Frugal Living 2011 - the preparation stage

cw18 Forumite Posts: 8,604
Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
edited 29 December 2010 at 10:18AM in How much have you saved?
My intention for this thread is that it is used by anyone wanting to take part in the 2011 challenge (those who've previously taken part, or anyone new - all are welcome :)) to get ready for January 1st

For me, this last month of 2010 will be spent doing final tweaks to my budgets for 2011 - and will be based around actual expenditure in 2009 and 2010, as I have full records for those two calendar years.

What people include/exclude varies. The main exclusion seems to be the cost of housing (be that rent or mortgage), but it really is down to the individual on how they want to keep their own books :)

The key thing is that all of your outgoings (including those you exclude and any debt repayments) add up to no more than your incoming money........ failure to ensure this is the case means you're going to be getting (further) into debt rather than coming out of it or building up a savings pot.

And that's another difference between challenge participants.....

Some may do this to enable them to pay off debts faster, while others are doing it to build up savings (possibly to buy a home, possibly for a dream holiday, possibly - in at least one case - so they can/could start their own business, or possibly 'just' so they have something to fall back on should things get tougher)

There is no set bottom line you should be aiming for, and participants all have their own personal budgets. As long as each participant is happy with his/her own budget, then no-one else is going to judge them on how high/low that budget is.

This challenge is NOT a competition to see who can live on the least amount of money, either as a household or on a per person basis.

This challenge IS about ensuring we only spend what we can afford/are comfortable with spending, and we share hints and tips to help others reduce spends in 'problem' areas.


As many are aware, this challenge was started up by (and run for several years by) Frugaldom

You can find the original thread for the last quarter of 2010 here

I always found the following (in the header of each of the previous threads) to be a useful reminder as to what the challenge was/is about, so have chosen to quote it here
Please respect others' lifestyles and beliefs. We are not here to judge, we are here to support. Thank you

The challenge is about living a frugal lifestyle - establishing your true cost of living, sticking to your budget, clearing any debts and making savings wherever and however you can to enable you to live the life you really want.

Frugal living isn't for everyone, but everyone is welcome to join us. Methods employed by our merry band of frugalers include batch cooking, stockpiling, preserving, foraging, mending, shopping in charity shops, reducing, reusing, recycling, Local Exchange Trading Schemes (LETS), Vegetable & fruit growing, allotments, keeping hens, using cashback sites and earning whatever it takes to become self sufficient in managing the cost of living without incurring debt. For some it is initially about clearing debt, for others it's about increasing savings, buying property, becoming stay at home mums or paying off the mortgage early. Some choose the lifestyle on ethical grounds. Above all, this is a fun and supportive way to manage your budget so you have control of your own cost of living. It's about NEEDS, not WANTS.

Living on a budget = living within our means.
Frugal = thrifty, living without waste

I have a spreadsheet I compiled for keeping track of all my spends, and a lot of other people on the challenge - and also a lot of "lurkers" - asked for a copy to help them out. I was more than happy to share with anyone who wanted it, and still am.

There were a few 'bugs' found at the start of 2010, but hopefully those are now all ironed out - and I've updated it to run for 2011 (there's one formula in it that's date based). If you'd like to take a look at it (no obligation to use it) you can find the info on where to download it from here


  • cw18
    cw18 Forumite Posts: 8,604
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    A brief intro to me for anyone new / thinking of joining in for 2011

    This will be my third full year of taking part in the Frugal Living Challenge

    I originally joined towards the end of 2008 on a bit of a trial run, having been notified I was to be made redundant.
    At that time my DH was in and out of hospital with terminal cancer, so finances were already getting stretched to the limit, and I needed help from somewhere to get my head around surving with a much lower income.

    Even though I was new to the challenge I got a lot of support from fellow challengees when I was widowed and then became unemployed in the space of 9 days in November 2008 - and I'm sure it would have been easy for me to 'go under' had it not been for the support from those on this challenge (and a couple of others I was a member of at the time)

    I surprised myself by coping on a much lower income throughout 2009 (my budget for this challenge was £8k for myself, my teenage son and my dog), and was lucky enough to find a new job in November 2009 - albeit on a much lower hourly rate and less hours per week than I'd previously been used to. But one benefit to the job is that it's within walking distance of home, so this saves me the £60/month I used to spend on bus fares (and up to 10 hours/week spent on buses getting there and back).

