Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Our Month in Review: January

Hi Friends, I'm not feeling very well this evening, but I wanted to touch base with you before I hit the hay (I sound like my grandma!).  I want you to take the time to reflect on your January, and I want to let you in on some of the things that have gone well this month.

How has the first month of 2018 gone for you?  What has gone well for you?  Where is there room for improvement?  There's always room for improvement! 

Before I go any further, you're probably wondering what this protein bar has to do with our January review.  Answer: nothing.  It was a freebie worth £2 that was delivered with our meat order from UKFreshMeats this evening, which, by the way, I used a voucher code and got 10% off my order.  Score! 

Where did things go well for the Boltons (that's us) this month? 

I set myself a goal of spending at least £50 less on food from the shop this month, and I not only achieved this goal, I saved an additional £83 on top of this!  Yeah! How did I do this?  The usual meal planning, stretching meals by having slightly smaller portions at supper to have enough for either or both of our lunches the next day, and adding in an extra meat-free meal each week (usually breakfast for dinner).  I also used about £50 worth of Nectar points over a few shops at Sainsbury's.  I could do better by planning our meals slightly better so that I make fewer trips to our local Morrison's.  I have probably shopped more at Morrison's this past month, because of the convenience of it being so close to home, than ever before. 

My US passport was due for renewal next month, so I had to factor in that pretty big cost into the budget along with the delivery charges this month.  I should have budgeted for this monthly since I realised in the summer that it would expire, but I was in denial and had to fork out the money for it all in one month.  Ouch.  But hey, we cut back in a few areas in order to pay up front for my new passport.  I will also probably have to pay for a new "Indefinite Leave to Remain" put in my new passport, so my goal is to figure out what I need to do for this in the next week.

Eating out/Restaurants.  I enjoy eating out... sometimes.  Honestly, I struggle to get over the cost of mediocre food often served by miserable waitstaff.  However, our girls enjoy going out... kids meals are usually great value, because they often include a drink, a starter, a main meal and a dessert.  I seriously wish I could order from the kids meal!  This month our restaurant budget had to be reduced £10 to be put toward my passport, which meant one meal out.  Since my husband's meals at the canteen go into our restaurant budget as well as coffees out - neither are often - it didn't leave much for our meal out.  I let the girls choose between McDonalds and a pizza restaurant - no surprise, they chose McDs.  We were still under budget by £2.03 in our restaurant budget this month... yippee!

We were slightly over budget (by £1.05) this month in our "play" budget due to treating our friends' children to soft play a couple of weeks ago... but it was TOTALLY worth it.  The £1.05 I'll carry over into February's budget so that it balances out over the two months. 

Not everything went according to plan... hey, that's life, right?!  We decided to book our flights "home" to Ohio.  I had been carefully watching for price drops for a few months, but there wasn't much change. However, I know that prices tend to increase, due to basic economics, in the winter months because people long for their summer holidays.  I was having difficulty using my credit card to book the flights, so I asked my husband to.  I won't go into detail, but one tiny error on our reservation resulted in a correction fee of £50.   All in all though we saved about £400 over last year's flights due to a new route on Iceland Air between Reykjavik and Cleveland.  So, we'll fly a different way from Manchester into a different airport, Cleveland, but £400 is definitely worth it!  (At least I hope so.)

Other than those things, nothing was too different in January.  We were even given the opportunity to bless an almost stranger with a small financial gift, which I feel absolutely blessed by! 

I planned ahead for February yesterday and this evening by preparing our budget for the next month.  Honestly, I LOVE to update my budget.  *Weirdo alert!*  It allows me to have a sense of control over our finances, which is completely freeing!  I do, however, know that everything is in the Lord's control, not mine.

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