Comparing 2021 lockdown spending diaries: Much More With Less & Mrs Mummypenny (ad)

Picture of plum blossom in our back garden

Spending time at home during lockdown

How has your spending changed in 2021, after more than three months of lockdown?

Since the start of this year, I’ve continued keeping my spending diary, to see where we saved and where costs soared.

Even better, I’ve swapped spending diaries with Mrs Mummypenny, not just because I’m nosy but also to see what I can learn from someone else.

We’ve pored over each other’s spending diaries in the past so it’s been fascinating to see what’s changed in 2021.

Previous posts: Swapping spending diaries, lockdown spending diary and after lockdown comparison

We’re both self-employed money bloggers in our forties, living outside London in four bed houses. Our spending is both for families of four – for me including my husband and two children, and for Mrs Mummypenny including her three boys, who live with her half the time since her divorce.

Find out where we spent the same – and where we differed!

Pin for later:

c

Saving vs spending

The pandemic has caused deep financial divides. Some people are in dire straits, due to job loss, furlough or their income evaporating. Others actually have extra cash, if their jobs continued but their spending shrunk during lockdown.

Hands up, Mrs Mummypenny and I are definitely some of the lucky ones.

Our businesses kept going, but we had less chance to spend on eating out, going out, shopping, travel and holidays, when almost everything was shut.

So for me, the biggest change in my spending for 2021 was actually saving more.

In fact the money I ploughed into savings, investments and pensions blew everything else out of the water. It accounted for nearly 60% of my outgoings, nearly three times as much as the 22% for Mrs Mummypenny.

Setting aside savings, investments and pensions, we actually spent pretty similar totals: £8,912 for Lynn and £8,195 for me. How we spent the money did differ!

Pie chart of my expenses during the 2021 lockdown, with 50% going into my pension

Making chunky pension payments

Pension payments have been by far my biggest category so far in 2021, at 50% of my outgoings.

I’m a big fan of pensions because of the free money that gets added in tax relief. The drawback is that you can’t whip anything out of your pension until the age of 55 (rising to 57 from April 2028). 

However this time last year, during the first lockdown, some work projects were delayed or cancelled, which made me nervous about tying anything up in long term investments.

In the second lockdown, I finally got round to setting up a small but regular monthly pension payment.

During this third lockdown, which continued through the end of the tax year on April 5, I felt confident enough about my income to stash a chunky £10,000 of my Covid savings into my PensionBee pension (affiliate link).

I’m self-employed as sole trader, so don’t have a boss to choose a pension for me or make contributions on my behalf. It’s all down to me.

I do normally wait until after filing my tax return in January to stash a lump sum in my pension. That way, I have a better idea how much I can spare, between money coming in and money going out in bills and tax.

This year, part of the reason I whacked more than usual into my pension was because I’m celebrating a big birthday this year, edging distinctly closer to the magic age of 55, when I can actually get my hands on my pension money if needed. Retirement is no longer just a distant dream.

My pension is also particularly attractive because I can rake in higher rate tax relief. For every pound I pay into a pension, I get 25p added automatically in basic rate tax relief. I can then claim another 25p tax relief back on my tax return, cutting my tax bill. So my pension pot goes up by £1.25 – but it’s only actually cost me 75p. Most people can pay up to 100% of earnings, capped at max £40,000 a year, into a pension.

Making pension payments can also help higher earners hang onto more Child Benefit. Normally, once the highest earner in a family earns over £50,000 a year, the government starts clawing back Child Benefit. Once you earn over £60,000 a year, it’s all gone.

But pension payments are taken off your income before any Child Benefit calculations. That means if you pay enough into your pension to bring your income down below £60,000 you’ll still get some Child Benefit, and if your income after pension payments dips below £50K, you’ll hang onto the whole lot.

My post with more on how pensions can cut your tax bill over on the PensionBee blog: 

 Meanwhile Mrs Mummypenny put £2,000 into her pension during 2021, after bigger contributions before Christmas. As Lynn is the company director of her own limited company, her tax breaks on pension payments are slightly different from mine as a sole trader. She saves on corporation tax by making pension payments from her company, as they count as a business expense.

Pie chart of Mrs Mummypenny's expenses during the 2021 lockdown

Debt is expensive

 Comparing spending diaries reminded me again about the burden of debt, and how borrowing pushes up living costs.

We made the decision back in 2014 to move from London to Suffolk, which meant we could clear our mortgage completely. We try to avoid debt wherever possible, just running credit cards that are paid off every month. It was a big deal for me last year when I took out a Bounce Back Loan for my business (interest-free for the first year) as normally we pay for stuff in cash rather than borrowing.

So our debt repayments in 2021 have totalled a big fat zero – compared to nigh on 40% of Mrs Mummypenny’s outgoings, across her mortgage, car financing and bed repayments.

Picture of chicory, walnut, salad leaves and blue cheese lunch

Yet another meal

Cooking vs takeaways

One of the big time sinks for me during lockdown was All The Meals.

