My No Spend Week - Ruth
We’ve challenged a selection of bloggers, content creators and the public to only spend their money on the essentials for one week. Check out the My No Spend Week hub for some inspiration on saving. Maybe a ‘no spend’ week could change how you view your spending habits?
We’ve quizzed our diarists all about how they feel about their spending habits before their challenge week and then after, how they might approach saving and spending in the future. Today we’re hearing from Ruth.
I'm a 32-year old Communications Officer and blogger living in Liverpool with my school teacher fiancé and our French bulldog, Molly. We bought our first home two years ago after renting for many years. We use a joint account and I have a personal savings ‘rainy day’ fund, too.
Are you a saver?
I do currently save money. My fiancé and I have a joint account that we use to pay our bills. We both overpay into this account and the 'extra' is classed as our joint savings, towards things for the house/holidays/date nights etc. I then have personal savings, where I transfer what I can each month into a separate ISA. I don't have a set amount or Direct Debit - it's as and when. I always call my savings my 'rainy day fund' as I like to have that financial security. In terms of physical purchases, we're currently saving for a new bed and sofa and within my personal savings, I've decided to treat myself to a new designer handbag!
I would love to save more money. It would be great to be able to afford a holiday next year and to get our garden landscaped, so having money in the 'rainy day fund' ready for that to happen would be great. I also try not to live pay cheque to pay cheque so having savings definitely helps me to feel more financially secure.
I have been unemployed for the majority of lockdown so the biggest test for me financially has been to cut back on unnecessary spending like top-up shops and beauty or make up purchases and make sure I utilised my personal savings fully to pay bills and the mortgage. It's definitely helped me save and not over spend as I haven't been challenged with meeting friends and wanting to spend on drinks or clothes so it's been positive, in the sense that I've only spent money on essential bills and living costs, but my savings have reduced. Finding myself out of work and without an income meant my personal savings were a lifeline.
My biggest spend is definitely on food. Whether that's more at the supermarket from week to week, treat takeaways, little top-up shops or a bottle of wine. Food in the form of ease or a treat is my biggest personal expense outside of our shared spending as a couple.
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Non-essential shops reopened and there is a TK Maxx next door to our local supermarket. I decided to pop in and have a look as we need a couple of new bowls. Couldn't find the bowls I was looking for, but I did pick up some new underwear and a couple of workout tops. They were part of a sale offer so £21.99 for the lot which is expensive for six items, but a saving was applied.
I then popped into Morrison’s as we are due a food shop and needed a few items to carry us over. I spent £18.90, from our joint account, on bread, wraps, chocolate milk, honey and fresh fruit and veg. I nearly picked up some pre-made vegetarian sushi but decided I could make a smoothie bowl at home instead.
We took a ride out to IKEA to return a cabinet bought prior to lockdown and I picked up some rattan storage boxes for our lounge. As I was more keen on these than my fiancé, I paid for them from my account rather than the joint account. Two boxes and a pack of Daim bars we spotted at the tills - I left £34 pounds lighter. We were going to get hot dogs on the way out, but decided against the queue and to make dinner once we got home - saving us £1!
Had a lazy day at home. Decided to do a home workout having spotted a couple of influencers on Instagram sharing videos of Dance Box. Checked out the subscription for the virtual classes - £25 for a monthly plan of three classes per week. Umm and ahh about it, but decide to try and find a free alternative on YouTube. Hiit Hop does the trick!
Spend the rest of the day meal prepping as we're running out of food and due a big shop. I make porridge with frozen berries for brunch and a veggie sausage and mushroom pasta for dinner. It was a 'using up' dinner but so tasty and got rave reviews from my fiancé so I'll definitely be making that one again!
A food shop is overdue so we decide to get it out the way. Admittedly, I haven't meal planned for the coming week like I normally do and only had a rough list. We've only been heading to the supermarket every 10 days or so during lockdown and making our food last longer than the usual seven days. We spend £87.98 on the food shop, which is expensive but included toiletries and a large bag of dishwasher tablets, which we'd ran out of and I'd seen ads from influencers plugging, but actually they're great! We paid on the joint account and it'll last us over a week so no complaints.
Next we pop into M&S Food for some Friday night treats. We spend £11.45 on two packs of the Plant Kitchen churros and the Plant Kitchen dirty fries. Sounds expensive in hindsight, but it saved us from ordering a takeaway which would have cost us closer to £20. We saw that McDonald's drive-through didn't have a queue and debated getting double cheeseburgers, but decided to head home and make a homemade Chinese fakeaway for dinner instead.
I didn't spend any money again on Friday. I headed out on a long dog walk, leaving my bank card at home so I wasn't tempted to buy a drink on the way home. Made a large tuna salad for lunch and binge watched YouTube videos all afternoon.
Headed into Liverpool for my first socially distanced friends catch-up since lockdown began. My fiancé gave me a lift to the train station, saving me £4.50 on bus fare. A return ticket on the train cost £4.10 which I paid in cash. We met at a pop-up food market where I bought a drink for £1.30 whilst my friends ordered coffees. After a wander we bought a takeout Aperol Spritz from a nearby restaurant for £5 - it was a beautiful, sunny day. I was a bit peckish, saw a great pizza place were doing takeout so I ordered to takeout. It was £7.90 and I ate half in the sunshine and took the rest home for my fiancé to share later. I debated going to the shops for a look after leaving my friends, but decided against it and went to catch the train. I got the bus from the train station costing £2.30.
Sunday was another no-spend day. We had a lazy start to the day and made a vegetarian cooked breakfast using the contents of our food shop and then went on a dog walk. I spent the afternoon writing a meal plan list for the rest of the week, using my extensive recipe book collection so we don't end up doing any top-up shops or being persuaded my takeaways!
I did find it difficult not going to look in the shops when I went into town on Saturday. I'm such a windows shopper over online shopping and I do miss that so that was tough and I would have loved a McDonald's but we'd just done the food shop so it did feel like cheating! I found the week ok. I actually spent more than I have any other week in lockdown as the shops reopened and I met friends for the first time. Ideally I would have spent less but the main bulk of the spending was on our joint account, which is the purpose of it so that's not too bad.
I think I probably saved around £50. If we had got fast food on a couple of occasions and I'd have bought pre-prepared food my spending would have increased. And I avoided the shops when going into town! Yes, I did consider my spending and made an effort not to be frivolous, especially in TKMaxx because it had reopened. I bought what I needed and the week has definitely been an eye-opener. I don't think I've kicked any spending habits yet, but I can see areas for improvement and how I could have avoided spending and this week has definitely encouraged me to save more. It's good practise to be aware of my spending and whether I really need to make the purchase.
Your No Spend Week?
So, what do you think? Could you go a whole week and only spend on essentials? No treats or coffees or new clothes? Let us know on Twitter and Facebook and if you’d like to write your own ‘My No Spend Week’ diary – send us an email telling us all about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our range of savings accounts and our Essential Savings Guides too for some more tips and tricks for saving money.
*The featured content creators have been paid to take part in and keep a diary of their ‘My No Spend Week challenge’. However the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed belong solely to the content creator and the opportunity is open to members of the public too if they also wished to take part in the challenge. There is no commercial relationship between The Nottingham or content creator and any products or brand mentioned in their diary.
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