Here's How I Got On
How I came up with the idea Intention
A huge part of personal finance naturally comes down to budgeting, whether you’re saving, repaying or spending, budgeting is an integral part of looking after your finances. Without it, you’re bound to find yourself in a bit of financial conundrum. Therefore, for this experiment I thought it would be an interesting concept to base my idea around the whole notion of budgeting and the challenges that come with budgeting.
How I came to this idea
Generally, I spend around £17.80 on a typical workday, which will include my travel fares to and from work for that day, my food for at home and money for lunch, whether I decide to eat out or take in lunch from home, that’s around about my daily average.
Now, although I do live in London, I can’t help but think that that is quite a lot of money to be spending on a daily basis. And that doesn’t include things such as bills, subscriptions (such as the Gym, Netflix or even a music subscription service such as Spotify or Apple music), the running of a vehicle or other basic necessities such as toiletries. So all in all, it’s looking costly.
I decided that it might be interesting to myself an extremely tight budget for five working days out of the seven days of the week and see how I got on. In the end, I settled on a budget of £3 a day, which would have to include travel, food and any other expenses that I would need covering throughout that week. £3 is less than a quarter of my daily budget that I usually spend, so will it be feasible? Or am I doomed to fail at this challenge before I've even begun?
As the foundations of this experiment, I want to lay down some ground rules that I must stick to in order to succeed. Afterall I do not believe that this is a challenge to take lightly, I need to carefully work out a set of rules and stick to them in order to give myself a chance succeed at this challenge, and ‘challenge’ is definitely going to be the right word I feel already.
After some careful consideration, I've put some careful consideration into my rules for the following week ahead of me and come up with the next set of rules:
The daily budget must cover, travel to work, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as any additional items I may require throughout the course of this experiment including snacks, medications, drinks, going out, etc.
I may utilise items that are in my cupboard or freezer that has been purchased in the weeks previous to me doing this experiment, but I will only be able to limit myself to one item from the cupboard or freezer per day, no more.
I may utilise any leftover food that wasn’t eaten the night previous and try to come up with other ingenious ways to keep the daily budget costs down.
Any money from the daily budget that hasn’t been spent will be collected but will be saved for a ‘treat’ on the final day of the experiment. It cannot be carried onto the following day as this may make things too easy.
I must also complete three challenges, which will put both my ideas and budget to the test, to which I will be letting my Twitter followers choose which challenges I shall have to face.
Along the way, I shall also be documenting my findings such as:
- Are the methods of transportation accessible and sustainable on a daily basis?
- What is the quality and quantity of the food that I can afford like?
- What are my moods, energy and work productivity levels like throughout the week?
- How is the quality of my sleep?
- Biggest challenges
- Biggest surprises
- Amongst other things I haven't accounted for
What I did beforehand Preparations
When I first initially thought of the idea to do this experiment, I did anticipate a certain amount of preparation would be involved in the successful execution of this experiment; however, I didn’t completely realise the sheer amount of preparation that was required.
How I prepared for this challenge
In preparation for this experiment I spent the majority of the morning on Sainsburys Online with a calculator at hand and created myself a meal plan for the five days ahead of me to which I would be conducting the experiment over. While planning, I attempted to try to keep as much to my normal routine as was possible considering my daily budget, which is why I shopped at Sainsbury's instead of using an alternative supermarket known for their low prices, such as Aldi or Lidl.
|Breakfast||Golden syrup porridge||Golden syrup porridge||Golden syrup porridge||Golden syrup porridge||Golden syrup porridge|
|10p per portion||10p per portion||10p per portion||10p per portion||10p per portion|
|Fairtrade banana||Fairtrade banana||Fairtrade banana||Fairtrade banana||Fairtrade banana|
|14p per banana||14p per banana||14p per banana||14p per banana||14p per banana|
|180ml of semi-skimmed milk||180ml of semi-skimmed milk||180ml of semi-skimmed milk||180ml of semi-skimmed milk||180ml of semi-skimmed milk|
|13p per portion||13p per portion||13p per portion||13p per portion||13p per portion|
|Total Breakfast Costs||37p for Breakfast||37p for Breakfast||37p for Breakfast||37p for Breakfast||37p for Breakfast|
|Lunch||Tomato soup||Fusilli pasta||2 Slices of bread|
|From cupboard||Leftovers||1p (.5p per slice)|
|2 Slices of bread||Tomato & chilli pasta sauce||Margarine for sandwich|
|1p (.5p per slice)||Leftovers||1p per portion|
|Margarine for bread||1 portion of vegetarian mince||Garlic & herb soft cheese|
|1p per portion||Leftovers||12p per portion|
|Total Lunch Costs||2p for Lunch||0p for Lunch||14p for Lunch|
|Dinner||Fusilli pasta||2 Eggs for omelette||Pizza||4 crispy Birds Eye fish fingers|
|11p per portion||30p (15p per egg)||From freezer||60p for 4 fish fingers|
|Tomato & chilli pasta sauce||Small white onion||150g of butternut squash chips||150g of butternut squash chips|
|27p per portion||19p per portion||50p per portion||50p per portion|
|Portion of frozen vegetables||Half a green pepper||Portion of frozen vegetables||Portion of frozen vegetables|
|20p per portion||27p per portion||20p per portion||20p per portion|
|Portion of vegetarian mince||Portion of frozen vegetables|
|26p per portion||20p per portion|
|Total Dinner Costs||84p for Dinner||96p for Dinner||70p for Dinner||£1.30 for dinner|
In fact, quite interestingly enough I did spend some of my time that morning comparing prices from Sainsbury's to Aldi and found that there wasn’t much difference in the costs if you stuck to Sainsbury’s own brand and it was even cheaper if you opted for their ‘Basics’ range.
Sainsbury's has 7 different types of ranges that they sell in their 1,500 stores across the UK, which include their higher end ranges, such as ‘So Organic’ and ‘Taste the Difference’, mid-range such as ‘My Goodness’ and ‘Be Good to Yourself’, their ‘Free From’ range which provides food for a manner of different food intolerance sufferers and lastly, their lower ranges such as ‘By Sainsburys’ and the lowest of all ‘Basics’.
I left three meals that week for my fate to be decided my Twitter followers to see what challenges they wanted to see me come across in the week that you might encounter in your day to day lives which would make trying to live on a budget so much more difficult.
I will be honest and say that my meal plan changed considerably and I needed to replan around three times, as I hadn’t anticipated that even the most basic of meals could have the potential to push me over my £3 budget that was supposed to accommodate my travel to work as well.
Finally, the last draft of my meal was complete and under budget enough to allow me some money left over to account for travel or any other expenditure which may crop up unexpectedly.
What I found
The majority of the things on my list were from the lowest priced ranges that Sainsbury's provides: both ‘By Sainsbury's’ and ‘Basics’, and while I didn’t mind as quite often I will usually by from these ranges in my weekly shop normally, there were a few things that stuck out to me:
I’m lucky enough not to have a food intolerance, which made my shopping a lot easier as well as a lot cheaper. I did take a look at Sainsburys ‘Free From’ range to see what it would be like if you had a food intolerance and was living on a tight budget. A lot of the food intolerance products were almost 3 times more than the normal or even the basic range version of the same product, which posed the question to me that if I was living in poverty and had a food intolerance, would I ultimately have to make the decision of deciding what was more important, my budget or my health? Would I end up eating cheaper food I was allergic to because of the costs, or would I pay a premium for the sake of my health and sacrifice something else that I needed?
