Not Buying It…

Those of you who read my 2014 New Year’s post, may have noticed this, teeny tiny half possibility of a resolution for January:

  • I am contemplating a month buying nothing (except food and toiletries etc). I have fallen into the trap of wondering around the local charity shops and picking up bits and pieces because they are nice, or might be useful one day, and then suddenly I have spent a tenner, and if you do this a couple of times a week, it soon adds up. I will start a new mantra-I have all I need, I have all I need….

Well….I did it!
I decided that for January, I would Buy Nothing (for me), and nothing for the house. No nice bits of fabric from the charity shop, no knick-knacks, no clothes. Nada.
I did have in my head that if the kids needed something, we could buy this (and BigSmall did indeed need new shoes), and it was my Dad’s birthday at the end of the month, so I knew I would need to buy something for this, but what I really weaned to tackle was the kind of mindless spending, that I have somehow managed to justify to myself because it’s not ‘new’ stuff. It is however, still ‘stuff’. And stuff that we, or I, don’t really need.

We are also, in the way of most households I suspect, in January, trying to cut back a bit, so I set a budget of £50 a week for all expenditure that wasn’t food shops or fuel for the car.
I thought this would be pretty easy to stick to-given that the big expenses like food and fuel were covered elsewhere, and it really is just ‘spending money’-I envisaged having quite a bit left at the end of each week, and being able to use all the leftover bits to save up and buy myself some new running trainers.
BUT I have been really quite shocked at how easy it is to spend £200 without really noticing it, and without really buying anything.

This seems really obscene to be admitting to, and I am more than a little ashamed, but I am struggling to remember where it has all gone-we had a family trip to the cinema in the New Year, which was £30; BigSmall needed TWO new pairs of shoes, so that was £45; we went to the dentist (£36); and I signed up for a 10k race (next week-eeekkkk!, £17). Add in a couple of sneaky trips to a cafe or two, some postage for parcels, and suddenly £200 is gone, gone, gone.
I was really shocked by this. By how easy it was to spend what is actually a reasonable amount of money, whilst thinking I was being really careful.
So this month, I am continuing with my £50/week budget, but will be writing down everything I buy, so I can evaluate at the end of the month, and see where the money has gone.

I will keep you posted.

30 thoughts on “Not Buying It…

  1. As always I love your honesty. I’m attempting not to go into charity shops, take lunch to work, only buy a drink in a cafe (skipping cake!). My aim is to save £50/month towards a DSLR. It’s really hard not to fritter – resisted some beautiful buttons this week! I think it should be easy out of £200, but it’s not!!! Good luck:) think I should take your tip & write my expenditure down:)

  2. Well done jen. I do the writing down expenditure for a while month a few times a year. Because I know I’m going to write it down I find in even stopping myself buying something knowing I’ll feel guilty writing it down! !!! As you say, a cafe trip here and there is also my downfall. My biggest expense is diesel. Around £250 a month 😦 the pain of rural wales life and living 25 miles from work place/children’s school. Good luck. I might join you in writing down expenditure this month. I look forward to reading how you get on:-). February isnoeating out our takeaways month so hopefully we will save a bit there! !!!

  3. Great post, we’ve been taking cash out for food, weekly cash, kids pocket money, school lunches etc at the beginning of each month, is working really well and even managed to stash about £100 during January. Takes a bit of planning but worth it to have bit money to put away for something nice at the end of the month 🙂

  4. From time to time in our 42 years of marriage I have kept a note of every penny I spent on ‘incidentals’: birthday cards, postage, cups of coffee, magazines (not that I really ever buy them), library fines (which I try not to incur!), birthday gifts ( more than ever now that we have so many great nieces/nephews), etc etc. Like you I was always horrified at how much I spent each week and it spurred me on to think twice about what I bought. Hope you manage to save some of your £50 weekly allowance. Then you can enjoy spending the saved money!

    • Birthday cards are soooo expensive-that has been big saving since we started making our own-I used to find if I went to WHSmiths or somewhere, I would hardly get change from £10 for three cards!

  5. I too fall into the Charity Shop trap. I can justify it as I am giving to charity, which is fine, but am I just accummulating more stuff?
    I can’t resist the good quality clothes, even if they don’t really fit with my capsule wardrobe (this week a lovely teal top by Sandwich – destined to return to the charity shop when I realise I just don;t wear it!)
    When the children were small and the budget was tight I kept track of every penny. I think I’ll join you and write it all down for February, just to see where it all goes, and as others have said, it will make me think before I spend.

    • I bought far more clothes during My Make Do and Mend Year, than I ever would have done normally. I justified it because it wasn’t ‘new’ and it was much cheaper, but as you say, it is at the end of day, still excess ‘stuff’.

  6. My husband kept a note of everything we spent for 6 months after he retired. Then when we were out one day he lost the note book. I know our biggest expense is a meal out once a week at the local chinese £12!

  7. Setting a budget in the first place is quite eye opening. When I do a budget, I include everything in it, including things like dentist and shoes, and set a budget for those as well. I find it helpful. If you are going to do it that way, you need to be completely honest with yourself and include it if it will be spent. So if that pint after work on a Friday is going to happen no matter what, include it somewhere, a pocket money allowance or something

    I have done the writing it down thing and it really does focus the mind on where you are spending. I have never been a regular cafe user, as I am too much aware of how much it is!
    Using cash always instead of a card for a while helps too, as it seems to ‘cost’ more when it’s real hard cash than when it disappears into a card, even if that card is a debit one.
    Sometimes it helps if you go backwards. So if you wanted to save from that £200, each time you spend, minus it off. So starting with £200, spend £5 in the charity shop, £195 left. Doing that has helped me not to go in the shop again. It’s less difficult if you don’t see something you ‘need’ in the first place.
    Good luck in Feb,let us know how you get on!

    • Great advice, thank you. I have been getting out £50 in cold hard cash each week-as you say, it seems so much easier to keep a track of. I am quite curious to see just where my money is going, so am actually looking forwards to my ‘Frugal February’!

  8. We used to write down everything we spent in January so we could find out exactly where the £££ went and where we could cut back. Then I would total it all up at the end of the month and see just how much we had spent on what. Those little extras really do mount up!
    At the moment after bills and busfare (I dont take the car to work as parking at a hospital costs a fortune) we have about £40 per week for food and everything else for 2 of us. Luckily I get paid weekly, but Im about to change jobs and will then get paid monthly so its freaking me out a wee bit.
    Well done for a spend free January. Keep up the good work. :o)

    • I was embarrassed to admit to struggling on £50 a week, on random stuff, when I know that lots of people just have that, to cover food and fuel etc, which you are doing.
      Good luck with the new job0the change from weekly to monthly pay is always a bit tricky to manage, but maybe you could have a chat with your bank to explain, and they might be able to help?

  9. I, too, have been trying to think about spending. Last year was my ‘buy no new clothes for myself’ year – but I’m now conditioned to visit charity shops on a far too regular basis to be healthy! Although, I am being strict with myself – rejecting things which may be lovely, but are not my colour/wouldn’t go with anything.
    Trying to decide if I should have ‘rules’ is hard, I did enjoy the challenge of last year…

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