Teething Problems – mea culpa!

Well, I haven’t checked in properly for a few days, largely because I was exhausted after the funeral (I have CFS) and also perhaps because I hate writing when I am not feeling creatively inspired or don’t feel I have anything meaningful to offer.  I get chronic writers block from fear of failure!

So, I have just told myself to just write anyway and see what it happens.  it’s clear I can’t keep up a daily bulletin of spending at all times, so I am going to keep a paper note and update weekly.  I will update spending so far in a post after posting this.

As you may know from this post, I have changed this project to the actually, really fiver project.  So not £5.57 a day, but £5 a day.  Five a Day!  This is because I read this post  which motivated me to save that extra £17pcm from daily spend and put it to work towards my debt.  I completely rejigged my budget (updated budget coming soon) and it looked like I could whack my debt down quite healthily and also put some aside each month for dental, emergencies etc (not quite saving up an emergency fund, but putting aside for unplanned but necessary payments).  

Unfortunately, things have gone a bit awry – already.

I had two things booked in for home improvements before I started this project and haven’t been able to realistically cancel them.  Anyway, they are very necessary if I hope to let out my property longer term, or indeed to sell.  As an aside, I am fast learning that owning a home costs a fortune even on a tiny mortgage of £50k like mine, with home improvements and so forth.  I may have to follow Dave Ramsey’s advice and sell up my money-eating flat and invest in other things, but only if it makes sense at the time.  Rent is so costly these days in the UK, so that’s thinking for another day.  That said, even pressing 40 next month, as a single woman, I am thinking of moving into shared accommodation to allay isolation and save pennies.

So, the home improvements.  I had Jane the Handywoman come to finalise a few bits that I couldn’t do, that only cost £55 and she is well worth it. I subbed myself £48 from my savings account (thus emptying it) and the rest came from my accrued Fiver Project daily money.  So that’s fine.

I also have gardeners here re-landscaping my garden which was basically a dump.  It was absolutely horrendous.  Trust me! As always happens with these things, the initial quote of £550-£600 has escalated to £900 – GAH!  I literally do not have the funds to pay it.  I was going to cover the £550 in two installments from my bank and live off thin air.  This was absolutely not a good plan and further evidence of my ignorance and immaturity around money.

I have had to apply for a £1500 loan with Shawbrook at 14%.  This is going to cover the garden, the shed project (the shed is not currently fit for storing anything and if I am going to let my place I need to store my things safe from damp in there), fitting a door in my sitting room so that it can be my private bedsit if I just rent out my bedroom, and possibly purchase of a bed sofa if there is any change.  So it is initial outlay for the purpose of rental.  Not ideal as I had set myself the challenge of not spending anything that wasn’t my money and allocated to that purpose.   But this is the last time EVER EVER EVER EVER.  I promise so damned hard!  I promise.  Gosh, it feels good to confess my sins like this!

In positive news, I have just listed my flat on Airbnb even though my place isn’t perfect yet.  Hurrah!  I am usually always waiting for perfect and never getting anywhere.  I have made it clear in the listing that the flat is a work in progress and thus cheap.  This premature listing will mean I will be sofa surfing at kind friends if I get bookings.  Going to work from a suitcase will be challenging.  but it will be an adventure!  And getting my debt paid down quicker will make it worth it.

I felt a bit demotivated on my frugal project today as a result of these flops.  Then I watched this sugarmamma.tv video and reminded myself of my goals.  I am signed up to so many blogs and newsletters now that money is on my mind all the time, but in a really healthy and fun way, which has never happened before.  So I know I can do this, even with this setback.

I read a blog recently on signing up as a Viewber.  I have applied and am awaiting vetting.  Despite having CFS I am determined to do as many side hustles as possible alongside my dayjob.  If I get into a routine I should be able to stay motivated.  The Airbnb might be the hardest bit, all those bedding changes, and living as a hobo myself… We shall have to see how it goes.

This is the tough bit, and it is just the beginning.  Teething problems.  I can do this!  I can do this!

Initial plan: Pay down my debt by side hustling, hopefully getting an incremental payrise* in June, and living as frugally and minimally as possible.

Next step: After debt paid, start the real saving.

Next step: Then onto investments.

It’s a long journey ahead, and I am starting really late at nearly 40.  I will talk elsewhere in a blog post about my money upbringing and how I got here.  But now I am focussed on the future!  I am so motivated and inspired by the blogs and content I am reading – I know this is going to turn out rosy!

