Thursday, 26 February 2015

Frugaldom Woodland News

Hope everyone is doing OK, sticking to the plan and making the most of whatever they can. February in the Frugaldom household is very much a use-it-up month and the 28-day kickstart to summer fitness, so being awarded another 420 trees by the Woodland Trust as part of the WWI commemorative woodlands scheme will help further the fitness regime! Anyone up for some tree planting?

What's next? Well, as many of you know, this entire challenge began as a way to steer completely clear of debt, save to buy a fixy-up and then live the frugal good life mortgage & rent free. In 2011, we managed to buy our fixy-up house, which still isn't fully 'fixy-upped', but never mind, we'll get there one day. In the meantime...

Frugaldom Project

Last year, the savings bought us a bit of land, now known as the Frugaldom Project ( for anyone who wasn't aware of how long this challenge has been going) and we have started planting up our community woodland.

The Frugaldom Project is about creativity, sustainability and lifestyle, so why not join us online and become part of the project? Sample frugal freedom for yourself: budgeting, foraging, food growing, tree planting, crafting, photography, writing, outdoor fitness, nature studies, environmental art or even just to appreciate the simple things in life, like frugal living, working from home and having affordable fun.

Current projects include taking part in the Woodland Trust's WWI Centenary Woodland project, plus the creation of our garden of gratitude, sensory gardens, haiku corner, trading post, hitching post and our very own interpretation of, or even solution to, writers' block. All aspects of the Frugaldom project will be recorded online and can be found in the dedicated section of the frugal forums.

Tree planting at Frugaldom, 10th November 2014

As part of The Woodland Trust World War I centenary woodland project, Frugaldom is taking part in this once-in-a-generation tribute, by creating a growing legacy for centuries to come.

We planted 420 mixed hazel, blackthorn (sloe), crab apple, dog rose and elder on 8th & 9th November 2014 to produce the first stage of our new harvest woodland and edible hedging, which should provide a great future foraging area for all concerned.

We have been awarded a further 420 trees by the Woodland Trust, sponsored by Ikea, with those trees being expected during the first week of March. For anyone interested, planting is scheduled (weather permitting) between 7th and 8th March 2015

Muscle Food

Back on the home front with the bargain food budget, now that we have the joys of Asda deliveries, I have been trying to work in a small order once a month - I've cut the food budget to £5 per person per week for all meals. I'm making the most of everything I have in stock and just buying the minimum necessary, but it does seem to be going OK.

My freezer is still full of delicious meaty bargains from Musclefood and I continue to be both amazed and thankful whenever someone becomes a customer via my friend referral link (the banner above) and starts saving their own loyalty points towards filling their freezers.

Many thanks to all and none less so than to the company itself, for giving us frugalers the opportunity to benefit from what would otherwise have remained the secrets of the bodybuilders, rather than us cashbuilders! :)

Frugal Living Blog

Frugal living blog about how to do some money saving and cost cutting in an effort to live a good life, free from debt, without having to live in self-imposed poverty. You won't find us running for awards or seeking fame, fortune or even national recognition because we live the life we write - it is as simple as that.

Money Saving

The Frugal Blog is linked to and supported by the frugal forums, frugal shop, NYK's chat room and the land of Frugaldom, which came about as a direct result of having stuck with my frugal living, moneysaving challenge unfalteringly until the point of attaining debt freedom, and then for the next 7 years thereafter. This is now year 8 of my debt free challenge and almost all of it has been documented online as a frugal blog with forum posts.

Frugal Living Challenge

This is an adaptation of the original 'Living on £4,000 for a Year' challenge, which has been running online since 2007. Some of the NYK challenges date back to the late 1990's, so I do have a considerable amount of experience in balancing my own books, while living within my own means, always done on a budget that some consider to be impossible. Utter nonsense! It is entirely possible and is an achievement of which I am particularly proud. I can say with confidence that frugal living, free from debt, on a small income is 100% possible. You do, however, need to exercise will power and keep yourself focussed on your plans in order to achieve these otherwise impossible goals.

We have seen many changes over the years, so each stage in the development of our frugal living and working plans takes us a step closer to the good life and beyond. Your budget is personal to you, it should fit with your personal financial situation and it should be something you are happy to achieve. If you can achieve a point at which you spend less than you have coming in, then you are halfway there. Getting to the point that you are spending less than you are earning while also absolutely free from debt is the ultimate goal. You just need to believe it is possible and stick to your plan, no matter what.

You can join our quest for financial freedom by visiting us in our members only frugal living forums.

My frugal living challenge is not about self-deprivation or self-imposed poverty just for the sake of it, it is about providing genuine support for those who are prepared to try making a real difference to their own lives while sorting out their difficult financial situations. Once the debts are gone and you are in full command of your own spending (or not spending, as the case may be), the world is your oyster. Whether you choose to invest, explore, plant a forest, see the world or lead a comfortable life knowing you are financially secure is entirely up to you.

