Thursday, 31 January 2013

Cheap meals: Lentil burgers

I'm currently doing a challenge to eat for £1 a day. Using my stash of value ingredients, I've been living on a few basic meals over and over again!

Luckily for me, Frugal in Derbyshire sent me a recipe for lentil burgers, which turned out to be the tastiest thing I've had all week!


50g split red lentils (I used 50g as I'm running low, but they would hold together better with 75g!)
300 ml stock
a carrot
a small onion (mine are super small!)
25g oats
10g baking fat (to fry)

Total cost =  26p (or 31p if you use 75g lentils).

How to (all credit to Frugal in Derbyshire):
  • Boil the lentils in the stock until they're mushy, then remove from the heat and drain.
  • Grate the carrot and finely chop the onion.
  • Mix the lentils, carrot, onion and oats in a bowl
  • Form the mixture into burger shapes (mine were about 1.5cm thick) and fry for around 3-4 minutes on each side.

These were some seriously nice burgers and made a great change from all the food-in-a-bowl I've been eating lately! Thanks for the recipe!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

£1 a day - Cheap Meals

Hi guys! Thanks for all your comments on the £1 a day (£7 for the week) challenge

I just want to make it 100% clear that I am only doing this challenge for 1 week. I've had a lot of awesome suggestions about gathering food or using £28 for the whole month to get a better selection of foods, but this is strictly a single week challenge! 

Having said that, there have been a lot of tasty suggestions for cheap recipes and ways to eat for less. Frugal in Derbyshire commented yesterday with a recipe for lentil burgers made with red lentils, carrots, onion and oats and gillibob linked me to a website where you can feed a family of four for £100 a month,  which looks like a really handy resource for anyone looking to keep their food costs down!
I have been eating some seriously cheap meals so far this week from my £6.98 shopping trip.

Breakfasts have been porridge made with UHT milk and water.  Total cost = 13p.

Lunches have been lentil soup (21p a portion because I used a small and more expensive pack of lentils) with two slices of bread "buttered" with baking fat. Total cost = 26p.

I made two portions of stew out of potatoes, carrots, onion and a parsnip. Cost per portion = 24p. Eaten with a slice of bread, making the total meal cost 26p.

I've also made a sort of vegetable ragout out of red kidney beans, chopped tomatoes, carrots, onion and stock, which cost 37p a portion. I had it with rice, bringing the total cost to 40p.

Tomorrow for dinner I'm pretty excited to try making those lentil burgers!

All the meals listed above are very filling. It's amazing how cheaply you can make something that will keep you going all day!

Here are a few more cheap meals I've made in the past:
Lentil Salad
Pumpkin soup

Cheap snacks:
Rhubarb crumble (vegan)
Chocolate cake (vegan) 
Caramel shortbread
Just out of interest, how much do you spend on food each week? 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

£1 a Day Challenge - Previous Attempts

Hello all!

Thank you for all your comments so far. I really like Angelsey Allsorts' idea of making oat cake/chappaties to go with meals. I'll give them a go tomorrow!

A few people have suggested extending the challenge to £28 for four weeks, to enable the purchase of eggs, flour, fruit and other items to make a more balanced diet. Interestingly, this is sort of what my Mum's doing this week. She's made a spreadsheet of the cost-per-serving of all the food in the house so that she can calculate the total cost of what she eats during the week. This means that she can take advantage of buying in bulk at a cheaper price. It will be interesting to compare menus at the end of the week!

I've been doing the challenge for two days now. Here's how it's going so far:

Breakfast: porridge made with half a cup (~45g) of porridge oats, half a cup (125ml) of UHT milk and half a cup of water. No sugar :(

Lunch: lentil soup (made with two carrots to bulk it up a bit!), two slices of bread "buttered" with baking fat.

Dinner: stew (one can of new potatoes, two carrots, a parsnip, onion and some leftover stock from lunch made two portions), with one slice of bread.

Snack: one sixth of the chocolate swiss roll. (Glad this made you chuckle, Tania. It wasn't very exciting though!)

You might notice there's only one day's worth of food up there. That's because I've eaten the EXACT SAME MEALS twice in a row! Don't worry, dinner will be different tomorrow!

