Spending diary 16th to 22nd November 2020

Hi everybody,

Welcome to a week in the life of the wallet of the Flo.

16/11/2020

I woke up at 6 AM and did Duolingo for an hour before I started work. I decided to treat myself and walked to the nearest Costa and used my points on my Costa card to get a large gingerbread latte. That was a saving of £4.20! I had decided I would try and go for a walk every morning before work. This is a tip in Rangan Chatterjee’s book ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ that I had recently bought and read, saying exposing yourself to natural sunlight will wake you up in the morning, but also make you sleep better at night. The gingerbread latte was not mentioned in the book but I feel it was a nice extra touch. I have decided to make lockdown life a bit more special by treating myself to a takeaway coffee once a week.

I then started work ten minutes earlier than I had planned to. I had a good day and got lots done on my to-do list. My work is having a virtual conference this week with lots of events on, so I went to one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I work flexible hours but I needed to catch up on some hours from a week when I was feeling unwell, so I would be working late today. My lunch break involved a 45-minute LISS cycle on the exercise bike which put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. I trialled having a ninety-minute lunch break last week and I found it made me so much more productive and relaxed. I use the 90 minutes to get my exercise in for the day and waking up early to do Duolingo this means I get most of my important ‘must-do’ items for the day out of the way by 1 PM.

In the evening the flatmate and I had falafel wraps and we watched an episode of Taskmaster from an old series. My flatmate was going through his emails and realised the TV licence fee was due. We pay for it on an annual basis. This may be my last year paying for it since we’re unlikely to be living together this time next year. I will certainly benefit from saving that money each month.

The TV licence fee for the next year is £157.50, so for each of us, that’s £78.75. I had been putting the money aside and had most of it, but I was expecting the fee to be paid after my next payday so I had to collect some of the money together from another saving pot. Weirdly I felt good about taking care of that bill. It’s one more thing off my mental to-do list.

I went to bed at a sensible time to keep up the good habit of the weekend and to further increase my chances of waking up at 6 AM again tomorrow.

17/11/2020

Today I timed my morning walk by going to the shops to pick up a loaf of bread for 85p. I started work ten minutes earlier than planned just like yesterday. I had already done some Duolingo in the morning. Today wasn’t as successful as yesterday as I did fall asleep for a little bit on the sofa in the morning rather than just staying up. Oh well. This is a new habit for me getting up at 6 AM and it is still a work in progress. I am loving how much energy I have this week and the amount of work I am getting done.

I had one conference session in the morning. I had managed to finish some work before it as well which put me in a good mood. I then took an early lunch and ran 4.5KM before having a quick shower and then wolfing down some eggs on toast before my afternoon meeting.

I managed to finish an item of work I had started last week and that made me finish work on a high today. The flatmate and I quickly cooked some of the cauliflower gnocchi I made and froze last week. We had a quick dinner as I had to go and have my counselling session at 7 PM. It felt good to chat through a few issues with her. I paid her the £35 for the session at the end.

I am trying to prioritise my health and have recently paid for an appointment to see a dietician to work through my IBS symptoms. That cost £80 and I will see them at the end of the month. On another note, I have recently paid the deposit on a haircut in December which will be exactly one year and three days since my last haircut. That was £20.

Whilst I was in my counselling session the flatmate went to the shops and bought more non-alcoholic beers, milk, a Quorn pasty, and some cookies. They came to £8.35. I ate two of the cookies and then sat down at my laptop. I wrapped up my work just before 9 PM and got ready to clear the kitchen and then go to bed. I read in bed for a little while and then felt pretty sleepy at 10:30 PM so off to snooze land I went.

18/11/2020

I cashed out another £5 Amazon voucher on a receipt app I have and loaded it to my account. I had also gotten up at 6 AM today and did my hour of Duolingo lessons for the day ahead. I went for a walk around my local park and then came back and had a quick bowl of porridge before starting work early again. This week is going so well!

My work laptop needed to restart to install some updates, and after that MS Teams was really slow and playing up for me. I hope it is fixed when I next log on.

At lunchtime, I did strength work out for the first time in at least three weeks, which is really bad considering I try and do it twice a week. It was low intensity so I didn’t work up a sweat, which is good as I didn’t have enough time to eat lunch and have a shower as well.

I had more conference events in the afternoon and then I did some revision for my Excel exam tomorrow. This is my third time taking the exam, I would love to pass, wish me luck!

My flatmate was going out for the evening on a socially distant meal with his girlfriend so I had the flat to myself. I watched Neighbours as I do every day, and I checked some emails and typed away on my laptop. I was at a loss to think of what the most productive thing to do with my evening would be. I could read, or write, or tidy up. I decided to go through the revisions to my will to see what, if anything, needed amending. Just one name was incorrect so I sent off an email to the solicitor to change that and to arrange the signing.

