The Big Budget Challenge

I’ve just been into Bath and, to my horror, discovered that the shops are already full for Christmas stuff AND the street Christmas lights have been installed.  Has the world gone bonkers? It’s the beginning of October for goodness sake!!  Is the commercial world on a mission to hijack Christmas?  Mmm that’s my suspicion… What do you think?      

December 25th shop

This shop is actually open all year round! Madness! (IMO)

 [Source]

However, seeing the Christmas lights did remind me that, in the next 3 months, I’ve got some fairly big expenses coming up… Lil’ L’s birthday at the end of this month; a potential trip to stay in Nottingham Forest during half term; M’s 40th in December and then, of course, Christmas.  So, when I spotted Laura’s Big Budget Challenge on Sarah’s blog, I jumped at the chance to join in.

The Big Budget Challenge is running for the months of October and November.  The idea is to set our own rules and keep track of our budgeting progress through our blogs. Laura will do a weekly round up of all budget-themed posts, so we can share ideas on how to save money.

Aside from mortgage and bills, food is our single largest expenditure, so this is where I’m going to try and make the most savings.  However, I’m not going to make any compromises on the quality of the food we eat.  We’re still going to eat organic as much as possible, lots of fresh fruit and veggies, and no junk. 

Here are the rules I’ve set myself:

  1. Avoid waste. I’m going to have a big sort out of the pantry, fridge and freezer and use up anything that has been languishing there for a long time. I’m also going to make sure that I use up all the fruit and veg before they’re ready to jump on the compost heap. 
  2. Shop around for the cheapest deals. A friend of mine used the site http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/ and saved £30 on her weekly shop by switching supermarket. I must give this a go!
  3. Make use of home-grown foods. We’ve got tons of apples at the moment, so I’m going to try and make lots of interesting desserts and snacks using the apples, rather than buying desserts or lots of other fruits. 
  4. Go foraging!  I love the idea of wrapping up in warm clothes and boots, going out for a brisk walk… and coming back laden with free goodies.  I can’t wait to see what I can find! There’s lots of useful info on foraging on the web.
  5. Make use of vouchers and deals.  On Friday nights, we usually go out for a meal.  It’s a great way to end the week and catch up with each other.  For the next couple of months, I’m going to make use of websites such as Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert to find money-off coupons and 2-4-1 deals on restaurants.  I’ll also make use of my Tesco vouchers by converting them into restaurant tokens (each £1 voucher is worth £3 in selected restaurants so it’s a great way to use them).

At the end of each month, I’ll check my credit card bill and see how much I’ve spent on groceries.  I’ll then compare it with previous months to see if I’ve made any savings. 

Can you think of any other ways I can save money on food (without compromising on quality)? If so, I’d love to hear them.

Also, I’d love to know what you think about the early onset of Christmas paraphernalia in town.  Do you think it’s right to start stocking the shops and hanging Christmas lights in October?  Perhaps it’s just me that’s all ‘bah hum bug’ 😉

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7 Comments

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7 Responses to The Big Budget Challenge

  1. David Green

    I celebrate Yule, so I can ignore all that Christian stuff and enjoy the pagan festival. The hedgerows are groaning under the wieght of all the fruit and nuts at the moment, so a good way to save money is to forage now and then preserve it – freezer, jams, etc., not forgetting the drinks – elder berry and blackberry for example.

    For those who want alcohol, for a few pounds of sugar and a bit of yeast you can brew many gallons of elderberry wine – last time I used large ‘bottle garden’ jars and brewed around 40 gallons. It also saves money as a bottle of mature wine makes a great present.

    Keep up the good work, and don’t eat any dodgy fungi ! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the tips David. I CAN’T WAIT to go foraging!
    I’ll definitely be stearing clear of fungi. I swear my mum nearly killed me with one of her sandwiches full of foraged mushrooms! For 2 hours on a train to Nottingham, I was in the toilet being sick. Definitely don’t want to repeat THAT experience! LOL!

  3. It’s exactly the same in Leeds – I noticed this morning that the Christmas lights are up and the supermarkets have whole aisles dedicated to festive junk already – it’s ridiculous and so annoying.
    I think those are great rules for saving money. I like the idea of foraging 🙂 I’m going to try to make more use of vouchers and deals as well. I have quite a few points on my Boots card, so they will come in useful.

  4. Glad you are joining in, it seems that saving money on food is a big area for everyone to be focusing on right now. I love foraging when I can, a few weeks ago I found a tree brimming with damson plums!

  5. Rachel

    this is such a great challenge- i think i’m totally going to join in on it as well! i’m HUGE on couponing and checking for sales. i also like to plan out my menus a week in advance, using the same ingredients a few times over, so i don’t buy more than i need when i grocery shop and then end up with waste.

    i can’t believe they’re setting up christmas things already (they’re doing that in the states too!). it definitely mocks the true spirit of christmas, and i’m a huge loser who takes it seriously. giving is important for me, but i do my christmas shopping as a kinda “i saw this and thought of you” kind of a thing, rather than looking for something specifically for the holiday.

    • It would be great if you joined in Rachel! I bet you’ve got lots of money saving ideas to share. 🙂
      I’ve never mealplanned before, but it’s something I should start doing. I went to cook black beans and rice the other day… I started boiling the rice, then got the black beans out of the cupboard only to discover that I needed to soak them for 6 hours prior to cooking. Duh! My first attempt at saving money by buying dried beans rather than tinned totally backfired on me. I quickly came up with a Plan B though and made pineapple fried rice instead. It’s the first time I’ve made this and it was lush! 🙂

  6. What a fabulous idea. I can’t wait to read more and see how you all are doing. If I was organized enough I would join up…but that is a downfall of mine, as I barely get my stuff together for WIAW.
    I find you comment very funny about dried black beans, as I had the exact same thing happen to me. I think we ended up going out because I had no plan B.
    Putting meal plans together is something my husband and I do together each week after we pick up our CSA basket. Such fun and keeps things fresh because you never know what you are going to get from the farm.

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