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Helicopter to Monaco

All in the name of research: LoveRichCashPoor jets off to Monaco

Friday

Wake up with: £50

Go to bed with: £32.04

Our back door has decided that it will no longer lock. Cue much heaving and exclamations of disbelief until it’s threatening to make me late for work. I rush off, leaving the husband to deal with it, then feel guilty. Luckily, the boss says I can work from home for the afternoon, so I cycle back at lunchtime to wait for the repair man (no charge, thank god). When I get home, the internet and cable won’t work. When will it stop? I phone our provider to discover it’s a network-wide fault and they are ‘working on it’.

Despite last week’s epic fail on the budget front, we still have no food in the house — even the store cupboard is bare; we’ve run out of pasta, rice, tinned tomatoes and tea bags and we’re dangerously low on washing powder. I do a grand tour of the shops to replenish stocks. I’m delighted to find a leg of lamb for just four pounds (half price), but not so thrilled to see that my preferred brand of washing powder is £12. Good grief – I’m going to have to make the last half an inch left in the cupboard last until the next deal.

Saturday

Wake up with: £32.04

Go to bed with: £25.27

The husband and I have been on Rightmove again as part of Plan 4623 Part C. We have an appointment to see three houses today, so it’s up at the crack of dawn to drive to Sussex. The good news is we find our dream house. The bad news is that the agent tells us it will go to sealed bids, and sell for at least 100k over the asking price. A little piece of my heart dies when she says this. I. Want. That. House.

The next two properties do not cheer me up. Luckily, the lunch does; we retreat to the magnificent King’s Arms in Rotherfield to lick our wounds (and our plates). This pub is one of the reasons we want to move to Sussex, and over lunch, we decide that as we clearly can’t afford our dream house, a compromise is in order. We’re just not sure what that compromise is right now. The husband and I choose our lunch to correlate with the £20 note he has in his pocket, and I pay for the drinks.

On the way home (well, not at all on the way but it sounded logical at the time), we stop by the Browns’ residence for tea, cake, gossip and a gasp at the new bump. The husband kindly stops at one of the many roadside cherry stalls en route so I can stock up on my very favourite snack. Bliss. We get back late, bellies full of chocolate cake – so no tea necessary.

Sunday

Wake up with: £25.27

Go to bed with: £25.27

Today it’s back in the car for a belated father’s day celebration with the in-laws. After a superb lunch of lemon chicken wrapped in parma ham and home-grown new potatoes, we pop by to chill with our god-daughter Pickle, her parents and bump no 2 for an hour. Pickle gets very excited when I lift the lid off a pot of curry that’s simmering on the stove and shout ‘ta da’. Hours of amusement ensue: Pickle can now communicate her wishes by way of pointing and she thinks it is a jolly good game! It’s such a joy to see her growing and learning new tricks. I smile all the way home.

The football is on again this evening, and the cable company must still be ‘working on it’ as we have no signal, so the husband moves the television into my kitchen, severely restricting my worktop space. Sacre bleu! I improvise a lahmacun out of the raw ingredients in the fridge for the boys.

Monday

Wake up with: £25.27

Go to bed with: £16.60

Supper club provides the perfect opportunity to cook my bargain leg of lamb. We’re toasting the arrival of the first supper club baby tonight. Welcome to the world little one!

Tuesday

Wake up with: £16.60

Go to bed with: £16.60

Now I am not a lover of exercise, but I’m developing a paunch and the budget prevents me from joining a gym; so it’s off to the park to puff my way around the perimeter a couple of times.

Although, to be frank, you’d have to pay me to join a gym, rather than the other way around; this whole fitness lark is a total mystery to me. I mean, does anyone actually ever enjoy exercising? Really? Be honest.

Personally, I just don’t get it. My average run goes as follows:

[first two or three steps] Okay, I can do this.

[five steps later] God, I’m exhausted

[first corner of circuit] You’re actually kidding me, I’m going to die

[second corner of circuit] I wonder if I could fake a sprained ankle to get out of this?

[second corner-third corner of circuit] Oh, okay, I’m actually not going to die. But by god I’m bored, I’m so BORED. How is this not over yet?

[third corner-fourth corner of circuit] No wait, I am going to die. I’m going to die people!

[end of circuit] Collapse on ground, red-faced, dripping in sweat. Vow never to do this again.

Wednesday

Wake up with: £16.60

Go to bed with: £16.60

I jump on the bike straight after work and cycle to Chalk Farm to tuck in my younger god-daughter Tiz. As I hold her on my lap, breathing in her delicious baby scent and read her a bedtime story, a wave of broodiness sweeps over me. In my defence, it’s been slowly building throughout this most babytastic of weeks, with the birth of the supper club baby, a visit to each of my gorgeous god-daughters and a couple of bumps thrown in for good measure. It’s quite a shock as, although I love a baby, I’m a late bloomer where broodiness is concerned but it’s a reminder that we need to find that compromise, and soon.

Coincidentally, when I get home, the husband says he may have the answer. Readers, we may be back to plan 4623 Part A… I’ll keep you posted.

Thursday

Wake up with: £16.60

Go to bed with: £16.60

Total savings so far: £752.78

Hip hip hooray for payday! Thankfully, the computer meltdown over at RBS has not affected LoveRichCashPoor. Still, when I look at my bank balance, I do wonder whether a bank error has been made in my favour. Thanks to the fact that I have paid off my credit card and my student loan and thus the repayments are no longer being deducted from my bank balance, I finish the month £792.78 in credit. This is a small miracle. If I save £750 a month, I could shave five whole months off my saving mission. I say ‘if’ because some months, I am going to spend that extra bonus money on something very special – but rest assured, I will not be spending it on me…. This month, I shall save £750 and use the extra £40 to buy a present for the husband. Here’s hoping you can all keep a secret.

Today, I’m off on an all-expenses paid trip to Monaco (not really in the spirit of budgeting, but hey, I’m not complaining!). It’s for my day job, but I’m keen to investigate the most famous tax haven and playground of the rich and famous with my blogger hat on too. Even the itinerary reads like an out-of-body experience for someone who has never banked more than the average wage; apparently, I’ll be travelling from the airport to the hotel in a helicopter. And to think I get excited by the prospect of splashing out on the Heathrow Express!

I’m looking forward to seeing just how addictive this lifestyle is. I want to know what can seduce a person into thinking that it’s okay to dodge their taxes or to fix interest rates. I want to know why money seems to corrupt and how people who I consider to be very rich, always seem to want more.

See you on the other side…

say it with flowers

Say it with flowers: not-so-sweet williams

Friday

Wake up with: £80

Go to bed with: £60

The week gets off to a wonderful start: delicious injera with school friends at Addis on Caledonian Road. The total for food, wine and service is a very reasonable £15 a head. We transfer over to Patisserie Valerie for pudding and a gawp at the new Kings Cross, then onto the one pub in the whole of London that hasn’t been completely occupied by football supporters for a little supplementary wine. I spend an additional £5 (if it sounds suspiciously exact, it’s because I lent £5 to one of the girls in the restaurant and she then treated me to cake and wine). I set off home on my trusty bike.

Saturday

Wake up with: £60

Go to bed with: £31.48

I wake up feeling like I’ve been hit by a train but I have to go to Uckfield to look at a house. As a concession to the summer cold I appear to have developed overnight, I decide to get the bus, rather than cycle to London Bridge. Big mistake! An hour later, I’ve only got as far as my office, a 15-minute cycle ride. I just make the train, shelling out £16.70 on the return fare. In the spirit of budgeting, I have bought my own drinks and snacks.

The house is lovely, but not ‘the one’ – the husband would barely fit through the door (height, you understand, not the result of my cooking!).

Still, it’s not a wasted journey; I while away the time until the next train home with a wander around the local Waitrose; I have a craving for curry tonight to clear these damn sinuses.

The darling husband rescues me from 149 hell, by agreeing to pick me up from Angel tube – there goes the last of my Oyster credit. We stop at the shop for milk and a little treat on the way home and I cook up a devilishly hot massaman curry.

Sunday

Wake up with: £31.48

Go to bed with: £10.14

It’s raining and I’m still feeling sorry for myself, so I resolve to spend a lazy day at home. The courgette and tomato plants need potting up, so I nip to the local garden centre to pick up some compost and plant feed. Ouch, almost £20 later, I’m beginning to regret my executive decision to wait for a bigger garden before we build a compost heap.

The husband has got us steak and chips for tea, and creme caramel for pudding. It almost makes up for the fact that the dreaded football is on again. Almost.

Monday

Wake up with: £10.14

Go to bed with: £10.14

It’s a proud day in the LoveRichCashPoor household. Having received a statement informing me in teeny tiny print that my 0% interest period expires on 7 July, today, I clear the outstanding balance on my credit card – and then take the scissors to it to ensure that I never use it again.

Supper club is cancelled for the football, so the husband and I eat our second massaman curry of the week for tea.

Tuesday

Wake up with: £10.14

Go to bed with: -£23.81

Hurrah, the sun has made a guest appearance to the season that will hitherto be known as The Summer the Sun Forgot; I make an executive decision that I deserve a lunch break and go for a little wander around Spitalfields. I’m ostensibly nipping out to buy some squid ink spaghetti, but I get sidetracked on a detour down Fournier Street when I discover that one of the houses is an antiques shop cum cafe. I’m in love, and grateful that I destroyed my credit card yesterday.

I think all that lunchtime virtue sets off a bit of a chain reaction come evening. I’ve arranged to meet an old school friend for dinner at El Parador on Eversholt Street. The cash has run out, but the sunshine, the company and the delicious tapas on offer (and possibly the wine) bring out my reckless streak. I pay by card (debit, obviously), and promptly go over budget to the tune of £20.00. Woops.

Wednesday

Wake up with: -£23.81

Go to bed with: -£33.78

In my experience, budgeting is a little like dieting: the minute you slip, the temptation is to give up altogether. I pop to the supermarket after work and somehow I leave with a pack of tiger prawns, some a cherry tomatoes, a lemon and two bunches of sweet williams (albeit at £1.50 each). This is decidedly off-message but god it feels good.

Thursday

Wake up with: -£33.78

Go to bed with: -£33.78

Total overspend this week: £33.78

As the buyer’s remorse sets in from yesterday’s supermarket blow-out, I give myself a stern talking to – we need washing powder, rice and tea bags and here I am with flowers and shellfish.The worst thing is, I haven’t even bought anything that outrageous – as my inner sulky teenager protests: it’s not as if I bought a new dress or champagne. In a way she has a point: I spent £3 on flowers, bought some compost, a train ticket and two reasonably priced restaurant meals this week and somehow this has amounted to an epic failure. It’s a salutary lesson on what it means to live on a tight budget. My inner sanctimonious goodie two shoes (you know, the one, she’s always banging on about food waste, or reminding everyone that one cappuccino could be standing between me and the dream) points out that a lot of people out there live on considerably less. She’s right of course, but I’d still like a new dress and the flowers are beautiful, so there. Still, next week I will do better.

Had any budgetary dramas of your own this week? Feel free to share them in the comments box below and thank you ever so much for reading.

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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