Monday, 12 July 2010

How I Saved About £200 per Month

Let me be quite clear, this isn't about making money. It's not even about particularly going without. It may not be applicable to your situation or even you. But, having just looked at our accounts it seems that this is exactly what I have managed to do recently without even really noticing it. I should make it clear that we are a high income, low disposable income family due to mortgage commitments and our geographical location within the UK. We really are struggling financially and I am worried about the future should the government be radical about tackling national debt.

The main thing I have done is to ONLY Internet shop. Previously I would do a big shop in Sainsbury and then top up shops from Waitrose (it's literally two minutes from my door). We didn't eat particularly well and I was buying all the reductions etc. However, I think the problem lies in that I also bought the 'special offers' thinking I was saving money. It's not that we didn't eat them, we did. It's just that we didn't really need to eat them and I think this is where the issue lies. I also did a lot of proper home cooking using cookery books (such as Annbel Karmel's brilliant ones). However, the recipes always required the purchase of additional ingredients which were not part of our cupboard basics. Thus each meal cost more than it should.

Nowadays I Internet supermarket shop. That is it. If we don't have something that week, I don't go and get it. I might send the hubby for a pint of milk, but he is not allowed to return with additional products. We have healthy basic meals like jacket potatoes with cheese and beans, home made chicken pie (using frozen veg), spaghetti bolognaise as one pack of mince last two days and can then be used for a shepherds pie, fish-fingers, home made pizza and NO takeaways of any sort. Unless, its fruit, ice-cream or yogurt we don't have dessert.

In terms of saving other money, we recycle as much water as we can (we have always done this) and don't flush the loo at night. Although this is more for environmental reasons than any other.

I've been keeping clothes shopping on-line (save one trip to John Lewis). This allows me to 'buy' items and then cool off and not actually buy them. I have made a few bits for the kids, but to be honest I am making sure they get every last scrap of wear out of what they have. That's not really a change as I have been doing this for a while, but I think its worth stating.

No toys have been purchased for a very long time. However, this month I have put a lot of things away for rainy days and the living room also looks better. I think this has helped my mental state. We don't buy magazines or newspapers or have a television package. However, I've discovered that friends can be generous at passing them on and the iplayer is an endless source of things to watch.

The other big saving has been on petrol, yes, the pox helped as we couldn't go out. However, it also made me realise that there are plenty of things to do at home. We don't need to go out all the time and I don't need to constantly take the kids on educational outings. We actually do plenty of stuff on a daily basis, what's more, we are lucky to have a lot of great free things to do within walking distance. I have even stopped taking them to weekly classes such as music and swimming which has had a dramatic impact. At between £5- £6 per child I guess it would! They are not missing out as I we have impromptu music sessions and the hubby goes swimming with them. If we visit friends we don't take cakes and biscuits (unless we have spare). I don't think anyone has minded.

Other savings have been on presents for friends and family. I think that we have been too generous in the past given our financial situation. I realise that people don't mind if they just get a hand-made card and some home-made cakes or a home-made dress or even the offer of us to do something for them, like help with DIY or look after the children. Children have no idea about how much something cost, as long as it's appropriate the cheaper toy is probably as good as the more expensive. Nowadays most people have everything they want, apart from time to themselves, if we can offer that, that's a great gift.

Toddler boy no longer needs nappies, and although I purchased own brand ones (I think they are as good if not better). This has had an impact, I also forgot to buy some more for Fifi one week so didn't change her at the first sign of wetness. I think this has had a small impact on the overall shopping bill.

It's not like we were living particularly well before and not realising it, because I don't think we were. Yet, I don't think I realised how much the little things like biscuits, sweets and petrol added up, however much I tried to see it through spreadsheets and so forth. I have begun to appreciate being at home instead of going out. Cooking very very basic meals and not having desert saves a fortune and is probably healthier. What's more, it's definitely much better to buy one really nice thing you like than several cheaper ones.I look at it this way, £200 per month is a lot of cash, but that's £50 per week, not a great deal in the overall scheme of things, given how much things cost these days. My advice; watch out for the small things...

12 comments:

susie @newdaynewlesson said...

There are lots of tips for saving money, like meal planning in advance.

The biggest thing though is making a budget and sticking to it.

Have a look at www.daveramsey.com

He is fab about living from what you have, staying out of debt, planning for your future.

Good luck.

TheMadHouse said...

I manage on a very small budget each month and the supermarket shop is £50 per week for all of us. We dont have the cash to spend and it it isnt there, then you can not spend it. I do pay for swimming lessons for both the boys, but they are older and they would miss out, plus they do football practice on a sat morning too. We make all out cards and most of our presents, I figure if people dont like it then that is there issue not mine. I did two boot sales last month to pay for school uniform, which covered it and will be doing another one for shoes later in the summer

mummy limited said...

Interesting post. I totally agree with the petrol. I can't believe how much we spend on petrol. It doesn't seem to matter what I do our bills & shopping account always seems to go overdrawn.
I do like to go to the supermarket though & at the moment MM still likes it so it's almost an activity for him but I too have started to avoid the offers. When you look at them closely the saving is maybe 30p so not really worth it. Going to try the not topping up thing as that is a killer.

Mummy said...

You did really well and as you say it is the small things.

People that I used to work with could never understand how my shopping bill was so low (around £60 a week including catfood and cleaning products etc) but it was all because of meal planning and not buying the things that we didn't need.

One little tip though do make sure that you occassionaly have a treat as this will stop you blowing the budget when you are really fed up with being frugal!

Alex said...

The £20 "pint of milk" trips to Waitrose were the killer and without those things are better. Much kudos to wifey for her budgeting though, it is definitely the little but frequent things that make the difference.

Francesca said...

theres some really good tips in this post, thankyou :) Im very budgety, I tend to budget ourselves off my partners wage for bills, food shopping, ect, and whatever we have left is cash for the week. Then my part time wage goes into our savings for rainy days and treats xx

Mark said...

Agree with all these ideas. I find shopping from a list (especially for food) is a massive saver as you don't impulse buy that way.

But the biggest saving we have made by far is being choosy about eating out. It's so easy to blow sixty quid (and the rest) on a mediocre pub lunch that nobody really enjoys. I end up throwing money at it to somehow compensate - "lets all have another drink...' and before I know it I've spent almost as much as a weekly food bill on a crap Sunday lunch.

I'm a big fan of posh picnics - they feel special and yet they are always good value.

PlayPennies said...

£200 a month will make a big difference - well done!

I also internet shop a lot - it saves you both time and money.

Good tips - thanks.

Emma

Mirka said...

Some great tips. I have realised when I go grocery shopping with Isabelle, I spent much less than going on my own as I have much more time to wonder around.
We also don't flush the toilet at night, but the original reason was not to wake Isabelle...

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Only internet shopping has saved us a huge amount, as has menu planning

Also I tend towards handmade presents (eg just finishing a cardigan for a friend's baby) - I reckon handmade cards & gifts are more appreciated

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Only internet shopping has saved us a huge amount, as has menu planning

Also I tend towards handmade presents (eg just finishing a cardigan for a friend's baby) - I reckon handmade cards & gifts are more appreciated

PantsWithNames said...

Looking after the pennies, as they say.

We live on a tight budget, shopping only from a list is a must. Make the list before you go and going off list is a crime. Not getting sucked in for deals that you don't really want. And keeping a record of where the money is going. But £200 a month is a brilliant saving! Gives you a bit of breathing space or future savings start.

Thanks for blogging about this, it is lovely to know that we're not the only ones really watching the pennies.

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