I wasn’t able to afford one thing from the highest ranges or even mid ranges at Sainsbury’s, which I didn’t expect I would be able to but Sainsbury’s highest and mid ranges boast of being ‘Organic’, ‘Tasting different’ and even the ‘Goodness’ or ‘Be Good to Yourself’ ranges. This suggested to me that because I was living on a strict budget and couldn’t afford the higher end ranges that I, therefore, wasn’t able to afford what was deemed to be ‘good food’ by Sainsbury’s and their shoppers.
Also, I only had to cook and plan meals for myself this week, but this would be a completely different story if I had to plan, budget and account for another person or persons to feed as well as myself. If I were to have a partner, child or another dependant, then this would make things considerably more difficult, and sacrifices would have to be made to ensure that portions were either shared equally or enough food was given up to provide dependants or children were able to get enough sustenance as they need.
Once I created my meal plan, I wrote out my shopping list with all the prices next to the food item to ensure that I didn’t go too much over budget and to see whether I could get anything on offer or cheaper than it was advertised online. I opted to shop in-store rather than online to ensure that I didn’t go over budget by spending too much on delivery charges and to ensure that I got everything that was on my list and nothing was missing from my shopping list which could possibly affect my meal plan.
My shopping experience
When shopping, I noticed that a lot of the items that I had chosen online were either sold out or not sold in the store I was shopping at, therefore I had to go with a lot of alternatives, some of which I was able to get a lot cheaper than I had anticipated and a few I had to painstakingly accept paying quite a bit more for, such as an extra 20p for the eggs and 10p extra for the margarine.
I thought that I’d managed to get everything on my list, but in an effort to stick so close to my budget for the week and not to go over, I ended up forgetting the porridge on my list and then had to go back into the shop and purchase a box, otherwise I would have had no breakfast for the whole week. Upon returning home and looking at my purchases, I’m both happy and surprised at the amount of food that I was able to get for my money.
All in all, it took a lot of planning and calculating to pull off my shopping for the week, which I had not anticipated, and it was quite stressful to ensure that everything I needed for the week was covered by my budget and that I still had some money left over for any extras or emergencies should I have them.
Planning my commute
In addition to food and my meal plan, I also needed to plan how I would be getting to work. There were a few options that sprung to mind straight away, such as the bus and riding a bike to work which would obviously save me money, but would it be enough to mean that I’d still have enough to stick within my budget?
My regular commute to work costs me around £3.90 each way as I travel from London zones 4 to 1 each day and I choose to get to work via the Central line and then walk to work as it the most direct route for me to get there. If I opt to go via bus, it will take at least two buses which could use up all of my budget for the first day. However, there is something that I am aware of which is called the ‘Hopper Fare’ in London, in which you can get on as many buses as you like in an hour and it will only cost you £1.50, and as for this challenge I am only counting my commute to work in my budget and not my commute home from work, this could be doable with my budget, but we’ll have to watch this space.
Cycling to work is, of course, another option, but of course, it would be weather permitting and how confident I feel as I can hardly cycle to work for 50 minutes in the rain or snow for safety reasons, I need to get to work in one piece. However, I want to branch out and try as many different methods which would keep me within my budget as was possible, meaning that I planned to attempt at least all of the following means of transport at least once:
- Cycle to work (Own bike)
- Cycle to work (Self-docking bike)
- Via Van
- Lift to work from friend
So, it will be interesting to see how these ideas transpire and whether or not they are viable with my budget.
Monday Day One
On the first day of my experiment, I wanted to see how much my budget would affect my daily everyday life. In the planning of my experiment the day previous, I had tried to ensure that I stuck as much to my daily routine as was possible on a budget, undoubtedly a lot of things changed, although some things surprisingly remained the same...
Day 1 – The Beginning
Waking up, Getting Ready and Breakfast
I get up normally just as I would on a typical working day, the same time and mostly the same morning routine that I would carry out on most weekdays. I feel quite refreshed after a decent night’s sleep, ready and prepared for the full week ahead of me during this experiment. I’m not really sure what to expect, but I am anxiously excited to see how challenging this week is going to be and get a better understanding of the planning and procedures it takes to carry out living on this much of a tight budget in London.
After getting washed, dressed and made up for the day I go downstairs and prepare my breakfast and lunch for the day. While choosing and preparing my meals as I did the day before, I tried to pick something for breakfast that would be both budget efficient as well as being substantial enough to ensure that I will be able to last until lunchtime without being ravenously hungry as I still have to remain productive in order to get my workload done this w eek.
My budget allows for porridge with semi-skimmed milk and a banana, which totals a cost at just 37p per portion and I feel quite content and full as I prepare myself for the day, which although I have tried to stick as much as possible to my normal routine, differs significantly. While my porridge cools down, I warm up my tomato soup and cover two slices of bread with margarine before transferring the soup into my insulated food container, and the job is done! As I had the tomato soup in my cupboard at home, my lunch that I have just prepared costs just 2 pence! As I have only had to supply myself with the bread and margarine. I do wonder whether it will be enough to sustain me until I go home and eat dinner at around 6:30pm when I get home from work.
Travelling to Work
Yesterday after a lot of research into how I could get into the city of London for work the cheapest way possible, I decided that generally, the most economical way for me to travel into work would be by cycling. After all, I already have a bike in which I can cycle to work with, and it would cost me nothing to cycle into work in comparison to using public transport or other means of transportations such as taxi’s and UBER’s which would charge considerably more and which would eat up my day’s budget and quite possibly the next in a blink of an eye.
In the past few years, London has invested a lot of money into building cycleways through the city purposely for bike riders. In fact, current Mayor Sadiq Khan has and plans to spend a total of £770 million pounds into cycle initiatives during his term to ensure that cycling becomes a safer mode of transport for more Londoners. I’m sure that in the upcoming years with this massive investment to cycling infrastructures in London, we’re set to be on par with other bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam, the latter being where the government in Holland are even considering paying people to ride their bikes to work per kilometre in order to help fight road congestion! And I’m sure that most of us Londoners are already aware of how congested roads and even public transport is during the rush hour.
So I’m all for it, even though I’m not the most adequate cycler in London, after all not only will it fit in nicely with my budget, but it is also eco-friendly, good exercise and takes around the same time as my normal commute into work would do anyway, around 50 minutes and is much better than the other eco-friendly, good exercise commute into work alternative, walking, which would take me approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to reach my place of work, so no thanks.
All in all, the journey isn’t too bad, it takes me a little longer than 50 minutes, and some parts are a bit treacherous because of lack of cycle lanes, buses and unaware pedestrians, but all in all it is okay. However, I don’t think we’re at the level of being a bike-friendly city on the scale of a city such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen, and instead there’s plenty of improvement needed. In fact, I recoiled in horror when I read more about cycling into work, as I’m shocked and surprised to learn some of the bike accident statistics in London, which further enthuses the point that the conditions for cyclists in London needs to be improved. After arriving at work I quickly become very conscious of the fact that if I’m going to cycle to work every day or a few days of this challenge, then I probably need to rethink my breakfast option which consists of a grand total of 328 calories, almost a third of that which I end up burning on the journey here alone and I still have to wait until around half 12 to 1 pm to have my lunch.
Work Productivity Pre-Lunch
From the strenuous exercise that I’ve just endured for just over the best part of an hour, needless to say, that I begin to feel increasing hungry earlier than I usually would, due to the amount of exercise that I’ve had first thing in the morning. Apart from feeling moderately hungry at around 11ish which gradually builds up until I eventually have my lunch at just before 1 pm, my work productivity does not suffer; instead I feel quite motivated and manage to get all of my tasks that I have prepared to do before lunch done in their due time.
