vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Where are you and where are you going?
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vexed87
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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sat Aug 08, 2015 3:53 pm

@Egg, wikipedia said it was the median household after tax income. Data take from the ONS 2010 (a bit dated by now, but don't think things changed much). I think cost of living is quite a bit higher in the UK, not much, but we certainly pay higher taxes so it's not truly comparble to 42k USD. However you are right, ERE is certainly achievable here. :)

In other news, as promised I took a trip to Costco today... Man I love that place. I remember going with my parents as a kid and walking down the confectionary isles. Had to go and take a quick look and picked myself a couple of treats while mum and dad were not there to spoil the fun :lol:. The whole place is one big consumer trap. So many nice shiny things... I managed to resist for the most part and went straight to the produce/meat section which was surprisingly good value.

There was a fantastic offer on chicken, I'm annoyed I didn't pick more up but didn't realise until I saw the receipt...

I've just spent an hour entering my receipt into my spreadsheets, here's the summary. Someone please remind me never to take a job in data analysis. It was tedious stuff! I have compared my prices to my usual supermarket. I usually avoid branded products and pick up the generic alternatives, in costco I didn't always have that choice so I was surprised to come out with as big a saving as I did.

Image

As you can see, I saved myself a tidy 23% overall. There were some slip ups. I couldn't help myself from buying the 16kg sack of flour, I've really got into baking my own bread and I was getting annoyed with constantly buying it in small packages. I won't run out for a while.

As long as I can utilize everything before it spoils, I'll definitely be coming back to costco again. My membership paid for itself in one trip. NICE! :)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Sun Aug 09, 2015 3:12 am

Don't you have access to a Lidl or Aldi?

The prices for the meat, fish and beans made me wince :shock:

If that's you saving 23%, you could smash that using a discounter.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:38 am

Yes, I shop at Aldi from time to time but not for meat. I buy stuff like generic porridge oats, tinned tomatoes and occasional veg/fruit produce there. I don't go as often as I like as it's a bit out of the way and the type of stuff I'm buying requires a car to haul it home. It's also a pain when you need speciality items so requires a separate trip to another supermarket. They do great budget cycling kit a few weeks of the year too so usually make a special journey just for for that reason too.

The prices of meat at Aldi are not comparable for a few reasons:

1. The Aldi salmon is farmed. Farmed fish has massive ecological impact on wild stocks unless done on land but that's very rare as it ramps up costs. Farms in the sea spread pathogens and diseases which adversely impacts the wild fish stocks. I only eat line caught salmon as the farmed stuff does more harm than good. There was a good thread on the impact of farmed salmon on here not too long ago. The cost of line caught (more expensive by nature) at costco and farmed at Aldi are basically the same, so win win!

2. The minced beef at Aldi has high fat content >20%, so I avoid that. SO prefers leaner mince. >20% fat mince is of questionable quality (cheapest cuts of meat marked up considerably).

3. The chicken breasts at Costco were in fact much cheaper than Aldi.

While we are on the topic of meat, SO and I have been discussing shifting our meat buying to local farms. It may cost more but will be more sustainable in the long term. We also know that the meat is high welfare and has a reduced carbon footprint which is a boon. Ideally we wouldn't eat meat at all, but SO isn't willing to consider that yet. We eat a lot less of it lately regardless so even a slight increase in cost will have a negligible effect on our food budget overall. We eat it about 3 times a week. Where a recipe used to call for 500g of mince, I'm using only 200 and bulking it out with more beans or replacing the meat entirely.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Sun Aug 09, 2015 5:46 am

I'm a Lidl shopper (can't figure out the Aldi layout for some reason).

Fair point re. salmon. I'd question the impact of one consumer's choices, but I have my own choices of a similar nature that I won't abandon, like free range chicken and eggs, fair trade coffee etc. (now there's a debate!)

Lidl do a range of different mince types, including a lean steak mince that is brilliant value if you stock up during one of their weekend promotions. In fact, we pretty much eat whatever their loss leaders are for the weekend as long as it is actual pieces of meat/fish (not their weird pre-prepared meals).

Re. chicken breasts, wouldn't it be cheaper to buy whole chickens? I think we pay £3.33/kg for free range chickens, which works out cheaper. Then again, I find white meat to be bland compared to the darker meat from legs and thighs.

Buying local strikes me as a great option if it works for you, it's good to live somewhere where a local farm is less than 40 miles away :)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 6:01 am

We do use roast whole chickens occasionally, but once roasted you can't freeze it without impacting the quality/taste, so the only choice is and re-use it in cooking through the week which encourages eating more of it than we would otherwise, as you say white meats can get quite boring!

