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Diary of a Frugal Mum, Income & Outgoings

The lockdown spending habits that we’ll be keeping – to save over £4000 each year!

This year has been a strange one, a bit of a coronacoaster of highs and lows; with lockdown taking so much away, but giving us lots of positive changes too. Here are my lockdown spending habits that are here to stay…

Food Shopping

The food shop has been a mixed bag. At the start of lockdown we were having to buy more of our shopping from smaller local shops, which tended to cost us a considerable amount more in comparison to our usual Aldi shop. But, the shelves were empty, the queues were long and there was not a loo roll in sight! On a plus, I had to be inventive and cook what we could get, as well as using what we had in the freezer and cupboards.

Later down the line, with the panic buying over and our usual weekly shop resumed we are back on track with our food spending. Although, with the hungry little monsters at home 24/7, I will be making sure that we are making the most of what we buy. I made some delicious chocolate and coconut brownies the other day, using only what we had in the pantry drawer.

I’m also making sure that we only shop once a week, skipping the top up shop that I used to do pre-lockdown. It probably adds a little cost to our weekly shop, to make that sure we’ll have everything we need, but cutting down to one trip definitely leaves us at least £20 a week better off and stops me buying things I hadn’t intended to buy!

Monthly saving: £80


Clothes, shoes and hair

We aren’t big clothes shoppers, nor am I one for beauty products or treatments, so there hasn’t been a huge amount of change here. Both kids had grown and we finally had a trip to Primark which sorted most of what they needed for very little money (the t-shirts were all reduced to £1 each!), and I also got Lola a set of 9 Next and Gap items (mostly new with tags) from Facebook Marketplace for £15 so that was certainly a steal! I picked up a few bargains for them in the Debenhams online sale too.

Usually I buy bits here and there from charity shops or in the sales, so fortunately I had quite a lot of bits stored away for Finn already and he hasn’t needed much. But, I have missed my charity shop bargains and have been searching Marketplace instead – we picked up an immaculate Gap jumper for Finn for a quid! I don’t think I’ve spent any more or less than usual kitting them out in the next size up, but we have made savings when it comes to the boys’ hair!

Finn and Jay usually have their hair done every 4 weeks as it grows so fast! I’ve been using clippers to tame their wild locks and it has actually been fine – they both like it short so it’s pretty easy and I’ve got speedier as the months have rolled on. Previously Jay’s haircut cost £12 and Finn’s £6, so we’ve decided to keep this up.

Monthly saving: £18


Eating Out

We’ve never eaten out a huge amount, and always look for deals and vouchers if we do, but not having the option at all has definitely saved us money. And it’s not just the odd meal in a restaurant here and there, it has made me notice all the little extras that we spent when we were out and about at the weekend. Whether it be a sausage roll and a carton when the kids are hungry in town, a happy meal on the way home after a busy day out, or meeting my friends for a cuppa and cake while the kids are at school.

Even those small amounts, £5 or £10 here and there, add up. Cutting back just £20 a week on eating out would give us an extra £1000 in our bank account each year. To be honest this time of year we love picnics and BBQs anyway, and with our savings creeping up, I’m definitely going to be much more aware of the little extras when we starting venturing out again.

Estimated monthly saving: £60+


Petrol and Car Costs

Well this one is an obvious saving! Since we barely used a car for months on end, we slashed our petrol bills over night by at least £150 each month. My husband has always worked from home for 3 days a week but did commute in twice each week, I also drove to teach most of my students, as well as the 20 minute round trip for the school run twice each day. Add this to weekends out, or visiting friends and family, and fuel costs soon adds up.

We’ve made some permanent changes here and I’m excited to benefit from the long-term savings. For a start, my husband won’t be commuting again for at least a year. On top of this, I am going to continue to teach my students online as it has been really positive for everyone, saving me time and fuel costs. And, we’ve decided to continue homeschooling so that cuts out the school runs, although they will be attending a few clubs and classes. We’re venturing out a little more now, but I think we will still save £100 each month on petrol with these lifestyle changes.

On top of this, with me no longer needing wheels for the school run, we’ve sold one of our cars. This will give us an annual saving of £600 in car tax and insurance, plus petrol and yearly costs such as maintenance, servicing and the MOT. We’ll be £1000 better off each year, and the cash from the sale has boosted our savings too.

Monthly petrol saving: £100

Annual single car saving: £1000


Holidays and Travel

We were gutted when our trip to Lanzarote was cancelled back in May, but it’s definitely been a blessing in disguise. Stuck to school holiday dates, and trying to avoid fines, we’ve always struggled to keep costs as low as possible when we travel. Fortunately, most of our trip was refunded so we saved £900 on the flights and £600 on the villa. With airport parking and car hire too, we saved around £1750 in total. This has turned out to be a great thing, as we’ve kicked started our travel plans and booked to go away this September.

With it being term time, driving instead of flying, and my husband’s Eurocamp discount from work, we bagged THREE weeks of accommodation, across 3 different sites and our Eurotunnel each way for £650 altogether – less than we’d originally shelled out for just our flights. Since we want to do a lot of travelling, keeping these costs down is so important. The more we can save, the more we can travel.

Saving on cancelled holiday: £1750; Cost of new holiday: £650

Total travel Saving: £1100



We love being outdoors and have found ourselves walking, hiking and cycling even more than usual. Even before lockdown, we had a lot of these freebie type weekends; roaming the woods, climbing a hill or playing at the beach. But amongst these days we would have days out to castles, play-centres, the cinema or trampolining etc from time to time. Honestly, we haven’t really missed much of it, although I do think this is largely due to it being the summer – we always spend a bit more entertaining the kiddies indoors during the winter.

With it being the school holidays, I would usually meet friends out and about and perhaps book country park activities too – nothing too expensive but it does all add up. With the rules at the moment, the children have been having one friend round each week and they’re loving it after so long apart. So, we’ll be keeping this up – free apart from a bag of chicken nuggets! 😉

Monthly saving: £50+


I can’t believe these savings!

Total monthly saving: £308 = £3696 across the year!

Plus annual car saving: £1000

Total annual saving: £4696!!

(I’ve not included this year’s £1100 travel saving as we are intending to do as much travelling as possible in the next few years so our travel spending will increase!)


If we can continue these changes long-term we could save a massive amount of money. Whilst it’s unrealistic to think that some costs won’t creep back in as things settle down, there’s definitely the potential for us to make some really significant savings. I couldn’t believe the amount when I saw the total! It’s amazing how quickly the small changes can add up, and that’s a lot of extra money that can take us on our travels, so I’ll be working hard to make sure we keep on track.

If you also have additional outgoings that could be slashed (such as beauty treatments, TV or gym subscriptions or anything else you’ve learnt to live without) then the savings could be enormous! For more ideas, and to start saving today, read my post on how to overhaul your finances during lockdown.


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