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2015 Frugal Living Challenge

Frugaldom Posts: 6,950 Forumite
Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
edited 26 December 2015 at 6:39PM in Debt-free wannabe challenges
The Frugal Living Challenge 2015

2016 Challenge has now been loaded at http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=5383908

It's that time of year again, the time when we all need to start thinking ahead into the new year and how we are going to tackle any debts, generate extra income and squirrel away some savings.

Please take the time to read this post in full and check out the HANDY LINKS section. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.

This is an adaptation of the 'Living on £4,000 for a Year' challenge. It has been running here on MSE for several years, although these particular money challenges began back in the 90's, elsewhere. We have seen many changes over the years, so this version is a catalogue of diaries charting the progress of 'debt free wannabe' money savers.

Your budget is personal to you, it should fit with your personal financial situation.

Some have already achieved their debt free status and now follow frugal lifestyles in order to stay debt free. Others are still tackling their debts and living a frugal life in an attempt to teach their debt-free and/or mortgage-free day. Whichever stage you are at, feel free to join us for 2014 and share your journey.

The following links will take you to previous MSE versions of this challenge:

The 2014 Challenge is at http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.php?t=4843265 (/for some reason I am unable to link to the text)

The 2013 Challenge

The 2012 Challenge

Part 1 - January to March 2011
Part 2 - April to June 2011
Part 3 - July to December 2011

Introduction to the 2010 Challenge
Part 1 - January to March 2010
Part 2 - April to June 2010
Part 3 - July to September 2010
Part 4 - October to December 2010

Part 1 - January to March 2009
Part 2 - April to June 2009
Part 3 - July to September 2009
Part 4 - October to December 2009

Part 1 - January to March 2008
Part 2 - April to June 2008
Part 3 - July to September 2008
Part 4 - October to December 2008

Please respect others' lifestyles and beliefs. We are not here to judge, we are here to support. Thank you

This 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 and 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 and not WANTS.

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

Ideas to help you achieve and/or maintain debt free living
Recognise the differences between needs from wants

Spend within your means
Set a proper budget
Quit expensive habits
Get a lodger
Shop via cashback sites and always price compare
Buy reduced items in stores only if you need them
Stockpile & bulk buy
Batch cooking
Make the most of charity shops
Join Freecycle or other similar waste awareness and recycling associations
LETS trading - become active members of trading & exchange groups
Grow your own herbs, fruit & veg
Preserving & winemaking
Beadmaking & home baking
Card & gift making
Order splitting for better discounts & shared postal costs
Landsharing, allotments & frugal garden systems
Free scratchcards
Matched betting
Free online bingo
eBid and eBay trading
etc, etc, etc...

Monitoring and revising the budget is part of frugal living plan. Gifts & cards could all to be homemade, livestock needs to pay its own keep, anything else needs to be cash neutral.

The bits we need to include to make this work :)

Please read the MSE forum rules and help us to keep this challenge on track, thank you.
If you have any questions about this challenge, feel free to PM me.
The following is taken from the official MSE forum rules section:


Please try not to take threads off-topic. This can be confusing for new users and makes it especially difficult for people ... Where requests from Board Guides for threads to be brought back on track have not been followed off-topic posts may be removed. We encourage community, but not thread derailment.

Please bear in mind the main purpose of the site is to save money. The forum team has therefore been instructed to prioritise its time on the MoneySaving forums.


There are two boards provided for off-topic chat and discussion. The MoneySavers Arms has been set up for fun, more lighter-hearted chat (although do still remember this is a family forum – keep it clean please). Discussion Time is for discussion of current issues (read Martin’s description).

If you post a topic that does not relate to the board it’s posted on it will be moved to a more relevant MoneySaving board or to Discussion Time/The MoneySavers Arms.

This challenge is about paying for needs so we can afford to live debt free and save for wants. It runs from 1st January to 31st December 2015 The links will give you an idea of how previous challenges have gone and these will be updated accordingly.

