Where growing, making & good living come together

August 2011 – end of month review

Posted by on Thursday 1 September 2011 in goals, less than 12 clothes challenge | 8 comments

Cor, another month that seems to have taken its sweet time to come to a close – again, not dragged but the beginning of the month feels very long way ago now.

(Lemon curd, with cinnamon, which I made one day to accompany a fig-and-fennel soda bread test loaf.)

Goals in 2011 progress

We tried to go sea-fishing but failed. We haven’t had a lot of food from the garden – a few courgettes/marrows, tomatoes, potatoes but nothing major-major. I’ve been sewing quite a bit but for decorative rather than practical purposes. I haven’t made anything with wood. I have baked quite a bit – actually done quite a bit of experimental baking & cooking, trying out new ideas for recipes – but not made cheese. Basically, I’ve got a lot of goals still to accomplish and an increasingly short amount of time to do them in!

On the plus side though, I did slightly better with my month’s mini-goals: we sorted out the bills stuff (2), I researched the ISA options and decided it wasn’t worth switching until next year (1), cleared out the cupboards (4+5), nearly stuck to my budget (3 – see below), would have done 6 if there wasn’t a damp problem in need of investigation, and made a purse (8). Not great but better.

Buy less than 12 items of clothing in 2011

After buying two things in July, I bought another thing – a light “so very me” cardigan – at the beginning of August. My old cotton cardigan has seen better days so this is sort of a replacement and will be useful in the next few months over t-shirts/vest tops.

One of my favourite pairs of jeans has developed an unfortunate (and very difficult to fix) hole in the bum so I’m on the look out for a replacement pair but not seen any yet.

Anyway, no other temptations or anything else from the exempt list so I’m just up to three items so far in 2011.

Growing & Chickens

As I said above, the garden has not had a hugely productive month – which is a bit of a shame. I’ve run out of preening steam too so it looks a mess as well. Sigh. September should bring lots more tomatoes (we’ve got lots of green ones at the moment) and more courgettes, and hopefully our first achocha. Two out of four of our achocha plants have pretty well developed fruit on them and finally, the other two — which have grown up together against a wall and are MASSIVE (15ft tall, 8ft across) — have finally started fruiting too. That might result in a lot of fruit!

The chickens have had a good month – no broodiness and Ginger definitely started laying again (she went broody in the middle of June, came out of it finally about a month later but I couldn’t be sure that she was laying again until mid-August when we finally got six eggs in one day). With six eggs on some occasions, we had a grand total of 157 eggs, an average of just over 5 a day.


I had given myself a budget of £100 for my SAVE-as-much-as-you-SPEND (corrected!) categories this month and if I hadn’t gone completely craft supply crazy, I’d have made it. I spent a whopping £55.75 on craft stuff this month: mostly embroidery threads and cross-stitch fabric but also £17.20 on yarn from Bobbins in Whitby. The yarn was a complete impulse buy – I saw it, wanted it, had a vague project in mind but not great plans to use it ASAP (since I can’t knit/crochet in the summer) – and that blew my budget, pushing me over to spend £110.66 in total. *shakes fist* Yarn aside, I do know that all the embroidery stuff will keep me quiet for a long time so while it was a lot of money, I probably won’t need to buy anything more for ages.

Aside from crafts, restaurant/takeout food wasn’t too bad this month (£46.42) but I could easily have saved about a tenner of that by taking sandwiches, snacks & drinks with me when I was teaching during the day, rather than using the Coop. Naughty. It did also include expensive fish’n’chips, donuts and other seaside treats when we were in Whitby.

Transport costs were quite low for the month (£30.70), especially since £16.70 of that was last night alone (a return bus ticket then a taxi fare when the meeting overran and I missed the last bus, grr). I didn’t buy any books – used the library a few times instead. Entertainment was a newspaper one Saturday (and all the crafts, of course!). The silly thing was my cute vase. Household stuff included the wool blanket, some photo frames, a bathmat, and an oven thermometer – wild ;)

I spent £175.74 in total, after bills and food shopping – my lowest month since I started tracking spending (the previously lowest had been June, at £188.91). Bit disappointed that I “wasted” some of it on impulse yarn and actually wasted some of it on unnecessary lunches, but I’m not beating myself up about it too much.

