Sunday, 3 February 2013

The Tenner Challenge: day three - preparation, preparation, preparation

I bloody love Sundays, even ones spent trying to be thrifty. They're usually full of the best things - lie ins, good food, watching a dozen episodes of the OC boxset without feeling too guilty and numerous cups of tea. Apart from the back-to-work dread that usually rears it's ugly head at about 9pm, Sundays are my favourite sort of day.

Today was no different really, but instead of spending it in a dreamy, listless, OC filled haze (I've only watched four episodes today), I set myself the challenge of getting prepared for the week ahead to try and ensure that I cut out any non-necessary spending - I've only got £6.50 of my weekly £10 budget left after all.

Being organised

I like to think I'm quite good at being organised. I was in the Guides for a few months when I was ten, and whilst I didn't really get the whole serving other people and loving my God thing, I loved getting badges that I could sew on my sash for ironing and making fairy cakes. I thrived off the whole 'being prepared' ethos, so much so that if there was an adult version of the Guides (one without the dodgy uniform), I'd be there in a flash. Whenever we go on holiday, I'm the sort of person that has my bag packed a week before. I plan meals a week in advance. I love writing lists so much that I've invested in an ingenious notepad from Staples that is perfect for list writing. I hate the thought of not knowing what's going to happen next - I have had a life plan since the age of seven, for crying out loud. In my head, at least, I am Miss Rebecca Organised.

The reality is very different. As much as I like writing lists and packing for holidays way in advance, I don't do 'being prepared' for day-to-day stuff very well at all.

Where does all the money go?

Today I thought about where I spend money during the week (apart from socialising and nipping into town to buy extremely pretty things). I narrowed it down to the following:

  • Eating out on a whim - with only £6.50 to my name, I don't think I'd even be able to stretch to a Burger King this week, so unless I go massively over-budget the risk here has been largely removed. As I discussed on Friday, we've planned our meals for this week and bought all of the stuff we could possibly need in advance. Prior preparation should mean that we don't need to spend extra at the over-priced Co-op across the road.
  • Lunch - snoozing the alarm so I don't have time to make lunch is one of my worst pouring money down the drain habits. Even worse is the fact that I quite often take leftovers in for lunch, but then decide come lunchtime that I'd much rather have something from elsewhere. There are other weeks when I simply don't factor in lunch in our weekly shops. This habit must be stopped if money is to be saved and Thrifty is to become my new middle name.
  • Sweet stuff - I have a serious sweet tooth. Even if I've been a good girl and taken in leftovers or a sandwich or soup for lunch, I very often end up nipping out to the shop for a sneaky chocolatey something come lunchtime. Even if I only spend 60p a day, that's still £3.00 a week - which is almost a third of this week's budget.
  • Last minute realisations that there's a birthday/other event coming up that hasn't been planned for - Although I do try to set a budget on a monthly basis, family/friends' birthdays or other events that I already know are coming up have a tendency to sneak up on me without being budgeted for. Quite often this can take a large chunk out of the bank balance, putting any attempt at budgeting completely out of kilter.

Living on a tiny budget takes large amounts of preparation.

Today I did the following to try to ensure that I stick to my minimal budget this week:

  • Made rolls for lunch boxes - following a Paul Hollywood recipe, I made 12 crusty rolls from ingredients that we already had in the cupboard. Although buying baking ingredients can initially be reasonably expensive, you can make a good few loaves from a single bag of flour. There's no doubt about it - bread making is time consuming, but my efforts today mean that I'm left with 12 delicious looking baps that should curb my craving for splurging money on lunches out this week. I've also promised myself that I'll make lunch every night before bed. Hurrah!

  • Made biscuits for a cheap sugar rush - again using store cupboard ingredients, I made two dozen sweet little heart-shaped biscuits that can be called upon when only something sweet will do. 

  • Raided Card Factory - I checked my diary and saw that I have a couple of birthdays coming up this week. Usually I'm a massive fan of Scribbler and Paperchase for birthday cards, but at £3+ a card desperate times called for desperate measures. Although Card Factory isn't exactly known for beautiful design or high quality paper, their 10 cards for £1 offer was just too good to refuse this week. It's the thought that counts, right? Birthday cards - sorted!

Preparation is tiring

Although this weekend hasn't exactly been a wild one, I've still managed to go out and do some bits and bobs that I enjoy. Today we popped to Leeds Farmers' Market which was lovely as usual, and although it was difficult to look but not buy, I still really enjoyed having a mooch (and the free tasters helped a lot). This weekend has proven that having fun on a budget can be done, it just takes a lot of prior preparation. And preparation can be tiring. Sometimes it's really lovely just to be able to do stuff on a whim - to see where the wind takes you and spend without really thinking about it. 

So, there we have it. A whole weekend done and only £4.50 spent. Am I proud of myself? I most certainly am. Has it been different from other weekends? It has been. And have I still had fun? Most definitely yes. 

Tenner Challenge day three
Total spent: £4.50


  1. I got half way through this blog and nearly popped this box to remind you that it's Simon's birthday this week. But I see you've remembered. Don't worry, he'll love his Card Factory card. It's almost certainly where I'll be going...

  2. Becs, you live with a mathematician. Your tenner goes further than mine if £4.50+£6.50=£10!!!!

  3. Oops, probably should have been clearer - I meant that at the start of yesterday I had £6.50 left, after the cards it took me down to £5.50 left :) x

  4. It did make me smile. Love the blog and looking forward to seeing some of the places you've mentioned. Good luck with the challenge xx