Can you do Low/Zero Waste on a Budget?

Hi, and welcome back!

I really wanted to approach this topic of being able to ‘do’ Low or Zero Waste on a budget, after watching so many YouTube videos where people spend ridiculous amounts on changing over to a Low Waste lifestyle.

I really don’t believe that Low/Zero Waste, Ethical Consumerism and Sustainability are synonymous with spending a lot of money, however I wanted to make some important notes too.

Firstly, I want to point out that I am fully aware of my own privilege.

I live in a society with access to plenty of shops, I have the free time to visit different shops and source local produce, I have the financial means to do so and I am able to drive and have a car. I am well aware that these things alone put me in a better position than many others who attempt to live Sustainably, be that Low Waste, Zero Waste or in just general life.

So, with that being said…do I think that anyone can do Low/Zero Waste on a Budget? Well, the answer to that questions is: I believe that its possible for me, at this moment in time, in my current living situation.

If you are struggling with how to incorporate Low/Zero Waste living on a  budget, here are some tips that I have put together to help.

  1. Use what you already have. Forget how it looks on Social Media when you take a photo, just use the plastic you already have. Plastic lasts for years and years, so if you have already got plastic that is working well doing its job and the only issue is that it’s plastic, just continue to use it. The fact is, you’ve already bought it. Throwing it away to buy a more Sustainable replacement is not only wasting money, but it’s adding to pointless consumerism and plastic waste. Once it has broken or is no longer fit for purpose, you can replace it with a more Sustainable alternative.
  2. Make your own things. There are many things you can make yourself instead of buying. Examples are: toothpaste, laundry detergent, produce bags, tote bags, deodorant, cleaning products, reusable face cloths. Whatever you want or need to make, there is almost sure to be a tutorial on how to make it somewhere online.
  3. Join groups such as Freecycle. If you don’t already know what Freecycle is, it’s a website where people advertise things for free. I recently joined my local Freecycle and am AMAZED at what people were advertising for free. Dining tables, 3 piece suits, garden equipment, the list is endless. It’s also worth keeping an eye out on Facebook Marketplace, as occasionally you can find items for free too.
  4. Repurpose items. For example, every time I buy pre-made pasta sauce, I’m not only thinking of the contents of the glass itself, but also how good the glass would make as a drinking glass. Once I have used the pasta sauce,  I wash out the empty glass and use it as glassware
  5. Observe your needs. For many people (and I include myself in this), escaping the consumerism of our society s a huge reason for going Low/Zero waste. But if you are replacing all of your perfectly good plastic items with more sustainable items when you don’t actually need to, you are still buying into that consumerism. It doesn’t matter that what you are buying is ethical, sustainable, vegan, organic are still actively consuming it. This comes back to point 1 above, use what you have before replacing it!

Those are the tips that have helped me, so I hope you find them helpful too.

Let me know in the comments section how you stick to Zero/Low Waste or Sustainable shopping, on a budget!


No Buy 2019- Week 1 Update

Hiya, welcome back to The Money Freak!

If you haven’t already read my last post, I am taking part in a No Buy Year (NBY).

 Think I’m crazy? Maybe you’re right, I’m not entirely sure myself!

I’ve been doing the No Buy for exactly 7 days now and thought I’d update you weekly on the blog, while I’ll be uploading updates monthly over on YouTube as well as weekly videos about various No Buy topics.

Week 1 has been pretty smooth sailing. There have been a few times this week where I have doubted my decision to do a NBY, mainly when I’ve seen something I want to buy, or think of a way to improve the house and ‘need’ to buy something to help with that.
But on the whole, its been pretty easy!

Of course, it’s always easy in the first week! I’m getting support from my Boyfriend who thinks I’m crazy for doing it but is 100% on board for supporting me.

I haven’t run out of anything, or had anything break on me. So, it’s easy to do this when life doesn’t throw you any curve balls!

