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  • FIRST POST
    ScrimpingandSaving
    HELP! Have cut back all I can but am still over-spending!
    • #1
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:09 PM
    HELP! Have cut back all I can but am still over-spending! 6th Feb 13 at 9:09 PM
    Every month we are having to dip into our savings to bail us out and it just can't carry on. The problem is we simply don't earn enough. I just did the Budget Brain on MSE and we go over by around £330 each month.

    Please help me see where I can make savings!

    Our joint monthly income is £2,252 incl child benefit and child tax credits (not eligible for working tax credits)
    Our total spend is £2,650.

    Mortgage is fixed until April and is £448pm
    We have no debts to pay.
    No cable TV or monthly phone subscriptions - 3 PAYG phones at around £15pm
    The most we spend is on groceries which is around £650pm for a family of four. That includes wine, beer and sundries such as household items, children's underwear and some birthday gifts.
    Gas and electricity: Co-op which was cheapest when I checked 6 months ago. I pay £35pm and we owe an extra £250 on top of that so can't switch until I pay.
    Council Tax: band B which is around £132pm
    Insurance: just buildings at £6.42pm
    Water: £350 a year
    Petrol: £250pm 2 cars, 1 diesel @ 60 miles a day and 1 petrol for kids, shopping, etc @ 100miles pw.
    Car insurance: we shop around for the best deals £44pm currently, £74pm on tax and £40pa breakdown cover for both cars. Maintenance for both cars incl MOT is £64pm.

    Savings: no pensions so I save £100pm in an online savings account and put away £20pm each for the kids.

    We don't eat out except for special occasions, no big days out, the only take-out we have is a supermarket curry every Sunday at a cost of around £7.

    We generally have one holiday a year and that costs around £800 for all of us incl spending money, travel and accommodation.

    I have promised to visit my dad in the Orkney islands this year as he's getting quite elderly now and I've not visited him yet. That will cost around £1,000 when you take into consideration the cost of petrol and 2 nights paid accommodation (one there and one back) plus the ferry.

    I am at my wits end as to what we can do. We know we can't carry on the way we are but we are already cutting back on so much. The kids don't have any clubs, they don't have school meals and their clothes are all second hand as are ours.

    Any advice greatly appreciated. I know I can stop putting away £100pm but that would be neither here nor there as I end up taking it back to top up our account anyway.
Page 1
  • meritaten
    • #2
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:17 PM
    • #2
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:17 PM
    er - so you are putting away savings yet are overspending each month?
    even a quick scan of what you have posted tells me that you should be under budget - so where is the excess money going?
    I am awful at math but I make your outgoings at less than £2000 a month inc holiday - have you counted in spending money for that?
    Last edited by meritaten; 06-02-2013 at 9:22 PM.
    There sure are a lot of laws in this country - but there aint much Justice!!!
    (Dean Koontz - One Door Away From Heaven)
  • Tiglath
    • #3
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:21 PM
    • #3
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:21 PM
    You're spending a huge amount on groceries - lots of savings to be made there. I think you need to keep a spending diary to see where all the money's going; you should have hundreds over a month. Try for a month to log every penny you spend - every coffee, soft drink, bar of chocolate.
    "Those are synapses, electric impulses in the brain that carry all the messages. Somewhere in all that organic wiring, all those ripples of light, is you — the thing that makes you unique and human." ~ Dr. Jenner, The Walking Dead
  • Aria`s Tail
    • #4
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:23 PM
    • #4
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:23 PM
    Hi, just a couple of suggestions, your grocery budget could easily be cut by a couple of hundred, try drop a brand and loads of cheap recipies on this site
    . Do you really need both cars? I sat and debated this a few weeks ago as i was reluctant to sell my old faithfull when OH found a better one, but even as a runaround it would have cost £2k just on basics (tax, insurance service)
  • meritaten
    • #5
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:25 PM
    • #5
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:25 PM
    I agree with Tiglath - you are somehow spending money which is not recorded in your budget! keep a spending diary and note every penny!
    There sure are a lot of laws in this country - but there aint much Justice!!!
    (Dean Koontz - One Door Away From Heaven)
  • Own My Own
    • #6
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:31 PM
    • #6
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:31 PM
    Filling out a SOA will make it easier for you to see where you are spending money.

