Help to Buy ISA officially opened! I did it. I got to the end of January with a whole £60 left in my back pocket when usually I’d have been borrowing from January 2nd. Not a lot, but a lot more than I ever expected in my wildest dreams. Dare I say I’m actually enjoying living the frugal life?
Opening at the right time
If you are not up to speed on how a Help to Buy ISA works it’s simple. You are able to open one providing you are a first time buyer. You can open them up with a one off contribution of £1000 on top of the maximum monthly allowance of £200, so £1200 in total on your first deposit.
I wasn’t in a position to open mine with the extra £1,000, but I could manage an extra £200 on top of the monthly contribution so I’ve opened mine with £400. Now, this is where you can be a bit clever if you don’t have that £1,000 ready to add to your first deposit.
I get paid on the 28th of every month unless it falls on a Saturday or Sunday. Rather than rushing to open my Help to Buy ISA on payday I waited until we had got into February, for one specific reason – you don’t have to deposit all your monthly contribution at once, otherwise this would discriminate against those who are paid weekly and couldn’t afford such a big outlay from their weekly wage.
I deposited £400 yesterday; as I am still in the first month of opening my Help to Buy ISA I can technically still add up to a further £800 to take me to the £1,200 threshold. Therefore when I get paid on the 28th I can add another £400 from my wage taking me to £800 saved for the first month.
Broken down the £400 is the £200 I had budgeted for in December when I was first setting this challenge, plus the cigarette money I am no longer spending. I’m not rich, I’m not poor, I AM historically wasteful. This is what I am trying hard to eradicate. Although I won’t have quite hit the maximum first monthly contribution, I won’t be far off at £800 in the first month. I can live with that!
From 28th March the maximum I will be able to contribute is the maximum £200, so I’ll be looking for other thrifty ways to maximise the spare £200 I am unable to contribute to the ISA, I’ll keep you updated on that.
How I did it
I’ve made major adjustments to my spending habits, none more so than quitting smoking. Happy to report I’m still on the wagon and as far as I’m aware I haven’t lost any friends yet! All joking aside, it’s the easiest I’ve ever found it. I make no secret of the fact I have had many failed attempts at quitting the dreaded cancer stick, this time having a clear goal has helped enormously no doubt about it. I haven’t been tempted once, but, enough of that, it’s still early days and I don’t want to tempt fate.
Confession time… I have bought two take-aways since the new year, although on the whole I have stuck to the meal plan I set out at the start of January, only deviating from it slightly by swapping some meals to different days. It has saved me an absolute fortune. It’s no exaggeration to say we ate no less than two a week previously, so although I’m slightly disappointed we slipped up twice , it’s still a massive improvement and something to feel positive about.
Looking forward to February
I’ve already ordered most of my meat from Muscle Foods. Honestly, if you haven’t already, check it out here. I initially thought it looked and sounded too good to be true but after reading plenty of rave reviews I took the plunge and placed an order.
As a former butcher back in my youth, I can tell you categorically the meat is fantastic quality. I spent £55 on their Grass Fed Feb option and at the end of the month I’ll tell you exactly how many meals I got from it and also post the thrifty recipes I have used. My parcel arrived a couple of days ago and being a big chilli face that’s what I have ate for the last two days. So far, so good. It was lean and very tasty.
The rest I have done in Aldi, although I do a shop weekly so I plan to start ordering more online and using the price per unit method I recently blogged about, but only if I can see it will save me money and be a benefit to my pocket. Again, I’ll let you know.
I want to crank it up this month. I am going to attempt to make money outside of my job. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and I’ll be blogging about them throughout the month, whether they are a roaring success or a stinking failure. As per the agreement of the £5k Challenge, any money made will be saved.
Ditching the e-cig
They’re currently lasting around 3 days a time. I didn’t want to go down the route of buying one of the big industrial ones as I have no intention of staying on them any longer than needed. Therefore, the throw away ones are a just as big a waste of money as the cigarettes are, albeit a means to an end. Come 29th February I plan for them to be on the scrap heap along with the ciggies.
So the first hurdle is complete. My Help to Buy ISA is open and now it is just a case of maintaining my good start to the New Year. If you think you have any tips that can help me along the way please leave comments below, I’d honestly love to hear them all!