Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the little man comes up against the gargantuan greed of the insurance companies.
I had a letter last week. The premium for this year is several hundred pounds up on last year, despite the fact that I have hardly been anywhere in 2020. It is, however, still about £100 cheaper than the year before.
I went on the Swinton site, as I’ve used them as brokers for years, but the drop down menus didn’t work and I couldn’t get into my account. Life is too short to waste time on recalcitrant technology. If you can’t keep your site working you don’t get the business.
I went to ‘Go Compare’. I put a lot of details in. In fact, I could probably describe myself as a writer of biography after all the personal detail I put in. Then I came to a question about how much my last claim cost. Regular readers may recall that I had a rather annoying accident a couple of years ago. How am I supposed to know how much it cost? I pressed the “i” in the circle and it suggested ringing the insurance company. Yes, that seems a worthwhile use of my time.
So I went on ‘Compare the Market’. More biography. More stupid questions. More reminders not to tell lies. Finally, having finished the forms I pressed the button.
They came up with 78 possibilities. The cheapest one was a company called “Go, Skippy!” It was cheap, but the name is not inspiring and the excess is monstrous. It’s also owned by Arron Banks, and as I don’t want to fund his political donations I am glad to give it a miss.
For just over a hundred pounds more I have a choice of two well-known names – Churchill and Liverpool Victoria. Churchill always did well for me until they started racking the prices up, and LV offered a slightly better policy for £5 less. I was tempted by Churchill because they had always offered a great service, but they had ripped me off in the end, so I went for LV.
So, today, for me, the clear winners were ‘Compare the Market’ and Liverpool Victoria. It saved me £360 on the cost quoted by Swinton and Aviva so, irritating as it was, I just had a profitable hour at the computer.
I used to read a blog about found shopping lists. It was surprisingly fascinating. I have tried to find it to post a link but can’t find it.
I decided to uise mine as an example for this post.
I used to use a list to remind me t5o buy things, then I started using it as a way of keeping spending down. Now, poor and lacking brain power. I use it for both, but have had to start using extra means to keep me on the straight and narrow. Read on and you will see what I mean.
Top left is “Pills” with an asterisk. That’s to remind me to take in my Warfarin prescription. I’m not overly worried about the health aspects of missing the pills, but I am concerned that I have a blood test in a month and if I want to keep up the relaxed regime of testing every three months I have to make sure I take the pills and get the right results.
Next down, in the blue ink that marks the later additions, are two appalling sets of hieroglyphics that indicate I need chickpeas and chopped tomatoes. Chickpeas because I used them in last week’s veggie burgers and tomatoes because I need them for ratatouille. I’m likely to need a second can for the chickpea curry that is on my mental list to cook in the next couple of weeks.
Cobs – two lots. One lot for tomorrows lunch, one lot for Tuesday’s lunch. We don’t make sandwiches on Wednesdays because it is our day off. It would probably be cheaper and healthier to use sliced bread, but I like cobs. New readers who want to know what I’m talking about can press here.
Butter was a duplication for “Marge” lower down the lst. We use the terms interchangeably at times. Cheese – ready sliced Red Leicester for making cobs. The time saved and the cost saved by portion control make it worth paying the extra for the slicing.
Pies became pasties as I found Ginsters Cornish pasties were on special. I just bought two, because the list and the menu now prevent over-buying.
Now is the time to confess about the menu. It’s the bit in the top right. I have to use it to stop me buying random eye-catching stuff we struggle to use.
Y Pudd Roast
(Rat) x 2
Simple, eh? It stops a lot of bad buys, because I would often buy enough ingredients to make five meals in four days and some would end up wasted by the end of the week.
For those of you who don’t speak Quercus it means Yorkshire puddings and roast veg, haggis, veggie burgers, indicates that we will be having ratatouille with the burgers and reminds me to make a double helping, which we will have with baked potatoes. It’s already slightly wrong because I’d forgotten Julia was out on Tuesday night and forgotten that we are cutting down on sausages, so a pack now makes two meals. It used to be one meal for four of us and seemed to remain as one meal as we dropped to three and then two.
Thursday is a mystery as I’ve run out of inspiration. Julia is probably doing a Green Thai Curry.
Root veg means I am free to throw a selection of root veg in, onions means get packets of ready cut onions as it saves time and I’m lazy. And my knife skills leave something to be desired. I have far fewer cut fingers now I don’t chop onions and it’s easier on my back if I do less bending. I bought Brussels as well because we need greens.
Marge (see above), milk, cream cheese (for fish pate). I did select herbs and chillies but put them back later as there was a change in the fish purchase and because I have chillies in a jar.