    For 2010 I maintained my £8k budget, but also started spending in some new areas which I funded from overtime and WTC (neither of which I counted as regular income as the amount varied so much) and excluded from this challenge. But I lost most of this additional income in September when my son moved from college to Uni, and as such no longer counts as a dependant child. (He also moved out of here, and in with my parents as they live a lot closer to the Uni he's attending)

    I've already done a fair bit of work on my 2011 budgets, and - despite the household headcount have reduced to just me and the dog - it looks like my bottom line is going to be increased to £9k!!!

    But I'm also bringing in some additional categories which are those I excluded for 2010 (garden costs while I try and get my Grow Your Own up and running, my 'get fit' expenses as I've started running, cycling and going to a gym to swim and for exercise classes, and also 'socialising'), plus one additional one which is a savings pot for my main kitchen appliances (most are now coming towards the end of a normal/average lifetime and I have nothing put to one side for replacing them - so I'll be moving a minimum amount into one of my savings accounts each month, and this will be earmarked for that purpose).
  • NualaBuala
    NualaBuala Forumite Posts: 2,507 Forumite
    Just want to say thanks Cheryl for doing this and for the great posts!:T

    I hadn't realised how recently your were widowed. I'm impressed how well you've coped with everything life has thrown at you and I hope you keep on going from strength to strength.

    Hi to all the other frugal challengers :wave: Hope everyone is well and the budget-planning is going ok. I think I'm a budget nerd as I love playing around with my spreadsheet. I've started a new one for 2011 but the budget isn't finalised yet as I don't know how much I'll have to live on. But I have listed all my categories which have changed a bit since this year and I'm also going to leave a few spare slots for things that come up - e.g. a new hobby.

    I look forward to reading how everyone's getting on. Stay cosy folks! :)
    Trying to spend less time on MSE so I can get more done ... it's not going great so far! :)
    Sorry if I don't reply to posts - I'm having MAJOR trouble keeping up these days!

    Frugal Living Challenge 2011

    Sealed Pot #671 :A DFW Nerd #1185
  • hollysmum22
    hollysmum22 Forumite Posts: 146 Forumite
    i am joining in for 2011 any tips on getting ready
    :p princess moo born 25/11/2009 :p
    Sealed Pot Challenge # 1895 20p Savers Club 2013 # 60
    Save £5k in 2013' challenge £0/£5000 #047
    Baby Fund Challenge £0/£1.500

  • Doom_and_Gloom
    Doom_and_Gloom Forumite Posts: 4,689
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    edited 2 December 2010 at 8:49PM
    I think we have settled on a 2011 budget already of £5,000 for the year.

    The budget will be broken down as follows:
    • Groceries = £1,100
    • Gas = £0,300
    • Electricity = £0,300
    • Water = £0,120
    • Internet = £0,180
    • Contents insurance = £0,150
    • Bike insurance = £0,390
    • Road tax = £0,015
    • Petrol = £0,300
    • Vets = £0,240
    • Mobiles = £0,500
    • Yule = £0,334 (gifts, all food, treats, drink etc)
    • Birthdays = £0,180
    • Dentist = £0,120
    • Optical = £0,120
    • Entertainment = £0,180
    • TV licence = £0,145.50
    • Bike maintanance = £0,120
    • MOT = £0,030
    Total of above = £4,824.50 but will be rounding it up to £5,000. That means we have £175.50 incase we need it (hoping that is an easy £175.50 into our wedding savings but we'll find out at the end of next year if that is the case!).

    We won't be including rent or council tax. This is to cover my fiance, me and our 2 chinchillas :). All things related to my disability are not on this budget as they should be covered by my DLA.

