This article will save you money because it contains within it anecdotal evidence of the power of easy to implement budgeting from my 18-year-old self. And aid you on your path to achieving larger goals with your cash.
My first year at university was spent in a catered hall of residence. Sheets were washed for us on a twice weekly basis. Cleaners cleaned the room. Meals were prepared on weekdays and ready for consumption at regular, conveniently spaced intervals. My routine was a comfortable mix of being cooked for, attempting not to fall asleep during lectures and regular visits to the student union. Not because I was conscientiously pursuing a career of student administration. It was because pints were £1.50 and I knew a bargain when I saw it.
Life was sweet.
Then came second year. I was torn from the comfort of my halls of residence. I was living with 5 guys in a cold flat. I was “cooking” for myself every day. I was clueless. Uniting in malnourished solidarity my housemates and I developed a socialist-esque system whereby we would spend £15 each on food for the week. £10 for dinner every week night: one of us would do the shopping and cook for the rest. £5 on essentials for the week e.g. milk, bread and, unforgivably, Tesco value pate. I don’t know how the pate made the list of essentials but I can no longer look a flesh-coloured tube of it in the eye. Fruit and vegetables may have featured on this list, I hope they did, but time has robbed me of the memory.
Food was, of course, only half the battle. It transpired that, contrary to what I had up to that point in my life believed, electricity was not something that simply existed in limitless abundance. It had to be paid for. As did the internet. And council tax. And water. This came as a surprise to my friends and I. Once again desperation united us towards collective action. Responsibility for the management of utilities were distributed between us.
This had two key benefits:
- Each of us were made directly accountable for a specific bill, so the burden of this responsibility was shared.
- If the internet/lights/hot water stopped working, we had a direct route to the architect of our suffering.
Motivation to ensure bills were paid skyrocketed when we realised that hot showers and heating were not only a luxury but basically a necessity to survive the Scottish winter.
Anyway, despite our general level of naivety this system actually worked.
Completely by accident, we had developed a household budget. And, for the most part, we stuck to it. The lure of the local takeaway proved no match for our fail-safe system of ensuring there was always a large hunk of suspiciously cheap Cheddar in the fridge. A warm toastie ready to sate our late night food cravings.
So by budgeting our food spending to around £15 a week we kept our spending to a minimum. Leaving us free to enjoy many a £1.50 pint. I can’t say I budgeted well in my other spending but at least I had one part sorted.
If you’re attempting to create your own household budget, here’s the thing we used:
Downloadable version, here.
Andrew Morton – Instructional designer at Blackbullion.