Spending Diary for 7th to 13th September 2020

Hi everybody,

I have to be really careful with my finances as over the next three paydays I’m going to try and save enough money so I can buy a new laptop. I will then have to hit the saving goals hard again to try and save enough money for moving next year.

I currently live with my ex-boyfriend, the aforementioned flat mate in previous posts. He is my best friend and I sort of see him as family now though there are no romantic feelings between us anymore.

We split up in August 2019. At the time we were in the process of renewing our tenancy agreement and the only option at that point was to renew for a year. Neither of us felt like dating at that point and we had simply fallen out of love with each other, so there was no bad blood. We felt trying to move at that point would have been too much.

We planned to not extend our tenancy agreement this year and just move out in September. I was even looking at houses to move into. But then my mum passed away and suddenly being faced with the prospect of having to find a new place to live in amongst the pain of the grief was too much. So my ex/flat mate and I have negotiated to change the contract to a rolling monthly contract and now we have a bit more freedom to still move out and go our separate ways, but at a time that is better for us.

Anyway, I have waffled. Back to what you’re all here for which is my spending diary.

07/09/2020

After a bad night’s sleep I woke up a little before my alarm and decided to get up and stay up. I did 9 lessons on Duolingo, my French skills are coming along nicely. I then decided to do the worst thing first and went on the exercise bike for 20 minutes and then did a 40 minute body weight strength work out. It was tough. I hadn’t properly woken up and my knees felt stiff but by the end of it I was in a better mood. I had a quick shower, made a coffee, and then started work.

It was my friend’s birthday today and I sent her a message in the morning. I saw she was doing a Facebook charity fundraiser for her birthday and sent £10 to her page. I’m going to see my friend this weekend in Gloucester, which will involve a train journey. Transport for Wales (the train operator in my area) is encouraging people to book their travel in advance as due to lockdown/covid restrictions it can ask people to leave the trains if the carriages are too full. So even though I would not be going a great distant at all and wouldn’t normally book the journey I bought my train tickets in advance. Booking them in advance saved me a bit of money, especially after I applied my rail card which gives me 1/3 off. Buying them online does mean I have to pay a 30p booking fee though, but even that was discounted because of my rail card. The train tickets cost £14.05, I saved about £7.75 in the process. My rail card expires next year and I will be past the age limit to renew it, so I have to benefit from the discount I get currently. Soon there will be no more discounts!

Then I booked a haircut at my favourite hairdressers. It is in extremely high demand, particularly if you want a cheaper stylist (which is all my budget calls for). In the end I booked an appointment for the 27th November, which is when I also hope to buy a new laptop. I didn’t specifically plan it for this, but the 27th is Black Friday so I hope I will get a bit of a discount on my shopping that day, but literally the only reason I am planning my shopping for that date is I will have had 3 paydays by then.

My haircut appointment wouldn’t be at my local salon but at their office in another part of my city which I could either walk to or get the train to. Even paying for the train will work out cheaper than seeing my usual stylist at my usual salon. To book this appointment I had to pay a £20 deposit, which is a big chunk of the money I have left for this month. But I desperately need my hair cut. By the time of that appointment it will have been 51 weeks since my last haircut! When you are on a debt free journey and your income is limited you have to make sacrifices here and there and my hair is usually the first thing to be sacrificed. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to make it look really good, so sadly I can’t indulge in it and have found a style and upkeep regime that makes it look as good as it can on a budget. My hair is thick and curly and I have chosen this particular salon because they are trained in dealing with hair like mine and know how to work with it. So even though I could go somewhere cheaper to get my haircut I go to this salon because they treat me well.

Buying these things left me short of money and I had to transfer money I would rather have saved into my spending account. Just because I’m debt free doesn’t mean I’m suddenly rolling in money! I do feel I generally have a good grasp on my finances but perhaps this day suggests otherwise.

In the evening I had some whisky, a really special treat for me, and I placed an order for some toiletries with Boots. I bought the Carbon Theory vegan charcoal soap that is supposed to be very good for acne. I have mild adult cystic acne and can’t afford to go to a dermatologist and it seems a bit selfish to go to the doctors about acne during a pandemic so I will try anything I can get my hands on. I also bought my usual charcoal face mask and some micellar water. It came to £16 plus £1.50 to deliver it to the Boots nearest my house. I can collect it on Wednesday. I’m really beginning to struggle for money but still have enough to keep me going for the rest of the month.

To keep my budgets a bit more in check I batch cooked a tuna pasta bake for my lunches for the rest of the week. I am desperately trying to lose weight. Although I have great cardio fitness and am in general good shape, I am carrying a bit of extra weight and my health has become a concern given that my mum passed away suddenly and completely out of the blue from a heart attack. My dad had two heart attacks before the age of 65 so this is something I’ve got to get serious about. It’s just quite hard in lockdown because my job, when I was in the office, was quite physically demanding. I would also walk to and from the office which was 60 minutes of exercise before I even did things like my running group sessions.

I then quickly wrote a card for my grandpa and went to post it. The nearest post box has a collection at 9am each morning so if I posted it this evening it would be picked up tomorrow.

I then settled down to the radio with another whisky (whoops) and started to unwind. The washing up was done, the hoovering could wait, and it was time to get myself together.

08/09/2020

I actually began to get really depressed last night. It is a good thing I have my first work benefit scheme counselling session later this week. It is part of my employee benefits that I have access to counselling sessions. I hope to get some help.

This morning, despite being very tired, I actually felt a bit better about myself and about the things that were getting me down last night. I really do believe in the transformative powers of a good night’s sleep. In the morning I had a ‘coffee connect’ with someone in another department of the Civil Service. Coffee Connect is a scheme at my work where I sign up and then every 4 weeks I am matched with another Civil Service worker and we get together for a virtual coffee and chat. I had a job once that had a similar scheme and I really enjoyed it. Plus I’m really trying to get out of my comfort zone socially. The coffee connection was really fun. I enjoyed it.

However as the day went on my mood got dramatically worse. I’m not sure why it began but I have found this week very hard so far. I guess it could be delayed grief from when my mum passed away. I am suddenly incredibly anxious about my health and want to do more to keep myself healthy and to lose weight. My health anxiety is focusing purely on what I weigh and what my waist measurement is and I’m seeing both as dangerous. I used to have severe health anxiety a few years ago and I’ve made great strides in overcoming it. I thought it would be a global pandemic that brought it back, but it was my mum’s unexpected death instead. I miss her so much. I think on some level I still haven’t fully accepted that she is never coming back. It still feels like she is in my life in some way. I guess it’s because most conversations happening nowadays, particularly with my family, are solely about my mum which is why she still feels like a big presence, so I may go through another grief spell after everything dies down.

So although I didn’t spend any money today, I cannot say this day was a good day. My mental health is descending to such low levels that I am really struggling to cope this week.

I have decided to avoid alcohol for the time being. I don’t think it had any cause on my bad mood arriving yesterday, but I don’t think drinking in a low mood is a good idea. I have a very strict rule with alcohol which is I can’t drink it to improve or enhance a mood. I don’t ever want to associate alcohol with being something that improves my mood because I am worried I would become dependent if I did. My mum in earlier stages of her life was an alcoholic. This was incredibly hard to grow up with, but I am so proud of my mum for having the strength to overcome it.

09/09/2020

I was in a really bad way with my mental health all day today. I did my 60 minutes of exercise as I had every other day this week, but I was very tearful whilst doing it. I had used the exercise bike for 60 minutes as it wouldn’t involve leaving the house. I was in an extremely bad way and had been unable to concentrate all day on work and was then getting stressed about being unable to concentrate on work all day long. I really felt pretty desperate today.

I had it together enough to go do some food shopping that came to £26.82, but the day was just awful from start to finish. My flat mate came with me to do the shopping because it was beyond me to do it on my own. It really helped having him there. We bought almond milk, oat milk, blackcurrant squash, milk, frozen sweetcorn, oat cakes, black beans, 2 tins of baked beans, 2 packets of ground coffee, rice cakes, avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon, 3 packets of microwave rice, a multipack of Twix bars, tortilla wraps and eggs. We have fallen out of the habit of planning our meals for the week which is bad behaviour, so we are just buying food on a whim and without prior thought. This is really reflecting in the food budget. We have spent £288.20 at this point which is a huge amount for what is still quite an early point in the month. I’m going to have to be really careful and really plan the rest of the month.

