Sometimes you need to get creative when you’re trying to squeeze as much as you can out of your budget. This is especially true if you’re trying to pay off debt and need to bank some money for a rainy day.
If you regularly follow our Twitter account, you may have seen us tweet about the challenge Penny takes every month to live for a week with just £10 to spend. This is meant to cover the food, drink, entertainment, treats and other discretionary spending for one adult.
I’d been meaning to take the #Tennerweek challenge for quite some time, and finally decided that August would be my month to do it. So far so good, as I’ve managed to get through three days without spending all of my £10 allowance…but how would I fare for the rest of the week?
Like with all daring endeavours, there’s always an element of planning. Now, if you know or work with me you’ll know I’m not brilliant at planning (life in the fast lane and all that…), but we’ll see how I get on with Penny’s strategy:
Day 1: (Thu) Food stocktake & menu plan Done!
Day 2: (Fri) Cheap night out / cheap night in Done!
Day 3: (Sat) Go shopping with no money Done (sort of…)!
Day 4: (Sun) Mend or alter something
Day 5: (Mon) Get involved
Day 6: (Tue) Find a freebie
Day 7: (Wed) Aaaaand…relax…
Day 4 – Mend and alter something
Day 4 is all about sprucing up those tired old garments in your wardrobe or adding a stitch or two to get a bit more wear out of them. It can be anything from sewing a loose button back onto a jacket to hanging up a picture that’s been sitting around for ages.
It seems I’ve not quite learned my lesson about buying cheaply made jeans, as the lining of the zip had started to become a bit tatty (nothing to do with those couple of pounds I put on during my birthday week, of course!)
My lovely nan had given me a sewing kit for Christmas so I sat down and stitched the zip lining back into place. My favourite jeans were good as new again and it didn’t cost me a bean!
Remaining budget: £3.11
Day 5 – get involved
This is the day that Penny encourages you to take a look around and see all the different opportunities to do something that gives back to the community in some way. You really have quite a lot of scope here, as it includes a range of things from joining a local book club to taking up some volunteering work.
I decided to arrange a group outing with some friends on Yelp! to attend a heritage walk here in Leeds. It’s amazing how much history and local flavour can be found in your own town. Best of all, the heritage walk is free and gets me some much needed exercise (if my busted jean zip is anything to go by…)
Remaining budget: £3.11
Day 6 – Find a freebie
Freebies can be found anywhere, and today I managed to bag two!
I met my friend Simone for lunch and we always do our best to try somewhere new. A cafe had opened down the road from our work, and were doing a special BOGOF offer on lunch items to celebrate their launch. Simone knew of my #Tennerweek challenge and kindly let me have the free meal! Sorted!
I did however have to spring for some chewing gum in the supermarket on the way home (pesky onion breath!) and I put a quid towards our tip. Bah! I Nearly got away with a hat-trick of no spends there…
I also decided I would explore the local woodlands by my house and see if there were any blackberries to forage – one of my fondest childhood memories was plucking the blackberry bushes behind my nan’s house clean and making blackberry and apple crumble!
If you’re on the lookout for free things in your area, Freegle is a treasure trove of goodies just waiting to be snapped up.
Chewing gum: 45p
Tip for waiter: £1
Total spends: £1.45
Remaining budget: £2.66
Day 7 – aaaaaaand relax!
For me, this day was all about reflection on the challenges I faced and considering where I could have done better (walking away from the farmer’s market bread as quickly as possible came to mind…)
It’s also a day of rewarding yourself for getting through the week, so I decided I would have a pampering night tonight. Nice hot bath with lots of bubbles, a facemask I picked up for cheap, some candles dotted about and my favourite chill-out playlist on 8tracks – bliss!
I reflected on what I had learned during my #Tennerweek, and it went something like this:
- Always have at least two meals worth of dried food such as pasta, rice or lentils in stock.
- Check the dates on your food every morning and put anything approaching ‘danger zone’ into the freezer. I pretty much lived out of the freezer on days 6 and 7. For me at least, #Tennerweek would’ve been impossible without it!
- If you have the opportunity to forage free fruit and vegetables nearby, DO IT! (check out geoforaging.co.uk to find foraging hotspots near you.)
- There’s always things to do and see for free, you just need to know where to look. Take a peek at your local council website or newspaper, Yelp, Do-it and Change4Life for ideas.
- If you have to buy something, shop around for the best deal. Use comparison websites or price checker websites like MySupermarket.com.
- If you’re trying to have a no-spend day, don’t head to the ONE place where you’re likely to cave and buy something (like how I did on the day I now like to refer to as ‘Breadgate’)
Facial mask: £1
Remaining budget: £0.66
How did you do on Tennerweek? Hopefully a lot better than me!