Monday, 30 December 2013

Planning the budget for 2014

Two Days to go, so time I got this post finished. We are ready...............

How do we know how much money we will need to live on next year?
How do we know what our income will be next year?

The answer to the first question is found by looking at how much was spent on everything this year and then adding a bit for inflation.

The answer to the second question is that we have no idea. We cannot rely on good weather bringing lots of people to the campsite nor can we rely on good crops from the garden. We will be buying new point-of-lay hens next spring so should have good egg sales through the summer, we have a bit of income from bonds using money that was left to me by my Dad but other than that it's in the lap of the Gods.

So it's a good thing that we were able to save some money into the ISAs during this summer.

A while back I did a blog about everything we need to save for so that we can live comfortably. Looking ahead to 2014 these are my rough estimates of what we will need.

1. Council Tax. Because  we have lived here for 21 years our Council Tax is based on the tax bands when they were first set in  1991. I believe tax bands are re-calculated when houses are sold. We are also in a very rural area, so our Council Tax is a lot less than that paid in towns. We pay by direct debit over 10 months.  I'm not expecting the cost to go up very much as County, District and Parish councils have pledged to keep costs down.

2. Water Bill. We have a meter for the Campsite and farm buildings. The house is not metered. We have no mains sewer here, so septic tank drainage. The water bill for the house is direct debit over 12 months and is also based on the 1991 Council tax band. We pay the metered bill twice a year, this varies - the more campers we get the higher the bill. But the more campers the bigger the income anyway.The usage for farm/garden is low as we have huge rainfall collection tanks ( 8000 litres total!) on the farm buildings  and move the water around to water tanks in the garden.

3. Electric Bill. This varies a lot, again depending on how many campers come to the site. We pay quarterly for both. Eon have just announced a 3% price rise in January and have taken away the prompt payment discount. We have checked comparison web sites but because of the variations it's difficult to work out. I wonder if being able to change companies is necessarily a good thing. Does it increase  costs for the companies? Don't they all put their prices up anyway? We may try direct debit again now that they have to pay it back  when you get into credit. At the moment we save up each month, By saving the money into our account means we get the little bit of interest on it.

4. TV Licence. I budget £15 a month, for 10 months. This allows for price increase.

Total needed for those 4 things is approx £290 per month ( less for 2 months with no council tax)

The Campsite and smallholding businesses

1. Public Liability and Business insurance. We have to send a copy of this to The Camping and Caravanning Club. Without it we would be unable to run the site. We also need it because of selling eggs etc.  This seems to go up by a few pounds every year. Direct Debit £51 a month for 12 months at the moment.

2. Campsite electric inspection and test. Every year we have to have an electric test on the hook-ups and a certificate to say it's been done. A copy of this goes to the Camping and Caravanning Club. Without this we wouldn't be able to operate the campsite. It's around £75 each year.

3. Chicken feed. Range Layers pellets direct from the Mill. £8.65 a sack at the moment. We go and collect it and fetch 12 or 14 bags at a time. With the number of hens we have this lasts a month. We also need to buy grit and oyster shell. Even though they are free range they need these as our soil is heavy clay.

4. Buying new point-of -lay  hens. To keep a steady egg supply for our customers, we replace the very old hens with new young hens each year. About 60 each year at £6.50 each.

5.Egg Boxes, Egg wash and cleaning cloths. We use plain grey boxes as they are the cheapest  and we buy them in big packs of 300 collecting 1500 once a year direct from a farm supplier. I use a sanitizing egg wash for cleaning muddy eggs and a clean cloth ( J cloth type) every day which then goes in the wash.

6. Diesel for the tractor. We are allowed to use Red diesel for the tractor BUT nowhere locally sells it. We could have 1000 Litres delivered! except a tank costs a fortune and that amount would last us for ever. So we get a can full whenever possible from Morrisons in Ipswich as they are the only garage that we know of that sells it.

7.Petrol for the mower and chainsaw. Neither uses a huge amount. We need both, one for cutting the campsite and the other for cutting our free heating wood.

8.Campsite requisites. That's Loo rolls, paper towels, cleaning stuff. I usually buy these out of the housekeeping except for the paper towels which I stock up on when Viking mail order office supplies have a sale.

9. Multi purpose and seed compost plus Seeds and plants for vegetables. I always check through several seed companies catalogues comparing prices. The total is usually around £140 each year. We sell probably 70 - 80% of what we grow so easily get our money back and earn a good income from June through to October.

10. Smallholding repairs and maintenance. There are always expenses when you own land and want to earn an income from it .Machinery repairs and replacements and maintenance and even small things like sticky labels for selling things at the gate, the list is endless.We also pay a rent for two hayfields but as we sell all the hay from these that covers the cost and makes an income for us.

Approx £440 a month needed  for the above

 The jeep

1. Diesel for the jeep. We try not to waste journeys and  do lots of  errands  when we are out. Luckily for most of our daily requirements we only need a 5 mile round trip. I cycle whenever I can. Our nearest petrol station is the local one in Leiston, who have now started giving Tesco Club Card points. They are often no more expensive than the supermarket filling stations and the nearest one of those is  over 20 miles away.

2. Jeep Insurance. This is the almost the cheapest bit of running our gas-guzzling 4WD that we couldn't do without on the smallholding. As we are over 50 we get it via Saga and they will match any quote we can find elsewhere.

3.Jeep MOT. Him Outside is able to do most of the servicing so checks the jeep out before taking it to the garage.

4. Jeep Tax = Too Much but unavoidable! £270 last year.

5.Bits for servicing, tires, oil  etc

Approx £200 a month in total

The things we need for everyday life

1.All  Food and drink ( including Christmas)
2. Clothes and shoes
3 Personal Hygiene (  Loo rolls,- Toothpaste,soap, shampoo etc etc)
4.Cleaning and Laundry
5.Pre-payment prescription cards, opticians and dentist.
6. Phone and computer.
7.Bottled gas for the hob  and coal to keep the Rayburn alight overnight          
8. Birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends
9. House and contents insurance
10. Smaller Things for the house
11. Postage

Approx £550 per month for all above

We have money in savings for replacing household appliances, the expected expenses like pumping out the septic tank and the unexpected. These need to be added to regularly as there are always unexpected expenses!

So we will save whatever we can in the good months of summer

Then we want to have some money for the things that make life interesting
Christmas treats
Days out
Craft materials
Feeding the birds

Whatever we can spare from not spending so much in any of the above categories.

Goodness me, all that lot added together totals too much! Can we earn more than £1480 a month averaged out over the year?

Hopefully we can.

Our income comes from several sources.

The campsite between April and October.
Egg sales every day
Monthly income from investment bond
Sale of hay after haymaking and throughout year
Sale of fruit, vegetables and a few flowers mainly from June until November
Income from Him Outsides odd jobs. Varying from half a day to two days a week through most  of the year.
Income from His County Council job.Previously this was 2 days a month. Since December it is 2 or 3 days a week until Mid January. Possibly continuing until April.( There may be some work after April, but unlikely as Council funding is being cut again in the new tax year.)
Any smallholding items he can buy at farm sales to repair/clean up and re-sell for a profit via the Smallholders Society.
Occasional income - Election duty ( not sure if there are any elections in 2014?)
Car boot sale?

So that's our budget for 2014. If things go as planned we will be OK, if not we will use some of the savings

No mortgage, No Debt and savings - Makes for a simple, self sufficient and Happy New Year!


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