Epiphanies, Habits And Rituals: Q1 £5k Challenge Results

I had too many bad habits. I got sick of spending dead money on rent, but most importantly, I got tired of not being in control of my own destiny

Just over three months ago I had a striking realisation that my life wasn’t heading in the direction I wanted. I was living month-to-month, just about scraping by with not a penny of savings to my name. I don’t remember feeling particularly unhappy about it, I’m a glass half full kind of guy and try to see the best in every situation. I did feel, however, that I would never be in a position to buy my own home. I was convinced I would be a lifetime renter unless I somehow came into some sort of inheritance. My two best friends have both bought their own properties, one a couple of years ago and the other only recently, with help from their parents. This was simply not an option for me!

Epiphany, Habits and Rituals

The Epiphany

It was a bolt out of the blue. My landlord at the time decided to sell the apartment we rented from him, it was the second time in a row that this had happened to me, and although at the time I was at my wits end, it turns out that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I sat up late one night worried about what we were going to do, I say late, in reality I pulled an all nighter whilst I went through my finances with a fine tooth-comb.

I made a plan starting with just three main points to begin with:

  1. Assess spending habits
  2. Significantly reduce outgoings
  3. Start saving for a mortgage deposit       

Identifying Waste

Sounds easy enough right? The most important thing was, not making the plan, but changing rituals and habits to make sure the plan was well executed leaving no room for slipping back into my old ways. So when I came to my first point, assessing spending habits, I had to ensure that previous bad habits were eradicated. I saw my main areas of waste were smoking, spending on take-aways and eating out, spending money at work on lunches and far too much partying!


Assessing Spending And Changing Habits

I swapped the cigarettes for an e-cig. They’re cheaper, last much longer and are not filled with life threatening chemicals. I’ve slowly started to wean myself off them now too – I’ll be free of them soon. Even so, considering smoking cost me a minimum of £8 per day, over the last three months it has freed a considerable amount of money I always claimed I didn’t have.

Take-aways are a thing of the past. I mix up my shopping between Muscle Foods and Aldi and plan my meals monthly to cut down on waste. This has significantly reduced my food costs.

I never buy food at work anymore. Considering I lived on the same street it was pretty ridiculous to do so anyway. That gives you some indication of just how wasteful I could really be!   

I’ve not become a hermit by any accounts, I’m a social butterfly and love a few beers with friends, however, the parties have reduced considerably. I love a good party and I’m usually the first to arrive and the last to leave. At 34 it’s time to slow down a bit, not only do I feel an awful lot better, my wallet has certainly noticed the difference.

Significantly Reducing Outgoings

All of the above changes have played a massive role in reducing my outgoings and enabling me to save money away. But, without doubt, the biggest single thing I did was downgrade my living accommodation. When the news first hit about the impending sale of our apartment the first thing I did was look around for something in the same price range and higher, in some cases MUCH higher. (Stay with me this was before my epiphany moment!)

After I’d had time to take stock of my life and my future, the only thing I was concerned with was getting the rent costs down. I was lucky, a friend knew a friend, who had a friend looking to let his flat. Better still, not only was the rent much cheaper, but the gas, electric and water were all inclusive. It cut my outgoings by a further £350-£400 per month.

Now, I’m going to be honest, I hate this bloody flat and I cannot wait to haul ass out of it! But, it has given me the necessary extra financial power, plus the motivation to save it away and  get out of it as quickly as possible. I’m sure in my own way I’ll look back on it with fond memories when all is said and done.

Saving The Money

This is where changing my mindset became most important. I was always one of those people who tried to save after they had spent. Now I do the complete opposite. Before one penny has been spent my money is transferred to my network of accounts – more about that below  – I have also recently put myself on a £100 a week spending budget, still with the aim of reducing it further.

gold pig


I started with a Help-To-Buy ISA and as the months progressed I set up a network of other accounts, or Piggybanking as I like to call it. I opened 2 current accounts with a high interest rate of 5%, plus 2 corresponding saving accounts to go with them – also with an interest rate of 5%. See more about Piggybanking here.

The Result?

That 3 point plan is now a 15 year plan! I’ve given myself 15 years to save and invest my money wisely enough to ensure that it provides a steady income to allow me to give up the day job and set off travelling the world as a digital nomad. That’s the goal and in let’s be honest ,I’m quite some way from achieving it. More importantly, I’m A LOT further towards it in 3 short months than I was by changing my mindset, making a plan and executing it! Good habits become just as hard to give up as bad ones once they have had chance to set in.

Looking Forward

With the first quarter of the year already done, I’m 30% of the way towards saving my target of £5,000 which is the first major milestone of this journey. I’m aware that I am still wasting money, I’ve plugged the leak but there is still some seeping through the cracks so my focus will be to completely stop wasting money by the end of Q2. Now I am seeing my financial future clearly I am aiming higher, I want the £5,000 Challenge complete with 3 months to spare. I’ve started to believe that anything is possible with a wealthy mindset.
Do you have a plan to retire early? How do you plan to get there? Please share your thoughts, I would love to hear from you!  

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David Naylor is the editor of the Thinking Thrifty blog. After a striking realisation about the direction his life was heading he set himself a 15 year plan to achieve total financial freedom. Join the journey!

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6 thoughts on “Epiphanies, Habits And Rituals: Q1 £5k Challenge Results

  1. Congrats on your journey so far! This was a great post. For me, cutting rental costs + reducing my nights out really helped kick-start my savings. I just can’t help buying a round of drinks when I go out–that’s the way I am! I decided that was a good quality that I wanted to keep, but I could add some parameters to it so it didn’t make me resentful later. (What’s the point of generosity if you regret it the next day?) Now I go out much less, but still buy a round (or 3). No regrets at the end of the month, and my savings plan is still on track!

    1. Thank you very much! You’re totally right. I still allow for socialising, I love a few pints at the out with friends and have tried to stay realistic with my saving. So far so good, I’m ahead of target and don’t feel like I have restricted myself at all. Now I save before I spend and still get to the end of the month comfortably, it has really opened my eyes to how much money I used to waste. Best of luck to you, you sound like you have your head screwed on.

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