December 2015 Simple Living Review


We’ve reached a milestone – our first December, and therefore Christmas, on one income. We have been living as if this was our situation for the last couple of years (living on one salary and saving all of the other one), but this was the first year where it was for real!

The amount of shopping we did this year was significantly reduced, especially on festive food items for ourselves, although we were also a bit more creative with some of our gifts.  We still have some Christmas spending to do, because we’re cooking a meal for some of our family in lieu of bought & wrapped presents. Next year we should have more energy to put into Christmas. This year we were definitely still feeling our way and getting over the stress levels which led to the changes which we made to our lives during the year.

What did we buy this month?
Food and drink: our average daily spend was £13.24. Last December it was more like £16, so we’ve definitely cut back. Between Christmas and New Year we had 5 ‘No Spend Days’ in a row which was pretty exciting!
Two fills of petrol – one at the very start of the month, and one on the last day of the month
Luxuries: Lucy downloaded 3 songs and bought a copy of a favourite novel from a charity shop for re-reading

12 01 Re-reading
Home/Garden: DIY gloves, a flannel, the Mahonia shrub and this little antique glass ink bottle we bought for 75p for our mantelpiece. The heart is from a craft shop and was something Lucy stuck to a box of truffles as one of Brian’s birthday gifts.

Domestic: Big bulk laundry liquid, batteries, and sticky tape
Health/Wellbeing: A few medical expenses, and Lucy bought a half price epilator. Over the longer term this will save money on razor heads and it seems to be  much better for skin. The most thrifty and eco option is of course hairy legs, but this is one area where personal preference came first!
Clothing: Underwear
Gifts: compared to last year we spent around a third less on Christmas and December birthdays, which is what we were aiming for as we didn’t want to reduce it so far that we felt stingy. We also still have a good budget for birthdays and other occasions throughout the year.

Things we did and thought about:
Although we don’t celebrate New Year as such, as the month has come to an end we’ve been reflecting on where we are and how things are changing. Brian is finding it easier to pace himself on weekdays when Lucy is at the office, instead of pushing through too many physical and demanding jobs because it feels as if every moment must be productive to be justified. Sometimes the best thing to do is to take it easy, rest and enjoy life!


Reflections in the river on a winter walk

To help with this, we’ve been thinking about how our home works, and ensuring we both have places we can relax, such as reading corners. Brian has rigged up the spare desk lamp down the back of the sofa, so when he wants to read he can lift it out and use it as a spotlight.

We also love music, but haven’t yet found a way to set up speakers so that we can easily listen to it. Everything we have is digital, and we sold all our CDs a few years ago, and neither of us have a proper mp3 player – it’s all on the laptop. But there must be a way around it!

Little things like this can make such a difference to how effectively you can enjoy your home and your life in comfort, and often they cost nothing. It’s been wonderful to have a chunk of time off together this holiday season, so that we can talk about and try out ideas like this. As always, it’s the simplest things which have the greatest value and give the most pleasure…

…such as making nerdy music lists, which Lucy will now be providing each month. These were the songs which provided the soundtrack to our December.

December 2015 – Songs of the month:
Neko Case – Hold On, Hold On
Laura Marling – Darkness Descends
Jónsi – Hengilas
Adem – Love And Other Planets
Kate Bush – Sunset
The Weeknd – I Can’t Feel My Face (for everyone who loved Strictly Come Dancing this year. It appears in this winners’ dance – although we voted for Kellie!)

Happy January!


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