I also wanted to thank you for inspiring me to donate to the local food bank. I wrote a post about it here if you would like to take a look
    This is definitely something we will be doing on a monthly basis.
    Much Love
    Claire xx xx xx

  7. We buy our spices from an Asian shop rather than the supermarket, it's a lot cheaper. We shop at aldi, like you! I try to cook everything from scratch. We use coupons for money off for petrol. I get some clothes from charity shops. We grow quite a few fruits and veggies on our allotment. We have just changed bank accounts to nationwide as u get cheaper travel and other insurances. All the usual stuff really! Thanks for a great blog! X

  8. I love every penny I manage to save but it is getting harder every day. Am busy making the decorations for my sons marriage blessing and have saved a fortune. He and his lovely wife had the last big holiday last year in Vegas and as I expected came back married ready to settle down and start a family. I was happy they had the wedding they wanted as Hubby is too ill for a big wedding but they wanted the family to celebrate it so there will be a blessing for close family then a party for everyone with a Vegas theme. My friends have supplied map books for the main decorations,her family are catering and making the flowers. I made the invites for 30 people for £5 and the rest of the decorations for the table for £10. She wore a £10 dress for the wedding and £30 dress for the blessing. the party is going to be very informal and no children apart from her niece and my grandson and we can leave as soon as he is tired and his Mummy and Daddy can stay.

    All this means they will be able to buy house and one day soon there will be another grand baby however as ny lovely daughter in law is a twin I am making 2 of everything just in case!

  9. We try and save as much as possible, go to home bargains for bday cards at 29p each. Food shop at aldi, we are saving lots so can pay more of mortgage. I buy everything once a week I don't pop to shops mid week. We make our own lunches or take left over meals from night before. We go camping for our holidays, much cheaper and enjoy the fresh air and cheap tasty meals on the barby. Go to charity shops

    1. Hi
      Do have a card factory near you as sometimes they will have 10 for a £1.00 and other times its between 5 and seven for the same price.I use old greetings cards irrespective of the event and make small gift boxes out of them.if I am given a card and the envelope hasn't been sealed I keep it back an make a pretty label for the front and re use it for another time.
      Like you I have started now not to shop mid week and its beginning to really pay off.

  10. I liked this post because it made me think. I do a lot to save but on reading this realised that I had never really calculated the cost of the oven and for four of us it is on every day. It is certainly never full either, I will be more mindful of this, we do have a mini oven that we use when we go on our caravan holidays I know they only use a little as the wattage on camp site electrics is low. Maybe I should bring it in and use it more often, especially when only cooking small amounts. I think shopping at Aldi is a big saving for me, because it is smaller and they do not have the range of pre-prepared stuff that you can get in a big supermarket you have to be more creative and make more. I use charity shops for clothes for me or make them which is also my hobby so this serves two purposes, I got out a dress to wash and iron that I picked up from a charity shop in Western Super Mare last year, it was £2! It was a small independent animal charity shop I think these tend to still be cheaper. It is a New look dress (the shop) in fantastic as new condition, when I hear what other people spend on clothes it astounds me and lets face it new clothes are only that until the second you put them on. Caravan holidays, which we have to take during school holidays but we always find small clean sites, just usually a camp field with electric hook up and toilet shower block. That is all you need, we are out exploring and walking dogs in the day anyhow and the site we will visit for the second time this summer in Whitby is a two mile walk through trees to the centre of Whitby, a gorgeous working farm site and only £18 a night for four of us, two dogs and an awning. We cook all our meals and don't really drink so it is so low cost, probably main thing is fuel when we might drive to Scarborough or somewhere. I've also made my children very aware of the whole consumer daydream most people live in and while they do have wants, purchases all always discussed and they are very good at researching before parting with any birthday money they receive.

  11. I fill 2 gallon containers with water waiting for the water to get hot enough to wash dishes. A friend told me I was crazy to do this because it is just pennies. I use those 2 gallons to water plants and fill the dogs bowl. I would think it wasteful to throw pennies down the drain!

  12. I do many of the things you and your readers have written. I must admit I never thought of using the back of a tin wrapper for note taking. The other thing I would suggest is to hunt for better deals. Yesterday a phone call saved $147 on car insurance. This does not happen often but is great when it does. Also never buy a steal if you know it isn't going to be used.

  13. My big savings is that every scrap of vegetable that we don't eat gets fed to the dog. One of the best frugal tips is to keep your house clean every day. It costs less time and energy to pick things up and wipe them down with a cloth each day than it does to wait until things are really a mess and you need to run appliances endlessly and use lots of supplies.

  14. Absolutely, the small savings are worth it to me. I have to use my dryer when it's allergy season or rainy for long periods. It is hard for me to hang clothes on the line, but I do it as often as I can, knowing I am saving money. I only buy fruit when there is a sale, yet always have enough fruit to eat. My post today is about savings at the grocery store. I buy bread from the bread thrift store, but today, I ate free bread, a bit old but not moldy. The sugar I am using right now cost $0.25/lb, so I am always eating food that is cheaper than at the store at the moment.

