New Year’s Resolution – August edition

A good month! Fourteen days where I spent absolutely nothing! That’s almost half the month and more than the required eleven to keep up with my New Year’s resolution. Rather a relief after last month’s.

In a more general way, this month I have spent the least of all months so far in 2016. Mwahahah, go me. Well, in part that is because I stopped therapy halfway through the month, and it looks likely I will not start it again in the immediate future. So I should have less fixed outgoings, and I am keen for that to translate into higher savings.

My highest single outgoing category was festival attendance and kit; I bought a new giant (and astoundingly comfortable) camp bed, in addition to the usual petrol and higher food costs of being away. Second highest was medical costs, predominantly therapy but also the cost of a wrist brace for my dodgy right hand.

My partner largely covered groceries this month, so that’s a little misleading (perhaps I should start tabulating their costs as well?), but I spent nearly £85 on eating out this month, which I’m less pleased with. This is predominantly coffee when out in town, and lunch when I’ve failed to bring it to work, and food and coffee on the road to festivals. This is definitely an area I could work on, but one I struggle with the most. I find it really hard at lunch time, particularly if we’re just back from a weekend away and there’s nothing in the cupboards. Trying to avoid animal products doesn’t help either – there’s no handy cheese in the fridge that you can just stuff between two pieces of bread. Ah well, something to try and stay on top of in September.

After that we have a bunch of small costs; a tank of petrol, a couple of trips to the cinema, and an emergency taxi I had to take due to being a chump. All together, pretty good! This is good as I am on holiday in the coming month, and I still have a half-broken phone that needs replacing. But let’s leave it on a high note – fourteen days consumerism-free! Yes!

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New Year’s Resolution – August edition

New Year’s Resolution: June edition

This month’s target for my New Year’s Resolution was ten buy-nothing days. I made it! Again with one day extra. When I set out to make this post I actually didn’t think I was going to be able to write that. It felt like a month when I’d just spent loads and hadn’t had a hold on stuff. When I looked at my budgeting software I saw that actually wasn’t true – I’d spent roughly the same amount I spend almost every month.

Big sources of expenditure were therapy (again, top of the list), eating out (mostly I was just terrible at packing enough food for all the days when I was out from 8am-10pm), groceries (not a problem) and gifts (step-mom’s birthday included a trip to the city, sightseeing and of course a bunch of things I really wanted to give her!).

The only thing I’d really change here is the amount spent on eating out. I tried tackling this by purchasing some ‘Huel’, which is essentially a powder for making meal replacement shakes which, unlike those heinous things weight watchers try and sell you, are nutritionally balanced. My thinking was that if I could just make up a shake and take that with me, it would save me from impulse buying food when I just cannot be bothered/find the time to cook/make stuff to take.

Sadly, I think Huel tastes absolutely awful. I’ve only made it once and it was so bad I could barely finish it. I’m trying the ‘vanilla’ flavour stuff and it almost makes me gag. The big problem is the horrible bitter aftertaste. On the up side, my partner seems to be able to stomach it, so it’s not going to waste. I’ll probably do a more in depth review at some point, when I’ve managed to face up to trying it some more, but at the moment it’s a bit of a white elephant!

New Year’s Resolution: June edition

New Year’s Resolution – May edition

I did it! Actually with a spare day as well. The goal was nine buy-nothing days, and I managed ten. So actually almost a third of the month I bought nothing.

I guess if you’re coming to this cold, that probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But I’m really bad at spending a little bit every day. Or just spreading all my spending across the whole month. I’m not even exactly sure how it happens. Stuff just needs to get bought. And I am bad at buying food and coffee when I am out, if I’m really honest with myself.

Big sources of spending were therapy (unsurprisingly), camping/festival stuff (including petrol), the car (chose to buy breakdown cover) and eating out (a couple of dinners out with friends, quite a lot of snack food). I don’t feel bad about spending money on my health, but it does sometimes make me feel awkward as it’s the single largest monthly expenditure. Ah well, it is worth it!

New Year’s Resolution – May edition

How’s my New Years resolution going? April edition.

I did it! Plus some. The aim for his month was eight buy-nothing days. And I totally cracked it, which is weird when I consider I did really bad at spending in general this month and went way over my desired budget. I actually spent more than I earnt this month, by a disappointing chunk. It’s okay, I have built up a buffer, but I really have my hear set on adding to that, not taking away.

Big sources of spending were gifts (basically a chunk of cash given to my partner to cover them whilst they were without debit cards due to fraud), health (minor ailments plus therapy) household (the bloody gloss paint that didn’t work and the long-needed curtains), and transport (a three month bus pass) and groceries.

Of those gifts, transportation and household were all abnormally high, totally £300 probably between them. Realising this has made me a little happier, but damn, what a month! I really need May to be better, but I’m wary. I’ve a wedding and two weekends away, and a weekend with my mum in May, none of which is conducive to frugality. Ah well, fingers crossed, and check in next month to see if I survived!

