This year something that we, as a family, really need to concentrate on is saving money and this ties in with my quest to start living a simpler life. This is the first of many posts about ‘The Simple Life’ and is about living within our means; something I am reluctant to admit, we definitely do not do at the moment.
I’ve never been great with money, never been particularly good at saving or sticking to a budget – it was never a life skill that I picked up (oh how I wish they had taught me some useful life skills like this back at school!), even when we were a lot worse off than we are now and were a one income family I was still useless at saving money – we lived paycheck to paycheck, blowing it all in the first weeks of the month then spending the last half struggling. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
Now we have two incomes coming in but with that have got used to having more ‘expendable income’, the ease with which we fell into our overdrafts has turned into an uphill struggle trying to get out and stay out of them. We are lucky I guess that our only debts (aside from student loans which are being paid off gradually) are our overdrafts and they aren’t particularly large but despite that it doesn’t sit comfortably with me to be in debt of any kind. I am also desperate to start saving for all of the different things we want in life – I want to be able to travel, to move home and to have more freedom and flexibility in our lives which having savings would help us to achieve.
Embracing minimalism and a move towards a simpler life is directly related to our finances for me; I no longer wish to waste money on surplus items, I don’t want to have overflowing cupboards of fast fashion and a home filled with ‘stuff’ – I want to have a healthy amount in savings and the ability to spend on experiences rather than things. To help with this I am starting to budget and plan our finances a lot more carefully than I ever have in the past.
It was a bit of a wake-up call for me when I realised how much we waste as a family – particularly food waste. I’m pretty ashamed to realise just how much I throw away every week because it’s gone out of date or even, in some cases, because its food I never bothered to use up the leftovers of. I know that I can be very lazy when it comes to cooking fresh meals every night – I often buy all of the necessary ingredients but then never cook the planned meals as they aren’t ‘what I fancy’ or ‘I can’t be bothered’. This is a habit I hope to break, in fact its a habit that I have no choice but to break.
As such I have set myself a challenge and for the rest of this month (well until payday on the 25th so 14 days!) I am planning to cook only from what is already in our kitchen apart from a very small budget solely for a few items that need to be bought fresh ie milk.
As you can see we have a LOT of food (we also have baking stuff that I haven’t included on the list) – anything with an asterisk * is nearing it’s use-by date and so I plan to use those items up as soon as possible. I am setting myself an additional budget of £20 per week to top up on things such as milk and fruit as we go through tonnes of both.
Please do send me recommendations for meals that I can make using the ingredients above – the simpler the better, and wish me luck on this next part of my journey towards a simpler and more intentional lifestyle for me and my family…