How did January’s budget go?

For anyone that pops in to read my blog now and again, you’ll know that I set a goal to take control of my life economically in 2018 by living like our grandmothers did (no debt, save money for a rainy day and only buy something if you really need it otherwise mend and make do!).

I guess reaching the age of 52 in January, being in debt and having no savings (I’ve been through several very tough years) has made me panic. I want to be in control of my life, feel financially safe and feel proud of how I live. Being single I do not have a back-up if things go wrong.

I started planning for this year early on in 2017. I’ve always had to live quite frugally to make ends meet as I was spending between £250-£300 per month just commuting from Nottingham to Rotherham 5 days a week for my job. We made plans that when my youngest daughter left college we would move to a cheaper house that would be near my work place (so if my car ever broke down and I had to do without, I could walk). We found a smaller house with a little garden just 2 miles from my job. We had to snap it up because it was ideal and managed to negotiate the first months rent free with the landlord but this still meant we had a couple of months double rent to pay while we waited for my daughter to finish college. But it’s been worth it.

With all the extra expenses of moving and paying double rent (luckily my eldest daughter helped out) it took many months to catch up and get on top of things again but we got there and I’d still managed to put money by in a Christmas Savings Club and started to save an emergency fund.

So January has been all about being getting to grips with actually creating a written budget and sticking to it. My monthly budget runs from pay-day to pay-day (last Friday of every month) and although it has needed some effort, the written budget has REALLY helped me get things in order. This month I’ve paid all my bills, put money away in savings/emergency fund, put money away in my sinking funds and PAID OFF TWO DEBTS!!!!

It has been TOUGH though….I’ve not eaten out or bought anything from my cash food/household budget except for food and toilet paper. Every time I go into a supermarket I have to remind myself to “STICK TO MY LIST” and absolutely ONLY buy something if I NEED it! BUT by the end of the month I have underspent by £80.70p and I now have that sitting in my cash jar, an extra bit of safety. As a single person I don’t have a back-up!!!

And today I’ve completed February’s budget. Every £ is accounted for and I’m ready for another monthly challenge of working towards being debt free and having a proper rainy day fund just like our Grandmothers used to!

C xxxx

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32 thoughts on “How did January’s budget go?

  1. Hooray! I had a good news/bad news month. I injured my back and was unable to get out and about for most of the month. Not being abale to shop(and a small unexpected check) has left me with more than $300 left over! All of which will go towards debt.

      • Feeling much better, thanks! I now have a deeper appreciation for just being able to move about without so much pain. Even running a simple errand seems a treat. πŸ™‚

  2. Well done, now that you’re in the swing of things hopefully it will be a little easier to manage.

    I’m quite pleased with myself, I get paid on the 22nd of the month, but tried, and succeeded, I hope, to eke my December wage out to last all of January. I still have Β£10 of my grocery budget left and Β£22.60 of my travel budget left. I am doing things a little differently to you, and these amounts will roll forward and help me out at more difficult times in the year. I’ve also started what someone called a ‘transfer fund’, though I’m calling mine a ‘leeway fund’, I put 2% of my take home pay into it this month, which given my pitiful wage is not a lot, but it’s a start. In future I’m hoping to put 5% of my pay into it, but I need to pay off the mortgage first ( still waiting for the bank to give me a final figure). So, all in all, I’m happy with how things have gone and it’s not been too difficult, it just requires a LOT of planning.

    • hahahaha!!!! I know! A year in to running my blog I was seriously considering changing the name but I just couldn’t do it! But nearly everyone calls it 1940s Sexperiment if they are reading the web address out….maybe more people take a look with a name like that!! Hahaha! PS: It’s good to have a laugh! xxx

  3. It feels great to let go of debt but it is hard. My husband and I gave up our credit cards a few years ago and last year we had them all paid off. This year we will have our car paid off as well, leaving us with nothing but student loans left. We don’t have the savings we would like but I feel like I can see the horizon now. It’s amazing how people learn to live with debt and they don’t notice how it weighs them down. We don’t get that instant gratification from credit cards but we also don’t impulse buy stuff we don’t really need.

  4. Excellent! That is very impressive Carolyn! For just one month and basically the first month when you are learning the new ways. I can tell you that when we started our first months were not nearly as successful. But it all gets easier as you get into routines and new habits.

    It is going to be important for you to have entertainment and outings. Gail vaz Oxlade suggests finding all the free or nearly free things that go on in your area. We thought there was nothing but were wrong. And although going out to dinner is fun so is having pot-lucks in your home with friends and family and much less expensive. We have done quite a few theme pot-lucks. Never a WW2 one but that could be a lot of fun.

