NST February frugality and frolics

mothernerd Forumite Posts: 4,827
Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Debt-free and Proud!
edited 28 January 2019 at 12:30AM in Debt-free wannabe challenges
NST February Frugality and Frolics

Darwin's theory and the phrase 'survival of the fittest' is often misunderstood. Some people assume that those who are physically stronger can/ will ride roughshod over those who are 'weaker'.

In fact survival is not a matter of physical strength. The 'fittest' means those who are most suited to a changing environment, those who 'fit' like the correct jigsaw piece sliding into place. Fit for purpose. In nature, as in life, survival may depend on making yourself very small, being quiet and hiding from your predators.

We all experience life changes, setting up home, having a baby, finding a job, moving away from your parents, being made redundant, divorce, a significant birthday, ill health or the death of a loved one. These disrupt our lives whether they are seen as good or bad changes. We need time to adjust and find our balance in our new circumstances and if too many life changes happen at once, it can cause a crisis. When you are on a tight budget even an unexpected bill or failure of a household appliance can knock you off course

The focus of this month's challenge is CHANGE and SURVIVAL. Change needs to be 'managed' or you need to change in response to changing circumstances. How well you do this is a demonstration of your 'fitness'.

Survival - well we are going to have another tough month (but it's only a short one). Focus on the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. What can you do without if it takes you closer to your long term goals, whether that is debt reduction, a family holiday of a lifetime or just struggling through until retirement.

It is a tough challenge (some of the rules are adapted from an early NInja Saving Kat challenge which chimed with my thoughts) so I am prepared to allow some leeway on how you follow the rules and will accept substitute rules if you find parts of them too onerous.

I do ask that you try your best and commit to the challenge when you sign up. Turtles do not fail (but we might not meet all our targets). This is not a place to be rude, unhelpful, unkind or patronising (Kat's words). No turtle gets left behind so if you are floundering ask for help (or advice or just commiseration or a hug - turtles give great hugs). If it's your first time with the turtles you might want to try following a few of the rules until you get the hang of them.

No matter how tough it gets we always have fun.


Food Expenditure.
Decide on your food expenditure for the month - do not exceed it. You are to downshift 5 - 10 products that you use on a regular basis. As many of you are already using the discount SMs you could substitute this rule eg try making something you might normally buy.

E Excursions and entertainment should be planned before the month starts. Ideally they should only be things you cannot get out of - a child's birthday, half-term (look now for free or low cost events)or a meet up which supports your own or someone else's mental health/ physical recuperation (I am prepared to accept baby and toddler groups under this, very important to have someone other than the baby to talk to all day).

Otherwise for this month only you are a hermit. Politely decline invites that come in after the start of the month (children's birthday invites allowed and child swaps with other mums at half term - mental health again).This applies especially to f0xh0les - if your children want to stay in their pjs all day with a games controller in their hand, let them (at least for a day or two)

B Budgets should be set before the start of the month. Travel (petrol or public transport). Create a spreadsheet of all expenditure (if you use ynab or have separate bank accounts for different categories of spending you won't need this) Add an amount for unexpected bills. Be realistic but you must stick to your spreadsheet for the month. This is about making your spending follow your planned expenditure Apologies for those of you who always do this, I'm spelling it out for those who aren't

R Reduce your planned food expenditure in accordance with the table below
Minus 20 pounds if your planned spend was up to 99 pounds
Minus 30 pounds if your planned spend was 100 - 200 pounds
Minus 40 pounds if your planned spend was 201 - 300 pounds
Minus 50 pounds if your planned spend was more than 300.
If this isn't doable (if your budget was already squeaky tight) substitute your own rule

U Useful leftovers. If there is anything from last month or a previous challenge which you found useful, keep on doing it (tackling those frogs, ditching bad habits and replacing them with good ones). Small changes that last are preferable to dramatic ones that peter out.

A Aim to take your lunch to work every day (unless you have a free
or heavily subsidised canteen. Similarly prepare for hospital appointments or days out by taking your own food and drink when possible.

R Remind yourself of what you have and be grateful. This is a tough challenge but I am not asking anyone to live on a bowl of rice a day. You can choose to add your gratitudes on here or to record them privately.