So far, I haven't really been hungry because I've been eating such bulky foods, although my energy levels have taken a hit. I'm not sure if that's due to lack of calories or caffeine!

Since that food wasn't too exciting, I thought I'd tell you a bit about similar challenges that have been done in the past!

The first challenge I found was by Stuart Jefferies of the Guardian. He was challenged to live on £10 for a week, but somewhat underwhelmingly he just ate food he already had in his cupboards and spent the entire week moaning about not having enough to buy wine. He blew the majority of his budget on a meal deal in Marks and Spencer.

Dannielle is a student who "read his (Stuart Jefferies') account with slight disgust". She took the same £10 challenge and was much more successful, scouring Tesco, Asda and Lidl for the best deals. Whilst she did eat rice, pasta etc. from her cupboards, it was a much more admirable attempt at eating on a shoestring budget.

The best attempt by far was by Kath, from Bristol, who lived on £1 a day for an entire year! This covered everything apart from rent and utilities (as far as I can tell), and even stretched to a trip to France (hitch-hiking and staying with family)! She recommends finding toiletries as freebies from magazines, attending free events for food/entertainment and hosting a clothes swap with friends. It's amazing that you can live on £365 for a year in the UK!

Do you think you could survive on £365 a year? How would you do it?

Sunday, 27 January 2013

£1 A Day Challenge - The Food

Before I started the £1 a day challenge, I actually expected it to be relatively easy. We tend to spend about £25 - £30 per week on food for the two of us, so £7 a week is about half of my share.

When you think about it though, we don't replenish our entire food stores for the week on £30. A big bag of oats lasts more than a week, you can get a lot of meals out of 1kg of lentils, and we only have to buy a massive bag of tea once a month!

Unfortunately, the rules of this challenge state that EVERYTHING you consume must be bought with the £7 (except tap water, toiletries and toilet paper). I can't rely on the canned goods in the cupboard or even the half bottle of oil next to the cooker. Don't worry, the food we already have won't be wasted because The Boyfriend has refused the invitation to join in the challenge. I think he despairs of me at times! :)

My food for the week!

So what can £7 get you?

  • Value skimmed UHT milk (1 litre) – 53p
  • 2 x Value tinned new potatoes (15p each) – 30p
  • 10 Value stock cubes – 10p
  • Value chopped tomatoes – 31p
  • 2 x Value red kidney beans (18p each) – 36p
  • Tesco Scottish porridge oats (500g) – 65p
  • 500g red lentils - £1.09
  • Value carrots (1.5kg) – 89p
  • Value onions (1kg) – 63p
  • A parsnip – 42p
  • Value bread – 50p
  • Baking fat (250g) – 55p
  • Value rice (1kg) – 40p
  • Value chocolate and vanilla swiss roll – 25p

Total cost: £6.98


  • In some cases, the unit cost of the food would have been cheaper in a bigger pack (for example, you can get a whole bag of parsnips for twice what I paid for a single one), however I bought the least amount that I needed for the week to fit within the tight budget.
  • The most expensive thing I bought was the pack of red lentils, however I will be getting a lot of my protein and vitamins from these!
  • I got a swiss roll as a cheap motivational tool! Keep on track and earn a tiny chunk of swiss roll! I might regret this.
  • Value carrots are just as good as any other carrots, except that they are snapped, small or misshapen. I am proud to buy them regularly to stop supermarkets from rejecting foods they think that customers will be too fussy to buy!

So now you've seen what I'll be eating this week, what do you think? I am planning on eating porridge made with 50% milk, 50% water, with lentil soup and bread (buttered with baking fat if possible) for lunches and dinners will be stews, beans and vegetables with rice, and lentil and vegetable pilaf (but unfortunately without the coconut milk and curry spices!). Any suggestions are welcome though!

Please note: I will only be getting ~3 instead of 5-a-day and will not eat enough dairy products or calories. This is NOT recommended as nutritious or healthy and I normally eat a much more varied and balanced diet.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Extreme Frugal Living - £1 A Day

In the UK, we throw away 4.4 million tonnes of food a year, including a third of all bread and a quarter of all vegetables. Up to 30% of vegetables are left in the fields to rot because supermarkets can't sell misshapen foods. This is an ethical problem in a world where almost a billion people go hungry every day.

