January spending & goal review

I survived! January felt really long. This was mostly because the pay cycle was about 6 weeks long. Why, oh why, do we get paid before Christmas? It’s the end now and I got to do the very exciting task of reviewing how this first month of the year went. I initially thought I’d be doing the Uber Frugal Month challenge but then when I started looking at 2017’s budget – more on that in my next post – I figured that I had set some unrealistic targets for last year and wanted to use January as a template for what I really want my 2018 spending to look like. Let’s see how that went

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The good

There were a lot of good things about January.

  • I set my “basic food” budget at £80. This is how much I expect to spend if I were living off my emergency fund due to job loss or illness. I was only £2.81 over. This is compared to a lowest food spend in 2017 of £94 and a high of £238.55. I accomplished this because I had mostly ate home cooked or free food – I dined out or had takeaways only 10 times last month.
  • Dating and socialising were finally reined in! I did a lot of fun stuff in January and saw lots of friends. I played basketball, football, and badminton. I played chess, went walking in Hampstead heath, ate crepes, had friends over, went to the pub. I also went to a gig at an amazing old church. I also only spent £122.29. A lot of it is probably down to not drinking but I’d like to think I strategically socialised as well.
  • I gave a lot of money – 13% of my spending last month. I supported my brothers when they needed to shore up their spending and I finally gave my sister her birthday present from last year.
  • I saved quite a bit of money. For some reason my emergency fund standing order seemed to be wrong and so I paid twice into that fund. I also doubled my Moneybox investments from £10 a week to £20. I haven’t taken my pension up yet – because I have a new strategy for that this year but it’s still ticking over automatically.

The bad

  • Debt is still not being paid off at the level that I’d like it to be. I keep making excuses about things that come up I’ll need to bite the bullet in April and set up automatic payments so that I have no reason not to pay.
  • I booked a trip to Malta that wasn’t in my budget or travel plan but it’s early enough in the year for me to adjust said plans. I also delayed paying for tickets to a conference that I’m really interested in and so I’ve now paid an extra $150 for the ticket.

Wrap up and goal review

There’s usually an ugly side of my spending reviews so I’m awfully chuffed that I’ve bucked the trend for the first time in the 18 months I’ve been tracking my spending. I set my 2018 goals with a focus on forming habits and tackling 12 focused challenges through the year. January’s challenge was Drynuary. Killed it! I had my first drink of 2018 yesterday when my company celebrated a successful move into a new building.

The other things that I will be focusing on through the year were:

  • Achieve 52 hours of practise across my various sports by the end of the year (in progress) – I haven’t prioritised this task for January because it would mean attending 3 hours of badminton on Saturdays or 90 minutes of football practice a week. I managed an hour of basketball practice in the month however.
  • Eat home cooked (or free) meals 80% of the time (pass) – I averaged 85% for the month. Happy days!
  • Do some exercise (even if it’s only 5 minutes) at least 6 days a week (pass) – I actually exercised every single day in January. As a result I have dropped a stone and am now under 220lbs for the first time in at least a year.
  • Find a mentee and provide 26 hours of mentoring to them within the first 6 months of 2018 (in progress) – I have an intern and I’ve been so busy / off the last few weeks that we only got round to making a plan for her progress yesterday. I only accumulated 1 hour of mentoring in January.
  • Teach 6 courses / workshops / learning sessions (pass) – I taught my first workshop in January and it was quite successful. I’ve got feedback from the course director and a few of the students that it was enjoyable and useful. I might also be giving another course at the same school within the next three months. Win!
  • Save £3, 000 in Vanguard’s index funds by the start of December (in progress) – I set up a standing order and there’s already £500 in the fund from this year. I won’t report on this goal until the end of the year.

February’s challenge is giving up bread (including things like pastry and pizza but excluding cake) as well as pasta (including some kinds of noodles). I figured that if I wanted to keep my fitness progress going at the same level as in January, I needed to give up something as equally helpful as the alcohol. When I eat pasta and bread I feel like I also eat a lot more dairy so this should have a positive impact overall.

There we have it. I had a great January. How was yours?

2 thoughts on “January spending & goal review

  1. Pingback: Money diary #5 | Diary of a reforming spendthrift

  2. Pingback: My luxuriously thrifty 2018 budget | Diary of a reforming spendthrift

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