How sucking at being frugal still trumps being a spendthrift

I’m 15 days into my uber frugal month and I’m going to be honest, I’m failing. I suppose I’m not just failing, as my last update showed, I’m failing hard. I’ve taken Ubers, I’ve bought clothes, I’ve bought lunch and takeaway repeatedly. I bought an awesome pair of yellow sneakers that I totally adore but given that it’s been raining  a lot, they might not have been the most practical purchase. Essentially I’m pretty sucky at being frugal.


What does sucky frugal look like?

The good

  • I started by tracking my spending, something that I’ve done since August and which revealed plenty of leaks in my spending. Massive
  • I started a loose budgeting system that allowed me to throw around 40% of my salary towards debt while keeping joyful things like Spotify, giving and socialising affordable.
  • Having read an article on the Thinking thrifty website about piggy-banking, I split out my money into different “envelopes” using a network of current and savings accounts.
  • I’ve started cooking 75-80% of my meals and socialising at my home or others’ more. I now try new recipes and cuisines as well as make my favourite restaurant meals at home.
  • I’ve done 2-3 side hustles including getting paid to clean my own home
  • I changed jobs  – higher base salary, lower effective pay due to having gone up to 40 hours a week from 37 and a half. But I’ll be able to take my career to the next level so that seems to be a frugal thing (setting myself up for higher pay).
  • I’ve got investments (stocks, shares & bonds), currency and regular savings albeit in very small amounts.
  • I set out some financial goals at the start of this year and created a proper (data-led) budget that I intend to review by the end of 2017.

The bad

  • I still buy lunch. Last week it was for 3 of 5 days. There were reasonable justifications in my mind but ultimately it’s because I was lazy
  • I still get takeaway food. Sometimes it’s to give my girlfriend and I a wee treat at the end of a shitty period, shitty news, or a shitty situation. Sometimes it’s because I just did not have enough food, pack a snack.
  • I’ve got some pretty long Uber trips. Once when I forgot my jacket at a mate’s and on the evening of the strike when we had to cross from North to south to stay at my girlfriend’s.

The (super) ugly

  • I bought coffee three times last week. When there was free coffee. With lemon drizzle cake. For £3.32 each time. This is particularly rubbish.

How does sucky frugal trump natural spendthrift?

Whilst I followed my routines and nothing extraordinary happened, I was OK. I wasn’t the most frugal, but I was doing well enough not to be discouraged. Then I had a month of birthdays and one where I couldn’t exercise my frugal muscles and then Christmas and felt like everything collapsed. I’ve written about how I felt I was failing at my attempted frugality and how October through to now really prove I still indulge in entitled spending.

  • Savings: As it stands though, there’s some progress. I might not  have got the month to month savings rate up at the level that I want to get it to but I do have savings.
  • Investments: I genuinely thought investments were for boring people and Iw as a free spirit. More like quite an idiot. I got the Moneybox app since I’d definitely be like a kid playing dress up if I had gone straight into buying stocks directly. I set it at £5 a week which I’ve now upped to £10 a week. I also got some bonds – £100 worth. And hope to do that every month. And I’m putting aside £250 a month that I’ll hopefully be able to put into low index mutual funds at the start of 2018.
  • Socialising: I’ve not figured out how to tell people I don’t want to subsidise their more expensive food choices when we have meals in a group – mainly because I don’t want to stand out as a frugal weirdo. However, I’ve gone from spending £400-500 a month on this essential joy giver to £200-250 prior to Christmas. This is because I have people come to mine. Or I go to theirs. This month I gave up alcohol too.
  • Side hustles: I used to do my theatre job when I needed some additional income. I’d say I averaged about £100-150 a month in previous years. The last 6 months, I’ve had around £250-400 a month on average in additional income. Which is only a good thing.

I suppose that’s why it’s a journey

I need to get better. I need to align my spending with my priorities and my goals. I need to get the right balance between having a good time everyday and having a good time in 2023. So, the struggle continues.

  • I still want to cut back my socialising. I’d like to spend £100 or less a month
  • I want to make a bit more money. I put some items up for sale but I don’t seem to have done it correctly. I’ll need to change platforms or give in and put them on eBay (I have boycotted them for years following a shocking incident)
  • I want to take lunch to work 19-20 times a month (with an allowance of 1-3 social lunches with ex colleagues, current colleagues or friends).
  • I want to cycle 85% of the time and keep my transport budget at £40-50 a month instead of the current £140+

My biggest barriers remain laziness, convenience and not wanting to be the frugal weirdo. I need get some tactics in to reduce the resistance and work my frugal muscles better. I’ve just submitted a request for the cycle-to-work scheme. Hopefully a new bike, protective gear and freedom from the tyranny of road-bike posture will take me one step closer to my luxuriously thrifty dream (destination).

One thought on “How sucking at being frugal still trumps being a spendthrift

  1. In my opinion, you’re doing a fantastic job! You can’t expect to have all your financial loose ends tied up so quickly and neatly. Embrace the process! Don’t let the judgments of others deter you from your long term financial goals. It’s not about how big your house is, what kind of car you drive, or what brand name clothes you wear. Show me the net worth! Subtract the assets from liabilities and you’ll be surprised to find some people who “look” poor, actually are not!


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