Friday, October 12, 2012

When Every Penny (or Pence) Counts

Maybe it's just me, but I have this assumption that if I think ahead and to try to do things that will help my situation, that things will work out, that the road will be just a little less bumpy.

Things have been really tight financially for us lately. Like dipping into our overdraft tight. I hate overdraft but I am so happy we have the leeway so that we can pick up the few essentials when that last painful week of the month draws upon us and we find ourselves broke and needing to buy diapers and milk.

Ever cried over spilled milk? I have. The saying is stupid. At least for me in that moment! When your toddler thinks that milk and juice are fun toys to play with and then spills it everywhere and you realize you don't have any more in the house... well, you feel like crying.

It's not usually this bad for us. But the last few months have been complicated by our mind-boggling complicated tax status. We may live in the UK, but we're still tied to Canada and fall under Canadian taxes and benefits. Fine. But because we're over here and not living in Canada, a lot of the things that we could do to free up a few dollars here and there can't be done because there is this giant body of water called the Atlantic Ocean between us.

But no worries, I am a budgeting extraordinaire! I can take any budget and work it out so that we cover all our bills and still eat decent food. It is a bonus that I can cook and we rarely eat out. Every penny counts after all.

The thing about budgets is that they fail to account for one important thing: people. People make choices. People have bad days and really don't want to cook. People want to do more than stick around their neighbourhood and need to take public transportation to get out! People have small children who grow out of their clothes and shoes faster than you can blink.

So I've changed the way we budget. I no longer budget food per week, but per month. I have a running total and balance left on that category (which is what I do for a couple other categories as well), and keep track of how much we're spending. Last month was the first month I did this and it worked and didn't work. Why didn't it? Because inevitably there is something that we didn't know to account for.

We need leeway. I do believe that would be called savings. Hmmm, so far, no luck on that one.

There are solutions and we're trying very hard to make things work better for us. When I get it all figured out, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, I'm happy to hear your tips for stretching your budget when you have little storage space and no vehicle to easily shop around (ie. we order groceries online or shop around on foot... carrying groceries home). Keep in mind that we do buy store brand stuff where it makes sense to and try very hard not eat too much processed food.


  1. Hello!

    Nice blog. Welcome to

    :) Take care!

  2. Have you a local market you can get to.... if so go late on a saturday about 1hour before they shut; you should be able to get good bargains on fruit and veg. Although it does mean you may not get what you want. Find a budget supermarket - they are good for tins etc.

    My local butcher is really good at suggesting cheaper cuts of meat for me. And I use vinegar instead of fabric softener.

    Hope you manage to find a way that works for you.


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