However, I am aware that this is the first day and that after just one meal I’m barely bound to feel the effects of my low budget and relatively low-calorie meal just after one breakfast and a white-knuckle cycle to work. So, for the most part, I do feel quite normal and engrossed into my morning routine with little distractions. So, so far, the budget is looking to be quite an efficient way of saving money thus far.
It would have been quite easy for me to eat my Lunch as soon as I felt hungry, and I’m not going to lie, I did feel quite tempted to eat my lunch at around 12 pm because I was so hungry, but I decide not to as I want to spread my meals out as long as possible. The reason behind me choosing to wait until as close to 1 pm as I possibly can, is to ensure that I spread out my meals evenly in order to stay as balanced and alleviate as much hunger as I possibly could in order to ensure that my work productivity doesn’t suffer by being so overwhelmed with hunger, which is one of my main priorities throughout this experiment.
Needless to say, generally if I was hungry before or after lunch, I could either pop to the local supermarket and purchase myself a quick snack of whatever I fancied on that day. However, now that I’m on a strict budget, I can’t afford that luxury, a lot of snacks and bars are expensive, with most of them totalling a higher cost than the majority of my meal. And what with both my meals and my travel to account for, it’s a frivolous luxury that I just really can’t afford. So instead, for lunch, I have a can of tomato soup that I warmed up this morning, along with two slices of wholemeal bread with margarine. It’s not the most exciting lunch, but neither is it unpalatable, so I’m quite happy to eat it and resume my work.
Although some of my colleagues at work do do their own bit and bring in their lunch to work, the majority of them go out around the city in order to buy themselves something to eat, and I usually would be one of them, although if I am having a tight month, I may opt for solely Tesco’s meal deals or to bring in my own lunch (which is quite often soup anyway). As my colleagues go out for lunch, there is a sense of longing to go with them, and I can’t help but feel that being stuck in the office constantly while your colleagues go out to eat in the surrounding area would leave you feeling quite isolated and alienated from your peers.
Work Productivity Post Lunch
My productivity levels are pretty much the same they were before lunch, except with the absence the amount of strenuous exercise I endured this morning after eating, I end up feeling much fuller for longer after lunch than I did for breakfast. Although I still end up leaving work in a hurry in pursuit of getting home as quickly as possible in order to cook and eat my dinner as soon as I possibly can. But as I’ve ridden my bike into work, and although I am not including my travel home from work in my budget for this week, I must cycle back home and try to find the energy to conjure up for the ride home on a cold and dark evening is quite tricky and needless to say I’m tired and eagerly ready for dinner by the time I finally reach home.
My dinner for this evening is wholemeal fusilli pasta, tomato and chilli sauce with meat-free mince and a portion of mixed vegetables to go with it. And while it is quite a quick and easy meal to cook, however by this point, I’m starving and slightly irritable while I cook after a day’s work and then cycling to and from work. The good thing about cooking pasta is that I’m not a very good estimate of how much I should be a portion of pasta, meaning that there’s lot leftover for lunch tomorrow. So that goes in a Tupperware box in the fridge to be eaten for lunch tomorrow, it will be interesting to see whether or not this affects the taste or my appetite.
I will be honest and say that I did struggle to talk and make conversation to the members of my family about my day as I usually would when I get home from work, as I feel so exhausted. So, needless to say, it’s quite a quiet mealtime, and I’m in a hurry to wash up my pots, pans, plates and cutlery so that I can go upstairs early to have a rest on my bed after a tiring day, and rest my legs that are currently hurting.
Post Dinner and Sleep
A short while after I’ve eaten, I do feel better and less irritable than I did when I got home from work, which I can only guess derived from being ‘hangry’, which is a slang term for anger or irritability deriving from hunger or lack of food.
I watch a few hours of TV, feeling too tired to read a book and not having enough money in my budget to go out and do anything exciting unless I want to starve for the rest of the week. Eventually, I get ready for bed, and I’m really grateful to get into bed after today, and although sometimes I can have trouble falling asleep, tonight I don’t have that problem, and I’m able to go to sleep straight away.
My sleep quality isn’t bad, I don’t wake up throughout the night or feel hungry, so, all in all, I’d say it’s a good night’s sleep, and hopefully, I’ll end up feeling awake and refreshed for another day of this experiment tomorrow.
Today wasn’t a bad day, but neither was it an eventful or exciting day either. Asides from feeling hungry after doing over an hour of cycling to and from work and a little bit irritable when I got home from work, there wasn’t really any significant problems to be seen, but we’ll need to watch this space. By using existing food that was already in my cupboard (such as the can of tomato soup that I ate today) and cycling to work for free, I was actually able to make a grand total saving of £1.77 that I will be able to carry on to save for a ‘treat’ on Friday, depending on whether or not I decide to spend it on an impulse purchase, and emergency, or a treat at the end of the week.
Who knows what the future has in store for me as I continue this challenge throughout the rest of the week.
Tuesday Day Two
The second day was undoubtedly a challenge, but I wanted to try a few methods which were something new for me. Although I accepted and embraced doing this challenge with open arms, I hit quite a few obstacles along the way which definitely made my day a little more trying than I had anticipated...
Day 2 – Getting into The Routine
Waking up, Getting Ready and Breakfast
Despite my good night’s sleep, when I wake up this morning, I still find it hard to prize myself out of my nice warm bed in order to get washed dressed and ready to go out into the day ahead of me. I get up just slightly later than I got up yesterday and even with the slight delay and having an extra 10 minutes in bed, I’m still on time as I have no lunch or anything to prepare as I am eating the leftovers from my dinner last night and put the remaining food in the fridge to retrieve in the morning.
Once I’m washed dressed and ready, I go downstairs and make my breakfast, it’s the same thing as yesterday, porridge with semi-skimmed milk and a banana. I usually eat the same thing for breakfast every single day anyway normally, so I’ve planned ahead for the whole week to do the same. It’s nothing extravagant but it fills a hole, and then I’m ready and prepared to start my commute to work, so what method am I going to try today?
Travelling to Work
Now, when I first thought of modes of transportation that would be able to get me to work for both the quickest and cheapest way possible, the first thing that sprung to mind was to cycle to work, which I tried yesterday, which wasn’t so bad but was tough on the energy levels and the little amounts of food that I was eating. Riding your bike is a perfectly fine thing to do for most people, but then when I was travelling to work, I did think: but what about if you don’t have a bike and you can’t afford one? Only 42% of people aged over five years old in the UK have a bike, meaning the majority of us in the UK don’t have access to bike, so what do you do if you’re on a tight budget but still want to cut down your transportation costs?
After all, bikes are a massive investment, especially if you’re on a strict budget like I’m currently on and you don’t have any money to spare or to even save to get a bike. Even the most standard and basic of bikes can set you back at least £200 minimum. So, what do you do if you can’t afford a bike? Are there any cheap alternatives to riding a bike that won’t break your budget? Well, I wanted to find out, so that’s what I tried this morning, I tried renting a self-docking bike for my commute to work.
If you’re like me and you live in a large city or town such as London or Manchester then you’re bound to have seen a mass of self-docking bikes, whether it’s the Santander ‘Boris Bike’ or another brand or self-docking bikes that you can rent such as Mobike or Lime, then I’m sure you’re like me and you’ve seen plenty around. As I have my own bike and rarely ride into or around the city, as I prefer to use the Mini Holland programme and the National Cycle Routes closer to home, I’ve never really felt the need to rent out one of these bikes, well that was until now.
After doing my research and preparations on Sunday before the challenge started, I decide to go with Mobike, as you can rent out a bike for 30 days for the meagre price of just £9.90, meaning that it will cost you around 33p per day for your commute to and from work, how brilliant is that? Well, let’s see how that goes first.
I decide to try this method and come across my very first obstacle with this mode of transportation. Now, I live in London but not in the heart of the city, instead I’m on the outskirts and while I quite often will see a self-docking bike in and around the area where I work, I very rarely will see a self-docking bike around where I live which is still in London, but no problem as I can use the Mobike app to find out where the nearest bike is to me and this is where I get a little bit stumped.
The nearest bike to me is around 15-20 minutes’ drive away, and with no money to spare on a cab or a bus fare, I have to kindly ask my Dad to take time out of his day to drive me and drop me off to the nearest Mobike bike so I can start my commute to work without being horrendously late. This isn’t ideal, as I’m quite anxious about being late for work, but I’m aware it’s all part of the experiment, and I should follow through on this, whatever the cost shall be.
Needless to say, I reserve the bike, pick it up and start my commute to work. Once I’m there, I check that I can park the bike up near where I work and that it isn’t a ‘blue zone’ where they charge you more money to dock the bike, and job done! But I’m not too sure if I’ll be considering using this option in the future as it was a little bit of a convoluted mode of transportation for me personally, but it does help me to stay within my budget as it does cost just 33p today to rent the bike.
Work Productivity Pre-Lunch
My productivity is pretty much the same as it was yesterday, I manage to get all the work that I wanted to do, done by Lunchtime, which includes typing up yesterday’s results from the experiment. However, when the clock does hit half-past 12, I do notice that the minutes begin to drag as it becomes a countdown to when I can finally eat my lunch, which is the leftovers from my dinner yesterday, and I can’t wait. It’s not really that I’m excited to eat yesterday’s cold pasta, in fact, I think it’s the fact that I’m starving which means that I can’t wait for lunch.
In order to ensure that the time passes by quickly and that I don’t keep looking at my watch every 15-20 seconds and expecting it to be 1pm, I try to keep myself busy and engrossed in my work, although it does slowly begin to become a bit of a strain, but I’m okay, no major problems.
The last 15 minutes before lunch is an absolute killer, I really struggle to concentrate on my work while also trying to ensure that my meals are evenly spaced out throughout the day as to eliminate any hunger pangs or any feelings if irritability further on in the day, as I felt yesterday quite severely yesterday. Lunch for today is the left-overs I didn’t eat yesterday, meaning that there was no preparation or costs to spare this morning as I had already cooked and prepared the food the night before.
The only thing is, is that it’s quite uneventful and unsatisfying to have what you ate for dinner last night for lunch the next day as well. I found myself getting quite bored quickly and left a lot, not really feeling so hungry to consume the whole portion of yesterday’s pasta today. Although there was no need for any preparation or any additional costs for lunch, I must admit that I’d rather spend the little bit more money and would sacrifice a few extra minutes in bed just to ensure that I had something that I could enjoy a little bit more for lunch.
But then again it eliminates any food waste which might have been left over should I have decided not to take my leftovers to work. And according to Fare Share, every year the UK alone throws away 250,000 tonnes of edible food which could easily equal around 650 million meals for the staggering 8.4 million people in the UK who are struggling to eat. Therefore, for me to throw out perfectly edible food just because I don’t fancy eating it, I feel would be massively not only wasteful but also hugely disrespectful as well.
Work Productivity Post Lunch
Post Luncheon, after I have finished my Lunchbreak, I’m finally ready to get back to work, and I definitely feel that my concentration and motivation levels had increased after they both diminished when the clock struck 12:30pm. I manage to work sufficiently until I leave work at half 5, eagerly anticipating to eat the omelette I need to make when I get home. As although I still managed to work sufficiently (probably due to the very carbohydrate heavy lunch I had) and right up until the time I had to leave, I must admit that I do feel slightly hungry and I can’t seem to get home quick enough.
As soon as I get home, washing my hands and making my dinner is definitely on top of my priority list, and luckily enough for me, breaking two eggs, cutting and preparing half an onion that was already in my fridge and the green pepper, making an omelette and boiling some frozen vegetables, doesn’t really take too long to prepare.
Now I’m not going to lie, but a two-egg omelette was a little bit thin looking to me, but it really did taste amazing but I neglect putting another egg in the omelette for the sake of my budget, as free-range eggs can be quite expensive, but I would rather not buy anything other than free-range, but that’s my own personal choice.
However, appearances can be deceiving, and the omelette and the portion of frozen vegetables is still enough to fill me up, I’m not sure whether it was more substantial than I thought it was, or whether my appetite is diminishing because I’ve been eating less food than I would normally be eating.
Post Dinner and Sleep Quality
My usual routine when I’m not planning to go out or do something after work, I go upstairs and relax for a few hours by reading or by watching TV. I noticed the absence of feeling irritable when I come home from work, I’m not sure whether this is due to feeling in a better mood due to eating food that is more substantial or whether it is just from the fact that I make myself cycle all the way home from work as I did the previous evening.
Nevertheless, I am still tired after a day’s work, and after reading and relaxing for a few hours, I get ready and retire to bed. That night, although initially getting off to sleep was no problem, it soon became apparent that the problem wouldn’t be getting to sleep, it would be staying asleep. Whether it was due to the amount of food or lack of food that I had eaten that day, I can’t be sure, but there is a correlation between eating very little and insomnia.
I did a little bit of research into the subject, but found very little information about this subject when compared to people talking about getting little sleep makes you eat more instead of little food makes you sleep less. It would seem that apparently the less rest your body has, the more food your body craves, with people who sleep less craving an added extra 550 calories in some cases, meaning that if you want to keep down your cravings, then you should ideally get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.
I got just under that with a grand total of 7 hours and 25 minutes, which has remained entirely consistent over the current course of this experiment so far, but we’ll have to keep an eye on that. I use my Fitbit to keep up to date with the things such as how much sleep I get, the quality of the sleep, the steps I take, calories that I burn and the amount of exercise I get every day. It’s more important to remain consistent in your sleep routine than anything else so it will be interesting to see whether I am able to stick to this routine throughout the rest of the experiment.
I thought today would be a slightly easier day than it actually was, but turns out that even the most carefully planned routines can still fall short of expectations, especially when it comes to self-docking bikes. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you live in the city, don’t have a car and want a cheap way of getting to work, or even just getting from point A to B, then these bikes are excellent. However, for me personally, and probably the majority of those living in the suburbs of London, it wasn’t ideal because of the fact that the majority of Mobikes and other self-docking bikes congregate and are used in the heart of London, meaning that none really make their way out to the suburbs. So if you live in the suburbs and want to save yourself the trouble of hunting for the closes bike for you to rent, it would probably be a better option for you to invest in a bike, rent a bike from a bike shop or even just find another mode of transportation, and if you do live in the city then I'd highly recommend this app for the price that it costs.
As well as this, although it make save you money to eat your leftovers from the day previous, it may be a good idea to spruce things up a bit and add something to your lunch to make it a bit more interesting, as eating what you have for dinner for lunch the next day is a bit boring, and if you’re like me and can end up losing interest in food quite easily, then maybe investing a little more time and effort into preparing your lunch every day may be a better option.
Wednesday Day Three
The third day was when the first of the challenges of this experiment began to emerge. On day three of the experiment, we asked Twitter what they wanted to see me do for dinner with my remaining budget for the day. What did they choose? And was it a challenge or was it a walk in the park?
Day 3 – What’s for Dinner?
Waking up, Getting Ready and Breakfast
Getting up this morning, like the few mornings before it is getting increasingly difficult, today, of course, being the most difficult. I found it hard to stay asleep last night, so judging by that, that could be a contributing factor as to why I’m feeling quite tired and struggling to get up this morning.
