Day Three: A battle of my wills in Tesco.

Day 3


Opening balance: £16.71

Spent: £8.35 on provisions for trip (quick dinners & breakfast & snacks) in Tesco.

Saved £4!

Closing balance: £8.36 (boo- I don’t like it going down. How very addictive this accumulation is!)

I realise more and more as I get started in these very early days of this year-long project that I have long had a very unhealthy relationship with money. I have abused it, ignored it, taken advantage of it and failed to allow myself to notice when it was running out, as it frequently did.

Today, I congratulated myself on getting to day three with a zero spend and an accrued balance of £16.71. I thought I would probably need that for fuel for my drive to the Midlands today. Normally on a long journey I fill up my tank to be on the safe side but, with a 3/4 full little city car I thought I’d see how far it would get before I had to throw some pennies in the tank.

At Gloucester, about half way, I drove to Tesco Extra to grab some provisions. I had not packed any breakfast things or easy dinners, and knew I would need something tonight when I arrived at the Airb&b.

This is where I was a bit shocked by my attitude to money. When I checked my wallet as I went into Tesco, I was surprised to find £15. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how it got there. Absolutely no recollection of having withdrawn any cash recently or obtaining notes in change. I generally always use my wavy card thing for small purchases, rather than carry cash. I was so surprised that I almost convinced myself that this was special, extra money that I could spend outside the fiver project. This, I reasoned, would enable me to buy the food I needed and not eat into my allowance which I needed for fuel.

Halfway round the supermarket I gave myself a stern telling off. This was definitely fiver project money, and must be treated as such. I’ve got to stop spinning myself untruths in an attempt to get the better of me. Not least because it in fact derails me rather than serves me.

I had a bit of a quandary when I found that the thing I was going to get for dinner was on a 3 for 2 offer. Did I buy one for £2 which was all I needed or take two more in case I need them while I am up in the Midlands? I got a few aisles away with three in my basket, turned back, replaced two, turned back and picked them up again. I decided that £4 for three evening meals instead of £6 was a good deal.

A similar quandary happened around porridge oats. I had forgotten to pack any and so picked up some lovely looking gluten and dairy free micro oat pots for 75p each, one for each morning. Further round, I saw a big bag of oats for 75p. It seemed a no brainer so I put back the pots. I can use a bowl in the airb&b and take my oats home with me. I already have plenty, but loving porridge as I do, they will get used.

Back at the car, I looked at the receipt, which I rarely do usually. The total seemed a bit steep- £10.35. I realised that the 3 for 2 offer hadn’t been applied. Oh god- could I be bothered to get back out into the cold, dark car park and walk all the way back into capitalist mecca and quibble over two pounds. I was tired. And hungry. But my Fiver Project head said Do It! And so I dragged myself back in the cold. And the thrill of seeing those two shiny pound coins going back in my purse was amazing. A completely unexpected feeling. Like I had made money from thin air. I was delighted!

But it struck me, as I continued driving, that not knowing why I had £15 in my wallet was a pretty damning insight into my financial attitude. My initial apathy about recovering my two hard-earned pounds from the clutches of the Tesco Mammon. And my internal fight about whether I steal the £15 from the project and use it separately. All very interesting. I am learning so much already.

In exciting news, my tiny little car made it all the way up here without even beeping at me about fuel. So no spend there yet. I am safely installed at the Airb&b. A lovely house with a great landlady and her young children plus other Airb&bers which meant an interesting evening of conversation at the table. An unexpected – and free – evening of socialising with interesting people. Let’s see then what tomorrow, a very sad day for me and my family saying a final goodbye to our patriarch, brings.


Day Two – Budget adjustment, Spotify and Dropbox

Day Two


Day’s allowance: £5.41 rollover from yesterday plus today’s £5.41 = £10.82 Well, so I thought!

Amount spent today: £0 – Yey me!

How did I not spend any money?
I have eaten only food in the cupboards and not driven anywhere, getting a lift the one time I had to go out.  I am going to a funeral later this week and usually I would buy a new smart black outfit, but this is now impossible.  Instead, my amazing friend came around with a bag of black clothes so that I could put a new-to-me outfit together and not feel like I was attending my grandad’s funeral in my ordinary smart black work clothes.

Amount to be rolled over: £16.71.  Wait? £16.71 doesn’t sound right! What, how did that happen?!  That’s not 3 x £5.41!

Well no.  So, I’ve had a bit of a moral dilemma today about how to reflect some new budget changes into my daily allowance, and still comply with The Rules.

When I posted my budget yesterday, I still had a Dropbox account, which I thought was costing me £9.99 pcm.  I also thought my Spotify was costing me £4.99 (student rate).  When I checked, I realised I had got these two things wrong!  Spotify was costing me £9.99 (I had forgotten I can’t get student Spotify with NUS card anymore and can’t use the Unidays link – more on my cheeky NUS card deal in a later post!) and Dropbox £7.99.  So I thought those combined were an outgoing of £14.98, instead they were an outgoing of  £17.98.  Eeek.  This was going to really eat into my daily allowance and potentially take me to  much closer to that fiver a day than that 41p safety net!

I have struggled with the cost of Dropbox, finding it quite unreasonable for my light-use purposes, as I really only use it to sync photos from my phone for backup storage.  I have a few shared folders and documents on there but nothing which couldn’t live on my laptop really.  It just feels like nearly a tenner a month I didn’t value.  So, as I went to bed last night, I set my Dropbox photos to copy overnight to my Google Drive, which I had only just realised gives free photo storage  (at lower quality, but I really don’t mind).  When I woke up this morning, about 18000 of 24000 had successfully moved.  Who knows why the rest hadn’t, but I valued my time too much to bother investigating.  I closed my Dropbox 1TB account.  What Dropbox does is stop billing you or offering any more space than the free basic account amount, but it doesn’t delete anything you are already using over that basic storage amount when you cancel the paid service.  So those photos so far uploaded are safe there for free, and I can just upload to Google Drive instead!  Hurrah.  So that was an instant saving of £7.99 pcm.  I won’t be billed at the beginning of December and this makes me £7.99 a month better off. But I was also a bit worse off because I was wrong about the Spotify figure.  I am not ready to detach from Spotify just yet.  I use it everywhere, at home, work and in my car or on the train.  I think £9.99 is a bargain – the price of a cheap CD a month and you get any track you want all day long.  So that’s staying.

With the slight increase to my budget of Spotify and the nice decrease by dropping Dropbox, I find that my £5.41 has changed to £5.57.

What I did next might be up for debate as to its fitting in The Rules.  What do you think about this?

So, having just woken up and a bit bleary, I acted on instinct without thinking.   I thought to myself, oh that’s great, I will absorb the saving into my daily rate, recalculating the new monthly leftover total down to the daily rate and coming to £5.57.  I even changed the header in this blog, from £5.41 to £5.57, and edited all the posts and my Twitter header with the new figure.

A bit later, I thought… hang on.  Is that against The Rules?  Wasn’t I supposed to put any savings – which is what this is – straight into my savings account, as per rule 10?

10. Don’t fritter it, grow it!  If you make unexpected monies, like gifts, windfalls, refunds etc – these all go in savings.  They are not to be spent or added to the accrued daily allowance.  There is a danger you will spend them because you think it’s ‘free money’ and not only that you will probably ignore rule  8 and just buy something unnecessary on a whim, rather than put it by for something on the rule 7 list.  So just put it straight in savings.  The exciting things you can do with savings include putting them towards investments, to grow wealth!

Well, on re-reading I think I can interpret myself (!!) as meaning one-off savings or refunds should not be reabsorbed.  It doesn’t mention if I delete a monthly spend from my whole budget.  That said, it did feel slightly wrong, even though we are only talking about 16p a day, that’s just over a fiver a month to be used for daily living, and it also keeps me in the “fiver-ish” daily mark for the authenticity of the blog and project.

I decided that if I delete anything else from my budget as from today that I don’t get to use this excuse again, but as this was only Day Two and I am finding my feet with The Rules, we could let this one go!  But hold me to account if I start making more such excuses for my snap decisions about money, won’t you!?

