Thrifty tips

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Fjgrogan
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:58 am

My mother used to feed a family of five on less meat than I often see on my husbands' plate alone, and much of that was offal. I remember when I was a teenager being sent to the butcher to buy ox liver and the butcher assumed that it was for the dog! As a result, both I and my children actually enjoy liver, hearts, kidneys etc; although I cannot remember eating tripe in the last 20 years, I can still remember exactly what it smells like. Also rabbit, which until the advent of myximatosis (?sp) was cheap meat. Beef was for Sunday lunch, and chicken for Christmas dinner. The big difference between then and now, though, was the fact that most mothers were at home and could therefore cook the kind of cheap cuts which required long slow cooking and a lot of fiddly preparation - to be honest these days I can't be bothered, especially when I know that whatever I cook will simply be smothered in tomato ketchup before it is even tasted to see whether it actually requires any further seasoning!

Another major difference between then and now is indeed the advent of the credit card mentality. When people want something they want it now, whether or not they can afford it. This is particularly noticeable at Christmas when people complain about the expense and then run themselves into further debt buying presents etc on credit because they cannot actually afford them. Then they do it all over again for a summer holiday which they cannot afford either. My philosophy is 'do not buy what you cannot afford'. If you have to save for something you will appreciate it more once you get it - although you may also find that it is no longer available, in which case perhaps you can console yourself with the idea that it was a passing fad anyway and therefore not worth having! I confess that in some ways we are 'sitting pretty' at the moment, because we have cleared our mortgage and no longer run a car. We try to clear ongoing bills as soon as they appear - paying annual bills in one go (council tax, water rates etc), so that we know that what is left in the bank is available to spend. We may lose out on some interest this way, but we do know exactly where we stand, and we owe nothing. My husband is due to retire this year and the situation may change drastically, but we know that the option will be available to switch to monthly payments if necessary. We might even qualify for some the benefits that we have spent a lifetime contributing to - provided of course that we have not meanwhile saved too much to be eligible!!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

'A clean house is a sign of a broken computer.'

Angela Woodford
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Angela Woodford » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:02 pm

J.R. wrote:Strict budget ????

Even the mice have deserted this house !
I can't imagine a mouse would ever venture into maison JR. What about Riagan? What about Tobias (Toby to his friends)? What about the Chinchillas?

No mouse would dare!
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

Fjgrogan
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:09 pm

I discovered a good thrifty tip last week, quite by accident. I had borrowed from a friend the idea of a Friday fast - from using the computer. As a result I managed to get so much more done around the house that day. However, I also discovered when I returned to the forum on Saturday that there had been a rush of activity in my absence and it took a while for me to catch up at the weekend! I have a problem with an addiction to playing Freecell - a dreadful time waster. If I am doing something else on the computer I will invariably play a few (or more) games each time - I cannot resist it. So if the computer is not even switched on it does save quite a lot of time, which I can put to better use!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

'A clean house is a sign of a broken computer.'

sejintenej
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by sejintenej » Mon Mar 22, 2010 12:18 pm

Fjgrogan wrote: We try to clear ongoing bills as soon as they appear - paying annual bills in one go (council tax, water rates etc), so that we know that what is left in the bank is available to spend. We may lose out on some interest this way, but we do know exactly where we stand, and we owe nothing. !!
Many (but I don't think all) suppliers charge a fee for monthly payments which you are avoiding. As for interest, you might get 2%pa if you are lucky but with actual inflation running far higher** than that you lose out by having money in the bank.

** according to The Mail Caulis +12%, oranges +25%, avocadoes +17% lettuce, spinach, strawberries, rasberries also hit. (prices based on this time last year)
Fjgrogan wrote: My husband is due to retire this year and the situation may change drastically, but we know that the option will be available to switch to monthly payments if necessary. We might even qualify for some the benefits that we have spent a lifetime contributing to - provided of course that we have not meanwhile saved too much to be eligible!!
Depending on birth date, tax free allowance increases by about 46.6% to £9490 (announced year 2010 - 2011 figures but subject to budget and a £22,900 limit on HIS taxable income). Free bus travel country wide (see local council), specially cheap (but usually very good) pensioner's lunches, reduced entrance fees to many places - and that includes in France :D :D , a wealth of experience to put to use, no travel costs to work or work clothes, no required "drinks with the boys", free prescriptions, almost free University of the 3rd Age (recommended) ..............
Only one problem - however did he find the time to go to work???????????/
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Fjgrogan
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:16 pm