There are 1.4 billion people living on less than £1 a day, which is the definition of extreme poverty. The Live Below The Line campaign challenges participants to live on £1 a day to engage people with the realities of poverty. I decided to take on the challenge to live on £7 for the whole week and let you all know how I get on.

The Rules
1. Spend no more than £7 for food for one week. This is approximately half of my normal share of the food shopping.
2. Gift cards must not be used. I got a Starbucks gift card for Christmas but I feel like it would be cheating to use it.
3. Only food bought during the challenge may be consumed. No raiding the cupboards for food, no using oil or spices unless included in the £7.

I will be starting this challenge tomorrow. Check back to see how I get on, offer advice and hear more about extreme frugal living.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

How to Survive on a Student Budget

Are you the typical bean-eating student or are you living large on your student overdraft? (Or both? :D)

The cost of living away from home as a student is estimated at £9250 a year. This includes a rather expensive-sounding £346 a month on rent and £51 on utility bills, with around £120 on food. It is also £500 more than the maximum student loan and grant (£8750 when living away from home, outside of London), so it's no wonder people end up skint!

My flatmate in Halls spent his entire student loan payment within a month, looking cool at expensive bars in his brand new clothes. Unfortunately he spent the next two months scrounging bread and pasta from the rest of us! How can you avoid this mess??

First of all, you HAVE to make a budget! Work out how much you have left after rent, bills and travel that you could use for food and leisure (beer). Do this BEFORE you get that lump sum paid into your bank account! See if you can put a small amount aside each month for unexpected costs.

After living in Halls of Residence in the first year most students move into a shared house or flat. Top tip: the ones closest to the University are often the most expensive and the most grotty! If you're willing to walk a bit further you'll get a much better deal.

See if your Union can recommend a good landlord. When I lived in London the landlord's mate fixed a giant hole in the roof by taping a plastic bag over it...

In Case of Emergency
Many student bank accounts come with an interest free overdraft.This is both a blessing and a curse to most students! Often a student overdraft is abused as "free money", with the student loans bumping the balance back up to zero. On the other hand, if you need to make an emergency trip home you don't have to rely on expensive credit cards. Use it as a buffer against going overdrawn (not to pay for trips to Kenya...).

Don't buy textbooks!
Ooo-errr, controversial! No, I don't want you to fail, but new textbooks are really not necessary! Your University's library will have dozens of copies of the recommended textbooks that you can check out almost indefinitely. If you really must own it, other students will likely sell theirs at a discount at the start of the next semester. Make sure you look after them and you could sell them on again!

Be a Guinea Pig
Back at Cardiff University, if you felt yourself coming down with a cold you could go to the Common Cold Research Centre and get paid to try various over-the-counter medicines to see how effective they are. If you are brave/foolhardy you could also earn hundreds of pounds from pharmaceutical companies to test new drugs for side effects (but be warned, there really can be serious side effects!)

Alternatively, you can sign up to your University's psychology department mailing list. Researchers need to test their theories on willing volunteers. For example, this week I earned £15.65 by spending an hour sat at a computer looking at coloured squares and photographs!

Students spend an average of £483 a year on travel. If you travel long distances by train, a Young Person's Railcard will pay for itself in no time! Railcards cost £28 for a year or £65 for three years and will save you a third on most train journeys (and they are available for all full time students, not just under 25s!).

Secondly, do you REALLY need a car at Uni? Most Universities are restricting undergraduates from taking their cars to campus anyway. You might think that the fuel home costs less than a train ticket, but have you factored in all the other costs? Insurance, road tax, maintenance and breakdown recovery costs can eat up massive hunks of money over time, especially for younger drivers who typically have high insurance premiums and less reliable cars!

 Most student financial advice tells you to buck up and get a job. I disagree. Students should be focussing on their education; you're spending A LOT of money to be there so make it count! You can get away with working during the first year, but make sure you focus all your attention on your studies during your final year because it makes up the majority of your final grade. 

