Black Friday and Christmas shopping

With under a week to go before this year’s discount bonanza Black Friday,   I thought I would blog about shopping. Christmas is rapidly approaching and with prices high in relation to pay packets it looks as though more and more folk are adopting the cashbagger mindset. I am heartened to see this.

Luckily the mild Autumn temperatures have helped us save on heating bills so far at Castle Cashbags. As a result we should all be in a relatively healthy financial position heading into the festive season. The big news this Black Friday is that a certain German budget supermarket chain are piling into the Black Friday madness. This will be their debut in the bargain fest. I expect to find some excellent OBBs in the alcoholic beverages section.

I don’t get carried away by Black Friday and my Christmas wish is that everyone else can apply some restraint too. One of my over-worn catchphrases is only buy what you can afford. Nobody should feel the need to impress others simply from showing off the material things that they buy and use. Think very carefully how many electronic gadgets you really need in one home. The best television set in the world is not worth fighting over, that is for sure.

I do find myself wondering whether Black Friday, like the modern Halloween, is something that has sneaked across the Atlantic and which we wouldn’t particularly need or want if we really thought hard about them.

I will certainly not be rushing to buy anything I don’t really, really need or want. I would  never max out a credit card for anything. It is simply not worth it.  I have plenty grey hairs already.

As an alternative to the usual retailers, Queen Quidbags and I are big fans of the second hand goods sector. In fact, we have furnished Castle Cashbags with many items from the British Heart Foundation. Plus, money is going to a really good cause. That is much more in keeping with the Christmas festive spirit this time of year.

Santa Cashbags

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Flights – ways to get cheaper flights

Flights are not to be taken too regularly if you are serious about growing your gold fast. Not to mention that we should all be trying to save the world by reducing our carbon footprints as much as possible. However, I am a moderate frugalist and so recognise that there are times when we all want to enjoy life by jumping on a plane somewhere. Especially when Queen Quidbags needs some sunshine. Plus,  really like the whole experience of flying (airport security excluded).

So what is the best way to get a good deal on air tickets? Over the years I have found that it is by being as open minded and flexible with the times and dates of your travel as you can be. Play around with these enough and you can usually get a significantly better price. Consider departing and arriving at silly o’clock if feasible. Try to avoid Saturdays if you can. Not only is this likely to be the most expensive day, the airports and planes always seem to be packed with fellow travelers.

Do devote plenty of time for preparation before you actually book your tickets. I always use Google and Skyscanner to begin with. I then will look at other comparison sites based on what my initial search results turned up. Check the airlines’ own websites too. If it is an overseas airline, go to their website in their home country to check for better deals. You don’t necessarily have to go to the UK site.

Last minute bargains do not seem to exist so much any more. I guess this may be because many business people travel at short notice and this is where air companies can make good money. Try to book one or two months in advance if you can. This seems to work best for me. Hmmm, so where should I take Queen Quidbags and Prince Pennybags on holiday next?

Hope you enjoyed my blog about how I choose my royal money plane. If so you might also like to know how I choose the royal money train.

money plane

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Tree King: my favourite free leisure activity

I love trees. Long ago the land we now call Britain was covered in these babies. It was said that a squirrel could have traveled from Land’s End to John O’Groats without touching the floor. These days the percentage of forest land in Britain is one of the lowest in Europe. SAD!

Forests are such an important part of the environment. Not only do they suck in air pollutants and pump out oxygen, improving our air quality. They also absorb and store water, helping protect against both floods and drought. Forests also make you feel really good. The Japanese recognise the importance of spending time in forests, also known as taking “forest baths”.

Fortunately, there are still many national forests in the UK for us to enjoy. Queen Quidbags and I will often go for a nice long walk in the woods at the weekend. I’ve blogged about the financial and health benefits of walking before. In the forest these are magnified. We find it really helps bring down our stress levels. It also helps us stay in semi-decent shape. Sadly, we’ve not found a magic money tree on one of our walks yet!

