Aftermath

It’s been a few days since I completed the challenge and I’ve had some time to reflect and think about what I learnt and what I have taken away from this challenge in a new light.

Although I’d definitely think twice about doing something this extreme in terms of budgeting again, unless I absolutely had to, it was an eye opening experience and I don’t regret doing it for a second, not at all. In fact, I’d highly recommend doing it at least once in your lifetime, and the severity of how extreme you go is completely up to you, but honestly, I urge anyone to try it.

It was an eye-opening experience as it really showed me how far I could stretch my budget (not comfortably, but still) and showed me that perhaps I choose convenience and ‘FOMO’ as excuses for spending more money on a daily basis than I probably should. Instead, I could easily sacrifice a few luxuries that aren’t cost-efficient and save a lot of money for myself.

As well as this, it also forced me to take a look at aspects of my life which I was probably spending too much money in, especially in regards to food. Regardless of the fact that I was eating a lot less than I should have been for someone who was cycling too and from work, I did manage to eat on my budget, showing me that I can eat for a lot less than I think I could. I believe that if my budget was stretched just a little further to cover £5 a day, then I probably would have been able to eat my daily recommended allowance of calories and might have been able to opt for some different modes of transportation to work maybe once or twice a week.

I have definitely cut down my daily budget quite a bit since the challenge, although I do prefer getting the Tube to work rather than cycling; but that’s just a personal preference seeing as it’s currently Winter. And I won’t neglect my occasional treat in eating out with work colleagues or getting lunch, but there is a significant increase in Tesco’s meal deals being bought rather than expensive lunches.

I didn’t particularly believe that I had that much of a budgeting problem, as I can make it to the end of the calendar month without finding myself too close to getting into my overdraft at the end. However, by doing this challenge, I am able to see how much better off and how much money I would be able to save if I just curbed some of my ‘bad habits’ just slightly.

Denouement

Half lamenting that is this experiment is almost over and half rejoicing that I’m not confined to the constraints of this challenge for much longer, I’m ready for what the final day of this experiment holds.

The intention for today:
As today is the final day of my experiment, I’ve saved an extra special challenge for myself which will involve me spending the money which I’ve been saving up throughout the week (yes! I have actually managed to save some money!) to get myself a treat, but what will it be? Who knows, yet again I’ve let Twitter decide. I’m going to try and have the best Friday that I possibly can while on my budget, so here goes…

What I did:
Today starts off just like any other day, I get up and eat my normal breakfast that I’ve been eaten all week, which has consisted of just a banana and some porridge. I then cycle to work, as I’ve given up trying any other methods of transportation and will just accept that this is probably the best option for me today, and all week actually. I get to work, work up until lunchtime and check the results of the poll.
Yet again, Twitter has been kind to me and has decided that for my treat for the week will be a doughnut (yes, that is all) and I know where I’m headed, to the nearest doughnut shop near my work.
Once I get back to work with my well-earned weekly treat, I start to have some conflicting feelings… So, my doughnut that I bought was £3.75 and it was worth absolutely every penny in deliciousness, except there’s something that’s bothering me.
When I go home, as I would usually get a takeaway of fish and chips, but today that isn’t an option and I’ve already had my treat for the week, so to end this challenge I’m having my own version of fish and chips.

What I found:
Instead of relishing in the enjoyment of my treat for lunchtime of a very nice but slightly expensive doughnut, I can’t help but feel that something doesn’t quite sit right (not the doughnut, something within myself). Throughout this challenge I have scrimped and saved and made sacrifices to ensure that I could make ends meet, only to spend almost a day and one-third’s budget on one thing. This challenge has definitely made me take a deeper look at my spending habits, and although I won’t be implementing a lot of my routine and techniques that I’ve used this week out of pure convenience, I will be trying to cut down and analyse my spending habits a little bit more closely. And I’ve realised that I can definitely make my money go a lot further than I ever thought that I could make it go.