    We are trying to spend as little as possible as we want to save for our wedding (looks like it will be in 2013). We refuse to get a loan to get married so we need to save for it.
    I am a vegan woman. My OH is a lovely omni guy :D
  • pink_numbers
    pink_numbers Forumite Posts: 917 Forumite
    Thanks Cheryl for starting up this thread, I am SO excited about the new 2011 challenge, the 2010 challenge has done so much good for us.

    Our joint (2 adults, 2 cats) budget so far is £11000 all in, but I am hoping to reduce that to £10000 at least. If I can get it down to below £9000, that would be amazing, but several changes need to be made before that can happen, so I'll just stick with £11000 for now. I took Cheryl great advice on breaking down the budget to things that are fixed, and things that you can do more to reduce.

    Fixed Outgoings:
    • Mortgage - £1,920
    • Mortgage related life insurance - £120
    • Council tax - £1,140
    • BT - £300
    • BT Line rental (paid 1 year up front) - £130
    • Water -£240
    • Safetybox - £30
    • Car Tax - £200
    • MOT - £50
    • Car maintenance - £200
    • Parking permit - £35
    Things that are already as cheap as we can go:
    • Car insurance - £540
    • RAC - £120
    • Contact lens -£120
    • Pet insurance - £300
    • Mobile (Me) - £90
    • Mobile (OH) - £15
    • Food - £85
    • Petrol - £240
    • Cash (pocket money for us) - £480
    • Pet related expenses £720 (food, litter, vets, etc)
    Things that I really want to work on reducing
    • Loan repayment - £840
    • House Insurance - £420
    • Gas & Electricity - £600
    • Trip to London (we HAVE to do this) £700
    Annual Total (all in) £10,735

    I'm off to see how much I can cut down on things to bring the total down...
  • cw18
    cw18 Forumite Posts: 8,604
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    i am joining in for 2011 any tips on getting ready
    When I first joined this challenge I started by making up a list of categories, which I did by looking at all my D/Debits and having a think about what I used cash for in the shops.

    I then had a think about what I spent on each one. For those paid by D/Debit it was a case of multiplying the payment by the number of months it was paid - and I then added on a small additional amount to cover any price increases. (I find I need to add a larger %age to car and household insurance than to utility bills).

    For some categories I could find what the actual amount should be - TV Licence and Road Tax fees are normally published well in advance.

    I then had a look at those I use cash for on an ad-hoc basis (groceries, toiletries, and 'anythng else' which includes clothes, books, newspapers, CDs, DVDs etc), and tried to set realistic figure against all of these - in that they weren't so high they were a piece of cake, but not so low that there was no way I'd ever meet the budgets.

    During my first year (2009) I was chopping and changing budgets on a monthly basis, even without any unexpected spends being thrown at me, but still managed to keep my bottom line to £8k.

    Even this year I've been chopping and changing through the year, but not quite as often or as drastically. Both years have seen changes needed due to unexpected/emergency vets bills, and in the latter part of 2009 I had to increase the budget for dog food as my dalmatian had to be put onto a special (and much more expensive) diet :eek:

    I've found it easier to make the changes in 2010 though, mainly because I managed to work a 'Contingency Fund' into my £8k budget. This has meant that an unexpected bill (such as having to replace my combi oven after the old one refused to work following a power outage) could be covered without having to try and find the money from another budgetted area :) And if I don't have to use it all, then this means I have some savings left at the end of the year :T

    The Contingency Fund is something I'm carrying on with in 2011, and I'm also including my savings pot for replacing my main kitchen appliances. As such I should hopefully have about £800 (of my £9k budget) in the bank at the end of the year, which would be great :D

    I would personally say that no-one should be afraid to tweak during the year (and even increase if necessary as long as they have the income to allow them to do so) - and that this is particularly relevant for those doing this challenge for the first time.
  • slowlyfading
    slowlyfading Forumite Posts: 13,429
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    My challenge for 2011 is to stick to the budget as much as possible, and then to save the rest.

