How much do you spend on takeaway coffee each year? One woman reveals £400 bill
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 February 2017
I like to think I’ve had some success since I’ve been trying to live more thriftily, writes Sheena Grant.
There have been days when I’ve spent just a little, a few when I’ve spent rather too much and increasing numbers when I’ve spent absolutely nothing at all.
I had one of those no-spend days yesterday and three of them last week.
I thought I was doing pretty well. But then I read about a woman called Michelle McGagh.
On Black Friday 2015 (also, not by chance, the anti-consumer movement’s Buy Nothing Day), Michelle, a personal finance journalist, pledged not to spend anything for a whole year. She made the decision to reset her relationship with money completely after going through her bank statements and totting up how much she frittered away on unnecessary purchases. In one year, for instance, she’d spent £400 on takeaway coffees alone.
Around the same time, she and her husband had also put most of their possessions into storage as they were effectively living on a building site while doing up their new house. As a result she discovered just how little she needed most of her “stuff”.
The rules of her Buy Nothing Year were that she would pay her mortgage and other essential household bills, buy basic toiletries and cleaning products and set aside £35 for food a week. There was to be no budget for luxuries, such as outings, takeaway meals, clothes, holidays or transport. Instead she would get around on her bike.
At first it was hard, especially in winter, but as the weather got warmer she discovered the simple pleasures of walking, wild swimming, cycling and picnics
Her high point was a summer cycling holiday in Suffolk and Norfolk, wild camping on beaches and in forests, washing in the sea and eating pasta salad or cheap bread rolls from the supermarket so she didn’t bust her budget. At the end of the year she’d saved enough to pay £22,439 off her mortgage. She also realised she valued financial security over material possessions and that spending time with loved ones made her happier than accumulating things.
She’s also written a book, called The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More.
I admire Michelle and her resolve but let’s be realistic. A no-spend year is hard for anyone to achieve and I suspect it’s virtually impossible if you have children. Also, to my mind, dining on budget bread rolls and having to wash in the sea, whatever the weather, doesn’t sound like the kind of holiday most people would dream of.
I doubt, though, Michelle is seriously suggesting anyone should follow her example to the letter. What she might achieve, however, is getting people to think about their own lifestyles, the things that are really important to them and making little changes that together, can add up to a lot.
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