Balancing the Household BooksHaving just assessed the remainder of my 2013 challenge budget, it's looking quite tight, possibly even in need of some jiggery-pokery!
With 137 days remaining and an initial budget of £4,000 to run my household for a year, the law of averages tells me I should still have £1,501.37 to see me through to Hogmanay.
The actual amount remaining is £1,219.98 and it is easy to see where prices and costs haven't been behaving themselves very well.
Bulk buying of bargain food stuffs has accounted for a chunk of the money, with only £200.90 remaining of the original £912.50 to see out 2013. That's £10.26 per week to feed two of us plus whoever else visits or comes to stay for a few days. Thankfully, there's plenty of food in the house and the garden seems to be producing something edible, even if it's only courgettes, cucumbers and raspberries at the moment. (I based my figures on £1.25 per person per day for all meals, laundry, toiletry and cleaning products, I thought we deserved a little bit extra since the household had dropped from three to two.)
Electricity prices just keep on escalating and with two of us working from home fulltime, that means power being used seven days per week for computers, plus general household use and hot water. We don't have E7 power supply here, so no cheap night time energy.
This year, to date, I have fed the meter £700, giving me a current credit balance of £62.92 and £140 left in cash. I am trying to keep within an annual limit of £840, so I have an average of £10.37 per week. This is not good news but at least we do have the logburner installed this year.
Next up is the fuel for heating - coal and logs. This also provides hot water and heats the radiators but we need to replace the back boiler and have a new fireplace installed. I had allocated £360 for coal and logs. We have been collecting sticks and wood throughout the year to try and help reduce the winter fuel bill, so the log and stick stores are full and there is a pile of logs awaiting chopping. This should keep us going until next year. From that budget, I have £132 remaining, fingers crossed for the September offer from the coal man.
What can I say? I allocated a budget of £10 to try and keep my ancient phone alive but it died on me through inactivity. We don't have a mobile phone signal here, so I have no real need for a mobile phone. Pity I wasted a fiver keeping it in credit! I now need to find a handset to transfer my sim card into it and retrieve everyone's phone numbers. Still, that's another £5 that I won't need to spend in this category.
TELEPHONE AND INTERNET
Horrendous how much it costs but I console myself in the fact that it's shared between two of us and it's much less now than I used to pay back in the 90s when I first started surfing the web. With line rental paid up front at a cost of £129 plus the monthly broadband and calls costing around £25.50, I had to call a halt to that and get on to BT to request a reduced package. The new rate kicks in this month, so I am hoping it all balances out at around the £30 including line rental. In 1997, I think I was paying £29.99 a month for access to dial up and we'd still to pay per minute while online! However it works out, I have £157.58 to last the remainder of the year.
All we have is Freeview and the £145.50 licence paid annually. I could live without TV if push ever came to shove.
FOOTWEAR AND CLOTHING
I spent more than normal in this category because of my holiday trip to Ben Nevis. I couldn't risk going up there without suitable attire, so I bought what I needed... then never wore the jacket or trousers or waterproofs because on the day we climbed that mountain, we were blessed with sunshine. Even sitting on a metre of snow at the summit, the sun shone and no waterproof wear was required. I still needed the gear for getting fit enough to do the walk in the first place and it's all as good as new. It will get more regular use after summer. Plus, I still have £24.85 remaining from the original £100 budget - not bad, all things considered. :)
GIFTS AND DONATIONS
I allocated £350 to this category. We don't really do birthdays in the family or household, so there's still £276.72 remaining of this, of which most will be spent at Christmas.
POSTAGE, DELIVERIES and TRANSPORT
These categories had to be incorporated because this year is my year without a car! Late last year, with the agreement of H, I bought two bikes and challenged us to live without a car after the old one got scrapped. Of course, things are still needed that we can't get out to collect on bikes, so I introduced this section to the budget. It covers any bus, train or taxi fares, petrol costs for friends I might lift-share with and delivery/postage for stuff ordered online. I allowed £240 for this and have spent £111.14 - not too bad compared to the cost of running a car and the spends include my share for the journey to Fort William for our Ben Nevis walk! £128.86 remaining.
This got paid up front at the start of the year, so nothing left to pay on that until next year and 36p change from the £165 costs for buildings and contents.
£100 allocated for cat food etc but that budget got a bit messed up as I bought trays of cat food from Amazon while it was on special offer and paid for it using free vouchers I had accrued from Topcashback. As far as the cash allocated is concerned, there's still £81.87 of that left in the kitty. (Not literally!)
There was a whopping great £337 allocated to 'everything else' and that has been well spent on some great stuff. £71.84 remaining even after paying the frugal holiday with friends and trip up Ben Nevis.
Adding all of these balances together amounts to £1,219.98 and from this amount I also want to tick off another two of my lifetime goals that can be done in one hit - to cross the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and to visit the Giant's Causeway. Planning on taking a friend with me and hope to get over to Ireland within the next month. Budget of £100 estimated.
It all looks perfectly possible to me.
My 'EEK' challenge takes care of anything else, which pretty much falls under the category of business and covers things like poultry feeding, developing my microholding project and National Insurance, plus the renovations, which we're trying to do on a month by month basis without impacting too much on current savings plans.
Finally, I do save loyalty points, always shop via a cash-back site and pay as much as I can on a cash-back credit card but all these extra little dribs and drabs of income contribute to the 'EEK' challenge. They help a great deal across the space of each year, possibly accumulating and extra couple of hundred pounds that I wouldn't otherwise have had. Then there are my LETS points for trading, whenever I get the chance.
Every penny and every point counts in this lifestyle and we do this through choice - the choice to be independent and fight our own financial battles, to be free from debt and to lead the kind of life we want.
That's my budget taken care of for the rest of the year, lets hope nothing untoward crops up suddenly.