Friday, 1 August 2008

I've Blown It

Another month has flown by and unfortunately, I broke my budget by, for me, ridiculously huge amounts. Having house guests cost me far more than I imagined, for one reason meaning that this month I’m going to have to pull the reins in even further than usual.

Reasons for blowing my budget:

Petrol - Ferrying guests around is expensive these days. Cars don’t run on air (if only) and the cost was left down to me to cough up. £160 in petrol in a month is a lot!

Food - Although I’d budgeted for more groceries than usual, frequent trips to the shop for ‘top ups’ cost a lot more than I’d imagined. My £100 budget for two weeks turned into £155.

Personal Loans - As LM has been unable to take money from her bank account due to lack of both a bank card and identification, I’ve had to become her personal cash-point. I know she’ll give me the money back just as soon as her new PIN arrives but it’s still left me short and bills unpaid. Lise also ran out of money so I had to dip into my savings in order to help. Then, to top it all, they missed their flight yesterday so I had to dip in even further so that they could pay for a new flight that leaves on Saturday. Part of this money should be returned next week, part in September.

Impulse Buying - Frequent visits to Asda, Tesco, and the local petrol garage have, I’m ashamed to say, managed to part me with money I didn’t intend to spend. I didn’t buy much on impulse but it was still too much.

Lack of Account Updates - I feel as though I’ve been running around myself most of the time so whenever I do get the chance to have some time for myself, I’m usually so shattered that I just haven’t been keeping my accounts properly updated. When I lose control of my budget, things go haywire.

Stress - Due to my health, I've found having house guests pretty stressful and, looking back, I realise that when I'm stressed I spend more. I buy 'comfort' through bars of chocolate (even though I normally eat very little of the stuff) and 'stuff' that I wouldn't normally even want, let alone actually buy. This hasn't amounted to a lot of money but when you're on a tight budget, these things really do make a difference. What's worse though is that I smoke more and that's not only bad for my budget but it's not doing my health any good at all. Quite the opposite.

To help find another notch on the ever tightening belt this month, I’ve taken inspiration from Frugal Trenches and will be aiming to have 16 no-spend days during August. That won’t include bill payments that are taken from my bank account as my direct debits go out on all sorts of dates and would just make it near on impossible to stick to my 16 days, but I shall do my best to not spend as much as 1p on anything other than bills during those days. Of course, I’ll also try to keep spending during the remaining days to a minimum too.

I've earmarked unnecessary telephone calls other than the free inland calls that are part of my TV/Internet/phone bundle as 'spending' but not sending texts as they're bundled into my mobile bill anyway.

Originally I thought of aiming for 20 but decided it would be better to stick with half of the month rather than aim to high and end up feeling miserable if I couldn't keep to it. I may not be able to stick to 16 either but at least those extra 4 days give me a better chance, especially as I do need to call my mum's mobile regularly (and often for several hours at a time through and top-up grocery shopping still has to be done.

I’m determined, though. I won’t let this blip set me back too far.

Sharon J


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ramtops said...

Blimey - I would always offer to contribute to petrol costs, especially since it became so ridiculously expensive.

Your kids are lucky to have you as their personal banker :)

Jade of the Jungle said...

I tried to do something similar last month just as a bit of an experiment. After deducting regular bills (rent/utilities/phone etc) I gave myself a daily budget. I was doing fairly well but it's birthday/wedding season and the presents and celebrating have really blown it out of the water!

I very rarely go to the supermarket these days without a list, and I find that saves me from buying loads of things I don't need, just because they're on offer.

Otherwise, I think the only thing to do is to go visit all those houseguests you've been having and let them pamper you for a while!

Good luck!


ramtops said...

I find doing the supermarket shop online stops me being tempted. I rarely set foot in the place now.

Sharon J said...

Mmmm... a contribution would have been welcome, Ramtops.

LM couldn't help her situation. She doesn't usually come to me for money but after having her handbag stolen with her bank card and driving license in, she's been in a bit of a pickle so I offered to help her out. She needed petrol to get to work etc.

Lise's boyfriend has money on his bank account that he intended to use here but didn't realise he'd need a visa card to use cash-points or make bank withdrawals, which his card isn't. And it wasn't anybody's fault really that they missed their flight yesterday - it was a combination of events that led to that and I could hardly leave them stranded.

Jade. There always seems to be something that wasn't expected, doesn't there? I've cut right back on gifts these days - only children and my immediate family receive them for birthdays and luckily, there have been no weddings for a long time.

I do my main shop online because a) it's easier for me and b) it saves me from picking up stuff I don't need. There's always fresh stuff that has to be bought in between though and that's when I've been spending too much recently on 'comforts'.