How was your August?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. PipneyJane

    Hi Louisa

    Just a quick question: is there an explanation somewhere about your “spend-as-much-as-you-save” categories and what that entails? Does it mean that, for certain things, if you spend money on it, you have to put an equal amoount into savings?

    – Pam (need to do a goal review myself. Not done any Sit.Rep.2011 reports)

    • louisa

      Hi Pam,

      Ooops, that’s meant to be the other way around – saving as much as I spend. Corrected in my post now.

      Despite my error trying to throw you off course, yes, that’s the right idea. I wrote about it at the start of the year. For me, it only applies to certain categories rather than absolutely everything I spend – the stuff I feel I have real, personal control over – books, craft supplies, clothes, entertainment, silly/cute things, and restaurant/take-out food.

      I wanted it to help me cut my spending & save more money, but at the same time, not feel super guilty about spending money on some things. My overall spending has dropped throughout the year but I don’t know whether directly because of this, a general drop in my consumption or something else. Whatever though, I’ve got £877.38 in my dedicated “save as much as you spend” savings account though, so that’s nice :)

  2. Attila

    I just made your spicy onion soup recipe and it was gorgeous. I didn’t put any chilli in it and no flour. I might try the flour next time, though. Even without the chilli, it was fabulously warming; it’s going to be a great winter lunch recipe and much cheaper than putting the heating on!

  3. Attila

    Oh and I meant to say; save as much as you spend seems a good idea but is that just for your personal spending? I don’t think the two of us with our joint account would manage that. What we do is, on payday, add up all the income, take away the outgoings (including regular savings) and take a certain amount for general spending each week. If anything is left (only £19.14 this month, boo, hiss but often much more) it also goes in the savings. It has increased the amount we save and makes us much more conscious of what we buy.

    • louisa

      Yes, it is just my personal spending: after our bills and not including food (other than restaurants & take-out/delivery.) It’s the stuff I feel I have more control over – it’s easier for me to spend less on craft supplies than it is on the mortgage. I also “pay myself first” through regular savings but that’s a smaller amount – this is my way of increasing that amount. (John saves money too – while we do consider all our money to be joint assets, we don’t actually have joint bank accounts and he has his own savings methods.)

      I think my spending diary generally has made me more conscious about savings/spending than this save-as-your-spend thing – but I’m sure it’s contributed.

  4. Su

    Since I’m now back on my bike, bus fares have been negligible (under £5), so I’m pleased with that.
    Clothing, well I was attempting to do a WWII type clothing ration & frankly, I’m not going to do it. BUT, I’m not at all displeased about it, because the experience has taught me a lot. I can make clothes go on far longer than I did & I need very little. Actually, needing very little has been part of the reason why I’m not going to succeed in the challenge, I didn’t have enough clothing at the beginning, so now that everything is in tatters it needs replacing. Basically I have survived the summer in 1 dress that daughter gave me about 4 years ago & a pair if purple linen trousers, both are now beyond any further repair. I could make the challenge work, because most of the clothing I have bought was second hand anyway, and as Louisa pointed out when I started this that during the war second hand clothing was exempt from coupons, but since I do feel that I have learned from the experience I don’t really feel I would gain anything.

    • louisa

      Fair enough, Su – sounds like you’ve learnt a lot anyway. Little point in continuing just for the sake of it.

      I’m getting to that tatty stage with a lot of my favourite tops – I’d hardly bought anything in the year or so before I started the challenge so things are approaching end of life now. I should be able to replace at least a few of them within my quota but I think I’d struggle with another tight quota in 2012. I need a “year” to replenish but that’s going to be pretty tough as I think I’ve killed any interest I had in shopping for/owning lots of clothes!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *