Saving money is always top of the list but challenging yourself to a whole month of frugal living is something else altogether. Yesterday saw Frugal February come to an end and what a month it has been. While it started off rather easy, the second half of the month really tested our willpower.
The Aim Of Frugal February
The aim of Frugal February was to save as much money as possible by not spending a penny on non-essential things. Coffee shops, topping up the biscuit supply and Netflix were all banned along with anything else that wasn’t on the ‘allowed’ list.
To begin with, Mrs Wifey and I found it very easy. We managed to bag ourselves some freebies which made the whole adventure extra fun, but it’s always easy not spending money if you don’t leave the house. Our first trip to the shops tested us but we pulled through it with our heads held high and managed to end week one with nearly £100 saved!
Week Two – The Sausage Challenge
Week two was made even easier as our car was in the garage and the courtesy car we were given was a petrol guzzler. As we had no appointments that week we simply stayed in, which meant we weren’t exposed to any tempting spends.
At the beginning of the month we had set some money aside to allow ourselves a meal out on Valentines Day. We stuck within the limit and enjoyed a truly romantic first Valentine’s as a married couple.
Then we visited the on-site shop!
If you haven’t tried Northumberland Sausage Company sausages, you have not lived. They are pure meat and absolutely delicious. With my limited diet, it’s hard to get meat products I can eat so we usually have a stock of the sausages in the freezer. Having spent a month hunting high and low, we found Leaplish shop had a large stock, so we grabbed four packs at a cost of £16 – eek! I can’t even think of an excuse to justify it but the guilt was soon eased the following day when I was tucking into a delicious sausage casserole.
Week Three – Bargain Tables and Cornflake Cakes.
This week proved to be the hardest. Our landlord rang to say he could come to take away the old furniture he had left in the house, including the very large kitchen table. We were really happy because it was just too big and meant I couldn’t get around the kitchen in my wheelchair. This would be the one and only opportunity to get rid of it so it had to go now. We were more than pleased until we realised we needed to find a replacement quickly. We use the table for setting up my feeding-tube in the mornings due to the sheer amount of stuff that is involved. We decided we’d try to make do with our small gaming table until we could afford to buy a replacement that was the right size. We also needed to find chairs would support me and wouldn’t make my pain worse. The following day we went to Hawick for a dentist appointment and popped into Homebase just to get an idea of the price of dining tables. Well sod’s law, as soon as we walked into the store there is THE perfect table, half-price, with the comfiest chairs possible also half-price. To make matters worse, there was only one left!
We knew it went against everything Frugal February was about but at the same time it was a necessity. If we didn’t buy the table now, we would end up paying at least twice as much later in the year. In the end we decided the whole point of Frugal February was to save money in order to spend it on essential things needed to improve our home. This was essential and we couldn’t afford to miss the bargain. We bought the table and spent the entire drive home repeatedly justifying ourselves. Thankfully, the money we had saved up till now covered the cost of the table.
By now the larder was looking a little grim and we were onto the last few chips. We’d eaten most of the fish in the freezer and both of us were sick of beans. So, I grabbed my pinny and started baking. A few corned beef pies later and we were set for a week. The bread maker was in full flow providing us with some good healthy, home-baked bread. Mrs Wifey began struggling when we ran out of biscuits and chocolate so I made chocolate cornflake cakes, biscuits and fruit bread to satisfy her sweet tooth. Not only did I throughly enjoy having a good old bake-a-thon, but I managed to feed us for a full week with just a handful of ingredients. I was surprised how much food I could replace simply by baking. By spending a couple of hours making pastry, loafs of bread and biscuits, I’d managed to get the larder looking half full again.
Week Four – Soap Dishes and Selling Stuff
By the time we reached the final week we were desperate to go out and splurge. I was eyeing a gaming book up on ebay while Mrs Wifey was talking repeatedly about rugs and window blinds. A trip to the Metro Centre following a hospital appointment had us drooling as we raced past HMV and I managed to justify spending £1.50 on a soap dish in Ikea.
Thankfully God/The Universe/Mrs Saver In The Sky was looking down on us and I had an influx of messages in my inbox regarding items I’d been trying to sell on the local selling page. Within three days we sold two single beds, a die-cutting machine and an oak side unit.
What Have We Learnt?
Our month of austere living has taught us a few things.
- We spend far too much money on stuff we really do not need.
- It does pay to get bargains when you see them, within reason.
- It’s easy to restock a food cupboard by baking rather than buying.
- A few changes to your spending habits can make a big difference.
The biggest struggle was spotting bargains and deals in the shops and not being able to buy them. Mrs Wifey and I stood in Asda debating whether we could justify buying a box of Cheerios because they were half price, when we already had two boxes at home. It makes sense to buy things when they are on offer rather than pay full price the following month.
We are continuing into March with the aim to save more money for future jobs that need doing in the house. This time we are going to be a little less strict and allow ourselves £10 per week for buying bargains and little treats. We are also allowing ourselves a treat each at the beginning of the month as a reward for Frugal February.
The one thing that I am most grateful for is that Frugal February has helped us rethink our spending habits and encouraged us think differently about our income. We are spending more time preparing our spending by looking online for vouchers and offers as well as seeing non-essential items as ‘treats’.
Money Spent = £125
Money Made = £141
Money Saved (with bargains/deals etc.) = £103.46
Total = £119.46
Add that to the money we didn’t spend following the Frugal February rules and we were just shy of our target of £500.
Result = £469.76 saved in one month.
Set Yourself The Challenge
If you are tired of getting to the end of the month with no money in your pocket and always worrying about how you will pay for that big DIY project, seriously consider setting yourself an austere living challenge. In just one month you will have a better understanding of how you spend and you’ll be surprised at how much money you can actually save if you change your spending habits.