In case anyone feels that my last post was unbearably smug - I must confess that I am currently being chased by a credit card company!! My husband bought a computer, primarily for my use; PC World were happy to accept payment on his debit card, but when he tried to set up a maintenance agreement on this same card they required proof of his ID, which he did not have, so I agreed to let him put it on my credit card, being assured that it would only be for a few months. Two years later, I was still making payments and getting nothing back for my payments, so I tried to cancel them and was told that I couldn't because the agreement was in my husband's name. He went to PC World and tried to cancel it, but they wanted the original paperwork, which took some time to find. Eventually we found it and presented it to them, and received a letter confirming that the agreement had been cancelled. I breathed a sigh of relief and cut up my credit card. However PC World had apparently not noticed that there were in fact two separate agreements covered by the same paperwork. One was cancelled, but the other was not and payments continued to be taken from my credit card. I eventually managed to galvanise my husband to return to PC World with the same set of paperwork, heavily marked in red ink, and persuade them to put the matter right; we received another letter confirming that they had now cancelled the other agreement. However in the meantime I had been charged for three further payments, plus late fees and interest. As far as I am concerned when we originally asked for the agreements to be cancelled that rescinded my authorisation to take payment from my account, and any further payments were therefore made without my authorisation and should be repaid by PC World. My credit card company do not seem to agree. Am I being unreasonable? Or are they? Ironic, though that one who does not normally agree with the idea of living on credit should be in this situation!! Incidentally, in case anyone is wondering, I used to have two credit cards, which I kept purely for use in emergencies. The other, from the company with whom I do all my banking, was recently closed by them - the reason given was that I was not using it! Since my sole income is a very reduced state pension, I imagine that I would not be accepted if I applied for another card, although unlike the majority of people today I do not live on an overdraft. So much for trying to be financially responsible!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

'A clean house is a sign of a broken computer.'

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by anniexf » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:22 pm

sejintenej wrote:
Fjgrogan wrote: My husband is due to retire this year
Depending on birth date, tax free allowance increases by about 46.6% to £9490 (announced year 2010 - 2011 figures but subject to budget and a £22,900 limit on HIS taxable income).
A word of warning: HMRC are in a terrible mess with their super-duper computer system and many pensioners' tax codes are WRONG! My partner retired last November with 4 private pensions and the state pension. They didn't get his tax code right until last month. Then I discovered that they'd never given me my 65+ age allowance - they owe me hundreds of pounds, which they've promised to pay me, and at last they've sent me ( last week) the right code. If in any doubt, google Tax Help For Older People - they're brilliant! At present they only deal with people on 'lower incomes', which they define as under £17,000 p.a., but I can thoroughly recommend them.

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:53 pm

Does anyone know about Pension Credit? Is it based entirely on one's own income, or is it one of those things where they consider the income of the partner as well? I had always assumed that when I passed 60 and only qualified for a reduced state pension that it would be supplemented by pension credit, so I would be OK. however, when I reached that milestone, I was actually separated from my husband and living with my daughter. I applied and was turned down because my husband and I jointly own the marital home, so my share of it was treated as investment income, because it was property which I owned but was not my principal residence. No amount of arguing would persuade the powers-that-be that I was deriving no income from it because my husband was living there and paying all the expenses connected with the property, so I gave up. (I even tried assuring them that Tesco had refused to allow me to pay for groceries with roof slates!). Eventually I moved back, but did not renew my claim, because I assumed that we would now be treated as a couple and therefore he was expected to support me financially, which he does. But I do sometimes wonder whether I could have been claiming pension credit for the last few years, because that property is now my principal residence and therefore no longer considered an investment. Qualifying for pension credit would also qualify me for things like various other benefits, although not apparently help with NHS expenses which are denied because my husband is still in full time employment. Again, ironically, I used to work for the Inland Revenue, but before the days of all these complicated allowances! I do not like being a 'kept woman' - there must be something that I qualify for to maintain my financial independence!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by englishangel » Mon Mar 22, 2010 1:56 pm

Council Tax , water rates and TV licence are exactly the same whether paid monthly (over 10 months) or in one or two payments. Most insurance is cheaper if paid immediately. However if there are only 2 of you now Frances I would think a water meter would come out much cheaper, though I don't know which council tax band you are on, as that is the way water rates are worked out.
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by anniexf » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:01 pm

Frances, as a former civil servant, aren't you entitled to a civil service pension? Re your Pension Credit query: you would be treated as a couple, so his income will be taken into account jointly with yours in the calculation of any benefit you apply for.

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:14 pm

Sadly I was not in the civil service long enough for a pension. And the gap in my pension contributions resulted from the fact that when I found myself in an unbearable employment situation I finally walked out, instead of waiting to be sacked, thus disqualifying myself from unemployment benefits (and therefore NIC credits) because I had chosen to make myself unemployed. By the time I was diagnosed as sick it was a bit late to backtrack and I was in no fit state to do battle with the SS (Social Security that is, not the other lot!). If I had had my wits about me I would have stayed put, waited to be sacked and been able to claim for unemployment, sickness benefit and eventually disability benefit, with all the attached credits, which would have safeguarded my pension. Instead I just 'scrounged' off my husband for years, as many people do, and will presumably have to continue to do so for the rest of my life - unless of course I leave him again - now there's a thought!!
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by sejintenej » Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:25 pm

anniexf wrote: A word of warning: HMRC are in a terrible mess with their super-duper computer system and many pensioners' tax codes are WRONG! My partner retired last November with 4 private pensions and the state pension. They didn't get his tax code right until last month. Then I discovered that they'd never given me my 65+ age allowance - they owe me hundreds of pounds, which they've promised to pay me, and at last they've sent me ( last week) the right code. If in any doubt, google Tax Help For Older People - they're brilliant! At present they only deal with people on 'lower incomes', which they define as under £17,000 p.a., but I can thoroughly recommend them.
If you are trying to save money don't even bother to try to get HMRC to give you an accurate assessment - it costs far too much.

