January is a long month….
I saw this funny post on Skint Dad’s Instagram the other day, which rang true… January is a long month. Even on my no spend challenge it is dragging a bit!
Regaining control of your finances with a no spend January
If you are feeling the pinch and still haven’t recovered from December it’s not too late to have a few no spend days or even weeks. The discipline of buying nothing except essentials is great. If you decide you are going to spend less, it is easy to just spend and it creeps up without you noticing … However, if you declare you will be spending nothing then that is clear cut. No shopping, no going to the pub, no buying stuff on the internet, no beauty treatments or hair cuts, no meals out. You pay your bills and buy your groceries. You get petrol and pay for any essential repairs, but that’s it.
That might sound depressing, but it’s actually the opposite. It is only for a limited time and you reap the benefits with greater control of your money. So what frugal things have I achieved for this week of my no spend January?
1# Going part time vegan
I don’t think I could sustain a completely vegan diet. Nevertheless I find myself preparing vegan meals quite a lot of the time anyway. If you avoid buying lots of processed vegan foods such as ‘cheese’ or burgers, eating vegan is actually extremely cheap.
I decided to eat totally vegan twice a week in my new year’s resolutions, partly for health reasons – less fat and more vegetables and fruit – and partly to reduce my environmental footprint.
It wasn’t difficult as I enjoy this way of eating. I even experimented with a vegan lemon drizzle cake. It turned out a little soft in the middle but was so lemony we ate it all anyway. My difficulty with the diet is having to either drink my tea black or to put non-dairy milk in it. The almond milk I purchased didn’t taste good in tea. Next week I am going to try oat milk.
2# Keeping warm with our wood burner
I mentioned previously that I am currently signed off work with a trapped nerve. As it has been just me in the house a lot of the time during the day, I have been sitting in the lounge with the wood burner on rather than heating the whole place.
Me and the cats love snuggling up in front of a roaring fire! Cheaper than heating rooms nobody is in.
3# A walk in the park
We are lucky to have a beautiful park in Colchester town centre. Castle Park is huge and always immaculately looked after, with lots of interesting things to look at each time we go. This time there were these lovely willow figures of men tending a war time allotment. We had great walk round it in the cold sunshine. It was so cold the pond was frozen over. Fortunately some parts had broken and melted as it was full of swans and ducks.
There were lots of people in the park, obviously not put off by the freezing weather. This is great. With all the cuts in local government, it is really important to use facilities that we pay for with our council tax so that they can’t easily justify stopping the funding for local amenities like parks, libraries and museums. Use them or lose them and make sure your councillors know how much you value them!
4# A bit of bird watching
Mr S received a huge wreath made from bird food as one of his Christmas presents. We need to put it in the garden, somewhere the cats can’t get at so the birds feel safe feeding from it. I also plan to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch so have been online to get a free pack. Hopefully the wreath will draw the birds in and we can record a few feathered visitors. It runs from 26th to 28th January. Why not take part? It’s fun, it’s free, it’s educational and it’s useful!
I’m not great at identifying birds but Mr S is pretty knowledgeable. I have been looking at the RSPB website, where there are pictures and descriptions of the most common birds you might see in your garden.
5# Changing broadband provider
We decided to get a grip with our TV and broadband. We had the cheapest, most basic contract with Virgin, which was fine for broadband but pointless for the TV. We get more channels on Freeview! We decided to get rid and take out a broadband and phone only package with Now. I did it through Top Cashback and got £75 cashback! I use cash back sites for pretty much everything I buy now – they save me so much money! (This is my referral code, by the way.)
The contract will only cost £25 a month, as opposed to the £44 we were paying with Virgin. So, £19 a month saved plus £75 in our pockets. Most of the TV we watch is on catch up, which we can get via the Firestick, and Netflix. I don’t think we will miss Virgin.
How has your week been? Do you find that January is a long month?