You may wonder why a 31-year-old single woman with nothing other than a pile of books would bother with a will. My employer pays out death in service benefit, plus I have very specific plans for what I want to happen to my ‘estate’ (literally just books). Finally, my mum who passed away this summer didn’t write a will, and it has delayed so much of the legal admin that goes with a person’s death and on a personal note, it was really hard to deal with her death without a will as it was hard to know if we were doing right by what she would have wanted. I have firm ideas for what I want to happen in the event of my death, such as being an organ donor and being cremated over being buried, so having my will written means that my wishes will be granted.

I decided to quickly do the washing up so I could truly relax this evening. I have been so productive this week that for the first time in about a month the wash basket is empty, including an item of clothing that needed to be hand-washed since the start of the year! My joy over an empty wash basket was short-lived, my flatmate put items in it about an hour later. Beast!

I put on the dishwasher, washed up the things that couldn’t be washed up, hoovered the downstairs of the flat, and made a herbal tea. It was 8:10 PM. I had about 50 minutes before I would have to do a digital detox to sleep better. It was so unusual for me to have a spare hour in my day to do what I liked. I was almost scared of it. Paralysed by indecision. I decided to read my Kindle.

Reading my Kindle meant I finished a book within that 50 minutes, so it was time well spent. I decided to have a shower and head to bed to continue reading, this time a physical book. I felt really good about today and about how my week had gone so far.

19/11/2020

It was a struggle to get out of bed this morning, but I knew if I gave into my instinct to get back into bed, I would regret it. I was very sleepy on the sofa whilst doing my Duolingo lessons, but I eventually woke up. I was having a black coffee at the time and it helped. I am trialling eating only within a 12-hour window, intending to reduce it eventually down to around 8-10 hours, so before breakfast, I can’t have milk in my coffee. As I buy higher quality ground coffee now, I find that black coffee is still quite pleasant. I wouldn’t try it with instant, but my filter coffee is lovely.

I finished up a course on Duolingo earlier than planned, so once again I found myself with spare time. This has never happened before this week! I was flustered about what to spend the excess time doing and eventually decided to do a bit of a cycle on the exercise bike and then do a small run before work. I hopped to it!

I skipped my morning shower, deciding to have one at lunchtime. The bonus of working from home is no one will be upset if I’m in sweaty clothes in the morning as I work in a different area to my flatmate.

I started revising for my Excel exam and then went into it. Everything seemed to go really well. I got further than I ever had before on the previous two attempts and was absolutely pumped to finally pass it. I needed 700 points to pass. I achieved…700 points. I guess I am ultra-efficient.

I had a 60-minute lunch break today. I had my shower long due since my morning run and I managed to withstand a 3-minute cold shower. Today I am ‘Achievement Girl’ (in the latest series of Taskmaster, contestant Daisy May Cooper has created a character with an accompanying costume called Achievement Girl).

I went into some more conference talks in the afternoon, dealt with a tricky email issue, then completed some work I started yesterday. I had some time to spare so I cleared my inbox and document folders and eased myself gently into the evening.

The flatmate had gone to the shops during his day. He did pick up some treats from the shop and since we will both eat them it is only fair, I put them on the food budget. In Tesco the things he bought came to £4.38, it included doughnuts as a treat for me passing my exam. In Home Bargains he had bought some other things that came to £6.27.

I checked the post and saw I had a letter from my doctor’s surgery asking me to make an appointment to speak to them. I phoned the surgery but it was 6 PM by this point and the receptionist told me to phone tomorrow. This sent me into a pit of worry as I don’t know why they have written to me. I tried to distract myself from it all evening.

The flatmate made dinner. I pre-ordered a book for my Kindle that will be released on Christmas eve. It’s a collection of short stories and it’s the second time that publisher has put out a Christmas themed collection. I bought the first one when it was released years ago. It will be £3.50 when I am charged for it, but I currently have that £5 voucher on my account.

Taskmaster is on today and I am really looking forward to it. I decided to spend the hour before reading. I have achieved enough today, which is definitely rare for me to say.

20/11/2020

Although I found it easy enough to get up at 6 AM today, I did start snoozing midway through my Duolingo lessons. I could probably do with an extra couple of hours of sleep this weekend.

I phoned the doctor’s surgery when it opened and easily got through to make an appointment. After that was arranged, I walked to Gregg’s. I had two reward coupons on my app – one for a sweet treat and one for a hot drink. I decided as it had been a good week and the coupons were going to expire soon, I would use them today. I selected a white americano and a chocolate cream donut. The donut was amazing! It was like a Krispy Kreme. That was a lovely way to begin my working day.

I had a really interesting conference session, then I had a virtual social gathering with my work colleagues. Soon after that, it was time for lunch. I decided today would be a rest day, I have exercised every other day this week and plan to hit exercise hard at the weekend. I had a really leisurely lunch break just writing and chilling on the sofa. I planned next week. I have started scheduling my week in advance, putting in key events, things I want to prioritise, and any other commitments.

