One week: a crisp twenty quid note. A fellow blogger asked if I would be up for the challenge of only spending £20 over the course of the week. ‘Why the devil not’ I said.
It has not gone well.
I mean, I was cocky enough at the start. 3 days in, and of my £20 weekly budget I had almost £16 remaining.
I had caught the bus to work on Monday and Tuesday and walked the return leg. The bus fare is £1.30 a pop, but I had illegally chucked in a few foreign coins that I’d found in an old handbag, and thus on 2 days travel I’d only spent £2.29. I surprised myself at how quickly I’d turned to crime; but I suppose self awareness is an important lesson in itself.
Food already in the cupboards and fridge was not included in the £20 spend. Yes, I know, giant cop-out – but hey - they weren’t my rules.
In a disastrous spot of poor planning, we ran out of teabags. No problem I think, there’s a free supply at work.
Packed lunches were covered. I had purchased a pack of 5 tesco value bagels and a tub of philadelphia as my lunches for the week. Week’s lunch: £2.01. Excellent.
£15.70 left. Easy.
And then, dear readers, it went pear shaped.
On Wednesday I took the notion that what my bedroom was lacking was a valance. Yes I know they’re a bit 90s, but I’ve decided they’ve come back into fashion. And besides, a valance would hide the ugly bed legs perfectly.
And so, what did I do? Well, on autopilot I load up ebay, find a very reasonably priced valance, and, you guessed it, click ‘Buy it now.’ Credit card details saved in the system. £9 down before I remember where I am and what I’m doing.
£6.90 remains. This is a disaster. I cannot afford the bus fare.
Thursday and it is my birthday. Luckily I am at work. I pay the full fare on the bus –imagine the shame of being pulled up for fare-dodging on your birthday. I have a hair-cut scheduled. Thank God it’s already paid for with a Groupon voucher. I don’t tip the hairdresser, even though my fringe is straight and I am happy. Sorry love, that 2 quid will pay a bus fare.
Furthermore I shun office policy of buying treats for colleagues on your birthday and steal some of the mini chocolate rolls remaining from someone else’s special day earlier in the week. I am finding out a lot about myself that I do not like.
Friday and I am off work for a birthday ‘day of fun’. The boyfriend pays my bus fare to town as a birthday treat. We go to the fair but it begins to hale and thus the ferris wheel suddenly seems unappealing. I buy us both a cup of tea to thaw us out. 'That's £5' the woman says. I wonder if the woman is joking. I ask her if she is joking. She obviously wonders why anyone would think this was a joke. I pay up.
I now have £1.90.
The boyfriend has run out of change for the bus-journey home. I refuse to walk 2 miles in hale on my birthday-ish. £1.30 is grudgingly coughed up.
60p left and one day to go.
It’s Saturday. Surely, I think, I can just enjoy this stunning sunny wintery day in the city for free. That's until I remember that I’m having friends round for a drink before we go out for lunch.
Right. A drink. I’m not sure I can offer them lemon barley squash. Lidl. I’ll try Lidl. Lidl, it turns out, does not sell prosecco. I am disappointed, although I do realise that even if Lidl did sell prosecco it would not be 60p. I move onto Tesco. Even the half price stuff in there is £7.99 a bottle.
So I just give in. I’m going to overspend, so I decide to sod it. I buy 2 bottles of fizz, fresh strawberries and some of their ‘finest’ range treats. At the till, for good measure, I chuck in a £4 glossy magazine. Total spend in Tesco £26.
Lunch, in the end, was free. My lovely friends picked up my share as a birthday treat. But I didn’t know they were going to make this sweet gesture and had not gone for the soup, (as I had planned to do during the frugal days that had proceeded) but instead had ordered the steak.
And so the week ended. My willpower, well, let’s not ever talk about my willpower. I had stolen from the bus company, from the teabag store at work, and from a colleague’s birthday treats.
But I was tiddly on prosecco and full of steak, so it wasn’t a total disaster after all.