Nerd Alert!!

I’ve been husbanding my resources for exactly a year now.

I’ve kept a log of what I’ve been spending on food. Every. Single. Penny.

There’s a spreadsheet. There’s a graph.

I know how much I’ve spent each week. I know how much I’ve spent over the year in total.  And I know my monthly, weekly, daily and even per-meal average spend.

Knowledge is power.

It’s food only – including alcohol, takeaways, and anything spent in cafes, restaurants, pubs etc. It doesn’t include the other stuff that I might buy at the supermarket – cleaning products, toiletries etc etc etc. And it’s for one adult (and occasional visitors).

In total, for the whole year, I’ve spent £945.99 on food.

That averages out at £79.05 per month, £18.19 per week, £2.60 per day, or 87p per meal.

I think that’s pretty bloody good.

I don’t feel I’m denying myself in any way. I’m eating healthy food (unrefined carbs, lots of fruit and veg, fish twice a week), I’m having the odd treat (takeaway once a month, bottle of wine now and again, coffee out with friends, bikkies).

I plan my meals for the week and I only buy what I need. I organise it so that the leftovers get used and I throw very little away. I hate throwing food away.

I keep a shopping list on the end of the bench, and as things get used up I jot them down on the list. I then go through the cupboards and the fridge and jot down anything else that needs replacing. If there’s anything that needs to be used up I’ll make plans for it. It also means that I don’t accidentally buy something that I’ve already got plenty of.

I’m evangelical about Rubber Chicken.

Homemade soup is cheaper than chips! And more interesting. And more nutritious.

Takeaway portions are huge, so I eat half and freeze half, and the next month I use the one in the freezer. It means I have to have a bit of self-control and not eat it sooner. The same goes for my pizza on a Friday night. I eat half, with a salad – and freeze the other half for the following week.

Keeping a record like this gives me a feeling of control. I can see week on week how my spending is going. I can see how it’s gradually increased over time – at the beginning I was still using up the stores that I had in the cupboards, but as they ran out and needed to be replaced my average spend went up.

Back at the beginning, my average weekly spend was around £15, but gradually it’s had to creep up. I hit £18 for the first time at the end of July, after living like this for 5 months. And since then, I’ve pretty much plateau’d/plateaud/plateaued (is that even a word?). The average has never gone above £18.79.

It’s sustainable. Now and again I get a bit tired of chicken, so I give myself a week off. But the shopping generally costs more in a ‘non-chicken’ week, so by the following week I’m happy to go back to normal. I ring the changes by doing the potatoes in a different way, or having different veg, or a different sort of stuffing. And it’s my favourite meal, so there’s no hardship really!!

And it’s important to remember why I’m doing this. I’m doing it (and many other things) so that I have control over my expenditure. I’m doing it so that I can become less dependent on the business that I run with my husband (you remember him – he left just over a year ago). I’m doing it so that, hopefully, in the long term, I’ll be able to afford to do some of the things that I’ve always wanted to do.

Compared to how much I used to spend (or rather, how much I think I used to spend – I didn’t record it, so I don’t know for sure), there’s a huge difference. I think I was spending roughly £50 a week at Aldi before my husband left. And that’s just the supermarket shop – that’s without adding in top-up shops, meals out, takeaways and coffees. I could easily have been spending £75 a week on food for two adults

And I’ve got it down to £18.19 for one adult – actually, that’s phenomenal. That’s about a quarter of what I used to spend!!!

Of course, I could spend even less – I could stop having takeaways, I could cut my alcohol spend to zero, I could stop buying biscuits. But it would be a bit dismal. I know I can afford what I’m spending at the moment, I know it’s sustainable – and I know I could cut it even further if I really needed to.

My plan is not to need to.

Watch out for a post about how I make soup – coming soon!

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. LittleDreams says:

    Well done, that is pretty impressive. I’m recording for the first time ever this year, ALL my spending- bills, food, repairs, car costs, presents- basically every single penny!! I’m not in debt or without savings, I just thought it would be interesting to know how much o actually live on in a year! Are you doing this? I wonder how much one person needs? Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It probably won’t surprise you – yes I do!! Every penny. I use my contactless card for everything I possibly can, so my statement is effectively a spending diary. And yes, I have a spreadsheet so I can allocate spends to categories… I find it reassuring – knowledge really is power!! xx

      Like

  2. anglosvizzera says:

    It’s a really good exercise to do, even if you aren’t trying to economise or eke out a small salary. When my (now ex) husband and our 4 children moved from Hereford to Winchester (where everything is far more expensive it seems) my sister-in-law advised me to do what you’re doing. I made sure that one ‘regular expenditure’ was into a savings account so that we had a buffer for emergencies or a ‘nest egg’ for a cheap holiday if we hadn’t used it after a couple of years.

    Later, when I was single again, I was living in Bath (very expensive!) and renting half a flat with another woman, as well as paying for a 4-year part-time course, leaving me only £200 a month for everything after rent and bills. I couldn’t afford a car, so train journeys to see my children or my mother, which I did as often as possible, took a fair chunk but I survived! You realise actually how little you really need and can still afford a few ‘treats’. My flatmate and I took advantage of the various restaurant deals that Martin Lewis (of MoneySavingExpert) sent regularly via his newsletter, so we had the odd meal out a couple of times a month. When I moved into another flat with another woman (she was Hungarian and worked awkward hours as a waitress, so had a low income too), I managed to get a really cheap internet and phone line deal, but we used “Call18866” to make calls which was much cheaper than BT or equivalent – especially to Hungary! In fact, I still use them now, years later, as our broadband/phone package doesn’t include calls so if we need to use the landline, it’s cheaper than TalkTalk’s price. I managed to persuade my flatmate that we didn’t actually need a TV (therefore didn’t need to pay for a license) and she got used to watching things on catchup (which was ok without a license back then, I think!)

    I often wonder what people with a huge income do with their money? I couldn’t bring myself to pay £300 for a pair of shoes, which you see in shops in Bath, for example! As my mother was from ‘up North’, she was always looking out for bargains as do I, and have passed this on to my own children. Most of our clothes are from charity shops or eBay, other than underwear (and mostly shoes, although there are some bargains to be had with shoes only worn once) – which made me feel quite smug when watching the ITV news the other night when they showed actual “mountains” of clothes in Ghana that were rotting away because of our obsession with ‘disposable fashion’ over here. So sad that our consumerism is polluting someone else’s country…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did the whole ‘where does it all go’ thing even when we were reasonably well off (before he left). If you’ve worked hard for your money you don’t want to be wondering what you’ve done with it all!! I have no problem with the £300 shoes – that money goes to pay the wages of the people who design them, make them, package them, advertise them and run the shops that sell them. That’s keeping a lot of people in work, which has to be a good thing!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. anglosvizzera says:

        Although I can’t really see myself that, unless the shoes are handmade, they are really worth £300!! After all, the designer only has to do the design once, but the shoes are sold in quantity – and I doubt whether the shop staff get much of a salary either…probably get commission but not a good hourly rate. I worked with someone whose husband worked for Clarks and she said those expensive shoes weren’t necessarily worth the money. They certainly often don’t last very long, from what I’ve heard, especially if worn in the rain!

        Like

  3. SisterStay says:

    That is some very impressive record-keeping! £18/week is amazing, but as you say, it just goes to show what is possible, even without great hardship. We live in generally quite extravagant and wasteful times. People need to be be paid properly for the work they do but we don’t need a huge income to be happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s the important thing – I’m eating well, I’m eating enough, and I’m eating healthy. I’m certainly not feeling hard done by!

      Like

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