Annie.
I don't mind that post too much but other readers are likely to regret that I saw it. I had to fight to get my pension - Barclays wrote to say that they couldn't consider paying it because of the IR so it was delayed many months. I had to fight to get the state pension though I think the tax man was reasonably prompt with the allowances for me.

Yes - the HMRC have still got problems (ISTR that 25% of self-assessment is wrong) and never ever has their assessment of my tax liabilities agreed with mine :x :x :x Up to now I haven't had the time to try to sort it out but this year .......................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot begin to work out how much it has cost me to try to get an accurate assessment and to pay tax for 2008-9; from what I read you couldn't afford it.

My income was quite a bit more than I or HMRC expected, some of it from a source they didn't expect. Accordingly I got a copy of an old return, snopaked and put in the correct figures though I didn't have any guidance notes. I tried telephoning but the woman on the other end seemed to consider tax allowances and rates to be a state secret available only one year after the end of the 2008-9 tax year so no way could I work out my liability. OK so my return went in well before the end of October and I waited.
I waited
I waited
and I got a nice present from HMRC on Xmas Eve. A letter saying "sorry, we got your return on 26th (?) October and we have lost it. Fill in the enclosed new one and return it to us within 6 weeks". (OK so that puts us well into February please note) No completion instructions, tax rates etc. but a sheet saying hw to complain. (I can accept that occasionally such things happen and at that time they appeared to be being reasonable). The letter came from a place which I had not had dealings with in the past so I check with them north of the border that someone is not pulling a fast one - I've seen so many similar scams that I wouldn't believe it to be true - but it is.

I filled the form in and hand delivered it (they initially refused to accept it!) it in by end December and wait
and I wait
and I wait

Eventually I give up and phone them. Yes, they have my new tax form, they haven't processed it and they don't know how much I have to pay but if I don't pay in full by 31st January I will be fined, charged interest etc etc. The fact that they ballsed up doesn't matter. The fact that they don't know how much doesn't matter. The fact that they allowed me until well into February doesn't matter - the law is the law and I have to be fined and interest charged if I don't pay in full by 31st January.

Phone call after phone call and I am paying out and paying out phone charges and eventually at the last moment they call me and tell me how much to pay. No apologies, just putting me between a rock and a hard place - I cannot transfer from savings in time so I have to borrow and pay interest. The bar stewards got it wrong, of course but I wasn't to know that at the time.

On 5th March I get a letter from HMRC assessing it and demanding that I pay the tax by 31st January or I would get penalised and have to pay interest. They confirm that despite their errors that penalties and interest is the law and they are going to enforce the law and f*** the pensioner. I have tried appealing in the past and got nowhere - I would never get the penalty back.

The tax assessment form has an entry for private pensions received which I accurately filled in. In the details I added that of the <£90 I got for 7 years with Barclays part is tax free and I want that benefit - guess where the bar stewards got it wrong! Rang em up and the woman has never heard of part of a pension pot being available tax free despite what Barclays wrote; apparently Barclays got it wrong. Complaints Department have heard of such allowances but I have to supply proof of how much the HMRC has allowed Barclays!
That's the short story - the rest is ...............

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by anniexf » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:48 pm

Well, David, that seems to put my tax problem in the shade! I do hope you get some sort of finality on yours - and in your favour.
Back to thrifty tips: this afternoon I made a spiced apple pie a la Delia - there are still some gorgeous English Bramleys about - which will take care of puddings for the next 3 days or so. Shortcrust pastry is quick to make & doesn't have to be perfect ( though every time I make it I seem to hear Betty Jukes saying "Lift it, get the air in!") & you can cook something else at the same time if you're organised, unlike me. :?

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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:16 pm

There are distinct advantages to not having any money!! Maria once applied for something - possibly council tax benefit, I am not sure - and was turned down because her or her husband's savings were too high. It turned out that they were reading her overdraft figure as savings!!!! It could easily have led to a rift between them if she had thought that he was stashing away money that she knew nothing about!
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by midget » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:09 pm

Use a freezer and KEEP IT FULL. Elderly but edible bread and cheese whizzed in a food processor with a handful of roughly chopped spring onions make a delicious topping for baked white fish or chicken, and the surplus can be frozen.
Fill the oven as often as you can, eg a meat casserole+ pot of baked beans+minced beef and onions as a basis for pasta sauce. Then divide up (margarine boxes are reusable and "free") and freeze.
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Re: Thrifty tips

Post by Fjgrogan » Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:07 pm

thanks for that! I have two overloaded freezers, leftover from overstocking for Christmas, which I am desperately trying to empty, because i can never find anything, so we are eating odd combinations of things!
Frances Grogan (Haley) 6's 1956 - 62

'A clean house is a sign of a broken computer.'

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