If you haven’t already, join the forum to reply!

I reserve the right not to spend.
The less I spend, the more I can afford.

Frugal living challenge - living on £4000 in 2024


  • Frugaldom
    Frugaldom Posts: 6,950 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    edited 14 January 2016 at 1:11PM

    I am neither endorsing nor recommending any of the links provided here, members of our extended frugal community have simply found them to contain helpful information.

    Approved Food - Some amazing bargains if you don't mind short dates or past sell by – save a fortune whilst saving it from landfill!
    Bite Card - 20% off food at train stations (ideal for regular travellers)
    Budgetbrain - MSE's free to use budget analysis tool - BRILLIANT!
    Carrot recipes - loads of ways to use up those carrots
    CASHBACK - The official MSE list of sites offering the best cashback deals
    Complete (MSE) cooking collection - Loads and loads and loads of recipes
    Coupon thread on MSE - For coupons, money off and discounts
    Crafting for Christmas - homemade presents
    Eggs, eggs, eggs - Frugaldom's '100 things to do with eggs' list
    Electricity & Gas savings - monitor your electricity & gas with the MoneySaving Carbon Club
    Flannel Cake making - unusual gifts
    Food Bargains - Discounted food, short dated and past 'BBE' dates
    Foraging & Preserving - free foods, when, where, what to do with them
    Free crafts ideas - how to make papier mache banks etc
    Freecycle - don't bin it, rehome it
    Freegle - Originally Freecycle in UK
    FREE Spreadsheet - link to Cheryl's (CW18) budget spreadsheet
    Frugaldom.com - Home of this challenge
    Gift Baskets & Hampers - an index to the MSE relevant threads
    Gifts in a jar - you don't need a canner for these
    Greenfingered money saving - Gardening & growing your own food
    Grocery bargains - Supermarket price reduction times
    Homemade Rhubarb Champagne - quick, cheap and easy
    How to make a sealed pot - saving all your spare change in papier mache banks
    Hunger Site - Charity site where every click counts
    i-Measure - log your meter readings and try to reduce your carbon footprint
    Laundry Gloop and loads of other frugal cleaning related 'recipes'
    Leftovers - don't bin them, get creative, make another meal.
    LETS - Local Exchange Trading Schemes and alternative currencies within communities
    Martin's mad moneysaver ads - a surprising new addition to the site - advertising offers!
    Martin's current offers & discount codes - updated daily
    Menu Planning - hundreds of options and suggestions
    My FREE spreadsheet - where to download from
    Nutrition and diet info, an excellent thread - thanks to Weezl74
    Old Style indexed collection - Indexed collection of links, hints and tips for anything old style, moneysaving and frugal.
    Preparing for winter the frugal way
    Recipes part 1 - thanks to Rosieben on the Grocery Challenge
    Recipes part 2 - thanks, again, to Rosieben
    Remoska discussion - everything you need to know about Remoska ovens
    Rural Moneysaving Hunt - official MSE discussion
    Selling on eBid - decluttering and recycling for cash with no listing fees
    Slow Cooker Recipes - on MSE
    Snowman Soup - always a favourite with frugallers during the festive season
    Soapnuts - The frugal, eco-friendly alternative to soap powder or detergents (free samples)
    Soapnuts thread on MSE - discuss, ask questions here
    Spending Diary - excellent free resource for recording your spends
    Start a cottage industry - the official MSE discussion
    Veg Planner - free printable vegetable planting guide/calendar from the RHS
    Weezl74's 50p per person per day eating healthily thread
    Weezl74's frugal recipe testing thread - Phase 1
    Will Power & Billy Can - part 1, part 2, part 3
    I reserve the right not to spend.
    The less I spend, the more I can afford.

    Frugal living challenge - living on £4000 in 2024
  • cw18
    cw18 Posts: 8,628 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Photogenic
    edited 27 December 2014 at 2:01PM
    Budgets for 2015

    Categories that can’t be avoided :-

    Council Tax : £1212 (£909 me, £303 DS1)
    Gas & Electric : £900 (£540 me, £360 DS1)
    Water : £288 (£168 me, £120 DS1)
    House Insurance : £270
    Groceries : £2980 (£1720 me, £1260 DS1)
    Toiletries : £180 (£168 me, £12 DS1)
    Cleaning Products : £120 (£75 me, £45 DS1)

    Categories that could be ditched if things got desperate, but which I class as essentials :-

    Central Heating Cover : £240
    Landline & Broadband : £264
    Mobile Phone : £150
    Window Cleaner : £78
    Optical Related : £300
    Dental Related : £72
    Prescriptions & Flu Jab : £48
    Over Counter Medications : £24
    Vitamins : £144
    Presents : £480

    Pure luxuries I prefer to try and keep :-

    Gym : £480
    Lottery : £372
    Diet & Fitness Website Subscription : £96

    Car Related :-

    Car Insurance : £480 (£360 me, £120 DS1)
    Petrol : £864 (£384 me, £480 DS1)

    Breakdown : £78
    Road Tax : £132
    MOT : £48
    Annual Service : £132
    Repairs : £600
    (total costs £510 me, £480 DS1)

    Total figures : £11032 (£7852 me, £3180 DS1)

    Zero Budget Categories :-

    For Children
    Holiday Accommodation
    Household Bits
    Household Repairs
    Public Transport
    Days Out
    Everything Else

    How I fund the Zero Budget Categories from categories with budgets

    • Full value of any presents (and cards and wrapping paper) I’ve purchased prior to 01/01/2015
    • Full value of any Toiletries and Cleaning products I use from stock that won’t be replaced (things I’d not use/miss if I didn’t have them)
    • All savings from using loyalty cards (don’t generally benefit against these categories – but there’s a possibility for presents and/or vitamins)
    • Half the value of any groceries I use up from stock
    • Half the value of any toiletries or cleaning products I use from stock which I’ll eventually need to replace
    • Half the value of any money off coupons I use (store or manufacturer) – including money off petrol
    • Half the savings from any offers (such as a jar of gravy granules on offer for £1.50 instead of £2)
    • Half the savings from multi-buys
    • Half the savings from buying Whoopsie (reduced to clear) items
    • Half the savings made by using a cashback site
    • All “loose change”. I’m rounding ALL direct debits up to the next 10p, with the ‘change’ moving over (easy to make spreadsheet do this). The same for each spend in every shop for each of the other categories (requires a bit of manual work)

    Other money used to fund the Zero Budget Categories

    • DS1 pays me £10/month to do his laundry (over and above costs of water/powder etc) to save him time. This is ALL available.
    • Survey sites earnings. ALL available.
    • Free Postcode Lottery. Anything I win on here is ALL available.
    • Roadkill. Didn’t find much in 2014, but ALL such money I pick up is available.
    • ALL of any monetary gifts I received.

    And the complicated one……

    • Part of the money raised by selling items from around the house

    The money available for splitting is the amount someone pays for the item, less any charges for selling it (such as eB@y and P@ypal fees) and postage charges. Once those are deducted the amount available is split as follows on a ‘per item’ basis.

    • First £10 : 50% of the money
    • Next £40 (£10.01 - £50.00) : 25% of the money
    • Next £50 (£50.01 - £100.00) : 10% of the money
    • Anything above that (£100.01 and over) : 5% of the money

    So if an item makes £10 I can spend £10 * 50% = £5
    If an items sells for £40 I can spend (£10 * 50%) + (£30 * 25%) = £5 + £7.50 = £12.50
    If an items sells for £80 I can spend (£10 * 50%) + (£40 * 25%) + (£30 * 10%) = £5 + £10 + £3 = £18
    And if an items sells for £250 I can spend (£10 * 50%) + (£40 * 25%) + (£50 * 10%) + (£150 * 5%) = £5 + £10 + £5 + £7.50 = £27.50