My morning routine has been the same all week, barely differing from my normal routine, except that for breakfast I would usually have an apple in addition to a banana and that maybe I might have the choice to have something different if I felt that I wanted it. Instead I am lumbered the rest of the week with porridge and banana; however, I’m quite happy with this for the duration of this experiment, but can’t help to think that I might have different thoughts if I was to be doing this for the long term, instead of just 5 days.
After getting washed, dressed and made up, I go downstairs to make my breakfast, eat, prepare my lunch for the day and then I’m half ready and ready to deal with the next mode of transportation to get to work. Feeling a little unmotivated to cycle to work for free, so I decided to go for another option, ViaVan.
Travelling to Work
I’ve heard that ViaVan is much cheaper than getting a cab or even an uber into the city, and it definitely is. I currently live in Zone 4 and to travel into Zone 1. However, where I work will cost me £8 by ViaVan, which although it is far cheaper than any other cabs, it’s still well out of my price range for today, so that’s already my plan gone out the window and I’m feeling somewhat disappointed, to say the least. That means another trip for me cycling to work, which is free but will drain me of energy that I feel that I don’t have today. But I have no choice, other than to break the challenge this far in, and that’s something I definitely don’t feel like doing, so I choose the lesser of two evils and reluctantly cycle to work.
Work Productivity Pre-Lunch
Considering that I have endured strenuous exercise after breakfast and before I’ve got to work, the morning is actually really quite productive. I get stuck into my tasks and have most of them completed before the dreaded lapse of concentration begins to kick in at around quarter to 12. This was a lot earlier than usual, as usually after eating porridge I start to feel hungry and have a lapse in concentration at around 12:15 or 12:30. I manage to do some more work while trying to wait until 1 pm to eat my lunch, but unfortunately, I can’t even wait until then and begin eating my lunch at 12:45pm, but I did try to stretch it out as much as I possibly could.
Lunch feels slightly light, but it will do, just a sandwich doesn’t really feel a massive hole, but at least I have enough money left over that hasn’t been spent on Lunch and Breakfast to ensure that I may be able to get something quite substantial for dinner, however I’m not quite sure what that is yet!
Most of the colleagues in my office have gone out for lunch, which then leaves me feeling a little be lonely again, as had this would have been an average week at work, I think I would have probably ended up going out, however I do feel that there’s perhaps been a bit of a breakthrough here, and not just with myself. Personally, I’m beginning to feel quite good about staying in the office and saving money by not having to spend money on lunch, and usually, that can be an expense that can amount to anything from £3 to £12, depending on where I eat of course.
However, now that my daily budget is £3 and I’m seeing how far I can genuinely stretch that budget, I’m actually managing to extend it further than I thought I would, even ending up with £1.77 left of my three-pound budget in just a day! It also makes me look and analyse my own personal spending habits, and not only just for lunch but for other things as well. Usually, I wouldn’t think twice about going to fancy café and spending £3 or even more on just a sandwich or a salad, but now my whole budget is £3 is just goes to show you how wasteful and unethical you really are being with your money when you can stretch it so much further.
It’s not that I cannot afford to eat a bit fancy if I want to, but I just find myself questioning whether I should, in fact, be trying to get food which is a lot better value for money and put my money away towards something more useful. Although I don’t fancy eating my lunch in the office and living off of just £3 a day for the rest of my life, for the sake of my energy levels, I’m definitely thinking of implementing some of the techniques and practices that I’ve learnt through this week so far (and hopefully for the rest of the week too) into my normal routine to help me save money and get rid of any unnecessary or particularly poor spending habits.
Work Productivity Post Lunch
My productivity after lunch is okay in the beginning but really begins to dwindle at 3pm. Now the afternoon slump is notorious with workers, especially those who work in offices and are generally sitting around all day. Whether my afternoon slump is due to the fact that I’ve only had a sandwich for lunch, or whether it’s just due to the fact that office workers are more prone to midday fatigue while at work, I still find it quite hard to concentrate on my work that needs to be done, so this really isn’t ideal.
Also, all week I’ve been abstaining from snacking and drinking any drinks that aren’t just tap water, as most bottled and juice drinks aren’t accounted for in my budget as the majority of them could probably see me going over budget and end up costing me more than a whole meal would do, and I just can’t justify that at the moment. Besides that, as well, you’re supposed to drink at least 2 litres of just plain water anyway to ensure that you stay healthy and it helps in turn to aid digestion, stay hydrated, clear your skin and lose weight if you’re that way inclined of course! Meaning that I’m severely lacking in any caffeinated drinks such as tea, fizzy drinks or the occasional coffee that I do like to have one of at least once a day, which would help me to prevent any tiredness crashes, as I would be able to have a coffee to perk myself up, but no, not this week as I wasn’t able to budget it.
Anyway, after feeling like I’ve had a tough slog at work today and the end of the day feeling as if it took 10 years to pass, it’s finally time to leave the office and head home to accept my challenge for dinner.
On day 2 of the challenge, we asked our Twitter followers what they would like to see me do for a challenge for dinner on Wednesday evening. The four options for the poll in which our followers could choose from, were for me to either: go to the supermarket and see what I could find with the remainder of my budget equalling £2.49, try to find something in my kitchen cupboards to eat, try using any left-over ingredients I have to try and concoct something and lastly, call and friend and see if you can go round there’s and eat for free.
Surprisingly enough, our Twitter followers decided for me that I would be going to the supermarket after work to get something for dinner and I already had a plan.
After I commuted home, there are two small sized supermarkets near where I live, so I decided to visit them to look at the reduced section; however, it would seem that many people before me had also had the same idea and there was hardly anything left, let alone anything for dinner. I went to the second supermarket afterwards and found that their reduced section was pretty much non-existent, so there was nothing really that I could constitute as a whole meal, so it’s then onto the third supermarket very reluctantly, but I’m hungry and need to attempt this challenge with the best of my ability.
Finally, the last supermarket that I go to is a large superstore so luckily enough they have quite a lot of food in their reduced section, and it’s all quite cheap too. Trying to stick to something which will both fill me up and won’t leave me feeling hungry and struggling to sleep at night, so I decide to go for a chilli con carne which comes in at just £1.49 a massive £1 under budget, I definitely wasn’t expecting that, in fact I was guessing that I’d be spending a lot closer to my total budget of £2.49, never the less I’m pleasantly surprised and hurry home to eat this meal that I’ve finally found as it’s well past the usual time that I normally eat. It tastes delicious and is actually from the be good to yourself range that I thought I wouldn’t be able to purchase anything from!
Post Dinner and Sleep Quality
After dinner and the three-supermarket shop escapade, I’m feeling drained so I tidy up, get ready for bed and read until I fall asleep at just before 10, which is coincidentally the earliest that I have gone to sleep all week. I feel as if the lack of sleep from the night before and the lack of food today combined with a substantial evening meal (the heaviest and only meat dish of the week so far) has made me tired.
I fall asleep very quickly and sleep the whole night through, but will this mean that I end up finding it easier to get up in the morning? We’ll have to see. I’m interested to know that falling asleep in less than 5 minutes could be an indication of exhaustion or of sleep deprivation, and I’m sure that I end up falling asleep in less than 5 minutes.
Even on a strict budget with meticulous planning, I still find that there are still things that even a lot of planning cannot cover, such as my travel to work. Although ViaVan is a cheaper alternative than a cab for getting into the city, it was still way over my budget and meant that I had to resort to cycling into work once again, as has been the recurring theme so far in this challenge. However, what with eating less food than I normally would, I did feel as if I really lacked the motivation today, which makes me think that I don’t think that I could cycle to work every day on a diet like this everyday while living on this budget, instead, I think that in order to ride my bike to work everyday I would have to increase my calorie intake, therefore increasing my budget, but then again, what I save by cycling I could probably make up with food.