    Tomorrow, I am going to have a jar of spaghetti sauce that was free over pasta that was free. It works for me. With coupons and sales, all my toothpaste and toothbrushes are free as well as the toothbrushes and toothpaste for my three children and spouses and four grandchildren.

  15. I make my own bread and noodles it saves me about $60.00 a month on average. That adds up.

  16. I always check the prices and make a note of where it is cheaper. Unfortunately, we don't have things like WalMart or Cotsco over here. Sometimes, my neighbours drive into our next door neighbouring country to get bargains - after adding up the petrol costs it is cheaper but I don't own a car.

  17. The old adage, "Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves', is definitely true! I use home made dishcloths and cut up rags at home, my one, 'luxury', is the foam backed scrubbies. I cut them in half though and, once they are no longer fit for the kitchen sink use them to clean the bathroom sink. I made myself a thermal cooking bag, (Elaine's pattern from the , 'Mortgage Free in Three', website. It works beautifully and saves even the small amount of electricity the slow cooker would use!

    I was excited, (and more than a little envious!) to read of your future plans yesterday Froogs. What a wonderful idea! I'm really looking forward to following your journey.


  18. you can become a bit mental over small savings, mr bah humbug has lost the plot but i think thats just a man thing , cutting the plug off the tumble dryer didnt work they eventually discovered how to wire a plug ...teenagers do grow up !! he then just threw out the tumble dryer and now moans when he trips over clothes dryers

  19. I too have a tumble dryer that i use in the winter months or when the weather is really bad , i hate hate having damp washing creating humidity around the house , but only use it now on the odd occasion ,but we do look after the pennies as much as possible , i use clear plastic for the freezer bags from poundland and when used i wash them out with the fresh washing up water before i do any washing up then dry them on the line outside, i cut up old sheets that i get from jumble sales for 20p and use them for dish cloths , dusters etc, fill the oven when i bake ,if something is a really good offer i buy as much as space allows , last year i bought enough mincemeat to last us for four years after Christmas from aldi reduced to 79p , this was the very large jar , it has a very long date , just a few things to save the pennies,

  20. i try only to use the tumble drier for towels and then only for 1/2 hour and the rest outside, that way I find they don't go hard as a rock. I try and bake a cake or something if im using the oven. I always take something up with me or do a job upstairs before I can come down that way things get done and I hardly notice it. my bills show a real decrease on what I used to use, unfortunately prices are about the same but if I was using what I was before my bill would be high. I use cut up towels for rags and wash, buy in bulk when an offers on. I watch adverts and do valued opinions for nectar points which I exchange for sainsbugs vouchers, so far in a year I have had 250ukp of totally free food and keep a tally its amazing, takes time and a bit of effort but my store cupboard is looking healthy :) im going today to spend 2.50ukp worth of points, not a lot I know, but for that ill get 4 x tomato sauces, 2 x lemon juice bottles, 1 x bottle of water for the cupboard (we had a water shortage or stop for about 5 hours the other week, rather unheard of, but we had not filled kettle, no water, we don't keep drinks in the house so we had nothing effectively to drink, I promised myself I would buy at a least 2 bottles of normal water and just keep it at the back of the cupboard for emergencies (I use tap water normally).

  21. Tend to think of the blue and white supermarkets saying - Every little helps.

    I no longer own a tumble drier - its either out on the line or over the Shelia Mail and horse in the warmest room of the house - the kitchen which is south facing.

  22. Actually, I'm considering a saving that is not worth sister gave us her bread machine (she says she'll only use it when she has kids) and it supposably uses less electricity for one bread than the oven. I am already sick of it after two months. I have to follow directions or the bread won't be edible, it tastes funny, and takes up so much counter space! I keep doing our own bread and never buy it, but I prefer to use our oven and just make two loaves and a muffin tin at the same time. In our contract we pay a fix amount each month to the house owner for electricity, and we don't have to pay extra if we use more than we payed. So this saving has lost its purpose to me.
    Any arguments against?
    A big small saving for me is to shop around. It takes patience and organisation, but it really pays off. Now I kinda start knowing the lowest prices around, and am shocked how much difference there is between one store and the other. Also this year we are having a staycation. We have friends and family over, visit our surroundings, have picnics, ride our bikes. I need to get Good biking-legs!! My abbonnement (all public transport) is only until the end of august, and I cannot afford to buy one again. So bike it is!! Thakfully it's pretty flat around here.

  23. We hear a lot about 'carbon footprints'... similarly, I think we all have 'spending footprints'. We can be mindless consumers, eating up all our resources, or we can be mindful and offset our necessary spends wherever we can... Sometimes, there's no choice but to tackle a plane-sized expense... and that's when those long-accumulated 'spend-miles' can come in pretty handy.

    So no, not silly at all. Little things for me include always taking shopping bags with me in case a store charges for their bags, taking water with me if I go shopping, so I'm not irritable and thirsty and don't need to buy a drink, and now I've started making my own yoghurt which saves me a few pennies on shop-bought. Big things include not running a car... I have a horrid suspicion this 'okays' it in my OH's head to spend a fortune on bicycles, though.

