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Time Poor - Shortcuts?

Making your money go further
neversay
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Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239597

Postby neversay » July 26th, 2019, 9:50 pm

We live below our means, but in the squeezed middle with young children, elderly parents and long work hours, we are also time-poor.

In what was do you 'cut corners' to save time while still LBYM?

For instance, our neighbours spend upwards of £300 a month on cleaners, gardeners, window cleaners and even ironing services. By taking shortcuts, we manage to avoid all that expense, e.g.

- saving lots of time doing the gardening by buying battery-powered lawnmower, strimmer, blower, etc.
- doing less frequent or light-touch cleaning around the house, e.g. using a quick cleaning wipe when really pushed for time.
- using a karcher and vinegar to whizz around the windows only when they get really dirty
- buying non-iron shirts and doing ironing 'on-demand'

Each time I do the garden, clean the house or windows, I imagine that £300 a month saved going into my SIPP.

What clever ways do you have to cut-corners while LYBM?

N.

(PS I'm not intending this thread to be a 'value of time' discussion on your hourly-rate and everyone's idea of 'living' as we all have different thresholds. I'm really just interested in good shortcuts to squeeze the best out of money *and* time)

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239607

Postby Itsallaguess » July 26th, 2019, 10:55 pm

neversay wrote:
I'm really just interested in good short-cuts to squeeze the best out of money *and* time..


Make an 'on-going' weekly shopping list, with the regularly- (but not necessarily 'always') bought stuff on a printable list, that you can then simply and quickly cross out or add to as needed, depending on the particular requirements for that week.

Organise the shopping list so that it's listed in the order that you regularly walk the supermarket aisles. It's amazing how much time this can save....I can be out of the house, round the supermarket, and everything back in the cupboards in about 90 minutes with our well-organised and ordered 'default list' + additions...

On top of that, have a staple of regular, home-cooked meals that you can rotate through across weeks and months, so that you've got a regular drum-beat of cheap, healthy meals that you can then 'fill-in' around, to add some variety. Freeze batch-made meals, and utilise your freezer-space regularly, with good rotation..

The above will give you lots of man-hours saved on the shopping-time, due to having a 'good-to-go' list available each time you do the 'big weekly shop', and you then don't spend extra time and expense through the week 'filling in the blanks' due to perhaps having a 'disorganised' food-diary, which is often then costly in itself due to then leaning on the 'simple but expensive' options, because you've not been organised enough in advance....

It's great to think about these time/cost-saving exercises, but concentrate on the regular weekly costs (in both time and money...) first, as they'll give you the biggest hit in terms of instant-payback.....

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239614

Postby vrdiver » July 26th, 2019, 11:28 pm

A plus 1 on the shopping list - saves time and money if you have a a structured plan and a shop-friendly list.

We put our shopping list on Google Keep: if I add an item, it appears on Mrs VRD's list (you can collaborate, so everybody with access to the list gets the update). If I'm in the kitchen and notice the marmite is running low, I'll add it from my phone. Should Mrs VRD be passing the shops and open Keep, she'll see the latest requirements. If I've picked up something from Aldi as I walk the dog, I cross it off the list and Mrs VRD doesn't buy it again from Waitrose (go figure...)

I bought a Roomba and a Scooba from iRobot: I recommend the Roomba as a handy robot vacuum, but can't say the same about the Scooba for wet floor-cleaning. It may only save 5 minutes of actual time, but it means I vacuum around the house, being more motivated by techie gadgets than by pushing a (technologically brilliant) Dyson around.

Summer may not be the best time to look at a slow cooker, but come colder days, having a meal ready, and staying ready for several hours, with minimal effort, is a boon. Traditionally recommended for tougher, cheaper cuts of meat, they are actually pretty good at cooking lentils and pulses, so veggie curries, chillies, bologneses (is that a word?) dals, etc etc etc, or even just those pear-in-red-wine desserts, makes the evening a bit more relaxed.

AIso, cooking a double portion so that there's a meal in the freezer that just needs defrosting when you don't have time to cook from scratch. Apparently freezing and reheating food makes oils conglomerate around carbohydrates, making them less digestible by the smaller intestine and therefore available to the denizens of your larger intestine, which is good for the health of your gut bacteria, and therefore for you (as is toasting bread from frozen!).

