Back to Basics: Weigh In and Monthly Budget

So I got up this morning and didn’t eat chocolate.

Instead I had two slices of toast, went and picked up some new pairs of spectacles I had ordered ( using Paycare at work – it pays for my specs!), had the last of the leftover Christmas Day veggies for my lunch and sat down for a couple of hours and worked out my complete budget and wrote it down in the front of my new diary for 2018.

But the very first thing I did this morning was faced the music and jumped on the bathroom scales (which I have avoided for weeks) and got the first weigh-in over and done with. Yep- it was pretty much what I expected. It could have been worse, I could have tipped 300 lbs. It was 295.4 lbs (21 st 1.5 lb)…. and I have nothing to say about that right now.

Incomings, Outgoings and Building an Emergency Fund

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve made some drastic changes this summer to help me get away from living on the financial edge. It took me a few months to bounce back after the expense of moving but once I had it was time to make some changes in my life to ensure that in the future I have an emergency fund and some savings in place. As a single person with no back up from a partner, being one pay check away from being broke is no fun and it’s a very stressful feeling.

One of the best things I did at the beginning of the year was implement a ‘Christmas Savings Club’ at work using TransaveUK (a local credit union who provides funding for share loans through my work). How the Christmas Club works is that you decide how much of your wages you want to set aside for 10 months and at the end of the 10 months the money is deposited straight into your bank account at the end of November. The money, every month, comes straight from your salary and deposited into your own online account via your workplace and once I’d got the first month or two over and done with I found I didn’t miss the money at all. It was lovely getting an £850 pay out just before Christmas… enough to buy presents for my three grown children, both sets of grandparents, all the Christmas food and drinks, and still have enough left over for everyone’s birthdays this year!

Implementing those two changes this year has set me up well for forging ahead and achieving some financial safety in 2018. This is one of the most important things to me right now and if that means I have to work extra hard and not go on holiday or eat out every month or go to coffee shops, then so be it! I’m not going to look at it as a hardship, these are just necessary actions to achieve a goal!

So my financial goals for for 2018 are

a) Build up an emergency fund so if suddenly I was without work or had an accident then at least I could get by financially and pay my bills/rent for at least 3 months.
b) Once again save with the TransaveUk Christmas Club at work so Christmas and birthday expenses are all taken care of and December is no loner a financial burden.
c) Set aside £100 a month for car repairs. My car is now 18 years old and it’s MOT is due in February. I really hope she’ll get through one more time but if she does it won’t be without some expense. Saving £100 a month should cover these expenses and start to build a fund towards buying another car eventually.

So today I went through my bank statements and worked out my incomings, outgoings, household expenses etc.

I also noticed a few expenses that I could cancel in January which are nice to have but actually I could get by quite happily without them for a few months and see how things go (highlighted in yellow).

I don’t want to live a life where I don’t enjoy the odd night out of the odd treat but am quite happy to make some sacrifices to get to where I want to be at the end of the year.

I’ll feel so much safer….

C xxxxxxx

UPDATE – I forgot the debt!!!!

I forgot about the student fees for courses I am still paying off! That’s an extra £50 expense a month. Have updated the diary. I think I got it right now!!!!

32 thoughts on “Back to Basics: Weigh In and Monthly Budget

  1. I weighed in this morning at 320 lbs (quietly sobbing in the corner here) which is 21 lbs up since the 1st of January. BUT I am going to knuckle down and shift it and more – so onwards and downwards!

  2. C: I hope you have read The Wealthy Barber book, and are familiar with the “jar” system of cash for each pay period. I think you have already broken down your expenses into Firm (rent, heat, car expenses, gas, save for repairs, etc) and those which can be adjusted, such as Food, TV, Phone , entertainment, etc. Your Firm expenses go right into your bank to be withdrawn as needed, and your adjustable go into jars each pay period, when the $$ are gone in the jar there is no more spending until the next pay period. I’ve used this for almost 50 years and it does make life worry free! good luck with it all, and stick to it! ann on Vancouver island, bc, Canada

  3. C: I notice you have one called just “household etc” you might want to get more specific here. it helps tremendously to write down each expenditure every day , total it up at month end, (some people use a spreadsheet, I use a pencil and book) you may be surprised where your money is actually going. ann

    • It truly is interesting where those small cash expenditures go. I’m a pen-n-paper budget-er too. A simple cash-in/cash-out system is all most of us need for our bookkeeping.