I saw Moonpig had sent me a reminder email for an upcoming birthday and I realised my Grandpa’s was next week. I chose a dapper card for him and ordered it. I had a 20% voucher and it came to £3.39.

The flatmate made the dinner and we watched old episodes of Taskmaster whilst eating.

21/11/2020

I woke up at 6 AM to keep the routine of the week going. I was still quite sleepy in the morning. I realised I had put milk in my 6:30 AM coffee which meant my 12-hour eating window had to begin now. No more food or drink after 6:30 PM tonight.

I did a very sleepy hour on Duolingo, then quickly got ready to leave for my Good Gym mission. It was back to the community garden. This time I did some shovelling of gravel and putting down paving slabs, and then back to my old faithful task of digging up brambles.

I had taken the poppy seeds that my aunt sent me a while back to plant in the garden. My aunt and mum exchanged seeds and my mum really liked poppies especially. I live in a first floor flat so can’t do the poppies justice, therefore, I hope to see them in the garden.

I had decided that since walking home from the garden would take me to near the huge parks, I normally run around that I would combine my Saturday run with the commute. This did mean I was holding the Tupperware the seeds had come in during my run, but I can cope with that.

I covered about 5KM on that run. Back at home, I saw my flatmate was in the bathroom having a shower. I had a vision that he had forgotten to bring in a towel with him. I was right. I had to rescue him with an averted gaze.

I put on the hot water as he was likely to have used it all up and made a quick lunch. After my flatmate left to spend time with his girlfriend, I had my shower and beauty maintenance. Today in pointless life goals I was able to bring my personal record for a cold shower to four minutes. Upstairs I changed my bedsheets and hoovered my room.

My main task for the day was to do something I had fallen behind on months ago. Back in June, I started a book writing masterclass that I paid £495 for and was making good progress on the sessions.

Then my mum died and suddenly it seemed stupid to even care about writing a book and I just completely fell out of love with the course and stopped doing the assessments.

I really want to end 2020 having completed the course.

I did three sessions today. I have ten more to complete by my deadline at the end of the year.

I felt good for having tackled some ‘big-ticket items’ which isn’t the right way to use that term, but I like it.

2020 has been a good year for tackling things that have been on my mental to-do list for ages, in some cases I’ve taken action on things that I’ve been meaning to do for the better part of a decade.

In every other aspect 2020 has been a shitbag of a year though.

I decided to treat myself to a Papa John’s takeaway. I was seriously debating whether spending £20 on a takeaway was the best use of my money. I thought spending £20 on a bunch of books might be more of a treat and a better investment of my money. But then I looked over at the dining room chair that has been taken over with seven recently purchased books that are still yet to be enjoyed and realised my book quotient was high and my takeaway pizza quotient was low therefore I could almost completely justify the cost. Almost, because a takeaway is likely to never be the best use of money.

I ordered the pizza at 5:20 PM in the hope I could have a good amount of time to eat it in before my 6:30 PM eating window cut off. The pizza took a while to arrive and even when it did the driver hadn’t actually found the right house. At least I got to meet my neighbours’ new dog whilst casting a lookout for my pizza. I ate as much as I could manage before 6:30 PM, which included downing my 0% beer down at 6:29PM. This might seem obsessive, but this week I lost 2.25 pounds with no significant deduction in my calorie intake, so I think it has helped me. My goal is to eventually get down to an 8-hour eating window. I guess I like collecting pointless life goals.

My takeaway was £19.99 but the deals I used saved me £11.48. I went for a vegan pizza – The Stinger – which had chillies, chilli sauce, and jackfruit ‘pepperoni’ on it as well as vegan cheese of course. I also had some sides. About half of what I ordered is in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch.

I watched Julie and Julia on Netflix, I had wanted to see it ever since it first came out and I absolutely loved it. That finished before 8 PM and I had to decide what to watch next. I decided to continue the catering theme with Nigella Lawson shows on the BBC iPlayer app.

22/11/2020

A couple of strange events happened last night. Around 9 PM someone was banging loudly on the front door of the building I live in. I don’t think anyone answered the front door, though the person banging did set off downstair’s dog.

Then at 9:40 PM, there was a loud bang. I assumed it was a firework, but it didn’t really sound like one.

When I woke up this morning, I saw my friend from work had messaged our workgroup chat to tell us to be safe if we were out and about. I checked the national news site for Wales and saw that in my city centre last night there were numerous stabbing incidents and rumours of gunshots. A pub about a mile away from me had been evacuated. No one seems to have passed away, and arrests have been made, and I suppose the good thing is no one has even suggested the acts were related to a terrorist act. It’s just that I feel quite safe in my city and in general I value safety and security very highly so things like this do shake me a little.

