No spend challenge 2019

Lifeventure coffee cup

I’m not great with money. I’m not bad either. That said, last year was an extravagant year for us and so now it’s time to not spend all our hard earned cash by attempting a little no spend challenge for 2019.

Last year we threw ourselves into the plastic free challenge and found that we loved it. We love everything about it from how little rubbish we produced and cut our meat consumption by about 90% to the fact that we ate pretty healthily. We will be continuing to do our plastic free challenge because it’s really now more of a lifestyle than challenge and so a new challenge is needed for 2019. But to the no spending thing…

As I’ve mentioned, 2018 was an expensive year for us. We bought a house, went to Australia for a year ( I really need to write these blogs) and then had the house fitted with a much needed new bathroom and kitchen. And then the boiler needed replacing… So it is now time to big time save!

In a way, this no spending challenge is a natural lead on from going plastic free because the plastic free challenge really opens your eyes to how much waste there is in the world. With that in mind, why should we be going out and buying things we don’t necessarily need anyway? 

I’m going to set a few rules for this challenge

I can buy:

  • I will be setting £20 a month aside towards Naked Wines so we can still enjoy a ‘treat evening’ with some really good wine  
  • If any clothing wears out we can replace it but nothing new!
  • Toiletries will need replacing but we have a good stock from Christmas which should see us through
  • Second hand gardening equipment or seeds for our new allotment
  • Equipment for renovating the house eg. Paint and tools
  • Books
  • Materials to learn to sew
  • Experiences are not included

I’m going to try and keep a tally of all the things I ‘almost buy’ to see just how much money I save over the coming months.

Not allowed to buy

  • No eating out
  • New clothes
  • New shoes
  • New sports gear (gulp – there goes a few reviews on here)
  • Films
  • Random stuff such as candles or homeware
  • House plants (gulp)
  • Electronics
  • Takeaways
  • Take out coffee
  • Magazines (other than one subscription I hugely benefit from – it’s not just a nice read – it actually teaches me stuff)

You might have noticed that I’ve given myself rather a lot of flex. This is because I know myself and to make the challenge more successful in the long term I am letting myself have a few things – such as the wine. Wine you might ask? Because I bloody love good wine and £20 a month for a nice box costs a lot less than eating out a couple of times a month. I’m also conscious that while we want to save we don’t want life to stop completely and so experiences such as weekends away with friends etc are a-okay. 

Other no-spend challenges around include no book buying. One of my goals for this year is to read more and while I am going to try and use the library, I won’t prohibit myself from buying a book to read – especially if it helps support the local economy. 

This is still going to be a challenge for me and we might find that this time next year we continue it, like we have with living plastic free. Then I can get more serious about it if I want to.

The big budget cut for me will be cutting our food bill…

Food isn’t cheap now we’re plastic free (at least, as cheap as it used to be) and sometimes we can get a bit carried away with how much we spend now our resources are pooled in one place on our joint card. It’s easy to splash the cash when you see how much you’ve grouped together as a pair for a month… 

While some of these things were bulk buys (have to bulk buy plastic free pasta and rice) we somehow spent about £360 in December, which is horrifying – especially when Tom works away a lot. 

For me, this was a big area to work on…

I recently came across a budgeting method by Jordan Page on YouTube and I must admit that I am intrigued to try it out. She claims that she allocates $100 per person in her household for food per month. Rather than focus on the entire month she breaks her budget down into each week, writes this down on an envelope and tallies her spending after every shop so she knows exactly what’s left to spend for the rest of the week. 

That means it’s £200 between Tom and I. As I do like a few luxuries here and there, I will be taking £28 off for our monthly jar of Seggiano pesto, loose leaf tea and coffee, which leaves us at £172 for the month. Then divide that by 4 and you get £43 per week. This, in theory, should be very easy. 

I’ve worked out that this should get us:

£5 for the butchers – whether that’s bacon or sausages, there are ways to stretch that throughout the week. 

£20 for a local veg box (with delivery, tomatoes and peppers)

This leaves a little bit of excess, which can be put towards cupboard essentials such as tomato puree, stock, bread, ‘cheat’ meals of veggie burgers or something similar, a plastic free pantry order (pasta, rice etc). 

You get the idea. With some creative cooking this should be enough food to sustain us throughout the whole week. It’s time to be strict in order to pull back that unnecessary spending. 

The hopeful outcome

Our plastic free journey through 2018 has made us conscious of things we just don’t need. If something is wrapped in plastic we try to find an alternative that’s not as much as possible. It’s taught us that we actually don’t need a lot of that stuff anyway and that we buy in to consumerism a lot. We’ve been through phases of decluttering, which only heightened this realisation. We have missed none of the stuff that we sent to the charity shop and we have a lot more space in our house (and minds) for it. 

This no spending challenge we hope will teach us further to let go of things we don’t need and to realise what the absolutely essentials are – to let go of this ‘need’ to buy. 

Read about our plastic free challenge below!

No more plastic please

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  1. January 27, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    Hi Hannah from Gorilla Jack…..(Spain holiday a few years ago)
    Love following your adventures, and this so describes me at the moment, I quit work to allow the freedom to travel more by bike, so my budget is super low, running on savings. It’s amazing once you realise how easy it used to be to just click and buy things you can live without, and how much you waste on that casual coffee and cake purchase, and beers! Year 1 complete on £8K only and I have cycled Spain, France, and another round trip to Italy, life is great being time rich and cash poor.
    Loving the wild camping and making new friends experience and not buying shit, look forward to how you get on, you need to be strong though.
    The only drawback is that weeks away with high spending friends are out, a shame but a price I can live with.

    • February 6, 2019 / 8:06 am

      Hi Jack! So nice to hear from you 🙂 I’ve been really rubbish with writing it all up (copy and social is my day job so hard to do when I get home too) so there’s lots more to come at some point. That’s amazing – only £8k! Time rich, cash poor really sounds like the dream rather than time and cash poor like us here at the moment. Our plan is to keep saving to maybe go off travelling in a couple of years – always admired you being able to ride off on your bike exploring.