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Big Budget Challenge Review

December 1, 2011

Just a quick one today because it’s one of those days when I’m going to be rushing from one thing to another with not a lot of time in between. I’m writing this at 6:30am, day-dreaming of the green monster I’m about to have for my breakfast, because I have to stay a bit later at work and then I’m off on a long run (9 miles potentially) this evening.

I’m feeling a bit decrepit and broken at the moment actually, so the thought of 9 miles isn’t really too appealing. My lower body is generally a bit achy and sore and my shoulder is sore after my visit to  the chiropractor last night. After suffering from pain of varying degree under my collar bone since May, I finally decided to go to the chiropractor and start waging war on it. It’s my pectoralis minor muscle that’s causing me problems, due to bad posture, especially when I’m studying for those pesky professional exams. I’ve now got to massage it for 15 minutes a day and then massage it with ice for 10 minutes and I’ve got stretches to do several times a day. He said I shouldn’t study for more than 20 minutes at a time (ha – easier said than done) and I need to adjust my driving position to be closer to the wheel.

I’m also going to give upper body strength work a miss while I heal and be gentler on myself in yoga. Doing the downward-facing dog posture has been pretty painful, so I’m not going to do it until my shoulder feels better. I’m looking forward to a step-back week next week while I’m on holiday – my body seems to be asking for it. I just need to get that 9 miler out of the way … I’m sure I’ll enjoy it when I get there!

So, it’s the First of December, which means that it’s officially the end of the Big Budget Challenge. If you don’t know, Laura @ Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish challenged her readers to join in with budgeting during October and November.


I thought that it was a great idea to save some money in the run up to Christmas, so I joined in. Now it’s time to review how it went.

What went well?

  • I tracked everything I spent on a spreadsheet. This made me a lot more aware of how I was spending my money and made me more mindful not to spend money on things that I didn’t really need.
  • I managed to underspend on my grocery budget both months. I concentrated on using up the dried beans, grains and tins of stuff that I had in my kitchen cupboard. At the supermarket I basically just bought fruit and vegetables and a few other essentials like tofu, yoghurt and crispbreads.
  • I realised that I enjoy eating quite simply with food that is easily available from the supermarket and I don’t need loads of health foods. There are a few “health foods” that I use regularly and that I will keep buying like nutritional yeast, protein powder and chia seeds.
  • I throw less food away now because I’ve been buying much less and making an effort to use what I’ve got.

What didn’t go so well?

  • I actually overspent on my budget overall both months by about £50. This was nearly all due to eating out at restaurants and cafes. I know that I could cut out this expense if I really had to, but it is one of my pleasures.
  • There were a few unexpected expenses like a couple of trips to the chiropractor and the underwear that I had to buy last weekend because I forgot to take any with me to Cambridge (doh!)
  • I didn’t set a budget for travel, but I know that I still spend a lot on petrol. I could have been more savvy and found some cheaper sources – more often than not I’m nearly empty before I think about filling up.

What now?

  • Tracking what I spend makes me a lot more accountable, so I’ve set myself a budget for December, albeit a bit more generous. I don’t want to scrimp on buying presents and I’m realistic about a few expensive nights out that I’ve got planned, but December could be a big blow-out month if I’m not careful.
  • Every few months I want to set myself a tighter budget to save some money.
  • I want to work even harder on not wasting food. I got much better over the two months, but there’s still room for improvement.

If you’ve been doing the Big Budget Challenge are you going to carry on budgeting, or are you glad it’s over?

How do you avoid wasting food?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2011 8:35 pm

    Thanks for the round up, sounds like you did brilliantly on the grocery front. I think I might use your idea of itemising everything on a spread sheet in addition to my actual budget so I can examine what I’ve bought. Hope your run has been ok, I can’t imagine doing 9 miles after a day at work!

  2. December 1, 2011 9:02 pm

    So proud of you Sarah, and Laura for starting the challenge. I didn’t know about ti to start but I’m thinking of trying one, just for myself to see how well can save money. Thanks for lots of good ideas!

  3. December 1, 2011 9:24 pm

    Sorry to hear that you’ve got a bad shoulder at the moment. I hope the chiropractor has got magic fingers and manages to fix you really quickly. It’s so easy to spend hours slouched over a desk or the computer (which our bodies aren’t designed to do). I always have good intentions to take regular breaks, but sometimes I find that I’ve sat here for 3 or 4 hours without moving. It’s so easily done 😦
    It sounds like you did really well on the B.B.C, so well done you! I’m looking forward to checking the credit card statements when they arrive to see if I have actually managed to save any money over the past couple of months. I’ve convinced myself that I’ve saved loads, but we’ll see!

  4. December 1, 2011 10:23 pm

    I’ve eaten some crazy meals to avoid wasting leftovers or food that I’ve purchased too much of- it’s the best way to stretch a buck!

  5. December 1, 2011 11:20 pm

    Hope your run went alright- that is a tough run after work. I am glad I did the budget challenge although I did not set a budget, just had some other goals I wanted to do.

  6. December 2, 2011 1:05 am

    I hope the run went well for you! That is certainly a tough one to do at that time of the day
    And great job with this! I really need to start focusing on this sort of thing, especially since I am entering the real world rather soon… eek

  7. December 2, 2011 4:45 pm

    Oh no, sorry to hear about the aches and pains and hope the run was ok last night… would it be worth giving running a break for a bit?
    Great stuff on the budgeting though to underspend on the food shopping but I think you have got to have some treats otherwise there’s no reward for working so hard now! I’m always careful with money but the challenge was a good extra reminder; I’d been letting myself go on “healthy” food I didn’t really use enough so it was definitely useful 🙂

  8. December 3, 2011 9:32 pm

    Sorry to hear you are in pain, hope the shoulder heals soon. Sounds like the budgeting is going briliiantly!

  9. Errign permalink
    December 4, 2011 4:25 pm

    I really try to be conscious of what I’ve got and when it needs to be used by, but I still mess up and waste things occasionally. Hope your shoulder is feeling better!

  10. December 4, 2011 9:09 pm

    Although I have a coffee maker at home, I still find myself at a cafe a couple of times a week. It really is a hard habit to break because it is such a cheap little way to make your day better.

  11. December 5, 2011 9:29 pm

    I think you did a great job with your budget! I didn’t do this challenge in particular,but have created a budget with the hubby. I’ve found it relieves a lot of stress…just knowing I’m not overspending.

  12. December 6, 2011 7:57 pm

    Well done on the challenge! I’m so sorry about your shoulder though. I hope your not in too much pain.

  13. December 8, 2011 1:07 pm

    Ouch to your shoulder problem. It does sound like it needs some TLC. Do you carry a water bottle when running? I’ve found that can make my shoulder very tense and the cold weather exacerbates that….

    Well done on the budget challenge. I’d really struggle with that, particularly as the kids are always coming home from school with letters to request money for this or money for that…..or birthday party invitations…….

    As for food waste. I do try really hard to be careful and these days when I shop I buy fresh soup for 2 days meals as that keeps quite well and then if we have an unplanned meal that will usually keep until at least the following week. I’m worst at buying bargains for the freezer and then forgetting how long they’ve been in there, or ending up with a freezer full of the same thing and no room for my regulars!


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