I had woken up at 6 AM again and I was still a little bit sleepy whilst doing my Duolingo lessons, but not as bad as the last few days. I was very boring and went to bed before 10 PM last night to get enough sleep and it has helped, but I may need an early night tonight as well.

I’m due to pick up a new dose of a medication I’m on. My recent health concerns could be caused by being on that pill for a long time. The new dose will be lower to wean me off it eventually. I am a bit nervous because this medication affects my sleep. If I forget to take it, I’m awake all night. So, I’m worried my closely guarded good sleep of the last week and a half will be taken from me when I change the dosage. It is a price I will have to pay to take care of my other health issues.

I did some more sessions of the book writing masterclass, and then I got ready for my 10KM run.

I ran the full 10KM! All the 10KM runs I’ve done recently have involved some walking. I ran all of this. To be fair, it was very slow at 75 minutes. My personal best is 59:51, but I haven’t run 10KM all in one go since the 19th of July. The significance of that date is it was the day before my mum passed away.

Ever since the 20th of July, I have lost all motivation for the big things in my life before my mum’s death, such as writing and running. I was writing a book before my mum’s death. I was training for a marathon. Overnight I just completely lost my speed and endurance in running and my desire to write a book.

These last two weeks have been some of the best of my entire lockdown experience in terms of my mental and physical health coming together. I feel I may have come through the worst of the grief.

I ate the leftover Papa John’s takeaway for lunch, and then I went on the exercise bike for 2 hours whilst watching a 2017 Nigella Lawson series called ‘At My Table’ on the BBC iPlayer app. It was quite a good way to spend 2 hours. I then had my shower, only enduring two minutes of cold.

Back at my laptop, I tackled a big-ticket item. I looked through the notes of the sample chapters of my book I sent to my friend to edit and proofread back in the summer. I haven’t dared look at them since my friend sent them to me. Not because I was scared of the edits, I know I have a poor grasp of grammar, and the only way I’ll get better is to learn and seek advice on it. I was scared because writing a book was very much something I cared about before my mum’s death and it didn’t seem important afterward.

I was surprised there weren’t more notes on the sample chapters! I sent my friend a message to thank her. I then began doing some other writing.

My flatmate came back from his weekend with his girlfriend. He came bearing Gu desserts and some milk which will take £3.65 off the food budget. We now have £24.60 of it left until it resets on my payday next week. We should be able to stick to the budget. A rarity for this household during lockdown!

I feel satisfied in saying that the week is over in terms of spending. Let the totals commence!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £23.50 (MY HALF £11.75)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £123.38 + COUNSELLING = £35 + TV LICENSE ANNUAL FEE = £78.75

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £248.88

Spending Diary 9th to 16th November 2020

Hi everybody!

I am still on a massive urge to spend money. I have no idea why! I also have no money. Maybe it is just a reaction against the two-week fire break lockdown where I live recently which meant all non-essential shops were shut. Though I didn’t want to even go to any shops then so that can’t be it.

I’m trying to be sensible really.

09/11/2020

I had the day off work today as annual leave. I had rescheduled my will writing appointment to today but that wouldn’t be till the afternoon.

I woke up at 6 am and came downstairs and did some revision to the spending diary that preceded this one. I then posted that on here. I have recently signed up for Grammarly and am trying to learn how to get better at writing. I have the free version of Grammarly and may spring for the paid version if I get real use out of it.

At 9 am I went for a 10km run. I am still not able to run the full 10km all in one go. I haven’t run further than 5km all in one go since mid-July. I ran about 5.5km before I stopped and walked for a bit. That had been forty minutes at that point. I walked for five minutes then ran for ten minutes and carried on that pattern finishing the run in 01:21:30 with 01:06:30 of that being run. This meant I did run more and spent more time running than previous attempts at this distance, but I finished slightly slower. You win some you lose some.

I came home, showered, and did my beauty maintenance, then had lunch. I went upstairs after lunch to do Duolingo in my room as my flatmate works from home due to the pandemic and chooses to work in the living room. I could hardly distract him during one of his MS Teams calls with my painful attempts at pronunciation.

Midway through my French lessons a delivery I had placed last week with an independent coffee shop arrived. It was for three packets of ground coffee, a 250g bag of cacao chocolate chips, and a six-pack of oat milk. I haven’t received the invoice yet so I don’t know how much it will be.

I then did the will appointment over the telephone and finished that in a short time. As I was on annual leave and my flatmate wasn’t it seemed fair that I should go to the shops. In Holland and Barrett, I bought two cans of kombucha and one can of kefir. That was all they had, I wanted more. Those three cans cost £5.97.

Next, to Iceland. Frozen peppers and a bag of Quorn chicken pieces set me back £4. Finally, I was in Tesco and I treated myself to a bottle of Bailey’s that was 75% funded with my latest club card vouchers. I also bought Pepsi Max, blackcurrant squash, summer fruits squash, two tins of tomato soup, two tins of carrot and coriander soup, stuffed green olives, black olives, frozen sweetcorn, Stilton cheese, and onions. After the £9 in vouchers was deducted the shopping came to £15.37.