Y You should pay to your debt or savings first and live on what is left. Ideally pay it on the first of the month/ payday. I appreciate that some of you have money coming in at different times and may need to accommodate existing standing orders/ direct debits.

S Spend Free Days (SFDs). You will aim for 18. That leaves 10 for spending. Plan your shopping and other expenditure accordingly. Emergency petrol/ travel expenditure, medication and yellow sticker food will not lose you your SFD. Special milk exemption for greent. If you pay small weekly amounts in cash for children's activities or window cleaning, you can set aside the full amount for the month on one of your spend days rather than losing a SFD every time you pay.

U Use it up. If you discovered a mountain of unusual items hidden in the back of your cupboard last month or your freezer is still groaning with ys bargains, make them the basis of your meal plan and only buy more food when your stocks have dwindled (had a Red Dwarf moment then)

R Regular check ins are recommended, daily if possible. If you slip up, don't hide away. None of us is perfect and we will all help and support you.

V Turtles generally avoid the consumer fest of bad taste on the 14th of the month. If you and your significant other choose to celebrate, make it yourself. If there is no significant other, then celebrate your singledom in whatever way you choose - pampering, slothing, singing a la Bridget Jones or hiding under the bedclothes.

I Indoors/outdoors. Regular exercise is important. Walking is always good (unless you have a stupid sprained ankle and have to sit down after 5 minutes). Try to take advantage of the limited daylight. Some of you have your own programmes. If it has been a while since you exercised, start with something simple and don't overdo it.

Indoors - I mentioned being a hermit. I would like you to see this as a positive step. Spring may be around the corner but winter often has a sting in its tail. Nurture and protect yourself. Huddle by the fire, go to bed early, read, have hot drinks and comforting home made soup. Recharge your batteries. Rest and conserve your energy. Guard your mental health. Write down 10 things that help improve your mood and practice them regularly.

V Vending machines, coffee shops, takeaways (everything from an Indian banquet to a pastie or a bag of chips) are forbidden (except for those who have them as part of a budgeted family evening).

A Advance planning. Meal planning and making meals from scratch (no food waste) are your friends. On another thread I read about a woman who had to pay for garden waste collections. This year she is determined that the bin will be full each time it is emptied to get value for money. She has identified a couple of overgrown shrubs and has been out in the garden on good days, cutting them down to size.

Are there any garden prep tasks you could do now? Plan what you aim to grow and maybe set some seeds if you have a suitable place for them. Try pea shoots or cress (indoors) if you haven't grown your own food before. Look in your garage and shed, do an inventory of any useful materials that can be used for repairs/ an extra shelf. Any projects you bought the materials for and didn't get round to it?

L Let the challenge commence at midnight on 1st February 2019 and end on 28th February 2019 at midnight.

So who will join me on this month's turtle adventure

second paragraph under 'excursions' - only the 'for this month only' should be bold (trying to unbold the rest just adds a string of bracketed Bs and /Bs.
My mission in life is not only to survive,but to thrive and to do so with some Passion, some Compassion, some Humour and some Style.
NST SEP No 1 No Debt No mortgage


  • mothernerd
    mothernerd Forumite Posts: 4,827
    Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Debt-free and Proud!
    edited 15 February 2019 at 10:59PM
    Reserved for contenders

    1 mothernerd
    2 Shrewbie
    3 laurenh1
    4 SpekySquarehead
    5 Kerry Woman
    6 XSpender
    7 greent
    8 dolly84
    9 Dottydaisy
    10 sashanut
    11 Moneybutterfly35
    12 misstara
    13 thriftylass
    14 apple muncher
    15 chocolatelover
    16 aimeemum
    17 onmyway2
    18 ilovetea
    19 a_silver_lining
    20 crazy_cat_lady
    21 bizzie
    22 cuddlymarm
    23 shabbychic12
    24 f0xh0les
    25 brizzlegirl
    26 Saving Glut
    27 Robi90
    28 Purplefairy26
    29 ponypal
    30 Lovelifeloveliving
    31 Fmess
    32 Worklifebalance
    33 Toni'sfriend
    34 DebtFreeWannabme
    My mission in life is not only to survive,but to thrive and to do so with some Passion, some Compassion, some Humour and some Style.
    NST SEP No 1 No Debt No mortgage
  • mothernerd
    mothernerd Forumite Posts: 4,827
    Eighth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Debt-free and Proud!
    Turtles Backstory
    There was a kingdom of tall towers where the financiers lived. They lured wild turtles with gifts of loans and magic cards, making pets of them. When the hard times came the financiers cast off their pets and the turtles fell into the sewers, awash on a tide of debt.

