Money Saving Diary Challenge

Money saving challenge

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Over the last 4 weeks, I have been taking part in the money saving diary challenge with Scottish Friendly.

The aim of the challenge was to:

  • Record my spending habits in a diary for 4 weeks.
  • Look back at my expenditure and see what I could save on.
  • Share my results on my blog.

You will notice that I haven’t recorded any bills, mortgage payments or insurance costs in my results as the other half deals with all of that. This is because he is much better at dealing with these things than I am. He always finds the best deals on everything!

Related Post: How we cut our household bills by over half!

Generally, I spend my money on things like fuel for my car, stuff for the children, food shopping and general day to day items.

Money Saving Diary Challenge - Find out how I got on here

Here are my results…

Week One

  • Library book reservation – £1.00
  • Tesco Food Shop – £59.52
  • Asda Mobile 30 day bundle – £10
  • Father’s Day card Moonpig – £3.94
  • Supper out sailing club – £18.00
  • Supper out The Dolphin Inn – £40.00
  • Hootsuite Media – £11.99
  • Fuel – £15

TOTAL = £159.54

Breakdown of costs

Library Book Reservation – £1.00

I’m happy with paying £1.00 to reserve books at the library because it would cost me a lot more than that to buy then. I’m also trying to live a minimalistic lifestyle so I don’t want to have to buy books I’d much rather borrow them.

Tesco Food Shop – £59.52

The Tesco food shop was pretty normal for us. I may have got some bits cheaper at Lidl but there really isn’t much in it these days. We also had a £9  Tesco money off voucher. The shop actually came to £68.52 and with our voucher, it was £59.52. So we actually saved ourselves £9.

We tend to do our food shop at whichever shop currently has the best deals on the products we buy. On average we spend between £45 – £60 a week on a food shop which I’d say is pretty good for a family of 4 with one dog.

Asda Mobile 30 Day Bundle – £10.00

I’m really happy with my Asda Mobile 30 day bundle that I purchase every month for £10. That gives me 3.5GB data, 600 minutes and unlimited texts. I never go over my quota. They also have other bundle options available so if I wanted more data I could simply buy a bigger bundle.

I think it’s a great way of having a mobile phone as there are no ‘surprise’ bills at the end of the month. It does mean that initially, you have to pay out for a phone but you can find some great deals if you look around. We got my iPhone 5 second hand for £80 on a selling site.

Father’s Day Card – £3.94

I definitely could have saved money on the Father’s Day card if I had been more organized. Moonpig isn’t cheap but it is very convenient. I, like always, had left it too late to go and buy a card from a shop and then post it. I used the Moonpig next day delivery system instead.

If I had of been more organized I could of either bought a cheaper card from Home Bargains, they have some gorgeous cards for as little as 29p! Or I could have got the kiddies to make one. We have a whole unit full of card making tools.

Supper Sailing Club – £18.00

This one could have been avoided if we had cooked on the boat instead of eating out. However, as you will see from this diary we tend to spend our money on experiences rather than things, which for us includes eating out. We all love food and enjoy the experience of eating out together.

Supper The Dolphin Inn – £40.00

Again this one could have been avoided if we had cooked on the boat instead of eating out.

Hootsuite Media – £11.99

I use Hootsuite for work for all of my various Twitter accounts. Without it, I would waste hours of my life sending out Tweets. This one is non-negotiable really unless of course there is a cheaper alternative out there that does the same job. Let me know if there is.

Fuel – £15.00

Normally I spend £20 a week on fuel but this particular week I didn’t use my car for 2 days so only needed £15. I know for a fact that I cannot get my fuel any cheaper than what I pay as I have used a fuel comparison site for our area and where I buy it is the cheapest. Which is at Trago Mills for any Devon people out there. It’s currently 110.9p for petrol.

Our local Tesco also currently has the same price so I can use either garage. As a comparison, our local Sainsburys is 111.9p and the Tesco Extra in Exeter is cheaper at 109.9p but it’s 14 miles away from us so not worth it.

Summary of week one

So to sum it up if I cut out the unnecessary spending for week one (library reservation & 2 meals out) I could have saved £59.00 which would have made my total for the week £100.54.

This was definitely a week of choices and we choose to have the experience rather than the money.

Budgeting for your food shop

Week Two 

  • Tesco Food Shop – £18.82
  • Zero Waste Food Shop – £11.69
  • Fuel – £20.00

Total – £50.51

Breakdown of costs

Tesco Food Shop – £18.82

This food shop was quite low as we had quite a bit of leftover food from the last food shop. We tend to use up everything we have before we go shopping again. This is why this was really a top up shop.

Zero Waste Food Shop – £11.69

As well as the Tesco shop I also visited the new zero waste shop in Totnes and topped up on food. So with a combination of the two, I spent £30.51 on food this week.

Fuel – £20.00

Same as above – unavoidable

Summary of Week Two 

Week two was a very busy work week for me and as I work from home I just didn’t go anywhere to spend any money. I still needed to buy fuel to get the kiddies to school and we still had to eat but apart from that, there was no other expenditure.

The only thing that I could have potentially saved on this week is if I hadn’t of done the zero waste shop. All the food in there is organic which means it’s slightly more expensive but it is better for us and I’m not going to put a price on our health.

