Christmas derailed the Financial Fast a little. A few extras snuck into the shopping trolley, mainly for little one, and food that we normally wouldn’t buy slipped in too. It was around £50 of spending we hadn’t budgeted for, so not bank breaking, but certainly not on plan. We also had an unexpected afternoon without Gabe and it just happened to be the day the new Star Wars film came out. Our willpower broke and it was worth it!
We are back on track this month. We will be carrying on the Fast throughout the year. A little reminder of the “Rules”:
No spending on non-necessities – so no more weekly coffee and cake (unless home made), no new clothing (unless for little one as he grows), gifts will be home made crafts, no movies or eating out, no more electro gadgets, etsy or wahm spends, no more new fabrics (will be scouring charity shops for bits if needed), or anything else that crops up along the way.
Track our spending – keep a spreadsheet so we know what we are spending and can see where it is possible to cut back – or where we need a bigger budget.
Buy Second Hand – when we find we do need to buy something, such as clothing for little one, the aim is to buy second hand when possible. I also sew can use old clothing or material to make him clothes too.
Stick to a budget – this one we are tweaking a bit. We have a set household budget each month, we know exactly what is coming in and going out in terms of household bills. However, the grocery bill we are going to be a bit more flexible with than planned. This is for a few reasons.
Firstly there are a few items we buy that would not be considered “low cost” by many, but are essential to us. We buy raw cows’ milk as neither me nor Gabe can tolerate homogenised or pasteurised milk. This is more expensive to buy – although by many is considered more reflective of true cost compare to supermarket milk.
We also buy meat from our local butcher or local farmers in bulk and stock the freezer – this often works out far cheaper than supermarket meat for far better quality, but is a bigger outlay initially.
Now our freezers and store cupboards are starting to go down we will need to restock. This means a monthly budget works better and splitting large spending between months instead of weeks. So this month we may spend £200 on food and household, but next month with stocking the freezer back up probably closer to £250. This is still a small budget based on average weekly UK food shop spending – the average 4 person family in 2014 spent £83.60 per week on food and household – and our budget is for 3 plus cats and chickens.
If you can keep a pot of money aside for buying in bulk it really helps. As well as being cheaper to buy in bulk, provided you can properly store, it means no rushing out because you have run out. Little trips to top-up often cost far more than planned! When living in Yorkshire we were lucky to have a number of Asian supermarkets locally and these were fantastic for stocking up on herbs and spices plus rice and legumes. The prices were half that of the main supermarkets and I really wish we had one closer now as could do with stocking up again.
So we are off on a mission for a frugal 2016! We’ll be carrying on the financial fast and trying to save everything we save from avoiding non-essential spending. This year is likely to have a lot of changes as Gary finishes college, so it is good for us to have our finances in control ahead of any possible job related moving.