The Budget

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So before I review my monthly spending I thought that I would let you know my monthly budget. This reflects the changes that I have made since discovering FIRE e.g. cutting food costs, beauty treatment costs and increasing savings.

Household Bills

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Firstly, about £1550.00 comes out of my account into our joint account. Currently I am paying the mortgage and most of the household bills and my partner is spending the equivalent on the renovation of the house. At present this money is split as follows:

Mortgage £560.00
Mortgage overpayment £550.00
Council Tax £244.00
Water £49.00
Gas and electricity £96.00
TV licence £13.00
Broadband and line rental £26.50
Charity donation £6.00

Budgeting for annual expenses

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I then have a personal account into which I transfer £300.00 at the beginning of each month in order to save towards annual car expenses and other regular payments. The money in that account is split as follows:

Car service £20.00
Car tax £2.50
MOT £3.50
Car breakdown £5.10
Car insurance £16.00
House insurance £12.00 (this is towards half of this)
Travel insurance £7.20
Hair cuts £10.00
Eyebrow waxing £6.00
Dental check-up £1.20
Opticians check-up/new glasses £13.50
Physiotherapy appointments £96.00
Holiday fund £100.00

Saving and living

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That leaves about £815.00. I have direct debits into two savings accounts totalling £435.00, so I am down to £380 to live on for the month. This is divided as follows:

Food £140.00 (this is for my half)
Petrol £120.00
Toiletries £7.50
Professional membership £24.00
Mobile phone £10.00
Pilates classes £40.00
Miscellaneous £40.00

Now, I have some added income every month as I get paid mileage from my company for travelling. It varies from month to month, but can be from £100 to £250. This allows for some extras in this tight budget or adds to my savings at the end of the month.

I will let you know how January has gone in a couple of weeks!

Habits That I Hope Will Help Me Achieve FIRE

Began taking anything that I want to eat or drink during the day, with me

This is a common one that anybody who wants to save money can easily do. I am not one for a Starbucks everyday, but occasionally I would get myself a coffee on the way to work or stop for a sandwich if I couldn’t be bothered to make one that morning. Now I make myself a flask of coffee for the day and try to take something to eat. As it’s winter it tends to be a flask of soup, but when it gets warmer it will be salad, usually including some left over veggies from dinner the night before.

Looking at the price of petrol at every petrol station that I pass

Having done this for a while I have realised that Tesco is always the cheapest and recently it has been going down by a penny a litre every time that I visit.

Got a Tesco Credit Card

Apparently Tesco has one of the most generous points systems – one point for every £1 spent in the store, two points for every £1 spent on petrol and when buying something from another shop, you get one point for every £8 you spend. One point is approximately one penny. I have 0% interest for 20 months on the card and so I can make the minimum payments for 18 months, put all the money that I would have spent in a savings account, earn some interest and then pay off the balance next year. Hey presto, free money!

Wearing more clothes when working at home

Some days I just sit at my computer and type, other days I am out and about. When I am at home I have taken to wearing thick socks and putting a blanket over my knees so that I don’t have to put the heating on. I have been lucky in that our winter has been quite mild until now, but over the past couple of days it has dropped and I may end up having to put the heating on for an hour or so. Working at home saves me money on petrol as I would have a round trip of 70 miles, but I am not sure money wise how that equates with two hours of central heating.

Opened a stocks and shares ISA

I have had money in premium bonds for a few years. It felt a safe way to save money with the exciting possibility of becoming a millionaire. Although I think that that is more likely with premium bonds than when buying a lottery ticket, surprise surprise it didn’t happen. Occasionally I won £25, but I think I would have earnt more through interest in savings account. I therefore took the plunge and opened a stocks and shares ISA with Vanguard. Unfortunately so far I am down nearly £100, but it is very early days and all the advice that I have read says that you have to play the long game. Don’t lose your nerve when the stock market dips, but in fact invest more money, as what you buy today is cheaper than it was yesterday. When the stock market rises again, as it inevitably will, your investment will go up.

Started eating more vegetables and less fish

I was a vegetarian for a lot of years, but when I met my partner, who is a meat eater, the compromise was to start eating fish and I do actually enjoy it. The difficulty is that fish is expensive and with the meagre budget that I have set for our food shopping I can’t afford it every week. Therefore it is now an occasional treat and we are back to eating mostly veggies, which consists of a lot of Indian food as you can put almost any vegetable in a curry.

Making double the quantity of dinner and freezing it

I’ve read a lot about batch cooking – spending most of Sunday cooking and putting it all in the freezer in nice little plastic tubs. I just find the thought of spending the whole day in the kitchen unattractive so instead I try to cook double or triple the quantity for dinner and freeze the surplus. In this way I am not doing any extra cooking, but we still have meals in the freezer which we can eat if we don’t have a lot of time for cooking on a weekday evening.