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 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 three 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 could 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 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, elderberries 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 7 pm 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 tiny 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 7 pm 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 into portions and freeze it. We take out only the amount we need, when we need it, and eat it immediately.
- Before this challenge, we often ignored whatever coupons 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 excellent habit because now that I’m in an office again, I need prepped lunches. Otherwise, I spend at least £5 every day, four 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 prep 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 massive. We got too comfortable, and we had drinks almost every weekend. This month we went back to our regular habits – no drinks unless we’re on holiday or there’s something special to celebrate. Alcohol is a significant expense, check your budget!
- This was another reason for July’s food bill. Whenever we were shopping, we were adding some 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 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 about 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. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
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 car boot sale app, but nothing came out of it yet.
I 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 had 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. Then 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:
- If you’re trying to lose some weight, take a look at my review of the PIIT28 workout programme and meal plan.
- I share all my savings tips in my e-book, “The Smart Girl’s Journey to Financial Bliss”, go check it out!
- Have a look at our Resources page; all our favourite products are there. Some links are affiliate links, that means I’ll get a small commision if you buy the product, at no extra cost to you.
Thanks for reading and let us know all your money saving tips!
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