In this post I outlined what we wanted to achieve:
- saving as much as we can towards moving expenses so we don't have to add them to the mortgage and pay interest on them
- dropping some spendy habits and cultivating some cheerful non-spendy ones
Tea and cake (just me and my friends, not Peter)
Spent in December: £44
Average monthly spend over last year: £45
January spend: £24.95
Clothes (just me)
Spent in December: £0
Average monthly spend over last year £27
January spend: £0
Travel (taxis, bus fares, not things that can be claimed back, just me)
Spent in December: £23
Average monthly spend over last year: £21
January spend: £0
'Other' (a dangerous category... this is my personal 'unnecessary' spends)
Spent in December: £52
Average monthly spend over last year £89 (crikey!)
January spend: £9.43
Joint treats budget (covers both of us for takeaways, breakfast at the farm etc)
Spent in December: £71
Average monthly spend over last year £76
January spend: £24.26
That's £199.01 right there over the monthly averages. Goodness me. We spent roughly £120 on food, when we normally spend around £160-180, so altogether Uber Frugal January saved us around £250. Gosh.
How did we do it?
Clearly we'd drifted into quite spendy habits, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to save that much. Here are the main things we did differently this month.
We made a meal plan and a shopping list every week, and stuck to both. We've never done this before but both quite enjoyed the lack of decision making on week nights. I took lunch and snacks to work every day, and anywhere else I went. I didn't buy a single bar of chocolate, cup of tea or any kind of snack while out and about by myself. We had no takeaways at all. I did a lot of baking. Read more about our food planning here.
I started cycling to work, and other places, which I wrote about here. I normally walk to work, so in itself that didn't save anything, but because I already had my bike, I cycled to places I would normally have got the bus to, or a taxi, and even one or two places I would have driven. It already feels easier to get up those hills. The other advantage of cycling is that it's not as easy to wander idly into a shop for a treat or 'something for tea'. I've not bought a single thing on the way to or from work all month.
Avoiding charity shops
I never thought of myself as a 'leisure shopper' but charity shops are, it seems, the source of a lot of my discretionary spending. We have a lot round here, and I've often just wandered in on the way past, looking for nothing-in-particular, and coming out with a book, or a candle, or a new skirt. Fifty pence here, two pounds there, it all adds up. We went in one that had a 'fill a bag for £5' sale and were sorely tempted, but decided there was nothing that we truly wanted, so left empty handed.
Making different choices
Sometimes we did spend money. I met friends in cafes, and a pub, and we bought beer and the occasional treat to take to someone's house (although I tried to make treats when possible). I wrote here how I just had tea, rather than tea and cake, or had tea and cake rather than lunch. That made quite a bit of difference too.
What happens next?
We were both surprised at just how much we managed to save, and we plan to continue many of our new (or rather old) habits into February. However, we will likely relax a few things. We've missed going to the farm for brunch at the weekend. I hate to admit it, but we've even missed the odd takeaway. And I'm not promising I'll never go in another charity shop (although I'll certainly be more mindful at what I come out with).
But we'll certainly keep meal planning, and doing one weekly shop rather than endless 'picking something up for tea'. I'll continue taking food and flasks of tea everywhere, and baking our own treats.
We've enjoyed Uber Frugal January, although it's difficult not to berate myself for just how spendy I've been (and yes, the main culprit is me - Peter barely spends anything). I'm almost inclined to plan to do it every few months just to keep spendy habits in check...