I'm going to try to stay away from the big chains this month and just go to the corner shop for milk, bread etc. It may be a little more expensive but it helps keep the local economy stronger and saves me from making impulse buys.

Frugal Trenches said...

Oh Sharon I'm so sorry you've had a tough month! Can your children contribute to petrol costs? I know when I visit my mum and use her car I always fill up the tank for her before I go, even if I've only used 1/4 a tank. I only stay 2-3 days but usually either treat her to a meal out or buy things in. Another friend of mine doesn't do that, but gives her mum £50 for a week's stay for her and her BF. Another friend does it different still and within a day of arriving does the grocery shop for her stay - so that basically her mum doesn't have to spend anything on groceries for the week. Only you know what is right for your family/kids but don't be scared to ask for contributions if you need them!
It is always those unexpected expenses that push me back. I've just gotten another chequing account linked to my chequing account- the plan is to keep about £200 in there, which I can easily transfer over to pay for dentists, car troubles etc.

I'm sure you'll find no spending days really helpful! Can't wait to see how well you do - see I'm sure you'll accomplish it already!

Hope August is a great month!

WebSmith said...

I started using the Magic Jack. It's a VOIP device that's only $20 to purchase and only $20 per year for unlimited calls in the U.S. and Canada. I already had Packet8 for $24 per month, but this is over $250 per year cheaper. Like all VOIP services, the call quality is affected during downloads and uploads and sometimes I have to call people back. I save over $2k per year using these things and call friends and family much more often.

Packet8 is available in Europe and allows you to talk to people in other countries in Europe who also have a Packet8 modem with no additional long distance or international call charges.

Magic Jack only allows people in other countries to call U.S. and Canada for free at this point and they will be assigned a U.S. phone number so you can also call them for free. If you and your daughter both had one, you could call your U.S. numbers and talk as long as you want for $20 per year. They would have to be shipped to a friend in the U.S. or Canada first and forwarded to you. My son will take one of these with him when he leaves.

donna said...

good luck with your challenge. i don't think i could do it, i'll be interested to hear how you get on.

laura said...

sharon, i'm the same, as soon as I stop keeping a daily track of money I'm spending, it all goes up the swanny!

August is a new month. Good luck with the no spend days :)

Catz said...

Don't feel too bad Sharon, I think at some time we have all been there and it is so frustrating! At least you got to spend some time with the family and can now re-trench and re-sort the budget. No spend days really do work, would love to join you on this challenge but can only do 10 days this month as I am away at my sisters for some of time and do try to help out there if I can, also the boot sales in her part of the country are fab! :)

Sharon J said...

@ Frugal Trenches. My younger daughter has had extra expense herself because she's been ferrying her sister around too. The older one (who's visiting with b/f) doesn't have much of an income so I hadn't expected her to contribute much but something would have been nice, especially as they spend huge amounts on coca-cola and lager. Oh live and learn.

I always contribute too when I'm staying with others, even though I'm also on a low income. I'm not always able to contribute much in the way of housework anymore (although I do try to do my bit) but would always put something towards the food, petrol etc. When my friend and I visited my daughter last year we did most of the shopping and filled the car up every time we used it. We also bought her b/f's mum a box of luxury chocolates being as she'd made us dinner, too. Oddly enough, I thought my children would naturally learn from my own actions but it seems that wasn't the case in this particular instance.

@ Websmith. Thanks for letting me know about Packet8 but I think I'll stick with what I'm using at the moment. It seems like too much messing about right now to have phones forwarded etc. I'll remember it for future reference though as I do have a friend in Canada who would no doubt be the middle man for me.

@ Donna. I shall try to remember to post an update at the end of the month.

@ Laura. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes loses track. And yes, August is indeed a new month. Onwards and upwards :)

@ Catz. I'd forgotten about boot sales as I haven't been at all this month (just as well, really). Oh dear... I'm not sure I can avoid them for another month, especially as the season will be ending soon here.

Chris said...

Hi Sharon, hope things can get back on track for you soon. Sounds like a bit of a tough time with all the extra costs. As I don't eat I cannot add shopping to be expenses now but even so if I go into a supermarket for drinks , milk and household bits the bills are still rising each time I go there! Happy saving - good luck!

Anonymous said...

Tricky isn't it. I always seem to be doing well and then in the last week before pay day expenses seem to pile up. Well done for trying. Imagine the pile up if you weren't!

Sharon J said...

Chris. I guess that's the only upside to not being able to eat. As you know, I don't have to eat but I love my food far too much to give it up voluntarily.

Cherry. I'd rather not imagine it ;)