Friday, 12 February 2016

Shona Prophett in 2016

Frugal Entrepreneurs 01
Shared with the Frugaleur (Frugal Entrepreneur) blog
Time to find out what everyone's doing to make extra savings and investments, other than by being frugal with the household shopping, being economical with energy use and quitting spending on non-essentials. Are you debt free? Is your financial future secure? Have you protected your 'cyberdosh'?
Top Cashback savings
Here at NYK Media HQ, we run annual money saving challenges (see Frugal Forums) and also regular money making ones, like the frugaleur or cyberdosh micro-business challenges, but what is everyone actually doing by way of investing in their own futures? Can frugaleurs AFFORD to invest, as by its very nature, investment can reduce savings as well as increase them.
In 2008, my challenge was to earn an extra £15 per month (not quite 50p per day) and save it into a 10-year, tax-free savings bond with life assurance attached. That's £15 per month, every month for 10 years - a total of £1,800 paid out for a guarantee of only £1,500 life assurance or around £1,500 cash back at the end of it. If I remember correctly, there was cash back award of around £45 plus, I think, some Marks & Spencer shopping vouchers, but is it really worth it?
At the moment, the £25 'Scottish Bond' from Scottish Widows is offering £50 cash back plus a £25 'My Rewards Card' when you have paid a minimum of 2 monthly instalments into your plan. But then you are paying £25 a month for 10 years in the hope of getting your £3,000 back - no guarantees.
At the time, being guaranteed £1,500 of death benefits appealed to me. I had nothing set aside for that eventuality and it's one that I know can break family finances and create horrible psychological scarring for those guilt-ridden at not being able to afford to bury family members, lost suddenly and unexpectedly. So I went with the £15/month and stuck with it. I'm now paying it from my basic £4,000 per year budget, as prices on other things have reduced and I no longer have rent to pay. However... I may not get back what I put in after the 10 years - that's the risk we take with investments. For me, the little bit extra peace of mind was worth it and I still have the £1500 guaranteed lump sum due back in May 2018.
Back in 2002, I began learning a bit more about trading from home on the stock market and had some fun for a few years doing that, while being in what I considered to be a fairly well-paid job. (It was about £7 per hour and that was a huge amount of money to me back then, even allowing for £500+ a month rent, and still is to this day.) In all these years, I have continued to live on £4,000 per year and save everything else that was left after household bills and clearing debts. When rent became obsolete (on accounts of buying a small house for cash) I still continued to live on £4,000 per year, regardless of my income. Can you see the potential for savings when it costs £4,000 to run a household of 3 when all 3 are earning at least minimum wage each year?
The moral of this tale is that once you have learned to live on little and achieved your debt free status, there is no need to change your frugal routine just because your income doubles, trebles or quadruples, your household running costs drop, or a combination of both. While I had children home paying 'dig money' it all got saved, so when they finally moved into their own places, the drop in my household income didn't affect the budget at all, it simply meant the household running costs dropped slightly and the regular savings amounts were reduced.
Now what? I have a £4,000 + council tax annual budget but real costs are much less than that because I share the house and bills. I'm not money-orientated in a way that I wish for vast financial wealth - but the thrill of investments, even the most microscopic of them, is worth pursuing. It's what being a frugal entrepreneur is all about - playing a game of chance that can improve your future financial prospects while still being aware of the potential for it all to go wrong at any minute.
If we can weather our money storms, then we can learn from our own experiences that enable us to make better-informed guesses at what's right for us in the future. If we need to do it penny by penny, then so be it... the pounds will take care of themselves as long as we aren't foolish in spending our savings.
I want to be Shona Prophett by the end of 2016, so it's time to up the ante and make a few more decisions about what's going to be hot and what's not!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

There's Profit in Porridge

It's Scotland, it's cold, it's wet, it's windy, it's June and we're still doing porridge for breakfast, so here's how to turn a pound into a tenner, if you are feeling charitable and sociable.