    Gail also suggests making a budget/plan for one year, three years and five years. Just a big calendar with the goals you want to achieve and the funds needed. A goal without a timeline is just a dream.

    Our first calendars were just filled with the debts and the times and funds needed to pay each one down. We did not have any for savings and this was a lesson. On the day we went to the bank to pay off our last credit card debt our van broke down on the way home. We had no savings in either emergency or planned spending so we had to use the credit card. We were credit card debt free for about half an hour.

    • Oh what a great informative message Maureen and so bittersweet there at the end about being credit card debt free for about 30 minutes!!! I can’t imagine paying off all my debts right now but it will feel very liberating I’m sure when I don’t own ANYBODY A BEAN!!! xxxx

  5. Bravo! It does get easier, after a while you can accurately predict how much you will need, which month. One thing I do, is to log a year in advance things that are paid annually like my cell phone. It is due in April so when I pay it, I go to April of the next year and write it in so it is there and no surprises.

    • That’s a good idea! Yes I am thinking it will get easier with time. All my bills are paid monthly so I know exactly what is going out in that area. The most difficult thing for me right now is anticipating what extra expenses there could possibly be in the month ahead and setting money aside for those. I now have a sinking fund for car repairs, clothes and replacing things that break down and I’m saving more in my Christmas Club to also cover birthdays for a full year in 2019. But up until then I’ll have to make sure I cover those in the monthly budget xxx

      • Here’s an idea – the money you save out of your weekly budget, put it aside for those miscellaneous expenses that you didn’t anticipate you would have, like the extra fuel you used moving your daughter. Then, write the spend down in your ledger/budget so you can see what patterns of spending develop.

  6. I love to see you succeeding! and all your supporters, who are doing so well getting their finances into great shape, such determination. Good on you all *****
    ann lee

    • Awww thank you! I think its always great for everyone to share experiences, good and bad as you really do learn from others, I certainly do anyway! Love to read peoples success stories! xxxx

  7. You’ve had a fantastic month, especially considering the large money output on petrol earlier on when you helped move your daughter.
    My hubby and I have always used the cash system and its put us in a comfortable position now we are retired. The early years were always tight and we started by paying off our smallest debt, then applying that money to the next smallest debt and so on, until we finally paid off our mortgage. It was many years before we had a credit card and we have always paid it off at the end of every month so we don’t have any interest charges added onto the principle.
    Continued success with the budget and the weight loss – you’ve done it before so I know you can do it again!

  8. I like your blog Carolyn and I wish you every success with your goals this year. Instead of trying to anticipate extra monthly expenses each month I add up everything that may happen during the year – one off costs rather than monthly ones – and put one twelfth of that into savings to cover these as (if) they occur. Over the years I’ve become more familiar with how much we typically need and been able to refine the amount and this works for us. BTW I’ve enjoyed reading the ‘MrMoneyMustache’ blog – he has an interesting take on money/consumerism/environmentalism. Good luck for 2018!

  9. Hi Carolyn,

    an idea that is in keeping with the war time era and helped me a lot is to keep a ledger book. Basically it’s an old fashioned book with columns in it where you record every penny that comes into and goes out of your life. I did this years ago when I was a single mother on a tight budget (those ten tight years have only just finished with me, now living with my gorgeous wife!)

    If you google images for Victorian ledger books you may get some inspiration πŸ™‚

    The beauty of a ledger is that when you are tempted to buy something that’s not on the list you know you have to write it down! It’s sort of like a conscience and really kept me in check because I didn’t want to see my lack of will power written down in black and white!

    A budget is great too. Rather than seeing it a s a limitation, see it as a powerful tool that gives you control – you know where your money needs to go so there will never be any nasty surprises. As I’ve always been self-employed I’ve always had to budget. Christmas holidays there is usually no paid work for 6 weeks and I save for this all year. It’s just a habit and it means I can sleep peacefully at night.

    Best of luck, you are doing a tremendous job already πŸ˜‰


  10. Well done Carolyn. Glad you are now able to see the woods for the trees as it were! I find a debit card very useful as I can withdraw cash for the rest.o f the week while paying for my.weekly shop. I too have a very simple accounts book, debit and credit and everything I spend is seen at a glance. I also have recurring expenses like utilities on direct debit so I know when and how much is deducted each month. I too am a widow with nobody for backup and do my best to manage. I also grow my own veggies and fruit on a tiny bit.of garden in my unit.inAdelaide but the produce is plentiful and I freeze the surplus. Hope this gives a few ideas.

    • I think just taking cash out of the bank every week and having that amount in your purse as absolutely the maximum you can spend is really helpful. Its made a lot of difference here anyway …good luck!

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