New Year, new challenges!

January got off to a good start with plenty of rain and hearty gusts of wind to discourage any inclination to shop during the limited New Year’s Day opening hours – already I’m two quid up!

I’m limiting myself to £2 per day for food, travel, clothes, entertainment, and anything else that doesn’t come out by direct debit, and as usual I have withdrawn the total cash so I can see exactly where I stand throughout January.

sterling currency bank notes and coins fanned out from open wallet.

Since I came in under budget for October and November, this reduction should push me a bit more, although I did make several bulk purchases of staples I was out of over December which will make the going easier, most notably 5kg chickpeas, 5kg split red lentils, 10 litres value soya milk and 16 loo rolls. I also visited my parents over the holidays and came away loaded down with frozen goodies, mostly soft fruit, plus jars of pasta sauce and a box of apples. I shouldn’t need to buy very much food at all apart from cabbage and carrots, I hope!

Not expecting to blog every day, might do a weekly summary plus anything notable.

If anyone reading would like to join the £2 a day challenge please let me know in the comments, or set your own amount. If you’ve never done anything like this before I really think it’s an interesting thing to attempt, just to drive home how much many of us will fork over loose change in the usual course of things, not realising how it adds up, and how seldom we would go back to purchse that thing if there hadn’t been cash spare on first sight. Limiting for two months made the freedom of December seem very luxurious to me, even though don’t think I went over what I would spend in a normal, unconstrained month.

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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!

Image

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.