Living on 100 GBP per Month – Update

Last Updated on April 18th, 2016

Back in May 2013, I decided to start watching my spending closely. This was also the time when I started this blog for two main reasons – to help me stay accountable and to be able to discuss my finances openly. Well, as openly as I can; after all, I am still blogging anonymously. I guess I can say that I am one of those people who are “all in or all out” when it comes to embarking on a new venture. So, when I decided to create a budget and stick to it, I cut out a lot of things and set a budget of £100 a month (approximately US$150) to cover essentials. This includes food and personal care products (I count all cleaning supplies into my personal care category).

I decided to set a £100 budget as it seemed to be on the border between “realistic” and “not realistic” and since I love a good challenge (bring it on! ) I was curious to find out whether this was something I could pull off. I set a three-month time frame – from the 1st of June – and after allocating exactly £100 per month, put another £100 away in case I struggled and gave up after a couple of weeks.

If you read my original post about this challenge, you will know that I managed to survive two months on £100 that would buy me food and such essential things as shampoos, conditioners, washing detergents, etc. I created a spreadsheet – I grew to love them and have about ten different spreadsheets now – for my daily expenses and tracked every purchase to the last penny. Yes, for three months, and I am not planning to stop.

Check out my complete numbers below –

JUNE 2013 – Total Spend £75.44
Groceries £48.22
Personal Care/Cleaning Products £27.22
Entertainment: £0.00
Note: I didn’t have to buy any groceries for one week in June since I had my parents over who were kindly doing food shopping for all of us (but if I had been buying groceries, I would not have exceeded the £100 mark, and £25 could have easily lasted me another week).
JULY 2013 – Total Spend £79.43
Groceries £57.08
Personal Care/Cleaning Products £22.35
Entertainment: £0.00
Note: I was in Italy for one week in July and had a separate holiday budget (which I did not exceed). If I had stayed at home, I would have probably managed to stay within the £100 mark as I had just over £20 to last me another week.
AUGUST 2013 – Total Spend £114.46
Groceries £79.05
Personal Care/Cleaning Products £21.11
Entertainment £14.30
Note: My grocery and personal care spending was £100.16 in August. I spent an additional £14.30 on two things: I paid for deserts on a date and organised a house party where £6 was my share. I also paid £19.58 for my self-hosted website (annual fee), but this was budgeted for separately.

Honestly, I’m pretty chuffed. I think this is a great result for a newbie. I mean, I’ve never budgeted in my entire life before, ever! This was my first budget and it was a tight one. A very tight one. £100 is not a lot.

Was it hard? My honest answer would be no. Not really!

Related post: How I Spend Very Little on Groceries

I had no problem cutting out things like magazines and takeaway coffees. It wasn’t hard to switch to full-time cooking, stop buying processed foods and start bringing lunch into work. I didn’t miss my beauty treatments (do I need a manicure every week? errmm, no, not really!).  I enjoy going for a walk, jogging occasionally, and I can work out at home (I’ve got a great workout DVD and a set of dumbbells). It wasn’t hard saying no to after work drinks either.

I’d say the toughest part for me was to miss out on all the fun that my oh-so-cool friends were having all summer long. Music festivals, open air concerts, midnight cinema screenings (oh I love those!), Sunday markets, new restaurant openings (although I sure don’t miss queuing for two hours to get in) and pretty much everything else that my friends got to experience. I didn’t do any of this, not once. This is what my last summer was all about, and it was an amazing, but very expensive experience. Luckily, I’ve got amazing friends. I told them I was paying down my debt and saving for my future travels. I may have missed out on things you have to pay for, but not on a walk in Hyde Park, a picnic by the river with my girls, house parties, watching films at home and chatting all night, cooking with friends and making amazing desserts, and hours of Skype conversations. All this didn’t cost me much (if anything) but all these memories that we’ve created no money can buy. I’m blessed to have such amazing friends.

Related post: 50 Effective Ways to Cut Spending and Start Saving

The truth is, my money habits have changed, and so has my idea of having fun. Sure, festivals, concerts, and new restaurant openings are all fun things to do, but I don’t miss them as much. I’ve been there and done that. I miss spending more time with my friends. But it’s okay, they are still there for me despite my new frugal lifestyle (which is quite different from theirs, especially in the summer months), and that’s all that matters to me. I also get more time to spend with myself. Scary right? Actually, it’s kinda fun. I’ve never read so much in my life. I’ve never thought so much about my life and the meaning of it. I’ve never made so many plans and set so many goals. It’s amazing really, and I’m enjoying it.

Now I know that I don’t need much to be happy. I’m not saying that from now on I will always be living on so little each month, not at all. I still want an occasional treat and an experience you pay for, but I now know what’s important and what’s not. It’s been a real eye-opener for me, and I’m grateful I managed to stick with my three-month challenge and not give up halfway through (I’m no quitter, hehe). In fact, I think I will keep doing it for the month of September. It helps that the summer is over, and I’m sure we’ll be having more house parties than ever as my friends are now recovering financially from an expensive summer and taking it easy until Christmas.

Related post: 12 Easy Things You Can Do Today to Save Money

So there, my story of living on very little but still having the time of my life.