VRD

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239649

Postby bungeejumper » July 27th, 2019, 9:42 am

As Quentin Crisp said, "there is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse." Mind you, he wasn't a conventional family kind of guy.

Gardens are particularly straightforward to life-hack. Ditch the fancy annuals in favour of foliage stuff that won't run riot, and if you can't do even that, just cut the lawn. If you can't even do that, trim the edges with something like this https://www.robertdyas.co.uk/bosch-isio ... hape-edge?. Sharpens up the whole look of the garden in 15 minutes flat.

BJ

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239690

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 27th, 2019, 12:00 pm

The best time saving gadget I have ever bought is an AGA. And it is probably worth more today, second hand, than it was 33 years ago when I bought it new. Always ready to boil a kettle really fast, or make an omelette or cook a roast (or rather superior toast) and the bottom oven is an ideal slow cooker. Cos it runs at a higher temperature than a normal oven things cook more quickly too. It vents to the outside so no more smells or grease in the kitchen reducing cleaning times

Also used for drying clothes over night and I could go on but won't bore you all.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239700

Postby swill453 » July 27th, 2019, 12:29 pm

BusyBumbleBee wrote:The best time saving gadget I have ever bought is an AGA.

What are the running costs like? (Given what board we're on...)

(Genuine question)

Scott.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239702

Postby neversay » July 27th, 2019, 12:39 pm

Thanks for the great responses.

Shopping List: We use the Bring! app (https://getbring.com/#!/app) which I highly recommend as it syncs between phones and orders the shopping list by aisle. Online grocery orders will save time for many people, but we eat a lot of fresh food so tend to do bi-weekly trips to the nearest Lidl which saves a fortune over the local Tesco. Even if we do an online shop or 'click and collect' we inevitably have to nip into the shop to collect items that were missed. The other great thing about our local Lidl is that it is quick - there aren't 20 choices of items like jam (just a premium, regular and basic option) and you don't have to constantly game the '2 for 1', x% extra free, 'buy 2 get 1 free' options that Tesco uses to befuddle people. The only delay is a slight queue for the checkout so, ironically, doing a big shop doesn't take much longer than doing a small one.

General shopping: I don't mean to start a debate but online shopping by Amazon/ebay is good on time-cost compared to going into town.

Garden planting: quite right @bungeejumper, easy planting this season for me in my garden and allotment - just onions, potatoes and asparagus this time (plus the usual herbs). Whizzing around with the battery strimmer, hedge trimmer etc is easy and, by coincidence, I did buy that Bosch handheld cordless trimmer you linked. You are right that it gives the neat garden look without much effort!

House maintenance: I'm annoyed that my neighbour/friend with the three-piece ladder has selfishly moved away. I'm looking for an alternative but don't really want to store a large ladder. One option is the magnetic window cleaners for upstairs (e.g. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tyroler-Bright ... 00F8FEGMK/) but the reviews are mixed.

Vacuuming. @vrdiver, I was going to make the same point about robovacs. We have a basic Eufy one which does the floors while we do the school run. We also have the Dyson stick vacuum for quick fixes, including the stairs. @bungeejumper - Quentin Crisps quote about dirt isn't a bad one, sometimes we've stretched the deep cleaning to every few weeks and saved a lot of time. Four years is pushing it though!

Cooking. This is an area where I would love to save more time. Great points on the batch cooking, slow cookers and meals plans which we often fail to be discplined enough. Plus the dangers of running out of food/ideas and doing expensive quick fixes. @vrdriver I didn't know about the gut bacteria benefits of frozen food!

Kids gifts. Another where we get screwed is on last-minute gifts for kids parties where my wife dashes into a shop to get something overpriced at the last minute. We now keep an amazon wishlist and of gifts and the Keepa plug-in (https://keepa.com/#!) alerts me all my pending purchases hit the target discount price.

Service providers. It's a time overhead to constantly shop around every year for utility providers (energy, broadband, insurance etc). Moreover, I'm doing it for my elderly mother's home as well. Services like comparethemarket, MSE Energy comparison etc, now save renewal details and do the market trawl. Onedox (https://www.onedox.com/) is aggregating all the bills from utility providers saving me time keeping an eye on everything. It slightly takes away the pain of a market that forces you to shop around each year rather than rewarding loyalty.

