So in January I carried £32.97 over from last month, my wages were £2665.62 and then I received £105.55 for mileage costs. That was then a total of £2804.14 to spend for the month.
£1550.00 was transferred to the joint account and spent as follows:
Gas and electricity
Broadband and line rental
£300 then went into my second current account which pays for annual expenses or regular payments. This month all that I had to pay for was a deposit for a holiday we have booked in the Yorkshire Dales in June of £94.75, £3.00 for eyebrow waxing and £64 for physio – £32 under budget, so I can spend this on something else! The rest stays in there and accrues until I need it e.g. for car insurance. The idea is that I don’t all of a sudden have to find the money for an expensive car service. It is already there in the account and then if I don’t need it all I can spend it on a treat.
That left £954.14. In the spirit of Robert Kiyosaki I pay myself first and have direct debits into two savings accounts totalling £435.00, so I was down to £519.14 to live on for the month. Now, this month I have started using my Tesco credit card to pay for almost everything and for this reason my usual spreadsheet has gone a bit awry and I can’t completely work out where the money has gone.
For someone who thinks that they are good at this budgeting lark it is very frustrating. Now I do the weekly shop and pay for it, then at the end of the month I total up how much my partner owes me – this is particularly important as he eats meat and some of the items I buy for him are expensive so I don’t just split it down the middle. Before I started writing all this out on a blog I just spent the money, got some back from him at the end of the month and never went overdrawn. This month I have tried to work out exactly what I have spent on food, which includes some cash items and to be honest it just hasn’t worked. I have spent a couple of hours trying to work out where every penny has gone and I can’t do it. I did want to give you this detailed and what I am sure would have been fascinating, breakdown, but unless I want to spent several days of my life on it, it isn’t going to happen. So here are the approximate figures, which is the best I can do. I will do better in February – I promise.
Here we go then:
£104.59 – includes two meals out
Even though I can’t tell you where each penny went, (as there should be £60.57 remaining and yet that’s not the balance left in my account) the main positives are that we overpaid the mortgage by £501.00 and I put £435.00 into savings. On the not so good side, my lovely new Vanguard ISA is down, affecting my overall savings pot, but that’s the same for everyone. I had two days where I spent money unexpectedly, but otherwise it was pretty much in line with what I had anticipated. For me, this has been such a good lesson. When you set out to explain something to others you realise how little you know. Next month, I will be counting every penny, meticulously!
book was the one which started my note-taking habit. There was just so much
interesting and useful information that I wanted to be able to remember it. I
read it, then I read it again and took notes.
main author is Dr John D. Day, who is a cardiologist and speaker of Mandarin,
along with his wife Jane Ann Day and Matthew LaPlante.
went to study a village in China where a disproportionate amount of people live
to one hundred or more.
message: if we apply the principles they live by/their way of life to our lives
we will be healthier and happier.
Your Place in a Positive Community
the Most of Your Environment
So here’s the first one:
Eat Good Food
Surround yourself with food that is good for you
As you are reading
this I would guess that you have more than likely surrounded yourself with food
that is not good for you. We all do
it, those bars of chocolate and packets of crisps and biscuits stashed in the
cupboard ready for the post-lunch dip. Unless you have a great level of willpower
then at some point you will eat them. In order to surround yourself with food
that is good for you then you need to clear your cupboards of junk food. Maybe
it feels wasteful to throw food out. You could give it to a food bank instead.
Then, fill the cupboards with healthy food. When you are peckish and bored at
three o’clock in the afternoon you won’t be able to munch through that packet
of biscuits as they won’t be there anymore. You just have a handful of nuts or an apple
with some peanut butter to eat.
Eat unrefined grains
We all know this –
brown rice, bread, pasta, etc. The low carb movement has increased in
popularity recently and many people try to reduce the amount of grains they are
consuming as a route to weight loss. On the BBC Food Programme in 2018 the
issue of fibre was discussed and the view that without these carbohydrates we
wouldn’t consume enough fibre. Apparently, there are many types of fibre and
just eating vegetables does not provide the full range. If you do choose to
each grains, and Dr Day says that we should, they should be whole grains. An alternative is the recent ‘pasta’ products
that have appeared on the shelf in some supermarkets which are made of red
lentils or green split peas.
Eat one portion of fruit and two portions of vegetables at every meal
In the UK we are
advised to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, but Dr Day
recommends two portions of vegetables and one portion of fruit with every meal.
If, like many people, you’re struggling with this it may be because for most
people breakfast rarely features vegetables. That’s where everyone goes wrong.
We have moved away from the unhealthy fry up to ‘healthier’ cereals, but in
fact we are eating dessert for breakfast. Muesli, followed by toast with jam,
washed down with a glass of juice is just sugar, then sugar with sugar on top,
accompanied by liquid sugar. What we should be eating and what would make
getting those veggies in before midday easier is having some eggs to start the
day. My accompanying veggies of choice are mushrooms, avocado and sweet potato.
You may be thinking that you don’t have time to made a cooked breakfast, but
how long does it really take to scramble some eggs? Cooking the mushrooms may
take a little longer and I would suggest steaming the sweet potato on a day
when you have plenty of time and then reheating the leftovers on subsequent
days. You should be able to cook and eat your breakfast within 20-30 minutes.
Eat nuts and pumpkin seeds
According to Dr Day
nuts help to maintain a healthy weight, prevent cardiovascular disease and
fight back premature death – lofty claims!
Pumpkin seeds are even better – a superfood no less! Historically nuts
were avoided, and still are by some, due to being high in fat. Their promotion
now is because is it recognised that we need fat and apparently nuts are full
of ‘good fats’ – not sure exactly what this means, but eating a handful a day
is considered good for us. The fat also keeps you full, as opposed to a biscuit
which lasts a couple of seconds and makes you feel hungrier in the long run
rather than satiated. Buying five cute plastic containers and filling them with
a daily portion of pumpkin seeds and nuts on a Sunday will make sticking to
this easy. You won’t have to think about it each morning, just put the pot in
your bag before you go out of the door and you’re all set.
One portion of lentils/beans, every day
In Britain we have the
famous ‘baked beans’ which most people eat and I think are regarded as a good
source of fibre, but unfortunately also contain a lot of sugar. A couple of
years ago I saw a display in a chemist shop’s window which showed the amount of
sugar in several products. One of them was a tin of baked beans and there were five
sugar cubes sitting in front of it. Instead we need to eat the beans without
all of that sugary sauce. It’s as easy as emptying a tin of kidney beans or a
handful of dried red lentils into your stew or curry. Red lentils cook really
quickly. They’re particularly good if you’ve added a bit too much stock. Dried
lentils and tinned beans keep in the cupboard for years.
Fish – particularly mackerel, salmon and sardines
I have recently
discovered how easy it is to make your own fishcakes. Hugh
Fearnley-Whittingstall has a great recipe using tinned mackerel. You coat the
fish cakes in polenta which gives them a crisp coating when fried. As he aptly
says this is a good store cupboard recipe which can use up some old potatoes. Polenta
is not something that everyone will have, but once you buy a bag it lasts for
ages, like other grains.
Drinking two litres of
water a day can burn as many as 96 calories. He advises drinking when you’re
feeling thirsty, when you’re feeling hungry and 30 minutes before every meal. Please
don’t buy bottled water. Hopefully the focus on plastic recently will make you
reluctant to increase the rubbish we create which ends up in landfill or our
oceans. It is also a complete waste of money – just buy a pretty reusable
bottle that you enjoy using and fill it from the tap. It’s free and it’s good
for you. If you don’t like the taste of plain water just add a slice of lemon
or a few crushed mint leaves to the bottle. Please don’t add squash as that is
Eat sweet potatoes several times a week
Apparently these are
one of the best sources in the world for beta-carotene, which helps maintain
healthy skin. Sweet potato fries have become trendy recently. I often choose these as an alternative to
regular fries, but apparently they can be covered in unhealthy oils, sugar and
salt and therefore should be avoided if this is the case. You might want to try
making your own sweet potato wedges at home, but if you can get them crispy in
the oven I’d be interested to know how you do it.
No snacking before bed – twelve hour fasting window
Once you’ve eaten your
dinner, that’s it, no more food until breakfast. Satchin Panda, who writes
about circadian rhythms, says that your body needs time to repair and if you
are still digesting food during the night it is like trying to patch tarmac on
the motorway with cars still driving up and down the road. A great analogy I
that’s it for the moment. I am sure that you are familiar with some of these
suggestions, but maybe not all of them. A few things to try maybe before next
time when I will be looking at ‘Master Your Mindset’.
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.
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:
Gas and electricity
Broadband and line rental
Budgeting for annual expenses
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:
£12.00 (this is towards half of this)
Opticians check-up/new glasses
Saving and living
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:
£140.00 (this is for my half)
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!
My advice for today is to be the tortoise rather than the hare – small steps, not big leaps. In this way you are more likely to arrive at your chosen destination.
This is the time of year when many people are making New Year’s resolutions – get fit, lose weight, give up smoking, save money – but as we all know many people fail to see these through despite all of their good intentions. Now if you have made some resolutions, that’s great, you have some long-term goals to work towards in 2019. The next step is to translate each resolution into something that you are going to do at least several times a week, if not every day, in order to achieve that goal. The key is to start small. If at the moment you don’t do any exercise at all don’t commit yourself to going to the gym for an hour five mornings a week. Start with say a fifteen-minute walk three times a week and if you achieve that and can keep it up for six weeks, then increase it.
In order to monitor your progress a habit tracker may be useful. These are a popular tool with those in the bullet journaling community. Basically, it is a star chart for adults. Draw out a table with the days of the month across the top and the habits that you want to cultivate down the side. At the end of each day look at which habits you have achieved and put a tick (or a star!) in the box. Then, at the end of the month you can assess your progress and adjust next month’s habit tracker accordingly.
The good thing about a habit tracker is that you can see your progress and hopefully, if there are lots of ticks, you will be spurred on by your positive progress. Even though the initial changes may be small, you have to start somewhere and over time they can grow and help you move towards your big goal. As the saying goes, ‘Every journey begins with a single step’. Every day you will take one step and eventually you will arrive at your destination. Good luck on your journey!
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.