    Budget - this is for two of us:
    Groceries: £1400
    Toiletries: £80
    Cleaning products: £50
    Electricity: £280
    Mobiles: £360
    Telephone and Internet: £216
    TV licence: £156
    Clothing & footwear: £300
    Christmas Savings & Gifts £350
    Insurances: £? [I need to check this]
    Everything else: £308
    Total: £3500

    I need to check how much our house insurance is and the wedding insurance that we're paying for is, and I'll add that on. The clothing and footwear budget is quite excessive, but I need lots of work clothes and I also need to wear suits for work, so they cost me a bit.

    For the record, the only debt that both me and OH have are student loans, which are paid off through our pay anyway. So that's being left to the side for now, as they're at such a low rate. We don't have any other debts, or CC's or anything.

    The christmas savings and gifts is also high because between us, me and OH have a biiiig family, so there's always lots of people to buy for. Hopefully this will cover this!

    But, if we can manage on this for the entire year, we'd be able to save a hefty sum, which is the aim! This obviously doesn't include our rent, council tax or water rates which add on quite a bit each month, but even so, we should still be able to save.

    I'm already excited!
    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
    Personal Finance Blogger + YouTuber / In pursuit of FIRE
  • cw18
    cw18 Forumite Posts: 8,604
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    My 2011 budget currently looks as follows (the figures in brackets are my original 2010 budgets for each category, and where there's a second figure this is what I've actually paid)

    One off payments
    • Blgds/Contents Insurance £360 (£324) my 2010 figure is likely to be too low, and I need to sort out my actual level of contents cover with the company in the next week before my renewal kicks in
    • Car Insurance £360 (£300 / £321.10)
    • Breakdown Cover £72 (£72 / £69.50)
    • Road Tax £90 (£132 / £120) did an on-line look-up, and it appears the road tax for my car has dropped - will find out for sure in the next few weeks as this is due at the end of Jan
    • MOT £48 (£48 / £45)
    • Car Service £144 (£132 / £129.30)
    • Diet website membership £96 (not included)
    • Gym membership £396 (not included)
    Monthly payments
    • Council Tax £1080 (£1056)
    • Water £156 (£240) this may still change, but I submitted the second reading they needed to give a more accurate annual estimate yesterday
    • Gas & Electricity £516 (£588) have negotiated a drop in my monthly payments, mainly due to DS no longer being here with his PC on for hours every day (plus I can wrap up rather than boost the heating, which he sometimes complained about)
    • C/H breakdown cover £252 (£228) not sure what the actual cost for this will be in 2011, as I managed to get a huge reduction in 2010 by threatening to move to another company
    • Phone & Broadband £252 (£276)
    • TV Licence £0 (£144) am dropping this on New Years Eve. my D/Debit has already been cancelled as I was paying for next years licence
    • Mobile Phone £66 (£60) increased to allow for increase in VAT. expect to have money left in this pot at the end of the year, but like to set budgets to a round figure for each month
    • Endowment policy £348 (£348)
    • Window Cleaner £120 (£108) have allowed for an annual increase
    Ad-hoc categories
    • Dog Expenses £528 (£660) this has dropped due to dropping from 2 dogs to 1 in Jan 2010
    • Vets Bills £120 (£108) may have to consider increasing this one, having had another unexpected vets bill in Nov 2010!
    • Presents £420 (£384) currently no where near my 2010 figure, but have just about exhausted the stockpile of pressies I had in the house - and as my DD is now engaged I have an extra person to buy for. going to try and make at least some of the presents for adults in 2011, which will hopefully keep the figure lower though
    • Petrol £300 (£348) not sure about this one. have been using the car a lot less as I no longer take my GDs to school, but now I've started running I have some additional mileage to races.
    • Work related £96 (£96) to cover shoes and trousers. bust this budget in 2010 due to having to keep buying new trousers as the weight fell off me!! any further trousers needed will be dearer as the supermarket don't do a smaller size than I'm now in
    • Gutter Cleaning £0 (£0) something I had done in 2009, and have left the category in my s/sheet as I plan to use it again in 2012 (when I'm looking at selling up and down-sizing, so part of making the house look good as it goes on the market)
    • Groceries £1095 (£1309) reduced due to having one less person to feed, but not by as much as I'd hoped as I'm now having to eat a lot more than I was doing (due to my exercise regime). I'm hoping a lot of this will actually be 'spent' on stuff I have stock-piled in the house, and when I do this I'll put the money into a savings account as an emergency slush-fund
    • Toiletries/Cleaning £120 (£144) hoping to spend a very minimal amount of this in shops during 2011 - having started my stock-take and scared myself with how much I have in the house. Anything 'spent' on stock will work as per groceries.
    • 'Anything Else' £720 (£396) hefty increase here, as I've had a major overspend in 2010. a large %age of my over-spend has been due to needing new clothes as I've lost weight, and it appears I still need to replace some more - but am holding off until the weight actually stops coming off (something I'm currently working on with very minimal success!)
    • Garden £120 (not included) total guess work - no idea what I'm going to need/want for my GYO project
    • Get Fit £300 (not included) another guess work one. spent a lot more than this in 2010, but now have most (if not all) of the gear I need. so this category needs to cover annual membership fee of the running club, race entry fees, new running shoes (not cheap!) and any other gear that needs replacing due to having worn out.
    • Appliance Savings £300 (£0) new category, and will hopefully only be spent from my main bank account by being put into a savings account. but I know that by having it logged as part of my budget/showing on my s/sheet I'm more likely to actually put the money to one side....
    • Contingency Fund £525 (£499) I'm going to start moving this into a savings account so I can see it building up, and it means I'll hopefully have some cash should anything unexpected crop up
    This means my total budget for 2011 is £9k - an increase of £1k on 2009 and 2010, despite having reduced the household headcount by one dog and one person in the last 11 months.

