Thursday, 31 January 2013

Can I survive a week living on a tenner?

Every month, without fail, it gets to the day before pay day and I wonder where on earth my money has disappeared to. I'm a big fritterer - I buy stuff I don't really need, often spending my hard earned dollar on stuff that's often forgotten about after I've bought it. I love buying lunch at work, I'm a fan of a cheeky nip to the Co-op for a chocolatey snack or two and although I'd probably try to deny it, I'm sure if I looked closely at my bank statements, I'd find that a massive proportion of my salary goes on eating out. I have piles of books and DVDs that I haven't read/watched yet, yet Amazon still swallows my money. Cookshops swallow my money. Nice (but mostly useless) stuff swallows my money. I just don't do budgeting very well at all. There is temptation EVERYWHERE.

It's not just the small stuff, it's the big stuff too. Sometimes I buy really expensive things without really thinking about the consequences. Take last month, for example - I decided to book a holiday and buy a new laptop, with the promise to myself that I'd pop the money back into my savings ASAP. I know full well that this sort of strategy is going to lead to future months of fiscal anxiety whilst I try to replenish my savings, anxiety which could have been avoided if I'd just saved separately for the laptop and the holiday in the first place. And here lies the crux of the problem - when I want something, I buy it.

I wouldn't say I'm in financial dire straits, and neither am I really awful with money. I earn an average salary, of which I put around 16% each month into the eventual house-buying/adventure/rainy day pot. Every week we try to plan our food, meaning that it's rare that we spend over £40 a week between us. I have a decent job, no kids, no car and no real responsibilities. My money is entirely my own and my life is for living.

However, I think it's about time I had a long, hard look at where the disposable cash goes. I can't help thinking that if I cut down on some of the little bits, I'd be able to buy myself a few really nice things - that I actually need - every couple of months and not feel too guilty as a consequence.

With over half of the world's population being forced to live on less than a dollar a day, I want to put my spending into perspective. And that's where this challenge comes in.

The Challenge

  • From tomorrow, the 1st of February, until Friday the 8th February, I'm going to attempt to live on ten of her Majesty's British pounds. 
  • The £10 won't include rent and bills, but will include any food that I need to buy to supplement the (pre-budgeted) shop that I will do on the 1st February. I will attempt to use up any surplus or stored ingredients that I have in my kitchen in order to keep this initial food spend to a minimum.
  • The £10 will include all entertainment. In an attempt to stop this week being one where I do nothing in an attempt to curb expenditure, I will be following Penny Golightly's Live on £10 challenge, and blogging everyday about my experiences. I will also attempt to keep TV watching to a minimum. 
  • Luckily I'm able to walk to walk, so my travel expenses should be largely covered too. However, any extra transport costs will have to come out of the £10 budget. 

Here goes!



  1. Good luck with the challenge! Once you're back onto your usual spending patterns, I'd recommend getting a app/computer programme and logging all your expenditure as you go. I have a iPhone app called Piggie (you can set your own categories, so I know how much of my income I spend on chocolate! Scary) but the below blog post (from the brilliant A Thrifty Mrs) recommends ontrees which might be better for all I know!

    Looking forward to seeing how you get on!

    Helen x

  2. Great plan, Helen. I'm pretty good at working out a monthly budget for all the big stuff - e.g. rent, bills, food etc etc, it's just the small stuff that always seems to sneak up on me! I think logging expenditure would be a really helpful thing to do. Will check it out!
    The other thing that I used to do that worked really well when I'd just graduated and had very limited funds was to withdraw the amount per week that I had budgeted to spend and leave my cards at home. No good for surprise expenditure, but on the whole worked a treat for getting me out of my overdraft!