Zero Waste Shopping - Grains, Beans, Pulses

Week Three 

  • Fuel – £20.00
  • Window Cleaner – £12.00
  • Lunch out at Ode&Co – £25.00
  • School Fete – £10.00
  • Asda Food Shop – £21.29

Total = £88.29

Breakdown of Costs

Fuel – £20.00

Same as above – unavoidable

Window Cleaner – £12.00

Now granted this one is not a necessity. We could clean them ourselves but we don’t, it really is a simple as that. In our old house, we decided to stop having a window cleaner and said we’d just do it ourselves instead and we did it once and never again!

Also, our new house is very high so we’d need to purchase one of those big ladders or some kind of extendable cleaning device. It’s just more convenient for us to pay our window to come every 6 weeks and do it for us.

Lunch Out at Ode&Co – £25.00

This is another one that could have been avoided but my Father was down for the week and he had paid for lunch the day before so it was only fair that I paid the next day. This one boils down to the experience thing again, which I’m happy to pay for if we can afford it.

School Fete – £10.00

Evey Summer the school puts on a village fete. It’s a big affair and everyone goes to it. The kiddies really wanted to go and I didn’t want to deny them that experience. It costs us £10 to get in as a family.

The kiddies used their pocket money to pay for rides, games and anything else they wanted. We are trying to teach them the value of money so regularly let them make decisions about what they spend their money on. The boy mainly spends his on books and the girl on food! Each to their own.

Asda Food Shop – £21.29

As we had eaten out once this week our food shop was slightly lower than normal. It was also very hot so we were eating a lot less than normal. We tend to have a bbq one night and then eat the leftovers for the next 2 days. It works really well for us.

Summary of Week Three 

If I cut out the unnecessary spending of week three (lunch out, school fete, window cleaner) we could have saved £47.00.

Week Four 

  • Fuel – £20.00
  • Boy School Lunches – £78.10
  • Boys Bank Account – £10.00
  • Girls Bank Account -£10.00
  • Plants for Garden – £21.40
  • Asda Shop – £55.00

Total = £194.50

Breakdown of Costs

Fuel – £20.00

Same as above – unavoidable

Boy School Lunches – £78.10

At the moment the girl gets her lunches free until she is in year 3. We do have to pay for the boys though. We feel it’s pretty expensive for what it is. Each meal costs £2.30 which I know doesn’t seem like a lot but when we normally feed a family of four for around £3.50 per meal it is. That would make it £9.20 per meal for us if we went with the school meal prices! That’s quite a difference.

Our plan is to pay for the school meals until the girl’s meals are no longer free then we shall switch them both to packed lunch. I can provide them both with a much healthier meal for less than £4.60.

It would also mean that they can start eating a cooked meal in the evening with us again as a family. At the moment they come home and have a lighter tea as they have already had a cooked meal at school. The logistics of it all drives me nuts! (Rant over).

Kids Bank Accounts – £20.00

Every month I transfer £10 into each of the kid’s bank accounts. We will let them have the money when they are older to buy either their first car, pay for a course, start up a business whatever it is that they will get the most benefit out of. This is a non-negotiable expense for me.

Plants for Garden – £21.40

This is obviously not a necessity but we entertain a lot in our house and especially in the garden. I like it to look nice for our guests and gardening makes me happy.

Asda Food Shop – £55.00 

I went to Asda for this weeks food shop as they are currently doing some great deals on fruit and veg.

Summary of Week Four 

If we stopped paying for school lunches for the boy we could make some savings there as a packed lunch would not cost £2.30 but at the moment it’s not an option.

I could stop paying into the kid’s bank accounts if we really needed the money for something else but at the moment we are able to continue to do this.

The plants were I guess what you would call a ‘luxury item’ I could have saved myself £21.40.


In total, over the 4 weeks, I have spent £492.84.

Did I learn anything? There is always room for improvement. I learn that even though I would consider us a thrifty family we could still make savings if we really had to. If I took out all of the non-essentials for the 4 weeks we could have saved £127.40 making the total for the 4 weeks = £365.44.

So if we saved on average £127.oo every 4 weeks over the course of 1 year we could potentially save £1,656.20. That’s quite a significant amount, however, we would have no life along the way. I guess it comes down to choices and what is more important to the individual.

I really enjoyed taking part in this money saving diary challenge so much so that I think I shall carry it on. I’ve never really tracked my spending before as I’m not really a big spender do didn’t feel it was necessary. However, I found the results very interesting and I also noticed that when you have to record everything you spend money on it makes you think twice before you buy anything. As in do I really need this?

So what about you? Do you think you are up to the challenge? The results may surprise you.

Gina Caro

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2 thoughts on “Money Saving Diary Challenge”

  1. After reading your blog, I so want to try this money saving diary challenge. For days now I have been thinking what else can I do to save up? I personally believe I am not a spender but I have little to no savings after pay-out! I must be doing something not right, so taking this challenge would be of help, I think. : )

  2. What a great challenge, I’d very much like to give it a go now! I once tried tracking my spending on an app, but at heart I think I’m a pen and paper girl. I prefer to physically write things like to do lists, so I might try tracking my spending for a month in a note pad.

    Since posting this, have you made any adjustments to your monthly spending from the things your learnt?

I'd love to know what you think...

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