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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End of Week 3 Cash Budget – This Week Was Difficult!

So week 3 cash budget comes to an end tomorrow so I’ve just sat down tonight and gone through the figures and after a very difficult week to stay within budget I’m happy to have made it through with still £3.12 left over to put in my cash savings jar!

This is my very first month of pretty much EVER doing a monthly budget where every single £ is accounted for. It’s not easy but I am so determined to change my life around economically in 2018 that accounting for every £ spent will be absolutely necessary to rid myself of past bad habits.

The reason this week was such a rollercoaster white knuckle ride financially was that £50 of my £57.50 weekly cash budget for food, car/petrol and household (entertainment, clothing, toiletries, other etc) was spent on petrol as I did a 500 mile round trip to move my daughter out of the University of Reading. The only other expense this week was £4.38 on food. I’m glad reset day is tomorrow and Week 4’s budget kicks in….phew!

That’s £59.22 I’ve saved in 3 weeks out of my weekly cash budget in addition to the £300 savings I had sent to TransaveUK Credit Union from payroll when I got paid! (but I’ve given up absolutely EVERYTHING to achieve that!!!!)

I’m pretty proud of myself for sticking with it! I can’t actually believe it!!!

As for eating healthily I don’t want to jinx it but for some reason the more I am taking control of my money the more I seem to be taking control of my eating. Is it because psychologically I’m feeling happier making positive changes and anxiety about money has had me comforting myself with food? Who knows! It’s just a theory right now and I’m going to see what happens.

Currently I’m eating well and eating somewhere between 1500-2000 calories a day with lots of vegetables and pulses/beans.

Today I had porridge oats for breakfast, a large leafy salad and 300g drained weight of kidney beans and some dressing for lunch, for dinner I had soup and bread and afterwards a single eggless pancake drizzled with a little golden syrup. If I’m still hungry tonight I will saute some white cabbage in a pan with some herbs and spices.

I hope everyone is doing well with their budgets. I’m rather liking this “make do and mend” malarky!

C xxxxx

Food and budget this week so far…

It’s two days now that I’ve been on track and haven’t succumbed to the devilish temptation of crap food! I’m using up food that I have in my larder that is on or coming up to it’s expiry date so for the last few days I seem to have eaten a LOT of rice crackers! I’m relieved that they have now gone…. There has been lots of healthy wholefoods though such as red split lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas and lots of vegetables from my small Riverford Organic Veggie Box (I’ve downsized to the small box every week to help with my budgeting)

Food-wise this week I’ve been eating oats for breakfast with some apple in it and a teaspoon of jam. Lunches have been rice crackers topped with raw veggies and salad and main dinner has been lentil and chard stew and then I made a really nice chickpea and swiss chard curry. I have plenty of potatoes to till use up and a butternut squash so these will be on the menu tomorrow night!

Budget-wise this week I’ve had to be EXTREMELY careful. I’ve had to do a round trip of almost 500 miles to move my daughter out of Uni and the petrol cost was £65 (gulp!!!). I put in £25 on Friday (out of last weeks budget) and then used £40 out of this weeks cash budget of £57.50 (which is £25 for food, £12.50 for petrol/car and £20 for entertainment/clothing/toiletries/toilet rolls etc) on Saturday to get us over to the University and finally back home again.

Luckily the only money I have spent out of my cash budget on food and household this week is £3. Tomorrow I will have to put £5 petrol in the car too. If my maths is correct I make that £9.50 left this week. I am determined to not spend anymore so I can add that £9.50 to my savings jar.

I’m really enjoying being so disciplined as it ‘is’ to achieve a goal but I’d be a liar if I said it was easy this week….it hasn’t been. It’s been tough.

The hardest thing is going shopping in the supermarket. Normally I will shop from a list but always add in extras that I fancy. Now I’m literally sticking rigidly to a prepared list and absolutely ONLY BUYING WHAT I NEED AND NOT WHAT I WANT!!!

It’s working though… but I’m not out of the woods yet. There are 4 birthdays this month (I’ve put my thinking cap on!).

C xxxxxx

Week 2 Day 5 Budget Update.