I've never thought about butchering a whole fresh chicken though. Not sure it would be worth the hassle. I'm already baking bread and cooking everything else from scratch. If I didn't have a day job and so much on my plate already, I'd consider it.

I'm probably just being lazy but I don't think we eat enough of it justify learning to butcher one just yet. ;)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by bristoldude » Mon Aug 10, 2015 10:28 am

Ydobon wrote:Edit: Practial tip would be matched betting. Perfectly possible to make £5-10k in the first year before all the bookies ban you!
Hi Ydobon,

I've had a look around on the net since I read this the other day, and wondered how recent your experience with matched betting was?
I'm reading that this may have been possible a few years ago, but the bookies have tightened up rules and dropped the free bet amounts so it's more like hundreds than thousands a year now.

(sorry to quote you from a year ago!)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:11 am

vexed87 wrote:I've never thought about butchering a whole fresh chicken though. Not sure it would be worth the hassle. I'm already baking bread and cooking everything else from scratch. If I didn't have a day job and so much on my plate already, I'd consider it.

I'm probably just being lazy but I don't think we eat enough of it justify learning to butcher one just yet. ;)

If you are talking about butchering a live chicken, I can tell you its pretty easy if you are not emotionally attached to the bird. I could offer some tips if you decide to do it. 8-)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by George the original one » Mon Aug 10, 2015 11:42 pm

I'm definitely spoiled with fresh salmon here in the Pacific NW (especially since I can catch my own). The price you're paying for salmon is SHOCKINGLY high to me!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Tue Aug 11, 2015 1:22 am

bristoldude wrote:
Ydobon wrote:Edit: Practial tip would be matched betting. Perfectly possible to make £5-10k in the first year before all the bookies ban you!
Hi Ydobon,

I've had a look around on the net since I read this the other day, and wondered how recent your experience with matched betting was?
I'm reading that this may have been possible a few years ago, but the bookies have tightened up rules and dropped the free bet amounts so it's more like hundreds than thousands a year now.

(sorry to quote you from a year ago!)
Think I have probably made about £10k since I started 16 months ago (maybe a little optimistic, pessimistic view would be £7k). Have been banned by many bookmakers now, but still making £10-50/week + the occasional £££ jackpot from free casino type offers.

Argh! Thought this was my thread, sorry vexed!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Aug 11, 2015 4:19 am

@Cmonkey, we don't have any live ones here, so only option would be those that have already been dispatched and sold in the stores... thankfully. If I ever come across an annoying rooster, I'll be in touch though ;)

@GTOO, yes looking at the price per kilo, it is a bit ridiculous, we eat it twice a month at most but there isn't much alternative 100 miles inland. I noticed Costco sell whole salmon for about £15, which after filleting would net way more meat per £. Slightly more tempting than butchering chickens, but I don't know how much waste there would be with a whole salmon. I'll research this at lunch :)

@ydobon, no worries, I was intrigued by the amount you made doing this. How much time does it take you doing the research for this, i.e. how much time goes into reading T&Cs? Any nasty experiences losing money? Does it require knowledge of sports at all, or do you just bet a team to win and lose simultaneously with different bookmakers?

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Tue Aug 11, 2015 7:34 am

I would far rather butcher a chicken than a whole salmon. Chickens can be bought sans head/feet/feathers/guts, whereas all these treats remain in a whole salmon (well, maybe not feet or feathers) :lol:

A chicken can quickly and easily be prepped into two breasts, wings, thighs and drumsticks and a carcass. Skin can be taken off if you're healthy and discarded, or frozen along with the bones and used for stock. HM stock will be great in your fancy pressure cooker vexed. Even the rubbery bits of chicken left after the stock making will be gratefully received by your pooch (although be careful to remove the bones as they splinter easily).

This can be done with a sharp cook's knife. In my experience, preparing fish is much easier with a fish filleting knife, which is an extra expense for something that you will use infrequently.
How much time does it take you doing the research for this, i.e. how much time goes into reading T&Cs? Any nasty experiences losing money? Does it require knowledge of sports at all, or do you just bet a team to win and lose simultaneously with different bookmakers?
1) Research is fairly easy (basically trawl through the MSE forum + read all the spam bookies send me to pick out the good offers). Maybe 30 mins a day, double that at the weekend? I was putting in substantially more effort for the first 6 months, but I probably good greedy and killed off some of my golden geese (bookies)!
2) Yes, I have lost ££££ on a single occasion and it took me 2 months to earn it back
3) No knowledge of sports required. In fact, it's probably better that way, as you avoid the risk of gambling on a 'sure thing'

Basically speaking, matched betting sees you placing 'back' bets at a bookie and 'laying' the same result at a betting exchange (sites like Betfair where you can bet for or against an outcome).