Smoked Salmon is crossed out because there were no packets of scraps, just expensive slices. I like Julia but I don’t like her enough to make her expensive smoked salmon pate.
Eggs – easy. I buy eggs from caged birds as, whatever you may think Free Range is mainly a marketing gimmick and the birds aren’t really better off. Now that we have new welfare cage legislation caged birds are more comfortable than they used to be.
Seasoning was a lazy way of indicating I needed more garlic in a jar and some chilli powder. I forgot the pickled onions, marked them to remind myself and forgot them again.
Med Veg is Mediterranean vegetables – courgettes, peppers and aubergine. Or zucchini, bell peppers and eggplant for my American readers. Not Medium Vegetables.
Yorkshire Pudding (bought in a packet because it’s easier), beans (tinned).
Card is a card by my Dad – he’s due to be 91 at the end of next week. Tesco have a dreadful selection so I may get another one. Yes, it’s in pen because I forgot about when I made the original list. I’m a bad son.
Finally L & Lime indicates a lemon for the fish pate and a lime for Julia’s planned guacamole.
Spr Onion in the middle means I realised we needed some spring onions (or scallions) for the fish pate. I realy should grow some at home, and some chives, which do much the same thing.
One thing missed and one extra – bacon – sneaked in.
One day I will write about a more organised list. This one was written in a hurry – when I have more time I actually write them in order.
We hadn’t expected much from the day as we had an electrician coming round to give us a quote and British Gas would only tell us it was between 8.00 and 1.00. Fortunately he texted ahead and arrived just after 9.00. The news was not good – we need to declutter a lot more before they can start ripping floorboards up to rewire.
That left us at a loose end by 10.00 so we set off to look for adventure, This is “adventure” as we now define it, rather than how we used to define it. Standing on one leg to put my trousers on is dangerous enough for me, so we set off to seek lunch and relaxation.
In the car we discussed our spending. Julia is feeling guilty about the amount she spends on herself – which is basically gym membership and hair appointments. She worked it out as £3,000 a year. She really is a bear of very little brain – cute but rubbish at mental arithmetic. The true cost of this spending was, as I pointed out, just £600 a year. Having saved us £2,400 I felt quite good about things. This also diverted attention from my eBay habit, which has been getting out of hand recently.
At Springfields we had a look round The Works and confirmed that the stock situation is woeful, before deciding to have a coffee. Considering our earlier conversation, this ironic as coffee is one of the hidden costs of modern life.
Cafe Nero seemed rather empty, to say it was lunch time.
The coffee – the cheapest they had, was just under £5 for the two of us. If we do that once a week it will cost us £250 in a year, which is a lot of haircuts.
We didn’t have anything to eat. The staff were neither good nor bad. They let dogs in. The one that came in whined a lot then dog and master went to sit outside. Fair enough – better than tying it up outside. Chairs are comfortable. Snacks looked well presented but we were saving our appetites so didn’t have anything.
They now have a vegan range, which seems to be the new fashion. You may be expecting some sarcastic comment about vegans, evolutionary dead ends and modern fashions, but you will be disappointed. I like vegans.
Though I couldn’t eat a whole one.
Cafe Nero Vegan Menu
The sound you hear when viewing the vegan menu is that of a bandwagon being jumped on. Once Gregg’s went for the vegan sausage roll, everyone followed.
All in all, nothing to rave about and nothing to complain about. It’s a more leisurely atmosphere than Costa Coffee further down the centre, and I enjoyed the break.
I had a go at writing my autobiography yesterday. It didn’t start off like that, but an hour later that was the result.
After receiving a quote from my car insurance provider, a number which I initially mistook for the National Debt of a medium-sized member of the UN, I decided it was time to take action. At over £800 it means I’m working for the best part of a month to cover the insurance, and that’s before tyres, fuel, car tax, MOT, servicing and all the other pleasures of car ownership.
To get a new quote I had to fill in a long and intrusive form about myself, followed by another for Julia. I noticed that not only do they seem to want more detail, but they seem to provide things as extras that used to be standard. It used to be enough, as I recall, to say you’d had a full license for 40 years – you didn’t have to search out the exact date.
It would have been quicker but I managed to wipe the form after doing three quarters of it and had to start again.
I managed to secure better cover and save nearly £400.
The moral of today’s post is that loyalty to an insurer does not pay.
It may be irritating to fill out the forms but it was worth it. I may worry a bit that the insurer is not as good as my previous one (as I did when changing breakdown cover) but insurers, when left to do their own thing, are generally not to be trusted with your money.
I used a picture of a Magpie because I was writing about insurance companies and couldn’t find a picture of a vulture.