All about the Money

A Low Spend Year – The rules I’ve set myself

A low spend year is starting here at Chateau du Bralee. We don’t have any desperate need for it financially but I want to reset my financial thinking and encourage my daughter to be more financially savvy than I have been in the past. We live in an age of consumerism and materialism and I really want to break this cycle for myself. If I purchase something then I want it to either be needed or to enhance our life in some way. I know I will save a significant amount of cash so I plan to plough this into the savings as I work towards achieving my dream.

I know people seem to be big on zero spend years but the more I think about this the more I realise it just isn’t practical for us. It isn’t fair to expect my daughter to go without birthday and Christmas presents, and she will need money spending on her at various points in the year. I also don’t want to impact our lifestyle too much so we will still be going on holiday and having days out. I will just be much savvier about the money I spend on them.

Low Spend Year: The Rules

  1. No unnecessary purchases can be made. This includes lunch at work, takeaways, random rubbish on Amazon, clothes (I have loads I don’t wear!), books (my guilty pleasure!) and things for the house. There are probably things that can be added to the list as it goes on
  2. All bills and direct debits can continue. Any unnecessary ones will be cancelled if they aren’t tied into a contract.
  3. Food, pet food and cleaning products are considered essential! They do have a limit of £50 a week for it all.
  4. I need to buy a new car! This is an essential. I can’t live without one as much as I would love to because I travel to Coventry every week to look after my nan.
  5. Petrol is also essential. I think I can survive on £120 a month. This is the budget anyway.
  6. Holidays are limited to a budget of £1000 in the summer and £500 at February half term and £400 for our trip to London in April.
  7. A budget of £150 each for birthday and Christmas is in place for my daughters presents. Everybody else will have to make do with homemade gifts!
  8. If something that is essential needs to be replaced because it has died this is allowed. It must be purchased either secondhand, using cashback or using discounts if at all possible.
  9. School uniform and school essentials are allowed
  10. We have a budget of £75 a month for leisure
  11. I can spend £25 a month on the allotment (and the tenancy renewal when it comes in November!)

The Challenge Ahead

There is no denying that a low spend year is going to be a challenge for us. The rules are pretty strict. I know it will be hard to start with but I am determined to do it. I think realising how much I spend on junk will be a huge eye-opener. I really hope that this year shows me just how materialistic we have become and it does have the desired effect of making us rethink our spending.

I am cheating a little bit in preparation for the start of the challenge on 1st August 2021. I’m going to do a big stock up shop of dried, tinned and frozen foods that will keep. This should help me minimise the food budget and spread it out a little bit more.

I am also buying a lot of the things that aren’t allowed on the list before as well. I’m getting new running trainers (I’ll be running a marathon during the challenge year!) and I will buy a few books as well. Because we are trying to reduce our reliance on plastic I’m also buying beeswax wraps, reusable sanitary wear, a reusable drinking bottle and food storage containers before the low spend year starts.

I plan to do as much using cash as possible to see how I am sticking to the budget. I will withdraw it on payday and put it into various envelopes and when it is gone I have to wait until the following payday to be allowed anymore. Any money that is leftover can be carried forward to the next month. I can’t see much going forward on the food and leisure budget but I could be surprised!

Any money left over from each individual holiday budget has to go into my Premium Bonds, as does any money still in my account once I’ve withdrawn the cash needed and transferred over to my bills account. I am also doing a little experiment on these as well to see how much money can be won over the course of a year. I don’t hold anywhere near the maximum £50000 so I don’t see myself winning anything if I am totally honest.