Zero Spend month – The end – Helen Tandy

So, a month without spending any needless money. If you’d asked me or my family if this was remotely possible earlier in the year I wouldn’t have even taken it as a serious question, but I came out of Zero spend July relatively unscathed. I achieved my goal, admittedly with a little help from my family and friends.
We live in a throwaway culture, a time where we constantly feel the need to upgrade our electrical items and mobile phones much more quickly than needed. We buy clothes to fit with fashion rather than to last, thinking nothing of throwing them away after a season. I assure you that I am much more aware of this now. When it comes to clothes, I try to buy good quality that will last. I mend shoes if there’s a problem with them rather than resigning them to the bin.

I watched the current episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s War on Waste, having just finished the months challenge. The one thing I did miss was the odd Cappuccino. I don’t buy them often these days, opting for fresh Fairtrade coffee made at home or Organic Mint tea which goes with me in my travel cups. The travel cups are that good I often arrive on the train in Manchester from Chester and the drink is still too hot.

I do like to have the odd Cappuccino as a treat. I think for many the trip to the coffee shop is a daily event, a part of their schedule that can’t be skipped. I did find one day craving the caffeine, I decided that Costa points wouldn’t count as cheating. I wasn’t quite sure if I had enough, if she had said no I hadn’t thought through what I would have then done. Thankfully that embarrassment wasn’t a concern as I had £8.00, using it for two coffees during the month.
The War on Waste campaign to recycle the take away coffee cups is great in itself but why not encourage the use of reusable cups. The programme stated that 5,000 coffee cups are binnedIMG_3320 every minute. Why do we spend such a huge amount of money on take away coffee? We are not even sitting to enjoy the coffee with friends, we are taking it out on our trip to work. I wonder how many people could enjoy a free or subsidised coffee at work?, yet opt to pay £3 for a cup of froth (as my husband puts it) Although he wasn’t happy that I downsized him to a regular size coffee in Waitrose, as I said I couldn’t spend the extra 30p so he couldn’t have large either!

My month included a free work networking event which allowed me vouchers for two glasses of wine. I also won a magnum of prosecco in the raffle, luck was shining on me that night.

A trip to Chester Races, planned well in advance of me deciding to take part in the challenge could have been a major roadblock, but through perseverance I managed to get around it. I used my ability to travel within my budget to take friends and they paid my entrance fee (okay, so I might have bent the rules a little bit). Then our own picnic and our own booze. A huge thanks to Kate and Ian Blanchard and Karen and Andrew Humphries, as without them helping I wouldn’t have been able to go.

Then I had an entire week working down south included a day off. Where do you go in London which is the capital of waste when you can’t spend any money? Ans: The Victoria & Albert Museum of course. We even got free sample chocolates in Harrods. My friend Melanie was also a star that week not minding my plan while I was with her, I did share the magnum of prosecco with her as a thank you…

So all in all it wasn’t a bad month. I didn’t buy one item of clothing (I don’t really need anything, I still have dresses I haven’t worn in my wardrobe, but don’t tell my husband) I didn’t go near many shops to be honest. No makeup, no toiletries, no shoes, no bags, no treats, no luxuries. Do I feel like I missed out? No… of course not. Did I spend time with my family and friends? …Yes.

So that was it, Live Well Spend Zero done for a month….

I said what challenge next and hubby said “nothing that negatively impacts on me this time, please” I usually do the breadline challenge each year, where I restrict my daily food and drink budget to under £3 for a week. I may have to look up when that is this year. The family always really enjoy when I do that challenge, I’m sure they’d agree if you asked them…!!!!!