Claw it Back Tenner Week: Lessons learned

Claw it Back Tenner Week lessons learned after budgeting challenge

The Claw it Back challenge is over, and now it’s time to pause, reflect and look at those Tenner Week lessons learned. What went well? What didn’t go so well?

Working with a new budget

Due to huge rises in the cost of living, the Tenner Week budget has changed to keep up with the times. You now have two options to choose from: a £10 ‘pocket money’ one where you keep the rest of your bills as low as you can and have a tenner for little treats; or a £25 all-in version which is for food, drink, other general bits and bobs, and a little pocket money if there’s anything left over.

This time around I tried out the £25 all-in budget, because I wanted to see whether it was a realistic amount of money. It was a bit like walking around and kicking the tyres when you buy a new car: you need to give these things more than a quick once-over.

The most interesting thing that happened was that we were completely able to miss out a whole weekly ‘big shop’, and pretty much just go on to a normal grocery shop at the usual time the following week. I know we keep a sensible store cupboard and can scratch cook fairly easily, but it was still quite surprising.

Yes, we ran out of milk and I had to buy some out of my budget, and Beau bought himself some ham and bread and a bunch of bananas after the final weekend was over, but that was it. The fridge is fairly empty now, but I’m choosing to see that as the universe making it easier for me to give it a good clean before the next round of groceries comes in.

Temptations, bad habits & more

Two of the biggest temptations with the food and drink side of things are a huge pre-shop just before the challenge starts (that’s basically cheating innit), and what I call a ‘rebound shop’ after the Tenner Week is over.

No matter how many Tenner Weeks I do, I still usually struggle with the temptation to do a rebound shop right after the challenge has finished. My brain starts making deals with itself, and ‘you’ve been so good all week, why not reward yourself with all this lovely stuff?‘ just pops into my head.

Well, thank you, Penny’s brain. And I see you, yes I do. It’s very, very common to consciously or subconsciously start looking for loopholes when you’re working on any project. We all have weak spots and vulnerabilities, and this is clearly one of the little devils that I have on my shoulder, trying to whisper bad advice into my ear.

I think it’s really important to be honest about these things, so I’m happy to own up to it here. A bit of honesty and self-awareness can work wonders when you’re looking to make positive changes. And the upshot of this little wobble? I decided to ignore it and kept busy, and it went away after a day or two.

My Tenner Week spending diary (erk!)

Here’s how my £25 all-in budget worked out:

  • Monday: £7.95 voucher deal at Pizza Express (via their app) – no regrets
  • Monday: £8.95 glass of wine at Pizza Express – REGRETS: I ordered a medium, but was served and charged for a large glass, and was so deep in conversation that I didn’t notice until after we’d paid and left
  • Wednesday: £4.50 for tea and cake out at an event – REGRETS: should have had a bigger breakfast
  • Friday: £1.55 large carton of milk – no regrets
  • Sunday: £2.00 for the cheapest Mr Whippy vanilla ice cream cone (no flake! FFS!*) – no regrets

Total spent: £24.95, leaving me with the princely sum of five pence left in the kitty. I’m going to leave you to imagine me just about scraping in under the lowest setting of the budget limbo bar there. Technically successful, but somewhat ungainly, I think we can all agree.

It could have been worse, but I do have two regret purchases in there, and they were both rookie mistakes. Next time, I will not order the wine at all, especially not on a Monday, and I’ll definitely check the bill properly. That extra money would have been useful at the weekend.

Anyway, that’s me fessing up, and feel free to learn from my mistakes.

*PS: that Mr Whippy was actually quite nice, even without the iconic chocolate flake in it.

Tenner Week lessons learned take a moment to pause and reflect

How the daily activities went

The latest Claw it Back theme was all about how to keep more of your hard-earned cash. It was timed to happen at the end of a long, probably expensive, summer and to be a mini reset, and I was quite glad of the kick up the bum myself (you can take this particular challenge at any time of the year if you think it’d be helpful.)

Doing one relatively small task per day means you can cover quite a lot of personal finance ground, especially for anything you might otherwise put off because it feels overwhelming.

The Sunday Stocktake

This gets me every time. I’m usually quite organised with groceries, but I found quite a few things in the freezer that I’d forgotten about. Mostly leftovers, some filo pastry, and a couple of batch cooked items, and all of it got used up.

Menu plan Monday

A good menu plan means a happy week of tasty meals, and once again the budgeting challenge got me thinking creatively. The upshot was that we ate better than we would during an average week.

Cancel it Tuesday

I cancelled my membership to a professional data library, mainly because I although got a lot of use out of it in the past it isn’t updated frequently enough for me to justify the continuing expense. Out it went.

Warn Yourself Wednesday

There’s a recurring annual tech bill that gets me every time, so now I have a scheduled date to shop around properly when it’s up for renewal. I definitely want to change providers because their service is getting worse over time and it’s too expensive for what they’re offering.

Refund Me Thursday

This was an easy one – I’d been trying out some pretty dresses for a special occasion, and had only budgeted to keep one of them. I sent the rest back to the shop within the 14 days they allow you to change your mind. The refund is on its way.

Freebie Friday

Fridays are always meant to be fun as we go towards the weekend, and I do like a bit of freebie hunting. In the end I used some store points to order home decorating materials and equipment for free. Of course, I now have to actually get around to said decorating at some point, but at least the parts and labour won’t cost anything.

Better Deal Saturday

There are a couple of bits of software that I use regularly where I wondered if I could get a better deal. I did a bit of research, but I didn’t find anything for the same price that has a better level of functionality. I’ve made a note to check again in a few weeks, in case a discount or new deal comes up, because I’m pretty sure one of the companies is American and does good deals on Black Friday.

Utilities Sunday

Sunday was all about making a list of ideas to work through in your own time, rather than launching directly into action on the day. We managed to come up with some free ideas for short term savings, and we also had a chat about medium and longer term changes we need to make to our home, including getting rid of our old gas hob next year and swapping it out for an electric one.

Summing up: Tenner Week lessons learned

The new £25 version of the budget seems to be quite workable, and I’d be happy to do that again. If you’re careful you could do a basic personal food shop with it, even if you didn’t have anything in stock at home.

I really liked the balance of the daily activities, and wouldn’t change too much about them. They cover a lot of the basics for most people.

What would I do differently next time? Er, quite a bit. The late night pizza was planned because we’d gone to a free film screening with a Q&A, and we both had Pizza Express vouchers for a spot near the cinema. The wine was a medium sized mistake, and not checking the bill was a bigger mistake. Side order of cringe for table four please.

That meant very little left over, and I only had £2.05 remaining for the weekend. That led to a change in plans, as I was originally supposed to be going to a food market on the Sunday, and maybe coffees on the Saturday.

I don’t mind telling you that put me into quite a bad mood on Saturday, most of which was me mentally kicking myself, because the fun stuff had to be cancelled after working hard all week. Still, I turned the day to good use by doing a load of chores around the house and garden, and spent some time reading a library book after that.

The Sunday food market seemed like a bad idea, so we went for a really long walk in the afternoon instead, and looked at the flower gardens in the sunshine. A £2 ice cream cone rounded the day off nicely.

So my main Tenner Week lessons learned were: don’t spend too much at the start of the week, or you’ll have a skint weekend where you can’t do half the things you wanted to do. Oh, and always, always check the bill in the restaurant.

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Did you try the Claw it Back Tenner Week Challenge, or are you thinking about trying it out in your own time? How did you get on if you tried it?

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