by Jess

One of the things I really want to get better at in 2019 is managing my / our finances. Matt and I turn 35 this year and it’s quite embarrassing to admit that we’ve never budgeted our money. We are both self-employed and our earnings can vary quite a bit, because of that the sensible thing to do would be to save money but nope, we’ve never done that! Instead we just eat out too much and splurge when we get paid then get stressed when we’ve spent it all and have bills that need to be paid.

It’s not something we want to pass down to the kids so we’ve decided that now is the time to change things. It was actually on New Year’s Eve that we decided to write out our budget (rock and roll!!), and the reality was a bit shocking.

We’ve decided we really want to pay off all our debt and then work on our savings so we are going to start budgeting properly and I’ve also decided to give no spend January a go. The general idea being that for the whole month you don’t spend money on anything other than the essentials. Obviously everyone’s idea of essentials will be slightly different, I saw one list this morning saying that you should cancel gym memberships! Obviously if you aren’t using it then that’s a good idea but I get so much use out of mine so there is no way I am getting rid of it, it’s an essential for my health, both physical and mental.

This video by The Fairly Local Vegan explains how it all works and answers any questions you might have.

So for us the main challenge will be spending less on food, it’s the one area we spend a lot on, whether eating out or just buying expensive treats to have at home. We are only 4 days in and I’m already struggling a bit. It’s actually affected my mood quite a lot and made me realise how emotionally connected I am to food, especially sweet treats. I usually have little stashes of them around the house and I like to know they are there, even if I don’t eat them that day.

It’s a habit I’ve got into with all food, I found it quite comforting to have stashes of food. It was only after starting to de-clutter my house that I realised food was something I hoarded. I would buy random items like silken tofu and loads of tins of beans just to sit on the shelf, they weren’t things I had any idea what I was going to cook with!

So that is something I’m changing, already I want to use everything up and only buy the things I need to make meals for that week.

I’m hoping that this challenge will break my emotional connection to sweet treats and mean I no longer feel the need to stockpile them. As well as helping us save some money.

Another area I’m working on is buying less plastic. We are actually really lucky to have two zero-waste shops near us, yesterday I went into Waste Not Want Not in Bridport which is great. They have so many different products, all organic.

I got my bread machine flour from there, wholemeal cous cous, pasta, rice and sultanas. Then I went into Morrisons to buy fruit and veggies, nearly all of which was free from plastic; celeriac, peppers, brocolli, tomatoes, bananas, kiwis, potatoes, carrots and parsnips. I did buy some basil which was in packaging but I’m planning to find a good farm shop to source everything from.

no spend january update

I then made a batch of cous cous for a few days lunches, some homemade pesto and some cashew mozzarella. Also some baked potatoes as they keep in the fridge and are such a filling, cheap meal. Today I’m going to make some tomato sauce and pizza dough. I’ve also made a batch of cookies because it’s Friday and I still need treats sometimes!

So 4 days in and no spend January is going pretty well. I’ve been into shops and few times but stuck to the essentials and not sneaked anything else in. There is still a long time to go though!!

Is anyone else doing no spend January or planning to do a no spend month this year?

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