Today’s biggest challenge:
It was quite difficult to actually sit down with myself and realise that although I did enjoy that doughnut, I probably could have spent that money and made it go a lot further than it did and it wasn’t even a full meal. In the past, I really wouldn’t have thought twice about treating myself to a slightly expensive doughnut if I wanted it, but now I don’t really feel as if I can justify spending that much and feel okay about it. Now, I know that buying a doughnut every day isn’t a regular occurrence, as that wouldn’t just be bad for your wallet, but would also be bad for your health, but after stretching, saving and scrimping all week on a tight budget, was it worth it?

How I got to work:
Cycled.

What I ate:
Breakfast – Porridge and a banana.
Lunch – Doughnut.
Dinner – Fish fingers, chips and portion of vegetables.
Snacks – None.
Drinks – Water.

Calories consumed:
Breakfast – 328 calories
Lunch – 350 calories
Dinner – 409 calories
Snacks – 0 calories
Drinks – 0 calories

Total – 1,087 calories

Money spent:
£5.05

Money saved:
£3.43

Conclusion:
All in all, it was a very challenging week, even though I did succeed in the challenge that I was given. I would have liked for a bit more variety in my diet, lifestyle and transportation that my budget just couldn’t account for. Although I won’t be enforcing a £3 a day budget on myself for the rest of my life, it has managed to give me a good insight into my spending habits and show me how far my money can actually go, so I should be careful what I spend it on.

If you’re interested in reading my article, which details everything that I experienced during my challenge in depth, then keep an eye out for my article on Multi Month Loans, coming soon!

Stretching

It’s the penultimate day of my experiment, and the day has another challenge in store for me. This one is a little bit more difficult than the one yesterday, seeing as I had more money yesterday and today I have just £1.07* and I have to try and attempt to go out for lunch today. I’m worried to see how successful today will be!

The intention for today:
I feel like already I’ve given up on trying different modes of transportation, I think I’m just going to accept that on my tight budget, all I can afford is to ride my bike because it’s free. Originally I had intended to try and get the bus and use the ‘Fare Hopper’ perk (which means that you can take as many train journeys in an hour as possible for £1.50) but I only have £1.07* to spare today and I need that for the challenge, so cycling it is…
I really want to put all my effort into my lunchtime challenge today, and who knows what it’s going to be. I haven’t had a look at the results so far, and currently, there are at least 2 or 3 hours left of voting to happen so I think I’ll let it be a surprise and hope that Twitter has been kind to me.

What I did:
Today is pretty much a very normal day for me, nothing too spectacular or out of the ordinary, just a normal day at work really. I can’t help feeling a little bit anxious about what I was going to do for lunch, as for me £1.07 just isn’t very much and wouldn’t even stretch to a drink and a packet of crisps so I’m worried about how well I’ll succeed at the challenge at hand today.
Lunchtime rolls around, and the results are in! My kind followers have decided that I will get to go to the chicken shop for lunch (I’m not happy about the person or persons who voted for me to go without lunch! ☹) and I’m kind of relieved, as this was probably one of the only options where I actually feel like I’ve got half a plan for what I can do.
Now, working around the city, of course, there are loads and loads of fantastic places to eat, which can make lunchtime very exciting, however, it can also be extremely expensive. Around where I work there are many what I would call ‘high-end’ chicken shops if you will, where even just a drink can set you back anything from £2-£3.50, which is way over my budget, so already I know that I won’t find anything within my budget there. What I need is the classic chicken shop, chips or 2 pieces of chicken for a pound and after looking at Google maps, I find the closest chicken shop to me which isn’t going to break my budget and it’s 12 minutes away.
Being January, it’s extremely cold, meaning that a 24-minute walk is not very appealing, especially as I don’t know for sure if I’ll be able to get something for my £1.07*. Once I get there, I am able to purchase a bag of chips for a pound and I’m back on my way back to the office.