Normally I work from home in glorious peace during the week, with my husband off at the office and my kids at school. During multiple lockdowns, we’ve pretty much been together 24/7, including every single meal and snack (there have been a lot of snacks). OK I will grudgingly admit there a few school dinners in the brief three weeks the kids were back at school before the Easter holidays.

There was no chance to eat out, and we spent just £61 in three months on takeaways – a single trip to the chippy, some snacks for the kids at the end of term, and an Easter treat when my husband took the kids to get takeaway waffles and milkshakes from a newly-opened local business, after a voucher for 10% off.

Meanwhile the grocery bill for our family of four totted up to just over £1,350, so around £100 a week in supermarket spending. I reckon our food bills have also been a bit higher than normal as I’ve been attempting to follow the Fast 800 diet, which is big on pricier protein and fresh fruit and veg, and cuts down on cheap carbs.

Mrs Mummypenny actually spent an almost identical £1,417 in total on groceries and eating out, despite only catering for one person half the time, when her boys were with their dad. Her total was split very differently, with only two thirds on groceries, but a third on assorted takeaways and Mindful Chef boxes.

Right now I’m just feeling a bit jealous of the takeaways. Steering clear of the likes of Deliveroo and McDonalds may have kept our food costs down, but I quite fancy the idea of time off cooking!

Pic of a box of drinks and mixers for a Zoom cocktail masterclass

A Zoom meeting I could really get behind

Spending more fun money in the latest lockdown

One area that has changed for me compared to the first lockdowns is more ‘fun money’ spent by the kids, my husband and myself.

We have not been frugal, but have invested in stuff for assorted lockdown hobbies, way more than during the first couple of lockdowns.

So for example, the kids embraced online ordering, and I’ve topped up their Christmas, birthday and pocket money to get books, art materials, board games, gaming vouchers, filming equipment, Zoom piano lessons, a model kit and a drone. We’ve also paid in advance for print making classes for my 13-year-old.

My own fun money went on magazines, books, flute lessons by Zoom, a Duolingo language learning subscription, an afternoon tea box as a Mothers’ Day treat, a gin box for a Zoom drinks tasting and another one as a future birthday treat.

Meanwhile my husband has been doing bass and Pilates lessons by Zoom, subscribes to Apple Music and the Guardian, and put his Christmas and birthday money towards buying an iPad.

After caving in to demands for Netflix during the first lockdown, I also splashed out on assorted trial subscriptions to Britbox, Amazon Prime video and MUBI, a film streaming service. We’ve stuck with Britbox but I’ve cancelled the others.

Overall, we spent a chunky £2,000 on the leisure, children and fun money categories, compared just £485 for Lynn and her kids.

Picture of our dog Otto in dire need of grooming

Otto really need a hair cut

Allowing for one-off costs

Looking at where my spending diary differed from Mrs Mummypenny’s, I kept thinking: “but that’s a one-off or annual cost, not everyday normal spending”.

Our car costs were bumped up by the £285 car service and our pet costs inflated by Otto the dog’s annual injection (£42), the first time he has been groomed in a year (£40) and the one-off operation when he got the snip (£168).

Household costs included nearly £125 replacing smoke alarms, nearly £100 for the water-softening salt blocks that should last a year, the £175 annual premium for buy to let buildings insurance and £96 for (hopefully) one-off boiler repairs. Bills were bumped up by a heating oil delivery.

The total spending on presents just happened to cover a period with five birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Mothers’ Day and Easter.  We also forked out for a fancy glamping break booked for after lockdown.

Yet Lynn has also had out of the ordinary expenses, such as a dishwasher repair and buying a car battery jump start kit.

I guess the real message is that budgeting can’t just be based on normal, everyday spending. Every month there’ll be some kind of annual or unusual expenditure. Even if it’s not smoke alarms or a pet injection, the annual car insurance or whatever else will be due.

 

Now – over to you. How have your outgoings changed during the 2021 lockdown? Have you been able to save, or is it a struggle keeping body and soul together? Do share in the comments, as I’d love to hear.

 

Read Mrs Mummypenny’s post about our lockdown spending diaries over on the PensionBee blog.

Plus, join us for an Instagram live chat about lockdown saving and spending on Thursday 22 April at 1pm!

 

This post was sponsored by online pension provider PensionBee (affiliate link)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

11 Comments

  1. 15th December 2021 / 7:52 am

    Very insightful and thank you very much for such great ideas.

  2. Joan christopher
    24th January 2022 / 9:23 am

    I was depressed some Months ago due to how frustrating it is dealing with bad credits, but reaching out to HACK VANISH via Phone: +1 (747) 293-8514 and Email: HACK VANISH (@) GMAIL. COM gave my life a new meaning, after I found him credible through positive reviews I read on a credit blog, in a twinkle of an eye, this great hacker got my credit score restored from 509 to 784 across the 3 major credit bureaus, all evictions and repossession has been wiped off, my LexisNexis and Chex system fixed respectively, to my greatest surprise, some days later, I received an E-mail confirming the approval of my pending loan application. I can confidently say 2021 was an exceptional year for my husband and I as we are proud owners of a new home and a brand-new SUV courtesy HACK VANISH, I would definitely recommend him to anyone in need of a genuine Hacker.