Note: I am in no way suggesting that you should do the same. Please don’t unless you absolutely have to. Even then, try not to. I have a very strong willpower (once I set my mind on something), and this is what gets me through pretty much anything with no (or very little) affect on my physical and emotional well-being. Also, I love a good challenge. 😉

Living on £100 per Month - Update - Girl Counting Pennies

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  1. Eva, you did brilliantly again! I’m so glad that you have great friends who understand your priorities at the moment. I used to get suckered into going out and spending a fortune but then I probably didn’t have willpower like you. It sounds like you still managed to have a great time with them without breaking the bank! Fantastic! 🙂
    debtfreeoneday recently posted…Winning the lottery or making your own fortune – what’s your dream?My Profile

    1. Thanks so much! I’m really lucky to have such great friends! Saying no to doing expensive things has become so much easier. I remember early in my budgeting days I was so tempted to go out, but I’ve learned to say no over time, and now it’s become second nature. Wow, it’ll be weird to start spending again which will happen at some point 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Living on 100 GBP per Month – UpdateMy Profile

    1. Thank you for your support, Graham! It really has been a great experience that made me realise a lot of things. It’s a short term measure though 😛

      Yes, I do read a couple of other UK blogs (one of them is debtfreeoneday aka A Disease Called Debt who commented above). I will create a Blogroll page some time over the next couple of weeks, make sure to check it out 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Living on 100 GBP per Month – UpdateMy Profile

  2. That’s amazing. I think you said your job has a lot of great free event type things too right? I can’t remember if that was you. I think that would help. Although I do need to work on my food budget still, I’m not sure I’d be able (or I guess more like want) to do it. I think even cutting back a lot I’m starting to feel a little too unsocial. 🙁 I’m trying to find that nice balance! Pretty sunset!
    Budget and the Beach recently posted…SeptemberMy Profile

    1. Yes, Tonya, I get to attend fabulous events through work for free. We didn’t have any in August but things are picking up now that everyone’s back from their holidays. My next event is this Friday, wooo! 😛 I guess I feel unsocial from time to time, but it’s okay since I was spending so many weekends out in the past. I’m thinking of it as a “social detox”, it’s not forever. But it sure is a great experience, I have soooo much time for myself, it’s amazing! 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Living on 100 GBP per Month – UpdateMy Profile

  3. wow! Living on only 100 GBP per month is amazing! I´m not sure if I could do the same thing, but I guess that has more to do with the cost level being higher in Norway. Anyway, congrats on being so awesome with your money management!:-)
    The Norwegian Girl recently posted…The Frugal CleanseMy Profile

  4. You’re doing great~ It’s good that you have friends that are understanding and supportive. I don’t talk about my blog at all to my friends, but they have noticed the change in my attitude toward money. They don’t flat out say something about it, but I can tell they think it’s weird.
    Michelle’s Finance Journal recently posted…Three Day WeekendMy Profile

    1. Thanks Michelle! My friends know that I have a loan that I’m trying to pay off and a blog where I write about it (but no more than that). I try to be as open about my finances as possible, it’s such a revelation! I’m amazed how supportive my family and my friends are. It’s a shame that your friends think it’s weird, I don’t think there’s anything weird about being better with money.
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Living on 100 GBP per Month – UpdateMy Profile

  5. This is great, Eva! I’m currently trying to survive on $100 (US) per month for anything other than my normal bills/debt. The key for me is to withdraw the cash and once the cash is gone, then I’m done for the month. It is so difficult when everyone wants to hang out, especially in the summer, but my bank accounts are happy about it 🙂
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted…Weekend Recap: Wine Not?My Profile

    1. You can do it, Lisa! I know all too well how little $100 can buy! Nevertheless, you can survive because let’s face it, apart from the roof over your head, all you really need is food and THIS $100 can buy! A little tip if you’re not doing it already, withdraw $100, divide by 4 (weeks) and put $20 into 4 different envelopes. Use one each week, you can also keep your change there. If you’ve got some cash leftover in your first envelope after week 1, treat yourself to something yummy 😛
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

  6. I never would have thought one could survive in central London on 100 pounds a month! Take that from a student who lived there for a year!!

    Really cool and really inspiring. I hope others see that it is possible, even in such an expensive area!!
    Steve recently posted…Why You Should Rent vs BuyMy Profile

    1. It is possible if you only buy necessities such as food (to cook from scratch) and personal care items (mostly from the budget range). It depends on how much food you consume and if you use a lot of shampoo 😛 It’s not as bad as it looks. I’ve had a lot of fun on a very tight budget (this included a loooot of picnics).
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Do You Keep Your Debt a Secret?My Profile

    1. Yep. Here are some of the things I do and don’t do:

      – I cook from scratch and bring my own lunch to work.
      – I eat breakfast at home before leaving for work
      – I buy some things from the budget range (store own brand), like rice and pasta
      – I don’t eat meat or fish.
      – I never bin food, I freeze it if I can.

      It adds up to less than £20 a week. Honestly, I’m not doing anything out of this world, I’m just being smart when it comes to grocery shopping and food in my fridge.
      Eva @ Girl Counting Pennies recently posted…Weekend Link Love #1My Profile

  7. that is really impressive! when I lived in the UK at first I found food so expensive, then I learned how to shop properly and had a 30 pound budget for two roughly. We shopped a lot at the reduced aisle and at the end of the market when the farmers had 50p bags of apples or veggies that were really ripe. We learned tons of recipes and froze a lot.
    Pauline recently posted…August blog income and stats recapMy Profile

  8. I read this blog years ago and I am still so impressed by the frugal achievement of spending so little per month. I live in Bristol which is an expensive city to live in and I’ve wanted to try and replicate this for myself. This year I’m on a serious financial detox and aiming to save for a flat. I will use this blog as motivation to try and achieve my goals. Thanks for this. I need to change my financial habits pronto. This blog goes to show just how little you need to eat well and be happy. I have enough to read and dvds to watch as well as a TV. Getting into the habit of taking lunches to work will be my biggest challenge. With so many amazing places to get lunch in Bristol it will be tough but not impossible. Wish me luck

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