Saturday, 1 February 2014

Day 1 of Extremely Frugal February - A Daily Diary for a Short Month

28 Days of Extreme Frugal Living

Day 1 of 28 and I've spent almost £8.50 of my household budget.

Often, I am accused of being 'extreme' in my pursuit of frugal living. I can (and do) live without many things that others see as essentials, but my needs, just as my wants, differ from theirs.
Having been reading, once again, about the escalating need for food banks, the arrests of squat-living, skip-diving, Freegans and even more proposed cuts in local government spending, I couldn't help but compare my supposed extremism to how others live their lives. I am nowhere near extreme - I actually consider myself to be no more than moderately frugal, sufficient to maintain my own solvency, despite earning less than half the UK national minimum wage.



A friend was visiting after a trip into town, so I afforded myself the luxury of spending £1.00 on two bottles of washing up liquid, as Morrisons supermarket had them on special offer.


Both the multifuel stove and the open fire got lit - one for providing us with a warm room and the other to warm the water and radiators to keep the chill and dampness off the other rooms. This probably cost about £5.00 for a day, judging by the number of logs we get through and the 10kg or so of coal. On the plus side, the washing has all dried on airers over the radiators and we've got plenty of hot water, including what has been getting boiled on the stove top for hot drinks, instant custard and flask-filling. There's certainly enough to fill a couple of hot water bottles and this is something I need to get used to doing during the cold winter months.


Porridge for breakfast, cooked in a 700w microwave for 5 minutes, now costs 12p for 2 people. Electricity is costing us 17p per kWh after factoring in the weekly standing charge.

Lunch was homemade bread toasted and served with spaghetti, at a total cost of around 36p for two of us.

Dinner was a single chicken breast, which now costs £1, diced and stir fried with a large onion (10p), a pepper and a few mushrooms, all dowsed in some cheap (5p) sauce. The pepper and mushrooms came to me free via a neighbour who handed them in to save binning them. This was all served with noodles, which cost me less than 10p.

Not content with that, I also made a large fruit crumble using a tub of garden-grown rhubarb (I stew it then freeze it) and a sachet of sponge mix crumbed with margarine. Counting in all the stewing and baking times plus ingredients, the fruit crumble cost just under 40p and will provide 6 servings (13p for 2). Add on another 8p for some instant custard and there you have it... total cost for dinner for two, including electricity for cooking, amounted to £1.46 so that's only 73p per person for a two course main meal.

The above prices all include the cost of cooking, which could be done cheaper using the stove top and provided us with three hot meals each at an overall cost of just £1.94

This was the extent of today's spending - £7.94

I'll allow some extra for switching on lights (max 5w LED bulbs), running two laptops and for milk and tea - let's call it £8.50 for everything, except the unseen overheads. Even at this amount, I could split today's spending into needs and wants.

The following things were not essential:

Washing up liquid £1
Coal to warm the entire house £3
Noodles with the chicken and vegetable stir fry 10p
Rhubarb crumble with custard 21p
Electricity for stir frying when I could have cooked on the stove top 6p

If I was in dire need of cutting my spending to the bone, I could easily have halved my spends and let's not forget that this is for two adults, not just for me.

My 'normal' budget for everything including household insurance, clothing, transport and luxuries like a TV licence, pets, a home phone, internet access, socialising, entertainment, travel and gift-giving is £10.95 per day or £13.70 including Council Tax. We have no rent or mortgage to pay but if we did, that could easily double the living costs.

I don't think I am extreme in the least. On the contrary, I can afford everything I need while also saving for whatever I want. As long as I can earn my share of that £13.70 per day and call where I live my home, that should suffice for now.

NYK, Frugaldom


  1. All sounds good to me. I must admit I can work out food spending per meal or day but not necessarily the electricity. We know we use 5 to 6 logs from 4pm until 9pm then no more so can calculate that. During the day and only if we get really cold, the heating goes on at 14C and that comes on probably 5 or 6 times a day. After that, if we are still cold, we microwave bean bags.

    1. 5 or 6 logs over the period of 5 hours and this is the only heating you need in your house? I am stunned! Our tiny stove can get through that an hour. As an example, when I got up this morning, the sitting room thermometer was reading 7 degrees C and it's now reading 8 after burning 5 or 6 logs in it. I have long forgotten what it is like to have central heating, it must be fantastic to set a thermostat and have a system do everything for you within minutes. To get our house at 14C throughout during winter would probably cost at least £10 per day. Would you like to house swap for a winter week's holiday? :D

  2. Very interesting post, you are so good at working out numbers. i'm going to give this a try ( working out what our costs per day are) I may struggle!

    1. Be careful, number crunching can become addictive. LOL

  3. I bring in twelve logs per day on average and we use nearly all of them and the fire is on all day although we only put logs on from probably 8am until around 7pm. With it being so cold here we HAVE to have the fire on, along with the heating which is set at 18 oC and generally goes on and off through the night and first thing in the morning.

    1. I think we must be talking about very differently sized logs because I get through dozens of them in a day. Mine need to be split to fit through a tiny stove door measuring only 15cm x 10cm and can only have a maximum length of 20cm so probably numbering 'logs' is ridiculous, as they have no standard size. I can only dream of 18C here. Even now, after a full day of the stove being lit, the sitting room is only 14C after opening the door for a few minutes. I just seem to end up living in cold houses.

  4. I need to get back to crunching those numbers!! reading this helped give me a kick in the right direction x

    1. Glad it helped - I think we all need gentle reminders sometimes and then other times I find I need a swift, sharp reminder... births, deaths and marriages have a tendency to be the swift kick reminders, so I'm now into the 'be prepared for all eventualities' way of thinking. I know I can't be all prepared for all things, but knowing I am trying is a definite help. :)


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