Monthly Archives: May 2013

April and May Challenge

Plans for Spending and Food Shopping


You may have noticed I have skipped the March Challenge altogether and combined April into May – for us it was such a busy couple of months both at home and work that we had little time to think about doing anything other than merely surviving and you may have noticed my lack of posts!

That doesn’t mean to say that I have abandoned my goals – I have in fact been quite busy behind the scenes and if you could see under my stairs in the living room you would not miss the fact that the de-cluttering has begun in earnest.

I have found one way to de-clutter intensely is by keep revisiting the same cupboard or drawer over and over as even when you think you have de-cluttered you can always do that little bit more (something akin to going that extra mile).

The Hard Facts

There is nothing like the absolute figures as a measure of how things are going.  I thought that overall I have perhaps not been economical enough to keep below my £50 a week on groceries but on average had not gone too far above it and here my figures do tell the same story.

January  –  £294.92

February – £208.01

March – £241.55

April – £232.94

17 weeks for this period which gives me an average spend of £57.49 each week.  However when you look at it another way that extra £7.49 overspend each week adds up to £127.33 – almost 3 weeks shopping so in theory I should be able to not go shopping for 3 whole weeks as my cupboards should be full enough to feed us.  In reality I don’t think this would be true.  I am sure I would be able to make some meals but would require some fresh foods to add to .

Financial Update – Passive Income for 2012 -2013

We have just received the good news that our total investment interest for the year 1st April 2012 to 31st March 2013 (and this is mainly interest on savings in ISA accounts) is £3,215.17.  This will be left in the accounts to compound.  Sadly many of our fixed rate 4% ISA accounts are coming to an end and we are struggling to find anything as good to re-invest the money.

De-cluttering Update – The 20 / 80  principle

I think we have all heard of the 20 / 80 rule and personally I don’t think you can argue with it.  So if we only use 20 percent of our stuff 80 per cent of the time I only want to keep the 20% and I don’t want to have to find cupboard space for that 80% we barely use.  I want 80% space.

My bathroom cupboard is a joy to open as old toiletries have been used up bit by bit and I have reduced everything to the basic essentials – that 20% that we use all the time.  Products I do use often and want to replace when empty have only been purchased where possible when on offer.  This cupboard has become my flagship so to speak an example of how I want the contents of my house to be and even then I could still probably find room for improvement.

I found it took some time to get to that core 20% and of course I am not throwing anything out in the bin that would feel a real waste of the money it took to buy it in the first place.  Instead I am using the products that I least like first and sometimes I am finding other uses for them.  For instance the many hand creams given to me as gifts are now being used on my feet.  The bubble bath that I cannot use has also found a place as a foot soak as the skin on my feet is not quite so sensitive.   The collection of guest soaps have been put to use in the bathrooms and the pump dispensers removed for the time being so there is no alternative.

My make up drawer has been receiving the same treatment.  One by one the free mascaras have been used and just as I am at the end of the last one a  £5 off coupon for No7 mascara arrived.

On the food shopping side I have stuck to the ‘eat seasonally’ as much as possible exercise – though I didn’t expect the wintery months to drag on quite so long and I believe I have tried and tested all the different Leek and Potato soups in my recipe folder as well as a few made up ones of my own.  I am not convinced it is any cheaper but I feel a certain affinity with nature by doing this and the plan is to stick with it.  I have not really missed having salad items as I have made one or two winter salads with raw cauliflower, grated beetroot and carrot and I still buy the watercress, spinach and rocket mix, but I think my weight has increased a little because winter veg are quite starchy, however,  I am told this is a natural part of winter to keep us warm and all will be shed during the summer months.  ( I will let you know on that one!)

I buy fewer veg all at one time now and top up in the week where necessary or if we have a change of plan this has cut down the waste considerably.  Even a very vague meal plan is better than nothing and if I have had a busy week you will often find me on a Thursday evening in Sainsbury’s cafe drinking my hot chocolate and scribbling out the weeks menu before I start my shopping.  Every meal plan is now drawn with left overs in mind so that my lunch box is catered for the next day.

Knowing the price of products is quite a key factor in planning.  Making a meal with a few expensive ingredients can be offset by a run of cheaper meals throughout the week.  Creativity and planning ahead do definitely save money.

So what is next – Plans for the coming months

I have given this quite a bit of thought.  I do not think there is any point trying to reduce my £50 spend on groceries at the moment as I have a few peaks and troughs.  Limiting myself further might result in complete failure every week and this is often where abandonment sets in.  So the £50 stays for now.

On the other hand the task of keeping within my £10 weekly spending allowance has been easier than I thought and I would be prepared to reduce this further say to £8 maybe even a drastic £5.

I feel my main challenge this month will be to continue the de-cluttering  but what I would like to do is some reusing and re-purposing as much as I can.   For instance –  I have a plain beige sheet surplus to requirements but it is still quite good I think it could be better used as pillowcases.  I have done this before but I am thinking of adding strips of flowered cotton to make them a bit vintage looking for the cottage.

So I need find creative ways of using what I don’t want but in a way that it becomes part of the 20% that we do use and also creating that 80 percent space…mmm could be tricky!

My other idea is that maybe I should think about selling some stuff or creating gifts or even giveaways.  We have a lot of unwanted gifts – it is always difficult to reconcile myself to the fact that I just don’t like some people’s taste but I feel I should because they spent time choosing and paying good money for the gift.  Why doesn’t someone set up a gift swap shop?

I am also in the throws of creating my summer capsule wardrobe.  I bought very little last summer due to the bad weather and feel I am in need of an update.  So I have pulled out the best of what I have and am in the process of buying new tops or bottoms to create new outfits.

How are you doing with the budget / de-cluttering / finances?