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Just Me, Odds-and-Sods

A lesson in frugal living (Part 2 of 2)

When I left you (on Tuesday evening) my frugal-challenge was going relatively well.  I should warn you, it took a turn for the worse.

Much of the week carried on as planned, with some minor set backs. For instance, one day, in a desperate bid for a non-muesli breakfast I bought a croissant AND a cheeky coffee between the gym and work. Bad for the wallet and the waistline.

Lunches and dinner largely consist of the soup I made at the start of the week. Over the week I grow to hate this soup – there is nothing you should eat ten times in seven days.  I am conscious that there is precious little food left in the house though so persevere. One day hubby suggests I have a baked potato for some variety. I have an inexplicable phobia of potatoes and start to gag.

I also benefit from the kindness of friends and family – a lunch out with hubby at Modrý Zub, a wander and hot chocolate from Choco Cafe bought by a lovely friend. It’s amazing what you can get if you develop a sad face and a pitiful shrug.

It’s not been plain sailing, and I had to make some very definite changes in lifestyle.  For example, each week I go to a Pilates class before work (free for group lessons). I often pay for private ones to try to help with my back pain. That would have been well out of budget so this week I go to the group lesson instead. It’s fine, but there are twenty of us and the tuition is in Czech, so I can’t follow all of it.  Result: Happy wallet. Unhappy back.

On Wednesday evening I usually go to a life drawing class but it’s 300 czk per week (plus 30 czk for a beer afterwards) so instead, I work until 9.00 and then wander back home – wanting to do anything except sit in my house doing nothing.  I watch a film, whilst eating more soup, and have a lovely catch-up with my friend via Skype. Nice, but I feel like a bit of a loser.

It was going relatively well until Friday.  I wake up in a panic – the cleaner is coming! I pay her 400 czk each week. Cancelling at the last-minute would be totally unfair on her so I decide to shrug it off and realise I will now definitely exceed my budget. Worse, I realise that I also have a hair-cut booked for the afternoon, which will cause me to exceed the week’s budget many times over. Again, I rationalise that it is unfair to cancel on someone at the last-minute. Also,  I am beginning to sport a very Czech mullet cancelling is out of the question on the basis of vanity. Frugal living is going down the pan rapidly.

I have the day off work on Friday and plan to spend the time catching up on some writing projects.  Usually, I might pop out for breakfast, or work from a cafe. This time, I make myself a pot of ginger tea at home (ginger from the fridge – free) and stay in. I eat the last two satsumas in the house. As the cleaner cleans around me I grow to hate myself. I am suffering from the problem experienced by all women with cleaners –  why am I not cleaning my own house? The usual answer (“simply can’t be bothered and earn enough to pay someone else to do it for me“) sounds less convincing than normal.

By the weekend I have essentially admitted defeat. We have friends visiting and they arrive mid morning. I am not going to make them sit in and eat five day-old soup with me so we have lunch out (they treat me) and wander around the Christmas markets, which have just started.  I resist buying anything apart from some hot wine (50 czk – an appalling rip-off in my opinion, but we’re in the most touristy place in Prague). We all go out for dinner. I have a lot of gin.  Hubby pays for me so I pretend it doesn’t count.  It would have cost most of the week’s budget again.

All in all, a dreadful end to Project Frugal, but I am full of gin and had a really lovely day.

***********

Total spend:

  • ignoring cleaner/hair – a modest 544 czk
  • including cleaner/hair – several times the week’s budget

So, I fell at the last hurdle.  I sort of expected this, as I am not known for particularly strong will power.  I am actually quite pleased with the results of the first five days, where I operated well under budget.  I ate at my desk like a sad-sack and didn’t socialise very much. I  didn’t snack at all and hardly drank anything alcoholic.  I saved some money on food, although I do cook regularly and relatively cheaply anyway – I love a lentil. 

I seem to spend a lot of cash on nice things for myself – cleaner, pilates lessons, life drawing. The list is long. Whilst I may have lived a (semi) frugal week, I clearly do not live a frugal life

This week I learned:

  • To live cheaply, you need to be very organised and cook a lot
  • Life would be cheaper if I liked potatoes and porridge
  • If you only spend 600 czk in a week, you cannot drink much (even in Prague) and will lose weight
  • It wouldn’t kill me to clean my own house
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About CzechingIn

A blog about an English lady living in Prague.

Discussion

6 thoughts on “A lesson in frugal living (Part 2 of 2)

  1. As I commented when you mentioned starting this project, living on 600czk a week is easy enough (there are times when circumstances have dictated I get by on 100czk a week for a couple of months at a time, so I am an expert in truly frugal living).

    Getting by so frugally, is, however, exceedingly boring and it rapidly zaps away any enthusiasm you have for life. The good news is, your experiment is now over so you can get back to enjoying yourself :-)

    Posted by damien | November 28, 2011, 2:26 pm
    • completely agree – “surviving” (especially when you don’t have to factor in a roof over your head/central heating) is straight forward. Having a good time, seeing friends or doing anything except staying at home, takes a lot more imagination on a tight budget! As I said at the outset, I am very grateful that, for me, this was just an experiment

      Posted by CzechingIn | November 28, 2011, 3:32 pm
  2. I’m intrigued by this. How do you live on 600 czk/week when you have to buy groceries? I know that the items you have in your cupboard are “free” but if Stuart Jeffries wants you to live on this small budget every week…I’m not sure how food/transportation fits in this meager amount? I found your blog via “readomattic” in wordpress.

    Posted by ihavetriedit | November 28, 2011, 2:37 pm
    • thanks for your comment/question.

      Foodwise – the soup I made (lentil carrot soup) is incredibly cheap to make and lasts a long time. Lentils are pretty high in protein and energy, which was quite helpful. Cooking in bulk and re-heating helped as well. I didn’t eat very much fruit (certainly not as much as usual), which wouldn’t be ideal over a longer period but was fine for a week. I didn’t snack at all over the week or alcohol, and was pretty hungry for a lot of the time as well. I bought my veggies in Albert – there may be cheaper shops, but I think Alberts pretty cheap (definitely cheaper than most of the outdoors farmers markets) but you take a bit of a knock on quality.

      Tea/Coffee – I get this free in my office, and just didn’t buy many out during the week.

      Transport – I factored in the cost of my annual pass. Actually, I live in Prague 2 and walk to work most days. If really pressed financially, I would be fine walking to and from work everyday (about 30 mins) and within central Prague at least, walking is pretty do-able I think, even in the winter.

      Posted by CzechingIn | November 28, 2011, 2:47 pm
  3. completely agree – “surviving” (especially when you don’t have to factor in a roof over your head/central heating) is straight forward. Having a good time, seeing friends or doing anything except staying at home, takes a lot more imagination on a tight budget! As I said at the outset, I am very grateful that, for me, this was just an experiment.

    Posted by CzechingIn | November 28, 2011, 2:41 pm

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  1. Pingback: A lesson in frugal living (Part 1 of 2) « CzechingIn - November 28, 2011

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