    But as my new categories (diet website, gym membership, garden, get fit and appliance savings) come to a total of £1212 I'm happy with this increase - it means I've reduced the other categories by a total of £212 (though most of that is my TV Licence)
  • sparkle76
    sparkle76 Forumite Posts: 617 Forumite
    edited 2 December 2010 at 11:14AM
    Hi all, I would like to join please, I hope it's realistic at £5,500:

    Shopping & petrol 1860
    Household / DIY 120
    Gas & Elec 720
    Buildings Insurance 224.88
    Life Insurance - 487.44
    Council Tax 1150
    TV Licence 146.16
    Water 330.96
    Virgin Broadband & Tel 324
    Pet Insurance 113.88


    This doesn't include the mortgage as that's such a large cost. Actually I still need to add in car costs like Tax, MOT too so will need to revise these figures and probably direct debit the car tax rather than pay lump sum in March.

    We have a baby on the way, and are already quite keen moneysavers, so not sure how much more we would cut down but we will do what we can. I suppose maybe shopping, petrol and DIY/household might be able to shave some pennies off.
    Little Sweetpea born 12th July 2011

  • xnatalie81x
    xnatalie81x Forumite Posts: 941 Forumite
    edited 2 December 2010 at 4:20PM
    Looking forward to 2011 :) - no matter what happens it can NEVER be as 'eventful' as 2010 - the future is looking very positive and very bright.

    The way i work my budget is to work out my TOTAL INCOME and then i subtract my ESSENTIAL OUTGOINGS and this leaves me with a figure. I then decide what is the lowest i can live on and subtract that from the left over figure. Any left-over is savings/for debts


    INCOME 41,407
    ESSENTIAL OUTGOINGS (rent, childcare, minimum debt repayments, water) 20,708

    Frugal Challenge #14,000

    = #6699 saved BUT mid year i want to buy a new car and should have around 3,500 saved by July (need a 7 seater with 4 kids!!!) and then the 3,200 will be for new appliances if needed etc etc.

