Ohh, it’s almost September. Hello, Autumn, I missed you. But before getting excited about everything that’s coming up, let’s see how August went. It was the first month of our 18 months to £25k journey. At the beginning of the month we really didn’t know what to expect. We blindly set the goal of £1389 a month and just hoped for the best. Read on to see if we made it.
We focused on 3 big things this month: food, transportation and monthly subscriptions.
First of all, we set a weekly budget of £40 plus a monthly online shop of £50 (for a total budget of £210). But after the online shop and the first week of £44 (4 over budget), we realized we can go lower for the remaining weeks and spent £29 on week 2, £26 on week 3 and £30 on week 4. So what did we do to achieve such low numbers, considering only the month before we had spent almost 600 pounds for food?
- From the allotment. We got green beans and salads from our own garden.
- From the allotment, from other people – usually when someone has more vegetables of some kind than they need, they leave the excess next to the plot for others to pick them up. We ate a lot of free courgettes because of that. Thank you, generous random gardener!
- From nature. We’ve been foraging almost every weekend. We picked blackberries, elder berries and apples. I made jam and we also have enough frozen berries for a while. See below a lovely little Youtube video of us going out to pick fruit and making jam! Please give it a thumbs up if you like it!
- From the neighbours. They know we’re vegan so when they go away on holiday they bring their vegetables to us instead of throwing them in the bin. Thanks Sam for the tomatoes!
- From the back garden. We pick at least a cup of raspberries every single day. We also have pears and some plums. We are so very thankful for everything.
- 3-4 times a week we go to the supermarket after 7pm to check out the reduced to clear section. This is how we managed to still eat big salads every single day. We usually find really good produce reduced to 5p, which is almost nothing. Due to their “use by” dates we have to eat them as soon as possible, so we shop often but spend very small amounts of money. I combine the trip to the supermarket with my evening gym sessions (gym is right across the street) so I don’t feel I leave the house at 7pm just for this.
- Another gem of the reduced to clear section is bread. We can buy a big one with 8p and just take it home, split it in portions and freeze it. We take out just the amount we need, when we need it, and eat it immediately.
- Before this challenge we often ignored whatever vouchers we received from supermarkets. Not anymore. We got £9 worth of vouchers from Tesco so we used them to buy things that are not reduced – nuts, mylks, oils.
- We went back to this good habit because now that I’m in an office again, I need prepped lunches. Otherwise I spend at least £5 every day, 4 days a week (I don’t work on Fridays).
- When we cook Saturday’s lunch we cook a double portion so there’s enough for Monday too.
- When we cook Sunday’s lunch, we also prep another meal at the same time. And that’s for Tuesday and Wednesday.
- Thursdays are either for leftovers or porridge.
- Meal prepping can be done in so many different ways, you don’t have to set aside time especially for that.
- This was one of the reasons our previous month bill was huge. We got too comfortable and we had drinks almost every weekend. This month we went back to our normal habits – no drinks unless we’re on holiday or there’s something special to celebrate. Alcohol is a big expense, check your budget!
- This was another reason for July’s food bill. Whenever we were shopping, we were adding some sort of treats in the basket – biscuits, dips, tortillas, stuff like that. But our regular way of eating doesn’t include such things, so it was just a matter of going back to healthy choices. We also ate out twice this month, which I consider totally reasonable. Alin brings the girls to the city twice a month to meet their pack so we have lunch together. It’s a rare occurrence and enjoyable, so we’ll continue to do that.
I already wrote a blog post on my struggles to make the active commute work. I tried different routes, found some that I like for both running and cycling so I’ll keep doing that as long as the weather permits. To understand the extent of our determination, Alin ran to a shop that was 10 miles away just to buy something that was cheaper than in our local shop. He also ran back. With an extra 5 kilos of groceries. INSANE.
3. Monthly payments
I had a look at our bank account every day to catch all the monthly subscriptions and deal with the cancellations that I’d like to do ahead of time. So this didn’t save us any money on this month, but will do for the next one. I cancelled a subscription to a Yoga website, paused my Pop Pilates instructor membership since I’m not teaching at the moment and downgraded a Yoga studio membership. I also cancelled a subscription to a website I tried for free and forgot to cancel before they charged once the free trial was over. I hate when that happens!
So what was the result?
On the third week we did the math and realized we are not going to make the £1389 (sad face). We looked around to see if there’s anything we can sell or any way we can make some extra money to reach our goal. I listed some stuff on a carboot sale app, but nothing came out of it yet.
I really wanted us to succeed, but at the same time I wanted us to fail so we can do better in September. With just a few days before the end of the month, we only had £1320 left in the bank account and some cash, but it was official, we failed. We tried to convince ourselves that we had some extra payments that don’t happen every month (water and TV license) and that next month we’re going to do better. But actually, every month there’s something you don’t account for.
And then a miracle happened. HMRC sent me a letter saying that I paid too much tax last year and they want to pay me back. And they did. We reached our goal and then some. We took the opportunity to invest part of that money in a crowdfunding campaign for a few shares at the company I work for. We moved all the rest in the savings account and now we’re looking forward to September.
August savings: £1673
Total savings: £1673
September comes with joys and challenges. We’re going on a small holiday in Stockholm, which means we’re going to spend some extra money. The flights and hotel are booked and paid, but the actual stay will be a surprise for our wallet. Still, we have a lot to look forward to as well. My birthday, Yoko’s birthday, Leona’s birthday, the Stockholm Half Marathon and the first month of Autumn, the season of vegetables! Good luck to us! Stay tuned for the next update.
There are a few ways you can support us:
- Purchase the PIIT28 programme – exercise and meal plan for 28 days. A great way to jumpstart your fitness journey! You can read my review here. I get a small amount of money every time someone buys the programme through my links. Go here for PIIT 1.0, here for the power pack (1.0, 2.0, 3.0), here for the transformation pack that includes the meal plan and here for the vegan transformation pack.
- Order some knitted Christmas ornaments! I’m currently working on some designs, you can follow my knitting/crochet page here.
- If you live in the UK, you can buy stuff from our Shpock or Ebay pages.
- Support us on Patreon to help us keep up with the blog posts!
- Watch our Youtube video(s). One for now, but some are already in the making!
Thanks for reading and let us know all your money saving tips!
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