Things I have done this week to keep to my No Buy:

  1. I made Pizza dough from scratch. I know, I know, this is the kind of thing that a lot of people do, and something I should have been doing myself. But I wasn’t. But on Tuesday I was craving a lovely Asda pizza. I put my shoes on and grabbed my coat, but as I was about to walk out the door it dawned on me that I have everything I need to make a pizza myself. Admittedly, I had a small panic when I realised that I didn’t have any yeast, but I went ahead and just made it without. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the base tasted absolutely fine! I’ll definitely make that again. It took 30 mins to make 2 pizzas and cost me £0.
  • I downloaded a Plant based e-book for free! A lady that I follow on Instagram was giving it away for free for 24 hours (normal price £5) so I downloaded that and printed it out. I’ve mentioned quite a few times on my YouTube that I am trying to eat more plant based, so hopefully this will help!
  • Did you know that veggies that have roots can regrow if you put them in water? I did, but again its not something that I’d ever tried. So this week I started regrowing celery, spring onions and romaine. I have no idea if it’ll work, but I’m giving it my best shot.
  • I made my own hummus. Its so easy to make, and I already had all of the ingredients in the kitchen. So I whizzed up a big tub of VERY garlic-heavy hummus. The best thing about making your own is that you can adjust it to your own tastes. I personally like my hummus very garlicky and very lemony. So that’s exactly how I made it. It has been a huge hit!
  • I wrote a meal plan. I’ve been on and off the meal plan wagon for months now..and I’m determined to stick to it! I KNOW it stops impulse buying, so its going to be done every week from now on.
  • I created a wish list on ‘wishlistr’. Basically, this is a website where you can add things to a wish list and other people can view it. So far, I’ve added a standing mixer, pizza, coconut yogurt and a few books. These are all things I could have bought this week that I didn’t. My aim is to add things that I really want throughout the year, then at the end of the year I can add up how much I would have spent, but saved instead. Everything goes on there, from food to phones to holidays. I’ll make a YouTube video about this and share it in the coming weeks.

I’ll be back soon with another update, but let me know below how you are getting on with yours, if you are taking part, and if you think you could do a No Buy Year!


2019, My No Buy Year

My YouTube Video to accompany this post is now live!

Hi guys and welcome back to my Blog.

Today I’m starting something a bit different on the blog. I’ve really been losing interest in blogging recently if I’m honest, and I think that a large part of that is because I’m not writing about things that I want to write about. I’ve been too worried about people not being interested, or losing readers etc. But I have realised that I cant continue to blog about things that don’t excite me, and hopefully my passion for a topic will come through.

Up until this point, I have mainly been focusing on writing about the Baby Steps by Dave Ramsey. This is because I wanted a reference point to direct people to when they asked me how I got out of debt (if you want to, you can read my story about that HERE).

Now that is done, I want to expand the topics that I write about on here. The main focus this year (2019) is that I am doing a No Buy Year.

Now, I know a lot of you are probably thing ‘But it’s already March!’ and you’d be correct, but better late than never! So, when I say No Buy ‘Year’ I really mean No Spend ‘rest of the year’.

What is a No Buy Year?

Essentially, a No Buy Year is where I do not purchase anything new for the entire year. There are exceptions to this, which I’ll cover later in in this post. But this is the overriding theme of 2019.

Why do a No Buy Year?

The main reason is to get my spending habits under control. When I was paying off debts, I accounted for every penny, I bought nothing (apart from the very occasional item) that I didn’t think was necessary, and as a result I reached my financial goal at that time, which was paying off debt.

However, skip forward 12 months and a lot of small but unnecessary and pointless things have crept back into my budget. My main aim inn 2019 is to eliminate these items.

My aim this year is to build up my 6-month emergency fund. The things that have been added to my current budget are not getting me back into debt, and are not things that I cannot afford…but they are also not helping me to reach this financial goal. Plus, I am not happy with how I’ve been spending money, nor what I have been spending money on. I want to break away from consumerism and accumulating ‘stuff’ and become a much more ethical consumer. Just as an example: I am a HUGE lover of Costa Coffee and what was a 1 a week habit has turned into a 3-4 a week habit, costing about £10 a week. This is a total waste of money, and I would rather have that money in my bank account.

