Where growing, making & good living come together

First half of 2011 spending breakdown

Posted by on Thursday 30 June 2011 in frugal, low spend 11, personal finance | 6 comments

After the one I made for my June spending at lunchtime, I’m in a graph making mood so I’ve made one to show (myself) where my money has gone in the first half of 2011.

Here’s said graph:

And here’s the details in a table:

Category Spent Percentage
Transport £350.20 24%
Food** £339.14 23%
Household £326.73 21%
Crafts £110.63 7%
Work-related £109.15 7%
Garden £85.73 6%
Entertainment £76.59 5%
Books £60.15 4%
Gifts £25.84 2%
Clothes £15.97 1%

(** Takeout food and restaurant bills; my share of all bills or the total bill if I paid for everyone.)

Inspired by Shoestring Alley, I started tracking my spending at the start of the year and decided to record everything I spent “frivolously” – ie. not core bills or to-be-eaten/prepared-at-home food, but everything else. I wanted to start doing it to make me more conscious of my spending habits – to see where the money goes and to know that if I buy something silly/completely frivolous then I still have to hold myself accountable over it. A tool to help me reduce spending & consumption across the board.

It’s really worked – I’ve spent far less money on random things than I ever have done before. I’m actually really surprised how low “books” is as back when I was working full time, I could easily spend that on books each month and I got my money’s worth out of my book buying even then. (Disclaimer: most of the work-related stuff is books too, but books I wouldn’t ever buy or read if I didn’t need them – I would NOT be reading Shakespeare if I had a choice in it! ;) )

Apparently it takes just over two months to form a new habit and I think in the last six months, I have formed a habit of being conscious of my spending and not giving into temptation/the desire to buy things. Over the last month in particular, I’ve not spent a lot (by my previous standards) of frivolous money but I’ve not in any well felt hard done by, which is good, because that could lead to binge spending. There is still room to easily cut down – on lazy/convenience food, on pretty household stuff (related to us still settling in/decorating our house), and on craft supplies – but aside from food & travel costs, I’m pretty ok with it.

Do you track your spending? Do you find it motivating or restrictive?

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My chicken keeping spreadsheet

Posted by on Thursday 24 February 2011 in chickens, Featured | 9 comments

I’ve had a number of visitors and a few emails from people asking about my “chicken keeping spreadsheet” which I thought was a bit weird because while I do have one, I haven’t really spoken about it (…have I?). I’m actually quite chuffed with my chicken spreadsheet though so inspired by Jono from RealMenSow‘s market price for homegrown veg spreadsheet, I thought I’d share my chicken one for those people who’re interested in it – and anyone else who may be now they know it exists :)

I’m a bit of a spreadsheet nerd. I like graphs. I like formulas. I like automatically inserted data. And my chicken-ing spreadsheet reflects this. If you like those things too, you can download it from here:

I made it in OpenOffice Calc but to “release” it here, I’ve converted the formulas so they’re Excel (and Google Docs) compatible. I *think* they work – although I’m not sure the graphs do. Do please shout if anything doesn’t work for you and I’ll try to fix it ASAP.

Column widths and heights are almost certain to need adjusting.

About my chicken spreadsheet

It’s evolved over the last eight months – it started as a simple one sheet list of expenditure but now it keeps all sorts of data in it – and does a lot of calculations to save my little brain from having to do any work. And also it has a useful summary sheet (seen in print preview above) and graphs in it. Mmm, graphs. It may have grown to be a bit overly complicated for some people’s liking but it works for a spreadsheet nerd like me :)

There is some dummy data in the spreadsheet templates above – based on my girls – just to show what it can do and the formats (for dates etc) needed to make it work. Possibly best to overwrite this (and for more rows, copy existing data then overwrite it) to preserve formulas (where applicable).

It’s focused around egg laying, because that’s what my chickens do. I could easily extend it to include details about meat chickens if we end up going that way – with nice alerts to tell me who is ready for the chop!

It’s designed for domestic chicken keepers – people with backyard hens for eggs & pleasure rather than business/profit. If we get around to selling any eggs at any point (we haven’t yet, we just give them away), then I’ll include a sales sheet. (If you would like that sheet added and can’t make it yourself, let me know and I’ll work it out. If you can make your own sales sheet for use in this overall spreadsheet, do share!)

It’s released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license – ie, you’re free to download it, use it and modify it to your heart’s content but if you want to share it (whether in the original form or with your own additions included) with anyone else, you must share under the same licence and give me a credit.

Below, I’ve given lots of nerdy detail/info for using the spreadsheet including how to change various defaults and about ways I’d like to improve it. In case you’re interested/feeling nosey, my “live” chicken spreadsheet – with all the correct data in it up to today – is available here.

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