looking forward to 2014

Having a rest from spending challenges this month has been nice in some ways but I’ve started to feel a bit queasy about the amount I seem to have spent on nothing.

I haven’t been keeping accounts, but I’ve gone over the vague goal I set myself, and I don’t even have the excuse that I’ve been buying presents, because with the exception of a couple of token gifts I’m having a giving truce with everyone this Christmas. The main spending has been on eating out and drinks, which isn’t really surprising. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t gone into my overdraft from quaffing champagne, but maybe I shouldn’t have any more thalis for a while.

Several things are happening in January. It’s common for people to try and kick or curb bad habits after New Year and you may have noticed that charities have now started trying to cash in, there are at least two with “Dry January” sign-ups being pushed and since I’ll be back on a tight budget with no money for booze I’ve signed up for the Alcohol Concern campaign.

Talking of that budget… since the previous two challenges came in under target I’m going for another reduction. £2 a day, that’s £62 for the month. Haha, this is going to be horrible, isn’t it? But I am strong. STRONG, I tell you!

And finally, the 20lb challenge is done, but from January to June the next weightloss goal is another 10lb, which will put me squarely in the middle of the “normal” BMI range. Again, there is a £100 forfeit at stake if we are heavier than the target at final weigh-in.

If anyone would care to join me in any of these endeavours please leave a comment, or if you have a different aim you’re working towards please let me know! I might even join you 🙂

it’s all over! (for now, anyway…)

So, how did I enjoy my first day of unfettered spending in two months, I hear you ask? Well, I liked it very much!

The day began with a final weigh-in for the 20lb challenge I’ve been taking part in, and I was relieved to see I was still okay, and will not have to pay £100 forfeit.

I also received a lovely surprise Advent House from B yesterday, and he brought it over this morning. Apologies for the terrible picture quality, but hopefully you can still make out how cute this is!


Perhaps you can see a hint of gold on the left? It’s a chocolate egg filled with fondant that wouldn’t fit in the day 1 cubbyhole!

Then we headed off to Oadby for some grocery shopping. I had earmarked some chocolate-hazelnut spread in Asda as a potential post-challenge treat on my previous visit, so we headed there first. I picked up some mushrooms and peppers (more expensive veg by weight so I haven’t bought in a while, apart from the bargain bowl of peppers from the market) and then made a beeline for the allergy section and popped a jar of spread in my basket. Then I put it back on the shelf. I do still have chocolate-christmas-pudding-with-nuts to eat and actually the thought of eating that spread just didn’t appeal for some reason after all.

After Asda we went to Waitrose, where as luck would have it they were reducing the price on loads of lovely veg! I got organic potatoes, carrots, a big coriander plant, broccoli and ginger, as well as some baked beans and a loaf of bread, spending just over ten pounds in total. I also picked up a membership card and got given a free newspaper as I’d spent over five pounds. The membership cards will also get you free coffee in their coffee shops, so it’s worth getting one if you have a store nearby.

Then we went to Shivalli (South Indian vegetarian restaurant) for the Sunday buffet and I got my deep fried food! I was hoping they would have the spicy gram-flour coated chips they sometimes make, but it was not to be, however the lentil doughnuts, battered aubergines, dosas and puris, with chickpea, potato and spinach curries were all excellent, though we found we couldn’t cram as much in as we used to be able to pre-diet.

We went back to B’s to decorate his Christmas tree, then had a quick look round the Queens Road Christmas Fair, which seemed to be buzzing. I came home and made vegetables in a nutty, garlicky sauce and mustard mashed potatoes for dinner, and am now comfortably full.

People commented yesterday that they’d be interested in a round-up from my challenges, and any tips. I’m not sure I have anything really to add to what I’ve mentioned going along, though. Although it’s not always been enjoyable it’s been useful to limit my spending like this to force me to use up my cupboards, limit food waste and make me appreciate and get creative with what I have. This isn’t the first spending challenge I’ve undertaken (I went over the limit with the first one as the timing was terrible! It was during a month I was at the Edinburgh Festival), but it’s been the most necessary one in terms of my finances, and I think that gave me extra motivation, and committing myself to blogging regularly helped too, because if there was something a bit extravagant in the shops the thought of having to justify the purchase in writing was an excellent check!

Edited to add: one thing I didn’t mention explicitly before, although it’s probably obvious from the first picture for each month, is that I withdrew all the money for the month at the beginning. I put most of it in a wallet which I wrote the name of the challenge on, and tried to keep fairly close to the daily maximum spend in my everyday wallet. I found this helpful as I didn’t have to keep going to the bank or using my debit card, both of which might have tempted me to get out and spend more money.