The Challenge


This main part of this year long challenge is all about us feeding ourselves for a year without our usual housekeeping money.  Our average spend per week last year was around £50 a week on food, drinks and toiletries for the two of us, with splurges every now and then to top up the freezers and stockpile essentials.  

This year we have much less.


We have the contents of the Sealed Pot, which contained all the small change we ended up with at the end of each week, any £2 coins that we had received over the course of the last six months of 2015 and the proceeds of our last car boot sale of the Summer.  This is to be our cash for shopping during the course of 2016.

The Sealed Pot contained - £328.71



To bolster the cash we have the Nectar points earnt over the whole of 2015, which we have saved up.  These will be added to whenever we buy petrol and diesel from garages that give them out.

At the start of the year our Nectar point total was - £72.47


We  also saved our Tesco Vouchers from Springtime onwards, and should have some more of these to arrive during the course of the year.

We started the year with vouchers totalling £34.50


We also have a M&S credit card which gives us money off coupons four times a year.  We used this card for a lot of the building supplies needed for the work we had done during 2015.  We obviously had saved for this work, and although we paid for things on the card this was to accumulate points and the total amount was, and is, always paid off when the bill comes in (the only sensible way to use a credit card) and this has given us a head start with vouchers totalling -

£66.00


Another valuable resource will be the free seeds that I have been saving all through 2015.  I took out a magazine subscription which gave me over £36 worth of seeds.


Then all through the year the magazine arrived with additional free seeds and other gifts.


I also bought some copies of another gardening magazine which added to this freebie stash.

All these seeds have been saved up, and with the seeds I already have in stock, both previously purchased, given to me and saved from our own plants we should have a bountiful amount to give us homegrown food both from the Veggie Patch and the poly and net tunnels.

Well that's the food sorted ... hopefully.

The other part of this challenge is to stop buying completely for the whole of 2016 any clothes or books.  That I think is pretty self explanatory.  

We both have enough in our wardrobes and drawers to last us for at least one year and hopefully enough underwear etc so nothing should need replacing.

I have two books that have already been financed during 2015.  The latest offering from Ella Woodward .... which is not coming out until the end of January, for which I have a £10 Waterstones card and enough points to cover whatever it costs over this amount so NO cash will be spent on it.  Also the latest offering from Jack Monroe is expected out later in the year.  I have taken part in the KickStart funding for this so that is also already paid for too.  There will be NO other books purchased.

I hope this explains the remit of this years Challenge.  Obviously I am still in the throes of working things out, but hopefully having it here in black and white will help settle things in my head and explain to anyone that takes the time to read just exactly what it is that we are up to.


40 comments:

  1. How will you manage when out with your mum or go to the garden centre,the coffee and cake can be tempting.☕️🍰

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    1. My Mum usually treats us to lunch and coffee at the garden centre when I go, it's her way of thanking me for visiting and means she feels accepting of the amount it costs me in petrol to get there. So this suits us both. I do occasionally pay for us to have another cup of coffee if our chats go on longer, these will be paid for from my 'spends' allowance of £10 per week which I am having to cover additional things like my six weekly haircut and weekly copy of The Big Issue.

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  2. I'll gladly follow your progress and process. The books would be my downfall though.
    Good luck with this challenge, Sue ! xxx...x

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    1. The books will be the hardest thing, thank goodness for the two I have already funded :-)

      Luckily I have lots (and I mean lots) that I have on my shelves that I have yet to read .... phew ;-)

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  3. Now that's a mighty challenge. I've done the buy no clothes for a year challenge a few years back but no housekeeping would just be too much. Best of luck, look forward to your updates.

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    1. Luckily we have the contents of the Sealed Pot and the vouchers, coupons and points, so we'll not starve :-)

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  4. I managed a year without buying any clothes, but that's a tight housekeeping budget!! I will be very interested to read how you do and wish you the very best of luck!

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    1. It is, but that's why it's called a Challenge ;-)

      Thank you. xx

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  5. This sounds like a tough challenge and I look forward to following your progress during the year. I am cutting down on my food and household spending so any tips will be welcome. Good luck!

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  6. Sounds like an interesting challenge! I know I can manage the no clothes/no books part of the challenge without any problems, but I don't know if I can do the no housekeeping money part!

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    1. That's why we had to really plan ahead for this one, saving the change, vouchers, coupons and points and the seeds ready for planting. :-)

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  7. It will be interesting to see how this goes, and I hope it goes well.

    I don't know how things work in the UK or how far you are from the closest town or village, but here I don't EVER buy books any more; I check them out from the local public library which our taxes support. This practice has saved us lots of money over the years.

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    1. We are just under four miles from the nearest village and its library. I am thinking of joining, but have held back up to now as I like to own the books I read .... I am a real bookaholic, it's a curse ... but a lovely one ;-)

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  8. Glad you're supporting Jack Monroe's kickstarter project for her cookbook, I've signed up for that too! Good luck with the challenge.

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    1. I couldn't 'not' support her, she's doing amazingly well, and if this book is as good as her first it will be well worth it. By paying over the odds we are also helping to get the book out there to all the folk who would otherwise be able to afford it, and getting lots of copies to Foodbanks and libraries.

