My year of no spending is over here’s how I got through it
The first six months were hard, but I found a new way of living and the challenge has left me wealthier and wiser
Just over 12 months ago I gave myself a challenge: give up spending on all but the essentials for a whole year. I started on Friday 27 November, just as many other people were hitting the shops. It hasnt always been easy, but a year on I am wealthier and wiser. Embarrassingly, I have also realised just how much money Ive squandered down the pub, in restaurants and through mindless shopping.
As a personal finance journalist people assumed I was good with money but while I wrote a lot about the merits of saving, I wasnt practising what I preached. I figured that because I earned a good wage, didnt have any credit card debt and my bank account was in the black, I didnt need to worry about how much money was leaving my account.
I was spending without thinking, lured in by advertising and the promise that I could spend my way to happiness. I was stuck in a cycle of consumerism earning money to buy stuff I didnt really need, which wasnt making me happy.
Giving up spending for a year was an extreme approach, but the aim was to embrace extreme frugality, shake up my spending habits and overpay my mortgage instead of shopping. I could continue to pay my bills, including mortgages, utilities, broadband, phone bill, charity donations, life insurances, money to help my family and basic groceries.
Ive learned to shop for food in a better way than I did before I have planned meals, batch-cooked and improved my dire cooking skills slightly. My husband agreed to do the grocery part of the challenge with me this year and we reduced our weekly shop (which covered three meals each a day, toiletries and house cleaning products) to 31.60 a week.