What I found:
I was actually glad to have something warm for lunch, however, I did have to eat my lunch on the way back to the office, as the prospect of eating a cold bag of chips after the 12-minute walk back to the office wasn’t very appealing to me. And while it wasn’t the best way for me to eat my lunch, I do feel that it was much better than the alternative.
This went to show me that although it is possible to get something to eat for my lunch that was hot and under budget, I did have to venture out further for lunch that I probably would have, and I didn’t think that it was all that worthwhile or enjoyable. Instead of coming with me, my colleagues opted to go for something to eat that was closer to the office and I ended up missing half of my lunch break for a bag of chips. Worth it? Not really. But did I succeed in the challenge? Absolutely.

Today’s biggest challenge:
Although it wasn’t that difficult to find something to eat for my very low budget, I didn’t really feel that it was worth the 24-minute walk in the bitterly cold January weather for a bag of chips. More than anything I just wanted to join my colleagues and just go to Tesco’s or something similar and just get a meal deal, but unfortunately that would be over budget.

How I got to work:
Cycled.

What I ate:
Breakfast – Porridge and a banana.
Lunch – Chips.
Dinner – Pizza, and chips.
Snacks – None.
Drinks – Water.

Excuse the finger and the headphones…

Calories consumed:
Breakfast – 328 calories
Lunch – 202 calories
Dinner – 508 calories
Snacks – 0 calories
Drinks – 0 calories

Total – 1,038 calories

Money spent:
£2.07

* turns out I miss calculated and I had spent £1.07 instead of having £1.07 left to spend. I actually had £1.93 to spend, but I still completed the task regardless!

Money saved:
£0.83

Conclusion:
In theory, when you’ve been bringing your lunch into the office for the majority of the week, when you get the opportunity to go out for lunch, you do get excited. However, if you are on a tight budget, it’s not really all that it’s cracked up to be and honestly, I think I would have just prefered to bring in my lunch than walk around in the cold for something that was at best mediocre! Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Pursuit

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.

Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s day 3, and I’m surprised at how quickly the time has come around, this is now the midpoint of my experiment, and I’m wondering what lessons and insights I’m going to find out today. So let’s get cracking with day 3 and the pursuit of dinner on a budget.

The intention for today:
When I was planning my experiment in its integrity on Sunday, I really wanted to push both myself and my budget to the extreme, which is why I decided to add an additional 3 ‘mini’ challenges to the remaining 3 days of the experiment.
I could have easily decided what I was going to do, but where is the fun in that? So I decided that I would do a poll to decide my fate for the last 3 days and my intention for today is to take up that challenge and succeed, no matter what it is.

What I did:
So I’ve heard from a few of my colleagues and friends that the app ViaVan is a much cheaper alternative than getting a cab or an uber, so I decided that I was going to try it this morning. Another big mistake. Although I planned the best that I could, I didn’t realise that it would cost me £8 to get to work from where I live! That’s a bit no-no from me I’m afraid, as it would mean that I would end up spending, today’s, tomorrow’s and a good portion of Friday’s budget on one lift to work and I just can’t do that. So it’s another day of me cycling to work, and already I’m finding that as much as I planned, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of variety in this travelling to work on a budget lark…
I bring my lunch in once again, and it’s definitely a lot better than having the leftovers from the previous night for lunch, so no problem there. However the problem is, is that I can’t help but worry about what my followers on Twitter are deciding for me, I really don’t want to fail midway through this challenge.
Later on, I find out that my followers have decided that my challenge for dinner will be for me to find something to eat in the supermarket for £2.49 or under, so challenge accepted.

Results of the poll

What I found:
I already half had a plan for each of the answers of the poll for what I’d do when I got home for dinner, so I didn’t have to worry too much about forming a plan of attack when I got home. I’m lucky enough that I’ve got 2 small ‘express’ type supermarkets around 5 minutes walk away from where I live, so that’s where I go to, my plan is to go there after work and try to find something in their reduced section.
Turns out that this isn’t the most original idea that I’ve had, as when I get to the first supermarket, there is absolutely nothing left in the reduced section that I could possibly class as enough for me to eat for dinner and I have the sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t the only one who thought they’d get something for dinner from the reduced section. On to the next supermarket!
The second supermarket is even worse, and I can’t even find their reduced section or anything that I feel I can class as a meal that will fit in my budget. I’m off to the Superstore to see whether there are better prospects for me there. The third supermarket is simply just a flying visit; I’m starving hungry by this point so I head to the reduced section and find the best thing for my budget which is a chilli con carne for just £1.49, £1 under my budget.
As there was so much choice for me at the superstore, I would definitely recommend that if you want to shop in the reduced section at a superstore. As generally their selection and prices are better than smaller supermarkets, as they stock more food then have to sell it at appealing prices in order to get rid of it. So that’s my top tip for you today, go to the superstore supermarkets over the expresses if you on a budget.

