Sunday, 2 February 2014

Blogging, budgeteering and bread making

There are plenty of blogs giving budget advice; plenty too about frugal lifestyles. This isn't one of them, but I've been doing some reading, and to be honest, some of the latter really, really wind me up.

Everybody is different. Their motivation for spending, or not, and what they choose to spend their money on is personal to them. Budget advice can only go so far, as ultimately, it's about choice.  So, for example, I could cut £50 from my budget by moving broadband supplier, dropping some channels from the package etc. but I choose not to, because "it doesn't suit me". Fortunately I'm not in a financial position where it matters a great deal, but to read some blogs, you'd think it was treason not to cut every single penny possible.

On the other hand, I don't smoke, rarely drink, so there are areas where I don't spend at all.  There are also areas where I've absolutely no idea where the money goes.  It's the couple of quid here and there that add up, the "oh I'll just pick this up whole I'm here" and the things that get chucked in the freezer the day before they go out of date, as I'm working away and won't be able to use them. And then of course, there are bits of material that I just can't resist....

These are the areas I need to focus on, so with that in mind, I've decided that the best way for me is to back to using cash.  
At the beginning of each month, I estimate my food shopping, but as that also includes cleaning products, toiletries and personal spending, it can be a bit hit and miss.  

So on 1st February I've drawn out £80. This bears no relation whatsoever to any budget, but prior to that the amount in the account had been £x80.74, so after 'sweeping' the 74p into savings, I've got a perfect round amount in the bank.  It works for me!

So now the game is to see how long it lasts.  I've shopped locally, went to the greengrocers and just got what I needed, and so far, have spent £17.65.

And the bread making? I'm not absolutely convinced that its cheaper than buying it, after all, I can go to the local M&S on a Sunday afternoon and buy bread for 10p a loaf, and put it in the freezer. But there is something immensely satisfying about kneading dough. I've got a bread maker, which I use often, but it only has a small pan, so lately, I've been making the dough in the bread maker, and then finishing it off by hand, which seems to be more reliable. Apparently, you're not meant to keep peeking to check that the bread has worked, but the disappointment, when yet another loaf fails to meet expectations makes for a certain amount of frustration. Being able to see it rise in a bowl takes the guesswork out of it, and you can then at least chuck it before it's cooked.