Has your money focus gone a little soft round the edges? Here’s why I am re-focusing on my spending habits
I confessed in a recent blog post that I am not a financial wizard, indeed I shared with you 13 financial mistakes that I have made. I usually seem to be better at sweating the small stuff and reserve my mistakes for the bigger things in life! It would of course be better if this were reversed, hey ho.
I have prided myself in previous years in sweating the small stuff. Things I have done to pay close attention to the small stuff include:
- Clipped coupons
- Picked up pennies.
- Used the Asda price guarantee
- Utilised try me free promotions to receive an item for free
- Timed my shopping to pick up final reduction items
- Bought reduced price bashed tins
- Used Approved Food for out of date bargains
Looking through that list above you would be forgiven for thinking I made every penny a prisoner. That I was pretty good at managing my money, week in, month out. Yep, I was. For many years I was dedicated and focused and frugalness oozed from my pores.
But just recently I seem to have a case of blocked frugal pores. I feel lazy when it comes to being frugal, trying to make my money stretch as far as possible.
Why am I struggling now at the point where we are so close to having enough to retire early? I’ve thought about this over the past couple of months and think it’s precisely because of that. We are so close that I am unconsciously letting the financial strings get a bit looser.
Not helped by having very loose financial strings when it comes to DD2 although I am trying to move away from this financial parenting. It’s a work in progress at least.
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May Money Focus
I decided at the very end of April that I really needed to focus on my spending habits on a daily and weekly basis. I felt I needed to get back to what I was good at and get back in control of my spending.
At the beginning of April I read Nicola’s post on having a cash only April and commented at the time that DD2 being home from university meant I couldn’t contemplate this at that time.
DD2 went back to uni 2 weeks later and will be back home at the end of May. Getting my spending back on track will be much easier with DD2 safely ensconced up north.
As is my usual practice, I had grand plans to do a whole raft of things as part of the money focus:
- Shop from my freezers almost exclusively
- Cash only spending
- Grocery shop only once a week, in one shop
- Spend only £10 a week max
- No online shopping
- Draw out cash for the whole month
- Put my debit and credit cards in the freezer
You get the picture, totally unrealistic for someone who does her grocery shopping at different shops. Uses a cashback credit card and doesn’t have any fruit or veg in her freezers!
I realized almost immediately that I was being unrealistic so decided to dumb it down somewhat to make it more likely I shall successfully go a whole month doing whatever I sign myself up to.
My realistic May Money Focus
Asda reduced bargains
DO NOT shop for reduced bargains in Asda when using their car park for other errands (this is a biggy for me as it’s so easy to veer to the right as I approach the entrance rather than left and out into the street).
Just the one supermarket
Use just one supermarket for the my main grocery shop – I use Lidl as my main shop but there is the odd thing we like that they don’t stock or is more expensive. I usually shop at Lidl and Asda in one go possibly with Home Bargains thrown in.
Confession time – I love supermarket shopping so going to 3 different ones in a day is a treat. I never look at the clothes or other stuff. It’s all about the £ per kg and what bargains are around for me.
Do I really need a top up?
Top up of veg and fruit to be made at only one shop and only if really necessary.
No protein bargain buying just because it’s a bargain. My freezers are pretty full of various proteins, meat, fish etc. Enough to last the two of us at least a month and probably more like 3!
You may note the plural of the word freezer – I am successfully down to now only using 1 large chest freezer and a small half freezer. The other large chest freezer is not being used.
And no I don’t go buying half a cow at a time – I’d have a proper excuse then for having stores worthy of Armageddon planning. Did I mention I love a good supermarket bargain???
Say no to any financial requests/demands from DD2 when she comes home for May Day bank holiday.
Make a list of items that are finished/running out and remember to take it with me when I do go shopping!
Online no longer
No online shopping. I have no birthdays or other celebrations coming up
Who needs clothes?
No clothes shopping – this is a bit of a cheat as I rarely buy clothes, last time I bought myself something was new waterproof trousers after Christmas using present money.
The list above might not seem a big deal to you if you are a financial wizard. I am a mere mortal who loves to (supermarket) shop who will find all of the above a bit of a stretch. I also didn’t want the target to be too stretching as I am more likely to give in.
My plan is to focus on my money spending this month, review it and maybe get more focused in June. Got to get through May first!
Overall I think I did ok this first week although my financial parenting was fairly weak. I know it could become harder as the month progresses.
On my 1st day I picked up a prescription from Asda pharmacy, hanging around the obligatory 20 minutes. But I didn’t spend anything even though I had a good look at the yellow stickered section (why was I testing myself on the 1st day?!)
Parked in Asda car park the following day (it’s free) for my mystery shopper experience at the local bank. I would have walked but it was chucking down with rain. No spend – yay!
Thursday was an easy day as had a 12 hour shift and I always pack my lunch, snacks and drinks.
The weekend was more of a test as DD2 came home. I was successful shopping in only Lidl (phew) but DD2 tested me. She wanted to go clothes shopping and when she tallied up all her items she thought it would be a good idea for me to buy a £20 top! I said no and stuck to it.
However I have to concede a slight failure on the DD2 front. Having successfully stuck to my guns in the clothes shop she then pulled the ‘poor me’ attitude regarding skin care. Her skin isn’t great and it does affect her mental well-being (at times she can have a very poor opinion of herself).
I decided that spending my Boots points wouldn’t break my May Money Focus. Think I am probably fooling myself a smidge there. I had £18 of points and said she could purchase her make-up as long as I only used points, no cash.
I hardly ever use Boots and those points have been stored for 6 months+ so my defense is they aren’t real money!
Needless to say we had to go to the train station via a supermarket to buy food for her 5 hour train journey. Cheaper and healthier than station food but it comes out of my pocket rather than her student loan. Slight fail there then.
What a difference a week without DD2 makes! Less money stress, less walking on eggshells in case I have to justify to her why I don’t want to open my purse.
That’s actually a bit of a cop out. I am an adult and should not be shying away from slightly difficult conversations with DD2. I think I need to get a grip and woman up!
I managed to stay away from Asda’s car park this week!
Weekly grocery shop successfully completed in just Lidl. This did mean I paid more for a couple of items that are cheaper in Asda but I know I would have overall spent more money if I had visited both shops.
Unfortunately I didn’t think to buy ice creams for bank holiday weekend whilst we had our 2nd mini heatwave. Mr2p was not impressed!
Even less so when I explained we couldn’t just pop round the corner to buy some as that defeated the object of having our May Money Focus!
Naturally he pointed out that he hadn’t actually signed up to this challenge. I didn’t buy the ice creams.
My mid week veg top up shop was a mere £7. And I forgot the ice creams again! Mr2p not impressed.
Mr2p is currently humoring me with this challenge but not likely to join in if I keep forgetting his treats!
5 No Spend Days (NSD) this week – fantastic!
So, two weeks in and think I am doing ok. Unfortunately DD2 is home again in May (she gets a half term) so I will have to negotiate 4 days with her at home.
This is right at the very end of May so maybe if I am good between now and then I shall feel stronger and able to push back on any demands.
You can read the results of my Money Focus Month HERE – needless to say it wasn’t a smooth ride! Check it out.
More posts that can help you focus on your spending habits: