Ouch! Money-wise my September hurt.
If you read my post at the beginning of the month then you’ll know that I was on something of a belt tightening exercise throughout September.
Along with my usual household bills September is the month for home contents insurance renewal, breakdown service renewal and of course back to school expenses. Which are all painful enough but add to this a £200 solicitors bill and the prospect of rent going up in October and it was all going to be a bit tight.
And then, as happens when you’re trying to navigate a tricky money patch on a paper-thin budget, the car decided to start playing up.
A quick trip to the garage and I had the prospect of a £200 bill to fix the problem.
My goals from the start of the month had been to:
- Trim the budget
- Pay all the regular and exceptional bills
- Don’t increase my current debt
I managed the first two, but when the car played up I realised that there was just no-way to find what was now totalling around £600 out of my usual monthly budget so I put the renewals and the car repair bill on a credit card and paid the solicitor from the remainder of my budget.
Here’s what worked for me for the rest of the month:
Trimming the budget
- Cancelling and cutting back on any memberships and regular payments where I could
- Meal planning so we ate as much as possible from the freezer before buying for new meals on the grocery list
- Cutting booze from the grocery menu – I had started to do this a while ago but continued to stick to it. When I did buy drinks it came out of my cash in purse money
- Phoning the breakdown service and negotiating a better renewal price (saved £20 per year for 2 years)
- Going on a clothes buying ban – I broke this at the end of the month – daughter needed new shoes and I found myself picking up £12 of bits in the charity shop. The foolish whim of a self-trimmed fringe also resulted in a haircut, but sticking to a wet cut and not having it styled kept it under £20)
- Postponing my opticians appointment and wearing my glasses rather than ordering new contact lenses
What I actually spent and what did it go on?
- £1,200 = Budgeted bills for September
- £160 = Grocery shopping
- £85 = Cash in my purse
- £77 = Petrol (more than expected because of driving for work which can be claimed back)
- £38 = School dinners etc
- £113 = Extras not in the budget = (fish and chip supper, haircut, daughters shoes other bits and pieces we could have gone without)
- £195 = solicitors fees
- £1,868 = Total out
£414 = total additional debt
The home contents insurance doubled due to changes in my circumstance, which was an unwelcome surprise and a contributing factor to putting it on a credit card, breakdown renewal, car repair bill.
I had plans to do a flea market this month and sell potted up seedlings from the garden, this didn’t happen as I was poorly that day, but I’ll continue to look for opportunities to sell bits and bobs on.
I switched bank accounts and have £125 switching bonus due me in October. I chose Co-op but there are always good deals to be had and if you’re switching please do read all the conditions and choose the most appropriate deal for you.
I continued to use Quidco for cashback* where I could and have over £60 waiting to be paid out to me with a further £40 waiting to be confirmed. I’m saving that towards Christmas.
On balance it was a stressful month and I did feel guilty spending on the extras where I might have avoided them, but mostly I’m just pleased to have got through the month.
My plan for the next couple of months is to stick to the tight budget and put at least £100 against the new debt each month until it is clear. Looking ahead December is the month of MOT and Christmas so I’d better get my thinking cap on as to how to get through that little lot!