Loyalty. In contrast to the above, I'm interested to hear where people have gone the other way and decided to settle for loyalty with a provider to save time. I do most of my hotel bookings through hotels.com (while cross-checking against the market) which gives me a free night for every 10 purchases and now, with gold status I get better rates and free room upgrades/breakfasts etc (Premier Inns are good at other times). With my business, I do regular hires through Europcar (charged back to clients) and have very preferential rates that give free weekends and hire discounts. These two providers give me low rates, benefits and tend to save time on market trawls. Do you folks use any preferred providers for different services?

Outsourcing: I appreciate others will have different time-costs balances, so outsourcing gardening, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc works for them. If you outsource any other services, like travel planning etc then I'm keen to know.

@Itsallaguess absolutely right on the cost/frequency question. I aggregate all our spending using moneyhub (https://www.moneyhub.com/home) which has been great for seeing where the money is going (without spending hours in spreadsheets). From there I do a Pareto analysis on frequency/cost and go down the list to see where savings are possible.

We also need to optimise time-cost. I'm interested to hear other ideas where people save time!

N.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239728

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 27th, 2019, 2:14 pm

swill453 wrote:
BusyBumbleBee wrote:The best time saving gadget I have ever bought is an AGA.

What are the running costs like? (Given what board we're on...) ... (Genuine question) Scott.

We are on the LBYM board - and the running costs are well within my means - but I take your point.

It's actually a zero sum game here because the AGA provides useful heat for the house (effectively heats two rooms) and very little of that is wasted. In hot weather you can simply turn it down or off.

Mine is an electric one - effectively a giant night storage heater - running on the overnight tarriff and takes about 5 hours to charge fully - only rarely (Christmas effectively) does it require a top up during the day. In the winter it draws just under 5KW so 25 units in total per day. At my cost of 0.0729 pence per unit that is less than £2 per day.

You must consider whether this is value for money but we have never run any other heating system at that time of the day as the kitchen and dining room are always warm so that has to come off the cost as do the costs of a tumble dryer for example.

Hope that is useful - kind regards - BBB

PS when our children got married they all had AGAs installed as they couldn't live without one!
PPS the AGA engineers tell me this variant is the cheapest one to run - with gas next, then solid fuel, then oil and then cylinder gas.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239747

Postby bungeejumper » July 27th, 2019, 3:10 pm

BusyBumbleBee wrote:The best time saving gadget I have ever bought is an AGA....Always ready to boil a kettle really fast, or make an omelette or cook a roast (or rather superior toast) and the bottom oven is an ideal slow cooker. Cos it runs at a higher temperature than a normal oven things cook more quickly too. It vents to the outside so no more smells or grease in the kitchen reducing cleaning times

Also used for drying clothes over night and I could go on but won't bore you all.

You forgot the fact that the oven needs no cleaning at all because it just carbonises any spills or waste fats as it goes along. And you also forgot the bottom oven that's absolutely perfect for restoring life to newborn lambs (and is regularly used by farmers as such). A pity, then, that the main oven adopts a different approach to sheep meat. :|

And the Labradors. Don't forget how wet and muddy dogs will lie in front of your Aga all day.

Better still, get a gas or oil Rayburn (the same company as Aga), which will run your central heating as well as doing the cooking. And where you can switch off the boiler bit during the summer months. (Major economic bonus.) Our 22 year old Rayburn runs 17 radiators, doesn't use any more gas than a normal boiler would do, and just looks fab in the retro kitchen.

Downside: It costs upwards of £11,000 by the time it's fitted. Which is where we came in, I think? Oops. :lol:

BJ

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239757

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 27th, 2019, 3:37 pm

bungeejumper wrote:You forgot the fact that the oven needs no cleaning at all because it just carbonises any spills or waste fats as it goes along {-- No I didn't cos I wanted to keep it short --}. And you also forgot the bottom oven that's absolutely perfect for restoring life to newborn lambs (and is regularly used by farmers as such) {-- No I didn't nor did I mention that you can use the top to restore Bantam chicks that hatched in a snowstorm. A pity {..
really! I luv roast lamb and mutton..}
then, that the main oven adopts a different approach to sheep meat. :|

And the Labradors. Don't forget how wet and muddy dogs will lie in front of your Aga all day. {.. and in the evening move to the wood burner..}

Better still, get a gas or oil {.. sorry don't have gas and don't have an oil tank (use heat pumps) BUT my wood burner can heat 9 radiators while we're both bragging as it were ..} Rayburn (the same company as Aga), which will run your central heating as well as doing the cooking. And where you can switch off the boiler bit during the summer months. (Major economic bonus.) Our 22 year old Rayburn runs 17 radiators, doesn't use any more gas than a normal boiler would do, and just looks fab in the retro kitchen.