Remember, you really do need a 2:1 or a first class degree to get a graduate-level job these days. It costs too much to go to Uni for you to not get a good job at the end of it!!

"Do you do student discount?"If your University is a member of the National Union of Students (NUS) then you can get discounts anywhere from a huge variety of companies; clothes shops, cinemas, restaurants, night clubs, mobile phones, travel companies and more! Get the full list here. Ask for discount wherever you go!

So you see, it's definitely possible to live within the bounds of your student funding without having to eat baked beans everyday. (Another top tip: Tesco own brand baked beans are infinitely better than their Value ones!). 

Students: how do you avoid the dreaded overdraft limit? Anyone have any top tips for living on a student budget?

Friday, 18 January 2013


Hi all! Just a quick note to apologise. I accidentally deleted the past 50 comments on this blog, trying to remove yet more spam!

Sorry to everyone. Thank you for commenting and I look forward to hearing from you again in the future!

Five Ways to Get Motivated to Save

For me, 2012 was all about getting rid of my debt and saving up enough to move to Bristol and start my PhD.

In 2013 I want to keep that momentum going. I noticed that after I paid off my student overdraft I started to spend more. It's hard to stay motivated once you are out of the debt emergency.

This year we are back on the horse in a big way. We have already dramatically reduced our food costs for the month, we're trying to sell the car and we're aiming for 200 No Spend Days this year.

So how do you stay motivated to save money once you are debt free?

1. Set a big goal with a deadline
When you were in debt, your goal was to get out. Now you are free, determine what you are saving for. Think BIG!

Our goal is to save up a 25% deposit for a house in the next five years. I will be a graduate student for another 3.5 years, but once The Boyfriend has graduated next year he will enter the workforce. The key will be to avoid lifestyle inflation and live like students for a little while longer! I have done the maths and I think we can do this! 

2. Make it acheivable
Unrealistic goals aren't motivational. If you don't meet your goal you will feel disappointed and may well give up. Make a budget, give yourself a buffer in case anything unexpected comes up and THEN plan how much you can save! 

We've broken down our goal into yearly chunks. Obviously we will save more once we are not students (and hopefully have real jobs!), so have planned accordingly.

3. What would you do if you were still in debt?
If you've paid off a credit card or overdraft, think about how you did it! Could you replicate this to boost savings? Avoid expensive luxuries until you reach your target.

When I was paying off debts last year, I used No Spend Days as a way to motivate myself. This year I have DOUBLED my goal to aim for 200 No Spend Days in 2013. If you aren't spending money, you must be saving it!

4. Follow your progress
 Track your progress by calculating your net worth or even making a chart and colouring in a square for every £100 or £1000 saved. I used to do this with my University revision (but I had awesome star stickers! :D)

5. Reward yourself
If your goal is particularly long term, you might want to use a reward system to keep yourself motivated. Maybe you could enjoy a (cheap!) meal out for every £1000 saved, or go for a walk in the mountains, or plan a frugal holiday for when you reach your goal. You can camp most places in the UK for about £10 a night, for example.

Don't worry if you fall off the wagon from time to time. If you spend too much one week, maybe you could cut back the next. If not, it won't affect you too badly unless it starts being a regular problem, which could be a sign that your budget is too restrictive.

What's your biggest saving goal for 2013? You can do it!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Is It Worth Selling Your Car?

I once recommended that new graduates should go car-free if at all possible. It's time to take my own advice.

When we first moved to Bristol we decided to keep Jools the Peugeot. We thought that the high cost of train fares home would go a long way towards balancing out the cost of insurance and road tax.

Jools is an old car (T reg/1999), so we have been saving a fair amount each month towards repairs or replacement. He had been doing quite well lately, but his power steering system was an expensive repair in December and his clutch cable had to replaced this month too! (The Boyfriend was driving, not me!!)