*Someone commented on my first post that I should just get a better paid job.  Well, I am paid the average salary for the UK, and I love my team and my organisation.  It’s a long game.  they have invested about £10k in me already this year for training.  they are adding strings to my bow that I can take anywhere.  But I want to stay loyal to my organisation and build my reputation and experience before probably going solo or for a bigger promotion at a later date.  So that’s why the “get a better paid job” is not really an answer.  The answer for me in my unique circumstances is to be frugal, side hustle, pay down debt and then use the freed up salary once it is paid to save and invest – by which time I am sure my career will be seeing the fruit of my endeavours.  



The Budget

To give readers a sense of what I am spending – with no justifications here, but I am sure justifications and explanations will arise in the posts – here are my outgoings and income and balance overviews.  I keep this all on a spreadsheet and keep it updated every month or so with any changes.  This gives some flavour as to how I am in a position of only having £5.50 to live off after main costs (most of which I can’t get rid of, some of which I do not wish to get rid of).

Table one – annual payments

Table two – Debt tally overview

Table three – Net income and in/out

Table four – full breakdown of outgoings including debt payments.


Annual Payments    
Ground Rent 10  
Road tax 20  
Amazon Prime 39  I get Amazon Prime student, and a huge saving.  This is my only source of home TV and movies as well as free one day postage.  Click the link to get a free trial on me.
NUS 10  To keep Student Prime and student discounts I sign up for a cheap course via Groupon to stay a student every year.
Work discount card 10  ?? Not sure if will get this. Check how good its offers are.
Course so get NUS 21  Random course online for NUS Card so keep Prime!
Total 110  
PCM 10 Use daily allowance which you should be accruing – (eg accrue more than £10 pcm in readiness) to cover these annual costs
    Tally of Debts Not including Credit Union £17k debt deducted pcm at salary source – worry about this when cleared these debts below! Babysteps!  
Date Updated Item Balance % PCM Notes  
  Barclaycard 1347 0 61 0% 18 Sep 2019  Will be paid in full at end period
  MBNA 1445 0 25 0% Dec 2018 Consolidate remaining amount at end period
  Shawbrook 12000 11 259 Until end 2021 – consolidate when sell flat in 2020?  
  Ikano Loveseat 300? 0 20 Check end date and early repay options  
  HSBC OD 1000 0 0 Tackle when nearer 0% end date – when?  
  Total 16092   365 pcm    
Salary Net 1230 This is after  deduction of nearly £900 at source for credit union loan (£17k!) tax, NI pension, and student loan
Total Out 1060  
In-Out= 170  
Daily allowance = 5.50 Ideally 0 per day except bare essentials
Item Cost  Notes
Monthly DD
Council £29.10 Service charge
Council £7.04 Insurance
Council £78 Council Tax
Newcastle Mortgage £220.12 1.8% Til Feb 2019
Tesco Home Contents £6.27  
Virgin Media £21.00  
Animals in Distress £3.00  
Water Board £28.18  
Octopus Dual Fuel £50  
David Lloyd Gym membership £70 Split total with ex = 140 goes out, ex pays 70 in
GifGaff £12.00  
Admiral car ins £23.00  
animal lottery £5.00 Charity
National trust £5.40 Ends April – no renewal
Skoda £113 Until trade in and start new lease.
Mum’s 02 £13  
Barclaycard £61  
MBNA £25  
Shawbrook £259  
Ikano Loveseat £20  
Spotify 9.99  Miscalculated. Thought was Student rate of £4.99. Will affect end balance. To amend.
1&1 Hosting & Domain 1.19  
Prescriptions ??  
Total £1,060.44  Amend when sort spotify/dropbox discrepancy.

Day One – Let the Fiver Project begin!

Day One


Hello, welcome, and I am delighted you are here!

This is Day One of my blog and marks the start of my personal project to spend less than £5.50 a day.  Or, “the fiver project” for short.

So, how did I arrive at this challenge?  Well, the short version is that I have been thinking about money for a while, about debt management, savings and even… dare I even hope, growing wealth.

I am in something of a pickle financially.

However, with inspiration from such gurus as Sugarmamma.tv, moneysavingexpert.com and lunajaffe.com I have finally found real motivation and determination to resolve my financial problems, to focus on the long game and to endure a tightened belt for a greater, debt-free future without those horrible money anxieties that prevent a joyful life and make working hard at a full-time job feel so unrewarding and thankless.

I have completed my budget and realised the uncomfortable truth: that I have been overspending for far too long, accumulating thousands and thousands of pounds worth of debt.  To be exact and tell the painful truth – about £33,000.  And that’s not including my mortgage or my personal contract plan on my tiny city car; debts which I consider ‘sensible’ debts rather than the £33K of indiscriminate, irresponsible and unfettered spending over the last four years, and the ridiculous interest charges into the ‘bargain’.

