#2 I bet that stung

We budget.

There I said it. We love budgeting. Hard. It isn’t a dirty word you know. At least not round here.

Having a budget (which isn’t the same as going without by the way) has allowed us to maximise our lifestyle. There isn’t one correct way to manage money, who pays for what and when. But I would bet money (that I have diligently put into a category) that a budget is essential.

Nicky and I handle money like this – All money comes into one pot, gets given a job and gets spent on those jobs. We save, we put away for “true expenses” (like Christmas, birthdays, car and house repairs etc) and we prioritise our life goals. We adjust and finesse as needed.

Nicky and I get together a few times a month and go over the budget. When we get paid we set it up, talk about what’s coming up in the month (and further afield) so we can pay for it. Then in the month we just check-in – did we forget something? Do we need a bit more somewhere or did we underspend (like that’s ever happened! 😀) on something?

I bet that stung

I lease my car. We call it the truck. It’s a big seven-seater which was important 3 years ago. We could all fit in it and go out for the day, in one car.


Now, I didn’t want to drive a mini-bus around. So I went for a seven-seater that isn’t always a seven-seater and doubles as a regular car with a big boot if we need it. It has served us really well, we all drove down to Cornwall (8 hours) one year for a week in a lighthouse on the coast. Even the dog was able to squeeze in.

The issue with a seven-seater that isn’t always a seven-seater is that now the youngest kids are 7 and 9 they no longer really fit in the backback.

Yes, I said that right. We call the third row of seats the backback. No-one wants to sit in the backback.

But it has been great. It will be replaced with something else next year. My eldest will almost be 18 and maybe we won’t need seven seats anymore.

So anyway, money, car, budget – yes.

The truck needed new tyres. These tyres aren’t the cheapest. I knew it would be around £125 each for semi-decent ones. I knew this a year ago.

So 12 months ago I made sure that in the “Auto Maintenance” category in our budget I was saving £20.83 a month. That’s 2 tyres divided by 12.


The guy at the counter said – “I bet that stung, tyres aren’t cheap these days”.

As I drove home I realised it didn’t at all. The money was there. Budgeted and paid for.

I would rather be spending that money on something else sure, but cars cost money. Ignoring it would have stung more!

We bought a fixer-upper

We always knew that we wouldn’t be able to find the perfect house for us that was in our price range. When we bought our house we knew we were going to knock the shit out of it to get it where we wanted it. Every room would need work, the garden would need a complete re-work. Even the outside of the house would need doing, all the windows….everything.

Within 2 months of moving in, we had replastered, carpeted and kitted out all four kid’s rooms. Just in time for Christmas 2018. We knew this was critical for the next phase. If the kid’s rooms were done then they had somewhere to go when we completely bust open downstairs.

In June 2019 we started the biggest project either of us had undertaken. We were knocking through from the kitchen into the garage to make an open plan kitchen diner, utility and downstairs loo.

For 3 months we had a combined Kitchen, Dining Room and living room that was 21m2. It was a tough few months but we finally got there and went from this:

To this.

We love it and we couldn’t be more proud of the space we have built. We agonised over every decision. Both aesthetic and technical. We made completely sure that it looked great but also worked well for us, fit our life.

It has completely changed the way we live and given us the lifestyle opportunities we wanted. I’m so ready to get the great big door open and have the garden be an extension of the house.

It makes the rest of the house look like shit though and now in March, there are still little bits to finish off. The woodwork needs painting in the WC, a cupboard needs building and a few other little things.

Learn by Doing

This weekend I decided to tackle the utility room. there was a section of it that needed to be boxed in. The mains electricity supply, fuse panel and associated gubbins from the solar panels all sit on the wall as it used to be in the garage. We did have it costed to move it but it came in at thousands rather than hundreds. I decided that with my many many weeks of experience at DIY I could box it all in and have it look semi-decent.

I had already butchered a kitchen cabinet to cover the worst offending parts and now just needed to build out slightly from the wall.

As with all these things it took way longer than I thought it would.

2 freaking days.

1 day to build the cabinet and then another day on and off to paint the wood (2 coats of primer and 2 coats of the same emulsion we used on the wall).

I don’t think it turned out half bad…

Old garage wall needs boxing in
Old garage wall now boxed in!

We might need to open it up once in a blue moon so I decided to put mirror screws in. No ugly screw heads showing and I can pop the chrome tops off to reveal the screw if I do need to get in there.

That’s the utility almost done. Just need to finish off where the worktop meets the wall….not decided what to do there yet.

I might tile the tiny splashback in the WC this weekend. Although I have still have nightmares from when I did the kitchen.


As of tonight – March 16th 2020 we are on lockdown for two weeks. My eldest stepdaughter came home from school with a cough and I have been feeling increasingly short of breath all day.

With the current advice is to isolate as a household for two weeks. I’m going to work from home as much as I can along with trying to keep the girls occupied……..

The boys aren’t here but they have been here all weekend. My eldest is also going into isolation for two weeks at his mum’s. I’m fairly glad as he is a higher risk as he has type 1 diabetes.

It’s quite surreal. I’m thinking about how we are going to keep occupied, keep our mental health in check and keep us all healthy and fed…. the dog really doesn’t have much meat on her.

It’s going to be an interesting week.

Remember to hold your own actions to the highest standard, be beyond reproach.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top