    http://www.stoozing.com/msoc/soacalc.php
    OMO I think we are going to have to rename you Miss Linky you are amazingly organised. Thank you
    Originally posted by Nanamia
  • rosie383
    • #7
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:32 PM
    • #7
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:32 PM
    Your grocery spend is far too high. But even at £650, there is extra spending happening somewhere. Look at your bank statements and account for every single penny.
    Father Ted: Now concentrate this time, Dougal. These
    [he points to some plastic cows on the table]
    Father Ted: are very small; those
    [pointing at some cows out of the window]
    Father Ted: are far away...
  • sam.4000
    • #8
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:39 PM
    • #8
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:39 PM
    As others have said a spending diary would identify where all your money is going.
    Try doing your grocery shopping online and have it delivered then you are far less tempted to add extra things as you shop.
    Also doing a weekly meal plan will help you know what you need and also stop you wasting anything. There are several threads on this with some great ideas.
    Try using cash only instead of cards so you can see the money. It makes me think a lot more when I can see the money going.
    You have a yearly income of about £26,000 it's got to be going somewhere.
  • CookieMonsta
    • #9
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:46 PM
    • #9
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:46 PM
    Your grocery spend does sound like a lot. Can you cut down on non-essentials and buy more basics brands and more in bulk for things like rice, pasta, tinned goods when on special offer etc?

    Do your kids buy their lunch at school? Would it be cheaper to take packed lunch and if they already do this, could you cut costs by reducing the pre-packaged things they take and giving more leftovers, homemade muffins etc.
    Decluttering 2015: 811/365

    No Unnecessary Toiletries - April 2015 - IN: 4, OUT: 23
  • rosie383
    I agree with Sam and a lot of others here about using cash. I used to be like you, spent much more than I should have. Now I take my monthly budget of £250 for a family of 4, put it in a wee purse, and I have to make it stretch. I find it's always difficult by the end of the month, so I take £200 at the start, and try to make it last as long as possible and have the last £50 to look forward to.
    Father Ted: Now concentrate this time, Dougal. These
    [he points to some plastic cows on the table]
    Father Ted: are very small; those
    [pointing at some cows out of the window]
    Father Ted: are far away...
  • McKneff
    Do a proper SOA, it will be a lot easier for people to help you.
    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
  • ash28
    I make your outgoings less than £2k too and if you are spending £300 a month more than you have coming in, then your monthly spend (including petrol) is around £1425 a month or £1175 a month, excluding petrol - that lower figure is equal to £14k a year.

    £1425 a month is a lot of money - you do really need to find out where this £500+ a month is going. I would go through 3 months worth of bank statements and just look at what you're spending and where.

    What about work - do you both take packed lunches to work?

    How much do you each allow yourselves a week for coffee/sandwiches/magazines etc - there seems to be nothing in there. And most people going to work do seem to spend some money.

    Ad hoc spending can add a whole lot to your monthly budget - I would allocate you and OH an amount of money each month/week for spending. How often do you "pop" into your local shop? I used to go to a local Tesco Express for a pint of milk/loaf of bread and could end up spending £20 before I had blinked. Do that a few times a month and it soon tots up.

    You spend £900 a month on petrol and food shopping - I would try and draw this money out each month or move it to a separate account and not touch what is in the main account (if everything goes into one account). Use that for your month to month spends.

    I won't comment on your food bill, other than to say I would try and make that amount of money (£650) your total monthly spend, including ad hoc spending but excluding petrol, you can afford it.

    Personally I would do an online shop for a few weeks and try and stick to a £90 to £100 budget and then use the £50 for ad hoc spending.

    I shopped at the weekend and between Aldi, Lidl and Tesco spent £120 that's 2 weeks worth for 3 of us (no potatoes or onions or eggs (£4 for 30) as I buy those from the farm). At the end of the shopping I had £70 in my purse and I still have £70 in my purse. I need milk for tomorrow - in the village milk is £1.85 for 4 pints - someone I know is going to Morrison's today and I've asked them to bring 3 x 4pint cartons as they're 3 for £3. If I went to the village shop (it's a medium sized Co-op) I would spend more than £3 - I know I would.

