Rachel takes the #Tennerweek challenge – days 1-3

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Tennerweek

Could you make a tenner last a whole week?

In our never-ending crusade against problem debt, we’ve met some brilliant bloggers along the way who are bursting with great and realistic ways you can save money.

If you regularly follow our Twitter account, you’ll know that we often chat to a frugal fashionista called Penny Golightly, and you may have seen us tweet about #Tennerweek, 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 odd bits of 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. I read somewhere that summer is meant to be the cheapest of all the seasons, so hopefully the challenge would be a breeze…or so I thought!

The plan

Now, if you know me you’ll know that planning is not one of my strengths (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
  • Day 2: (Fri) Cheap night out / cheap night in
  • Day 3: (Sat) Go shopping with no money
  • Day 4: (Sun) Mend or alter something
  • Day 5: (Mon) Get involved
  • Day 6: (Tue) Find a freebie
  • Day 7: (Wed) Aaaaand…relax…

Day 1: Food stocktake and menu plan

My other half does most of the food shopping on our house, and luckily for me he’d stocked our larder and freezer pretty handsomely. I plotted my meals for the week based on what we had in:

Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with sultanas from the cupboard and a splash of milk (Days 1, 3, 5 and 7)
  • Buttered toast and poached egg (Days 2, 4 and 6)

Lunch:

  • Tuna and sweetcorn pasta (Day 1 and 2)
  • Instant noodles (Day 3)
  • Chicken casserole made from pasta sauce in cupboard and chicken and mixed veg from freezer (Day 4)
  • Canned budget chicken korma (Day 5)
  • Instant noodles (Day 6)
  • Egg sandwich on white bread (Day 7)

Dinner:

  • Eggs chips and peas (Days 1 and 5)
  • Sausage chips and beans (Days 2 and 6)
  • Fish finger sandwich (Day 3)
  • Tomato soup (Day 7)
  • Tuna and sweetcorn pasta (Day 4)

Snacks:

  • Foraged blackberries
  • Economy biscuits from our biscuit tin
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Economy crisps (£1 for 12 – bargain!)

I resolved to take my own treats to work from the biscuit tin, and fill the plastic water bottles I save with diluted orange cordial rather than buying canned drinks from the shop.

If you’re stuck for thrifty meal ideas, check out these great recipes from our Tasty Tweeters!

Assorted crisps: £1

Remaining budget: £9

Day 2: Cheap night out / cheap night in

With it being just under two weeks away from payday, a cheap and cheerful night in with my mates suits me down to the ground. I’m lucky that most of my friends are quite thrifty-minded (in other words, we’re a big bunch of cheapskates!) so they’re usually very open to the idea of chilling out on the cheap and keeping costs to a minimum.

I decided to invite a friend over that I hadn’t seen in a while and told her I would provide the food and entertainment if she provided the tipple (I knew from a Facebook status update that she’d recently won a bottle of vodka at work – crafty crafty!)

I felt a bit annoyed going further into my precious £10, but I was on snack duty and couldn’t serve up yesterday’s tuna and sweetcorn pasta to accompany my pal’s vodka, could I?

Here’s how I huddled together some decent snackage without breaking the bank:

Own brand humous – 89p

Own brand salsa dips – £1

Medium sized stick of crusty bread – 75p

Total spends: £2.64

Remaining budget: £6.36

We also had some leftover cheese and fruit in the fridge as well as a pack of crackers in the cupboard – Friday night nibbles were sorted! Break out the Magic Mike DVD!

Day 3: Go shopping with no money

This was the day I was dreading the most. Shopping without money just seems pointless and on some level, cruel! The eternal shopaholic in me throws a hissy-fit when I see the price tag and skulk away in disgust.

That said, I know Penny likes a good shop as much as anyone, so if she could get through Day Three, so could I!

I tend to fall prey to impulse buys when I’m hungry, so I made sure to eat a nice hearty breakfast of own brand oatmeal before I left the house. I knew I’d get thirsty at some point as well, so I made sure to fill two small plastic bottles with the lemonade my friend brought over the night before (I was amazed there was still some left!)

There’s a local farmers market held on the third Saturday of every month in my town, so I figured I would wander down and do some exploring.

Big mistake.

Guess what farmers markets tend to sell…bread.

Loaves upon loaves of crusty bread with that heady just-out-of-the-oven aroma. My oatmeal-filled belly could not resist, and I had to buy a domed sourdough loaf to take home with me, along with a jar of homemade sweet chilli jam.

Apparently the concept of ‘go shopping without money’ had escaped me, namely the part where I was meant to leave my money at home. Too late! It was there, glittering in my hand, begging to be spent! I was powerless!

With a heavy heart I totted up my expenses so far…

Freshly baked sourdough loaf: £1.75

Jar of sweet chilli jam: £1.50

Total spends: £2.25

Remaining budget: £3.11

Whoops.

It wasn’t a complete washout however. The other great feature of farmers markets are the sheer amount of sample foods and beauty products you can try. Pick up one or two from each stall and you can almost trick yourself into thinking you’ve shopped for free (note: this isn’t the same as shoplifting!)

Wish me luck for the rest of the week…I’ll need it!

To be continued…

Rachel Connor has been with the charity for over 8 years, starting in Helpline before joining the MoneyAware team in 2012. Rach enjoys travelling, video games, watching anime, reading and creative writing in her spare time (currently writing a Young Adult fantasy series). She had a previous life as head writer on Cartoon Network's Ed Edd n Eddy and as a copywriter for LivingSocial. She's also written comics and graphic novels for the animated series Regular Show.

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  • Penny Golightly

    Hi Rachel – really impressed with your Tenner Week. You’ve given some brilliant examples of things to try, and how it works in real life! By the way, I’m exactly the same with farmers’ markets and have had to start a) avoiding them when I’m on a tight budget and, b) making my own sourdough. Well done with everything. Penny x

    • moneyaware

      Hi Penny, thanks for checking out my Tenner week – glad to know it’s not just me who has a weakness for farmer’s markets! the challenge makes you really aware of how much you’re spending, it definitely made me think more about where my pennies were going! 🙂

      Thanks for the tips on breadmaking, I’ll have to give that a try sometime (or not, as I’m pretty sure I’d never leave the house, haha!)

      Cheers

      Rachel