Like the all the very best and most important things in life the forest experience is free.  Check out the Forestry Commission and Woodland Trust websites for woodland near you. The only charge you might incur would be for onsite parking, but you can often find free parking within walking distance. The Woodland Trust is a worthy conservation charity so I am happy to push a little cash their way.

You normally have to travel to the forest by car , which obviously costs in terms of fuel and wear and tear. I’ve previously blogged about my car musings. Interestingly, car sales dropped for the seventh consecutive month last month. I predict they will continue to fall which should decrease prices even further. So I won’t be rushing out to upgrade the royal motor just yet.

Enjoying free leisure time in the forest is one of the many small ways we slowly build our own magic money tree by living a frugal, healthy life concentrating on the things that are most important.

Magic money tree

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Property and how I invest: build a property empire

Property is one of my favourite ways to invest. There are several factors which make it a no-brainer for me when it comes to growing my gold.

Property prices can go up or down but in the long term always go up eventually. History is proof of this. So your property investment goes up in value plus you can rent it out and receive regular income as well.

Interest rates are still relatively low so decent mortgage deals still available. Bricks and mortar investment is attractive because it’s something concrete (pardon the mixed metaphor!), not an abstract concept.

Queen Cashbags and I bought our first property ten years ago. It was such a relief. Years before I had really hated handing hard earned money to a landlord who I perceived did very little, if anything. I had bad experiences with landlords as a student and later when I first worked in London. I try to be a considerate landlord as a result.

We were fortunate to be able to afford a mortgaged flat in the Home Counties. We chose the location because it was thirty minutes on a fast train to central London and five minutes walk from the station so ideal for commuters.

We bought the flat “off plan”, which basically means it did not exist when we bought it, we just had the plans of what the property would look like when built. We bought off plan because they were offering cash back on the purchase and we could customize the property how we wanted it. We chose awesome work tops, kitchen cabinets and special flooring.

We bought Castle Cashbags a couple of years ago. It is a charming Victorian terrace in the East Midlands with a pretty garden. Queen Quidbags favoured a period property, though I would have been happy with something modern for the right price!

We spent seven months looking at a variety of quirky cottages in chocolate-box villages around the East Midlands. We chose this area because it offered much better value for money and was still just about commutable to London.

We ended up buying a property in town because it was walking distance from the train station and so much nicer than the properties we had seen in the villages for the same price. We were also gazumped a few times on village properties, including a beautiful old place made of honey-coloured stone. In hindsight, it was probably for the best as that place needed an awful lot of work. There was a huge hole in one of the bedroom ceilings. I was gazumped right after I’d had a full building survey done, but managed to flog the report to the gazumper!

The rent from our flat covers the mortgages on both properties, which is a great position to be in. It’s really helping us grow our gold.

I strongly suggest you speak to an appropriately and properly qualified person before making investment decisions on property.

property investment

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Interest rate rise – is it a big deal?

There have been occasional rumours going around for much of the last decade that interest rates would go up. So today they finally did. How did King Carney’s decision affect King Cashbags? Er…not so much actually.

The rise is modest, up from 0.25 % to 0.5%. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any bank accounts which are paying more than the current inflation rate. So when we hold money as cash we are losing out. And call me a pessimist, but I don’t expect any of the banks to boost their interest rates on savings accounts any time soon. So I’ll be looking at what more investing I can do, rather than holding savings in cash.

My favourite investments are property and stocks and shares. I have a stocks and shares ISA. If you don’t have one yet, think about it. I’ll post a bit more about what I’m doing on that score separately.

I have two mortgages. One is a five year fixed-rate with three more years to run so unaffected by today’s announcement. The other is a smaller mortgage on a rental property. This is a tracker, so there will be a small increase but it will be minimal and will not make much of a dent in the Cashbags gold reserves.

We bought Castle Cashbags a couple of years ago. This was our second property, having purchased our first home ten years ago. I will post more about my property investments soon.

There could be more rises to come however, so worth reviewing your mortgage situation sooner rather than later. More generally, I can offer you the following pearl of wisdom. If you adopt the Cashbagger Mindset, you live within your means, have very manageable debt and enjoy life as you dream of early retirement. Cheers to that!

Interest rate rise


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