Many former and current challengers have achieved debt freedom and now follow frugal lifestyles in order to stay free from debt while pursuing better lives without the entrapment of credit. Others are tackling debts, including mortgages, while following a frugal lifestyle in an attempt to reach their debt-free or mortgage-free day. Whichever stage you are at, feel free to join us and share your journey.

2015 saw the return of the live NYK Chat room, complete with scheduled chats for the purposes of additional support, plus live question time. The new platform has been tested over the past few months and it is hoped that the increased potential for even more real time interactivity can help many more people who want to embark on their own money saving journeys to financial freedom.

This challenge is about establishing your true cost of living, sticking to your budget, clearing debts (if you have any) and making savings wherever and however you can to enable you to live the life you really want.

Frugal living isn't for everyone, but everyone is welcome to join us. Methods employed by frugalers include batch cooking, stockpiling useful bargains, preserving, foraging, mending, shopping in charity shops, reducing, reusing, recycling, Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS), vegetable and fruit growing, allotments, keeping hens, using cash-back sites and doing whatever it takes to become self sufficient in managing the cost of living without incurring debt.

For some it is about clearing debt, for others it's about increasing savings, buying property, becoming stay at home parents or paying off the mortgage early. Some choose the lifestyle on ethical grounds, others seek early retirement or self-sustainability. Above all, this is meant to be a fun and supportive way to manage a minimal budget so you have control of your own money.

  • It's about NEEDS and not WANTS
  • Living on a budget = living within our means
  • Frugal = thrifty, living without waste

Fifty Shades of Money Saving

  1. Recognise the differences between needs from wants
  2. Spend within your means
  3. Set a proper budget
  4. Quit expensive habits
  5. Houseshare or get a lodger
  6. Shop via cashback sites
  7. Always price compare
  8. Buy reduced items in stores only if you need them
  9. Stockpile & bulk buy long shelf life groceries that you will use
  10. Batch cook
  11. Make the most of charity shops
  12. Join Freecycle or other similar waste awareness and recycling groups
  13. LETS trading - become active members of trading & exchange groups
  14. Barter
  15. Grow herbs, fruit & vegetables
  16. Preserving - jams, jellies, cordials, pickles, relishes & wine
  17. Bake your own bread using cheap flour
  18. Learn easy bake biscuit, cake and pastry recipes
  19. Make your own greetings cards
  20. Give homemade gifts
  21. Share orders with friends, colleagues and family for better discounts & reduced delivery costs
  22. Landshare, garden share or apply for an allotment if you have no growing space
  23. Make the most of all freebies
  24. Develop your own home-based business
  25. Sell your surplus through the likes of eBid and eBay trading
  26. Do a kitchen cupboard inventory of foodstuffs
  27. Use lists for grocery shopping
  28. Know exactly what is in your freezer
  29. Use up everything in your fridge
  30. Learn how to make soups, stews and casseroles
  31. Make the most of your slow cooker, if you have one
  32. Learn how to knit, crochet and/or sew
  33. Make do and mend rather than buy new
  34. Engage in clothes swaps and accessorise your outfits rather than have to buy new
  35. Learn to make your own laundry cleaner
  36. Make your own household cleaning agents:  invest in soda crystals or sodium bicarbonate,
  37. Get inventive in the kitchen with herbs and spices to use up all leftovers
  38. Use the free gym whenever you like - just open your door and step outside
  39. Use housework as an exercise routine
  40. Dry flowers so they last forever
  41. Collect seeds for sowing
  42. Go foraging for free wild foods
  43. Trim your own hair or ask a friend to do it for you
  44. Turn down the thermostat if you have central heating - wear an extra layer of clothing instead
  45. Early to bed, early to rise - based on daylight, it can save on lighting
  46. Collect fallen sticks, twigs, dry leaves and fir cones for kindling if you have an open fire or stove
  47. Save all suitable containers for freezing or preserving food
  48. Eat a sensible diet: over-eating is one of the costliest mistakes you can make, along with wasting food
  49. Food is NOT bad just because it has passed its 'Best Before' date. Undamaged tins and properly stored dried goods can last for years beyond that
  50. Stay focussed and stay strong - debts have to be paid before saving for rainy days and luxuries

By basing your frugal lifestyle around a combination of the above suggestions, you will soon begin to recognise many more ways of saving money but the easiest way to get started is simply to quit spending it until you have assessed your real cost of living. Monitoring and revising a budget is part of any frugal living plan.


Please respect others' lifestyles and beliefs. We are not here to judge, we are here to support. Feel free to join us by following the frugal blog, registering for our free forums or joining us in the chat room sometime soon. We aren't here to score points or win prizes, we are here to show how simple life can be and then the fun can begin.

Frugal Living Blog

Monday, 16 February 2015

Chinese New Year


What a busy month February is!

