Ground zero

To cut a very long story short: it’s audit time at number 53.

We need to save up a lump sum and we need to do it as quickly as possible. Our mission is to cut back and slim down. Well, at the moment, it’s my mission, but I’m hoping the husband will get on board sometime soon.

First step: assess the money we have…

That was quick, you say?  Well yes, because we have NOTHING. Correction, we have a lovely house, incredible friends and family and each other. But we don’t have any spare cash and we need some because we’re chasing the dream—more on that when any of our plans come even close to fruition. Full disclosure: we have the deposit for our next house and a small fund of money at our disposal for essential works on our flat. But that doesn’t really count as it belongs to the bank, rather than us.

Why do we not have any savings? Well, first we saved to buy a dilapidated flat, then we did it up, then we got married, then we went on honeymoon. Then we tried to buy a family home. Three failed property purchases later, and we’ve shelled out three sets of survey, mortgage application and solicitor’s fees. Humph.

Truth be told, with a balance still to clear on my credit card, I actually have minus nothing.

As for money coming in and money going out… well I’m still trying to pin the hubs down on that one, but I’ve done my calculations. I’m a pretty open person, but my employment contract expressly prevents me from revealing my income—suffice to say it is almost exactly the mean, full-time wage in the UK.

So, after income tax, NI, council tax, gas and electricity, mortgage, TV licence, water rates, life insurance, buildings & contents insurance, mobile phone, cable and internet and landline rental, I have £820 left per month.

Sound a lot? It is in the grand scheme of things. A perfectly respectable sum, princely in some parts of the world. But we live in London, we have active social lives and demanding jobs.

If I save £500 a month, it will take me 17 months to reach my goal. That leaves me with £320 a month, or £80 a week, for everything else, broadly: food, travel and entertainment. Again that sounds like a lot. Of course I could live off a lot less if I never went out, never celebrated and never bought presents for friends and family. I could save more if I could devote hours of my day to bargain hunting. But this isn’t just any old mission to save money. There’s a tried and tested formula for that. This is a mission to save money with joy and generosity—and a full-time job.

So I am going to attempt to live off less than £80 cash a week. No debit cards, no credit cards, no loans. Just cash. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.

I say less than, because 17 months sounds like an interminable amount of time to wait and I’ll do everything I can to cut that back. Some weeks it will be possible. Some weeks it won’t.

I’m writing this to keep me on track – but if anyone out there is reading, well hello and thanks for sharing my mission…

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