    Our grandson who's 11 lives with us and he has school dinners - he gets the money put in his dinner money account every month. So no packed lunches. OH and I are early retired, so again no packed lunches or work related spending money. I enjoy cooking and have the time to do it now - it was different when I was working and our kids were young.

    We don't live on basics stuff either - I buy basics fruit and veg if it's available and basics mince for the dog.

    I'm not great with money and am in the fortunate position of not really having to be, but I did waste an awful lot of money - I posted in a thread (someone else's) on here a couple of months ago how the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak. I got some good advice and one piece of advice was to use cash - as a card user it was quite strange - as I hardly ever had much in the way of cash - if I wanted something I paid by card. But I made an effort after Christmas and I am much more in control of my spending and I actually know where the money goes - before I didn't. Sometimes I would look at a bank statement and not even remember some of the purchases.

    Now all I have to do is train OH.
    Last edited by ash28; 07-02-2013 at 10:14 AM.
  • peachyprice


    The most we spend is on groceries which is around £650pm for a family of four. That includes wine, beer and sundries such as household items, children's underwear and some birthday gifts.
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    Stop buying beer and wine, you can't afford it.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    Thank you for answering.

    To address a few questions, we can't go down a band on council tax. This is an ex-council house, 3 bed and we are in band B. It's right.

    Yes £650pm on groceries for a family of 4 is a lot and I've signed up to a meal planner. But you have to take into account that this is not just groceries, it's things for the house, cleaning stuff, school equipment and a few essentials, toiletries, etc.

    I'll break it down into more detail:

    In the home:
    MobilePhones: £10
    TV Licence:£12.12
    Internet:£17
    Home phone:£9.72
    HouseholdMaintenance: £15
    Electricity£29.04
    Gas £66.67
    Water:£29.17
    Council Tax:£130
    HomeInsurance £6.42
    Mortgage:£448.40
    Food andhousehold shopping: £600
    Drinks forhome £90

    Motoring
    Petrol: £280
    Car Tax £74
    CarInsurance: £44
    CarMaintenance: £63
    Breakdowncover: £3.33

    Debts
    Credit card:£50 (I use it for Paypal)

    Savings
    Childrens£40
    Lump sumsavings: £100 (for tax and pension)
    Regularsaving: £16 (spare change saver)

    Family
    SchoolTrips: £20
    SchoolMeals: £9.97 (one meal a week)
    PocketMoney: £17.33

    Entertainment
    Days out(incl cinema, etc): £25
    Books,music, films, etc: £14
    Shopping forfun: £90
    Pet Costs:£2.20 (hamster)
    Antivirus:£3.38
    DVD Rental:£5.99
    DrinkingOut: £65
    Eating out:£21.67

    Clothes,Health, Beauty
    Haircuts:£8.67
    Clothes: £25

    Big One-Offs
    Birthdays:£30
    Holidays(incl weekends away) £83.33
    Christmas:£41.67

    Odds andSods
    Newspapers£36.50
    Tax and NI:£12.13
    Regularcharity donations: £5

    So areas we can cut back on are in entertainment. We tend to spend weekends with the family and will go for a long walk followed by drinks in the pub. It's a weekend habit and gives us all chance to chat and get out for a bit. Stopping that will save £65pm.

    Shopping for fun I've heaped in all our miscellaneous spending like cash withdrawals. This is generally used on prescription medicine (my other half has psoriasis and I have hayfever), bits we buy whilst out and about, one-off donations to charity, etc.

    I'm hoping to cut down the food bill in using a weekly menu planner but to be honest, we don't throw food away, everything is used and I make everything from fresh. I'm hoping that one vegetarian a meal a week will make the difference and instead of buying supermarket curries every week, I'll try and make a batch and freeze them, so this bill should come down by around £100pm? Drinks include wine, beer and non-alcoholic drink. I guess we could become teetotal?