Today’s biggest challenge:
The biggest problem that I faced today was probably the fact that I had to run around three supermarkets before I was able to find something that was both substantial enough for me to eat for dinner and that would fit my budget. Although it was ultimately worth it in the end, as when I finally bought my dinner I still had £1 left over which shall go onto Friday’s budget, I think next time I’ll go to the superstore or check out the reduced section when I do my weekly shop.

How I got to work:
Cycled.

What I ate:
Breakfast – Porridge and a banana.
Lunch – Garlic and Herb cream cheese sandwich.
Dinner – Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself Chilli con carne.
Snacks – None.
Drinks – Water.

Any additional costs:
No other expenditure today.

Calories consumed:
Breakfast – 328 calories
Lunch – 224 calories
Dinner – 392 calories
Snacks – 0 calories
Drinks – 0 calories

Total – 944 calories

Money spent:
£2.00

Money saved:
£1.00

Conclusion:
The majority of my day today went quite well and I feel like I’m getting into the routine of bringing in my lunch every day and it’s definitely making me think more about how much money I do spend on my lunch every day and reevaluate my spending habits. Today was probably the only day so far where I didn’t feel majorly inconvenienced by anything too much.
Although getting my dinner did involve a certain amount of travelling around to find what I wanted, I did ultimately find what I was looking for and now always know to opt for the superstore now instead of the smaller supermarkets.

Routines

“It’s a hard thing to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

John Steinbeck

I’m hoping that today will be a little bit easier than it was yesterday, as I’m hoping that it will only take a few days before I’m completely immersed into this routine. As yesterday’s tiredness and irritability loom over me, reminding me what I might have in store for me today. I’m a little bit worried about what day number two of this challenge will bring.

The intention for today:
Today I really want to immerse myself into what I’m doing, make a conscious effort to ensure that I feel better than I did yesterday and also try to do something that’s a little different than what I did yesterday. I really want to make the most of seeing where this challenge will take me.

What I did:
As I really wanted to try something new today, I tried another method of transportation to work, I used a self-docking bike. Now, my reasoning behind this, was because I thought that it’s alright to tell people that they can save money on their transport to work if they just ride their bike to work, but what about if they don’t have one? The cheapest bike I could find to use was from a company called Mobike.
Apart from changing my mode of transportation to work, I also saved money by bringing in my leftovers from dinner the night before into work for lunch today, but that’s another story…

Behold the Mobike…

What I found:
I found that my good ideas and research didn’t really transpire when I attempted to carry out what I intended to. The self-docking bike conundrum this morning really stressed me out, as the nearest bike was quite a while away and I didn’t know how I’d get to it and get to work. Luckily enough my Dad was able to come and give me a lift, but I was still anxious that I was going to have to break the challenge in order to get to work on time.
As well as this, I also found out how uneventful and unfulfilling it is to have your previous night’s leftovers for lunch the next day. I can admit that when it comes to food, I can lose interest very quickly. If I have the same thing for lunch every day, it only takes a few days before I’m really struggling to eat it and it gets to the point where eating the same thing literally turns my stomach.
Halfway through eating my lunch today, I found that I just couldn’t eat any more of it, I had to leave the rest even though I’m not entirely sure why that is. It wasn’t that it was turning my stomach, or tasted particularly bad, I’m just guessing that I wanted something else, maybe a little more varied. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating leftovers, and in fact, I do it fairly often if I’m honest with you, but I always try and switch things up a little bit.
Maybe if you’re struggling like I was to eat yesterday’s boring leftovers, then perhaps you should switch it up a little bit. If you make a curry or chilli with rice, then why not have it with salad the next day. If you cooked meat one day, why not have it in a sandwich or a salad the next day, it is quite easy to switch things up a bit. And if you’re lacking in imagination, you could even (certain foods permitting) put it in the freezer to have another day instead of having it the next.
I certainly lacked some imagination when it came to eating my leftovers on this challenge, but you don’t have to.

