I don't earn a massive amount, especially for the South. I've also never really been very good with money. This is a bad combination :)
I decided a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to try and build up a bit of a money cushion, as it were, so I could then start putting money away towards our house deposit. We have some saved already which was from our very generous wedding guests, but unfortunately with a big move such as ours, we are going to need a whole lot more. I often run my balance down to the bare bones, and I really can't save while I am doing that.
The main way I spend my cash each month, after looking at my statements, is lunch. Lunch! Something as innocuous as that. At the time, a fiver a day on some fruit and a bottle of water doesn't really seem like much but actually, that's £100 a month just like that! Maybe throw in the odd bottle of vanilla coke as a treat and maybe some prawns from M&S services (seriously addicted to those) and we're talking 150 a month. It really adds up so quickly!!
So I have decided to spend as little as possible this month, to build up that extra cash, and also try and wean myself off prawns! :) I did our big Tesco shop on Friday which came to £155 and from that I can make meals stretch pretty much all month (hopefully) with just a few fresh bits added like bread and milk. I also bought lots of things I can take with me for lunch, like nutrigrain bars, Tesco traybake granola (which is AMAZING by the way), jelly, and tuna and sweetcorn for a basic tuna pasta salad. I also bought 2x 12 packs of Tesco diet lemonade, to take with me each day, as buying drinks at services gets REALLY pricey. Even just a bottle of water is something ridiculous like £1.50. I don't like bread, and therefore also sandwiches, so make-ahead options are a little more limited. I am also lazy. Also driving around all day means I have no kettle or fridge. I asked on Twitter for some ideas and as always, Twitter delivered!
The suggestions were to use Ryvitas as bread, and go for soft cheese and ham, take soup in a flask, Soreen (malt loaf which is really yummy), make wraps instead of sarnies, and rice pudding! You gotta love Twitter :) These suggestions will have to be for next month though, as I can't spend the money to buy the necessary accoutrements!! :)
Another thing I am doing is taking a coffee with me every morning in a travel mug. The first services I see in the morning usually gets hit hard if its got a Costa machine. Those gorgeous, super-milky-super-fatty large coffees that are like, £3 quid a time. Sure, its not the same... but making up a coffee in the morning and taking it with me helps me to wake up before my first appointment (yeah, I pretty much drive on autopilot, watch out on the roads of Surrey and Hampshire!!) and over the month, will save me a bucketload of cash. Plus, Nescafe is alright. I mean its not Costa but....
As much as I would love to continue buying fresh fruit every day for my lunch, which helps to massively reduce calorie intake and helps me to be super healthy, its just SO expensive. A punnet of strawberries and raspberries is £4! That's before I've even bought a bottle of drink. The problem I also have is that I don't like apples or bananas. So I've also bought some frozen "summer fruits". I think its raspberry, strawberry and blackberry - I haven't tried them yet but I am going to try them in my blender with some almond milk to see if they make a decent smoothie. If not, I will just defrost them in the fridge overnight and have them with yoghurt in the morning. I want to stay on a greatly reduced calorie intake even while I am poor this month ;)
Another problem is gaps between appointments when I am near a shop. Pretty much any shop, if I go in and wander around to kill some time I will definitely come out with something. I literally have zero self restraint :) so instead I am going to avoid all shops, certainly for this month at least, and instead sit in my car and get on with some work to help reduce my workload for home-working days.
I am confident that even just these small changes will help me save a couple of hundred quid and I haven't really had to try. Though giving up the Costas and prawns is seriously heartwrenching.... :) We'll see how I do and how much of a difference it makes!! :)