    We don't spend a huge amount, we don't buy clothes from new, no big days out, no costly clubs for the kids, no babysitter costs, etc. I do feel that we already live quite frugally and am so disheartened that we have to find yet more ways to cut back.

    Any advice appreciated

    (and yes, it does seem silly to put away £100 savings, I am self employed and this was to cover my tax but I don't earn enough to pay tax so I was still taking it out as a kind of pension fund. I will cancel that which does leave me without a pension unfortunately.)
  • Ilona
    I suggest you stop drinking beer and wine, you don't need it. Your grocery spend is far too high, change to value or saver own labels. Reduce your meat intake, make veggie meals instead. Keep a spending dairy, write down every penny you spend, it is a good eye opener, you will see where your money is leaking away.
    Ilona

    Just seen your breakdown. Shopping for fun isn't much fun if you can't afford it. No need to become teatotal, just cut it right down. A bottle of wine is a once a week treat, not an everyday thing.

    I am sorry but you don't live frugally. It's about changing your mindset. I live frugally on a state pension, there are things I would like, but know I can't have because I can't afford to pay for them. It does not make me feel deprived, in fact the opposite, I feel extremely fortunate that I have a lovely life while managing on so little.
    Last edited by Ilona; 07-02-2013 at 10:25 AM.
    I decided that if I didn't spend any money, then I didn't have to earn it, so I cut my working hours to part time, and started to live on less. Good decision.
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    My husband buys a newspaper every day for the crossword and will also buy a packet a crisps and a chocolate bar.

    He makes his own lunch. The kids have packed lunches except for my son who has one school dinner a week as he has anxiety problems and I wanted to give him something to look forward to at school once a week. I work from home and will often skip lunch anyway.

    "Stop buying beer and wine, you can't afford it." Rather harsh? We don't go out as a couple so this is our time at the weekends to put on a DVD and have something nice to drink. But I am going to cut down in this area too.

    Wine - we get through 2 bottles a week which is around a £12 a week. Husband has beer in, that's about £7 and I have juice or ginger beer which is around £3 a bottle. £22 a week there. It mounts up and I don't think we go mad in this area.
  • Soworried
    Don't buy newspapers. Read them online for free.

    To be honest I see a lot of your spending to be waste, you don't have to go to the pub to spend time as a family.
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  • ScrimpingandSaving
    We DO stick to own brand labels that's why I don't understand it. I know I can spend as much as £95 on the weekly shop but it can be more if I am buying birthday presents from the supermarket (for the childrens' friends or relatives) or school uniform/stationery/essentials for the kids.

    We buy cheap meat cuts, I try to stick to chicken, I use the slow cooker a lot. We do go through a lot of fruit and veg and plenty of things for packed lunches such as bread, sandwich fillers, cold meats, salad, etc. The only branded items we get are tea and coffee. The rest is supermarket own label.
  • peachyprice
    My husband buys a newspaper every day for the crossword and will also buy a packet a crisps and a chocolate bar.
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    could you buy him a crossword book once a month and multi-packs of crisps and chocolate bars?


    "Stop buying beer and wine, you can't afford it." Rather harsh?

    Wine - we get through 2 bottles a week which is around a £12 a week. Husband has beer in, that's about £7 and I have juice or ginger beer which is around £3 a bottle. £22 a week there. It mounts up and I don't think we go mad in this area.

    It was supposed to he harsh because it's true, you can't afford it, you're over £300 short every month and a third of your shortfall is going on alcohol, more if you include the amount you spend at the pub, that brings it to over half of your shortfall. If you stop regular drinking you're half way to being back in budget. Or would you rather cut back on quality food?
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    Yes I see what you are saying. We spend time as a family going on a long country walk and then we buy drinks for everyone in the pub afterwards. It's something we all enjoy.

    If we cut back on all you are suggesting, how do we enjoy life?

    My husband can't access the newspaper online, he's a truck driver. He likes to read it and do the crossword during his lunch break.

    Again, this is all stuff that makes our lives a little more bearable day by day. If we cut all this out, we are merely existing surely?

    I guess that's what we have to do though. Or else lose everything.
    Facing up to reality sure does suck.
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