November is here and I have to get a bit serious with myself, bad habits have become every day occurrences and it has to stop.
I have become used to handing over my card, not for frivolous purposes, but for every day stuff, but without being aware of what is in the account, this is partly due to the unstructured way in which self-employed people like myself are paid. If you have only ever been in a salaried job, just imagine how tricky it can be when some months nothing comes in at all and other months lots comes in and other months in dribs and drabs. How sometimes you have to chase up payment and don't get a penny until months after you did the work. I would love to be paid a monthly salary rather than lumps now and again, I would love to be paid if I am sick and can't work, I would love to be given pension contributions, but sadly self-employed people get none of these things, sure there are benefits, but definite minuses.
Anyway, to get back onto the point, before I was side-tracked there, I have let things get away from me and it has to stop.
So today I went onto all my online bank accounts to see how serious the situation was and it is not great, not dire, but not great. Last friday I had to spend yet another £140 on my car (gasket blown and lightbulbs replacing) which has not helped the situation. I will be back on track if I can spend only a maximum of £100 on everything (food, toiletries, household, petrol etc) in November and the same in December. A lean Christmas? no, just a well thought out one.
It's a challenge although I know many people (some of you included) who live on less than this so not that serious a challenge. I have a freezer packed full of stuff, I have a lot of knowledge and resources to fall back on looking at cheap recipes etc. The petrol could be tricky, but the car is full and I hopefully can get through most of the month on what I have if I don't take any long trips (exempt from this challenge is having to travel to London for work towards the end of the month - there is no way around that expense and I have just to budget separately for it)
So today I did what I used to do but have got out of the habit of doing: I made a meal plan, a shopping list and took £100 cash out of the bank.
Oh what a joy it was to be back in the supermarket with a structure, order and plan to what I was shopping for, I had forgotten how easy it makes shopping, how satisfying to spend so little, what a great feeling it was.
I spent just £9 on a weeks food (might have to top up buying some milk). Yes, I have a lot of things in the freezer, but even so, it just took some imagination and get out of ones head the idea that each meal has to be something 'special'. Home cooked, cheap food is always special, just because tv chefs like us to think we should be eating bloody pheasant croissants or cod roe curry doesn't mean we have to.
So the challenge is set, let's see if I can achieve it.
The irony is that because I have structured my week, I will probably end up eating even better than usual.
Beautiful weather today, done an hour and half gardening and that on top of the 2 hours I did yesterday has tidied it all up no end. I believe the rest of this week will be wet, so it was good to get it done today.