      Good news on the scales – you estimated 300 and you were lighter. That’s 4.6 lbs you don’t have to worry about! Bravo!

    • Yes that is a floating/changing amount…. I should really specify exactly what its for as I bet I could save a few quid there! I have an £80 budget to cover stuff like toilet paper, detergent, shampoo, knickers, the odd bottle of wine, some money towards eating out say once every few months…no set amount, sometimes I won’t buy anything and other times I need to spend all of it. I think I need a bigger budget sheet… I had a job squeezing it all in! LOL 🙂 PS Thanks for the heads up about the book title, will check that out!! xxxxx

  4. Dear Carolyn,
    I have been following your blog for some time but this is the first time I am writing to you. Although your primary goal is to lose weight which I totally respect, you should really see yourself from outside. Your light and your big and gentle heart. You are simply beautiful inside, out. Like this quote from Hafiz: “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.”
    Going back to the Basics: I am trying to live a simple life myself so I am very excited about your experiment for the coming year. Please share your every day experiences, your meal plans or how you resist the consumer oriented world, tried tips to save money. I am looking forward to reading all of them. May be it will be a book at the end – there are examples like Not Buying by Judith Levine, Jack Monroe’s first cookbook or the soon coming books of Cait Flanders and Mrs. Frugalwoods. Your authenticity and luminous personality will definitely make your experience special and precious. We need such initiatives and inspirations in this era.
    All the best,

    • Dear Funda, very kind and lovely words xxxxxx Thank you. I will be sure to try and update my blog more regularly with meals, expenses and of course experiences and would love to hear from you on here as you are doing the same 🙂 Thanks also for the book titles too!!! C xxxxx

  5. Are you back in the UK now? I’ve been visiting your site for a while, mostly for recipes and rationing info, but I had thought you moved from the UK to Nova Scotia. Are you back in the UK permanently?
    I wish my work could do a Christmas club.

    • Sorry, I just read where you moved back.
      Please tell me you’re going to write an autobiography! I think it will do well.

    • Hi Zhaleh, My family and I moved to Nova Scotia in 2004. The Candian government removed me and my children from the country after my ex-husband died of cancer back in 2013. It was a VERY traumatic few years of my life but we are finding our way here now. I’d like to go back and visit one day as made so many friends xxxx

  6. I too am making drastic changes to the budget. After many years of being debt free and enjoying regular holidays, I’ve slid right back into debt after stopping work due to illness. We are all in this together and I am determined to go through the year with a cheerful heart.

    • It’s so easy., only takes an unexpected event. Am going to try and build an emergency fund up and pay off some old debt this year in any way I can to feel safe and secure. Hope you manage to get back where you used to be…xxxxx

      • This may be the end of my working life. It’s tough to think about, but I keep reminding myself that I may not have everything I want, but all my needs are covered.

  7. Awesome work Carolyn, you inspired me to do the same.
    Bit shocked at my expenditures, so many un-necessary outgoings.
    Many changes to be made.
    Thanks for the inspiration.

    • That’s great!!! I’m finding out more stuff too….I have more debt than I thought! It’s old debt that I was paying a minimum on so I think I can increase those couple of payments a little and as I get more financially secure make bigger lump sum payments and get those all paid up. Luckily I don’t have current credit card debt or loans or now use my overdraft so I’m grateful for that….going to sit down this morning and go over everything with a fine toothed comb and work out everything and make a plan. Look forward to hearing more about how you get on xxxxxx

      • C: if paying down loans, debt, pay down your highest one first, or the one with the highest interest rate … A

      • Thanks for your valued input Ann xxxx

        I’ve been looking at the three typical ways people pay off debt… the most sensible way of course is pay off those with the highest interest first, I believe this is called the avalanche method.

        But I’m sticking to my guns and going with the Dave Ramsey snowball method simply because I know that will definitely suit my personality more and encourage me to persevere. This will be make a list starting with your smallest debt to the largest one. Start with your smallest debt first and pay it off as quickly as you can, make that your all consuming goal and tick that off the list ASAP then move on to the next. So the focus is carry on paying these debts as you always do BUT all the extra money you have focus it on paying the debts off one at a time. The theory being that getting quick smaller successes will make you strong and committed to keep on persevering to tackle the larger ones which may take you 12 months or more.

        For me personally I’d rather pay a few extra quid and succeed than save a few quid and fail.