4) My three main sources of cash are: Free bets (i.e. bet £5 get £5 free bet, place first bet for small loss, extract as much of free bet value as possible); Arbs (situations where a bookie is offering better odds for an outcome than the exchange, leading to guaranteed profit regardless of what happens) and casino offers (for example, £10 risk free on x slot, where you either turn a profit or get your cash back).

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by George the original one » Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:51 am

vexed87 wrote:@GTOO, yes looking at the price per kilo, it is a bit ridiculous, we eat it twice a month at most but there isn't much alternative 100 miles inland. I noticed Costco sell whole salmon for about £15, which after filleting would net way more meat per £. Slightly more tempting than butchering chickens, but I don't know how much waste there would be with a whole salmon. I'll research this at lunch :)
The head of a salmon & skeleton is approximately 1/3 the weight of a whole gutted fish (if fish is truly whole, then guts & head & skeleton are about half the weight of whole fish). If you were in a coastal town, the fish head would then be used as crab bait. The remaining skeleton that you trim away while filleting is pretty light weight. If you're sloppy with the filleting, then you'll leave a lot of meat attached to the skeleton... when I fillet, I come back to the skeleton and collect the meat to quick-fry "fish fingers", so a poor fillet job still doesn't leave much waste. Some people dig out the "cheeks" from the head.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 6:44 am

September Update:
Looks like I forgot to update you guys on August. To summarise, I spent a lot of money, what with the trip to Amsterdam, and finally getting around to stocking up on some much needed households essentials and pantry goods. I ended August with a mere 28% saving rate, which on the face of it was abysmal compared with my 75% target, however I made several key purchases. I effectively stockpiled several months worth of food and supplies. So while there was a lot less cash in the bank than I planned, I have enough food to see me through several months without income which gives me a nice fuzzy feeling.

Image

As for September, savings wise, it was a better month 56% overall, but not quite there with the 75% rate again! There was still some stockpiling of food going on in the first week as well as slight overspends in other areas, here's the breakdown:

Image

I spent too much on books again, whoops! Hopefully I have enough reading material to see me through to the new year now. Other notable extra expenses were £55 spent on a new LCD screen for my phone, I repaired it myself because the old iphone I borrowed from a family member failed. I'm not ready to take the plunge and go dumb phone just yet, so repairing my old handset was the only option without buying new. Hopefully I won't smash it again a third time!

I'm off work today with a virus so I'm not feeling like extending this write up too much, but I will say my veg garden is just about wrapped up for the season. I've just harvested my last courgette which means that I got 20 in total from my patch. Not bad for a newbie. Nothing else was quite that successful, however I did get a few carrots, spring onions, and salad leaves for a while too. I definitely have a taste for home grown veg now and I'm ramping up the number of plots and effort in the spring for sure. Most of the books I bought last month were about square foot gardening techniques, food preservation etc so hopefully I can learn a lot before the next growing season starts. I feel much more confident for having tried to and succeeded in growing my own food, I even had a few 100% home grown vegetarian meals!

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Mon Oct 05, 2015 7:55 am

Square foot gardening sounds really interesting, a square foot is about the size of our new garden! :lol:

When I was reading some Amazon reviews for one of the books I'm thinking that you probably bought, someone mentioned 'Link a Bord' raised bed kits: http://www.linkabord.co.uk/

Can you take a look and let me know how the kits compared in terms of cost to your DIY efforts?

I like the idea of a few veggies, but realistically I can only spare something like 16 square foot.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Mon Oct 05, 2015 9:23 am

When I started my veg beds I had a budget of £0 so didn't use any planks at all, raised beds are still raised beds even if you just add compost as a pile on top of the topsoil, so it almost seemed that my patch just sat there on top of the lawn. Old school style!

As for the DIY wooden raised bed method, it seems to come out way cheaper if you only consider the initial outlay, compare the dimensions of those plastic containers with a 10 pack of softwood planks from B&Q:
http://www.diy.com/departments/softwood ... 389_BQ.prd
You'll need some corner posts, and a stain to treat the timber too, but I'd say that it's cheaper, particularly if you're building more beds over time. If you can get hold of old scrap wood, it need not cost a lot at all. I'm sure timber at your local builders merchants will tend to be cheaper than B&Q/Wickes stores too.