    A wise and beautiful Kat rescued the turtles and taught them her ninja ways.Month by month, in a firm but kindly manner, she taught the turtles to exercise their bodies till they could negotiate the sewer, to use their will to resist the temptations of the kingdom, to plan and prepare, save their pennies and to give to those less fortunate.

    One day the wise Kat gathered the turtles to tell them she must leave them. She was to go on a quest to the Eastern lands. She had saved all her money (and a little honey) and sought new adventures and learning (and perhaps an owl to be her future companion).

    At first the turtles were afraid but wise and beautiful Kat reminded them of the lessons she had taught them (Always pay your debt first). They could now keep afloat on the sewer water and could help each other, and those who joined them along the way, to swim through to the tide of freedom and the beach of tranquility known as debt free day.

    So the brave little turtles set out, swimming against the tide of consumerism and became the
    My mission in life is not only to survive,but to thrive and to do so with some Passion, some Compassion, some Humour and some Style.
    NST SEP No 1 No Debt No mortgage
  • Shrewbie
    Shrewbie Forumite Posts: 689
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Thank you Mothernerd!! I'm in!
    Student loan £5849
    Emergency fund €2k/€2k
    House deposit €9200/€25k
  • laurenh1
    laurenh1 Forumite Posts: 756
    Seventh Anniversary Combo Breaker Debt-free and Proud!
    Me please x
  • SpekySquarehead
    SpekySquarehead Forumite Posts: 3,019
    Photogenic Debt-free and Proud!
    Gooood morning

    Me too please!!
  • Kerry_Woman
    Kerry_Woman Forumite Posts: 3,131
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    I'm in for February challenge.
    Frugal Living Challenge 2023 Mortgage free as of 1st August 2013
  • XSpender
    XSpender Forumite Posts: 3,811
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Count me in please :)
    Save £10,500 - £2673.77 - 25.5%
    Pay off £7000 - £1743 - 19.4%
    Make £2021 extra income - £99.75
  • greent
    greent Forumite Posts: 10,625
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Count me in, please :) x Thank you!
    I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul
    Repaid mtge early (orig 11/25) 01/09 £124616 01/11 £89873 01/13 £52546 01/15 £12133 07/15 £NIL
    Net sales 2023: £253.60
  • dolly84
    dolly84 Forumite Posts: 5,852
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    Thanks for the new challenge mothernerd. I'm in.

    I do tend to adapt the rules to suit me, my month runs from 26th to 25th and I don't really do NSD's as I budget everything at the start of the month and then spend it as needed, I did count them in January though based on days I didn't spend outside of my budgets.

    The food budget is hard for me, my budget for February is £320, I pretty much always spend it all, it does include houshold products and wine, I won't shop at Lidl, I have in the past but really hate the whole experience more so than other supermarkets which is really saying something, Aldi is miles away and a similar experience I imagine so I have Tesco deliver mine once a week.

    I have already allowed a £50 budget for half term. It is our anniversary on the 25th, we may have had a takeaway in the past but vegan options are non existent really but we do have £35 to spend on eating out from DH's work so we may use that to actually go out and then claim it back.
    Debt Free and now a saver, conscious consumer, low waste lifestyler

    Fashion on the Ration 28/66
  • Dottydaisy
    Dottydaisy Forumite Posts: 101
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Posts
    Please count me in, great challenge Mothernerd, looking forward to February but can't believe that January has gone so fast
    NSD 1/3,
    My mantra is After I ....I will. eg After I make my morning coffee, I will take my medication. Eventually this will become a habit,
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