Frugaldom's 28-day 'fight the flab' challenge, Valentine's Day, Pancake Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Chinese New Year - the year of the sheep, or year of the ram - and several others that have come along more recently, like Harry Potter Day, on February 20th! Frugal living can be fun for everyone, so celebrate in affordable style!

Valentine's Day is the midway point for our Frugal February Fitness Challenge. The sun shone, so it seemed like a good idea to get back in the saddle again... by giving the bike its first short trip of the year. I didn't go far, but stopped for photos along the way, regardless.

As you can see, the sky was blue and the loch was calm. There was a huge flock of migratory geese grazing noisily on the far shore and a number of ducks and other waterfowl on the water.

Snowdrops in sunshine

All along the lochside, through the surrounding woodlands, there were snowdrops flowering. By my front door, I have crocuses, snowdrops and a profusion of miniature irises in full bloom, adding a splash of colour to an otherwise dreary time of year.

Pancake Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday, is tomorrow, 17th February 2015, and we're all set to have a super frugal use-it-up day from dawn until dusk. As February represents the first 28 days of our annual 'get fitter, not fatter' challenge, it is also fitting that this year's grocery challenge has been reduced to £5 per person per week for all meals, so zero tolerance on food waste means everything gets used up as normal, not just on Shrove Tuesdays. (This challenge is being recorded on a daily basis at to include some recipes.) I will continue the pancake blog tomorrow. In the meantime, I have my flour, eggs and milk at the ready, along with the usual lemon and sugar or syrup toppings.

Willow sheep for the Frugaldom eco arts garden

Chinese New Year begins Thursday 17th February and this year is the year of the sheep, or ram. Having seen a lovely example of a willow woven sheep in a garden by the abbey on the island of Iona, I had shown the photos to resident artist. This is the result - his first willow sheep, woven from willow grown in the Thrift Cottage garden! It is very fitting that it was finished this week, just in time for the Chinese year of the sheep beginning on Thursday. Who knows how many may have joined our Frugaldom flock by this time next year. You can see how this sheep was made on our designated eco arts photo blog at

Red leather fashion watch

As time marches on, taking February through to March, we have been having fun finding out how far a fiver can stretch, while measuring how many pounds can be lost during this 28-day kickstart to the 'Get Fitter, Not Fatter' challenge. This fabulous little fashion watch, which is available in an assortment of colours, cost just £2.60 including postage and packaging, after using a 10% discount code on our all time favourite fashion site. Better still, you can collect loyalty points as you shop and the company ships globally.To find out more about this and thousands of other bargains that we'll be researching and reviewing, you can visit It is from there that we will be featuring all the offers, discounts, voucher codes, products and services that help to finance the running of the Frugaldom Project, along with the supporting web sites, blogs, forums and chat room.

Our next live chat will be scheduled soon, so don't forget to register a username and password via www.frugalforums so you can take part. This week, we will be discussing the 2015 monthly moneysaving challenges plus offering support to those taking part in the fitness challenge. We'll also be mapping out the other monthly challenges that will be set throughout the coming year.

Chinese New Year

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Frugal Grocery Shopping

Many of our UK readers may have seen the company 'Approved Food' pitch to potential investors on popular TV series, 'Dragon's Den' and, for many viewers, this could have been the first time they had ever been made aware of the existence of such a company. However...

For the money savvy shoppers who have followed our frugal living challenges since the beginning, you will have become familiar with such cheap food supplies, having seen the rise and fall of several over the past five or more years.

NYK Media and Frugaldom have been supporting Approved Foods since 2009, so it is easy to see how much money has been saved during that time. None of the items are past sell by or unfit for consumption but many have passed their 'best before' dates for quality control. However, it is safe to say that most dried, canned or pickled foods have indefinite shelf lives if kept properly and some things, like honey, can last a lifetime.

Read more here…

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Approved Food on Dragons' Den! (Frugal Shop)


Looks like there could be a huge surge of interest in our old friends at Approved Food, as they take on the Dragons in the den tomorrow night.

The programme should make for very interesting viewing, but also makes me impatient to hear what millionaires think of the likes of us, who spend our money on past sell by foodstuffs. It also makes me wonder if the result, which would have been known some time ago, during original filming, is what drove up the prices on site, making much of what's available now more expensive than standard supermarkets! Still, it was an innovative business from the start and they deserve all the publicity they can get. I just hope they don't cash in on the already impoverished who may see a pile of cheap crisps as a better bonus than some reduced fruit, bread or vegetables in a regular store.

Perhaps I should have completed order last week, rather than see the items in my basket gradually disappear out of stock. I think the phrase, "A significant investment in a new 60,000sq ft site is the company’s fourth move in just six years," pretty much sums up how busy the company, now known as Approved Group, has become since we began shopping there.

Can you believe that was 6 years ago? Well done team AppFood!

Approved Food on Dragons' Den! (Frugal Shop)