Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The £100 challenge

Photo via weheartit

Last autumn I embarked on a 'Not buying it' challenge, and although in the short term it was a success (in that I didn't buy anything for the duration of the experiment), in the long term it hasn't really stuck.  Throughout October and November I was blogging about how it had changed my consumer patterns for good, but it didn't take me long to fall back into bad habits and I'm now, once again, regularly spending more than I earn each month.  On what, I'm never quite sure.  Necessities like petrol and train tickets, food and drink, yes, but also masses of clothes, CDs, DVDs, gig and theatre tickets, meals out, books, homewares... I just seem to spend and spend and at the end of each month I'm left with an empty bank account and a hefty credit card bill. 

My first job out of university was working for Waterstones, where my full time, take home pay was just over £600 a month.  Not suprisingly, I always spent every penny and more.  Eight years ago I started teaching, which put about £1100 in my bank account every month and, without fail, I would spend £1150 a month.  I now earn twice that and it depresses me that, no matter how much I make, I always live beyond my means.  I'm not helped by having debts still left over from those lower-earning days: a big chunk of my salary each month goes on paying off loans, and living alone means that there's no-one to share the mortgage and bills with.  But still, the fact remains that I am enormously priviliged to earn a good wage and I need to start being more responsible about managing my money.

So my new spending experiment is the £100 challenge.  For the next three months (with a week off for October half term) I am going to limit my spending to £100 a week.  If I can spend less that would be amazing, but I'm trying to be realistic and allow myself to still have a social life and the ocassional treat.  Some of you reading this will be thinking, "£100 a week is LOADS, what the hell?!" and they'd be right.  But compared to the £1000+ (just typing that figure makes me feel ill) I manage to waste every month, it's positively thrifty.  I'll be making a note of every penny I spend, and what I spend it on, and giving regular updates here.  Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck with your challenge, old habits are very hard to break. I myself have taken a huge paycut this year due to changing jobs etc I have to be really disciplined, its hard work I tell thee!

    Just remember the old saying look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves!

  2. Helen that is so true - I'm terrible at saying to myself, "well it's only £2/a fiver/£14, that's nothing" but all those small purchases add up, until I've spent enough to buy an iPad or a new sofa, on nothing at all!

  3. Totally doable - that's how much I have left after paying the bills and it feels like a comfortable amount. Have you ever tried keeping a record of everything you spend? When I went up to a decent wage (once upon a time, many years ago), I couldn't understand where all my money was suddenly going, but writing down every single £3 Costa hot chocolate in a notebook helped me to realise how much I was frittering away on nothing. Good luck!

    1. Yep, my aim is to write down everything. It brings it home how much you spend when every single expense is itemised.

  4. I agree with Sarah about writing down your spending for a week - it's amazing how quickly the little things add up

    For example...

    Parking at work - £3 a day = £15 a week
    Coffee - £1.80 to £3 a day
    Buying lunch out - £3 to £12 a day!

    Cycling, having a cafetiere at work and making sandwiches means more money saving for holidays!

    1. I'm lucky because I work in a school, so free parking and free tea and coffee (teachers would rebel if they took away our free caffiene!) but I am SO bad at spending lots of money on buying lunches, need to get back into the habit of making lunch.