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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How to Do a No Spend Challenge

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that I had just one goal for 2022, which was financial. To kickstart this goal I have decided to participate in a month-long no spend challenge.

What is a No Spend Challenge?

A no spend challenge is setting a period of time to spend as little money as possible. In my case the no spend challenge is lasting for a month (the entirety of January), but no spend challenges can be followed for one day a week, a weekend, a whole week, fortnight, month or even a year.

There can be numerous reasons to start a no spend challenge:

  • To get back on track financially after a period of excess – Christmas, birthdays, holidays etc.
  • To stop impulse spending and being more mindful of where your hard-earned money goes
  • To kickstart your savings
  • To pay off debts
  • To change your mindset towards money and finances
  • To help break addictions (eg. smoking)
  • To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing cost of living

Personally, I am primarily doing a no spend challenge to start really building up my savings, be more mindful of how and when I spend my money, and to stop impulse spending on things that are irrelevant and unnecessary for the lifestyle I want. 

How to Do a No Spend Challenge

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50+ Frugal Ideas to Save Money and Organise Your Finances

Frugal and thrifty ideas to help you organise your finances and save money

Budgeting, saving money and making wise financial decisions was never really something that I was particularly good at. However, a change in my job meant a significant drop in my monthly earnings, forcing me to adapt to a different lifestyle in order to be able to live happily within my means.

Admittedly, my situation was substantially easier to make changes than those with large mortgages and children, but I still had quite a few financial responsibilities that needed to be covered, along with the monthly rent and bills. It took some time, but advanced planning and organisation really helped me to stay on track… Continue reading

Top Tips for Selling at a Car Boot Sale

The Bloke and I are hoarders. We’re not obsessive – we don’t keep things like old newspapers, boxes or general household goods, but we both are easily attached to things that we consider to be of sentimental value. As a result, our house is filled with stuff, even more so now the wedding is over.

On a whim, we decided to try and downsize and sell some of our things in a car boot sale, creating some space and hopefully earning some cash in the process.

It was an eye opening experience.

We found a reputable car boot about half an hour away that didn’t require you to sign up and only charged £8.00 per car. We were ruthless and threw together a load of things that we could possibly sell, and at 5.45am we found ourselves stood in a muddy field in freezing temperatures… as you do.

Six hours later, we had sold all but one box of the stuff we had brought, and I had a brilliant time talking to loads of lovely people. I learned a lot, and I was already planning the next one by the time we drove home. Continue reading

How I Saved Thousands On My Wedding

Wedding money saving tips

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small amount of money if you make a purchase from any of the Amazon links included

Right from the beginning of my wedding planning eighteen months ago, I was determined that I would do my absolute best to keep the costs as low as possible. Of course, I wanted the day to be beautiful, but our budget was small and I didn’t want us to still be paying it off for years after it was over.

Essentially, I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, but I didn’t want it to LOOK cheap.

The problem is, the minute the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, the prices of everything are automatically increased and there are numerous places that aren’t always upfront about their total prices – we discovered that there were lots of hidden costs in all sorts of different areas.

The key to saving money lies in forward planning, lots of research, asking for help, being patient and shopping around. It also helped that we had a long engagement, giving us sufficient time to work out what we wanted and how much we were prepared to budget for it. Continue reading

How To Monetise Your Blog

How to use a blog to make money

A little while ago I gave a presentation at the Annual Bloggers Bash in London with the focus being on monetising a blog and using a blog to make money in other creative and writing fields. Since then, I’ve received numerous requests to post the content of my presentation for those who were unable to attend, so here it is (hopefully with a little less waffle)…

Having a blog has been a life-changing experience. It has allowed me a lifestyle that I could have only previously dreamed of and enabled me to take more control of when and where I work and who I work for. Four-and-a-half years ago I was working as a teacher, I had an outstanding reputation and good results and was in a financially stable and secure role… And I was miserable – stressed, tired, depressed and had started to develop panic attacks. Writing has always been therapeutic and the house was beginning to become overrun by beautiful notebooks containing my scribbles, so The Bloke (who is an IT Technician) suggested that I start a blog. After a particularly bad day I signed up to WordPress, hastily gave myself a name, wrote a post and pressed the publish button. That was it – there were no expectations or technical knowledge behind what I was doing (I don’t think I even used tags for the first few weeks) – but it became a hobby that I quickly found satisfying. That was in April 2013 and by March 2015 I handed in my resignation and left the teaching profession at the end of the academic year. Continue reading

Terms and Conditions

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know that I travel via train fairly frequently. I’ve learned to be fairly savvy with it – I know that one of the biggest train and travel companies in particular will hike up their prices by as much as £100 for travel on the same day as booking, so making sure that tickets in advance are essential unless you want to take out a second mortgage just to pay for travel costs.

So, when they sent me an email informing them of their summer sale, with tickets on offer for £4.00 between Birmingham and London, I eagerly planned a day trip for The Bloke and I, feeling really pleased with myself for obtaining tickets for both of us for the grand total price of £16.00. Bargain.

That is, until I discovered that I’d gone and booked tickets for the opposite journeys that I wanted – I’d done London to Birmingham instead of the other way around. Idiot. Totally my fault, and I was irrationally super-angry with myself for not concentrating and making a rookie mistake.

Now, it’s only £16.00, but for the principle of it I set about getting a refund. After 5 phone calls during which I was waiting for a total of about 45 minutes and eventually resorting to Twitter because nobody answered the phone, I was informed that my tickets were non-refundable because they had been purchased in the sale. Not that this is made clear anywhere on the booking page in advance, but they got me with the fact that they had included this in their Terms and Conditions, at the bottom of a long list and buried in their website.

So, we have had to book another set of tickets, ultimately paying the same price that we would have done without the sale. I wouldn’t mind, as it was my mistake, but I am a bit cross at the fact they have made extra money from me and won’t give it back, which is always covered by the crappy Terms and Conditions. Hopefully, they can use my money (and I’m sure the money from other idiots like myself) into improving the service and getting the trains to actually be big enough to accommodate the amount of people that use them…

What about you guys? Have you ever made a mistake and then been screwed over by the Terms and Conditions?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

If We Were Having Coffee #10

CoffeeIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that it’s been an unexpectedly busy end to the week…

I had another day of supply yesterday – this time a little busier than the day before. I was predominantly covering Spanish, which was quite an experience as I can’t speak anything more than basic conversational sentences, but it was interesting to see how much the students already knew. I had a group of Year 7 students who were in their first ever lesson, so instead of doing the cover work that was set I took the opportunity to teach them the basics – ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ how to ask someone what their name is, how to say their name and how to count from one to twenty. It was really enjoyable – I learnt as much as they did, and it has inspired me to learn more in my free time. It’s amazing how many useful instructional videos are available on YouTube!

And then there’s that one class. The one where every student is a superstar. The one where you can joke and have a bit of banter and then can trust them to not just do the work, but to automatically try and create extra work for themselves just because they enjoy it. The sort of class that challenges you as much as you challenge them. It reminded me just how great the profession can be. Not great enough to make me wish for my old job back, but it was a nice end to the day. I’ve been offered an entire week of supply next week, but I’m only going to do four days – I didn’t quit just to go straight back in full time and I want a day to be able to have time for myself. My freelance stuff starts the following week, so I’m taking the opportunity to earn some extra cash for Christmas while I can. After all the worries over the summer, I didn’t expect to be turning down work within a fortnight of term starting – perhaps someone is watching over me…

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m looking forward to spending a bit of time with The Bloke – he’s stayed at work late this week (he also works in a school) and leaves early in a morning, so I haven’t really seen much of him. It’s his birthday next month (which I always get far more excited about than he does), and what he doesn’t know is that after a sixth month search I finally managed to find a particular item for his present on eBay, at a quarter of the price of what I saw it advertised at last year. It’s been delivered already and is in perfect condition, with the only problem being that it is ridiculously small. I think what I might do is wrap it in a really large box, just for a giggle. I’m also taking him to ‘Brick,’ the UK’s biggest Lego convention (yes, he’s one of those), and I am expecting that his already extensive collection will be added to… Fun!



If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I met up with some friends last night – they are all former colleagues and most have moved on to new schools, and it was lovely to see them and to hear how much they are enjoying their new jobs. We went for a meal at Prezzo, an Italian restaurant, and I treated myself to a lovely goats cheese salad and a cocktail, and during the course of the night I laughed so hard that my face hurt. I always feel so lucky to be able to spend time with people that I can truly relax with and enjoy their company – I’m blessed to know some wonderful human beings!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have made further progress with decluttering and organising my stuff. It occurred to me over the summer that we are surrounded by things that we haven’t used since we moved into the house eighteen months ago, so I spent a few hours having a sort out last week. I regularly give things to charity shops, taking in lots of bags of clothes over the last few months, but this time I found things that I could sell – my Nintendo Wii, my Nintendo DS, The Bloke’s Nintendo DSi, extra controllers and a ton of games and DVD’s. I checked out the prices for the current items on eBay, and inquired at a games store in town and a Cash Generator on the high street. I didn’t expect to get much from it all, but because we’ve kept it all in good condition and have all the original boxes, the Cash Generator offer was surprising and far more than anything I saw on eBay and anywhere else. Consequently, I dragged three large bags of items in this morning and I have another to take in, and was given the equivalent of the money I spent in Barcelona the other week, which we have divided according to who owned what, and have used some of it to do a food shop for the next few weeks without touching our bank accounts. It’s nothing compared to what we spent on the items originally, but every little helps, and now we have a little more space than before!

What about you guys? What are your plans for the weekend?

The ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ series was created by Part Time Monster. Everyone is invited to join in, and you are welcome to share your coffee posts on Twitter every Saturday with #WeekendCoffeeShare – hop on over and join in the fun!

Weekend Coffee Share

Weekend Coffee Share, with Part-Time Monster

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks, and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.