January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 4

or: How I fed Two People for a Week for £15.41.

In January I decided to do a no spend challenge for the month. There were a few reasons for this 

  • I needed a new challenge to try 
  • My goal for this year is a financial one
  • January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events 
  • I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

We spent the first three weeks working our way through what remained in the fridge, freezer and cupboards following Christmas, supplementing it with a shop of fresh groceries each week. Once the three weeks was over we had managed to work our way through quite a lot, including the staples of pasta, rice, frozen chicken and fish, tins of chopped tomatoes etc.

By week 4 I knew we would have to do a much larger shop, but I wanted to challenge myself even further. Inspired by the YouTube budget eating challenges from June from Budget Eats and Atomic Shrimp, I wanted to buy an entire weeks worth of groceries for as little as possible and eat just what I had purchased.

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January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 2 and Week 3

In January I decided to do a no spend challenge for the month. There were a few reasons for this 

  • I needed a new challenge to try 
  • My goal for this year is a financial one
  • January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events 
  • I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

I set myself some rules for the month:

  • Money can (and should!) be spent on rent, bills and essentials like groceries, toiletries and petrol.
  • Money can be spent on parking should an activity be free. The reason why I am including this is that we have several press reviews at the theatre coming up over January, and while the tickets are complimentary we pay a few pounds for parking.
  • Should I need to go somewhere, I am allowed to spend money on bus fare, but not on a taxi unless it is an emergency (Note: I never learned to drive, hence why I am including this).
  • I am not allowed to spend money on non-essential items, including new clothes, books, takeaways, snacks, meals out, taxis, drinks at the pub etc.

Week 1 was surprising. I figured that after the excess of Christmas the best way to cut back on spending was to start with food, and that’s exactly what I did. I spent £9.91 on groceries – mainly fresh fruit and veg – and combined that with the food left over in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. We had no takeaways, didn’t eat out anywhere and had no snacks at all. We also spent £10.50 on parking when we went to the theatre (we’re on the press team so the tickets were free), taking it to a grand total of £20.41. When looking at everything we would normally spend in a week, we saved about £111. 

Week 2

We continued into week 2 with the same criteria and mindset. I did a food shop again from Aldi, this time spending £8.25. We still had staples left over – potatoes, pasta, rice, frozen fish – and random boxes of frozen party food etc, so I followed the same pattern I had from the week before. I made three meals a day, utilised leftovers and got a little bit creative with some meals – who knew that vegetable samosas would go so well with homemade soup?? 

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Press Review: School of Rock at the Alexandra Theatre

Based on the 2003 movie starring Jack Black and with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and a book by Julian Fellowes, School of Rock tells the story of Dewey Finn (Jake Sharp), a wannabe rock star who impersonates a substitute teacher in a prestigious prep school. Upon discovering the musical talent of his young students he forms a band in an attempt to win the Battle of the Bands contest. 

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January No Spend Challenge Update: Week 1

At the beginning of January I set myself a challenge to spend as little money as possible over the month. There were a few reasons for this:

  • I needed a new challenge to try 
  • My goal for this year is a financial one
  • January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events 
  • I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.

I set myself some rules for the month:

  • Money can (and should!) be spent on rent, bills and essentials like groceries, toiletries and petrol.
  • Money can be spent on parking should an activity be free. The reason why I am including this is that we have several press reviews at the theatre coming up over January, and while the tickets are complimentary we pay a few pounds for parking.
  • Should I need to go somewhere, I am allowed to spend money on bus fare, but not on a taxi unless it is an emergency (Note: I never learned to drive, hence why I am including this).
  • I am not allowed to spend money on non-essential items, including new clothes, books, takeaways, snacks, meals out, taxis, drinks at the pub etc.

Before I started I was unsure of how much I spent each week. I don’t really buy much online except for the birthday and Christmas presents. Fashion isn’t my thing – I have a few nice outfits for when I go out but my wardrobe generally consists of hoodies and sweats. I do love my makeup but my last big purchase was a Pat McGrath palette a few months ago which will last me quite a while, and replacements of eyeliner and mascara were bought for me as Christmas presents. What on earth was I going to do a no spend challenge if it didn’t appear that I spent much money?