Porridge oats currently cost as little as 75p per kilo and one kilo will make 20 portions at 50g per person (3.75p per serving). For now, we are making only 10 portions, so call it 37.5p

I'm very cynical about recommended serving sizes as these, in my opinion, cannot possibly be true; there are far too many different lifestyles to cover for anyone to make such a generalisation with regards to calorific or nutritional intake. You're going to get fat if you eat more than you burn and you're going to starve yourself to death if you follow the recommended 2,000 or 2,500 per day when your daily lifestyle is burning up over 3,000+ calories!
But back to the porridge project:
Per person
1 x small cup (50g) of porridge oats per person
2.5 x small cups of water per person
Pinch of salt per person
This takes about 5 minutes to cook a portion of porridge in a microwave, slightly longer if you are doing a pot of it on the cooker top, perhaps 10 minutes in total, but chances are the electricity costs will be similar. To make one person one bowl of porridge would use approximately 2p of electricity but to make ten people a bowl each in a big pan would NOT cost 20p, it would probably cost less than half of that. This is what I call quantitative easing in the cooking department.

OK, so we have arrived at 10p for cooking and I'm not even going to count in the pinch of salt, as it's cheaper than chips and some may prefer to leave it out the porridge in the first place.

Most people like a splash of milk and a sprinkle of sugar and both of those items are fairly cheap at the moment - 49p per kilo for sugar (10 teaspoonfuls costs about 2.5p) and around £1.00 for a cheap 2 litre carton of milk, which should be enough for 20 servings of porridge, but we need only half of that, so 50p.

Are you adding it all up?

  • 37.5p for oats
  • 10.0p for electricity
  • 2.5p for sugar
  • 50p for milk

Total amount to prepare 10 servings of porridge = £1.00

If you can find 10 friends, family members, neighbours or work mates to bring a bowl and pay you £1.00 each for homemade porridge, you will have turned your pound investment into £10.00 and all in the space of about quarter of an hour.

So there you have it! You can feed 10 people a warm and filling breakfast for £1.00 but if you just happened to be charging them £1.00 each for the luxury of having their breakfast made and provided for them, that's shown a profit of 900%
Would you pay £1.00 for a bowl of freshly made porridge?  Or perhaps you already have, if you've ever bought one of those 'just add boiling water' concoctions that supermarkets now sell in waxed cardboard cups.

Shona Prophett at NYK Media

Scottish Multimedia | There's Profit in Porridge

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Frugal Living Forums :: Forum updates

Frugal Living Forums :: Forum updates

Click the above link to see what I see.

WOW! Check out who I just spotted out here on the mountain – so much for what the newspapers are saying! I found this in a forum!

Please note that this is a simple experiment and that is not actually who you think it is.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Breakfast for 10 and Change from a Tenner


It's Scotland, it's cold, it's wet, it's windy, it's a PORRIDGE BREAKFAST DAY!

Porridge oats currently cost around £1 per kilo retail and one kilo is supposed to make approximately 22.22 portions (weird number) if you follow the guidelines for a 'recommended serving'. I don't, I use 50g. Besides, if we all stick with the 'recommended serving' of just 45g, there's nothing to deter the companies from reducing the weight of their kilo bags to 990g and still charging us £1.00! I AM WATCHING FOR THAT!

I'm very cynical about recommended serving sizes, as these, in my opinion, cannot possibly be true; there are far too many different lifestyles to cover for anyone to make such a generalisation with regards to calorific intake. You're still going to get fat if you eat more than you burn and you're going to starve yourself to death if you follow the recommended 2,000 or 2,500 per day when your daily lifestyle is burning up over 3,000+ calories!

But back to the porridge breakfast...

Per person

1 x small cup (~50g) of porridge oats
2.5 x small cups of water
Good pinch of salt

I cook mine in the microwave, takes only about 6 minutes, but this timing will depend on how powerful your microwave is. Don't forget to stir the porridge halfway through and let it stand for a minute before serving.

Serve with a little milk and a sprinkle of sugar (if prefered).

Allowing 8p for the salt, milk and sugar, this amounts to approximately 18p per serving in grocery costs.

