How we lived off one salary for one month

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Starting a few days before pay day, we did the household budget. That is every penny accounted for. Ensure that the budget gives you a zero balance, before you have received your pay. It is vital every penny is spent. Start with entering the household income. That’s definite income, not “oh I’ll be getting birthday money this month” or “I’m awaiting a tax rebate”. Purely focus on the definite income. We can spend any additional, unplanned income last.

Once you’ve totaled this, start “spending”. The aim of this is to have spent all income before the pay hits your account at the end of the month. In my opinion; focus on a roof over your head i.e. rent or mortgage and food on the table (weekly food shop). Then cater for your water, gas and electricity. Then the more minor things like; council tax, home (contents and building) insurance, life insurance, (if you have one (or two)) car insurance*, car tax*, petrol/diesel*, landline, internet*, mobile*, debt and lastly, but most importantly: savings.

Have you got too much month remaining and not enough salary? If yes, then go back to the budget and start to scrutinize! Every penny must be spent, but spend it wisely. Not forgetting the aim here, is to live off one salary for one month. This is not about clearing your debt, saving an emergency fund or settling your mortgage. One salary. One month. This is not a how to get out of debt piece.

By working with a pyramid method of spending, you should be able to reach the top of the pyramid with actual  “spending” money or miscellaneous. This is what we were fortunate enough to end up with i.e. “spending” money. We tightened up on everything. Here are some categories to help:

000          Salary
000          Mortgage
000          Groceries
000          Water
000          Gas
000          Electricity
000          Buildings & Contents Insurance
000          Life Insurance
000          Council Tax
000          Car Insurance*
000          Fuel*
000          Saving
000          Mobile*
000          TV Licence*
000          Internet & Phone*
000          Debt
000          Spending (miscellaneous)
000          Balance

Lastly, if you are fortunate enough land some additional cash, then either save it or repay debt. Based on our situation we save it.

*from a minimalist lifestyle these items may not be needed, add value or be worthwhile.

In addition to the tight budget, remove temptation by unsubscribing, watching less TV i.e. less advertising, removing things like Facebook or Twitter. The aim is to take yourself away from the relentless advertising, even the internet. Adverts about that TV you looked at once, will follow you all over the internet. Essentially, watch A documentary about the important things it explains all and is the reason why we’re on this minimalist, frugal, saving, debt free lifestyle – about.

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It grows and grows

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The frost that hit this week appears to have damaged more plants than vegetables at the moment.  Fortunately the onions, garlic and shallots appear strong. The younger seedlings were all green house contained so they’ve had good protection.

I have been putting off buying grow bags, but early this morning I took the plunge. I had withdrawn only £50 for this month’s “spendin” or miscellaneous purchases. £20 cash was handed over to the dreaded cashier. However, with the 6 grow bags I now have I can grow up to three plants in each. That gives me 18 potential successful plants. With a combination of cherry tomatoes, normal tomatoes, aubergines, watermelons (test vegetable this year), courgettes and peppers. They’re just the grow bag candidates there are potatoes, beetroot and carrots in too.

Although I have spent money on essentially earth, the wealth of return is unrivalled. It’s educational for the boy. It teaches him to care and nuture. It gives us super fresh vegetables. It eventually saves money from all the extra which are frozen or made into something else to freeze for example tomato soup. It gives daily exercise tending to each plant. Growing your own is brilliant and I highly recommend it.

Once the season gets fully underway, you spend more time gardening and caring, which costs nothing, but time. It takes up so much time, that before you know it, its bedtime.

Must not forget to sow the pumpkin seeds this weekend!

As the boy says; if you give love, it grows and grows.

Spring has sprung

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Once you start to make positive strides and head in a definite direction,! it truly does feel like someone is on your side.

Since watching the minimalists on Netflix, listening to all their podcasts (some too many times), reading Dave Ramsey: total money make over, numerous blogs on a minimalist lifestyle, frugal living and listening to past Dave Ramsey shows; there is a spring in my step.

My wife said last night: “this minimalist lifestyle combined with frugal living is a lethal pair”. Practicing what is documented first on the minimalist documentary has without a doubt transformed our outlook – on everything. We are better people for it.

Our house is not empty of stuff, but we’ve stemmed the consumption. In applying this very simplistic methodology, savings are rapidly increasing. Well for us anyway. Debt is vanishing. New debt – non-existent. In fact, employing the principles behind us living a minimalist lifestyle wipes debt from our mindsets and lives. Now we consum less with real passion, meaning and purpose. Why? It’s making us have a happier, more fulfilling and stressless life. We are enjoying more (free) experiences.

Even in our jobs, our careers have become at the same time, worthless and worthwhile. Say: “no”. It offers up clarity. I strive for family time not a massive salary and huge stress. Less consumption, less (no) need, less (no) debt, less (no) negative stress; all thanks to an insanely powerful, worthwhile combination that is minimalism and frugality.  It means there is no need for high salaries or high stress. In living minimally we’re increasing our time, improving health, reducing debt and increasing wealth.