So, how is the money saving going?  And how do I feel about this project on day two?

Well, yesterday I was really excited.  I am typically very excited about projects at first, and then get bored!  But I wrote myself a note yesterday, which is almost another rule, or at least, a guiding principle.

“I don’t have to do the blog, but I do have to do the fiver a day project (to be able to live within my means and get out of debt, not into more) so I might as well do the blog anyway”.

I wrote this because I know I struggle sometimes to set my thoughts to the page, as if once written they can’t be unwritten and maybe they will be judged and I won’t be able to handle it.  I used to write prolifically whereas now I actively shy away from it.  So I knew I would make excuses and try and wriggle out of doing the blog, but also that doing the blog is an imperative facet of ensuring the success of the project.  It will keep me accountable and focussed.  That’s if I don’t rebel against myself and give up.  I must not give up!

So tonight, I felt completely unwilling to write this entry.  Oh God, who’s going to care about all this?  I thought.  Why am I writing into thin air?!  And I haven’t any inspiration tonight.  My words will be dull and lifeless.  But then I argued back “it doesn’t matter.  Just write anyway.  Something useful will come out.  And by getting into the habit, it will get easier.  It will be good for you to practise a daily habit”.  And so I forced this blog post out through gritted keystrokes.  The bit about Dropbox and Spotify?  I nearly glossed over it completely by editing the whole project overview I posted yesterday as though it was always £5.57, but reminded myself “this blog is to hold yourself to account.  If you are not honest, what is the point?” 

That’s going to be an obstacle.  That natural inclination to present the face of “everything’s going fine” when actually I might make mistakes or screw up.  It all needs to be recorded.  Otherwise, how will a change be made and lessons learnt

  So, in short, I have made an excellent saving of £7.99 pcm, but had to add £4.99 pcm straight back due to my Spotify woopsie.

And, more success!  I didn’t spend any money today.  Hurrah!

I am so committed to this project.  I need to relearn my old habits.  My Buy it Now mentality has to stop, otherwise my debt is going to completely drown me.  I have just saved myself at the last minute by the skin of my teeth, first by consolidating some of my cards into a personal loan last week, and now by starting this project to tackle the debt repayments and find a way to live within my means and stop spending spending spending indiscriminately.

I remind myself that I am lucky.  Even though I see less than half my gross salary land in my bank after credit union deductions at source because of my previous poor money management, I do still have a salary.  I can pay my tiny mortgage (why tiny? Another post!) and bills with that half salary.  I can just scrape my debt payments, so the bailiffs won’t come knocking.  And then I have £5.57 left for food and petrol and, maybe, some toiletries or clothes or gifts if I have been really good.  Some people don’t even have £5.57 income a day to pay for warmth and somewhere to live.  I am lucky.

But I must tackle this, or that person could be me.  Flat repossessed, homeless and jobless.

Don’t ask me how I will pay the dentist when I next go!  I haven’t figured that out yet, it’s not in my budget and just occurred to me.  I guess maybe that’s going to have to be a “use the savings?” dilemma when it comes up.  Putting money aside each month to use at the dentist isn’t my worst idea yet though really, so…


Tomorrow, I drive about three-four hours to stay in an AirBnB (already paid for by pre-project me – phew!) ready for a family funeral on Thursday.  I come back Saturday.  My car has over half a tank of petrol but I suspect it will need at least another half or so, about £20-£30 worth.  So that will be just over five day’s allowance.  Tomorrow I will have £16.71 in the Project available to spend.  I shall drive until I get too near the red for comfort and then add £16 and see how I get on!  I shall keep you posted.  There may be some against the rules “pre borrowing” for petrol if I get caught out, but I think driving to my grandad’s funeral and back is probably not counted as “frivolous overspending”.  Another one to maybe let go?!  But you know, if this becomes a habit – tell me!

Next week, I have a much bigger dilemma involving a pre-booked garden landscaping project costing £600-£650 and how on earth to cover the payments within the project rules.  One to look forward to.

Thanks for reading, I’d love to hear what you think of the project and whether I will succeed 🙂

Fiver x