Back at home, I began making dinner. I was planning on making cauliflower gnocchi. I did make cauliflower gnocchi. However, the quality of the gnocchi degraded as I grew more and more tired of making the little shapes. There were trays of it all over the kitchen and I have a small kitchen.

I cooked two portions for dinner with some tomato sauce and cheese, then froze the rest. I didn’t freeze them neatly; I just shoved the gnocchi on the baking parchment in the freezer. Dealing with that is future Flo’s problem.

Then it was off to bed as I planned to also get up early tomorrow.

10/11/2020

I woke up successfully at 6 am. Before breakfast, I divided the frozen gnocchi into individual portions and ended up with eleven bags taking up valuable space in the freezer. After breakfast, I went on Duolingo for an hour, then got dressed and started work at 08:05 am which is extremely rare for me.

I sent the coffee shop an email saying I hadn’t received the invoice and would wait for that later. I achieved 60% of the stats that I had in the entirety of last week before noon today! Super Flo! I then had an extended lunch break and did some strength work and sprints on the exercise bike. For lunch, I had toast with some of the Stilton cheese and some of the pear and fig relish I bought from Rubies in the Rubble last week. It was an amazing lunch. I had heard – admittedly not from someone trained in nutrition – that blue cheese helps gut health and I certainly felt much happier after eating it. I then had a shower and returned to my desk.

The invoice had arrived. My coffee shops treat cost £37.90. Eeek! It will keep me going for most of the rest of the month though.

The rest of my afternoon was taken up with meetings, and I did a brief bit of e-learning just before I finished for the day.

Due to the vast amount of cauliflower gnocchi, the flatmate and I had that for dinner today as well. We jazzed it up a little with different vegetables. It is delicious but I think it will be hard to persuade me to make gnocchi from scratch again.

We then watched an old episode of Taskmaster. I would have to go to bed early again tonight as I have an early morning meeting tomorrow and will need to make sure I am well-rested. I would want to unwind by reading a little as well. I have received the book ‘The Four Pillars’ and have taken to it. I will carry on reading that.

11/11/2020

Off to the shops again! Orange juice, milk, wheat biscuits, crisps, spaghetti rings, Thai crisps, four tins of chopped tomatoes, two packets of noodles, butter – unsalted and salted, two packs of spaghetti, camembert, stilton, tofu, and tomatoes. £17.31

12/11/2020

My subscription to the Smol dishwasher capsules came out of my account today. £4.60. I hope they arrive soon otherwise I may have to do manual washing up! I also needed to go to the shops to pick up things for tonight’s stir fry. I bought carrots, two tins of coconut milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, two packets of noodles, three baguettes, two lots of stir fry sauce, and bread for £9.10. Whilst in Tesco I picked up a book of 12 first-class stamps as I am a prolific letter writer, mainly to my Grandpa, so that was a wise investment of £9.12.

Back at home I checked my emails and saw that I had been paid my Amazon vouchers for a side hustle I do. I now had £30 on my account so I bought some cookbooks I had been lusting after. Two were from Bosh, the two guys who specialise in vegan cooking. The other was the latest Nigella Lawson cookbook. I also added a Christmas CD and after the vouchers were taken off it cost me £6.99.

I was going out this evening for the first time since before lockdown. I was a bit scared about it, to be honest. I was going with some work friends split across two groups (only up to four people from different households can meet in a venue and there were five of us). I met up with two of my friends to walk there and was having a bit of a panic attack, but I felt more relaxed in the pub. On Tuesday I had decided I would give up drinking for five weeks, backdating it to Monday as that had been a drink-free day. I have just been feeling a bit under the weather for a while. My sleep is erratic, I have bad IBS symptoms, I’ve put on weight and I have high-stress levels so the only way to figure out if alcohol is maybe part of the problem is to eliminate it and then reintroduce it. I will be able to drink again on the 14th of December. So, in the pub, I was just having 0% beers. I spent £8.80 on the two non-alcoholic beers I had. I had a good night in the end. It was good to see my friends and the only way I am going to be able to overcome my social anxiety about socialising during a pandemic is to go out and socialise.

My flatmate met me half way on my walk home from the pub and I got into bed at a good time.

13/11/2020

Normally Friday is one of my drinking days, so I thought I would struggle today but actually, it was really easy. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything and I have been feeling a bit better about myself this week. I still haven’t noticed any improvement in my sleep though and that is the main thing I am trying to work on.

14/11/2020

I had to get up early to do a mission with Good Gym at a community garden. I did wake up early, but then I fell asleep on the sofa and was running late. I ended up being the first person at the mission though, which is unusual for me. I was digging up some brambles when all of us heard a strange bird cry. We were looking in the trees and bushes and eventually, one of the group saw that it was a parrot! It flew off high up into a tree. One of the group nominated themselves to check local lost pet listings on social media to see if anyone was missing a parrot.