 I spoke to my Dad and Step mum on Facebook Video Messenger and told them how I was struggling and it naturally made them very concerned but I think it was the right thing to do. I avoid talking to my family about my mental health as their natural instinct is to worry. Of course they would worry, they are a great family, but I don’t like being a cause of worry. I know that is a silly thing to say when they are only worrying because they care. I just don’t like being vulnerable around people. I like to project the image of being capable and strong. I am in no way suggesting having mental health or being in a bad way means a person is incapable or weak. It is just that I can be very hard on myself.

I went to bed early. Well, early for me. 11pm. About an hour earlier than usual, so it is still quite horrendously late and not good for me. I will try and work on my sleep and improve it.

10/09/2020

I cannot begin to describe just how different today was compared to the rest of the week. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I was in a good mood all day. I still felt the best thing to do was to tell my line manager about my mental health, which I did towards the end of the day. I felt free from the tyranny of my awful low mental health this week. The only money that came out of my account today was for my dishwasher tablet subscription. £4.50.

I just felt that talking about my mental health with my family last night was the right thing to do. That, and the ‘early night’ may have resulted in my good spirits today.

The mistake would be to try and invalidate the feelings I was having at the start of the week. They were as real and as vital as the good feelings I’m having today are. I did the right thing in talking to my line manager about my mental health as I had to establish I was in a bad way as I may be in this bad way again. Grief is not a simple thing to go through. I should know as I have experienced a great number of deaths in my life. None of them have been easy for me or my family or those affected by the death. We just have to carry on and do the best we can.

My flat mate and I went for a 4 mile walk after we had finished work. That was my 60 minutes of exercise for the day. It felt good to be out and about in the fresh air and to talk to him about my week. He had been an enormous support to me this week. He really is like a family member, or certainly a very good close friend.

11/09/2020

When I woke up I saw I had a missed call from my line manager and that made me anxious which sadly put me in a bad mood. Missed calls are a huge source of anxiety for me. She was in meetings so I wasn’t able to get back in contact with her straight away, which to my shame made me a bit mopey in a catch up virtually with work colleagues. My anxiety, when it hits, tends to take over things and just rule my emotions. I was sad about being sad in the virtual meet up. I really try to be in a good mood when I socialize with people. I felt unable to go into a second virtual meet up with my colleagues due to my low mood. I later spoke to my line manager though and felt so much better for it. She was concerned that I hadn’t gone into the second virtual meet up and I guess I should make a better effort in the future to structure my day/working week better so I can take part without worrying about work. In terms of my output it wasn’t a successful day as I wasn’t able to finish the work I had started, but I felt good to an extent. Certainly compared to earlier points of the week. I worked a bit later than usual and ended the day on a high.

I then spent the evening doing the KonMari method on the category of ‘books’. I’m not sure if you read my spending diary last week but what I am doing starting from last weekend is over the next six weeks I am decluttering my possessions. I am doing this for two reasons. Next year, as mentioned at the start, I will be moving out. I am likely to be moving into a house share meaning I will go from having half a flat to contain my things to just one room and maybe some shelf space in the kitchen. The other reason I am doing this process is I am also tallying up what my possessions are worth as in November I will be renewing my home contents insurance and I want to make sure I have the right cover for my stuff. It is beginning to look like I am seriously undervaluing my stuff. What I have done is I have made a five sheet spreadsheet detailing all my possessions by category and what it would cost to replace them if anything happened to them. This is how I am beginning to realise I am undervaluing my items as I had previously had cover for up to £10000 but my clothes spreadsheet seems to suggest it would cost £6000 just to replace them! I don’t even have any designer clothes, I just have a lot of cheap stuff! Totting up my book and magazine collection from an insurance point of view seemed to suggest it would cost nearly £8000 to replace them, and again, I don’t have any expensive or posh or rare books, I just have a lot of cheap books! And awful lot!

I ended up with 6 bags for life to take to the charity shops but somehow it didn’t seem to make a dent in my bookcases, they’re still full to the brim! Taking six bags to the local charity shop with just my inadequate strength will be hard. I treated myself to watching Watchmen. I love that film! I went to bed late, for me, by which I mean it was already after midnight when I hit the pillow. I have to get up early tomorrow. I hope I don’t oversleep!

12/09/2020

I woke up at 9am and quickly got to it. After my mandatory cup of coffee I went to the charity shop with four of the six bags (and have the welts in my arms to prove it!) after having phoned them to make sure they’ll take donations. I then walked back to my house, picked up the final two bags, and dropped them off. Then I had about 30 minutes to get ready for a long run with some friends from Good Gym. I had organised it on Thursday when I was in a good frame of mind. I thought it would be good to organise a 60 minute run with friends as not only would it be my daily exercise requirements for today, but socializing would be good for my mental health. In Wales up to 30 people from different households can meet up outside, as long as they are sensible and obey social distancing. Which we all do because we are sensible.

I had suggested we would be doing a 10km but I bit off more than I could chew with the distance I chose and had to walk some parts. I did 10km all in all but it took me 01:18 to do it in which is much slower than usual for me. Obviously my speedy running friends finished much sooner than I did, but they are nice so they waited for me.

I then went home, had lunched, tidied up the flat, then went to do the food shopping. I bought shampoo and conditioner in Boots. They didn’t have any of the 75p ones so I bought branded ones and spent £5.58. They were on offer and are a brand I really like so although it was more than I wanted to spend I didn’t feel too bad. I then went to Savers and picked up hand wash refills, toothpaste and mouthwash for the house (£7.15) and toner, face wash and a sheet mask for me (£5.17). In Tesco I picked up some chocolate treats and posh biscuits and squash for seeing my friend tomorrow (£10.29) and then did the rest of the food shopping which came to £29.51 and contained a number of treats because it is Saturday after all. In the general food shopping I bought milk, 2 packets of non-alcoholic beers, flora margarine, 2 big chocolate bars, choc Leibniz (very tasty and ‘posh’ seeming biscuits), pizza, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, bicarbonate of soda, salted butter, unsalted butter, giant orange chocolate buttons, bananas, bread, cucumber and yet more eggs. Still haven’t done a proper food plan yet. Maybe I’ll get that done this weekend. I should get round to it!

Back at home after the food shopping I filled out a job application. It is for a role in my team in the grade and pay scale above, so I would still be working with my team I would just have more training and more responsibility and new skills to learn. For the first time in my life I am applying for a job at a time when I am deliriously happy in my current role and would be satisfied by whatever the outcome is. In the Civil Service the job applications are different to what I am used to, so last year I applied for this job when it was first advertised and I didn’t get through to interview stage, so if I get through to interview stage now that alone is an improvement from last year.

I then did my daily 5 Duolingo lessons which meant I completed the section I was on. As Saturday is a drinking day for me I drank some gin and tonics and watched films with a pizza.

All in all a good day.

13/09/2020

I woke up at 5:30am and was still awake a little while later so I decided to get up. I came downstairs and watched the new series of ‘Eat Well For Less’ which is a show on the BBC which is about families taking control of their food budgets that they are overspending on, and being shown how to make healthier and cheaper choices. I had my breakfast and my essential coffees, and I went on my laptop to do some writing. I am really sore in the muscles from both the charity shop trips and the long run yesterday. I may have a hot shower.

After my hot shower I did feel much better. I then left to walk 40 minutes to the train station where I was so early for my train I got a coffee to keep me going. That was £2.19 and I didn’t really need to spend it, I just have a high demand for coffee in the morning.

The train journey to Gloucester is quite lovely. You get to see the bridges and pass through a lot of countryside and then all of a sudden you’re in the centre of the town. I got picked up by my friend who had to go to Asda first. I didn’t buy anything. My friend then drove me back to her house which I had never been to before. It was absolutely lovely. We had pizza for lunch and then just chatted and chatted for hours. My friend served me a cake of her own design called ‘Dense Cake’ which is like an extremely thick, custardy Victoria sponge cake. I shall have a go at making it myself one day.

The main purpose of my visit was because my friend had bought my Christmas present early and wanted to give it to me, along with my birthday presents. The gift was absolutely perfect. It was a framed set of commemorative stamps featuring album covers from the band Queen, my favourite band. Lock down restrictions meant I couldn’t hug my friend, but I really wanted to.

Around 3:50pm my friend drove me back to the station and I caught my train. Suddenly I was very tired and I nodded off on the train home. I woke up about half way through the journey and read my running magazine for the rest of the time. I then walked through the city centre to get back to myself, another 40 minute walk.

I’m back home now and I declare that the week is over in terms of spending!

SPENDING TOTALS

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £67.98 (MY HALF £33.99)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £85.28

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £119.27

Spending Diary 31st August – 6th September 2020

Hi everybody!

Welcome to another review of how money has left my wallet this week.

31/08/2020

Bank Holiday Monday! The last one till around Christmas/New Year’s Eve time. I wanted to make the most of it.

I have an interest paying current account. On balances up to £5000 I get paid 5% interest a month and it normally clears on the 1st, but I guess because of the bank holiday it was listed in my account today. £2.99 is what I earned in the last month. Money (literally) in the bank! It really is a nice little bonus each month and does make a difference to me.

I woke up late today so wanted to get a better head start on the day. I did my Duolingo lessons. I finished reading a book (The Way We Eat Now by Bee Wilson). I did a wash load, though it somehow made no difference to the wash pile. I even did a small run with my flat mate, my first one in 13 days. It felt good to be running again, though it was a slow and short run.

In the evening I was going to be volunteering with Good Gym at a community garden in another part of the city. It would involve getting a bus, which means I would have to wear a mask whilst on the bus, though that is not much of a bother really. The bus ticket is cheaper if I pay for it with card, so it only cost £3.20 for a day ticket. About 40 minutes later I was at the garden, but it was still shut as I had arrived very early. That’s the joy of bank holiday public transport. The buses were less frequent so it was a case of either be early or late. I walked around a little bit of the area because initially I thought I must be at the wrong place, but when I walked back to the venue after my detour I found it open. I did some weeding for an hour with 4 other members of Good Gym, being mindful of social distancing. It took me an hour to clear a little rectangle of the land from weeds, gardening is tough! I left before some of the others to get my bus back, reading my kindle on the way back. I got home at about 8:30pm and had a small dinner of some toast and settled up some things from the day. Before I left for the Good Gym mission I had cooked and pureed some apples that were going soft and I was happy to see my flat mate had kindly put my pot of the apples in the fridge when it cooled whilst I was out. I complained about my flat mate not doing the washing up last week, but he does have his good points too.

I started reading a new kindle book, the one I bought recently and mentioned in a previous diary ‘Your Money Life: 30s’ by Peter Dunn. It is a really good book, expensive to buy in paperback on Amazon, slightly more reasonable in price for kindle. I’m in the process of buying all my favourite money books that I would have taken out of the local library but now I can’t because of lockdown. I see them as investments, but I do have to just buy them one at a time.

I went to bed at midnight and put a post id note on my phone (my alarm clock) to remind me to get up at the time of the alarm tomorrow morning due to an early morning meeting on Tuesday.

01/09/2020

I woke up at 5:15am and felt quite alert so I decided to get up. 2 coffees later and I had updated my spreadsheets, read more of my kindle book, had breakfast (a rarity for me as I’m not usually hungry in the morning) and started writing. I checked my bank accounts and saw my monthly subscription to the beer company Flavourly had come out, as had my monthly top up to Naked Wines. The beer case was £26.90 and will be delivered tomorrow and the wine top up was £20. I still have 1 ½ bottles of red wine left so I don’t need to buy any more just yet, maybe next month I’ll look to buy a new crate. 

At lunchtime I went to the post office to get some passport photos taken. I need to renew my passport and have considered doing it sooner rather than later. They cost £7, at least it used up some coins. Cash has become obsolete during these times. I then went to Tesco to do some food shopping. I bought bread, eggs, courgettes, carrots, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, apples, rolls, meatballs, hula hoops, quavers, 2 pizzas, bananas, cucumber, tomato puree and frozen cherries. The shopping came to £27.25.

I collected my post when I got back. I had received a T-Shirt in the post. It was from an order I placed during the early days of lockdown for an independent music venue in Newport that I went to a lot for drinking sessions at university, and still try to get to now and again. They were looking to raise money at the start of lockdown when they shut and now that they have opened up again they were able to post the orders out. They misspelled my surname which happens all the time but still bugs me as my name is right there on the order sheet, correctly spelled. Grrrr.

I had a really good day at work and got some big things done and a few extra bits to work on ahead of some team meetings coming up. I then spent an hour on the exercise bike after work before trying to get some personal work done but there were just too many technical issues. I tried to renew my passport and it said my passport photo that I had scanned in wasn’t suitable and was likely to be rejected. Boo! That’s £7 down the drain. Oh well. The evening felt like a failure but when I checked my to do list for the day I saw I had completed 13 out of the 17 things to do. Not bad.

I wrapped up the rubbish to take out, joys of rubbish night, did the washing up and put the bulk of things in the dishwasher, then settled down with my kindle. A good day all in all.

02/09/2020

I decided I would travel back to my home town soon to visit my family. I checked with my Dad and step mum that they would be able to house me, then I booked the time off work. At lunchtime I booked the train ticket. It came to £45.05 with booking fee and insurance too, but I saved £22.30 on the train fare by using my rail card that gives me a discount.

My day at work was really successful, I felt really good about the work I managed to achieve. I spent 30 minutes on the exercise bike after work and then the flat mate and I ran to the pharmacy to pick up his hay fever prescription. My flat mate stopped off at the shop on the way home to pick up milk which came to 85p. We had burgers and wedges for dinner. The burgers we were having were the Beyond Meat ones and they are amazing.

After dinner I got a lot on my to do list done including renewing my passport. I took a photo in my living room using my digital camera and that seemed to work better than the actual photo booth passport photo did. Renewing the passport came to £80.50, which was made up of £75.50 for the passport renewal and £5 for secure delivery posting my old passport back to me once it had been processed. Also after dinner I did my friend’s research survey as part of her master’s degree, then I went round uploading my new branding to my social media channels for Flo’s Debt Free Diary (I make regular use of Instagram and Facebook and have recently joined Twitter too). I played around with new WordPress themes too and I still have a lot of work to go on my blog to make it as shiny and as pretty as I want it to be. I don’t have great technical skills so a lot of things are a struggle for me. Plus I have a geriatric 9 year old laptop that doesn’t really do anything other than handle Word and Excel. I had borrowed my flat mate’s laptop this evening to get my things done.

I eventually went to bed and stayed up past my bedtime reading, which was a bit naughty of me.

03/09/2020

I woke up before 6am today. I was wide awake from the moment I got up. On Monday I had pureed some apples which I meant to bake with and I still hadn’t gotten round to that. So at 6:15am I began making apple, maple syrup and oat cookies. They tasted very nice if I do say so myself. The recipe will appear on my blog of course.

I started listening to episodes of the Which? Money podcast on Google Podcasts. I need my money fix. I find I need to dedicate time to listening to podcasts to really take them in so this morning felt like a good time to indulge.

I left the house just after 9am to go to the post office to post back my old passport as part of my renewal. It cost £6.70 to send it by special delivery. They gave me a tracking number and said it would arrive tomorrow. I should receive my new passport in about 6 weeks, depending on if they’re happy with the photo I submitted.

I was paid some Amazon vouchers from a side hustle market research panel I am doing, so with £30 to play with I bought four money related Kindle books. They were Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom by Susan Hayes and two books by ‘Mrs Moneypenny’ who was a presenter on a Channel 4 show I was obsessed with years ago called Superscrimpers. Her two books were Mrs Moneypenny’s Financial Advice for Independent Women and Mrs Moneypenny’s Career Advice for Ambitious Women.  The Kindle books came to £29.96 so my Amazon vouchers easily covered it.