Downside: It costs upwards of £11,000 by the time it's fitted {.. Some (including me) would call that an investment and my first hatchback cost under £1500 (new) and my latest one cost over 50K (new)..} . Which is where we came in, I think? Oops. :lol: BJ

Nice one "bungeejumper - regards - BBB

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239878

Postby djbenedict » July 28th, 2019, 8:52 am

Online grocery shopping is the big timesaver for us. We tend to us Ocado, and a neat feature is the way the app’s shopping basket is shared across several devices (if all logged in as the same user). So we use this as our collaborative shopping list, then just click to checkout.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239911

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 28th, 2019, 12:35 pm

djbenedict wrote:Online grocery shopping is the big timesaver for us. We tend to us Ocado, and a neat feature is the way the app’s shopping basket is shared across several devices (if all logged in as the same user). So we use this as our collaborative shopping list, then just click to checkout.

Absolutely agreed that online grocery shopping saves a huge amount of time BUT cannot agree that shopping from one source saves any money. In fact it is as likely as not to cost you more from the likes of Ocado. For staples I use Amazon and Amazon Pantry (coffee, noodles, gravy, even crunchie nut cornflakes, Morrisons products, soft drinks) others are bought direct off some web sites. Then I still need to go to a shop - and frankly I prefer Lidl's as their products are good - fair prices with no traps for the unwary but do use Sainsbury's for some items that Lidl don't stock.

You do need to view a variety of sources to make sure you are getting the best possible deal

Oh - yes, I occasionally do go to Waitrose - they stock some beef cuts I like - shin in particular

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239929

Postby vrdiver » July 28th, 2019, 2:24 pm

neversay wrote:Loyalty. In contrast to the above, I'm interested to hear where people have gone the other way and decided to settle for loyalty with a provider to save time.

There are two providers I have stayed with for 30 and 5+ years respectively:

FirstDirect - online banking but full service at any HSBC branch if you needed it. Excellent telephone service. Simple web interface and smartphone app. When I've called them to say I'd lost my wallet they gave me all the contact numbers I needed for the other lost cards; when I turned up in a foreign country without my wallet they arranged cash for me at their local bank; when I've asked a question they don't immediately have the answer to, they've transferred me to the relevant department, speedily and cheerfully, and not managed to cutt me off, unlike some other companies frequently manage to do; and when I made an error and went overdrawn, it took one very pleasant call to get them to waive the fees that resulted.

I did do a bank swap with another of my accounts to take advantage of the new customer offers (£100 each for me and Mrs VRD for referring me ;) ) but didn't like the hassle factor of the worry, nor the constant reminders that they were forwarding my old data to my new data and I should amend DDs, STOs etc. From that experience (which had no errors) I decided I prefer to stay with a bank that works for me and not follow the bonus switching opportunities.

Plus.Net - others have reported on TLF a less than satisfactory experience with them, but I've always found them very helpful, with reliable service and competitive pricing if you call them at renewal to ask for whichever competitor's current offer is running - they've matched it without fuss. Not quite as time-saving as not calling them, but a lot easier than changing service provider each year.

And just remembered a third provider: TV licence. I'm sure I could figure out a cheaper way to watch what I want to on TV legally but I happen to like the BBC and the concept that advertising doesn't set the agenda. Slightly off topic, but it's probably one that most of keep for the convenience!

VRD

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#239965

Postby neversay » July 28th, 2019, 5:57 pm

@vrdriver, just at present my 'go-to' suppliers:

- Sky for home fibre and phone. It takes a phone call each year saying "I'm planning on leaving, so let's stick to your best offer" but they have been competitive and the service excellent.

- HSBC Premier banking: nowhere near as good service as First Direct but has 'free' family travel insurance. All savings parked elsewhere for better rates.