I walked home and had a quick shower and then got on with my day. I did some Duolingo. The flatmate and I made a meal plan and then I went to the shops. It feels like I have spent my entire week in the shops. I bought Heineken 0% beers, non-alcoholic white wine, two Erdinger 0% beers, Cheddar cheese, Actimel, tomato and mascarpone sauce, handwash, mayonnaise, Flora, two crisp multipacks, apples, bananas, oranges, tortilla wraps, felafel, pears, cucumber, eggs, and houmous all came to £33.99. I’m quite excited by the non-alcoholic wine. When I tried it later it was very strange. It did taste like wine, but without the kick of alcohol. I drank the whole bottle of course.

I tidied up the house and then watched a film on All 4 called ‘The Love Witch’. It was bizarre. If you found Game of Thrones gratuitous in its use of nudity then you won’t like The Love Witch. I liked it, it was utterly camp and shocking.

15/11/2020

I had to get up early to go to another Good Gym mission, and it went slightly more successfully than yesterday in that I did fall asleep after the alarm, but I woke up in time. The Good Gym mission started with a 5km run that three of us were doing. I don’t know whether it was a reaction to the cold or a new face cream I had rubbed into my face before I left but my eyes and nose were streaming. It might have been hay fever. I was in a really bad way and thought I was going to have to run off to the nearest Tesco toilets to clean myself up, but luckily the symptoms seemed to disappear quickly. After the run more of us from Good Gym arrived and we did a litter pick around the nearby streets for 45 minutes. I then walked back home through the park and arrived home in just enough time to make tea and have a sandwich before my Skype call with one of my best friends. It was lovely catching up with her. Her son is eighteen months old now and it was lovely to see him playing and to catch up with her and her husband. I felt great after speaking with them. Lockdown life has made me realise how important my friends and family are.

I had a shower, did some Duolingo, and just did some life admin stuff. There never seems to be enough hours in the day. The flatmate was feeling ill so we had a small dinner of soup and bread. I had a video call with my Dad and step mum and then watched His Dark Materials. I was ready for bed after that.

The week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £128.24 (MY HALF = £64.12)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £24.91

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £89.03

Spending Diary 2nd to 8th November 2020

Hi everybody,

I hope you are all well.

Wales leaves its lockdown on Monday 9th November morning, but England goes into their lockdown on Thursday 5th November so things still aren’t easing in the UK.

As we get nearer to Christmas I become less and less sure that I will be able to spend it with my family. I guess we will have to see what the last few weeks of 2020 bring.

I hope we all get through it safely.

Onto my week.

02/11/2020

I had the day off today because I was due to rewrite my will in the afternoon. Last year I wrote my first ever will through the Will Aid scheme. This runs every November, but the appointments open up in late September and fill up fast. Will Aid is where legal teams give up their time for free to create a will for you. There is a catch, you are encouraged to donate the equivalent fee to charity. The suggested donation is £100, though if you really can’t afford this you don’t have to pay for it. Last year I had budgeted the full £100 and that’s what I paid. I plan to do the same this year.

I am rewriting my will because now that my mum has passed away my will needs to be updated, and I also plan to add named benefactors to my will. So, it is an important life admin skill.

I walked to the legal office and then found out that the receptionist (who happens to be a friend of mine, as I discovered last year) had been trying to get hold of me. At the last minute, the lawyer had to go home ill. I wasn’t too upset about this as it was good to see my friend. She is five months pregnant with her first child and it was nice to catch up with someone I know without breaking lockdown rules, technically.

As I had the day off, I was able to do some food shopping. The flatmate and I were going to make a vegetable curry in the evening, so I stopped off at Tesco and bought some naan bread, as well as milk, bread, and more non-alcoholic beers. That came to £7.95. At home, I checked my bank account transactions and saw that some fabric conditioner I had ordered through Smol at the weekend had come out today. It was £10 and it is for two bottles of super-concentrated fabric conditioner that comes in recycled bottles. Once I use up four of these bottles, I can send them back to Smol and they will reuse them. As it is super concentrated you only need four pumps of it in your wash load and Smol estimates my bottles will last me six months. I rarely use fabric conditioner, especially during the pandemic, as I tend to use an anti-bacterial laundry cleanser in addition to my wash capsule and that takes up the fabric conditioner drawer space. The flatmate however loves fabric conditioner, so I am willing to try out these more sustainable options.

My subscription to Naked Wines also came out today, which is £20. I add £20 a month and every six months or so I buy a twelve-pack crate of wine. They had recently sent me an email about their Christmas bundle soon to be ready to pre-order and I did some research into the previous year’s offerings and it is really tempting. But they are about £180 and I don’t have that to spare, no matter how fantastic the deal is.