I found work tough today, and then a particularly sad episode of a TV series I watch got me thinking about my mum and set me off crying. I had arranged to speak to my Dad and Step Mum on a video call but I couldn’t handle it in the end so we rearranged for tomorrow.

04/09/2020

I was very sleepy this morning, I couldn’t make myself feel awake. The two coffees I had barely touched the fatigue. I struggled through the day and felt bad about my output.

After work I went for a walk, and then I began decluttering my stuff. I have decided to follow the advice of Japanese professional tidy upper Marie Kondo and apply the ‘KonMari’ method of decluttering. This is where you go through things in your house one category at a time. Clothes, books, paper, komono (miscellaneous items) and finally sentimental items. I have decided to dedicate the next 6 weekends to this. This weekend was the first category, clothes. I went through every area of my clothes collection, from the coats in the under the stairs cupboard to my socks. I ended up with two overflowing Ikea big blue bags and 2 bags for life full of things to take to the charity shops. I had rung around some at lunchtime and asked if they were taking donations so I knew which ones to hit first. That is my job for tomorrow morning.

It is amazing just how much stuff I had to get rid of. I was ruthless. I just thought to myself that it will be a lot less to move when my flat mate and I go our separate ways sometime next year. I’m likely to be moving to a bedroom in a shared flat/house so will have significantly less space and getting rid of things can only be good for me.

I have completely lost desire to buy most clothes during lockdown. There’s no point. I’ve got no one to show these clothes off to, ha ha. There’s no point having a huge wardrobe if I only wear 20% of the clothes. I think what I’ve done today will really change my shopping habits. I think lockdown in general has changed my shopping habits.

Having said all that about my shopping habits changing, near to midnight on impulse I bought from a second hand seller a Christmas CD I grew up with. It will be great to hear that music again later this year. I certainly don’t plan on listening to it now. I bought it with another Amazon voucher, so that was a saving of £3.76.

05/09/2020

I woke up early so I could hit my local charity shop straight away with donations, just in case later on in the day they stopped taking them. I was the first person in the shop! I was only carrying one bag, one of those huge Ikea blue bags, and the charity shop volunteer suggested I stagger my donations. So I had taken the heaviest bag in, but it looks like the other three bags at home would have to wait to be donated. A little disappointing, but the charity shops are under huge strain so that’s why I asked them what their needs are.

When I got home I picked up the bag of three old pairs of running shoes and took them to my local running shop to be recycled. The flat is beginning to feel much clearer from stuff now, and I can actually close my chest of drawers now.

I then began to plough through my to do list. I started with my 5 Duolingo lessons which went well. Then I hoovered the entire flat and cleaned the bathroom. It looks lovely now. I watered my plants as well and trimmed the dead leaves from them, and removed the dead plants from the bouquets I had bought at the shops last week to celebrate becoming debt free. 

 I made courgette fritters for lunch, having them with a fried egg, and sweet chilli sauce. Then I headed to the shops to do the food shopping. I went to Tesco for no reason other than it is my biggest and nearest supermarket to get my shopping. Lidl and Aldi are slightly too far away to walk to with a huge amount of shopping. In Tesco I bought 3 multipacks of crisps, 4 multipacks of chocolate bars, milk, spaghetti, vegetarian burgers, Quorn nuggets, 2 oat milks, 2 tins of spaghetti hoops, orange juice, 3 tins of tuna chunks, washing up liquid, potatoes, sweet potatoes, 3 spice mixes, green tea, tiger bread rolls, bananas, tomatoes, cucumber and bread. The shopping cost £38.07. I now have £138.62 of the food budget left so will have to be mindful of what I buy as there is still a lot of the month left to go.

I then went for a 5km run which felt great, I had fallen a bit out of love with running and wasn’t sure I could cover that distance again so I was really happy when I did. Back at the flat I did my weekly beauty routine (body scrub, shaving, face mask etc.) and then I relaxed with the radio and a gin and tonic.

I then left my flat to go to a socially distanced BBQ with some of my friends from GoodGym. I had to get a train to the host’s house, after my rail card discount it only cost £1.90. I was the first to arrive which is typical, I’m always early for everything though technically I was on time for this. It was another hour before others began to arrive. I had a lovely time, it was really good to get out of the house and to see people. I was the first to leave as the last train back was at 22:27. I had told my flat mate where I was going and he wanted me to send him a text when I got home which I did (he was at his girlfriends this weekend). I then listened to the radio for a bit then went to bed.

06/09/2020

I woke up horrendously late, shame! The first thing I did was take the three bags of donations to the local charity shops. My arms were still aching from yesterday’s trip. These three bags were lighter than yesterday’s bag but were obviously more awkward to carry. The volunteer at the charity shop was the same as yesterday and he seemed relieved when I told him these were the last of my bags.

I then had a coffee and settled down with a podcast at my laptop. Then I remembered that the wash load I had put on was completed. I wanted to hoover my bedroom floor before I put clothes on the airer in my room so I had to stop to get that done.

I then started making some sweet potato patties. I used onion, cheese, mustard, flour and egg to make them. They are currently cooking up nicely in the oven. I was listening to the Which? Money podcast whilst making them.

My patties tasted nice but I felt really ill after making them so I don’t think I’ll be posting a recipe on my blog anytime soon. I have three leftovers so I’ll see how I feel when I eat them tomorrow.

I found it really difficult to concentrate on anything. So I am signing off the week now.

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £116.92 / 2 = £58.46

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £144.35

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £202.81

Apple and Maple Syrup Oat Cookies

Apple and Maple Syrup Oat Cookies

Hi everybody,

On Monday I found some apples going soft in the bottom of my fridge, so rather than waste them I cooked them in some water with sugar, then pulsed them in my food processor.

Then they sat in a Tupperware in my fridge because I didn’t have time to deal with them.

So today when I woke up early I decided to make cookies with them. I do love a good oat cookie. Oats are a magical food, so versatile and forgiving.

INGREDIENTS

4 x Apples, cooked and processed

1 x Tsp Cinnamon

4 x Tb Spoons Maple Syrup

30g Coconut Oil, melted

30g Chia Seeds

300g Porridge Oats

100g Sultanas (or any dried fruit)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl

Mix together until all combined

Shape into 12 cookie rounds

Spread out across two baking parchment lined baking trays then cook for about 20 minutes

Leave to cool, then enjoy

Spending Diary 24th – 30th August 2020

Hi everybody,

A monumental week for me as you all know.

Here is how my money was spent this week.

24/08/2020

Back to work after a weekend. I was studying for an Excel course I will be doing later this week so it was quite a nice Monday at work.

At lunchtime I remembered a local Etsy seller my work friend had recommended who makes really decadent brownies. I looked up her shop online and ended up spending £38 on brownies and blondies. Half are for me for Thursday when I become debt free and the other half are for my friend’s leaving do, also on Thursday. I have never spent £38 on cakes before. I have never spent anywhere near that amount on treats. The amount of 5 star reviews this seller had on Etsy was phenomenal, and my friend waxed lyrical about the brownies she ordered. So I am expecting big things.

25/08/2020

I woke up at 5AM feeling remarkably refreshed which is even more impressive after not falling asleep until after midnight the night before. I swear these blue light filter glasses have changed my life. I did some chores in the morning and went on Duolingo and completed a course. I then wrote a letter to my Grandpa and went to post it, taking along some old batteries to recycle at the nearest Tesco too. There is a storm hitting the UK today, and Wales in general has been badly hit with weather this year. It has been fiercely windy all day.

I had a good day at work. At lunchtime I was very productive again getting some financial matters in order. I also read a bit on my Kindle. During his lunchtime my flat mate went to the shops and bought crackers, bread, cheese rolls, 2 multipacks of crisps and milk. It came to £5.90 but we split all the household shopping. After work I spent an hour on the exercise bike, had a shower (a quick one after the hot water ran out) and made pasta for dinner. I updated my spreadsheets and watched High Score and The Umbrella Academy on Netflix.