- EE for mobile: only when on offers but my previous experiences with O2 and Vodafone were poor for reception and customer service. Others' experiences will obviously vary.

@BusyBumbleBee I was going to mention that we too split the grocery shopping between sources and regular versus bulk purchases. We often use Amazon subscribe and save to stock up (e.g. on coffee) when Keepa price alerts are issued.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240768

Postby djbenedict » July 31st, 2019, 12:25 pm

BusyBumbleBee wrote:
djbenedict wrote:Online grocery shopping is the big timesaver for us. We tend to us Ocado, and a neat feature is the way the app’s shopping basket is shared across several devices (if all logged in as the same user). So we use this as our collaborative shopping list, then just click to checkout.

Absolutely agreed that online grocery shopping saves a huge amount of time BUT cannot agree that shopping from one source saves any money.


I thought we were talking about saving time in this thread. Looking at multiple sources for equivalent products is time consuming. Anyway my point really is that the Ocado app combines the “multi person shared shopping list” functionality with the actual “pay for it and arrange for someone to deliver it” functionality.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240770

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 31st, 2019, 12:30 pm

djbenedict wrote:I thought we were talking about saving time in this thread.

My wrist is duly and rightfully smacked :lol:

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240776

Postby UncleEbenezer » July 31st, 2019, 12:51 pm

I save a lot of time by having blackberries in the garden. On the other hand, the effort in keeping them down probably cancels that out - so the real benefit is the better taste.

What do other folks consider the balance of time and effort (and indeed cost) vs savings by growing things in a garden or allotment?

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240779

Postby BusyBumbleBee » July 31st, 2019, 1:06 pm

UncleEbenezer wrote:I save a lot of time by having blackberries in the garden. On the other hand, the effort in keeping them down probably cancels that out - so the real benefit is the better taste.

What do other folks consider the balance of time and effort (and indeed cost) vs savings by growing things in a garden or allotment?

Hi UncleE - are these in your new house? I too have blackberries - almost acres of the things. Pick a few pounds each year but spend ages and ages cutting them back and mending punctures in my mowers. Definitely not a time saver or cost saver for me!

I no longer grow soft fruit and veg - damn sight easier to buy from someone who does it professionally : have an orchard though which I don't think saves me any time but the fruit is much better than I can buy. The dogs love the pears (leap into the trees to get them as do the green woodpeckers and everyone else who comes to help themselves. I have let out my old market garden with its 30,000 sq ft glasshouse and part of the rental agreement is a box of veg each week. My wife has attempted many times to grow her own with very limited success which costs me an enormous amount of time in rotovating and weeding - so not at all a good idea in my view.

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240789

Postby vrdiver » July 31st, 2019, 1:47 pm

UncleEbenezer wrote:What do other folks consider the balance of time and effort (and indeed cost) vs savings by growing things in a garden or allotment?

One little trick I learnt: after buying a bunch of spring onions, when chopping them up for the kitchen I leave 1/4" of bulb on the roots and put them in a bowl of water (roots covered - tops in air). Change the water every couple of days (whilst waiting for the kettle or similar spare moment) and after a week pop them into the garden in a spare spot.

I now just cut (with scissors) the regrowing spring onion to use in the kitchen whilst leaving the root sytem and a bit above ground to grow again.

Saves time vs sowing from scratch, thinning out etc., and have spring onions on tap so saves money.

Seem tastier too!

The concept works with lemon grass stalks too, but they need to stay on the windowsill, and with root ginger if you have a spare piece - but I grow it for fresh stem ginger, not the root. Google or youtube how to do it - it's pretty easy.

Generally I don't think the allotment is a timesaver, so its justification is purely on enjoyment, taste and exercise. The real cost/timesaver wins come from using those little patches of space around the garden that would otherwise need to be weeded anyway, but can instead produce a little pop-up crop, like a few carrots or radishes, some lettuce or a bit of parsley etc. Or, in my case, some well fed slugs...

VRD

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Re: Time Poor - Shortcuts?

#240791

Postby richfool » July 31st, 2019, 1:51 pm

This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but keeps the theme going! If you have a high maintenance garden with lots of flower beds, and are prepared to give them up, - grass over your flower beds to reduce maintenance, or if you want to take it further, lay artificial grass or even concrete.


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