        I sat up late last night working through my plan for the next two years…. feeling happy about that xxxxx

      • Carolyn, you are so right about small debt.
        I spent last night sorting everything on a spreadsheet, so this month, NO fun stuff or treats. I’m paying off a small debt with my pays. Then I’ll tsfr that payment to the next biggest debt which I’ll clear before end of year and then tsfr those payments to the main debt, then I’ll clear it 2years ahead of schedule. So that should save some dollars.
        I’ve mapped meals for next 17 days using just the Christmas leftovers in fridge/freezer. Will only need to buy milk and bread. I’ll keep the loaf in the freezer and use Jamie Oliver’s trick for refreshing it in damp baking paper in a warm oven. Tried it today with a frozen roll and it works brilliantly.
        Normally shop weekly but shouldn’t need to for nearly three weeks, polssiblynlonger if I use up cans etc in cupboards.
        I have a small veg garden so will use as much of that as I can, dug through freezer to realise how much frozen veg I have.
        I spent time today making and freezing soup, and put left over pasta sauce and tomato paste into ice cube trays to freeze then keep in freezer bags to use as needed.
        Not strictly 40s style using the freezer, but you can bet they would have if they had them.
        It looks as though I should be able to save about a thousand dollars by end of Jan, possibly more if I avoid eating out whilst away with work.

        You’ve really sparked me up with this, it’s even helping squash my anxiety/depression.


      • Oh wow saved £1000… that is quite frankly amazing!!!!!! It does make you feel so good when things like that can happen!!! If I had a freezer (and room for one) I’d use one too!!! I shall look forward to hearing more about what you are up to – its very inspiring reading your comment! Like you I can get a wee bit depressed when I think of money coming and and going out and not having much control of it….feeling much more positive doing the budget and seeing that actually I can control it with effort and put it to better use!!! C xxxxx

      • So not doing so great this week, been away with work for 5 days. As it’s been a day by day trip I’ve not been able to really sort out food. As my trip went from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 days I didn’t go shop for foods and instead just ate out each day for dinner or breakfast, spent waaaaay too much. Need to plan much better for my next trip in order to achieve my savings goals.
        But on the upside I Ve done a lot of overtime so next pay will be really good.

      • Its stuff like that though which is hard to get around…going away somewhere rather than the normal routine is gonna be quite a challenge! I’m dreading the rest of this month to keep to my budget as I have birthdays and I have a trip down south which means lots of petrol money- something I forgot to budget for! So will def be an over spend! xxx

  8. What a brilliant idea the Monthly savings plan straight from your wages was – I did a savings tin last year, working incrementally from 1p (so 1p first week, 2p second week etc) and had nearly £100 by Dec 🙂 also re weight – you weren’t the 300lb you dreaded, so that’s got to be a win – hasn’t it?! Xxx

    • Yes its a great thing work was happy to implement. The amount you save every month comes straight from payroll and shows on your wage slip. TransaveUk work with many businesses that way and you get quite a good amount of money back….they don’t offer a percentage but you get a dividend back which is typically 2-3% so more interest than you’d get in a regular saving account too! I have two accounts |I opened through work via payroll – one is a £100 a month Christmas Club savings account and the other is a regular savings account which I’m putting £300 a month in from payroll. If I need to access it I can (emergency) but it takes a few days to get it so you can’t just dip into it. It will be a struggle to keep putting £400 a way every month but as long as mu son is working and paying some money to rent/bills I can do it as long as I’m careful! WOW that savings tin thing sounds like a good idea!!!! I might implement that too for spare change lying around!!! xxxx

  9. I agree with you keeping something for making life a bit joyful like some wine and Netflix! I too put lose change in a pretty tin and go to a regular trail of charity shops, and a local bootsale ,which saves me a fortune on buying so many things .Weight wise I would like to lose two stone for health reasons having arthritis,a threat of diabetes, high blood pressure and to top it all gout! Apart from all that I am ok! Onwards all of us and love your blog

  10. hi Carolyn
    good luck with your plans for 2018. I love your blog and you are a brilliant lady who I know will do well.
    i am a 1940 home front renactor and have found your recipes and advice really helpful. Take care jo m

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  12. Loving your new year plans. Have completely copied and am feeling good. Our rent is double and there’s 4 of us. It’s pretty tough at the moment but you have given me back hope. I am going to look at ways to make extra income this week. May be even open an etsy shop !! Thank you Carolyn xxxxxxx

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