It turns out, I had very little idea about my spending habits.

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Press Review: Bat Out of Hell at the Alexandra Theatre

Note: This review is for the UK 2022 tour. 

Bat Out of Hell is a rock musical with with music, lyrics and book by Jim Steinman. Steinman was a prolific songwriter, with hits including Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart, Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now and Air Supply’s Making Love Out of Nothing at All, but is probably best known as the composer of the songs for Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell album trilogy. These are predominantly the musical numbers that feature throughout the show. 

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve was both a good and sad day. The Bloke and I had a buffet of party food and watched The Proposal, only to see the announcement a few hours later that Betty White had passed away. I was genuinely gutted about it – I think the reason why we watched the film was because I had seen Ryan Reynold’s tweet a few days before and we realised we hadn’t watched the film in ages, and it was a genuine shock when we checked our social media afterwards. Such a sad loss and an incredible woman.

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2021: A Year in Review

The Bloke asked me the other day of my opinions of the last twelve months. Admittedly, my initial thought was to respond with “dumpster fire.” On a general day to day basis it has been tough. Working from home sometimes means that it is difficult not to get into your own head and can feel like you’re spending 24/7 within the same four walls, and during moments of extreme stress there is little escape. However, amidst the lows there have been a number of highs.

The start of 2021 was indeed a dumpster fire of epic proportions. Within the first month The Bloke got covid (this was before the vaccinations were available) and was incredibly ill for weeks while being quarantined upstairs, two family members had heart attacks (both are thankfully doing okay), the roof in the kitchen started caving in after five years of asking the landlord to fix it and when I lost my temper he put our rent up in retaliation. A few weeks later I had to have a tooth removed – a small filling fell out just before covid hit in 2020 and dentists were closed for months – and after a year the tooth became so damaged the only option was to take it out. 

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Chrimbo Limbo

It’s that point between Christmas and New Year where many of us feel like we are in Chrimbo Limbo. Christmas is over but it’s not quite time to take down the decorations yet (although I do know a few people who have), and there are still a few days until the new year. I’ve seen quite a few social media memes about not knowing what time of day it is or what is happening, and I can relate. 

For the first time in almost a year I took a period of annual leave that was more than just a few days. After working so hard for such a long time and experiencing high levels of stress over the last few months I found it disorienting and difficult to relax at first – even when I was in my jammies and watching Christmas films I felt a little agitated, like I should be doing something and it took a few days to be able to get into the it’s ok to have a rest mindset. I think I needed to decompress. It has made me think about the importance of regularly taking some time for myself next year – the mental state that I was in before Christmas wasn’t an entirely healthy one and despite the fact that I enjoy my job, I need to start setting some very clear boundaries when it comes to workload and client demands and expectations. 

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Christmas in Narnia at Castle Howard

Earlier in December I took my Mum to York for her birthday. This was something we had been planning for a while – neither of us had visited before and it was a great opportunity to spend some time together as we hadn’t seen each other in person since June.

Part of the trip was to explore Castle Howard. Mum had wanted to visit since watching the Brideshead Revisited series in the 80s which was filmed there (in fact, it has been used as the location in many movies and TV shows, most recently serving as the family home of the Duke of Hastings in Bridgerton), and I discovered that there was a Christmas in Narnia event taking place at the time we wanted to go. Perfect. I booked us a hotel in the centre of York so that we could also explore the city.

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A Last – Minute Christmas

I look forward to Christmas every year. Since we got married (can you believe that was over four years ago already??!) The Bloke and I spend Christmas at home, visiting family and friends in the weeks before (although last year we weren’t able to do that). We have developed a bit of a routine and traditions – when we buy presents and send cards, when and how we decorate, when we go food shopping etc. Usually by now everything would be done and ready to go well in advance – the cupboards would be full, presents would be wrapped, our Christmas watchlist would have been planned to the nth degree to avoid missing any of the Christmas specials, The Bloke would have braved Marks and Spencer to grab a pre-rolled turkey and stuffing (there’s only two of us and there’s no way I’m spending half my Christmas Day cooking a massive frozen turkey that will go to waste) and I would have posted on the blog several times about how drunk the tree looks etc.

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