The First Step – Cutting Back on Every Day Costs

Following my little blip in October last year, I took some time off work in between my old job and my new one. It was something I really, really needed to do but it meant that I had a whole month where I didn’t get paid. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t difficult – it was stressful and put a lot of pressure on me and Sean as a couple, especially with it being Christmas (it worked out that I got paid at the end of October, but not at the end of November).

Needless to say, we got through it. But it has meant that my credit cards are all maxed out and I’ve spent the first two months of this year making back payments on loans where the bank gave me a “holiday period”.

I think I’m finally back to a level playing field now so I feel that this is the month that I should really start planning and budgeting for my new adventure.

Bright-eyed and Bewildered (6)

So, here’s how I have tried to manage my money and budget better:

1. List all bills/regular expenditure  I’ve gone through my old bank statements and made a list of all bills and direct debits etc. so that I know exactly how much money has to leave my account each month. I’ve also made a separate list of things that I pay annually or quarterly so that they don’t sneak up on me!

Total saving: This hasn’t actually saved me anything but has helped with the next couple of steps.

2. Direct Debit Cull – Following on from step 1, I went through the list and cancelled the things that I didn’t really need – this was fairly simple for me as there were only two things to get rid of and the decision was easy: gym membership (I’m running more now so don’t use the gym) and Pink Parcel (I love getting these each month, but they really aren’t essential)

Total saving: Gym – £48.00, Pink Parcel – £12.99 = £60.99

3. Homemade Lunch – This one is a no-brainer really. If I buy lunch at work, I spend £5-7 (sandwich and a drink from somewhere like Eat, Pret, Itsu etc.) Some days, I’ll grab a coffee on the way into work too. It adds up really quickly! At the moment I buy yogurt and blueberries for breakfast and soup for lunch from Sainsburys at the start of the week which means that I get breakfast and lunch for £6.50 for the whole week.

Total saving: If I had coffee two mornings a week and lunch five days a week, I’d spend roughly £40 each week which is around £160 per month! I’ve cut this right back to £32.50 a month which is a saving of £127.50.

4. Transport – A monthly travel card for Zones 1 and 2 is £124 (at least it was last time I bought one). By running home as many nights a week as I can, I’m only buying single tickets and the occasional return on the days I don’t run. If I manage to run home 3 times a week, that’s around £20 a week (this varies depending on whether or not I travel in peak time) so roughly £80 per month. The more I run, the less it costs me! I appreciate that this isn’t actually an option for a lot of people but you could think of other ways to cut back on travel expenses like maybe cycling, sharing lifts or catching the bus.

Total saving: £44 per month

With a route like this, why wouldn't you run home?!
With a route like this, why wouldn’t you run home?!

So, with just those four steps, I’m saving just over £230.00 without missing out on too much! I am trying to stick to this but there are days when you really don’t fancy the soup you’ve already bought or you really need that extra caffeine kick in the mornings.

I’m also reading Nomadic Matt’s Travel The World On $50 A Day which is not only helping me plan how I’m actually going to travel but giving me some great ideas for saving so I’m sure I’ll be adding things to this list over the next few weeks and months.

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