26/08/2020

I had another good day at work. I was involved in an exciting project, and then I managed to get a lot of my own work done too. I worked a little later as I started a little later, I have flexible working hours in general but working from home has made these things even easier.

A message went round my running group that there was a collection going for the leaders of that group who are leaving Wales soon. I rounded down my bank account and sent over £6.85 to the organiser behind the gift. Because of covid restrictions it has been advised that people only bring their own food to the picnic tomorrow, so I might be stuck with double brownies. I’m not sure what to do about the brownies I ordered for them. I did wonder about covid restrictions. Maybe I’ll just give them to the two who are leaving rather than share them around.

I did my daily Duolingo lessons after work. I made scampi and chips for dinner. The flat mate and I watched another episode of High Score, and then we went on a short walk around the neighbourhood. My flat mate still seems reluctant to be doing the washing up, even though the rule is whoever makes dinner is excused, and I’ve made dinner the last three nights. I wonder which one of us will break first.

I decided I would be sensible and go to bed relatively early. It would mean I would be more likely to wake up early and spend longer celebrating my debt free day.

27/08/2020

I woke up at 6AM. Then I did something I had been wanting to do for nearly 5 years. I made my last credit card payment and became free from credit card debt.

Despite the weather being awful I had a glorious day. I got a lot of financial related things done. I wanted to look into my pensions and ultimately the news I got on them wasn’t what I was hoping for, but at least I had sorted them out. I did some food shopping, getting very damp in the process. I bought a wide range of groceries in Tesco and Savers, and I also picked up some first class stamps. Then I went and collected the £38 of brownies and came back. I had a very light and sensible lunch in preparation for later gluttony.

I saw some friends in the afternoon, then I went home and ordered a Papa John’s pizza for me and my flat mate. Two large pizzas, two sides and a bottle of drink for £27.49. We watched The Big Short on Netflix, it’s one of my favourite films. Then we watched a documentary called Inside Job, which is about the same subject as The Big Short so it was nice to follow on from that.

All in all I think today was one of the greatest days of my life.

28/08/2020

I had an important day at work today. I was going to be doing an exam for a course I had been studying. I revised it in the morning then went into the exam at lunchtime. I was doing really well on it but I was just too slow. I fell a little short of the pass rate. I still really felt like I have learnt a lot from the course, so I hope that counts for something.

In the morning my flat mate bought us two tickets to see IDLES next year. That was much cheaper than I was expecting and was £34.35 for my ticket.

In the evening I made breadcrumbs from some frozen bread slices in order to make way in the freezer for fresh bread we needed to freeze. A bit of poor shopping management on my part from when I bought a packet of mini baguettes yesterday not realising we had bread. I had some leftover chilli for dinner, saving my leftover half of yesterday’s pizza for tomorrow. I watched Orange is the New Black, finishing season 7 which made me very sad that the journey had come to an end. It was so good.

29/08/2020

I woke up early in order to go volunteer with GoodGym. I went to a Hindu centre in my home city where a local fair sharing charity were preparing meals for vulnerable people to be delivered around the city. I was on the duty of dishing out rice and then I also helped scrub clean the huge pans. I walked there and back through a huge park and really enjoyed being in amongst nature.

I stopped off at the shops on the way home. I went to Savers first and picked up a £2.99 tube of Sensodyne toothpaste as I have sensitive teeth. I then went to Tesco and picked up oat milks, crisps, doughnuts and cheese for £8.39. When I got home I checked my bank account details and saw my subscription to Pact coffee had come out to be delivered next week. £7.95 for that. I have learnt that good coffee is worth paying for. That’s one eating/drinking habit that changed during lockdown.

I watched The Big Short again, despite only having watched it on Thursday. It is one of my favourite films. I tidied up the house whilst doing that, changing the bed, sorting out the recycling, hoovering, washing up and watering the house plants. At 8PM I went into what was a really fun Zoom drinks with my friends, drinking some prosecco during the course of the night.

30/08/2020

I woke up later then I wanted to and only drank half my coffee before heading to the park to meet up with GoodGym again to do some litter picking. After that we went to the coffee shop that used to host our group run sessions before lockdown happened to have a drink. My Americano was £2.70 and I added a £1.50 tip as it was so nice to see them open again.

When I got home I was going to go on Duolingo when I saw that my two week free plus trial had come to an end. I found it invaluable so when I saw that they had improved on the previous offer they gave me on the annual subscription I signed up. It was £71.88 and I saved £72 in the process.

My flat mate came back from the shops with margarine, strawberries, non-alcoholic beers, milk and bread that came to £10.15. We split the food and household shopping between us.

We watched Moneyball and then after I did some admin tasks we settled down to watch Venom.

And with that I declare my spending week over.

TOTALS

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £152.43 (£76.22)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £210.13

TOTAL SPENDING = £286.35

I AM DEBT FREE!

I’VE DONE IT!

As of today I am free from credit card and consumer debt. No credit card bills, no overdraft, no loans, nothing, all gone!

Some people think living with debt is normal and a natural part of life. I didn’t want to live like everyone else, I wanted to be free from debt and financial burdens. I want to live a life on my own financial terms.

It doesn’t matter how I got into debt, but a brief synopsis is lack of knowledge and options which led to bad decisions and a whole lot of bad luck. It doesn’t matter if my debt was bigger or smaller than other people’s. It doesn’t matter if it took me longer or shorter to pay it off than other people.

What matters is I did it.

Things I did to improve my financial situation included working 7 days a week for 16 months,  doing a No Spend Year in 2017 and reducing my spending by 80%. I was prepared to put in all the hard work and a little bit more to get to today.

Getting into debt was one of the worst things I ever self inflicted on myself. But getting out of it has given me more confidence and pride in myself than nearly all other things I have done in life.

Today I will meet up with friends and later I will have pizza and prosecco and watch money related films.

A new chapter of my financial life begins today!

I plan to write a book about this journey, plus I have my Instagram and Facebook accounts under the same name if anyone wants a gander at them.

There will be many more financial hurdles I will face in life, I may get into debt again, but now I know I can get out of it.

Welcome to the next chapter of my life!

Spending Diary 17th to 23rd August 2020

IMG_7757

Spending Diary 17th to 23rd August 2020

Hi everybody,

Welcome to another week in the life of my wallet.

I’ll take you through my spending.

17/08/2020

My flat mate returned from having spent the weekend with his girlfriend. He came back with some food shopping he had bought at a big supermarket he went to with his girlfriend. She can drive so he often does some food shopping with her when he goes to visit. He came back with a few multipacks of crisps, non-alcoholic beers, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas. It came to £7.54. When he was at the shops at the weekend he found a mug in the homeware section that was just the sort I had been looking for. He bought it for me and I paid him back today. It was £2. I like big mugs and I cannot lie. Later my flat mate went back out to the shops and picked up more things. He bought three baguettes, milk, Lucozade, strawberries, a beef patty, bread and cookies. He spent £8.21. We split all the food shopping. Whilst he was out I asked if he could pick up some gardening gloves and some disposable PPE/food gloves for me for some volunteering work I would be doing. The gloves came to £3.08. It meant paying him back for them left me with just 20p in my disposable income spending account, plus a £2 coin in my wallet. I would have to be careful until pay day!

Things got a bit dramatic in the evening when my flat mate started coming down with serious pain. He had picked up an infection, the same one I had a few weeks ago though that is coincidence as what I had couldn’t be passed on to another person. He had received some medication from the doctor today but had begun to feel much worse. He was on the phone to the out of hours GP and then later the A&E department of the local health board and they asked him to come in to the hospital. I helped him back a bag and his girlfriend came to pick him up and took him to hospital.

He came back slightly after midnight, waking me up, and said he had felt much better after being treated and had been discharged and told just to keep an eye on the problem and contact them again if it got any worse. I was very relieved to hear he didn’t have to stay overnight in hospital as I am very scared of spending any time in a health centre during a pandemic. It was so good to hear he wasn’t in too much pain anymore.

18/08/2020

I’ve been studying for an Excel exam at work yesterday and today. I picked up so many new tips and ideas for it. It is the first time I have been able to concentrate on the training and everything was really sinking in. I was very eager to try out the new things I had learnt on my spreadsheets! Yes, I am very boring.