    So, here are my finals for me, 6 yr old, 4yr old, 3yr old, 1week old and 13 week old puppy - suffice to say i am breastfeeding and plan to do so until my youngest is at lease 6mths but probably till he is 1yr old. Weaning will begin between 5 and 6mths so really he will be costing my very little until he is 5/6mths old. I have been bought/given most of what i need already to last me until then and have only purchased a breast pump, a second hand travel cot and some nappies so far! I have carriers, car seats etc from friends and my previous children :)

    Window Cleaner 90yr
    I cannot do this myself

    360 yr
    Food, Insurance, Toys (he is a tiny jug and eats less than 100g dry food per day)

    Car Tax

    MOT/repairs/aa cover
    My dad does all my car work but for tyres/bulbs/oil etc and AA cover (the TCB will be used for other budget - info at the end of this post)

    60 yr
    For filing etc

    600 yr
    I think this is too much but i am not sure what it is as only moved here end june

    Worst case

    39 yr
    This is not too bad as i claim it back on business expenses at end of year as phone line exclusively for business

    580 yr
    I phone contract - need internet on go and includes VAT increase!

    Car Insurance
    Already paid in lump sum but i transfer the money back to savings where it came from every month saving loads on interest to loan company :)

    200 yr
    Laundry - Cleaning products - Loo roll. Quite lucky in that i rarely buy shampoo and conditioner and body wash as so much gets left behind at the swimming pool and chucked that i may as well use it :)

    300 yr
    Am seriously upping my grow own this year - garden is huge and mum has got allotment. Already bought potatoes and all seeds - this is for compost/manure/pots etc

    I have 4 kids and a large family!

    I have 4 kids and a large family!

    This is really high i know but i live in north london and my kids go to school in Herts still. I am not changing their school. I also go to the gym near their school and gyms local to me have no decent creche facilities

    Kids Activities
    School Trips - Parties etc etc for 4 kids

    Kids clothes/shoes/accesories
    School uniform, School Shoes, Clothes, Shoes, Socks, Knickers etc for 4 kids - think ebay/charity shops/grabbit board etc etc (4 pairs school shoes, 4 pairs trainers and 4 pairs good shoes could set me back 300 if i'm not careful!)

    My clothes shoes and accessories
    Gym trainers every 3-6mths, gym clothes and an entire new wardrobe as i have gone from size 20 to size 14/16 this pregnancy (i am 1 stone 7lb lighter than when i fell pregnant 9 days post natal :T)

    Food and Milk (my eldest son has milk at school highly subsidised at like 15.00 per term)
    All food, drinks etc for 1 adult and 3 children ish

    Nappies and Wipes
    4year old wears to bed, as does 3 yr old and a new baby

    Monthly direct debit

    Hair cuts
    3 kids and me (around 60 every 2 months)

    TOTAL 14000 FOR THE YEAR :)

    The biggest difference this year is that i do not have an OTHER budget, as previous! This is really scary for me as i have usually
    allowed 100-200 for other but end up buying things for the sake of it SOOOOOOOOOOOOO this year i have to 'earn' my other budget,
    any money used will come from -additional work (i do invigilating in summer and cover other swimming teachers who are off and do crash
    courses etc) - TCB - Using tesco vouchers to buy nappies for example and then converting the same amount into cash for the other
    budget - Ebay (selling old maternity clothes etc that i have etc) Also if i save on the electric one month i can put that cash into the next
    months other budget and with food, i plan to save by growing own and in the summer/autumn and winter next year reduce food budget
    and put that saving into the next months other budget. Am hoping it will reign in my spending if i work for it ;)

    To start my other budget off i was very very strict in October and put away #200 from the challenge, that will now be spread over Jan and Feb
    and i also have vouchers coming from my parents which i will use to cover another category in the budget (probably clothes or food) and
    put the equivalent cash from that to the other budget for Jan and Feb (my b'day is end jan)

    I also get maintenance of #5 per week but this is sporadic and therefore i will include it here as i never know if i'll get it. I know it could reduce
    soon too as he now has his new girlfriend pregnant (i left 6mths ago and he met her a couple weeks after i left...........) but i will have to wait and
    see as i know not much about maintenance stuff.......
    DFW since JAN 2009 - 2014 will be the year i finally clear debts :) Just to see which month :))))

    One adult + 4 children + dog
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