Here is a breakdown of what we budgeted for the car:
  • Insurance - £420 - likely to go down this year, but not by very much.
  • Road tax - £220 
  • Fuel - £570 - £60 each time we go home to Cornwall (estimated four times) and another £20 or so of fuel each time we are there, plus another £50 to visit The Boyfriend's family in Coventry, plus a miscellaneous £200 per year (supermarket trip, travel to friend's, trip to Cardiff, etc.)
  • Maintenance and replacement - £1000 - this is the biggie. I have spent a lot on repairing this car in the past year, so we set a large budget to cover any repairs whilst hopefully saving for a replacement car.
Annual total = 2210. Monthly total = £184.

Of course, if you have a newer car then the cost of repairs would be less, but you may have higher insurance, car payments, and of course, you would have to save more to buy another car of the same quality when your car dies.

As you can imagine, £184 is a massive chunk of our postgrad student budget! I decided to work out how much it would cost us to get by without the car.

Annual costs of car-free living:
  • Young Person Rail Cards - £56 (for two) - These would save us a third off most rail travel, which is reflected in the prices below.
  • Trips to Cornwall - £480 - four trips budgeted at £120 for a return ticket for two people in case we need to travel home at short notice, however the price is £93.10 for both of us if booked in advance.
  • Insurance whilst in Cornwall - £120 - It costs £30 to insure myself on my Mum's car for a week. I can then proceed to steal her car in the evenings if she doesn't want it! :)
  • Fuel while in Cornwall - £80 - same as before, £20 per trip.
  • Train to Coventry - £100 - budgeted at the expensive short-notice price, however a ticket for two is £62 when booked in advance.
  • Food shopping - £150 - this is £3 per week get Tesco to deliver groceries. We might only need to order food once a fortnight, so it could be only £75.
  • Bus fare to Portishead - £150 - our good friends live in nearby Portishead. The bus costs us £24 for both of us, because we tend to travel back the next day and would have to buy another ticket.
Annual total - £1136 (or as little as £915). Monthly cost - £95 (or as little as £76)

So by getting rid of the car we could save £90 a month or over £1000 a year! But is it worth it?

Pros and Cons of Cars
Initially The Boyfriend was dead against the idea of getting rid of the car. He said it was a luxury worth keeping. With over 31 million cars on the road in the UK, maybe the general public agrees with him.

Advantages of owning a car
  • Extremely convenient - don't have to rely on timetabled public transport so can travel whenever you are ready.
  • Easier shopping - you can buy in bulk and take it all home with ease (although you can also get this delivered when shopping online).
  • Faster than public transport - inter-city travel usually takes longer by bus or train.
  • Able to reach remote areas - this is a big one living in Cornwall, where public transport is sporadic at best. Many people live miles from the nearest bus stop.
  • Groups can travel more cheaply - a group train ticket costs more than a road trip where fuel costs are shared.

Disadvantages of owning a car 
  • Expensive - insurance, road tax, fuel, maintenance, MOT, breakdown cover and eventual replacement. As you can imagine, it all adds up to a massive amount.
  • Source of worryI have to worry about when my car will next break down. You might worry about your nice new car getting stolen or dented.
  • Bad for the environment - I'm a biologist, and I worry about the effect we are having on the planet. Cars are a source of pollution and greenhouse gases. Of course, buses and trains pollute too, but per traveller the emissions are much lower.
  • Dangerous - You are much more likely to be killed in a car than a bus/plane/train. On the other hand, cycling is even more dangerous.
  •  Driving is stressful - As you know, I'm a country girl at heart. I don't like driving in cities and especially not at rush hour. Reading a book on a train is a far better way to get around!

I eventually persuaded The Boyfriend that we really don't need a car while we're living in Bristol. We live a 20 minute walk (or 5 minute bus ride) away from the train station and neither of us use the car to get to University anyway!

I think the biggest factor for me was that Jools is an old car and eventually he will need to be replaced. Would we get a newer car? (But why, when we rarely use it?) Or would we get another old banger? (Another hole to throw away money on repairs!)

I've mentioned before that savings are really only savings until you spend them. It didn't seem right to me to be spending so much on a car whilst we are at Uni instead of saving for our futures (for example, a deposit on a home when we graduate).

I am currently in the process of trying to sell my car. It's not worth much, but it will stop the drip drip drip of unnecessary spending!

Take home message for students and new graduates: work out the cost of car vs car-free living. Is the hassle worth the cost-benefit of going carless in your case?