  24. Like so many others on here, we too have a tumble dryer (we bought it from the previous owners of our house so it only cost about £20) and it is very rarely used. However, living in the West of England it is wonderful to be able to get clothes dry when we go through one of those horrible wet periods we get when you are faced with endless days of wet clothes hanging around the house on airers. One of my major grumps is that with one of these new-fangled condensing boilers (you know the type - they are no longer made to last but only do about 10 years if you're lucky!) - we no longer have a proper airing cupboard with a hot water tank - this was a useful feature in many homes which modern technology has sadly done away with.

    Tonight we are having a mid-week roast as grandparents are coming to visit, however, this too is a yellow-sticker bargain - it was originally almost £8 but cost me £1.80 - it is being served with some new potatoes which were also yellow stickered and some runner beans from the garden and of course sage and onion stuffing made from old breadcrumbs (whizz up the crusts plus any stale bread and stick the crumbs into a freezer bag and stuff into a corner of the freezer to have breadcrumbs on hand when you need them), bought onions and sage from the garden. Yum!

    I was also always taught to look after the pennies . . . it gets to the point where it's actually really enjoyable to find these savings and bargains although as someone else pointed out, it is getting much harder nowadays.

  25. We watch out for the "I deserve a treat" thinking. There is a commercial on TV at the moment that starts out saying "You have paid your mortgage on time for a long time and now you deserve to be treated. Take out a loan because of your good credit and go have some fun!" I probably shouldn't have put this in quotes, because this isn't the exact wording, but it is what they say. Tell me, when did we start thinking we deserve a treat, or a vacation, just because we are paying our bills on time? We should feel blessed that we can pay our mortgage and bills. That's the treat. Don't take out a loan because you are able to afford the way you are living. All these treats we give ourselves: expensive evenings out, new clothes, magazines and books, vacations, nail polish, haircuts, etc, just because we deserve it. We need new ways of thinking. We are adults! Treats are for the children, and even then they don't have to be expensive. If the budget is tight and you are paying your bills, you are blessed. You have food on the table and a roof over your head. If you have pennies left over start a treat fund that way. We need to stop letting the TV tell us we are being deprived if we aren't borrowing money for the fun stuff. We need to change our idea of fun stuff. Are we letting strangers tell us what is fun and treats? Ok, I am climbing down from my soapbox now.
    Love you Froogs,

  26. I agree, you have to double check the bogofs' and the 'special offers', more likely should be called 'special tricksters'!
    I batch cook my bread and rolls about every 2 weeks and freeze them in daily portions/useable amounts. Also batch cook in the main oven and use the microwave to heat them up and I too have a triple steamer for veg and things like a salmon steak/fillet steamed in wrapped butter papers or foil or baking parchment, so tasty too.

  27. I agree totally my nan always said look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.its so true I scan the reduced shelf on the odd occasion I don't go in aldi or lidl.I cook from scratch with a full oven,dinner,bread ,cakes.slow cooker is a must.gadets are charged over night on the cheap rate as is the washing tumble drier here.fresh air and a sheila maid in the boiler room.wood burners,mostly free wood , in winter.grow my own fruit and veg, make some clothes for me and the kids .reuse envelopes as note paper.use freebie sites to get seeds and samples.grow plants from seed for the seeds in the sales.use every bit of a roast chicken! I find it a challenge , how much can I save today? What freebies can I get this week?you have been an inspiration frugal queen you are my online bible of frugality!!!

  28. Yep...just said goodbye to a very costly to run large tumble dryer. Have now purchased an A +++ one but only using it when really needed. Watching the meter like a hawk.

  29. A brilliant post. It's when you realise that the small savings DO matter and that paying the odd pound here and there off a debt DOES add up that you start to claw your way to a much better standard and way of living.

    Knowing the cost of running appliances is a really good way to inspire you to make better use of them. For instance I know that my AGA is a big user of our electricity, so I make the best possible use of it at all times. It now heats the house (by it's constant body heat), dries my washing on wet days, finishes off things that come in off the line still slightly damp, cooks all the meals, toasts all the bread, thaws things from frozen, I could go on but you';d get bored, anyway it's in full time use and so I can reconcile myself with the money it costs us to run.

  30. Hi, just wanted to start by saying I love your blog Frugal Queen and love listening to you on the radio.

    I too count every penny and try not to waste money on small things. As regards to the tumble dryer, I too hang my washing out in the dead of winter as most days it will dry off a little bit....I do then finish it in the tumble dryer as a few years ago damp washing around my house caused damp walls and tons of condensation.

    I also love cooking ahead making bit batches of meals...not only saves money on fuel used but it also saves a lot of time and for some people it reduces the need for takeaways whic again saves fact I can't remeber the last time we had a takeaway in our house lol.

  31. Hi there - dipping into all different posts and enjoying them!
    As a child Mum used to do "roast" just like you say - Sausage, Liver, small chops, chicken drumsticks etc. Her secret was the trimmings and sides she used to make - bread sauce for chicken, berry jelly - blackberry usually as we had them in the garden, apple sauce, roasted potatoes and parsnips, stuffing, and Yorkshire puds - all these things really are cheap to make, and make a modest roast a real treat!


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