Sunday, 30 December 2012

Living on £4,000 for a Year

Time to Balance the Budget!

Once again, I am going to attempt to stick with my frugal living challenge to live on (or should that be off?) £4,000 for the entire year.

On Wednesday 28th November, the car failed its MOT and proved to be an uneconomical repair. On Monday 3rd December, the car got scrapped. We have decided to attempt to do without a car in 2013, but we won't be without wheels.

We live in a rural location, we are not on a bus route and there are no local taxis. The main road is just over a mile from the house, so we can walk there and flag down the occasional bus - I think there are two per day. I've asked friends about lift-sharing and have registered with Royal Mail so I can  pre-pay and print postage labels, then all I need to do is pop the mail into the box or hand it to the postman.

With what was saved on the final month's petrol, scrap money and refund of road tax from the car, it paid for two secondhand bikes. December 2012 was the first time I had cycled in 30 years! My 2013 challenge includes seeing how easy it is to manage without a car, despite living in a rural location, and keep the overall annual household budget below £4,000.00 while having frugal FUN!
Having a prepayment electricity meter normally means going and topping up the key at the post office or relevant PayPoint. That's not easy on a miserble, windy, wet day when the post office is a 7 mile round trip, so I bought a Scottish Power 'pod', which cost me £13.99. I can now top up the meter online. After considered paying the £60 to have meter replaced, I decided against it. Why should we need to pay extra when the power companies will soon be installing Smart Meters into every house in the country? We'll ALL be charged for those, both gas (for those who have it) and electricity, once the Government plan is rolled out fully over the next few years.

My new challenge budget has been finalised! It reflects groceries, electricity, heating, telephone, Internet and TV for the household, but gift buying, clothes, mobile phone, postage, travel etc is my own only... housesharing means no joint-accounts, no joint family affairs and, if I want to blow the balance on a horse, the house or a foreign holiday, I'm free to do so. But I promise not to buy a horse!

The Finalised Challenge Budget for 2013

Groceries, Toiletries, Cleaning - £1,000
Electricity - £800
Coal - £200
Logs - £200
Other - £12 (firelighters, matches etc)
Mobile - £5
Telephone & Internet - £360
TV - £145.50
Footwear & Clothing - £50
Gifts - £100
Transport Costs - £75
Postage & Deliveries - £35
Home Insurance - £100
Household Pets - £60
Everything else - £857.50

TOTAL = £4,000.00

In a change of plan, I will not be deducting council tax or buildings insurance from my budget, so I've shared some of the extra money among the gifts, fuel and groceries categories, while leaving the remainder under the category of 'everything else'. Without a car to worry about, I'm feeling positively LOADED for 2013!
Frugal living has never looked so good! I've managed to fit in a few miles of cycling to get used to the bike, a set of mud flaps, lights and a back rack have been fitted, so I can stay drier going through puddles, be seen and carry the basic essentials home when visiting the shop. Recent eBay purchases included fleecy leggings (99p per pair) and hi-vizibility vests (99p), so I think we're all set to roll into the new year.
The freezer is full, the cupboards are full, there's enough coal to take us through to the next visit by the coal man and I've already started collecting kindling sticks to replenish our dwindling supply. January is always a fairly expensive month for me, so the budget takes more than its fair share of hitsduring the coming month. With luck, winter will be kind to us and there's plenty of work to be done about the place in between keeping up to date with my 'eBidding', making McGonks and writing about life in Frugaldom.
Finally, a couple of the bantams have started to lay eggs again and I haven't even used the eggs from the freezer, yet. Pancakes, omlettes, quiche and homemade pasta can now be reintroduced to the frugal menu and who knows, we may even have some lemon curd back on the go soon.
All comments and questions are welcome - frugal living is about making affordable living fun while steering clear of debts. If you're looking for a money challenge, feel free to join us online anytime in the Frugaldom Forums and I will do my best to keep the blog ticking over in more diary-like fashion for the benefits of my wonderful subscribers. You'll also find a version of this challenge on the Moneysavingexpert forums, where many people prefer to go, just search for the 2013 Frugal Living Challenge and you'll find us. :)
Thank you for showing an interest in frugaldom and all it entails. I hope everyone can have some frugal fun in 2013.


  1. This is SO exciting - this translates into roughly $6,600 for the year.
    Is this separate from mortgage payments ?
    I shall be following you every step of the way.

    1. Hi Lizzie, last year we lumped all the savings together and bought this fixy-up for cash. Even my son's coin-box got emptied, so every penny went into the purchase! LOL There are quite a few photos on the blog showing what it was like, starting from April 2011 when we had to move in, otherwise we'd all have been homeless by that point. LIving in a renovation project certainly beats paying a landlord. :)

    2. Thanks for the explanation - I will go back and peruse the posts. I bought a bike and use it a lot although for at least four months a year there is usually too much snow and it really is too cold. I would feel comfortable planning to use the bus if it is only a mile away - can you put your bike on the front of the bus like you can here, maybe, that way you would only need to ride one way perhaps.
      We bought our house for cash and although it was a huge effort we have never regretted it - we are totally debt free and it has made so much difference to our lives. Good luck with your very worthy endeavour.

  2. Good luck this year :)

  3. Hope you achieve all your mini-goals for 2013, Laura. How are things progressing towards your move to Portugal? (Sorry, I'm way behind with my blog reading.)

    1. Not too bad....still attacking our UK mortgage, once that's gone we should be in a better position :)

  4. Well done! I recently discovered your blog from SFT and love it! Happy Holidays

    1. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment. :) My version of frugal living would appear to be slightly different from many others but I'm only just beginning to realise that myself, since reading a few budgets here and there.

      Happy holidays and have a great 2013! :)

  5. hi there, i also think this is very exciting,love your Blog!thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading, Carol. Hope you'll be joining me for the 2013 frugaldom rollercoaster ride. :)

  6. Wanted to wish you luck with it all and I'll be cheering you on,

    Gill in Canada

  7. Good wishes to you as take on this challenge. :)

    1. Thanks, Connie. I tend to forget that it is a challenge, as it's just a way of life to me, but I guess with every year that goes on, £4,000 must seem like less and less to many people. :)

  8. Just reading your budget, I can understand coal and logs being that price but your electricity seems quite high. Is it because you are on pre-paid meters. Hopefully, you get some of this back when they read them?

    1. Nope, not a penny back. :) In fact, if I can achieve the 2013 target for electricity it will be the lowest I have managed in years...

      Electricity costs an absolute fortune when it's the only way you have of heating an old, single-glazed, stone cottage that lacks insulation. (We have no attic and we have no wall cavities that can be filled.) You should try it for a week mid-winter sometime - switch off your central heating, leave windows open a crack to allow for heat loss and rely on electricity only for heat, light, cooking and hot water. Add to that being home 24/7 because that's where you work and you'll get the picture. :) I know people who are getting through £10 per DAY on electricity just now and that's with storage heaters on E7 (cheap rate overnight).

      I've upped the coal and logs for 2013 as I hope to have the multifuel stove fitted and the old fireplace arundd the open fire rebuilt to make it safe. There is no overnight heat source except plug-in, oil-filled radiators.

  9. Thank you for all the lovely comments this time around. I am always open to suggestions for cheap heating that I haven't tried before, so if anyone has affordable ones, please let me know. Free stuff subsidised by Government grants not an option because I don't qualify.

    10 housemoves (rentals) in as many years means buying this place should be the final move, but it's been like starting over again and again and again.


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