October 12, 2012 · 10:50 pm

In recent years, I’ve been making a conscious effort to cut my personal spending.  Since making the decision to leave the day job, I need to do this more than ever!

Here’s a few ways that I’ve cut back on spending so far…

- Sold my car saving £100s each year (I now walk/bike/bus)

- Stopped my gym membership saving £360 per year (I now exercise outside)

- Negotiated a new deal on my phone, reducing my monthly payments from £30 to £13.50, saving £198 per year. I’ve now got a much better deal for less money!

- Stopped buying so many clothes which is saving me £100s per year. I hardly ever buy clothes these days and, if I do, it’s usually to replace worn out items. I still love quality brands, like Kuyichi, but I’ll buy last season T Shirts etc for half price or less. I also buy from charity shops.

- Stopped buying books & magazines saving about £100 per year. Instead I’ve got an Amazon wishlist for birthdays & Christmas :)

These cutbacks have reduced my personal spending by well over £1,000 per year.  And the funny thing is, I’m actually happier as a result of making these cutbacks. My life is simpler, less cluttered and I’m less dependent on money. However, there are two areas where I haven’t cut back, and that’s giving to charity and present-giving. These are too important to me!

I’ve also been sorting out the family’s finances in an attempt to cut our overheads. Here’s how I’ve got on so far…

- Switched our water from rates to a meter. We now pay £35 per month, compared to £61, saving £313 per year

- Switched our gas & electricity to a new supplier and reduced our consumption. We currently pay £79 per month, compared to £148, saving £828 per year. I check the gas & electricity deals each year now and switch if I find a better deal.

- Renegotiated our house insurance. For the same cover, we now pay £149 compared to £275, saving £126 per year. My advice is to never automatically renew your house insurance each year. You seem to get penalised for loyalty! I use comparison sites to check rates then ring my existing supplier to see if they can match it (they always do!)

- Renegotiated the mortgage. We’re now on a ‘tracker for life’ deal and currently paying 2.49%, the lowest rate we’ve ever paid on a mortgage.

- Cut our grocery bill from around £80 to £70 per week (this includes all household products, food & toiletries), saving £520 per year.

To date, I’ve managed to cut our bills by nearly £2,000 per year, which isn’t too bad considering the cost of living has increased these past few years.  It didn’t take a lot of effort either. There are some great online comparison sites available now, which save time & effort. Some of my favourite sites are: www.uswitch.com, www.moneysupermarket.com, www.moneysavingexpert.com, www.gocompare.com and www.mySupermarket.com.

The one area that I still need to work on is landline telephone & broadband. We’re currently paying £109 each quarter which is way too high.  I’m currently looking at Sky and Plusnet so, if anyone has experience of either of these two, I’d love to hear what you think of them :)

On Wednesday, I promised that I’d give the recipe for one of our favourite lentil dishes which uses Chana Dal (also known as Yellow Split Gram and Gram Dal). This lentil is a relative of the chick pea and has a lovely nutty flavour.

This dish is super duper cheap to make! In Tesco, a 2kg bag of Indus Chana Dal costs just £2.99 (and this size bag will last you ages).

The dish is mildly spiced, so perfect for all the family, though feel free to crank up the heat if you like spice! It’s also deliciously creamy. I use Alpro Soya Cream in this dish, which makes it dairy free and low in fat. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Creamy Chana Dal with Cauliflower & Peas

Serves 6
Hands on time: 10 minutes (& half hour soaking time)
Cooking time: 50 minutes

Ingredients
225g / 8oz / 1 cup chana dal (aka split yellow gram, gram dal)
695 ml / 24½ fl oz / 3 cups water
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
130g / 4½ oz / 1 cup frozen peas
1 tbsp olive oil
1 thumb-size piece of fresh or frozen ginger, finely grated
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
½ – 1 tsp chilli powder
1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (omit for children)
2 large fresh tomatoes, skinned and finely chopped
130 ml / 4½ fl oz / ½ cup non dairy cream (I use Alpro Soya Chilled Single Cream)
¼ tsp saffron strands, infused in 2 tbsp hot water (optional)
2 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped
1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1 tsp sugar or natural sweetener (I use agave syrup)
Toasted almonds, sesame seeds and/or finely chopped red chilli for garnish

Serve with: brown rice and/or chapattis

Method

  1. Place the lentils in a sieve and sort through, discarding any hardened kernels or grit. Thoroughly wash the lentils. Place in a container, cover with water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes. Rinse the lentils, drain well, and put them in a large saucepan with 3 cups of water. Stir in the turmeric. Boil uncovered for 10 minutes (skim off any froth that appears on the surface). Reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cauliflower and peas and continue cooking for a further 8 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) and gently cook the grated ginger, dry spices and chilli (if using) for one minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and continue to cook for two minutes.
  3. Fold the tomato and spices into the lentils, along with the cream, saffron, coriander, salt and sweetener. Cook on a low heat (don’t allow it to boil) for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Delicious served in warm bowls with a garnish of toasted almonds, sesame seeds and/or red chilli, and side dishes of brown rice and chapattis.

Lentils are so versatile. As well as using them in Indian dishes, we make lentil burgers, lentil loaves and add them to soups. This week I made a large batch of tomato and red lentil soup and it was lush! Lil’ L took it to school, M took it to work, and we had enough left over for dinner one evening too. You can check out the recipe here.

Do you cook with lentils? If so, I’d love to hear about your favourite lentil dish. Add a link to your recipe if possible.

Also, do you keep an eye on your finances and look for ways to cut bills? If so, I’d love to hear your tips!

Right, it’s Friday night and the weekend has officially begun :) Time for me to sign off!

Have a great weekend everyone! xx

 

 

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  • Candy @ Healthy In Candy Land

    Wow, you’ve done an incredible job on saving money! Thank you for sharing the links for the comparison sites–I definitely want to check them out.
    And that recipe–oh my yum! I am putting it on next week’s menu plan right now! Thank you for sharing it!
    Just a few months ago we got rid of our landline and just use our cell phones now. We found that the only ones calling us on the landline anymore were solicitors, so we surely didn’t need it! (I get so annoyed by them!)
    Happy weekend to you too–I am so looking forward to this one!

    • http://www.bitofthegoodstuff.com Sharon

      Every day I get sales call on the landline and more often than not they’re for the lady that lived here 13 years ago! Incredible eh?
      Have a fantastic time on your date night. I bet you’re super excited about seeing Wicked :)

  • http://twitter.com/keephealthstyle Laura Agar Wilson

    I actually have just been looking at switching my utility bills due to the hikes, fingers crossed I can save some cash!