Husbanding my Resources – revisit

For emergency use only…

When I found myself on my own after my husband left back in February, I gave myself six rules to follow, to make sure I was ‘Husbanding my Resources’. And no, the irony wasn’t lost on me – not then, and not now. I needed to cut back drastically on what I was spending, at least until I got a grip on where I stood financially. This is how I cut my food budget down to, well, about £15 a week to begin with. As stores got used up and I had to start replacing things, it’s crept up a little – but six months down the line it’s still only £17 a week.

Rule 1 – using up what I’ve already got. Well, there’s not much left of the stores that were in the house when I started doing this. Some herbs and spices, some cooking oil, half a jar of pickle, quite a lot of mustard, not a lot of gin but still a fair amount of the other alcohol. I haven’t felt the need to open the Advocaat. Yet.

I’ve had to start replacing a few items – pasta, marmalade, breakfast cereal. Slowly but surely the average weekly food spend is creeping up – £17.63 this week. I treated myself to a bottle of wine, to celebrate being paid – the casual work I did in July, the work I did in August and the rent from the lodger were all paid within a couple of days of each other. Exciting times.

I won’t be buying wine every week – but it was nice to have it as a treat. I haven’t used all the other alcohol up yet!

Rule 2 – planning ahead. Yes, I still meal plan. It’s a bit more complicated now that I  work shifts. There is no pattern, and they’re different every day. I can be starting work as early as 7am or finishing as late as 9pm. Or anything in between. So I take my basic routine and move things around. For example, I normally have pizza on a Friday night, but this week I was working until 6 on the Thursday and I was off on the Friday – so I had the pizza on the Thursday, and made myself a lovely spag bol on the Friday when I had lots of time to do it – and I made enough to freeze some for the next time I’m too knackered to want to cook.

Rule 3 – writing a shopping list and sticking to it. Yes, this is still happening. In fact it’s even more important now, as I’ve less time for popping to the shop if there’s anything I’ve forgotten. I hate to throw food away – four slices of bread went mouldy on me the other day, during the really hot weather. I was so cross! I keep the list on the bench all the time and add to it as things get used up or start to run out. On the day before I shop I have a clear out of the fridge to see what needs using up and what needs to be replaced. And I stick to my list!!

Rule 4 – write everything down. Yup, still writing everything down. This is where things get a little bit geeky. I have a spreadsheet for my shopping. I can see at a glance how much I’ve spent each week, what the average weekly spend is, and how much that would be over a year. There’s even a graph.

And I have another spreadsheet for Absolutely Everything. Every single penny coming in and every single penny going out is accounted for. I have another spreadsheet which is my projection of where things stand over the next few months. Basically, if things continue as they are for the next six months, where will I stand financially? I can play with the figures, and ask lots of ‘what if?’ questions, which I find really helpful.

Rule 5 – shopping at Aldi (other supermarkets are available). Heavens yes. Why would I shop anywhere else? In fact, now that I know I’ve been paid, I’m going to pop over and get that bottle of wine. I’ll have a glass tonight and a glass tomorrow night. I’ve been promising myself this ever since I started trying to find a job – the day my first pay goes in, I’ll buy wine. I feel it’s the start of not having to be quite so very very careful with every penny.

When I go to other supermarkets, I find myself looking at the prices and thinking ‘How much??’ And also, it’s within walking distance – so if I’m not buying much I’ll walk, which is another saving.

Rule 6 – it’s OK to have treats. Yes indeed. But six months in, there are a few things lining up to be bought with these earnings of mine. I need a new pair of jeans – the knee of my ‘best’ pair is very close to wearing through. Holes in jeans are trendy I know, but…

I’m going to start building up those stores again. And last but not least, I need to buy a little fan heater (the lodger has mine…) for chilly evenings when I’m not ready to put the central heating on.

I’m not out of the woods yet – but I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. gosforthgirl says:

    Hi…bowled over by the spread sheets and the brilliant way you are ‘husbanding ‘your resources.

    Could I recommend an oil heater usually sold in Lidl every year so sure Aldi will have them? Much cheaper than fan heaters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooo, thank you. We also have a Lidl (also within walking distance) – Aldi opened about 3 years ago, and Lidl only opened in the summer, so I was already into the habit of going to Aldi!! But a change is as good as a rest – I’ll keep an eye out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. anglosvizzera says:

    You’re doing great!

    We’re great fans of Aldi and Lidl – they often have organic fruit and veg – and eggs – that the other supermarkets where we live don’t, so another plus. And the wine is excellent.

    The spreadsheet/accounts book is a thing I was introduced to by my ex-sister-in-law (who worked in a bank) when I was married to her husband’s brother and we’d moved with our 4 children from Hereford to Winchester. As I wasn’t working then, and we’d had to stretch our finances to the limit to buy a 4-bedroom house, we had little money on a day-to-day basis. She had suggested that I split all our incoming money into (realistic, not unreasonable) categories such as ‘food/drink’, ‘bills’, ‘sundries’ (eg personal hygiene products’, ‘car expenses’ and so on. This was allocated on a monthly basis with a cap for each category – I also added in a ‘savings’ category so that we accumulated some of the income into a kind of nest egg for emergency use (eg replacing washing machine) or holidays.

    So, I would keep all receipts and get (nag) my husband to do the same, write down all other expenditures and every Friday would sit down and work out how much of the monthly allowance we’d spent. At the end of the month, if there was anything left we might treat ourselves to a bottle of something or a meal out. It was tight but fun – and those treats really felt like treats.

    We could see if there were any savings that we could make in any of the categories and adjust accordingly. I was always looking for a bargain and occasionally, when the washing machine did actually need replacing, would use a mail-order catalogue such as ‘Littlewoods’ to buy things as they often had very competitive prices anyway and offered new customers a percentage off the price. Also they had an interest-free finance option available which meant it wouldn’t impact too much on my monthly budget. We never bought anything we didn’t really, really need – and my children have now become really careful with money as a result. They aren’t deprived, but look for bargains for essential items, love charity shops and Freecycle and have saved up their own ‘nest eggs’ for whatever they need in future. They are not at all materialistic or conned by the advertising industry, unlike many of their peers.

    I think this kind of thing should be taught in schools!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is so important to keep on top of it all. When, eventually, I have enough money for, say, a holiday – I’ll know for sure that I can afford it. And I’ll enjoy it all the more for that!!


  3. gosforthgirl says:

    Could you show some of your weekly lists for food…and does the £17 include cleaning materials?


    1. I can certainly do a post about my weekly shopping!! The list is purely food – but not just the supermarket, it includes the odd coffee or lunch bought out, and my monthly takeaway.
      There are some grey areas – for example, I met a friend for coffee the other day, and I paid (she paid last time) – one tea, one coffee, and one large and rather delicious white chocolate and raspberry brownie, £6.53. Should that come out of the food budget, or the entertainment budget??
      But if I have to buy lunch at work because I’ve left my sandwiches on the kitchen bench… that comes out of the food budget.


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