Another thing that I also learnt today was that generally, smaller supermarkets and shops don’t have a great selection of reduced items. If you’re on a budget and want to ensure that you’ve got a variety of items to choose from in the reduced section then try to opt to go to a superstore instead. I’m guessing that due to the size of superstore supermarkets, they have a larger selection of reduced items as they have more stock, meaning that more items probably end up reaching their sell by dates before they get sold. As well as this, although when I was preparing for the week ahead of me and bought my food at the beginning of the week, I was surprised to see that I couldn’t afford not one item from one of the top or even mid-price range items of food that Sainsbury’s sells and deems to be ‘good food’. However, in the reduced section I was able to purchase something from the ‘Be Good to Yourself’ range, which meant that I was getting good food at half the price.
Thursday Day Four
Day four, was the penultimate day of this experiment and probably one of the most challenging days of this week so far. With the least amount of remaining budget for this week, I had to venture outside for lunch and find something for my unreasonably low, remaining budget of just £1.07. What did I do and how did I get on? Was this going to be where I fell down on my experiment?...
Day 4 – How far will £1.07 get me for Lunch?
Waking up, Getting Ready and Breakfast
Getting up this morning is no easier, in fact, it is harder. Although I’ve slept well I throughout the night, I’m still struggling with my energy levels in the morning. And before you say that that’s normal and I’m just probably not a morning person, in fact, this isn’t normal for me at all. On a typical week, you’d typically find that I get up out of bed around 15-25 minutes earlier than I’m getting up on this experiment, and I usually find it quite easy to wake up, as I sync my alarm with my wifi lightbulb, meaning that it gradually fades in 20 minutes before it’s time for me to wake up.
The idea of this is to gently awaken me from my sleep naturally by using light, and it’s a lot nicer than just waking up and turning on the light straight away and burning off your retinas. Once I’m up and moving about, getting dressed and ready, the sleepiness eventually wears off, and I get ready to go and make myself breakfast. Breakfast is the same as it’s been all week so far, porridge and a banana.
Travelling to Work
I made the decision that I would have to ride my bike and cycle to work as I only had £1.07, I had planned on getting the bus one day, but even with the Hopper bus fare, it would still be 43p over budget and I wouldn’t have any money left for lunch and would have to go hungry.
I’m quite used to it by now though, so I’m quite happy to cycle to work, especially as I haven’t been able to go to the gym recently, so I’ve been finding different ways to get in my exercise for free, and it certainly is different from going to the gym and definitely cheaper to ride your bike (if you own one of course).
Edit: I must admit that I made a mistake here! Initially I did think that I had £1.07 left to spend on my budget for that day, instead I got confused and £1.07 was in fact the money that I had spent that day, not how much I had left. This not only shows how my brain functionality was severely lacking that I couldn’t work out basic maths, but that I’d also managed to save £1.93 instead. Whoops! So, I’ll admit that I made a mistake here and that I did in fact have enough money to get the bus, although that would have left me with just 43p for lunch, which wouldn’t have been enough to do the challenge anyway.
Work Productivity Pre-Lunch
Work productivity starts off really great, but as was the recurring theme throughout this experiment, it really begins to diminish just before it reaches lunchtime. I’m also consumed with thinking about what our Twitter followers will select for me to do for lunch as well, and this challenge is an interesting one, but also, unlike yesterday for dinner I haven’t really got that much of a budget, so needless to say that I’m left wondering what the Twitter followers have in store for me in the upcoming hour and how far I’ll get with my £1.07.
For lunch, my Twitter followers out of the following options: shop at Tesco’s, try to get free food, go without lunch and go to the chicken shop, have decided that I should attempt to go to the chicken shop and find something for my £1.07. Surprisingly enough, I’m really grateful that my Twitter followers have chosen this, so I can finally get out of the office for lunch and go on the hunt for something to eat. (By the way, I’m really not happy with whoever voted for me to go without lunch today!)
Around where I work the food is quite expensive, so there are a lot of ‘fancy’ chicken shops shall I say, where I can try and find something to eat, but I don’t think I’ll get very far with my £1.07 as even drinks on the majority of their menus start at around £2 and upwards, which is almost my daily budget, so I know already that they’re definitely out of my price range for today.
Instead I decide to go to another chicken shop which is a 12-minute walk away, but I know that they’ll be able to supply me with something for my very tight budget as many other restaurants and shops wouldn’t be able to. When I get there, I realise that although I will be able to find something that will suit my budget, I don’t think it will be a meal as such but rather just a snack, but I’m pleased it will at least be warm.
For £1 I can either get a portion of chips or two hot wings for a pound, so I decided to go with the portion of chips option as I believe that it is more likely to keep me going until as close time to dinner time as I can make it. After I have been to the chicken shop, I decided to walk the 12-minute journey back to the office, but I worry that my chips will get cold. Starving hungry and not wanting to sit down at my desk with a bag full of cold chips I decide to eat them on my journey.
Although this isn’t the most pleasant way to eat your lunch, I do feel that it is better than the alternative and I’ve already eaten my lunch before I reach halfway back to the office, and I even have an amazing 7p change left, I don’t know what exactly that will get me for the rest of the day, for what in this day and age costs 7 pence? But it will definitely be good to put towards the other left-over budget amounts that I’ve been saving throughout the week.
I mean who would have thought it? Because I definitely wouldn’t have believed it. I thought I would have to be popping out and using every last little scrap of my daily budget in order for me to live, but no, I have actually managed to save my left-over budget, and it will go towards something nice tomorrow.
Work Productivity Post Lunch
My work productivity is indeed a lot better than it was yesterday, although I still begin to feel a little bit tired around the 3pm mark, but who doesn’t? Even some of my colleagues admit that they feel their energy levels dip around this time. I feel thankful that I can get to half 5 without feeling too hungry or hangry, which is a bonus, but I’ve still got to cycle home, as I did cycle to work and that’s bound to burn up a lot of my remaining energy.
I get home and start cooking straight away, I don’t feel too irritable, in fact, I think that my body is getting used to eating small amounts and having to wait longer between meals that it would normally. I decided to rummage in the freezer for the pizza that I bought quite a while ago from Sainsbury's to eat with some chips and my portion of vegetables that I’ve been eating pretty much all week. Now, although I did have some ready cut sweet potato chips that I had planned to eat with this dinner, they would take 40 minutes to cook and I simply can’t wait that long! Luckily enough I’ve managed to plan ahead and bought 2 potatoes should I have needed them and today I really do, so I’ve made my own chips instead.
Luckily enough as well, I like to stock up on things such as freezer and tinned foods, as generally they last longer than fresh produce and they’re perfect for those days when you may not have any money to go and buy something from the supermarket. I see it as a sort of investment, and I believe that I’m not the only person who does this. I eat dinner, and it is probably one of the more substantial meals that I’ve had all week.
Post Dinner and Sleep Quality
I eat and clear up, going upstairs to read my book and then get ready and go to bed at a reasonable time, instead of passing out like I did the previous night. My sleep quality isn’t particularly bad, but it’s hardly great, I wake up every hour or so throughout the night until it’s time for me to get up.
My energy levels leave somewhat to be desired today, I feel quite tired, but can’t quite seem to put my finger on what the cause of it all is. Whether it the fact that I’m not consuming any caffeine, whether I’m eating slightly less than I normally would, or whether it’s from the fact that I’ve been cycling too and from work every day and it’s a form of exercise that I’m not normally used to, although I do normally go to the gym 3 times a week.
