This article irritated me a little. The guy implies that it's a really difficult thing to do, to live on £10 a week. I grant that it's not THAT easy and that when I do my mental weekly sort-of budget calculations there are things that I automatically drop into the 'necessary' and 'luxury' categories.
# I don't have much in the way of transport costs, because I live close to work and I can get anywhere in the city on a bike in less that half an hour. I fill the car once a month, if that, and use it mostly for going to the supermarket or transporting tat around town. I have used a bus once in my entire time living in this city, as far as I remember - not a major fan. I have a bike. I like it. Even if it creaks. It costs me around £40 a year in parts and servicing, I reckon, maybe a little bit more. Literally, peanuts.
# I cook for myself. I love food (shock) and I cooking is something I genuinely enjoy. Someone who didn't would find all of this harder. I reckon the only pre-prepared products I buy regularly that are more expensive to make than to buy are bread, pesto and bacon. I might solve the bread thing at some point, but that will be more because I want to be able to make good bread rather than for saving money reasons. I'm prepared to buy bread.
# I try and buy meat with bones in so that I can make stock from it, for soups and so on. I don't buy much meat, at that. A chorizo sausage will last me a few weeks, as will a packet of bacon. Chicken thighs or a whole chicken represent several meals. Vegetables and pulses are great. Veggie chilli. Veggie curry. Stew made with two portions of meat that will feed six at least because of the quantity of leeks in it. Refried beans with a tin of tomatoes stirred through for chilli for 3.
# I'm getting better at doing this properly - the feeding myself with food I like without spending a lot of money. Fewer meals involve pasta and pesto than they did at college or when I was 18. I LIKE pasta, pesto, peas and bacon/chorizo, though, so that tends to feature once a week on a day I'm in a hurry or have run out of whatever the main dish I made that week was. I'm sparing with the pesto and the bacon though...they make many portions.
# I don't think in weeks, and I use the freezer. Is working by month cheating? Surely just better planning. I did a shop the other day that I hope will last me for two or three weeks, with milk top ups.
# I also share. £20 for two is much easier than £10 for one. It means £80 for a month for two of you.
# The glaring one for most people is booze. Or maybe it's that for me because I don't find going without alcohol most of the time I hardship. Any booze is a luxury. I usually have a bottle of whiskey or tequila/triple sec (for margaritas) around. I'm pretty certain I don't drink one of them a month though.
# Designating something 'luxury', and therefore allowing it to come out of a different area of budget is the problem bit. I tend to count more or less ANY meat in this category, and I do usually have SOME of that around in some form - even if it's a chorizo I use very sparingly that's in the back of the fridge. Exciting chillis. Unusual spices. Fresh herbs (that I haven't grown). Any booze, for me anyway. Good chocolate - I aim at one bar a week as a sort of staple that lives in the fridge at work, to prevent me going down to the café for stupidly expensive Wispas (mmm Wispas) with the other girls I work with. I do like to have it to cook with though - for hot chocolate, or brownies, or other baking. That's something else - baking. I have controlled myself a bit recently, but I DO love doing it. Not a necessity, but sometimes actually cheaper than having fruit for pudding.
# And then there are things that aren't food. The toiletries and house stuff - they're just necessary. Having my car fixed is, too. [I'm waiting with nervousness to see how much it's going to cost me this time. Arg.] Presents for people. There are times when they are necessary, to show how you value a friendship. They don't have to be big things - thought is most of the point, but it's nigh on impossible to do without spending SOME money. As is going out once in a while with your mates. That's not actually a luxury, though it's only fair to everyone not to make it too much of an expensive obligation if inviting people out for dinner or whatever. We need each other, and we're only any good to one another if we see one another and know what's going on in each other's lives. So going to London to see that crowd or cooking dinner for Carl or others or going to the pub with the choir are important things to do. Carefully. As is buying my wonderful girlfriend chocolate or flowers or a beer or some badges or, this being Traci, some exciting chilli of some sort when she feels sad and it needs more than just a hug, or I'm looking for a NEW way to tell her I love her. Once in a while, things like that need to happen. Hard to budget for. I guess that's why we have savings, and instant access ones at that. Which is why savings have a massively important place in any budget. I must bump mine up...