I have decided to take back control of my money!

My budget tells me that, after all my debt repayments and a small amount of savings (just £10 pcm – more on paying down debt vs savings and my very personal take on this dichotomy will follow soon), alongside essential bills such as gas, electricity, water, council tax, mortgage, I have £170 per month, or £39 per week, or £5.50 a day to live off!

£5.50!!!  That’s for food, petrol, clothes, make-up, toiletries, skincare, household items, socialising, gifts, and even those annual costs like road tax, Amazon Prime etc must come from this £5.50 per day!

How on earth? So, my plan is to remind myself every day that I only have £5.50 to spend.  All my essentials are covered by my overarching budget to keep a roof over my head (more on budgets in another post).  I already have clothes, and running water. But if I want anything else, like food, loo roll, petrol, jewellery, a Christmas gift for a loved one, then it must come from that £5.50.  This doesn’t include anything I have already paid ahead for, so an Airbnb booking later this week for a funeral was made and paid for before this project started, and I obviously have store cupboard and freezer food to keep me going. But any purchases henceforth, like that funky-looking teapot from TKMaxx or some must have olive oil from Aldi (yes, I thought I already lived a frugal life with these being my usual shopping haunts! Not so!) or the supplement on Amazon that will help me sleep better, all of these will have to be purchased within The Fiver Project rules.

I am allowed to rollover any unspent money every day, indefinitely.  So today was day one and I have not spent any money that is not in my overarching budget, so tomorrow I have £10.82 in my virtual ‘purse’.  Ideally I would keep accruing this day by day so that I can build a surplus, and the key challenge is going to be to avoid spending even £5.50 a day if I can help it!  That way, I have an accrued surplus building up.  Any accrued surplus after 365 days will go into my savings account for emergencies, pay down debt, or indeed, for joyful – named – pursuits which I can feel I’ve truly worked and saved for.  By named pursuits I mean things that I have stated an intention to save for.  Not just something I fancy buying because I read about it today on the internet.  Something I have longed for and know I will love and appreciate.

But I am not allowed to ‘lend’ today tomorrow’s money.   If I need a new toothbrush and have already spent today’s accrued money, then I have to buy the toothbrush tomorrow.  No tic!

The only exception is in extremis – say the boiler needs some work.  In that case, I can borrow from the rest of the month but it does mean that I have to pay it all back by not spending my daily allowance until I am back to a £0 balance or better.  So, say the boiler check up comes to £60 and I have only accrued £32.  I can pay myself £28 to cover the rest, but then for over five days I am not allowed to spend anything, resuming the £5.50 per day allowance on the sixth day!  HARDCORE!

So why blog it?

Well, I know me, and I know I only stick to things when I am accountable in some way.  Even then it’s touch and go sometimes!  I believe I am more likely to ask myself the “Do I need this?” question at the moment of near expenditure every day, if I know I have to update a daily blog.  It doesn’t matter if nobody’s reading for this particular purpose, but it helps me somehow in a way that writing in a paper diary wouldn’t feel so ‘exposed’.

And, I would love to share with others my strategies for managing money with such limited means, my musings around getting into and out of debt, my frugal solutions to not having any money, to learn from and give support to others who may have similar financial difficulties.  I would like to talk here about how I came to be such a financial flop!  And how I plan to ameliorate that from now on.  And hopefully show you that you can too!

I plan to share my entire budget on here, including my debt repayment plan.  I also plan to share my daily outgoings sheet for the £5.50 a day project at the end of each month, so you can see it in black and white and so that I can refer back to it as a record of my progress.

I am going to share my daily spendings and rationale here in a daily blog.  This will help me learn my patterns, see what triggers there are and enable me to work through these issues and share my conclusions.

And after 365 days we will see if I have accrued anything at all to put into savings or pay down a lump sum on debts.

Lastly, I will be trying to remain anonymous for the time being at least.  This is because I work in the public sector and my thoughts may sometimes be a bit political!

So here goes. 365 days, £5.50 a day!  Can I really do this?

One of the rules of The Fiver Project is for me to always remember, when feeling despondent about the limitations it imposes, that there are people far worse off than me, who could never have got themselves into this much debt in the first place, who do not have a roof over their head, or earn far less than me and don’t have choices.  I certainly was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth by any means, but I have a job.  And a home.  A bank account, a laptop and broadband.  I am somewhat ‘skint’ but I am not quite below the poverty line.  I will thank my blessings that I have what I have, and show gratitude.  And remind myself that, by clearing my debts, by saving money and maybe even eventually creating wealth, I can do more to help those in need.  And maybe this blog can help others too.

Wish me luck!

Fiver x