In the evening I met up with a friend and we ran to a nearby charity shop where we would be volunteering with our running group. We decorated the windows for the shop and did general tidying up of the store. It was great fun. My friend and I then ran back to my house before he carried on to his. I have been really struggling with running recently. I have a theory as to why, but it could also be because of the 111 days of running in a row. I think I will take the rest of this week off running. I will do some other cross training type exercise instead.

19/08/2020

My blue light filter glasses have really been helping my sleep. I woke up very early today and decided to get the food shopping out of the way before work. I bought milk, Pepsi, cranberry juice, Vitalite (a dairy free spread), macaroni, ground coffee x 2, smoked salmon, garlic bread, cucumber, avocado, tomatoes and at the last minute I impulsively bought a Mediterranean orange flavoured gin by Gordon’s. I can’t wait to try that this evening. The gin was on offer and had £2.50 off. I also used the last of my 10% discount codes from my free trial of the Tesco club card app and received £3.13 off my shopping. So in the end the food shopping I bought came to £28.14.

I had a good day at work, though I was working on a tricky task and didn’t manage to finish it by the end of the day. That will have to carry over to tomorrow.

I had a bit of time spare at lunchtime so I went on a nearly 2 mile walk round my local area. It involved going up a huge hill, which when walking doesn’t feel that bad, but I have never been able to run up it all the way to the top on the times I have tried. I will work on that one day.

I made macaroni cheese for dinner and it was noticeable because it was only the second time ever I had made a proper cheese sauce from scratch. Normally I make a Slimming World version out of eggs and cottage cheese, it tastes better than it sounds! I was worried about making the macaroni cheese properly and from scratch because my favourite food growing up was the macaroni cheese my mum made. I am happy I told her this before she died. It still remains my favourite food. My macaroni cheese did not taste like how I remember my mum’s tasting and that made me both happy and sad at the same time. I made a double batch of it so that will be dinner tomorrow. I am really pleased I have learnt how to make white and cheese sauces in lock down. I can’t believe I never bothered before. I just remember them going wrong the first times I tried years ago and that put me off. They are so easy to do though, and I do feel like I couldn’t call myself a good cook until I learnt how to do them. I have also learnt how to make vegetable stock in lock down, and currently have three tubs of it in my freezer. I had made that on Monday, along with two portions of banana frozen yogurt. It felt good to do some food prep that day. I had decided to take Monday off running and had ended my 111 day running streak the day before. Running had taken up a lot of my time and I am glad I can begin to reclaim some time back.

20/08/2020

Today marks one month since my mum passed away. It also marks one week until I become debt free. It was a weird day because of both the good thing and bad thing.

My mum had run out of battery in the night and I woke up from a dream where I had overslept and had been told to wake up, to find I had overslept and needed to wake up. I wasn’t late for work, but I like to get up earlier than I did today.

I spoke to my aunt – my mum’s twin sister – on the phone in the morning. It felt good to talk to her though it was obviously for sad reasons. Later I was able to finish the tricky task at work I had started yesterday. I also did a white wash load, hoovered my room and finally put away some clean clothes.

After work I went on a four mile walk which took slightly over an hour. Even though I am not running this week it still felt good to be doing some exercise. The flat mate and I had the leftover macaroni cheese for dinner and I had some wine too. I only drink 3 days a week and today is 2 out of 3 for drinking days. I don’t tend to drink on Friday but I definitely do on Saturday’s. The gin I tried yesterday was nice but didn’t taste especially like Mediterranean oranges, but all gin is good gin.

My flat mate was feeling a little sad. He has been really ill this week as I mentioned on Monday’s entry. He was also feeling a bit blue about things. I spent some time with him talking before he decided to try and get an early night. I had a shower and hair wash, putting on a conditioning mask as my hair felt really dry, then I went up to read for a bit before bed. I am still reading Haruki Murakami books, in chronological order. I am now up to ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicles’ which is one of my favourite’s and was the first Haruki Murakami book I had ever read.

21/08/2020

I woke up before 5AM, but that was far too early so I tried to go back to sleep. However I kept waking up every ten minutes or so for the next hour, so at 5:50AM I decided to get up and come downstairs to begin my day.

Before work I went for a 4 mile walk to begin my day. I am doing low impact exercise this week but I still want to be active. It was quite a lovely way to begin my day.

I had a good day at work, getting lots done. After work on impulse I began looking for winter shoes and I stumbled across a sale on the Office website. I’m a size 8 in shoes, meaning sometimes I’m really lucky in sales as that’s the only shoe size left. It wasn’t quite the case this time, but I did find a pair of winter boots for £40, a discount of £92 from their original price. I also paid £3.50 for delivery.

The flat mate decided he wanted burgers for dinner as a way of using up some potatoes we had as wedges. This meant going to the shops to get burger buns. I could have done a big shop but I was tired so I just picked up the buns. 80p.

We watched an episode of the Umbrella Academy as well as a film called the Peanut Butter Falcon. Both were very good.

I had to get up early the next day, so although I wanted to stay up late I went to bed at the same I do during the week.

22/08/2020

I woke up a bit later than planned and hurriedly had a coffee before setting off. I was volunteering with my running group Good Gym. We were going to a community garden and doing some gardening work for them. I helped remove weeds from a fire pit and make it look pretty.

After coming home I had lunch and caught up with The Heights on BBC iplayer, then I went to do the food shopping. I bought prosecco ahead of my debt free day celebrations on the 27th August. I also did the general shopping, so I picked up tonic water, non-alcoholic beers, milk, oat milk, hand wash, scampi, vegetarian sausages, beyond meat burgers, cucumber, vegetarian mince, 3 multipacks of chocolate bars, pizzas, doughnuts and eggs. We still had an awful lot of food in store and tend to treat ourselves on the weekend so this food shopping trip looked unhealthier than usual, or at least I thought it did! The food shopping came to £47.30, I’m annoyed as I forgot to scan my club card so missed out on points. Not mentioned in the shopping were the two shower gels I picked up for my flat mate which he will pay me back for. We don’t have very much of the food shopping budget left so will have to be careful till payday. Our cupboards and fridge freezer are really stocked though so we shouldn’t need anything much else till then.

I bought a book for my kindle called ‘Your Money Life: 30s’ by Peter Dunn. It was a book I had often taken out of the library. Well, to be more accurate I took out the one about your 20s most before I turned 30. This book was substantially cheaper on kindle than in print and after using a voucher it was only £6.79. It is a book I find really valuable and I felt like reading it again.

The flat mate and I watched Netflix in the evening and then I went to bed to read. I saw a spider high up in the corner of my room, I couldn’t quite reach it. It wasn’t too big but I still didn’t really want it in my room so after realizing I couldn’t reach it I went down and asked my flat mate to help. He’s quite tall so could easily reach it. That drama over, I went back to my book.

23/08/2020

As soon as the flat mate and I woke up we watched a WWE NXT pay per view. I did a complete inventory of the food in the kitchen and couldn’t find much at all that we needed to buy which meant not only would we be fine till pay day but I wouldn’t need to do a big food shop online like I thought I did.

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk around some parks. I made a fish curry for dinner and watched more Netflix.

I didn’t spend any money today so I declare the week over financially.

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK

FOOD AND HUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £91.99 (£45.99)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £55.37

TOTAL SPENDING = £101.36

 

 

 

 

 

Spending Diary 10th to 16th August 2020

IMG_7754

Hi everybody,

This week was a bit tough for me as on Tuesday my mum was cremated and it felt like I had lost her all over again that day.

I’ll take you through the spending.

10/08/2020

My Dad’s birthday today! After work I called him up and spoke to him on a video call. My Dad’s speech isn’t what it once was since his strokes but he is able to say more and more words each week. It was nice to catch up with him and my step mum. His new laptop that I chipped in on the week before had arrived and he was very happy with it.