 

budgetjan10

This weeks budget is going well. Probably eased somewhat by the fact I had some Christmas Vouchers which I used for replacing used up make-up and some nibblies for my birthday tea last Monday.

I’m trying very hard to not spend mindlessly and paying for everything in my weekly budget in CASH is REALLY helping!

So just a refresher for anyone who hasn’t read any of my previous budgeting posts, essentially I have set myself a weekly cash budget to pay for food, car/petrol, and household (toiletries, clothing, batteries, loo roll etc).

Those weekly amounts are:

Food: £25
Car/Petrol: £12.50
Household: £20
TOTAL BUDGET £57.50 PW in CASH

In addition I have a payment in the food category that comes out every week from my bank for a small organic vegetable box for £11.50 (I allow myself £50 per month in organic veg boxes). Some people may ask well why don’t you save yourself a bunch more money and get your veg from Aldi’s? My organic veg box gives me such pleasure every week, it’s something I look forward to, it’s like my treat and I feel good about supporting smaller, independent growers in our country. To me it’s just a way of giving back a little.

This weeks cash budget is once again going really well! I’m on ‘Week 2 Day 5’ and so far my total weekly cash spend is only £14.24.

I’m pretty proud of myself!!! However I have to travel 200 miles down South on Friday and I will have to take money from the household budget to pay for the extra petrol I need. BUT DESPITE THIS by Friday night there is STILL GOING TO BE MONEY LEFTOVER. Hopefully about £20!!

I’m also glad I set myself what I perceive to be a doable budget, not too severe, not stripped back to the bare bones. I have space to breathe. To me its still about enjoying living but not wasting, being more mindful and trying to make do. My next debt on my ‘debt snowball’ list will set me back £317.68 and I hope to pay that in full at the beginning of February.

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!!!

C xxxxxxx

PS: How are you doing?

Working it big time (the budget that is…)

In the spirit of our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers, I’m working hard to stick to a good, honest and frugal budget this month. Infact I will be all year (and probably more years after that) as I really want to be in control of my income, to not be wasteful with it, to have a decent rainy day fund (I love that phrase) and become debt free. Further in to the future I also see retirement looming (in about 13 years or so) and that scares me. I need to create safety in my life…

So far everything is working out well and I’ve started 2018 positively with the attitude of ‘make do and mend!’ I’m using up everything that needs using up in the kitchen and looking for cheaper but healthy meals so the wartime recipes are quite useful!

I worked out my complete budget and accounted for every single £1 coming in and going out and even made some observations on what I could cut back on to free up more money every month which will all help to clearing debt faster and saving money faster too.

– I cancelled my gym and saved £47 per month.
– I cancelled Amazon Prime (I already have Netflix) and saved £8 per month.
– I cancelled Envato Elements and saved £18 per month.
– And finally I realised that I was being charged £17 per month as I had the Platinum Select Account with Natwest. I initially got this bank account as it gave me free worldwide health insurance which was great because 2 years ago I was hospitalised in the USA with double pneumonia and hypoxia to my brain (oh and an asthmatic episode during a visit to the Grand Canyon) and NatWest covered my $20,000 hospital fees. But my ex-partner and I split up so I don’t travel anymore so the insurance is not needed. So I converted to the basic FREE select account.

Just these 4 changes will free up an extra £90 in January which I’m thrilled about!!!

Not only that I’ve straight away used that money to pay off two small debts to Utility Warehouse and Nottingham Council Tax! I’ve also been working out what other debts I have and although I have one credit card  I only use it in an emergency and clear off immediately if it is used. However I do have student courses debts and over payment of child tax credits of larger amounts that need paying off so that’s what I hope to clear completely over the next 12-18 months.

In addition tomorrow is my last day of my first full cash budget week for food, household items, petrol/car and entertainment. My total weekly budget for all was £55. I’ve spent £17.56p which means tomorrow night I WILL be putting £37.44p in my cash savings jar!

As a single person there is definitely less of a safety net (and less income!) so to me living to a strict budget and doing without for a year is a small sacrifice I am willing to make to financially get ahead to a safer place… it will give me peace of mind.

