Yay, the longest month of the year has ended. We get paid before Christmas day in December. That, coupled with January’s 5 weeks, always meant that it was a broke week to ten days at the back-end of the month traditionally.Last year, I had already borrowed money from at least one source by this point. In light of all the depressing news in the world right now, I’ll cling onto this positive. I could have gone on a couple more weeks into February without being paid.
January was NOT an uber frugal month
If you can’t remember what my goals were, you can read 2017: The year of the saver. The best intentions get you nowhere if you don’t put in the work. I’ve tweeted and moaned in previous updates about how poorly my uber frugal month challenge has been going. I started it to help me find out things I could cut back on in my attempt to bridge a £5k gap between my expected income and expenditures for the year.
I primarily went wrong on the usual suspects:
- Generosity & socialising: Lots of the spending here comes from Christmas – all the drinking, all the eating, all the partying (frugal or otherwise) with my mates, leaving drinks & starting lunches for work, and all the gifts.
- Dating: This has mostly been paying for food in two “households” as I can’t bring myself to let her pay for all the food that we eat together at hers or mine. I also gave her matinee tickets for Aladdin so took half a day off work and we had dinner afterwards (£39.18).
- Not cooking: Take away lunches, dinners and treats cost me a whopping £125.65 over the course of the month. No further explanation required
- Uber: Sure I could justify these (because for the first there was a tube strike and I had to go north to south and for the second I’d left my jacket at a mate’s and couldn’t wander about sans protection). However, I could have sacrificed time instead of money and taken buses for at least the first scenario.
How did the budget go?
What went well?
- My earnings were on track to meet my expected income for the year and slightly higher than planned.
- I saved a decent amount. My emergency fund was topped up, over a grand was put in my support fund, I bought bonds and saved some money towards birthday presents for my brother.
What can I do better?
- I need to get back into my cooking and brown bagging routines. Both of them are letting me down massively
- I did “Drynuary” successfully yet still managed to spend over £50 on alcohol because I was being generous. This needs to be reined in.
- I went through a lot of my stuff and identified over 30 things to throw away, donate and sell. So far I haven’t actually got rid of these items so I’ve still got quite a lot of clutter in my room.
- I didn’t pay off any debt in January. I need to make up for that a little this month and make a plan for the rest of my debt with a view to ramp back up £1 000+ monthly spend on that post February.
- Financial: My attempt at an uber frugal month was a total fail since I didn’t strip back my spending to the levels that I expected to. I’ll try again in March because I need to get my new bike sorted. I will however try to keep spending low in February and come in under budget for the month. If I can find £100 extra savings or income to be made for the month, then that would be awesome.
- Fitness: I didn’t cycle and I haven’t been walking as much as normal since I started a new job. This month (February) I’m going to start cycling at least 3 times a week and do Pilates 3-4 times a week too.
- Work: I’m going to attend a couple of conferences and try to carve out time in the week to start developing some skills
- Meat: I stuck with the goal of not buying meat for about 8 days and then capitulated so that was quite a fail. Most of my planning revolved around a substantial number of home cooked meals at mine (not my girlfriend) and lots of brown bagging. I’m going to have to ensure that I track my meals and aim for 40% meat free food over the month.
- De-cluttering: Follow through on actually getting rid of the items that were identified.
- “Drynuary“: Success!!! I had my first taste of alcohol in 2017 yesterday evening. It was nice and I’m going to try to only drink when it’s free this month so that I have £0 in alcohol spending.
It wasn’t all bad. Sure I didn’t have an uber frugal month but I was able to save and come in marginally under budget for the month. Hopefully, with some better planning, February will be significantly better.