How’s my New Years resolution going? April edition.

How’s my New Year’s Resolution going? March edition

Seven days out of thirty-one without spending anything doesn’t sound such a big deal. How come it’s so hard then? I’ve been sticking to my budgeting software and entering absolutely everything, so I’m confident I’m tracking everything. Which was a little depressing during March as it was pretty expensive. I’m honestly hoping for a lot less spending in April, which so far has four weekends out of five at home with very little/only courses booked in. I’m actually hoping we’ll get loads of time to work on the house now Spring is here, as there’s plenty that needs doing, and plenty more that I’d like to do.

In the end I managed ten days, largely due to a straight run of four days at the end of the month when I was at home/working and trying not to spend any money at all, so success! That’s even if I don’t count the days when I only spent money on health-related things (therapy etc.), which I have decided don’t count as real ‘spending’ days.

April is looking like it might be a relatively good month for spending – nothing really planned at the weekends (thank heavens, I need a break!) and plenty of working days. We shall see… there’s a lot of things I want to fix around the house which will inevitably require DIY products (paint, tape, light bulbs) to achieve. Boring, but necessary. But the goal for April is eight days, so fingers-crossed!

How’s my New Year’s Resolution going? March edition

How’s my New Year’s resolution going? February edition.

I’ve been trying to designate buy-nothing-days before they happen, so to speak – rather than leaving them to chance, I’ve been planning them into my diary. I’ve largely used days when I’ve been at work or at home all day for these.

One thing I’ve noticed as a result, is that I really get the desire to spend money when I’m bored, or sugar-craving, and mostly it’s about buying some food or a drink. I rarely want those things because I’m genuinely hungry, I am either doing it as a reward (I’ve worked so hard today) or as a pacifier and distraction (I’m so bored right now, I’d love some chocolate). Honestly, it’s been quite eye-opening. I’ve known for some time that I have the tendency to reward myself or cheer myself up with food, which is a terrible habit, but watching my spending has made it really obvious. After all, you don’t carry ‘reward’ foods with you, you have to go out and get them specially.

As a result, it’s been pretty tough. I get sugar cravings, and if I don’t have a some kind of chewy-bar on me I’m also usually really hungry by the late afternoon. And I am terrible when I am hungry, so that’s one to avoid! One buy-nothing-days I have often experienced thoughts along the lines of whatever, let’s just go buy x…. but I’ve mostly resisted them, and stuck it out. But it’s been rather sobering to realise how often I must have just given in to those thoughts in the past!

Overall I’m pleased that I have definitely made six buy-nothing-days this month. However it’s clear that if I’m going to break ten by June, I’m going to have to cut back in the random impulse food buying! I’m also going to need to take flasks of coffee with me on long drives to avoid service station coffee stops. The aim for March is seven days, so I’m going to try and plan ahead more, and see if that helps.

How’s my New Year’s resolution going? February edition.

How’s my New Year’s Resolution going? January edition.

As you may have read, this year I’ve committed to reduce the number of days every month where I buy things. I want to get a better idea of my spending, as well as become more mindful of it, and of my consumption of things.

For January, I have committed to having at least five buy-nothing-days. This isn’t a big deal, but I wanted to start out small and easy. I’m going to add one day every month, until December, which right now is looking quite terrifying with sixteen buy-nothing-days pencilled in!

So how has January gone? Mixed. 

First up, I definitely hit my buy-nothing target of five days, and in fact despite fears early in the month I actually hit this target by the end of the third week. Successful!

The first week was really hard, with only two spend-free days, which I had to work really hard to find. Week two was a near disaster: having a dear friend stay meant that we went out a lot and I spent on food for special meals, but managed one day. But week three settled into some kind of post-holiday normality, and I managed two with relative ease, and probably had a couple more (though I’d stopped counting) in week four.

However I have realised a few things. The resolution is completely new, and I’m not following anyone else’s suggestions, so at the beginning I had no idea of how it would work. I assumed these ‘buy-nothing-days’ would be completely spend-free. I’ve now realised now that, for me at least, that isn’t going to work. 

I don’t want anything putting me off going swimming, or getting a prescription, or paying for physiotherapy etc. I’d actually quite like to increase the number of days a month I go swimming, which although cheap (£1!) does need to be paid for as-and-when I go, rather than on a membership. A healthy mind and body is very important, and frugal in the long run, so I’ve therefore decided to exclude spending on physical and mental health from the buy-nothing-days. I want to look after myself more in the coming year, rather than put in arbitrary boundaries which inhibit that.

I’m feeling some disappointment that the buy-nothing-days won’t look as money-free as I initially thought they would. But I think this is probably the best approach to take, and I am now looking forward to the coming months, and even the challenge of the final few, with a lot of hope. I hope your own New Year Resolutions are going well, and do check back this time next month to see how February’s challenge went!

How’s my New Year’s Resolution going? January edition.