PS: I’ve been watching Dave Ramsey videos and sort of following his ‘baby steps’. The guy is a bit blunt and I may not agree with some of his personal views but I have to agree with his basic baby steps to get yourself out of debt and create an emergency fund. Good sound advice. It’s certainly keeping me motivated.

How cheaply could a person live on WW2 food rationing?

A couple of my goals for 2018 are to save a substantial emergency money fund AND to lose a very achievable 60 lbs in weight. The two things that concern me right now are financial safety and health safety.

One area to save on expenses would of course be eating food that doesn’t cost so much but still is healthy. Following a ration book diet, although it sounds austere and boring, could be a perfectly doable way to save money and lose weight in the short term, its certainly worth giving it a go for a month or two…

So out of curiosity I’ve broken down first the guaranteed weekly/monthly ration for an adult into how much each item would cost per person and in addition I’ve also added in the cost of extra staples that a person may typically purchase during the week/month such as bread, oats, pulses etc.

Here is what it roughly worked out as per person per week using today’s prices

2-3 pints milk (Dairy milk 75p- £1.10 Plant milk £1.50-2.00)
8 oz sugar (15p)
2 oz tea- about 25 tea bags (50p)
8 oz margarine/cooking fat (70p)
2 oz butter (45p)
2 oz cheese (40p)
1 egg (15p)
4 oz bacon/ham (40p)
Meat to the value of 1s 2d – could be mutton or small pack of sausages or sliced corned beef (£2)

Additionally you were guaranteed to be able to buy one large jar of jam every two months (£1.50 every two months), 12 oz of sweets every month (£1.50) and were allocated 16 points every month to purchase other foods in shops if they were available (only rationed food was guaranteed).

Monthly 16 points example (I think I would spend my points on this)

Lentils/Pulses 2 lbs = 4 points = (£2)
Rolled oats 2 lbs = 4 points = (75p)
Baked beans 2 cans = 4 points = (75p)
Bread/small flour = 4 points = (£1)

Vegetables either bought or grown weekly (I’ve used Aldi’s prices using Super 6 where I can – I personally use a seasonal organic box delivery for my vegetables but want to show the cheapest way to eat on food rationing)

1 small swede (28p)
1 small bag potatoes (28p)
1 small bag carrots (19p)
1 small cabbage (50p)
1 small bag apples (£1.50)
A few onions or leeks (50p)

Using all the above as a rough example I can see that the monthly amount spent on all the above to feed 1 person for 1 month works out to be

£39.00 ( about $52 USD) for one month.

This unbelievably works out at less than £1.30 per day per person for breakfast, dinner, lunch and extra fruit.

What do you spend? Is it more or less than this? Please share!

C xxxxxxxxxxxx

Back to Basics: The Weekly Savings Jar Idea.

So a Facebook friend messaged me today.

Alison shared with me what she does to save physical cash. She sets herself a weekly cash grocery budget and if she hasn’t used all her budget up she puts the remainder in a savings jar. She does this each and every week.

I use my debit card a LOT. I’ve read over and over that it’s a LOT harder to spend when you have to physically hand over cash. It’s more painful to do so.. (I’ve been watching Dave Ramsey videos!)

So today, after hearing of Alison’s idea, I got cash out of the ATM and put my monthly budget into a jar and worked out what I could withdraw every week from the jar and keep in my purse for daily expenses.

Looking at my monthly budget I created I could see that that the total amount designated for groceries, household (toilet rolls, bin bags, toiletries etc), entertainment and petrol/travel was £280 per month. This includes the £15 per week I spend on an organic veg box from www.riverford.co.uk (which comes out of my bank account). So taking off the £60 for my veggie boxes that leaves £220 for 4 weeks for all of the above.

Each week I will put £55 physical cash in my purse and pay by cash and see if a few £’s remain at the end of the week for the cash savings jar.

I’m determined to face this year head on, as prepared as I can be, work any overtime if I can, take control and feel safe again.

It’s kind of an oxymoron really, while losing lbs I’ll be saving £’s 🙂

C xxxxxx