A few weeks ago I had a good look through my finance records to track exactly how much I’d been spending month-to-month in the last two years. Needless to say it was pretty shocking. I could say that in the last 2 (nearly 3) months, I’ve cut my monthly spend by 1/4, because I transfer 25% less into my monthly spending account than I used to. But when I looked back at old figures, in 2016 I was overdrawn 10 out of 12 months, by an average of £123, and in 2015 that figure was an average of £110 in the red every month! AND of course I accumulated more debt on top of that, so you could say that I’ve reduced my monthly spend by nearly a half. Of course I have a number of monthly outgoings that don’t vary, and I’m not talking about those. I also have an account I stick £75 in per month and this covers all my petrol and haircuts (an odd combination I know…).
So of course I’m doing well this year already, and my debt repayment is on track. By the end of next month one of my three remaining credit cards will be paid off, leaving just the two remaining cards to clear. Ideally I want to be debt free by December 31st, but to do that, I’ll need to find some extra cash because realistically the plan takes me to 31st January 2018. That’s fine, an extra month doesn’t make that much difference, but I thought I’d see if I could reduce my spend even further for at least one month, and figure out if I could put anything extra to debt (bearing in mind I’m also saving a little bit to cover my next Lanza trip and for car insurance etc. that will be due in July). If I can manage without much bother, then I should be able to save/not spend a couple of hundred here and there over the rest of the year, and I just might make the December target.
I figured one of the best ways to eek out an extra little bit of money was to attempt a zero spend month. So what does this actually mean?
Well I’m going to keep the money going in the petrol/hair account and if I need to top up I will, bearing in mind I will need a haircut in April. However, I’ll not go over. All my regular bills will be paid of course, but the aim is to buy nothing else for one month. In order to help me along my way I’ve set up some rules:
What I can buy:
- Food to prepare all my meals (i.e. fresh food)
- Toilet roll if I run out
- Medicine should I need it (hopefully not!)
- Stuff to plant in the allotment
What I’m not allowed to do:
- Buy coffees out or snacks on the go
- Go out for dinner
- Buy lunch at work – I need to take all my food
- No books or clothes or treats or anything that I don’t need.
I’ve been pretty good in general and I’ve not been spending much, but I’ve bought a couple of books lately cheap in the supermarket which I don’t need, and I’ve been doing unnecessary top-up shops and buying some toiletries that I don’t need, as I’ve got enough to do me for a good while.
One extra thing I’m going to attempt to do is use my car a lot less, especially for short local trips. My petrol spend isn’t massive these days (it’s a quarter of what it was in my last job), but just walking around more will be good for my back which has been suffering from all the sitting I’ve been doing lately while studying.
I’ll keep a record of exactly what I spend and report back at the end of April.
Wish me luck!