The last week of January, as always, was a tenner week challenge. How did we get on?
Well, the different daily activities were interesting, and there were definitely a few successes, mistakes and lessons learned. Here’s how it all turned out.
Those daily activities
Monday: Hydration stations (plus optional walk).
Having some extra water was deliberately an easy one because Mondays are often frantic, aren’t they? Fortunately it didn’t feel like I was sloshing around like an overfilled waterbed for the rest of the day either, which was a bonus.
Tuesday: Make your list
Making two lists, one ‘small stuff’ and one ‘big stuff’ was very enjoyable, so I guess I have a lust for lists. The ‘small stuff’ list was easy to sort out, but I’ll have to remember to schedule an hour or so for working on a ‘big stuff’ project some time in the next few days.
Wednesday: Streamline something
My personal streamlining project was to collect our charity shop donation items together and bag them up, to get the place feeling tidier and clutter-free. They duly ended up bagged and tagged in the hallway, and were dropped off the following day which made for a good long walk too. No idea why I’d been putting that off for so long, and I’m glad it’s gone to do some good now too.
Thursday: A moment of meditation
Confession: Thursday was a busy day, and I didn’t put a note in my workflow for this activity. I very nearly forgot to do any meditation, and ended up doing some in a rush at the end of the afternoon when I eventually remembered, but anyway the guided meditation / physical relaxation was actually excellent when I finally did settle down to it, and I definitely should try to make regular time to do more. Note to self: maybe that could be a March mini resolution idea.
Friday: Entertain yourself
Not gonna lie, having 70p left in the budget put me in a slightly grumpy mood, because the only sensible January option was to stay at home. I read part of an interesting library book, then we ended up eating a delicious homemade pizza in front of some comedy shows. The original plan had been to watch a film but for once we couldn’t decide which one to watch. It was still fun in the end though, laughs were had.
Saturday: Mind and body
Managed a few minutes of a meditation walk, which was part of a much longer walk. I also put in my tenth and final hour watching Yellowjackets from the exercise bike in front of the telly, which has been another January challenge of mine, and one that I’m looking forward to repeating with a different series at a later date. Not exactly saying you could crack walnuts on my thighs right now, but… (seriously, no, what a daft thing to do with walnuts, and totally not worth the trip to A&E).
Sunday: The joy of rest
Well, didn’t get to have a lie in due to various commitments, but I did have a quick breakfast in bed with some good coffee and a couple of slices of cake-y brioche that we’d had stashed in the freezer since before Christmas, so no complaints there. Finally, I got a half hour soak in the tub too, which was bliss.
Food and drink
We ate well during the tenner week, and as usual it was somehow better than we eat during non-challenge times. I think it’s mainly because of two factors. Firstly, we have some solid household favourites to wheel out that are based on store cupboard staples and it’s perfect wintery fare, and secondly I think I worry about it getting boring or monotonous so I find myself getting extra-creative every single day and that’s somehow more delicious than going on autopilot at least part of the time.
There were quite a few items of food and drink left over from Christmas, including treats, gifts and plenty of dinner leftovers that had been frozen to enjoy later. Later becomes ‘now’ very quickly when you’re doing a tenner week challenge I find, and you might as well use things up. By the end of the week, there were some very large gaps in the freezer and the fridge was getting very close to being empty. Our menu did a great job of preventing food waste though, and it was a good excuse to give the inside of the fridge a quick spring clean.
I had to make bread twice, so I did a no-knead mixed grain loaf the first time and some poppyseed rolls the second time. While I don’t mind throwing together a quick lazy loaf, I found myself not enjoying making the rolls – even though they tasted delicious in the end. It’s the sheer amount of faffing about on a busy day that was annoying, and there were other things I needed to be getting on with. Next time, I’ll make a second quick loaf or try to avoid doing a second bake altogether, and hopefully won’t have an insane budget of £2 to work around.
I gave myself a strict budget of £2 for the week, then promptly ran out of milk on Day 2. As I’ve said before, doing a big shop to stock up right before the challenge starts is definitely cheating, so hey, at least that shows I wasn’t cheating. It worked out more cost effective to get a big carton of milk because our next weekly grocery shop wasn’t due until the following Thursday – again, dashing out and doing a massive shop the second the challenge ends isn’t exactly in the make-do-and-mend spirit of a Tenner Week – so I was trying to get value for money and hang on a little longer.
That left 70p, which I suppose I could have spent if it had been burning a hole in my pocket, but I didn’t fancy making a non-essential trip to the shops. Which, of course, means that I stayed within budget for the week, so can call that a success.
In future, I’m going to suspend or stop the veg box delivery instead, and have the full £10 to work with. It’s 100% not a proper tenner week having a small veg box delivered, but I’d already committed to an additional month-long 7-a-day challenge long beforehand so was trying to work around that without breaking my lucky streak, hence the £2 in the kitty instead. This time around the £2 felt too restrictive and I noticed that I was being tempted to spend, spend, send far more often than I usually might be.
Temptations and bad habits
I started opening sales emails and writing down offers ‘for later’ when I’d usually delete the messages without reading them. It also led me into lots of window shopping online for a couple of days, and a false sense of urgency about sales ending or offers finishing. Well, that was a rookie mistake and I really should have known better. Tsk, Golightly.
It also didn’t help that a couple of people said, ‘oh go on, get something, I won’t tell anyone and they’ll never know’ – a devil on each shoulder if you like – well, I didn’t buy extra things in the end because I would have known, and would also have told people if I’d messed up.
Because of all the frankly stupid window shopping and the smaller-than-usual budget I was also tempted to do some major rebound spending the following week. In the end I stuck to the basics, plus we kept our grocery shopping day the same and had our usual price cap on it.
Main benefits & lessons learned
Good timing: First and foremost, January can be a cold, rainy and skint month so what better time is there to rein in the spending? I love doing a money saving challenge at the end of every January and can’t see that stopping any time soon. It’s also the perfect opportunity to use things up, particularly to prevent festive season food waste which we all know is both bad for the wallet and bad for the environment.
Less general resistance: There’s far less pressure to go out to the pub and/or restaurants in January, mainly because loads of Brits are trying to save money, eat healthier food, or not drink. TV channels and streaming services often have their best shows on too, making it easier to have a cheap night in.
Keep it interesting: Giving each tenner week challenge a theme seems to help with the motivation, as does having something different and manageable to do each day. There’s a goal to work towards and it stops the situation becoming monotonous. Boredom can easily lead to self-sabotage, and so can cheeky friends (no names mentioned, but tsk to them too).
Smaller budget, larger temptation: Something made me read all those sales emails, and I think it might have been a subconscious rebellion against my daft £2 budget when I should have done a proper £10 instead.
Inflation obviously rising fast: I only bought one thing, milk, but the price had gone up by a noticeable amount. Accelerated inflation is clearly going to affect future tenner week challenges as the spending power of that precious £10 will be decreasing faster than it has in decades. What to do? Keep it £10 and effectively live on quite a bit less, or increase the total amount? A ‘£10.80 week’ sounds weird, doesn’t it?
It’s left me thinking more and more about the cost of living squeeze that’s due to get worse in April, so I’ll be writing about that soon.
Did you manage to stick to your budget in January? What do you think about January money saving challenges in general?