What about you? Do you need a car for your work? Do you cycle miles each day? Do you get the bus? Have you compared the costs?

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I Earned £1 in Ten Seconds!

Haha, that title sounds like a dodgy ad! :)

We've just got back from Tesco. It's one of the big ones with chained trolleys that you have to inset £1 to use. (Good way of getting around these if you've forgotten your £1 is to use the trolleys with the baby seats, which don't have the chain! Although then it makes you look like you've left a baby somewhere...)

Anyway, I was taking my trolley back to the park, when I noticed a lone trolley sitting in the trolley park. Someone had used both of the "starter" chains to start two lines of small trolleys, and this big trolley wouldn't fit. Did that mean... Yes! IT STILL HAS £1 IN IT! :D

I shoved my little trolley into the others and collected my £1 (it's actually a fake one from Morrisons that I "borrowed" from my Dad a couple of years ago!). Then I ran with the big trolley, past the car where The Boyfriend was waiting, waiving excitedly. In ten seconds, I had the trolley parked and had earned my £1!

FREE money is the BEST! :D

I wish I could get that rate of return all the time. £360 per hour! Not bad!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Bodge It Together Quiche!

Things never go to plan when I'm cooking! I thought I'd make myself a nice cheese and onion quiche for my lunch for the next couple of days. Unfortunately my last onion was all had gone all pink, fluffy and squishy. Not a good look for an onion.

I decided to improvise with a couple of shallots left over from when The Boyfriend was doing some fancy-pants cooking. Hmm... squishy too. To be fair, these guys had been sitting around for a good few weeks.

After raiding the fridge, I thought the only thing that sounded vaguely quichey was a red pepper (plus cheese, of course!).

The small portion!
Other problems I ran into:
  • I forgot to chill the pastry (as per usual - turns out fine!)
  • I don't have a rolling pin - I stick flour on the outer layer of a roll of cling film, then pull that layer off when I'm finished!
  • I don't have a quiche/flan tin - I used a cake tin instead
  • I don't have baking beans - for the pastry's blind bake I covered it in foil with some dry rice grains on top.
  • I made the pastry too short on one side and the quiche filling ran down the side
  • I dripped egg and milk mix into the bottom of my oven, which was hot from the blind bake so I couldn't clean it and had to smell it burning for half an hour!

It turned out pretty well, despite me making it! The cost of the recipe works out to 34p/51p per person depending on portion size (not including the cost of a rotten onion!), and I didn't have to go out and buy more ingredients!

The recipe (bodged together from this original recipe):

190g of plain flour - 8p (based on 60p for a 1.5kg bag)
80g margarine/butter - 18p (based on £1.10 for 500g of Vitalite)
half a tablespoon of oil - about 5p
one red pepper - 31p (£1.25 for a value bag of four peppers)
3 eggs - 74p (£1.48 for six free range eggs)
300ml of milk - 17p (based on 6 pints at £1.89)
90g cheese - 50p (based on 2 x 450g packs for £5 - always on offer!)
black pepper - about 1p.

Total = £2.04

This quiche serves 4-6, so it is 51p for a meal portion or 34p for a side portion. 

The eggies are by far the most expensive part of this quiche, but I will only eat free range eggs after seeing the state of rescued battery chickens and visting a barn of uncaged hens.

If you confine yourself to a smaller portion, Calorie Count will give you a C+ grade. The recipe has a fair amount of saturated fat (6g), but it's very low in sodium and has a fair whack of vitamins and minerals from the eggs and milk. Not super healthy though I'm afraid.

Anyway, my point is - who cares if you don't have the right ingredients/equipment/cooking ability? You can bodge a cheap meal together without having to run to the local corner shop every time you cook!

Make it do or do without!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

The True Cost of Bottled Water

Convenient, environmentally-damaging, expensive?

In 2009, the Australian town of Bundanoon voted to ban the sale of bottled water in an effort to reduce the use of resources and amount of plastic ending up in landfill.

On the 1st January, 2013, a new law came into place in Concord, Massachusetts which banned the sale of bottles of water smaller than 1 litre

Some of the locals have declared the ban pointless because they can buy water in the neighbouring town.