  3. Manuel Franco
    1st December 2023 / 7:00 am

    I just want to say Thank You to everyone who supported me through the years. My name is Manuel Franco, New Berlin, Wisconsin. My story of how I won the Powerball lottery of $768.4M is a bit of a tale. I have been playing Powerball tickets for 6 years now since I turned 18. I bought my first ticket on my 18 birthday. I was feeling very lucky that day because I had contacted Dr. Odunga Michael to help me with the winning Powerball numbers. I really had that great great feeling that I looked at the camera wanting to wink at it. I only did a tiny part of it and trusted him. He gave me the numbers after I played a couple other tickets along with it for $10. I checked my ticket after the winnings came online and saw the numbers were correct including the Power play. I screamed for about 10 minutes because it felt like a dream. I had won $768.4M. You can check my winning testimony with the lottery officials just with my name search. Thank you Dr Odunga. Well, his email is odungaspelltemple@gmail.com and you can also call or Whats-app him at +2348167159012 so you guys can contact him

  4. 5th December 2023 / 5:49 am

    Great article really impressed . I think you should write more articles like this.

  5. 14th December 2023 / 9:04 am

    The Turn Rotary Position Sensor purchased from exporthub.com has proven to be a reliable solution for our control systems. Its accuracy and responsiveness have optimized our processes, and we’re extremely satisfied with the results. A definite thumbs up!

  6. Lyne Azabal
    26th February 2024 / 10:34 pm

    I Need A Hacker To Recover My Lost Investment? Go To Lost Recovery Masters

    Hello guys, I’m Lyne Azabal from France. In my investment with Acstons-Cc, I also lost 17 lakhs. Trading using the Acstons. cc app generated a profit of 197,153 USD after paying tax and a 25% fee, however they would not release my profit and all of my Bitcoins were frozen. I called my pals, who suggested I try LOST RECOVERY MASTERS, and to my astonishment they were able to assist me get back 89% of my money. Despite the fact that I didn’t get all of it back, I’m still really appreciative of LOST RECOVERY MASTERS
    For advice on recovering cryptocurrencies, get in touch with Lost Recovery Masters You can also ask them questions about any firm you wish to deal with.
    Contact them:  Whatsapp (+44(7537)-105921) Email (Support@lostrecoverymasters.com) Learn More https://lostrecoverymasters.wixsite.com/recoverbitcoin2024

  7. zam zam
    25th April 2024 / 8:28 am

    BE SMART AND BECOME RICH IN LESS THAN 3DAYS….It all depends on how fast 
    you can be to get the new PROGRAMMED blank ATM card that is capable of
    hacking into any ATM machine,anywhere in the world. I got to know about 
    this BLANK ATM CARD when I was searching for job online about a month 
    ago..It has really changed my life for good and now I can say I’m rich and 
    I can never be poor again. The least money I get in a day with it is about 
    $50,000.(fifty thousand USD) Every now and then I keeping pumping money 
    into my account. Though is illegal,there is no risk of being caught 
    ,because it has been programmed in such a way that it is not traceable,it 
    also has a technique that makes it impossible for the CCTVs to detect 
    you..For details on how to get yours today, email the hackers on : (
    atmmachinehackers1@gmail.com < Tell your 
    loved once too, and start to live large. That's the simple testimony of how 
    my life changed for good…Love you all .

  8. meeloun education
    21st May 2024 / 8:48 am

    选择作业代写 https://www.yydaixie.com 机构时必须注意细节方面,机构方面是否靠谱需要留学生多方面对比。

  9. Yanira Alvarez
    23rd May 2024 / 2:48 pm

    Real spell casters are hard to find but I am happy to thank Lord Krish for helping me win the lottery successfully after trying so many spell casters and I found my happiness in Lord Krish. I was given the lottery numbers by him which made me the third highest lottery winner in history and this is all thanks to you sir. Winning the lottery is something everyone would like to feel especially with a trustworthy spell caster. I, Yanira Alvarez, won the Powerball lottery in Los Angeles and I really thank Lord Krish because after I contacted him, he told me to only provide the spiritual items for him to do it for me and I didn’t hesitate to give him what he required so I could win it. I have tried so many spell casters who seemed real but only Lord Krish numbers gave me the winnings. I won the Powerball Jackpot of $1.08 billion and I am here today to share my experience to those willing to win the lottery as well. Take this opportunity to contact Lord Krish Spiritual with his email: lordkrishshrine@gmail.com and also share your experience with others.

The contents of this blog are for information and ideas, and should not be viewed as financial advice. Use of the material is conditional on there being no liability for how you choose to use it. If you are unsure about any investments or financial issues, please contact a financial adviser.