My microwave is a 700w. A 5 minute blast with this costs approx 1p, so the REAL cost of a bowl of wholesome, homemade porridge is only 19p.

If you have a handful of dried fruit with this, rather than sugar, you can easily add on another 10p, so maybe best save the fruit for a mid-morning snack if your budget is tight.

So there you have it: you can feed 10 people a warm and filling breakfast for less than £2. If you just happened to be charging them £1 each for the luxury of having their breakfast made and provided for them, that's shown a profit of over 400%

Would you pay £1 for a bowl of freshly made porridge?  Or perhaps you already have, if you've paid 99p for one of those boil the kettle and 'just add boiling water' concoctions that the supermarkets now sell. (And they're only 48g including whatever additives they may use,)

Shona Prophett

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Rey Nacarado Entered at Warwick on 24th February 2012

I've had a quick look at the entries and the 3.45 looks like an interesting race at Warwick this Friday, with several of the runners having competed alongside Giles Cross in the past. Several, indeed, pulled up during the National trial at Haydock at the weekend, so they all know what they need to beat.

Of those entered, Rey has already come up against the following:
  • Pacco, whom he beat by 10 lengths at Plumpton in December 2010, 3m2f, good to soft
  • Giles Cross, winner beating Rey Nacarado by 1.75 lengths at Fontwell in November 2011, 3m4f, soft
  • Fortification, 3rd to Giles Cross & Rey Nacarado in above, slow-run race, where Pacco was a faller
  • Leading Contender, ran third to Rey Nacarado's win at Newbury in December 2011, 3m2.5f, soft 
  • Fort View, ran fourth to Rey Nacarado in above slow run race 
  • Giles Cross won the National Trial at Haydock on Saturday where the following Ludlow entries also ran: Micko De Beauchene (Pulled Up) and Fredo (Pulled Up)
  • Wild Receiver is a stablemate of Rey Nacarado, so the trainer should know how this pair compare at home.
Trainer Charlie Longsdon has managed to bring home a couple of winners over the past two weeks, so let's hope his horses are performing well by Friday.

For this outing, assuming he runs, Rey Nacarado will carry 11st 7lbs. His stablemate, Wild Receiver,  is also entered - he won his last race easing down after making all in the Clugston Lincolnshire National (Handicap Chase) on December 31st 2011. Not too sure what to make of this, as Wild Receiver does have a tendancy to charge ahead as a front runner and can stay there, assuming he doesn't jump himself into trouble. Seems a bit of a quirky character, whose race on Friday might give clues to the overall plan for Rey Nacarado. He is, however, also entered at Sandown the same day.

Wild Receiver is not alone, as all of the following Warwick entries are also entered at Sandown:
  1. Ballyvessey
  2. Bench Warrent
  3. Chapolimoss
  4. Cotswald Charmer
  5. Fort View
  6. Inga Bird
  7. Mid Div and Creep
  8. Pacco
  9. Sandhurst
Let's await the final declarations before jumping to any conclusions and trying to assess the chances of Rey Nacarado.

Shona Prophett

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Shona Prophett on Racing

After a bit of a break away, I'm now back on track and raring to go but first, I'd like to include a little story here based on a topic that I find rather interesting - that of the glorious world of horseracing.

Tomorrow, Saturday 18th February at 3.20pm, Haydock will see the running of the Betfred Grand National Trial (Handicap Chase) Grade 3 (CLASS 1). It will be shown live on Channel Four but I suspect I won't make it home in time to see it, so I decided to write this blog post now, to give new readers an understanding into how my brain works, as far as horseracing goes, anyway. I don't study form, nor am I much of a hardened gambler. Heaven forbid anyone mistakes what I say for tips, for they never are - they are mere observations.

I'm intrigued by a horse in tomorrow's National Trial - REY NACARADO - who seems like the perfect candidate for my ramblings. Indeed, I have rambled endlessly about him already, so I'll extend my apologies to anyone reading this who is already bored with the topic. But I assure you, it is looking like a classic example of how I see the entire National Hunt racing game.