At the weekend I had read my latest issue of Women’s Health magazine and I saw an article about blue light filter glasses. I have been having trouble sleeping all throughout lock down and have tried various things including lavender pillow spray with little effect. The article said that this type of glasses can help with your sleep, and I am using screens much more than I did when I was working in the office before lockdown. So I went on Amazon and used the remaining £1.46 of my vouchers to get a small discount on a pack of 2 blue light filter glasses. I have always wanted to wear glasses, I just think people look great in them and a lot of my former boyfriends have worn glasses. They cost £13.51 and will be arriving Wednesday. I can’t wait.

When I went to brush my teeth that evening the head on my electric tooth brush broke mid brush. It was my last one. I did have a normal toothbrush so I could still keep my teeth clean, but I much prefer an electric toothbrush. I went back to Amazon and bought a four pack of recyclable toothbrush heads for £8.50. It was an expense I wasn’t expecting and could have done without.

11/08/2020

I woke up early today because my family and I were going to be lighting candles in our respective places and reflecting on my mum at 8:30AM which is the time of my mum’s direct cremation. I listened to Into My Arms by Nick Cave and I suddenly started crying uncontrollably. I was really struggling. I contacted my line manager to ask if I could take the afternoon off as annual leave, but she let me take the full day off, saying that in theory this is like going to a funeral.

I stayed in the house most of the day other than going for my run. I cancelled three magazines I had taken out trial subscriptions of as I was hoping to keep them going but I just can’t afford them at this moment in time. I found the day very tough, understandably I guess. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and hope it would be a better day.

12/08/2020

I definitely believe in the restorative powers of a good night’s sleep. I woke up feeling much better than I did yesterday.

My glasses and toothbrush heads arrived and I was eager to try them out.

My flat mate went to the shops and bought alcohol free beers, scampi, vegetarian sausages, hand wash, cucumber, bread rolls and potatoes. It came to £13.30 but we will split that between us.

13/08/2020

I woke up at the sound of my alarm and actually felt able to get up and out of bed. I don’t normally. I did later fall asleep on the sofa downstairs, so I am taking that as a partial success for the glasses.

It was unbearably hot in most places of the UK this week. I was really struggling. I could do little more than sit in front of my desk fan yesterday and although it was cloudy today it was still very warm. I don’t do well in heat.

The flat mate and I did a 5km run after work and I found it extremely difficult. I have been running slower this week and this run was a real struggle, but I haven’t run this distant a lot recently so I was happy to have completed it.

14/08/2020

It my nephews 15th birthday today. He phoned me up to say thanks for the card and gift I had sent him which was nice. At lunchtime I went to pick up my prescription and bought 2 lots of hand wash and 2 lots of tissues for the house. That came to £5.78, but it will be split with my flat mate.

My flat mate went to spend the weekend with his girlfriend so I decided to plan my weekend around being able to watch what I wanted on TV. It would mainly involve catching up on a few things I watch during the week that I haven’t seen all episodes of, but I also planned to work on starting the final season of a boxset on Netflix.

My sleep has greatly improved since getting the blue light filter glasses. Today was another day where I woke up feeling refreshed. I would recommend for anyone with sleep problems to give these a try.

15/08/2020

I woke up early as I was going for a run with some friends from a running group. I felt really good when I came home from that, though again I found the run difficult.

I then went to do the food shopping. First I went and picked up 2 body scrubs for myself which came to £2.98. Then I went to Tesco and bought oat milk x 2, lucozade, orange juice, frozen spinach, frozen sweetcorn, cheese, coconut milk, black beans, chick peas, butter, tofu, vegan mayo, bananas, gravy granules, spring onions, sugar snap peas, lemon and ginger tea, peppermint tea, potatoes, mozzarella, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, limes x 2 and eggs. It came to £31.46.

I spent the evening watching Netflix and cooking a stir fry heavy on the vegetables. I drink three days a week and Saturday is one of my days for drinking so I enjoyed a bit of whisky.

16/08/2020

My run today was very difficult. I attempted a 5km but ended up walking a big chunk of it. I think it is clear that running every day for 111 days in a row is enough and I will be ending my run streak today.

I had woken up late for me. I had trouble falling asleep last night. This made me feel annoyed and like I had to catch up on my day. But at least it kept me from spending money.

With that I declare that my week is over for spending.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £50.54 (£25.27)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £24.99

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING = £50.26

 

 

 

Spending Diary 3rd to 9th August 2020

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Hi everybody,

I returned to work again this week, after having taken time off due to my recent bereavement. It felt good to get back to work.

03/08/2020

This morning I bought two books for my Kindle, but I used Amazon vouchers to pay for them so it didn’t cost me anything. That was a saving of £7.52.

I took a walk to the nearest post box, which is also near a park that I decided to walk around the perimeter of before I started work. One of the letters I posted was an early birthday card to my nephew, my going rate for my nieces and nephews is £20 so that’s what the card contained. When I turned on my work lap top I had a lot of emails and messages to get through. One was from a colleague saying what my share of another colleague’s recent birthday gifts was, so I paid that.

It felt good to be back at work. I felt fully supported by the people I work with and I felt able to manage the work load.

At lunch time I used up some cashew butter I had opened in the cupboard for ages in a homemade houmous. I added chilli to it and copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. It was a taste sensation. Best houmous ever.

I really felt like having some wine today, so I got my run out of the way early. I am up to day 98 in a row of running. I am aiming for 100. I hope I make it. The flat mate and I had batch cooked spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and we made enough portions for tomorrow’s lunch too.

I got most of the things done on my to do list but am still struggling with the bigger items. My mum once said to me that I should have a shorter to do list. Maybe she was right.

04/08/2020

I slept in today. Yesterday I had about 5 hours sleep so I guess I needed to catch up. I still made work on time. It’s hard not to when I have no commute. I was in a MS Teams meeting in the morning, but the speakers on my laptop stopped working so I had to do the old trick of turning it off and on again.

At lunch time I used the leftover spaghetti Bolognese sauce with some pasta shapes and had that. I felt a bit queasy after lunch, not that I’m blaming the lunch. Probably just the medication I am on.

The flat mate felt we needed to do a food shop after we had planned our meals for the week so he made a list and set off for the shops. We are taking it in turns to go to the shops during the pandemic. About 20 minutes after he had left he called me to say that he needed me to come and meet him to help him carry back the shopping. I walked to where he was and we came back together with all the food shopping safely carried between us. He had bought nonalcoholic beers (we love these), Pepsi, Lucozade, milk, mushy peas, tortilla wraps, cheese rolls, cucumber, eggs, vegetarian mince, carrots, cookies, falafel, halloumi, houmous and courgettes. The flat mate doesn’t like the houmous I made yesterday, hence him buying some for himself.  The food shopping came to £26.95, but we split the food and household shopping between us.

Today was one of my drink free days. I try to have four a week. I plan on having some whisky tomorrow as celebration of my 100 days of running. Today was day 99! I did have some non-alcoholic beers today as I really do like them. I don’t really like soft drinks and non-alcoholic beers are just a more interesting soft drink to me. Apparently they do actually have some health benefits too. Not that I am claiming to know that for certain, it is just something I’ve heard.

We had sausage and mash for dinner, then we started watching The Umbrella Academy season 2. I loved the first season, and had read the comic book too. It was pretty good. It was rubbish night tonight so we only watched the one episode and then took out the bins and I tidied up the kitchen.

Finally I caught up with some stuff on my computer and then prepared for bed.

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05/08/2020

I got paid some Amazon vouchers from one of my side hustles today, so I put through an order for two notebooks, a book and some toiletries. It was £53.05 but it didn’t cost me anything and I selected free postage and packaging too. I had my most successful day at work of the week. I felt really sleepy around 5pm but had to wake up for a run with a friend at 6pm. Before that I saw an advert for Collectif clothing and felt in lust with a white dress. I was really tempted to buy it but I just bookmarked the page and decided to revisit it at another time when I was a bit flusher with cash.

I did my 100th run. My friend surprised me by bringing supporters along to the run. That really made my day. I did two laps of the park and then went home for some whisky and a falafel and halloumi wrap. I did my daily French lessons on Duolingo and after the flat was cleared up after dinner I relaxed and read Runner’s World magazine.

06/08/2020

I had a bad night’s sleep so was in a moody funk all day. It wasn’t my proudest moment.