Although I did manage to go out and get something to eat for lunch today, I found that I had to go well out of my way to find something that was within my budget, while the majority of my work colleagues were able to find something to eat nearby and together, while I ventured out by myself. Although I had been looking forward to going out and getting something to eat outside of the office all week, it wasn’t really as enjoyable as I thought it was going to be and instead I wished that I had brought my lunch in as I walked back to the office by myself in the cold with a cold bag of chips. It wasn’t the lunchtime that I had anticipated for.
I also learnt that chips can be quite a useful and filling staple of your diet when you’re on a budget because of how cheap they are, although they’re probably not the healthiest for you.
Friday Day Five
The final day of the challenge had finally arrived, and I was definitely glad to see it. It was also the same day that I would be able to treat myself with the leftover budget from each of the previous days before me. I had a grand total of £5.85, and what was Twitter going to decide I would be able to do with it? Would I be extravagant or would I be staying cheap?
Day 5 – Treat Yourself
Waking Up, Getting Ready and Breakfast
It’s Friday, the best day of the week but it doesn’t help me get out of bed any easier, in fact I have to literally throw myself out of bed in order to get my day started, the one thing that’s keeping me going is that it’s the last day of the challenge today and although it has changed my outlook on quite a few things, I have definitely found it quite a strain, both physically and mentally, in terms of the challenges, small food portions, travel and planning everything meticulously.
Last day of being constrained to porridge and a banana for breakfast, although to be honest with you, I don’t really think that after the challenge my breakfast will really differ that much, apart from instead of opting to go for a bowl of porridge in the morning, I might go for a bowl of Weetabix instead to switch things up a bit, which is hardly a significant difference, but I think it’s just putting yourself in that mindset where you have to eat porridge, and you don’t have a choice, which makes it all the harder.
Once I’m washed, dressed and ready, I eat my breakfast, and I’m prepared to go to work.
Travelling to Work
Now, my challenge for today is buy something as a treat with some of the leftover budget that I have been accumulating over the past few days, and I’ve actually managed to rack up a fantastic £5.85 for me to spend on my lunch today, which is excellent, it should mean that I should be able to get something a little bit different than the food that I’ve been eating for lunch all day this week.
A Twitter poll has been put out there in order for our followers to decide on what I should be doing for lunch as a treat and I haven’t checked as of yet to see how it’s doing, but my 4 choices are: get a doughnut, go to box park, go to Tesco’s or go to the legendary Beigel Bake in Brick Lane. I wonder what my followers will pick for me today?
In order to have that amount of money left over, I do have to sacrifice my travel to work, and instead of getting a via van or even the bus (which I had planned for but never got around to doing this week, which was a shame) and ride my bike to work as I had done for the majority of the week. Unfortunately, it’s not very eventful and not a great way to end the week, but it has to be done in order for me to get my end of the week treat it is a sacrifice I am happy to make.
Work Productivity Pre-Lunch
Productivity-wise, I’m okay before lunch, I think the sheer feeling that I know I’m going to get a treat today (whatever it is I am unaware of yet!) is definitely helping me to get through the day, with the added bonus that it’s a Friday. Although I do have a lot of work to do, I am able to work right up until the point where everyone goes to lunch at around 12:30pm, which is a first for this week!
My twitter followers have been exceedingly kind to me and have decided that my treat for lunch today will be to get a doughnut for lunch, and although it does feel like a slightly weird thing to solely be having for lunch, I am quite looking forward to it.
I go to a small doughnut place around the corner from where I work and end up spending £3.75 on a glorious doughnut and convincing my colleague to come with me and have a doughnut for lunch with me, after all, it is Friday!
Work Productivity Post Lunch
I feel quite good from the sugar I’ve ingested and find that I’ve got plenty of energy to get my work done this afternoon. The 3pm slump that I’ve faced pretty much all of this week is still lingering around, but it isn’t as bad. It’s harder for me to concentrate around 4pm than it was for me to focus at about 3pm, I think my sugar high must be ending, and instead I’m feeling quite hungry and a little bit guilty that I managed to spend £3.75 on just a doughnut when I probably could have got a lot more for my money and something a lot more substantial for my lunch on a Friday.
I definitely feel as if this experiment has made me look at my finances a lot more critically than I usually would, as in the past I could have quite happily spent around £3.75 or more on a doughnut or even on lunch and I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, because I was ‘treating myself’; however it still doesn’t quite sit right with me this time after doing this experiment for the vast majority of this week.
My normal routine would mean that on a Friday for dinner I would end up getting fish and chips takeaway, but unfortunately, I haven’t budgeted for that, and even if I had planned for it, I don’t think that my budget would have been able to take it.
Instead I opt to go for fish fingers, chips and vegetables for dinner which isn’t bad, but it doesn’t really live up to having a nice piece of cod when you’re eating Sainsbury’s Basic pollock fish fingers, it’s just a little bit different, but it’s still not bad to eat all the less.
Post Dinner and Sleep Quality
Although it’s the pretty much the weekend, and I’ve finished work for the week, I still don’t have a lot of money left over from my budget to allow for going out as I don’t feel that the money left over would cover the costs of a cab fare, let alone a night out and I’m not one for getting free drinks or borrowing money from friends and family, so I decide to stay in, it’s been a tiring week, to say the least, and I’m just glad that it’s over.
Friday, the best day of the week, however, as much as I was looking forward to my Twitter follower’s choice of treats, I can’t shake off the feeling that buying a doughnut for £3.75 is a little bit wasteful, especially as I gave myself a daily budget for food and transportation of just £3 a day and ended up not spending even spending that, to only spend £3.75 on one item of food, when in reality it probably could have gotten me so much more. Although it was a treat and it tasted amazing, so I’m not really too disappointed that my Twitter followers decided for me to have a doughnut instead.
My Findings Conclusion
There's not a doubt in my mind that doing this challenge has certainly been a very eye-opening experience, and although it was a struggle in places, I'm definitely glad that I did it and came out the other side with some feelings and thoughts. Here are my findings for this week of the experiment as I look back on all the trials and victories I've had this week.
Food & Drink
All in all, the food wasn’t too bad, in fact, I found that generally I could afford more than I thought I would be able to, and there were no real major disasters. In fact, if truth be known, I could have stretched my food budget a lot further had I realised that instead of trying different modes of transportation, I would just really be cycling to work every day. I think it would have been better for me to incorporate more snacks and carbohydrates into my diet to account for the amount of exercise that I was doing by cycling to work and just in case I got too hungry or felt that my productivity was dwindling, it would have been helpful to have been able to give myself that little extra needed boost.
However, drinking water and nothing else for a week did make me feel a lot better in myself, my skin was clearer, my digestion was better, however I cannot say whether it helped me to concentrate or to lose weight, as I would have nothing to measure it against.
Although it was a little bit lonely and isolating watching all your peers go out for lunch and be able to purchase what they wanted for lunch, I did notice that soon others began following foot when they realised how much money I was saving and maybe they wanted to support me and be solidarity with me too, so that definitely helped and may have had a knock-on effect.
Travel is probably something that I’m really disappointed in myself about really. I wish that I had been able to be more adventurous about it, but my budget just couldn’t really account for it. I was struggling already to make ends meet and eat enough food, which didn’t give me much expendable income for travel, meaning that it was either cycling or cycling (self-docking bike). However, my research did give future me a few insights into how I could cut my travel costs down, such as ViaVan and using the ‘Hopper Fare’, unfortunately, I just wasn’t able to try them out for this challenge.
It just goes to show that, if you really want to cut costs and do extreme budgeting, you can’t really allow for extravagances and a variety of different ways. Instead its better to stick to riding a bike. And just remember if you live in the heart of the city, then self-docking bikes are a great option if you don’t have a bike. However, if you don’t live in the city, perhaps try investing in getting a bike as a long term investment which will in turn save you money, or opt to rent nearby bike from a bikeshop.
