“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
Day 2 was all about gathering advice; friends and family shared useful tips on where I should start the cut backs. The buying (or rather, not buying) of books came up several times. It’s an obvious place to start, I suppose. With our libraries underused and at risk of closure, it’s about time I swapped from buying to borrowing. Last weekend I finally got around to signing up at the local library, and am currently making my way through five tomes simultaneously. Unfortunately the selection of my favourite authors is sad, with no Julian Barnes, little Sebastian Faulks and even less Ian McEwan. Still, if I suddenly decide I want to read every one of Agatha Christie’s Poirot series, a job-lot of fluorescent pink chick lit or any number of diet manuals, I’ll be sorted.
As I haven’t yet taken the radical step of writing a shopping list and getting ingredients to cook with, I’m still buying my evening meal with the express aim of having as few minutes as possible between paying and eating. Up until now, this has meant buying a ready meal, and attaching a helium balloon to the amount I spend on food. While I haven’t yet cooked a meal from scratch, I have taken up scouring the shelves for almost-out-of-date ready meals, which saves just over a third on the usual price. Not perfect, but it’s a start.
Figure out what you have left over after the necessities like rent, insurance, and coffee.
Budgeting advice from a friend
Call me profligate, but the one thing I am particularly struggling with is cutting down on my intensive caffeine habit. They say smoking costs a fortune; they should try working in an office where the only drinkable tea comes at 75p a time. Yesterday I managed two, today I got myself down to one cup of palatable stuff, and around ten shots of machine-produced sludge. Disgusting, with a rank aftertaste, this is surely a clue as to how reliant I am on the drug (or, more likely, a placebo of caffeine, since the vended liquid bears little resemblance to actual tea…)
Tomorrow I’ll get down to zero cups bought. That’s not because I’ll be particularly wilful after a night’s rest, but because I’ve run down the balance on my staff card, and have no more money to top it up. Wish me luck in staying awake at work!