My sister had been in contact to ask if me and the rest of the siblings (I’m one of 6) wanted to chip in for a new laptop for my Dad for his birthday. I felt bad because I had already gotten my Dad birthday presents and I wasn’t sure I could contribute to the laptop as well. I would have to have a think about it.

I did a small run at lunch time with my flat mate who needed to run to the pharmacy to get his prescription. It wasn’t too bad a run. My 101st day of running in a row!

I was pretty sad all evening due to the lack of sleep and eventually went to bed at a decent time. I believe in the restorative powers of a good night’s sleep and I felt that everything would be ok in the morning.

07/08/2020

I felt a lot better after a good night’s sleep. I had a good day at work too. On impulse I bought a book for my Kindle, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. I still feel I need to get a lot sorted with my sleep, and I had best work on it over the weekend as I have some early morning meetings next week. I paid for the book with vouchers so it didn’t cost me anything in cash and was a saving of £3.99.

The flat mate and I have rapidly made our way through the non-alcoholic beer stash. So I went on the Flavourly website who I get a monthly beer crate from and ordered a case of low percentage beers we have had before. That came to £36 which interestingly is more expensive that the actual beer crate I get. I haven’t yet worked that out. Oh well. Neither the flat mate nor I drive and carrying back beers of any variety is a lot of hard work from the local shops so buying online works well for us.

I decided to contribute to my Dad’s laptop birthday gift. I sent my sister £30 towards it. She had found a very affordable model with all the trimmings my Dad would want so between us kids and my step mum it would be doable.

I caught up on this week’s episodes of Neighbour’s, and I will also do the same for The Heights which is another daytime Australian show I like.

Today marks 20 days until I become debt free. Whilst becoming debt free is still an achievement and something I have been working towards for a long time, it doesn’t matter as much to me now that my Mum is gone. I just wish I could share this with her.

I decided to make the house all nice and tidy for the weekend ahead. It’s something I like to do on Friday’s so it is one less thing to do at the weekend. I had already done the worst job which is the washing up so it was just general clearing up that needed to be done. My flat mate’s girlfriend had repotted my peace lily so I had three new plants to find places for.

Sitting around with my phone later I impulsively bought the latest album by the band Sparks. After using Amazon vouchers it didn’t cost anything, so was a saving of £10.99. However I did sign up to a one week trial of Amazon Prime which cost 99p, but I cancelled it as soon as I placed the order.

08/08/2020

My alarm went off at 8am, but I slept for a further two hours. Bad Flo.

I like ‘pottering’ about for a couple of hours in the morning before I do anything, so it was about midday when I went to the shops to do the weekly food shop. I bought 2 packs of alcohol free beers, 2 cartons of oat milk, orange juice, a 1kg tub of peanut butter, 0% fat Greek yogurt, onions (brown, red), cucumber, green tea, garlic bread, tomatoes, beetroot, ground coffee, mozzarella, 2 packs of goats cheese and 2 lots of spaghetti Bolognese ready mix spices. The shopping came to £32.58 because I got 10% off it using the Tesco clubcard plus app.

Once home I tidied up and messed around on social media, and then at 3pm I went for a 5km run. As I left the house I realised I was going to try and run the furthest I’ve run since hearing about my mum’s death, and it would be the same route I did on the day she passed away. I found the run very tough. It was extremely hot in Wales today and even though I was wearing lightweight capri trousers and a vest I was still boiling hot and sweating like crazy. Sorry for that image. I had a very cool shower when I got home and did my weekly beauty maintenance (shaving, face mask, body scrub). I then made a really nice dinner of goat’s cheese, beetroot and walnut macaroni cheese. You can find the recipe on my blog now.

It was nearly 9pm before I settled down for my daily Duolingo lesson. I am learning French. I learnt French in high school, getting a mediocre grade C in my GCSE exam. I would say my grasp of French is much better now from the Duolingo lessons than it ever was in high school. Just goes to show that youth really is wasted on the young. I am taking it much more seriously now than I ever did in high school, which is a pity because when I was younger I was desperate to learn a new language. My Grandad was a Russian translator and my Aunt is a German translator. So languages must be in my blood somewhere.

I decided after my lesson I was going to relax with some Netflix and try to go to bed at a sensible time.

09/08/2020

I slept in very late today, and still felt tired when I got up. That’s not how it should work! I had had a dream about my mum and felt sad when I woke up. I decided to get on with my day to distract me from it.

I tidied up the flat, then I went to the shops to do food shopping part 2. As it is just me in the flat this weekend there is only so much shopping I can carry on my own so decided to split the weekend’s shopping into two loads. I bought milk, Pepsi, Lucozade, mouthwash, beetroot juice, 2 tubs of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, frozen salmon fillets, frozen cod fillets, 2 packets of 4 chocolate bars, 2 slabs of chocolate, mushrooms, bread, eggs and bananas. It came to £27.15. I had saved £4.90 through various offers. I had also compared the price per 100g on the chocolate slabs against some other size bars they had in store, so I know I got the best price on them too.

I caught up with my admin stuff at home, then at 4pm I went for a run with my friend. It was still very hot even at that time. After the run we treated ourselves to an ice cream at a local Italian place. I had a two scoop ice cream of chuckleberry and a special milk ice cream. It was lovely. It came to £3.95, good ice cream is always worth paying for.

My Sparks CD had arrived today. My notebooks, skin care and book had arrived yesterday. When I got home my flat mate was back and was feeling sleepy on the sofa. Neither of us were in a hurry to eat dinner so the evening stretched out before us.

And with that I am signing off for this week. I really don’t plan on spending any more money today.

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £122.68 (MY HALF £61.34)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £58.44

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING THIS WEEK = £119.78

Goats Cheese, Beetroot and Walnut Macaroni

Hi everybody,

I did a food inventory of the cupboards and fridge/freezer last night and decided to make use of some things languishing in the cupboards.

Like walnuts.

I thought about making a cake with them, but the trouble with making a cake with nuts in is only I would eat it (my flat mate hates nuts), and I need to lose weight.

I remembered that once when I was at a book festival I had some beetroot and walnut pasta, so I decided to make something like that.

Here we go.

 

INGREDIENTS

300g Macaroni

250g Goats Cheese

500ml Milk

65g Butter

65g Plain Flour

300g Beetroot, diced

1 Large Red Onion, diced

50g-100g Walnuts, ground

125g Mozzarella, sliced

 

METHOD

Boil some water with a bit of salt and add the macaroni

Melt the butter in a separate pan, then add the flour and mix to a paste

Add the milk slowly, mixing as you go

Once the sauce begins to thicken add ¾ of the goats cheese and make into a cheese sauce

Once the pasta is cooked add the diced beetroot and onion and mix together, then add the cheese sauce and mix together

Pour out into an oven dish, then add the final ¼ of the goats cheese to the top

Add the mozzarella

Finally distribute the ground walnuts over the top to form a crust

Place in the oven at 200 degrees until crispy on top, about 20-30 minutes

 

 

 

20 Days

In 20 days time I will be debt free.

Scratch that.

Let me be honest.

In 20 days time I’ll be free from all the credit card, overdraft and consumer debt I ever had.

But I won’t be debt free.

For numerous years after graduating I had insecure job employment. I also made a lot of consumer mistakes, but mainly the job prospects held me back.

Someone in my life helped support me when times were tight or if a credit card couldn’t solve the problem.

I only ever borrowed money off this person on the basis that one day I would pay it back. I grew up to the song Independent Women by Destiny’s Child. I make it a point of pride to pay my way in life. This person is very easy going and wanted me to focus on the credit card debt before them. The repayment terms we’ve mutually agreed on are good.

I was going to save this big reveal for the debt free day, but I’m feeling introspective.

In 20 days Debt Stage 1 is completed.

In 21 days Debt Stage 2 begins.

I will focus my attention on Debt Stage 2 the way I did Debt Stage 1. I have set up life insurance and my will so that in the event I pass away before the debt is cleared this person will be paid back. This is how seriously I take it.

I’m a Flo, a Flo always pays her debts.