“I tend to be very careful with my money when it comes to shopping. I always try to find the best price or deal by using online tools like camelcamelcamel, which gives you the history of an item on Amazon so you know you aren’t paying an inflated price. Likewise, I always check in supermarkets the price per 100/g or 100/ml – it means that you always get the most for your money.
Despite this, I sometimes worry I’m not saving enough, but I do have to remind myself that it’s important to enjoy life as well as thinking of the future. I keep a spreadsheet with all of my planned spending, and then I tend to look at what’s going on in the month such as birthdays or events, and transfer an amount to my savings based on this. Sometimes I end up needing to take some back out, other times I have money leftover which goes into my savings the following pay day.”
I transfer any leftover wages (c.£128.50) to my savings
Morning: Had a day off work today, so I woke up at 9am and had cereal for breakfast (bought on a previous food shop). Spent some time checking emails and social media and then showered and did some vacuuming. After that, I sat down, had a cuppa and read my book for a while.
Afternoon: Made a sandwich for lunch and then walked my dog, Rocky. I then needed to clean my car, so I went to the supermarket to get some cleaning supplies – sponges, car shampoo, an air freshener and some dash shine (£5.50). I also picked up some milk and bread (£2.50) and filled up my car with fuel whilst I was at the supermarket (£30). I then went home and cleaned the car
Evening: My girlfriend, Rosie, came over for dinner. I made us a chicken stir fry with ingredients from the freezer – I had a bag of pre-prepared veg, which worked out cheaper than buying the vegetables individually and avoided food waste. After dinner we watched 'The Conjuring' on Amazon Prime video. This is included in the Amazon prime membership which costs me £8 a month and offers a lot of services including music and video – I find that’s cheaper than having a variety of different subscription services.
Rent: £70 – this comes out once a week.
Phone: £2 – this comes out once a week.
Groceries: £2.50 - milk and bread. The rest of my meals were made using ingredients I already had.
Transport: £30 - fuel, this will last around 7-10 days on average.
Other: £5.50 - car wash supplies.
Remaining weekly budget: £61.50
Morning: Another day off – working in hospitality means that weekends off are rare, so my days off usually tend to fall on random weekdays! Rosie and I decided to go to the beach for the day, so we grabbed a bowl of cereal and then drove to the coast. If the weather is nice, it’s one of our favourite cheap days out.
Afternoon: Grabbed some chips (£4) and an ice cream (£2) for lunch. Unfortunately I then managed to tear my swimming shorts on a rock, so I had to take a quick detour to a local supermarket to buy a new pair (£8).
Evening: We drove home at around 7pm. We were really tired after a day in the sun, so we picked at some bits and pieces from the fridge and watched another movie on Amazon prime and had an early night.
Going out and eating out: £6
Transport: £0 – car still had petrol from my last re-fuel.
Other: £8 – swimming shorts.
Remaining weekly budget: £47.50
Morning: Woke-up at 9am and had some toast. I then showered, walked Rocky, and read some of my book before driving to work – I’m a chef at a Lebanese restaurant in a shopping centre, and I’m on a 12-9pm shift today. On my way I stopped at the pet shop to buy some flea tablets (£6).
Afternoon: Took my 30-minute break at about 4pm – we’re given a free staff meal and drinks at work, so I had a chicken wrap and fries. As much as I love cooking and food, it was never my plan to work as a chef. It began as a way to make some money while I was doing my A-Levels, and after that I went full time while I went through the police recruitment process. Joining the police wasn't always an ambition of mine, but in my final year of school I realised that it combined a lot of my interests – law, philosophy, ethics, social studies. The apprenticeship scheme is also appealing as I’ll be funded to study for a Policing degree, which will open up other doors in the future. I’m just reaching the end of the recruitment process and waiting to find out my start date.
Evening: Once I had finished work, Rosie and I drove to McDonald's for some food (£5). We then watched some TV and turned in for the night.
Going out and eating out: £5
Transport: £0 – petrol already in the car.
Other: £6 – flea tablets for the dog.
Remaining weekly budget: £36.50
Morning: I was on another 12-9pm shift today, so I woke up at 9am, made myself breakfast and walked the dog before setting off. I had a parcel I needed to return, so I stopped at the Post Office en route. I decided to buy myself a meal deal for lunch (£3) while I was there – sometimes I fancy something other than our restaurant menu!
Afternoon: Work was really busy today – even weekdays are hectic in the summer holidays. Luckily, I get on really well with my colleagues which makes a huge difference. Took my break for lunch a bit late and read a bit of my book as I ate my meal deal.
Evening: Finished work at 9pm and stopped at the supermarket to buy some groceries for next week. I got some noodle soup packets, some fruit, and sandwich fillers (£8).
Transport: £0 - still using the fuel I put in at the beginning of the week.
Remaining weekly budget: £25.50
Morning: I had a 10am-6pm shift today, so I woke up at 8am and made myself a bacon roll for breakfast. After getting ready I did some cleaning around the house then set off for work.
Afternoon: My role is very fast paced, and breaks have to be timed in a methodical way so that we’re not left understaffed in the kitchen. It means that the time of my break changes every shift, depending on how busy we are. Today, I had my break at 3pm, but I only had time to eat my free staff meal before getting back to work.
Evening: Finished work at 6pm and then met Rosie to take our dogs for a walk. Once we got home, I cooked us some dinner using ingredients I had in the freezer – chicken, chips, and mixed vegetables. We then played some video games – Sims 2 and Dead by Daylight – before going to bed.
Going out and eating out: £0
Remaining weekly budget: £25.50
Saturday: Woke up at 8am and did some housework and walked the dog ahead of my 12-9pm shift at work. Had my free staff meal late, and once I finished my shift, I went out to the pub for a few drinks with some friends (£12). I walked there and got a lift home from my friend who was the designated driver.
Sunday: I was working 12-9pm again, so I woke up at 9am, had some cereal and watched Lucifer until my shift started. It was much quieter at work today, so I was on food prep. Had a late lunch so I didn’t need any dinner when I got home. Watched Black Widow before heading to bed.
Going out and eating out: £12
Other: £4.50 – Amazon Prime and Google Drive payments, which come out weekly.
Remaining weekly budget: £9
THIS WEEK'S ACTUAL SPEND
Going out and eating out: £23
ACTUAL SPEND: £162.50
PREDICTED SPEND: £171.50
UNDERSPEND OF WEEKLY BUDGET: £9
ACTUAL LEFTOVER EARNINGS: £137.50
“You’re doing a great job of budgeting and managing your money – well done! In particular, the effort you go to in researching the price of things is impressive, as is your ability to make food go as far as it can in order to save money and prevent waste. You say that you sometimes forget to use your money to enjoy yourself – if that’s the case, why not allocate yourself a small ‘fun budget’ that will allow you to make purchases with freedom, while still sticking to your goals?”
Always search for the best price. If you are grocery shopping, you can compare prices of different supermarkets online. If you are searching for a more expensive item, such as a laptop, search the name of the item on Google, head to the 'shopping' tab, and scroll through for the cheapest price. Use Trustpilot to make sure an online shop or seller is legit.
Buy supermarket own brands when possible. They might not be exactly the same, but it's worth testing to see if they similar enough to tolerate. This is usually a huge saving overall; all the pennies add up.
Don't buy things just because they are cheap – something is only a saving if you actually need it. Equally, to determine if you really need something, write down the idea and come back to it after a few days. This will help to prevent you from making impulse purchases, which is really easy in the age of one-click checkouts!