Few of us enjoy going through our bank statements at the end of the year, but for Poppy Brown it was particularly painful.
A lunch out, a takeaway coffee, a midweek shop and a taxi ride for a distance she could have walked all added up to £100 of unnecessary costs in a single day.
It was this discovery that convinced her to commit to a radical budgeting challenge: ‘no-spend January’.
Frugal: Money blogger Emma Jackson has always watched her spending, but after committing to ‘no-spend January’ she found there were still plenty of areas where she could cut back
Despite what the name implies, you can (of course) spend some money during the month. But you must commit to paying only for essentials such as bills, groceries and transport.
And the ‘no-spend’ trend has taken off this year, as households worried about the rising cost of living look to cut back. Hundreds of people have joined Facebook groups dedicated to helping splurgers go cold turkey.
Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says: ‘I suspect far more people signed up to “no-spend January” in 2022.
‘Energy bills are at the top of everyone’s mind and many of us will be looking to save more to prepare for higher costs in the months ahead.’
Cutbacks: Poppy Brown saved £950 by ditching takeaways, switching to Aldi for groceries and making coffees at home among other measures
Poppy, 21, expects to have squirreled away an extra £950 this month. The wedding planner earns around £2,500 a month and is saving for a deposit on her first home with her boyfriend Nathan.
She used to spend up to £30 a week on coffees and £300 on regular weekend trips to London with her friends.
But since January 1 she has not spent a penny on anything she doesn’t absolutely need.
Poppy now takes homemade coffees into work, plans her journeys to avoid last-minute taxi rides and cooks for her friends instead of eating out.
Swapping from Morrisons to budget store Aldi has also cut the cost of her weekly shop from £50 to £30 — and she now makes a meal plan to avoid buying groceries in midweek.
Liquid assets: Pierce Holland spent £700 on takeaway coffees in a year
Poppy, from Maldon, Essex, says: ‘It has been tough, but I have a calendar on the wall and I cross off each day and put a £1 coin in a jar to keep myself motivated.’
Her love of clothes shopping, which can set her back up to £200 a month, has been harder to curb. To avoid temptation, she unsubscribed from emails from all of her favourite retailers and even unfollowed them on Instagram.
Poppy has also made £80 by selling old clothes on the second-hand marketplace Depop.
She says: ‘Due to the cost of living crisis, it makes sense to have a bit of money put aside. I love seeing my friends but I’d like to cook for them more and eat out once or twice a month, rather than every week.’
Pierce Holland is a seasoned saver and has completed three ‘no-spend Novembers’ in previous years.
The public sector worker began paying more attention to his outgoings after he worked out that he had spent £700 on takeaway coffees in a year.
Since then, he has kept detailed spreadsheets of his everyday spending, and recently saved £10,000 in his Lifetime Isa — enough to put down a 5 per cent deposit on his first home.
This month he is determined to spend no more than £200, which will cover petrol, parking, groceries and the £100 he pays his grandparents in rent.
However, the frugal 24-year-old always allows himself two ‘cheat days’ when he can spend money on things he doesn’t need.
This month he has treated himself to a £21 ticket for an ice-hockey match and a coffee with a friend.
Shop smart: Switching to a budget supermarket and avoiding buying groceries mid-week can result in sizeable savings over the course of a month
Pierce, from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, says: ‘While I’ve got enough for my deposit, I know I’ll have a higher interest rate than someone who has a larger one.
‘I also want to put aside between £1,000 and £2,000 for costs I’ll have to pay when I buy my house, such as solicitor’s fees.’
Money blogger Emma Jackson has always watched her spending carefully and, at 27, has already paid off her mortgage.
But after committing to ‘no-spend January’ this year, she found there were still plenty of areas where she could cut back.
Leftover chicken pasta lunches have replaced £5 meal deals, and the £200 she used to spend on going out with friends and her partner Hannah has been temporarily cut to zero.
Emma, who works in HR at a hospital, has also been shopping around for better deals. So far she has reduced her broadband bill from £40 to £20.
She has also moved £10,000 of her savings from an account that paid 0.3 per cent interest into another which pays 0.7 per cent.
Emma, who lives near Sheffield, says: ‘Avoiding buying lunch at work was one of the most difficult things to do, as I had to be so organised the night before.
‘I usually spend £50 a month on takeaways and there were a few occasions when I was really tempted, but I managed to stay strong and cook one of my favourite meals instead.’
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