Today’s biggest challenge:
Getting to work via the method of transportation that I’d chosen was definitely the biggest challenge that I faced today. I genuinely thought that it would be easier than I anticipated finding myself a self-docking bike near where I live, after all, I do live in London. Generally, around work and around the city is where I see most of the self-docking bikes congregating, but occasionally I do see some of them where I live. It just so happens though on this day, that the nearest bike wasn’t that close at hand, meaning that I had to find a mode of transportation to get to my mode of transportation and that was probably the biggest challenge that I faced today.

Although it was challenging, it certainly was cheap at 33p per day

How I got to work:
Self-docking bike.

What I ate:
Breakfast – Porridge and a banana.
Lunch – Wholemeal fusilli pasta, vegetarian mince in a tomato and chilli sauce.
Dinner – 2 Egg omelette with white onion and half a green pepper.
Snacks – None.
Drinks – Water.

Any additional costs:
No other expenditure today.

Calories consumed:
Breakfast – 328 calories
Lunch – 348 calories
Dinner – 260 calories
Snacks – 0 calories
Drinks – 0 calories

Total – 936 calories

Money spent:
£1.66

Money saved:
£1.34

Conclusion:
Unfortunately, I didn’t really feel that I was able to immerse myself enough into my routine as I truly wanted to be able to. Today was a bit of a struggle to stick to, as probably more than anything when I had trouble with the self-docking bike this morning and was worried that I’d be late for work, all I wanted to do was get on the Tube and go to work. I also just wanted to be able to buy something from the supermarket for lunch that I wanted to eat that was a little bit more exciting than what I ate for dinner yesterday.
Although today was quite trying in itself, I would say that I have learnt quite a lot and have come up with some alternative ideas to the problems I came across. Meaning that I have learned something from today’s experience of this challenge.

Starting

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Mark Twain

Today is the day! And I’m feeling a sort of nervous anticipation to see what the first day of today’s experiment has in store for me. Obviously, I’ve budgeted in times gone by, but never by using methods this extreme. I’m just hoping that I don’t end up failing the challenge on my first day.

The intention for today:
There’s no real agenda behind today’s day of the challenge, and the aim for today is rather to test the waters and get used to doing the challenge. I’m aiming to see how much it differs from my normal routine and whether I think I will be able to accomplish everything that I set out to do this week.

What I did:
I followed my usual routine as much as I possibly could, of course, things naturally differed, and instead of getting the Tube to work as I usually would, instead, I cycled to work, and that was quite an experience for me to say the least.
All three meals that I had planned for myself to eat today I did, even opting to bring in my own lunch to work. Which I normally would if I was on a tight budget (usually towards the end of the month), meaning that I didn’t go out to eat with my work colleagues, as I quite often would do.

My breakfast for today and for the rest of the week

What I found:
Apart from the lack of a London Tube journey, cycling to work and not going out with my colleagues for lunch having any tea, coffee or snacks throughout the day, I wouldn’t say that my day differed significantly to the point where I found myself finding it a bit out of the norm for me.
Cycling to work can be immensely tiring and extremely fearful, especially when you’re not that much of a confident rider, and you’ve had significantly less to eat than you would normally, on a day to day basis, especially if you’re doing a moderate amount of exercise.
I did feel a little bit left out when the majority of my colleagues went out to lunch, but it isn’t the end of the world, I’m just suffering from a bit of ‘FOMO’ (Fear Of Missing Out), but I can’t help to feel that you might feel a little bit alienated from your fellow workers if you bring your lunch in, while your peers go out to lunch.