    I’m hoping this will encourage me to declutter as it’ll give me money to spend, but not to reclutter as I can’t spend all the money I make.
  • Bobarella
    Bobarella Posts: 10,824 Forumite
    Savvy Shopper! I've been Money Tipped!
    Wow exciting to see the 2015 thread up. I'm really looking forward to my first proper year of joining in.
    " Your vibe attracts your tribe":D

    Debt neutral :) 27/03/17 from £40k:eek: in the hole 2012.
    Roadkill 17 £56.58 2016-£62.28 2015- £84.20)
    RYSAW17 £1900 2016 £2,535.16 2015 £1027.20
  • [Deleted User]
    Thank you for a lovely shiny new thread Frugaldom:j. I will be joining the challenge again this year.
  • Mrs_Cheshire
    I'm going to be joining in again this year. Had a pretty frugal start to the year but in the last few months have received some funding back for childcare expenses and have been treating us to more takeaways and other bits I shouldn't really, so going to try really hard next year to put the money away as it would be good to get away in 2016 for a week, so if I save hard I should be able to do that!
    Grocery Challenge 2024
    Feb £419.82 Mar £599.53 Apr £405.69 May £531.37 Jun
    Declutter challenge 2024 0 items
  • his_missus
    his_missus Posts: 3,363 Forumite
    Debt-free and Proud!
    I'm ready to have a more frugal outlook for 2015.

    I've broken many of my bad spending habits through different MSE challenges over the past couple of years. Toiletries and clothes are now only bought if needed (not wanted) and birthday/Christmas presents are mostly bought with vouchers earned through surveys or loyalty points.

    I really want to reduce my weekly shopping bill in 2015. At the moment I allow £80 a week for 2 adults and 3 cats to cover food, toiletries, medicines (usually flea treatments!) and entertainment but I want to get this down to £50 eventually.

    Once our holiday is paid for, I want to create a comfortable emergency fund and then save up to redecorate all of upstairs.
  • Kerry_Woman
    Kerry_Woman Posts: 3,133 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post
    Am joining in for 2015, am hoping that I can finally get on top of my spending habits.
    Frugal Living Challenge 2024 Mortgage free as of 1st August 2013
  • Bambywamby
    Bambywamby Posts: 1,608 Forumite
    Photogenic First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I would like to join for 2015 too. I want to add to my savings and generally just live a frugal, less consumer based life-style.

    So I am away to work out my annual budget for 2015... this could take some time. ;)
    *Frugal Living 2015* *Not Buying It 2015*
    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ MARK TWAIN

  • youngmummy
    youngmummy Posts: 489 Forumite
    edited 19 December 2014 at 6:19PM
    Yeahhy new thread thankyou frugaldom

    Im in please and raring to go ... my budget is £8000 (this is for a family of 4)
    Not including rent or council tax but does include everything else .. also Christmas is to be covered by "extra money" ie selling on ebay etc

    Thanks again .. looking forward to a more possitive and structured financial year and future hopefully
    (#80 save 12k in 2015) aim £10,000
    make £10 a day in 2015 £261/£4000
    emergency fund aim £100/£1000
    £1 a day for xmas 2015 £0/£365
    NSD feb 0/16
    feb GC £0/£120
  • nannygladys
    nannygladys Posts: 3,111 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker Photogenic First Post
    Please count me in this year, I will base my budget on this year's totals minus some, I'm due to retire at the beginning of March and would like to be able to live on my oap, (I haven't any private pension) but I won't be giving work up then as I want to up my emergency fund and get a few more jobs done in the house with my wages.

    2024 is going to be a positive year for me, and it's starting now!! 
    Buys: All budgeted and paid by cash!
    Jan - fridge/freezer
    Feb - milk frother, curtain pole x2, roller blind - bathroom, toilet seat, bath sink taps, kitchen sink waste unit and an extra double electric socket.
    March - raised bed for garden, bathroom cabinet, roller blind - kitchen
    April - nothing
    May - nothing as yet 
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