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!

Intentions

“Intention is one with cause and effect. Intention determines outcome. And if you are stuck and not moving forward, you have to check the thought and action that created the circumstance.”

Oprah Winfrey

As I am starting my challenge this coming week, I thought that it would be a good idea to lay down my rules and intentions for the week going ahead as the foundations of this experiment. Afterall I do not believe that this is a challenge to take lightly, I need to carefully work out a set of rules and stick to them in order to succeed at this challenge, and ‘challenge’ is definitely the right word.

So without digressing any further, here will be my rules for the following week ahead of me:

  • The budget for the day must cover, travel to work (from is another story*), breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as any additional items I may require (snacks, medications, drinks, going out, etc.)
  • I may utilise items that are in my cupboard or freezer that has been purchased in the weeks previous to me doing this experiment, but I will limit myself to only one item from the cupboard per day.
  • I may utilise any leftover food that wasn’t eaten the night previous and find other ingenious ways to keep the daily budget costs down.
  • Any money from the daily budget that hasn’t been spent will be collected, however, it will be saved for a ‘treat’ on the ultimate day of the experiment. It cannot be carried onto the following day.
  • I must also complete 3 challenges, to which I will be letting my Twitter followers choose which challenges.

My intention with this challenge is to see whether a budget this extreme is doable in London, considering transportation to work as well as food and any other additional items that crop up unexpectedly that I may have the need to acquire.

Things I will be looking at will be:

  • Are the methods of transportation sustainable?
  • What is the quality and quantity of the food that I can afford like?
  • What are my moods, energy and productivity levels like?
  • What is the quality of my sleep like?
  • Biggest challenges
  • Biggest surprises
  • Interesting things I hadn’t accounted for

If you’d like to follow me on this journey, then feel free to follow my blog posts or to keep an eye out for the hashtag #CharlotteCutsCosts and get involved in what challenges I participate in, as well as keeping up to date with everything I’m doing.

Challenges

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”

Brené Brown

shutterstock_1040400583

This year I want to be more creative and experiment with different things, really throw myself into the deep out of my comfort zone, whether that be through my work, social life or even just in my day to day life. When I was asked to produce a project for the upcoming week for work, I jumped at the opportunity to try something new and had a few ideas that I actually wanted to try instead of just writing about.

A huge part of personal finance naturally comes down to budgeting, whether you’re saving, repaying or spending, budgeting is an integral part of looking after your finances. Without it, you’re bound to find yourself in a bit of financial conundrum. Therefore I thought that it would be a good idea to base my idea around the whole notion of budgeting and the challenges that come with budgeting.

Generally, I spend around £17.80 on a typical workday, which will include my travel fares to and from work for that day, my food for at home and money for lunch, whether I decide to eat out or take in lunch from home, that’s around about my daily average.

Now, although I do live in London, I can’t help but think that that is quite a lot of money to be spending on a daily basis. And that doesn’t include things such as bills, subscriptions (such as the Gym, Netflix or even a music subscription service such as Spotify or Apple music), the running of a vehicle or other basic necessities such as toiletries. So all in all, it’s looking costly.

I decided that I would set myself a tight budget for 5 working days out of the 7 days of the week, totalling £3 a day, which would include travel, food and any other expenses that I would need covering throughout the course of that week. £3 is less than a quarter of my daily budget that I usually spend, so will it actually be doable?

If you’re interested in seeing how my challenge pans out throughout the week, then be sure to follow me or the hashtag #CharlotteCutsCosts to keep up with the latest developments.