A few years ago we changed our relationship with money to be able to get rid of debt and enjoy a money-stress-free life. Going through Dave Ramsey’s 7 steps, we created an emergency budget, then got debt free and eventually built up the emergency fund to accommodate 6 months of expenses in case one or both of us would lose their income.
We’re strong believers in keeping a budget and I have a few blog posts that explain how to create and use a budget, why it’s important to have an emergency fund and things you shouldn’t spend that much money on.
But things got boring, we got comfortable and while checking our budget last month I noticed that we spent £580 on food in July. A regular month is around 380 and a month when we have guests or really spoil ourselves is around 450. But almost 600? Never! We realized that we got to get our ducks in a row and get back to serious budgeting.
Alin needed a project and I gave him one. And to make things more interesting, we set ourselves a good long term goal, combined with the fact that we might want to move in a couple of years. We don’t care much about Brexit, but it will affect freedom of movement and we would rather be somewhere we can travel easily and people can visit as they did until now. We’re not sure we’re going to move or where, but if we do, we want to be ready!
So here it goes: we want to save 25k by March 2019. That is, starting with August 2017, £1389 every month.
That sounds like a lot! And it is. I’m sure there will be months when we can’t make that or months when we might do better. But we will give it a good go. And you’ll be able to follow the journey on the blog.
Plans for August
The first month is a trial month and we’re now analysing everything we spend money on. Although I’ll post the first saving update at the beginning of September, here’s what we’re doing now to reach the £1389 August target.
- Shopping budget. As the July no 1 culprit was food, we’ve set ourselves a weekly shopping budget – and that is £40. We went over budget on week 1 with 2-3 pounds. If we want to fix that we probably need to use a calculator while we’re in the supermarket, especially during the last shop of the week. So what happened when we finished the allocated budget? Well, we stopped shopping. We have enough food in the freezer and cupboards to make a few meals without buying new ingredients. We just need to be creative.
- Free food. The allotment is still giving us green beans and salads, very useful when you’re on a budget. We also have raspberries, pears and plums in the garden and considering how expensive fruit is, this is a big relief. Even if we’re trying to save money, we still want fruit and vegetables, we’re vegans! And let’s not forget about the blackberries. They are still in season and they are everywhere, so we spent some time the past 2 weekends picking the fruit, and we either froze it or turned it into jam. I also made jam out of elderberries from our own garden, but picking them took such a long time I doubt I’m going to do that again.
- Offers. We installed an app called CheckoutSmrt, which has cashback offers – you browse the list of offers, see something you need to buy, go to the supermarket and buy it, scan your receipt and upload it to the app and you get some money back. So far we only used it for some bread that was completely free and because we don’t regularly eat bread, we just put it in the freezer. On every day we can, we go to the supermarket at the end of the day to check for clearance items. Sometimes we get home with 8p salads or 10p tomatoes, which we eat then and there, because they can go bad in another day or two.
Alin works from home most of the time, but I commute to London 4 days a week and that is £15.6 per day, approximately 300 per month. The distance between home and work is 45km, so running to work and back is out of the question. However, cycling might be an option. So I gave it a shot. Took the bike to work on a Tuesday morning, it took me 4h, almost got late for my morning meeting. I was exhausted so left the bike in the office overnight. Wednesday was rainy all day, so I did the return journey by bike on Thursday. It only took 3h 15min, this time knowing the route. Those 2 days were £7.8 each, so I managed to save £15.6. But 7 hours on the bike a day is not a pleasant thing to do, so now I’m researching some other possibilities, maybe taking the bike on the train for part of the journey. I’ll be back with more info.
Expenses that we can cut
I login into the bank account every day to see if there’s any payment / membership / account that I can cancel before September. So it wouldn’t have an effect for this month, but will make the next one easier.