Monday, 5 January 2015

Planning the budget for 2015

Due to Cols heart attack and him having to take things a bit easier we think our income in 2015 will drop  by about  £300 a month, maybe more in the second half of the year. No more hedge cutting for our neighbour for a start. We have already halved the number of chickens we keep and plan to drop down to just a couple of dozen to enable us to have a short break and also get to our daughters wedding, we may increase numbers again later in the year. We will also not be hay-making on the two fields that we used to rent.

Here is an updated version of the post ( see it here) I did around this time last year

How we organise our budget

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 10 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.

4. TV Licence. I budget £15 a month, for 12 months. This allows for price increase and a bit left each year to add to anything with a shortage.
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 £53 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. They changed from 25kg to 20 kg bags last year and  now  we collect 20 bags at a time. With the number of hens  we have at present this lasts a couple of months. When we drop down to 2 dozen hens for a while  one load will last us longer.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. We plan to restock in summer so need to save for then.
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. I have spent a lot less this year, cutting down in several places - £63 so far and seed potatoes still to buy. 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. We are not sure what we will manage this year, it depends on how much Col can do.
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. BUT as we will be doing less I shouldn't need to save so much each month.

Approx £240 a month needed  for the above

 The ( B*****) 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. We plan to change to something MUCH more economical later in the year as we won't need to haul large trailers about anymore.
2. Jeep Insurance. This is the almost the cheapest bit of running our gas-guzzling 4WD that we couldn't do without (in the past) on the smallholding. As we are over 50 we get it via Saga and they will match any quote we can find elsewhere. Col checked out insurance for something smaller and it would be about £30 -£40 less each year.
3.Jeep MOT. Col 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! £285 this year. This will be much less when we swap to something smaller.
5.Bits for servicing, tires, oil  etc

Approx £200 a month in total at the moment but hopefully half that later in the year.

The things we need for everyday life

1.All  Food and drink ( including Christmas)
2. Clothes and shoes ( Urgently need to save for something for our daughters wedding.)
3 Personal Hygiene (  Loo rolls,Toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc etc)
4.Cleaning and Laundry stuff
5.Pre-payment prescription cards, opticians and dentist. ( I get free prescriptions after April)
6. Phone and computer.
7.Bottled gas for the hob  and coal to keep the Rayburn alight overnight when it's very cold    
8. Birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends ( I MUST cut this for 2015)
9. House and contents insurance
10. Smaller Things for the house
11. Postage

Approx £475 per month for all above but a bit less after April

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 if possible 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.

 Can we earn more than £1205 a month averaged out over the year?

Hopefully we can but I'm not as sure as I was last year because our income comes from several sources and the list below is shorter than it was in 2014.

  • The campsite between April and October.....Praying for good weather!
  • Egg sales every day ( a lot less than last year and less again when we drop down to enable us to get on holiday).
  • Sale of hay after haymaking and throughout year ( only our 2 acres here will be cut for hay in 2015)
  • Sale of fruit, vegetables and a few flowers mainly from June until November
  • Income from Cs odd jobs. ( We don't know what he will be able to manage).
  • Occasional income - Election duty, I opted out last year but will probably do it this year ( approx £100)
  • Car boot sale? - I swore last year not to do another for a few years but we have some STUFF! Goodness knows where it has come from and there's bound to be more if we search around.
  •  Income from investments. This will decrease mid-year when our 5 year Bonds come to an end. Interest rates have dropped dramatically since we invested the money left to us by my Dad in 2010.
  • Repayments from money we loaned to someone in the family last year to help them out of bother.
(Lots of people still think we have a pension but No, not yet. There might be a possibility of Cols work pension in 2017, otherwise we will have to wait until 2021 and 2023)

 So that's our budget for 2015. If things go as planned we will be OK, if not we will have to use some of the savings. I will hate to see savings used  for everyday so will try to avoid if possible.

We will try and stay here for another year and see how things go. We might have to move in 2016.

Back Tomorrow

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