My route of cycling to and from work

Today’s biggest challenge:
Cycling to work with such little food was probably the biggest challenge that I faced today, and as I had cycled to work this morning, I did have to cycle home from work as well, even though it wasn’t included in the challenge. This meant that by the time I got home this evening, I felt really irritable and hungry, ‘hangry’ even you could say. I feel that if you were cycling to work, especially for quite some distance, such as I did this morning, then you’d seriously need to boost your calorie intake in order to avoid feeling like a miserable zombie with aching legs by the time you got home.

How I got to work:
Cycled.

What I ate:
Breakfast – Porridge and a banana.
Lunch – Tomato soup and two slices of wholemeal bread with margarine.
Dinner – Wholemeal fusilli pasta and vegetarian mince in a tomato and chilli sauce.
Snacks – None.
Drinks – Water.

Any additional costs:
No other expenditure today.

Calories consumed:
Breakfast – 328 calories
Lunch – 329 calories
Dinner – 426 calories
Snacks – 0 calories
Drinks – 0 calories

Total – 1,083 calories

Money spent:
£1.23

Money saved:
£1.77

Conclusion:
Today was not a bad day by any means, but it was quite tiring and very uneventful, to say the least. I missed out on my trip out of the office and spending additional time with my colleagues outside of the office. Although I did feel irritable once I had got home from work, the feeling did fade by the time I’d rested and had something to eat.
All in all, I think I’ll have to keep an eye on my energy levels and mood throughout the experiment, especially in regards to how much I end up eating and what methods of transport I take into work. It will be interesting to see whether my mood is still impacted by a lack of food when I take a less strenuous method of transportation into work another day this week.

Preparations

The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.”

Elbert Hubbard

Today isn’t the day, the challenge hasn’t begun as of yet, but as this experiment will require a lot of prior planning and preparation, we’re going to start with my findings here. So, without further delay, here is more information about day 0 of the challenge, if you wish.

The intention for today:
Today I am preparing myself for my challenge and am proceeding to carry out all the research that I will need for the rest of the upcoming week. Today I am planning out my meals, challenges and transportation for this week.

What I did:
I’ve spent the majority of my Sunday morning on Sainsburys Online, among other low-cost supermarkets trying to plan some of my meals for the week. I’ve also prepared for 3 additional challenges, in which my fate will be decided by my twitter followers, which will be interesting.
As well as this, I’ve also been researching the cheapest methods of transportation for me to get to work this week, which will still allow me to be able to eat.
Once I’ve planned my meals for the week (after about 3 redrafts of my meal plan 🤦‍♀️) I head down to Sainsbury’s to do my shopping for this upcoming week.

My meal plan for the week commencing

What I found:
Although I thought I’d be better off at shopping at self-professed ‘low-budget’ supermarkets, I was actually surprised to see that there honestly isn’t that much difference in price with other supermarkets if you stick to the own brand products.
Also, I’m also quite surprised to find out there are quite a few possible methods of transportation that I might be able to incorporate into my £3 budget for this week. I genuinely thought that my only option for getting into work would be cycling, but I’m impressed to find out that I’m wrong!

My weekly food shop

Today’s biggest challenge:
My biggest problem that I came across today was probably the meal plan and planning the costs of everything for the week. Although I’ve tried to stick as close to my daily routine as much as I possibly can, there are going to be quite a few sacrifices in order to make my budget cover my food and transport for the week. As unlike many other people who I’ve seen do similar challenges, I will still have to go to work this week.
Although I have managed to stick within my budget for this week, I have had to sacrifice things such as tea, coffee, snacks and fizzy drinks, which are my usual weekly ‘pick me up’s’ when I’m feeling a bit low, and I’m worried about how I’ll feel in their absence.

Conclusion:
Before this challenge has begun, I’m already feeling the stress and the strain of trying to make my tight budget to stretch to wherever I need it to. I’m concerned about a few aspects such as calorie intake, work productivity, mood, energy levels and any emergencies or challenges which may crop up unexpectedly and which could determine my success or defeat, so watch this space!