I disagree.

The media impact of the Bundanoon ban in 2009 meant that GLOBAL bottled water sales dropped 10% that year. It brought the wastefulness of bottled water to the attention of people around the world.

The Environmental Issue
The environmental impact of bottled water is astonishing. The majority of water bottles can be recycled, however more than 75% of them end up in landfill. The UK is set to run out of space in landfills by 2018, but clearly recycling is still not used frequently enough to allow 13 billion plastic bottles of water to enter the waste chain each year.

One small (1 litre) plastic bottle is made of 162g of oil (from petroleum products) and SEVEN litres of water! This means the carbon footprint of one litre bottle of water is 100g of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is unacceptably high compared to 0.3g of CO2 produced by the production of a litre of tap water.

The Financial Issue
Bottled water costs up to 500 times as much as water from a tap. The World Health Organisation has stated that it is not aware of any potential health benefits of drinking bottled water, so why do people buy it?

Thirsty? Bring a refillable water bottle when you go out. 
Marketing? Stop being such a consumer sucka (as Mr. Money Mustache would say!)

Don't let companies take you for a ride. In 2012, supermarkets admitted to selling “filtered” bottled tap water at a massive profit, something Coca-Cola received a massive amount of flak for back in 2004.

The Bottom Line
There's nothing wrong with UK tap water! Think yourself lucky to live in a country where hygienic, healthy water can be obtained freely in your own home for less than a third of a penny per litre!

And yes, I do live in an area with hard water!

So what do you think? Would the planet benefit from a ban on small bottles of water (allowing larger ones for storing water for emergencies)? It might not be possible in countries with poor sanitation, but surely if safe tap water exists it is ridiculous to pay for a plastic bottle of the stuff!

Check this out if you fancy a laugh:

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Hello 2013!

Happy new year! I hope you all had a lovely night! We went to Truro to watch the fireworks, surrounded by bananas in pyjamas and lego men! :)

C'mon then, let's hear 'em! What're your goals/ambitions/resolutions for 2013?

I really feel like 2013 is my year. Everything came together last year and The Boyfriend and I set up our own little flat as a base for new beginnings in Bristol. I miss my family and Cornwall every day but I know that we are working towards a better future (because there are so very few jobs in Cornwall).

Work/Uni Goals

I've started becoming involved in the wider scientific community as well as my own research. This year I will enter science writing contests, teach school children about the wonders of Biology, go to a scientific conference, and I am tempted to start writing science communication articles for the wider public too. :)

Since starting my PhD, I've been setting myself mini-deadlines so that I complete work at a decent rate and well ahead of the true deadline. It's a great practise, and really takes the stress out of life! I will definitely keep using mini-deadlines in 2013!

Finance Goals

The Boyfriend and I have been chatting and we're inspired to cut out unnecessary spending in order to bulk up the savings for possibly buying a house when I've finished Uni (in 2016), or even just so that we can afford to choose where we want to live and what we want to do.

This year I'm planning on saving more than ever! I can see friends for free, make lunches at home and entertain myself for free with gardening, blogging, baking, sewing, 4oD, walking, reading, writing, even Uni work! :D

So, I'll increase the number of No Spend Days to... 200 this year! 

Don't know how feasible this will be but we're not moving this year so that cuts out about a month of spending compared to last year! I think a major challenge like this is just what we need! Under the same rules as last year, rent, bills and the like don't count, but food shopping, eating out, parking, even buying a drink on a day out does count.

We will also be chipping away at the water, energy and food bills throughout the year.

Another successful goal of 2012 was to track my spending. This helps you to know exactly where your money is going, whilst also keeping you accountable for purchases. I hate writing down £1 for a coke on an otherwise spend-free day! It only takes seconds each day to record your spending if you fancy doing this too.

Health goals

I failed horribly at one goal last year: losing a little bit of weight each week. I am still the same as last year! Don't worry though, I'm back on track for eating healthily and dancing more in 2013! :)

So what have you got lined up for 2013? I don't have many set plans yet but I'm definitely looking forward to a happy new year! :)