September Review: a practice month for our new life

Today's sunlight in the trees

Today’s sunlight in the trees

Here we are on the last day of this month which we’ve been using to practice changing our spending and other habits to get ready for Brian leaving his job (in two days’ time)!

Sitting together now and looking at our results, it’s feeling even more real and exciting than we thought it would be.

We’ve amended our home finance system so that our financial months match up with calendar months, making things much easier to track.

Financial results
This month had two goals: to start reducing the amount we spend on things which we buy all year round such as food and toiletries, and to stock up in bulk or sort out/pay for other things which we can then forget about for the rest of the year!

Food and drink was our biggest challenge and we returned to the £10 per day goal which we used last year to pay off our loan. Because we were both still working this month and not yet able to change our cooking and shopping habits to the maximum, we didn’t get it quite down to £10 a day, but at £11.80 per day it gave us a total spend around £150 less than we have been spending on an average month over the last year! That’s something we’re very impressed with.

Our spend on toiletries, health items and domestic supplies was also well below our recent spend, and below the monthly budget we set for the future. We were also under budget on petrol and that will be reduced more soon with workday car commuting removed from our lives.

We did a bulk buy of coal to purchase a year’s supply upfront with free delivery. This could see us saving £50 compared to previous years when we have bought it 2-3 bags at a time from the supplier (plus of course the cost of us going to pick it up every time.) We also had most of our annual car costs this month with the MOT and tax, and Lucy bought a park and ride bus ticket (10 trips for rainy non-cycling days) and had her eyes tested and didn’t need new glasses – so no more eye care costs are likely now for 1-2 years.

Enjoyment results!
Challenging ourselves to reduce our regular costs was fun as always. We’ve been more creative with cooking and enjoyed plenty of soups, stews, baked potatoes and vegetable mixtures. The only meal we didn’t enjoy was the only expensive one we had – fish and chips bought on the way home from work! Lucy also learned how to make brownies and Brian invented a way to make pancake mixture taste like doughnuts, so now we have no reason to ever buy puddings again…

First attempt at brownies

First attempt at brownies

After having been back in the bad habit of spending money instead of time, Lucy also enjoyed making a birthday card for her Dad. It wouldn’t win any art prizes but the simple act of looking for pictures to cut from magazines, glueing and decorating is so enjoyable and fulfilling.

With a feeling of more time and space in our lives, we’ve been able to enjoy some really special experiences. From things as simple as appreciating the autumn sunrises, lighting our first evening fires, and playing card games, to making the effort to get up at 3.45am for the lunar eclipse at the weekend, we already feel much more able to enjoy the present moment. Brian has been doing more laundry, vacuuming and cleaning on his days off, but with plenty of time for pleasure too, such as fungus spotting:

Fungi in the woods

Fungi in the woods

Finally, we have also been doing quite a lot of sleeping! After the decision was made to take ourselves into this new stage of our lives, we were hit by a sudden wall of sleep which needed catching up on, and remembered what a pleasure it is to go to sleep at 8.30 if that’s what your bodies need!

Thank you everyone who has been so supportive and positive about what we are doing and about this blog, it is always a lovely surprise to find that our plans and our journey are of interest to other people. The next time we check in here we will be a one-homemaker and one-earner couple, and we can’t wait to write about that!

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6 thoughts on “September Review: a practice month for our new life

    • Our pancake mix has bicarb, self raising flour, buckwheat flour in a stiff mix, and we found if you dribble the mixture into swirls/spirals into a small saucepan with half a centimetre of hot oil, within seconds they cook into shapes with a fluffy middle and crispy outside…which we were then dunking into lots of sugar! Extremely unhealthy of course…but nice as an occasional ‘moderated’ treat!

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