I finally caught up with some emails in my personal account I had been putting off and saw through the Zero Waste Weekly email I get from OLIO that they were offering 20% off any order at Rubies in the Rubble. I had heard of them for a while, they make relishes and sauces out of fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste. In case you hadn’t gathered from other things in today’s entry or previous posts I am really into sustainability, saving the planet, being environmentally conscious, and so on. I went on the Rubies in the Rubble website and bought banana ketchup, pear and fig relish, chilli onion relish, and apple relish all for £14.79 which is generally more than I would ever spend on condiments, but I am really excited about trying these things. I reckon the pear and fig relish would go lovely with some blue cheese. A favourite autumn/winter dish for me is toast with sliced figs and blue cheese. Give it a whirl sometime!

The curry I made in the evening wasn’t too successful. It was too watery. I was trying to use up vegetable stock I had in the freezer and that was the end result. It was edible still; it was just more of a soup than a curry. The flatmate still wolfed it down though.

03/11/2020

Back to work. I decided to change my strategy for work this week. I have been working through a big spreadsheet of things to get through and I had previously been doing smaller items as they would help me achieve my target stats for the week. This week I decided to tackle the bigger projects. They would all need to get done eventually, and it is good to work out how to speed up the process with the bigger jobs. This does mean my stats for the week are likely to be much lower than desired, but my line managers are incredible and I know they will still feel this is a good work effort.

I went for a run at lunchtime. I did two laps of two parks near me, which is about 4.5km so about half an hour of running at my speed. I absolutely loved it! It made me feel really great.

The reason why I had decided to run at lunchtime this week is that yesterday I was planning my week as a whole and I saw that because I had a lot of evening events which would prevent me from running. Plus, I don’t like running in the dark on my own (and later this week there was a report on one of my local running group pages that a runner was assaulted by two people whilst running in my area).

The flatmate and I had a stir fry for tea. I had made it too spicy. My spice tolerance rate is higher than my flatmate’s, but it is still rather low so if I found it a bit spicy that meant it was almost inedible for my flatmate. Poor thing.

In the evening I had my first counselling session with my former counsellor. I stopped seeing her in March for a few reasons, but obviously, my mental health has dipped since then not just because of my mum’s death but also just from lockdown in general. I had some counselling sessions with another counsellor through my employee benefits scheme at work. I didn’t really take to those sessions, but it did make me think I could benefit from some more counselling with someone I know and trust. So, I contacted my former counsellor last week and she was able to give me sessions on a Tuesday evening. My sessions now cost £35 for a 50-minute Skype session. I mention this here, but I won’t generally be including it in my personal spending categories after this month as I will set it up as a bill on my spreadsheets.

It felt good to talk things over with her. She is unavailable next week, so I will be able to save £35 on that session, but these sessions are going to heavily eat into my budgets this month. I consider them essential though at this moment in time.

04/11/2020

Today I did another lunchtime run, the same distance as yesterday. It was 30 seconds quicker though which is a great result.

The flatmate popped to the shops which turned out to be great for me as we had slightly too little macaroni for tonight’s dinner – macaroni cheese. He bought Pepsi max and orange juice as well as the macaroni for £2.90.

In the evening I went on a zoom session organised by my local Good Gym with a Welsh ultra-runner called Lowri Morgan. I had heard of her because she has recently released a book that was a big talking point this summer with various friends in the running groups I go to. After the session was over, I sent her a message on Instagram through my running Instagram account to ask her if I could buy a copy of her book. She replied and said she would absolutely send one to me, her rate for them is £14.50. I was awaiting her bank details when I went to sleep that night.

05/11/2020

I was feeling a bit grumpy today, so at lunchtime, I only ran half the distance I had done on Tuesday and Wednesday. I suppose it is better than nothing.

I had to work late and was going to be calling my Dad and Step mum in the evening, so I didn’t have the time to make the falafel and houmous for tonight’s dinner from scratch as I had planned to. So that involved another trip to the shops. Both of us went to Tesco and bought Brew Dog 0% beers, Heineken 0% beers, prosecco, coffee, gravy granules, pickled beetroot, eggs, courgettes, felafel, tortilla wraps, vegan ham, and houmous. The total was £32.45. The flatmate and I split all the household shopping. We’re like a very dysfunctional unit.

As I mentioned, I was feeling grumpy and in a low mood. I was feeling grumpy as my sleep hasn’t significantly improved, my body has a high amount of the stress hormone prolactin so I have been referred to the endocrinology department of my local hospital. Plus, I have mouth ulcers and seborrheic dermatitis, and I get both of these when I’m stressed.

So, to cheer me up and to do something proactive, I indulged in self-care retail therapy. I bought a copy of ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, as I had been listening to his podcast and his appearances on other podcast series and he seemed like a good place to start. The book was £2.65 after my £10 Amazon voucher had been deducted.

