Sunday, 1 September 2013

How we budget on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding.

This is the post that escaped onto the blog before it was finished. Apologies to anyone who read it, commented and then found it gone. Now it is finally finished and allowed out!

This is NOT a HOW TO DO IT budget, it is how WE budget.

 It is the way we do things now that we are both self employed, have paid off the mortgage, have no debts and only ourselves to worry about.
When Him Outside had a salary and when we had a mortgage and  3 children at home we did things differently.
Everybody is different! 

Budgeting is easy. All you have to do is spend less than you earn!

 Some people do, perhaps in the minority nowadays. The others end up juggling credit cards or living with  debt.

But what about when you can't be sure what you will earn each month . It means you have to be even more canny with your money when you have a good month.
Our theory is that each month we have to earn enough to cover the next months expenditure. In a good month( usually in summer) money can be saved to use in the bad months of winter.

Everything  is divided by 12 to work out how much we need each month, some are set up as monthly direct debits.

The items marked * are the things that can be reduced, checked, altered so that we don't have to go without all the things in the last list.

The first part of the  budget is to have enough for the things that are most important, things that involve bailiffs or fines or being cut off if you don't pay them.
These are
  • Council Tax 
  • Water Bill
  • Electricity Bill*
  • TV License
( Until we paid off the mortgage it would have been top of this list)

Then there are things that we are required to have to be able to do things legally
  • Public Liability and Business Insurance for campsite and smallholding
  • Jeep Insurance*
  • Jeep MOT 
  • Jeep Tax
  • Campsite  electric test and inspection
The things we need to pay for to be able to earn an income
  • Chicken Feed
  • Buying new Point of lay hens
  • Buying egg boxes
  • Phone and computer*
  • Diesel for the jeep*
  • Diesel for the tractor
  • Petrol for the mower and chainsaw
  • Campsite requisites*
  • Seeds for growing vegetables*
  • Replacing smallholding equipment *
  • Rent for the hay fields
Things we need for a normal everyday life
  • Food and drink*
  • Clothes and shoes*
  • Personal Hygiene etc *
  • Cleaning and Laundry *
  • Pre-payment prescription cards 
  • Saving for dentist and opticians
  • Bottled gas for the hob* 
  • Coal to keep the Rayburn in overnight*
  • Birthday and Christmas gifts for family*
 Things that could be gone without but we choose not to
  • House and contents insurance

    If there is enough for all the above then we put into savings
    • Money for the winter months
    • Money for occasional expenses like septic tank pump out.
    • Money to cover replacement household appliances etc
    • Savings for the unexpected
    And finally the  things that make life enjoyable but which could be managed without  if things get tough. This last list is, in a way, the most important. Because we want to be able to do these things, we look for ways to keep all the other amounts that need spending down to a minimum
    • Things for the garden but not for growing food
    • Bird feeding
    • Craft materials and hobbies
    • Days out and holidays and Christmas treats
    • Books 
    • Charity donations
    This is what we save on to afford that last list
        Council Tax is fixed and paid by direct debit.
        Water for the house is fixed based on old rates so not too expensive and paid by direct debit.. We have no sewer charges. ( septic tank drainage)
        Water for smallholding and campsite are metered and we get 2 bills a year. We catch as much rainwater as we can for garden but we can't restrict what the campers use. So part of the campsite pitch fees must cover water.
        Electric. With the Hook-ups and shower on the campsite plus normal household electric, this is a big bill twice a year but we can keep it lower when the campsite is closed by doing all the usual stuff like turning things off  etc. So a smaller bill in the other 2 quarters. We also installed solar thermal for heating water to stop us needing the immersion in summer when the Rayburn is not lit. Part of the campsite pitch fees must cover electric.
        TV licence is fixed so needs saving for each month.


        Public Liability and Business Insurance We have to have this for the campsite and smallholding. Not many companies do it for our small scale so we use the NFU. We do this by monthly Direct Debit.
        Jeep. I've mentioned before about this blinkin' expensive annoying thing. At the moment we are stuck with it so it has to be budgeted for. We shop around for insurance, it's cheap now we are old!
        Campsite Electrical Test and Inspection. This is a once a year check and we can't run the campsite without the certificate.

        Chicken feed, buying new Point of lay hens and egg boxes. Egg sales are one of our best sources of income so the price that we sell eggs for has to cover all these things and make a profit. We do get some egg boxes returned but some are too yucky to use again. so we bulk buy egg boxes.
        Phone and Computer Some campsite bookings come via email and many bargains found on internet. We try to keep phone costs down by using email. We just have cheap pay as you go mobiles.
        Diesel and Petrol. Money needs saving for fuel for jeep, ( we try to do several errands at the same time when we are out, to save diesel) for the mower to keep campsite cut and for the  chainsaw that provides our winter fuel.
        Campsite requisites are things like toilet roll, paper towels, cleaning stuff. I bulk buy paper towels from Viking when they are on offer.
        Seeds and plants for vegetables I save money on seeds by checking prices and number  of seeds  in packets from catalogues and searching out any special offers. We grow things we like and things that sell easily.
        Replacing smallholding equipment Him Outside goes to farm sales and looks on ebay for things we need for the smallholding, he repairs and rebuilds whenever he can.
        Rent for the hayfields doesn't have to be paid until after we have sold some hay.


        Food and Drink We hardly ever eat out and only have an occasional take-away. I bake and make from scratch most of the time, but we don't go without things we like.
        Clothes and shoes I avoid going anywhere that requires good clothes! Lots of things come from charity shops. Shoe spending is high for me because of foot problems.
        Personal Stuff. We cut each others hair, use cheap soap etc. I don't bother with makeup.
        Cleaning and Laundry I use Ecover liquids in very small amounts for washing machine ( with soda crystals added) and washing up. Vinegar, washing up liquid and bicarb  for most cleaning. Old tea towels  etc for cleaning cloths and dusters. Open windows for fresh air, line dry washing or over the Rayburn. Our VERY hard water here means that some cleaning needs something stronger like Harpic for the loo.
        Health we use a prepayment prescription card to save money and save up for dentist and optician visits.
        Bottled gas for the hob and coal We found a cheaper place to get the gas and only use coal when the weather is very cold to keep the Rayburn in overnight. Other heating is by wood, almost always free.
        Christmas and birthday gifts. I save all year for birthday and Christmas presents for our children and their partners. We've stopped doing birthday gifts for other family members. Christmas presents for extended family are bought all year around when I see things that might be good. I try really hard to think of things people will find useful, I hate to waste money on useless stuff. I make chutneys to give as gifts.
        House Insurance . I wouldn't want to be without this.

        Savings. Life is much easier with some money saved. Savings earn interest which is even better.
        As we never know what will happen next month, let alone next year we rely on these savings for the
        expected bills and the unexpected.

        By being frugal on some things we can afford to feed the birds, buy an occasional magazine or a cheap book from  Amazon, have some special food at Christmas, buy some craft things for card making, buy a shrub or tree for the garden, have a holiday every other year, have afternoons doing nothing in the summer, have trips out to visit car boot sales, do a tour of charity shops in a different town or to visit charity book sales. And to make a couple of small regular charity donations.

        Our way of life would be much too boring for many people but it suits us.