My (Frugal) resolutions for 2016

It’s been a while since my last post but I’m back! Last months have been crazy, but still this is no excuse to stop blogging. It doesn’t mean I stopped to trying to live more frugal though.

I made some resolutions for 2016 (I’m a bit late, I know. But as they say, better late than never!).

The first one is obvious. I need to get back in the rhythm and start writing more. Last months I slacked a bit but that is going to stop today. I made the resolution to get up earlier and start my day with writing for an hour (after I did my pilates) for my blog, but also for my new job. A few months ago I became self employed (part-time) as a business writer. I love to write, I’m  good at writing technical informative text, and there are a lot of companies that outsource writing. So I started this side business and I’m proud to say that I have two clients at the moment, and one potential third one. So in my spare time I write when I have a project. Now I just need to dedicate one hour a day to writing, this way it becomes a habit and goes more fluently without thinking. And by making a habit out of it I will have more time to write for my blog about a subject that I like a lot. So, to get things started immediately and avoid procrastination, I’ve set my alarm for tomorrow morning at 7 a.m. This gives me enough time to start my day writing!

My second resolution is something I struggled a long time with. But I feel that 2016 is gonna be different. My second resolution is declutter/tidy/clean the house and get rid of all the unnecessary things and pursue more or less minimalistic living. I’m tired of bumping into stuff and tidying it all the time. It seems that I don’t have enough closet space but in reality I think that my boyfriend and I just have too much stuff that we collected over the years. It’s not that we buy so many things but I guess that over the years you just collect a lot of stuff. We also got all our stuff from our parents houses and we do not really throw a lot away. We just find a nice place to stack it and forget about it. So I really want to clean the house and only keep the stuff that I need and makes me happy (as in the book of Marie Kondo “The life changing magic of tidying up”) … I’m confident that a clean house with no clutter will help to live more frugally as well. After going through everything and seeing the stuff that you have and never use, and throw or give it away, you will think twice about buying a new candlestick, vase or radio for example .. and maybe realise that you do perfectly well without it. It will help to realise that you don’t need a lot of things and that there are more important things than “stuff” … I will keep you up to date about how my efforts turn out (Last month I already cleaned my wardrobe (again), and organised it in the konmari way and it stayed clean and organised ever since…) so my hopes are up. Oh and a clean house also means less time lost in cleaning and decluttering and more time to write and enjoy my free time.

My third resolution is about money. Just like every year my boyfriend and I would like to save a nice amount of money. However, this year there is a small chance of plans and we will not be able to save as much as we would normally do. I’m very excited to say that we are going to marry. A few weeks ago my boyfriend proposed and I of course said yes! My resolution will not be to try to have a very cheap or frugal wedding (because you only get married once, right?), but always try to keep the frugal option in mind and decide on what things we want to spend money and what not… So I will keep our budget in mind, and I will always look for the smartest solution moneywise. And if possible look for cheap or less expensive alternatives. We want to have a nice party will all our dearest friends and family present, so I think we will have to spend a big amount of money on the venue, but there are other things on which we can save some money. I think that for example I will make some decoration myself, maybe make the invitations myself, let my nails done by a friend …. So I hope to have a wonderful wedding (I already have a wonderful guy :)) and despite the wedding save some money.

A fourth resolution, and maybe one that most people have at the start of the year, is to exercise more. It has nothing to do with the wedding and fitting in my dress ;), it’s just that I’m not really sporty and I really need to do something about my level of fitness. Once or twice a week I do my pilates but that’s not enough. So I decided to enroll myself (together with a friend) in a fitness club to do some Zumba every week. I have to admit that it’s not that cheap to enroll (75€ for 12 lessons) but If I have to do it alone from home It will never happen. So my resolution is to exercise more. The Zumba will definitely be good, I will try to go by bike to the sportscentre (only 4km away) and of course keep on doing pilates. For the ones that are interested, I do pilates, or well it’s called blogilates from the website www.blogilates.com. It’s completely free, you can find various exercises, calendars, a ton of movies etc.. And I really love the instructor. She is energetic and dynamic and keeps me on track.

My last resolution is one that I already try to live by but it never hurts to keep on repeating it. It’s about appreciating what I have and not looking at other people and for example trying to impress them. I think that only by appreciating what you have, not only material wise but also family and friends wise, and what you (can) do, and not trying to compare yourself to others can make you truly happy. I really don’t mind what people think about me, I’m happy with what I have. I even want to live on less and only keep the stuff I really need and makes me happy (see resolution 2). And yes there are a few things that I also really want, but it’s a nice goal to save money for and it’s what I really want for myself. I think this resolution will also be important when planning the wedding. When planning a ceremony and party you always keep others in mind and well it’s the first time I will organise a wedding so I think it’s easy to fall in the trap of having the wedding that you think you should. I will try to keep in mind that my fiancé (It sounds good :)) and I just have to organise the wedding the way we want it.