Rules of my No Buy Year

The main rule of the whole year is not to buy anything that is not 100% necessary.

Predominantly, this mean no takeaway coffee, no make-up, no clothes, no perfume, no homewares and no books. No acrylic nails or waxing, and I will groom my dogs myself instead of taking them to the groomer (£25 a time per dog).

I’d also like to make sure I’m not buying more in other essential areas like food, to make up for not being able to spend in the non-essential areas. So, to do this, I’m planning on doing 1 big monthly shop, with weekly small weekly top ups for fresh food.

The Exceptions:

-The big exception is that I will not put the health or safety of my family at risk. For example, I will be buying sun tan lotion in the summer. Not doing so would just be irresponsible on my part. I will of course try my best to limit my budget.

-Christmas and Birthdays. Luckily my children are older and are used to having smaller Christmas and Birthday presents, so this isn’t going to be too much of a problem. The limit I have set is £100 per child.

-If something that I need to have and already own breaks and cannot be fixed, I am allowed to replace it UNLESS I have a similar item that will do the same job. For example, if I have a T-shirt that breaks, I won’t replace it because I already have several others.

-However, as well as not buying anything, I am also trying really hard to focus on buying ethically and sustainably. So, if/when I do NEED to buy something, I will be making sure that it is as sustainable and ethically produced as possible. This goes along with the fact that I am trying to reduce my plastic consumption too.

-Freebies are allowed! If I get offered something for free, if I have points/money on loyalty cards already, I will be allowed to use them. As long as I am not handing over any cash or using a debit/credit card, it is allowed. From memory, I have £10 on a Marks and Spencer gift card that I have not used yet. I’m aiming to save this to buy my Mum a birthday present, or to just give to her for her birthday. That means I won’t have to actually spend any money myself, but she still gets a present. Or I might just use it in a few weeks when its Mother’s Day here in the UK.

Potential Problems I’m expecting, and how I’m planning to overcome them.

-I am a HUGE lover of Costa Coffee. And within the last few months the building works have begun for a new Costa to be built in my town. I have NO CLUE how I am going to overcome this. Its my biggest downfall by far.

To combat this, I am going to use my coffee machine at home more. At the moment I get my Costa on the school run. Instead of doing that, I am planning on making a coffee and bringing it with me on the school run. Plus, I will be leaving my wallet at home.  

-Date nights are also something that we have had to adapt. Usually, date night is a Coffee (do you see a theme here?) and probably a Burger King. I’ve spoken to my boyfriend about this and he is more than happy to sit at home with some popcorn and watch The Walking Dead together instead. He is trying to reach some money goals himself, so he is happy to save the money too.

Potential Positives of doing a No Buy Year.

I really am expecting this challenge to be…well, challenging! Especially emotionally. I want to find out where this desire to buy things I don’t need comes from, how I can get that feeling from somewhere else, and how it makes me feel to stop buying.

Also, as someone who buys things almost daily, I can foresee that I am going to have a lot of free time on my hands. There are 2 things in particular that I want to do this year; learn BSL (British Sign Language) and German. I’m always complaining that I don’t have the time to, but I also always seem to have a spare hour to browse online shops.

This concludes my No Buy Intro post!

I’ll be uploading and posting regular updates, maybe weekly or monthly ones depending on what works best. I’m also interested in doing Anti-Hauls (things I didn’t buy this month etc) as well as other types of content. Let me know below if there is anything specific you’d like to see, either in video or blog post format.

For now, I’ll be back on Tuesday with an update with how the first week went!

See you then, Claire.

Autism and Finances.

How Does Autism affect my budgeting?

I don’t think I have shared this on my blog before, but I have a teenage son that I care for and he has Autism.

 I know I’m not the only person in this situation, so thought I would share some of the positives and negatives that come with caring for someone with Autism brings, especially in terms of budgeting.

In my experience, feeding and caring for someone who has Autism can be a real challenge, and I have added extra money to my budget to allow for his like, dislikes, preferences and food aversions.