Now my work productivity wasn’t the most optimal this week, I still got my work done, but being completely honest with you, I really did struggle at times to stay on task, instead of thinking about food or how tired I was. I’m not entirely sure what caused the lack of concentration but after doing some research, things such as stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, hunger and things such as migraine headaches can be just a few of the main reasons why you can’t concentrate. Now, I believe that the combination of cutting down on the portion sizes of what I was eating, as well as getting a lot of exercise by riding my bike to and from work for the best part of over an hour, then I was burning up more calories than I was consuming which probably meant that I was really hungry and that was probably the cause of my lapse in concentration.
To be completely honest with you, I’m not really the best sleeper regardless of me doing this, so it’s pretty hard to judge whether my sleep was affected by anything in particular to do with this challenge, as I usually have periods of sleeping badly with no known obvious cause. But all in all my sleep pattern remained quite consistent apart from Thursday evening when I managed to sleep for almost 9 hours, which is a little bit unusual for me really, especially on a weekday. I think probably the build up of the exercise and having a large calorie deficit was probably a contributing factor to my tiredness, sleeping a lot or even my waking up throughout the night.
Apart from feeling quite hungry and irritable on the first day, surprisingly enough my moods didn’t really vary that much. I’m genuinely quite a content person, but obviously everyone has their ups and downs in regards to their moods and I certainly did experience a few fluctuations in mood. Apart from obviously feeling ‘hangry’ as I described it earlier, I also felt quite anxious in the morning on my journeys to work where I would cycle in. As I’m not the best cyclist by any means, cycling in London can be a fearful experience, and mine was certainly that, not particularly helped by reading the London bike accident statistics and finding out how many accidents happen on a regular basis on London’s streets, despite the mayor’s best efforts to improve conditions in London for cyclists, I definitely think that we have a long way to go, especially for those cyclists who don’t feel too particularly comfortable riding a bike in the city. And until conditions improve slightly, I think I’ll be giving this a miss and stick to taking the tube in the future.
|Breakfast||328 calories||328 calories||328 calories||328 calories||328 calories|
|Lunch||329 calories||348 calories||224 calories||202 calories||350 calories|
|Dinner||426 calories||260 calories||392 calories||508 calories||409 calories|
|Snacks||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories|
|Drinks||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories||0 calories|
|Total||1,083 calories||936 calories||944 calories||1,038 calories||1,087 calories|
I did sit down and work out what all of the calories that I consumed throughout the week accumulated to, now this is something that I’m not really used to, as I don’t really count calories in my day to day life. I didn’t really think that I’d be that shocked about what I was consuming, ever since it didn’t particularly differ too much from my normal routine, except for the absence perhaps of more portions of fruit and more snacks throughout the day, so I didn’t think it was as bad as it really was.
The greatest number of calories that I consumed in one day was on Friday, when I consumed 1087 calories, and the lowest number of calories that I consumed within the week was Tuesday where I consumed 936 calories, making my weekly average 1017 calories a day, which is way below the recommended amount of 2,000 calories a day for a woman. Now, although I neglected my gym membership, I was cycling too and from work, which meant that I was burning up quite a lot of calories over my daily intake, so it’s not really surprising that I didn’t feel super productive or energetic through this challenge.
In fact, if you look at an estimate of how many calories I burned during the week of the experiment compared to how much I was eating, you can see that there's quite a substantial difference between the two. Meaning that I was burning far more calories than I was eating, so no wonder I struggled to get up in the morning and function to the best of my ability.
Upon reflection, it probably would have been a good idea to have weighed myself before I started this challenge and then afterwards to see whether I lost quite a bit of weight during this challenge as well, which is more than likely that I did, especially with all the exercise I was doing on such few calories.
Things to Consider What You Can Take Away From This
If you're wondering what you can learn from doing this experiment yourself, or even just through my experience of this experiment, then I've got a quick rundown of things you can take away from this experiment and things you could do if you decide to implement a strict (or even not so strict budget) into your daily life.
Food and Drink
My budget wasn't big enough to accommodate the things that I needed to eat, and upon reflection, I should have had a budget which allowed me to get the right amount of calories that I needed to function, especially after the exercise I was enduring on a daily basis, really I needed more.
As well as this, I feel that I suffered for the lack of both caffeine and snacks throughout the day. Whereas generally if I were tired or hungry, I'd have a snack or a cup of tea or coffee, as my budget wouldn't allow it I went without and that was a big thing for me which I felt affected my productivity and my moods.
If you are considering living on a budget, make sure you choose a budget which allows you the sustenance that you need in your diet, especially if you regularly exercise, walk or even cycle to work as I did. If you fail to do this, you'll suffer from brain fog and hunger pangs due to not eating enough, and it will have a knock-on effect on your moods, productivity as well as your weight.
If you are a regular caffeine drinker, then also include that in your budget, I didn't, and I feel that I missed out on my cups of tea and coffee that usually kept me going throughout the day. If you think that you can't afford to drink as much coffee or tea as you usually would on your budget, then try to cut down on how much you drink but don't cut out caffeinated drinks completely, as you'll only find you suffer from headaches and caffeine withdrawal without it.
Conclusion: Ensure your budget is enough to cover the food and drink you need to sustain your everyday lifestyle, habits and activities.
Although I did like cycling to work as a different and albeit a much cheaper method of transportation, leading on from my previous point, I wasn't consuming enough calories to account for the calories I was burning up on my journey to work. Also, my budget didn't cover other modes of transport as it was so low, and apart from the self-docking bike, which wasn't much different from riding my own bike except it was a lot more inconvenient.
If you aren't a die-hard or confident cyclist, then I wouldn't recommend cycling to work in London as it can be a bit nerve-racking, to say the least, although conditions are improving for cyclists.
If you're looking for different modes of transportation to use I'd recommend taking the bus, as although I didn't get a chance to do it on this experiment, it would have been one of the cheapest methods of transport by using the Hopper fare, and probably one of the safest too.
If you are a keen or comfortable cyclist, then I would recommend cycling to work as a free and eco-friendly method of transport. Except I would recommend eating a lot more to compensate for the calories, you're burning, as well as switching it up with other modes of transportation for those days when the weather isn't permitting, or you haven't got the motivation.
Conclusion: cycling is a great way to get places on a budget, just ensure you are confident enough on the road, and you eat enough to account for the exercise your doing. Even if you switch up how you travel, if you cycle three days out of 7, you're still saving money.
Whether you're on a budget or not, you need to be able to perform your best at work. Although my productivity didn't dwindle too much and I was still able to do my job, I still found it hard to concentrate when I became hungry. If I would have had additional food to snack on throughout the day when I became hungry, then I definitely feel that this would eliminate the problem.
Conclusion: don't let your work or your motivation suffer, ensure that you have enough sustenance to stay on task and remain productive. If that means increasing your budget to allow for a cereal bar or whatever, then do it.
My sleep quality wasn't disrupted that much by this experiment, in fact, on one night I even got more sleep than I usually would have. Although what I did find difficult was getting up in the morning, which is quite unlike me. I don't know whether this was due to being tired, or whether it stems from other reason. However, due to the calorie deficit, I think we can assume that it could have been down to exhaustion due to not eating enough calories, which meant that I felt that I probably needed more sleep.
Conclusion: eat enough so that you don't go to sleep hungry, your sleep isn't disrupted, and you don't struggle to get up in the morning. So if you do find that you're struggling to get up in the morning on your budget, make sure you eat more.