This spring has most certainly sprung.

My Frugal Month: Traction

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It has been a very fulling journey over the last 28 days. Knowing the direction I needed to go in, knowing what I wanted to achieve from My Frugal Month and I feel without doubt, I have picked up awesome traction. 

Along the journey I have failed and succeeded. The failure comes in the form of temptation, losing focus and giving paper to a shop assistant. Essentially handing over our cash. Not forgetting, that cash, that £100 split over four weeks was our one salary “spending” money. There was at no point a dilberate necessity to spend it or save it. It was purely about using the money with intention and purpose. Making the decision of giving that cash away worthwhile, not worthless. Give purpose to every “thing” that was to come into our home. This too is part of our minimalist journey.

We’ve spent the last 5+ months removing worhtless stuff from our home. Minimising our possessions that add nothing but clutter. We’re looking towards our life with clarity. Living a more simplistic lifestyle. Living a worthwhile existance. Giving back purpose and meaning to experiences. In making these gradual changes – no one likes change – we’ve been able to succeed with (give a couple of days) a frugal month. We’ve lived off one salary for the month.

With May just around the corner, with all the beginning of the month outgoings set to leave the accounts; this month has been a single salary triumph. We’ve essentially been able to go the distance, learn from our actions, mistakes and decisions.

The aim has been all about one salary living in preparation for having a second child – no news. We’ve gained valuable traction in our combined frugalist minimalist lifestyle.

This was my frugal month… 

Be prepared

No matter what day of the week or what time it is my mind can very quickly take me back to the prison of debt. It’s valuable to me personally and helps with the reality of my minimalist debt (mortgage) free journey:

Woke up in a complete panic that even though I had just recieved my letter confirming employment I was in fact losing my job. Dismissed. No questions asked. Just dreaming rubbish as the alarm went off. Horrible dream but one that would create mayhem. 

That was quite a pleasant feeling indeed. So yesterday I withdrew £250. My POA to give the other half £50 and then spend the rest on my train fair. 

Handing over £180 cash felt good. My cash. My earnings. My means of commuting. 

Plus my “no debit card plan” can commence. Even got given change back £11.80

Essentially I now have £31.80 cash that needs to see me until next Thursday (fingers crossed until payday).

I have a budget on Google Drive that I can now utilise anywhere so hoping this shall work. It will work. 

It’s strange because reading back over my debt diaries that I kept, makes me realise I was 110% persuading myself everything was improving. Even when it was not. It really wasn’t.

The only time things really improved, really improved – was when every single piece of plastic credit card got chopped up. It’s funny though because each time I was making progress on savings. Each time I thought I was winning, small wins, I’d get flattened in microseconds. Yet another “emergency” not a take-a-way, but like faults on the car or the garage roof repair.

Without that initial emergency fund complete, there was no hope. The moment the protection was there, I seem to be left alone for longer periods of time. That only gave me more chance to save! The comfort of having paper over plastic for protection was great. 

It honestly feels like you don’t get picked on when you’re prepared. Just like the scouts taught me years ago as boy: Be prepared.

My Frugal Month: minimalism has taken a back seat

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It feels like my minimalist lifestyle has taken a back seat for trying to be frugal. It totally has not. If anything the principles of a minimalist lifeatyle I use daily and the intensity of them, is making my frugal month thrive. Well thrive for us. It may not be: the top 25 tips on frugal living, or how to be frugal in 10 easy steps or 101 things you didn’t know about being frugal, but the minimalist approach to being frugal is perfect for us. The accidental relationship of minimalism and frugalism are a perfect match. Their qualities and the methodologies only enhance each other.

Less consumption. Cycling to work once a week (48miles). Using one car for four days a week only to commute and nursery drop off. Making use of more local experiences i.e country walks – they are free. When you read “FOOTPATH” on an old wooden sign; it means free path, free fun and free exercise. Plus you’re getting Vitamin D – nice.

My Frugal Month: Week 3

What a difference a week makes. The end of week two saw another positive end, however the first day of week 3 was a fail. Not forgetting, the aim of our Frugal Month is to live off one salary. It is not to become a recluse. So if we do spend on miscellaneous items it can only be from the envelopes. That’s exactly what happened on week 3. 

It is strange because it feels wrong, like cheating or being unfaithful. It is not at all. However, reaching the end of the week once again there was no high five, but definitely reflection. When was the money spent? Why was the money spent? Immediately, I can say it was used as investment to try and kill a disease on our 50+ year old apple tree. Living off the land is cheaper than buying.

I have certainly learnt some intetesting lessons this week too. One of which being: we never seem to spend during the week. Our weakness is the weekend. Finding this out certainly helps us in the long run. Three weeks in of living Frugal, I can definitely see the positives and benefits. Hopefully this preparation will aid us as a family when/if we have a second child – no news 

This is our Frugal Month…