The difficulties with ASD and budgeting

Autism means that he cannot always eat whatever we are eating, or that I cannot just keep the heating off to save money. Sensory issues mean he gets cold easily, loves a certain food one day and then hates it the next.

Batch cooking is all very well and good, but not for a person who has a fear of germs, hates the texture of pre-frozen foods, or swears they can taste the metal/plastic of the containers that you’ve stored food in.

My food bills can be considerably more expensive than that of a normal family of three. There are certain brands that my son cannot eat (and yes, I say cannot, instead of will not, as these things are not a choice for him). He cannot eat value basic brands of food, except for peanuts (go figure).

He only eats 2 brands of cereals, Kellogg’s and Tesco. I can’t shop at Aldi or Lidl often, as he won’t try new brands of foods and definitely won’t eat a brand that he doesn’t recognise.

The positives with ASD and budgeting

There are positives though.

The main one being that he is incredibly logical in his thinking, and as long as I already have the food/brands that he likes in the cupboards, he will go days eating the same things (Kellogg’s cereal for breakfast, Spanish omelettes for lunch and fish, chips and peas for dinner) and not expect me to go food shopping for anything else.

He generally likes easy to cook, cheaper foods. Like pasta, potatoes, tomato sauces, spaghetti bolognaise etc.

When I tell him I don’t have any money left in the budget to buy any extra food/treats, he accepts it straight away and never complains.

He 100% supports my financial goals, as he sees that value in money, being debt free and having savings in the bank.

So, while there are certainly challenges, there are also real positives. Of course, some of these positives are because of his age (19) and placement on the Autistic Spectrum. He is verbal, his cognitive function is good and he understands the reasoning behind most things. While meltdowns are frequent in regards to getting him to try new foods (often cheaper brands that he isn’t familiar with), occasionally we have a breakthrough. It normally involves him seeing the unfamiliar item roughly 20 times before considering trying it.

So, I have noticeably higher food bills and heating bills than average, I would say. But that is all part and parcel of caring for someone in my family with Autism, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Of course, you may care for someone with Autism and have none of these challenges, or may have a whole heap more than these. Why not pop me a message below and let me know what struggles you face with budgeting and Autism? Or even better, share your positives!

Why not go over and visit Our Collective Life, who blogs about
Dissociative Identity Disorder. She has a great post about how this illness effects her finances

Baby Step 3B

Hi and welcome back to my series about Dave Ramsey. The previous posts in the series can be found here:





Today I am continuing this series with Baby Step 3b.

What is Baby Step 3B?

Baby Step 3B is the ‘Mini Baby Step’ that comes between Baby Step 3 (The Fully Funded Emergency Fund) and Baby Step 4 (contributing 15% of your income to retirement), and is saving to buy a house.

The reason that it is after baby step, is that you NEED to have your Fully Funded Emergency Fund before you make what will possibly be the biggest purchase of your life. Similarly, the reason it comes before BS4 is because saving for a house is a short-term goal, but you will be in BS4 for a longer time. You can afford putting off contributing to retirement for a few years, in order to save for your house deposit.

Guidelines for BS3B

Dave Ramsey suggests a minimum of a 20% deposit, although here in the UK there are Help to Buy schemes (starting at a 5% deposit), Shared Ownership, and various other government schemes that can help you get onto the property ladder.

The problem with these 5% deposit schemes, is that a lower deposit means higher mortgage payments. It is better to save for longer and have a higher deposit to p0ut down, so that your long-term mortgage payments are lower.

Another suggestion by Dave Ramsey is that you apply for a 15-year fixed mortgage. While this makes sense, its not always easy (or possible!) for the average Joe. I highly suggest using the Mortgage calculator and also looking at current Mortgage Offers on Money Saving Expert.

The final piece of guidance from Dave in regards to BS3b, is that your mortgage payments should be no more than 25% of your household take home pay. This makes absolute sense, as you don’t want to struggle paying your mortgage every month.

I hope this has been helpful if you are looking to save for a house deposit while on the Baby Steps. However, these suggestions are pretty solid even if you don’t use the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps.

I’ll be back in a few days with a post on Baby Step 4