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Well, here we are again, another January 1st, and all the usual resolutions apply.

The next 12 weeks

I’ve signed up at the gym I go to to their new program.  In a couple of days, I’ll be going to set up a 12 week program with them. They go through all your targets, do bio-mechanics, work up a nutritional program and a workout sheet for each day you go per week ( so as I aim to go 4 times a week, that would be 4 different programs, one for each day). As they are a small team, they take an interest in everybody, it’s very motivating. And as far as the nutritional aspect goes, I’m expecting to be held accountable – ooh, eek, a bit scary, no excuses.  The chap that I have asked to be assigned to used to be a chef before this job, so he knows all about the recipe testing pitfalls. I really hope that I can lose significant amounts of weight this year, I’m sick of the battle.

Do you want to lose weight this new year?

If you too are staring the weight loss battle down the barrel, and are skint, the meal plans could help. Each meal plan provides 2000 calories for an adult woman, plus 2500 calories for an adult man. Around 500 calories on each plan is provided by the extra bits and pieces, the cakes and bakes. So if you need the average amount of calories, follow a plan, leave out the cakes and bakes, and you should lose weight, and  save even more money.

Ha, sounds easy doesn’t it, I know it isn’t.

Need to stretch that cash?

If the diet you need to go on involves your purse more than your waistline, let’s start from basics, and draw up a plan. We all need to know where we are so we can work out how to get where we want to go. Writing it down and staring it in the face is the worst part, be brave.

Get a pen and a piece of paper. Now write down your income on the right hand side, any extra little bits of income you may have too and total it up. Now on the left hand side, write down all your outgoings, absolutely everything. If you can do spreadsheets, an Excel is perfect here.

All the non-negotiables, and fixed, expenses first, mortgage/rent, council tax, water bills, that kind of thing. And if you have an overdraft, loans or debts, how much goes out on those.

Now try and work out how much you spend on other things. How much do you spend  on groceries each month, how much on going out, clothes, birthdays, the garden. Write it all down.

Now the really scary part. Add up both columns and see what the difference is.  If the left hand column is larger than the right hand column, you have more income than you are spending. Well done you, keep it up. Can you put any more aside for your future? Setting up a standing order from your account to a separate savings account is a great way to accumulate a nest egg, emergency fund, big holiday. Use a standing order, and you’ll soon stop noticing it even going out.

If the outgoing column is bigger than the income column, you are spending more than you have coming in, and you probably already know that. Look at what you can cut out or cut down. Are there any subscriptions you can get rid of, magazines, Sky etc; anything in your bank account that shouldn’t still be going out – old direct debits or standing orders that need to be cancelled ; any fripperies that can be trimmed, but don’t be too strict, or you won’t be able to stick with it. Go through that budget with a fine toothed comb and see what you can get rid of. The objective of course is to balance those incomings and outgoings.

The Money Advisory Service have an extensive planner that can be saved and tweaked as you work on it that may help you to remember all incomings and outgoings, and see what else you can do to balance it. If you don’t want to save it there, you could use it as inspiration for a spreadsheet that you set up yourself. MAS also has a lot of good advice on how to tackle a difficult situation.

One of those often said pieces of advice is to use a meal planner. It sounds too easy to do anything, but it really does work. By using one, it helps you to see what you need to buy, and perhaps more to the point, what you don’t need to buy, when you’re in the supermarket.  I’ve drawn up this simple one on the computer.

weekly-meal-planner

If you’d like to use it, download the Excel file here – weekly meal planner, or print the pdf above using the Print Option button

I’ll be using the Meal Planner a lot in 2016 as I need/want to make serious inroads in my stash of groceries. I’ll be using it to plan meals using items I already have as much as I can. I’ve been using it for a few weeks now.

What are your plans for 2016?

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Use it up meals, Roquefort tart, split pea soup. Soup just 13p
Sunny days, charity shops, handbags, puddings and good reads