Safety nets and catch alls | the importance of frugal habits

This week has been a spending disaster! I bought items that I hadn’t planned to – mainly because they looked nice and would be suitable for my wardrobe. For the first time in 2 months, I’m uncertain what my account balances should be and I have more unexplained money in my weekly spending account than I’ve had for quite a while. How have I got into such a mess?


Let’s have a look at what my routine has been lately

  1. I’ve had 2 current and 3 savings accounts as well as a prepaid Mastercard that I use for day-by-day expenditure
  2. Current account  #1 is for my main salary and my direct debits. Current account #2 is for my side hustle incomes and making manual payments (for debt and other expenditure that doesn’t fall into my weekly discretionary ‘envelope’).
  3. Savings account #1 (an everyday saver) holds my life fund (for shit happens expenses like fixing my bike) and is funded by my cleaning income. Savings account #2 (my flexible saver) holds my travel fund money. Savings account 3 (an ISA) holds my emergency fund.
  4. When I get paid, I immediately transfer the amount of money I need to pay off debt into current account #2 and make those payments
  5. I also transfer my (variable) spending money for the week to my Mastercard
  6. Any money left in the current accounts at the end of the month is moved to an appropriate savings account. I have a ‘slush fund’ too which acts like a fun fund and is money I leave in current account no 2 until I need it.

This set up means that the worst case scenario for overspending is that I spend my weekly allowance money on drinks / food and can only usually go £20-30 over at the very worst.

So what’s happened this month then?

  • I promised to loan someone £1 500 this month so only paid off one debt of £184.60. This money is sitting in current account no 2 and easily accessible
  • Before pay-day I had to make an Airbnb booking for my parents so I borrowed the money from my travel and emergency funds and will return it when they pay me back but it means that those accounts currently have inaccurate balances
  • I get a discount at work so I bought £423 worth of stuff  (at half price) for my mate. She’ll pay me back soon but again this is money that’s currently not in any of my accounts.
  • My housemate went to Europe a couple of weeks ago but left getting money changed to Euros so late that I gave her the card for current account #2 to use because I don’t get charged on that account for withdrawing money abroad. She paid me back cash in an envelope.
  •  Because I’d raided my travel fund but not yet replenished it, when I needed to pay for my flights yesterday, I did so from current account no 1.
  • I can’t remember what happened on Sunday but I didn’t cook any stews or make my lunches ahead of the week. I’ve had to do a lot of ad-hoc food shopping and my budget has taken a massive hit.

Yesterday I went out down my local high street with the person of interest because we didn’t want to spend the whole (beautiful) day cooped up inside. We also wanted to get some start-up items for a fledgling business idea. Unfortunately there were quite a few charity shops and a TK Maxx so spending happened. We also went out hungry because I didn’t have food or snacks at home. I came home £69.82 poorer and feel guilty about at least half of it. If my systems had been in place, I know that I would definitely not have spent that money.

What have I learnt?

Routines are my safety net. Or the routines I set up deliberately were the right decision to make. Until I hit frugal autopilot I cannot destabilise them. I need to cook ahead and make sure I don’t go grocery shopping hungry. I mustn’t go shopping without a concrete budget or awareness of what it is that I’m buying. Even with this setback though, we’re talking tens of pounds and not the thousands my “mistakes” used to run into in the past. There might be bumps along the way, like on any other journey, but getting up and carrying on is more important than not falling at all.


One thought on “Safety nets and catch alls | the importance of frugal habits

  1. Pingback: How sucking at being frugal still trumps being a fantastic spendthrift | Diary of a reformed spendthrift

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