I'll refer to the horse as Rey, because the Nacarado part of his name makes me think of broken down old nags and that's certainly not what I think of this horse.

Rey is an Irish thoroughbred, foaled on 20th May 2005. I suspect he was bred to win and reared in a fitting way, as his preparation work with regards to hunting (no boos please, we all know it's banned, but horses still need to run and jump and National Hunt racing won't change its name for anyone I can think of at the moment.) Anyhow, this 2005 bay colt is now a 7 year-old gelding who had his first run as a 4 year-old at Limavady in a 3 mile Point to Point, which he won without too much of a problem.

Not being a true fan of following form, I'm more of a pedigree person, so let's take a look at that, first. Rey is by a stallion named Posidonas, out of a mare named Ice Pearl, who was sired by Flatbush. Posidonas's grand sire (male line) was the great Slip Anchor by Shirley Heights who, of course, was sired by the famous Mill Reef, so there's some Classic blood in there.

But what about Ice pearl? Well, the 'pearl' part of her name may give some of you some clues... she's also the dam of Florida Pearl.

Rey cost £30,000 when purchasd through the Cheltenham 'Stars of the Future' sale in November 2009. He has already won that back over the past 2 years, but he's still about a quarter of a million pounds short of his half-brother's career earnings.

This is now year three and training fees can easily cost £12,000 per year, so Rey needs to start clocking up prize money at a rate of at least £1,000 per month. All going to plan, I can't see this being too much of a problem. His races would appear to have been carefully chosen, showing, for me, that he may have a preference for left handed tracks.

After a lacklustre start, the horse found his distance and settled well into his career, gradually improving. I really do see a great career ahead and a future National potential here.

Rey finished second to Giles Cross in November and I suspect his run in the Haydock National Trial is a bit of a test, so they know exactly what they're up against in the future.

This is just the way I look at horses - assuming Rey keeps safe, he's my watch of the future and I wish him and his trainer every success. He's certainly worthy of Shona Prophett.

Shona Prophett

Edited in post-race:
Despite his being pulled up, I am not disappointed in the results of today's trial. On the contrary, I'm delighted to see Giles Cross take the race.

I'll be watching out for Rey if he gets the run on Friday 24th February, as he is entered in the 3.45 at Warwick. Perhaps trainer Charlie Longsdon wants to make a real fun-filled day of it?

Monday, 13 February 2012

The Frugal Living Challenge Just Got Even More Interesting

Frugal Frivolity in the Name of Financial Fun

It's now almost mid-February and we're 6 weeks into the 2012 frugal living challenge. As explained in the appropriate forums, the part I play in all of this is to try to raise whatever extra finance is needed in order to have a bit of fun, over and above the fun of frugal living that keeps us debt and mortgage free while pursuing a fairly good life.

The next stage of my particular challenge is about to begin - playing with the savings in the hope they attract a little more than they can generate in interest!

Basing this experiment, once again, on £600 over the period of one year, it equates to £50 per month, or approximately £11.50 per week. For all you smokers out there, that's 40 cheap cigarettes a week and for all you drinkers, that's only about a dozen decent cans or a bottle go cheap spirits and possibly a mixer.

For the purposes of boring security, the first £100  is banked and another 2 months' money secured by way of Premium Bonds - always safest to safeguard at least one third of your income for future emergecies, I say. In the original trial of this challenge, in 2006, the money was allocated as follows:
  • £100 into a high interest savings account
  • £100 into premium bonds
  • £100 on lotto tickets
  • £100 on scratch cards
  • £100 on sports bets (horse racing)
  • £100 on shares
Owing to all the changes that have occured over the past six years, high iterest is no longer available and online shares trading is almost impossible on such small amounts owing to the free trading opportunities having disappeared - please correct me if I'm wrong and you know of any sites offering completely free trading or banks offering more than 5% interest on small sums of money.

This year it's a free for all - I can do as I please with the remaining £400, so who can afford to join me in this wacky challenge? It is completely separate from the business money-making ventures, this is purely for fun and should be looked upon as a hobby.

Shona Prophett