      Thank you :-)

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  9. Sue and Alan, I have books galore!! I need to be rid of many of them so you could have them and car boot them---and keep the cash! Also if you have a type of Kindle a site called 'Bookbub' has books on Kindle free, some are 99 pence but I go for for the freebies

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    1. Thanks for the offer Mary, but we have a house full of books as it is and are trying to downscale everything. I'll look up the 'Bookbub' thanks, and someone else gave me a link to another site that lists free Kindle books, but I have so many books on my Kindle that I have yet to read I think I will have to be very selective .... which is very hard to do ;-)

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  10. I look forward to following your challenge. Have you plenty of food stored from last year to last you until those seeds have grown? Good Luck with the challenge.

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    1. We have LOTS of food in the cupboard and freezers, it will take some time before we are in danger of running out!!

      Thank you :-)

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  11. I am looking forward to reading how the challenge goes through the year. Good luck!

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  12. Ever heard of the library...........

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    1. Yes I have. Ever heard of leaving less sarcastic comments!!

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  13. This looks very hard but I am going to read your posts so maybe I will be able to implement some of your ideas. Love your comment above, bravo! Melody in Iowa, USA

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  14. Goodness, that is one hell of a challenge. You seem to have prepared for this well and I will be cheering you on from the sidelines. Great stuff and good luck to you both (can't believe lovely Hubby is up for this too - he's a keeper). Anna

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    1. The Challenge was Lovely Hubby's idea. I think that makes me a keeper!! ;-)

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  15. If anyone can do this Sue it's you and Lovely Hubby♥ I will be reading with great interest as I really need to tighten our belt with food prices downunder:( I'm sure I will pick up some excellent tips. Linda xx

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    1. I hope we can all learn from one another, I do get some fantastic tips and recommendations left in my comments section :-)

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  16. My local Library also lends ebooks which you can download and read on an ipad or tablet or computer. This is brilliant and has saved me a fortune. My library also has a free magazine reading service - you may like this as it includes quite a few gardening magazines, albeit without the freebies lol! Good luck with your challenge and shall be following with interest.

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    1. I have signed up for a few online library services, including the magazine reading one :-)

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  17. I don't know how I missed the challenge beginning but I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with the stockpile you have on hand as well as your (very) limited budget. I have read your blog for many years and was challenged to have no spend days and to use what I already have on hand when you had a similar challenge in the past. Melissa.

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    1. I didn't publicise it very much as it was originally going to be a private blog as I felt it was pretty similar to my last foodie blog and I thought folks would be 'all Challenged out' with me, but it seems to have snowballed slightly :-)

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  18. Sue, the day your mortgage is paid off it will be worth every sacrifice you made to get there and will relieve enormous pressure off you and LH. I have been there! Things that helped me - 1) a chart on the fridge showing what has been paid and what remains on a weekly or monthly basis [this was so very helpful to my tired brain!]. 2) A book called "Early Retirement Extreme," even if you are not retiring. Very useful on a surprising number of levels, not to mention some brilliant (and some crazy brilliant) thoughts on how to have a middle class lifestyle on a poor man's budget. 3) Accept things people offer you, use them if you can, if not, then pass them on to someone else in need - and so the love flows outward, and we find ourselves less internally fixated. That reduced the stress for me a lot and blessings that came my way were more easily seen. Have a wonderful year as you march fearlessly toward a truly worthy goal. Bri in Texas.

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    1. It is now the first week of May and we have been able to make a massive extra payment on our mortgage debt .... so we are closer to the finish line than we dreamed we would be at this stage.

      Thank you for your good wishes. xx

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  19. Sue, congratulations on taking on such a worthy and important task. The day your mortgage is paid a huge burden will lift and the sense of accomplishment will never fade. All of your sacrifices WILL pay off. A few things that helped me stay the course (2 jobs and home will wear you out!): 1) A chart on the fridge showing what was paid, and what was left to be paid. That decreasing amount is very motivating. 2) A book "Early Retirement Extreme" by Jacob Fiskar - skip the diagrams and the math, and head for the meat which is surprisingly useful on how to have a middle class lifestyle on a poor person's income. 3) Gifts and blessings will come your way. Accept them and pay them forward when the opportunity arises as you are able. The most important things done for others are often words spoken with love or time spent, not physical gifts. This causes us to extend our line of sight away from ourselves and sends love out into the world. It really does return 10-fold. You will be blessed in your efforts. Keep the faith! Okay, time for a Texas summer salad recipe - cooked black beans, rinsed, corn kernals, chopped tomatoes, onion (red is good!), cilantro and chopped jalopeno pepper (both optional), some Italian dressing. Can be a main course because of the beans with Cornbread on the side. If you have leftovers, you can put them in an omelet for breakfast, or a quiche for dinner. You will like this better than you think.

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    1. Yes two jobs and a home ARE wearing me out .... I'm glad you survived :-)

      Thanks for the recipe, I need to eat more beans and I have lots of dried ones in stock!!

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