These were my resolutions for 2016! 🙂 How about your resolutions? Did you make some and how are you planning to keep your resolutions?

Cheers,
Fiona

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My digital piggy bank

While I was browsing for financial apps, I came across a very nice (and cute) app mypiggybankappfor getting an overview of your savings. I immediately liked it. The app is called “Piggy Bank – Saving Money” created by Georgio Sterk. It is a very simple app that visually shows you how much money you have saved and how close you are to your saving goal. The app is really simple to use, it has an elegant design, and it’s for free.

First you hMypiggybankave to choose for what goal you want to save money and how much you want to save. You can for example save for a car, to buy a house, for early retirement … If you have set your goal, you get a really cute piggy(bank) that shows you how much you have saved and how much remains. At the moment my boyfriend and me are trying to save as much money as we can. Our goal is to save 25000 euro per year. So I entered 25000 euro.

Every time when you then save an amount of money (even a small amount), you insert the numbermypiggybank2 in the app, and you can see the piggy filling up. You can also see how much money you still need to reach your goal. It’s so nice to see the evolution. I just want to save some money and enter the amount in the app, to see the belly of the piggy filling up.

To help you achieve your goal, the app also allows you to calculate how mucmypiggybank3h money you have to save per day, week, month or year. For example, if we want to save 25000 euro in one year, we have to save 2083.33 euro each month. If we succeed to save this amount of money each month we will achieve our goal and the belly of our piggy will be full, yay :). However we are not there yet.

I like the app because its so simple to use and it is beautifully designed with only one goal, showing you how close you are to your saving goal, and how much money you have already saved. For me it really is a visual encouragement to reach my saving goal! I just want to start saving some money and fill that little piggy’s belly! There is however one downside, when you have set your goal of how much money you want to save, you cannot insert a time limit. I for example have a goal for one year, but there is nowhere to include this. I think it would have been a nice addition (for now I will just add in the title that it is my goal for the year 2015). The app also does not show you the history of what you have saved per time period, it just shows you your total. When you want to keep track of the exact amounts you have saved  you will have to use another app or for example keep track of it in an excel sheet.

The app is for free, however, if you want to set more than one goal, you have to upgrade the app for €0.99 (or $0.99). It is available in English and Dutch. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

What do you think of this app? Does anyone of you use an app to keep track of your savings?

Regards,
Frugal Fiona

Where to start?

Living frugally, where do I start? I think that I already live quite thrifty, I for example pay attention to what I spend, I use home made cleaning products, I try to limit our waste … but as I mentioned in my previous blog, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

I think that a good way to start (or continue) living frugally would be by first of all focussing on my spending. I have a sense of how much money my boyfriend and me spend each month, however I have no idea where our money exactly goes to. We can save a lot of money each month but I don’t know the exact amount we give on food, clothes, going out … We’ve created a budget for most household items (such as groceries) but we don’t really reflect back on the accuracy of our estimates. So maybe I have a completely wrong sense of our expenses. It is possible that in my mind several purchases are forgotten or are considered as futile (such as that box of chocolates that I bought yesterday), giving me a completely false sense of being thrifty and could have a big impact on my financial future.

So I think it would be good to start tracking our expenses. Just writing everything down and dividing our expenses in different categories, to get a view of our spending habits (we will definitely need a separate category for chocolates). It would be a good exercise to see where our money goes to, and it will help us to budget our expenses in the future!

At the moment I am figuring out which tracking system would be best. I can for example write everything down in a notebook, use a spreadsheet application on the computer, or use an app. I think I prefer using an app because it allows me to add my expenses on my Smartphone wherever I am.

A quick browse on the internet shows that there are numerous apps that can help me with this, I can enter my income and expenses, divide them in different categories and get a nice overview of what I spend each month for each category. Some apps can even help me to create a budget and tell how much money is left per category. The only ‘difficult’ part is finding a good app since there are so many to choose from. Based on a first quick search me and my boyfriend like dollarbird, spendee and accounts 2, but there are many more so in the following months I will test several money tracking apps including these three and see which one fits best to our needs. I will of course write a review on these apps in the next few weeks. I will also keep you up to date on how tracking my expenses works out for me. My boyfriend and I are very curious to see whether we spend as much money on food, clothes, going out, electricity … as we think we do, or whether we spend much more than we thought.

Regards,
Frugal Fiona