However, even when treating your wooden planks with stain, the wood would start to decompose after 5+ years and need rebuilding, so while those plastic boards are more expensive they would probably last 100+ years (not necessarily a good thing IMO!)

What I like about the wood planks is that they are sustainable, you can use them after they have outlived their useful life as fuel for a wood burner, or even use the hugelkultur method to keep your plants fed and watered with minimal effort. It's a more holistic and natural approach.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:25 am

I also liked the fact that the plastic frames that I linked to are 98% recycled PVC from old window frames, not something that has many applications.

As I'm severely constrained in terms of the available space (and have no plans for a wood burner), I'm not sure that the cost savings would be all that great after wood/tools/stain.

Eureka! Why am I forgetting woodworking relative with huge tool stash? :D

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Mon Oct 05, 2015 11:45 am

vexed87 wrote:just about wrapped up for the season.

The UK has quite a lot of possibility for winter gardening I believe. So you might be done with one season, but another is just beginning. :)

Nice job on the 56%, that isn't so bad. Not like May! :lol:

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 7:20 am

@ydobon, You don't have to stain, from what I read just now it seems that it just stops the wood discolouring due to the moisture, soil and constant light. Staining offsetting decomposure provides only marginal gains, I think staining is more for cosmetics. You are better of buying woods which have been pressure treated so construction timbers for decking etc. Hardwood will last longer than the softwood, but it's more expensive.

Looks like square foot gardening is a good option for you. The author of this book reckons a single 1 x 1m bed will fulfill one person's daily salad needs per year, another box will meet all their additional veg needs for meals, plus one extra for preserving/canning which is ideal for getting you through crop failures.

So if you are not relying on canning/preserving and can source your veg elsewhere if you absolutely had to, 4 boxes could potentially feed two adults, you only need a 3.3 x 3.8 meter space (accounts for all pathways) like so:

Image

Being the conservative doomster that I am, I'm probably going for a garden more than double that, not because I'm greedy, but because it's good to have extra to trade, give away etc:

Image
cmonkey wrote:The UK has quite a lot of possibility for winter gardening I believe. So you might be done with one season, but another is just beginning. :)
Agreed, though I haven't committed any resources to building clotches, etc to rear seedlings through the frost, and with a move on the horizon I am struggling to justify sinking money into this garden plot. It's likely the house hunting starts this spring. I'm looking into low maintainance winter crops as I write this ;)
Nice job on the 56%, that isn't so bad. Not like May! :lol:
Thanks, it wasn't hard to improve on May haha! I think there is a good chance I could beat 75% in the next few months due to the accumulated pantry items! We shall see if I can keep away from amazon and book shops, a moratorium on booze and eating out would help too :)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by George the original one » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:22 am

vexed87 wrote:You are better of buying woods which have been pressure treated so construction timbers for decking etc.
Whoa! You better investigate what they pressure treat the wood with and how it leaches into the soil and what effects that has. Old USA pressure treating was really toxic stuff, newer isn't as toxic, yet still not exactly friendly. I have no idea what they use in other countries.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 10:27 am

Good point, untreated wood with clear linseed oil coating it is ;)

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Tue Oct 06, 2015 11:00 am

Thanks for the detail (that was the book I thought you were reading (go go Google powers!))

Our new garden is seriously tiny. Most of it will be reserved for fun stuff that you can't eat, like a lawn for children/my wife to play on :lol:

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by vexed87 » Tue Oct 06, 2015 12:01 pm

@ydobon, if your missus need's her arm twisting...

http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/h ... nutes.html

:lol:

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Wed Oct 07, 2015 7:56 am

When I say 'lawn' I mean 'wee strip of grass at the side of the house'.

Children cannot burn off energy in the back garden when they trip over a raised bed or rainwater harvesting system every time they run 1m :P

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by cmonkey » Wed Oct 07, 2015 8:17 am

vexed87 wrote:@ydobon, if your missus need's her arm twisting...

http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/h ... nutes.html

:lol:

So its YOUR fault we have so many lawns in the states! :lol: The British!

That was a great video...too bad all the folks growing a great crop of lawn won't see it.

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Re: vexed's ERE journey from the very beginning!

Post by Ydobon » Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:25 am

It's usually safe to blame the British ;)

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