I then bought four second-hand books for £12.50. The four books were ‘Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives’ by Anna Kessel, ‘Too Good to Waste’ by Victoria Glass, ‘The Leftovers Handbook: A-Z of Every Ingredient in Your Kitchen with Inspirational Ideas for Using Them’ by Suzy Bowler and ‘Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity’ by David Allen. I actually used to own the David Allen book and had gotten rid of it in a book purge years ago but really feel I need help with my time management now.

Finally, I bought a Kindle copy of a book I read from the library years ago called ‘Mad Diet: Easy Steps to Lose Weight and Cure Depression’ by Suzanne Lockhart. I remember really enjoying it at the time and am willing to try anything to get my health back on track.

I felt a lot better after having a falafel wrap with all of my five a day on the dish. I precisely measure out 80g of vegetables so that I know I am eating a portion. I was able to try the banana ketchup as well!

I also felt better after speaking to my Dad and Step mum. My Dad’s speech still isn’t the same nearly a year after his stroke, but we just keep holding on and enjoying each improvement and development.

06/11/2020

Friday! I was in a bit of a bind over my work in the morning but had a pep talk from my flatmate and was able to get more work done in the afternoon.

At lunchtime, I wrote my Grandpa a quick card and then also went and posted a card with £20 in it for my niece who turns 11 on Monday. I was quite lucky in that I thought I was going to have to go to the cash machine first but my flatmate had £20 in his wallet which he was eager to get rid of as he never uses cash. I took that and transferred him the money from my bank account into his. I also added 69p for the card as I used the one, he bought in Home Bargains last Saturday before he found a better one for his mum. I went to post them on a little walk in the lovely November sunshine.

I had a leftover portion of the vegetable curry from Monday for lunch. I always feel good when I don’t end up wasting any food. It was getting pretty close with that curry. Any later and I probably would have had to have thrown it away.

I paid Lowri Morgan for her book today as well. £14.50.

The flatmate and I were having wedges and vegetables for dinner. I was having mine with salmon and he was having vegetable fingers.

Friday is a drinking day for me so I had my first drink of the week. I had gin and tonic. My football team Bristol City were on TV playing a game on Sky Sports which my flatmate had bought a week’s pass for so that was rather enjoyable. All in all, a good end of the week.

07/11/2020

I woke up late as I had to get ready for a Good Gym mission on the other side of town. I had planned to run there, then chickened out as my knee was hurting in the morning, but in the end, I ran the last 2km of the distance as otherwise, I would be late. I arrived just on time but was the last Good Gym person to arrive. I am usually fanatical about being early for things but getting up early has become bad for me so I am often the last to arrive for a Good Gym mission and I’m really eager to tackle this as I don’t want to get a reputation!

On this occasion, we ended up having to wait for the mission set up to be ready. We were dishing up food that the charity donates to vulnerable residents and then helped with the clean up afterward. I used to be a kitchen porter so have great experience in cleaning huge pots and pans. You never know when your early life skills are going to come in handy.

The organisers gifted us with some leftover food, so I came away with four portions of pasta meals. This did mean I couldn’t run back as I had wanted to, but that is a small price to pay for free pasta.

Back at home, it was really hard for me to say where the day went. I read some of a kindle book, I completed a level on Duolingo, I tidied up, I changed my bedsheets, put on a wash load, hoovered my room, and put away the dry clothes so it wasn’t like I was totally unproductive. It just felt like I could have achieved more.

The flatmate and I then ran to the shops, though the distance was less than 1km so nothing to get excited about. We bought a vegan BBQ pizza, milk, Actimel drinks, green tea, another pizza, a fun-size Twix multipack bag, a fun-size Mars bar multipack bag, two multipacks of Double Decker’s, Oreo cookies, bread, cucumber, two cauliflowers, avocados, broccoli, parsnip, bananas, and strawberries. The shopping came to £25.55. As with most of the food shopping we do at Tesco we had a bit of a discount for using our club card and getting ‘club card prices’ on certain products. We really fancied pizza for dinner, hence the trip to the shops.

I had a zoom drinking session in the evening with four friends from work and I had been chilling a bottle of prosecco for a couple of days in anticipation. I was in a very celebratory mood, especially after recent events in the news today. I got very tipsy indeed. After the zoom drinks, I went downstairs to hang out with my flatmate for a little bit listening to some music. I went to bed very happy.

08/11/2020

My flatmate said that in his family’s WhatsApp group for Christmas present ideas, his sister had requested a 24 pack of toilet paper from the same company we get ours from. This prompted me to check our supplies of toilet paper and facial tissues and I decided to spring for an order. I bought a 24 pack of the premium make of the company’s toilet paper as well as a 14 pack of the facial tissue. This came to £40.

I watched one of my favourite films ‘Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion’ and just pottered about the flat. I couldn’t really seem to settle down to anything and was getting frustrated about the day running away from me.

After much inner turmoil over the best way to spend my day, I eventually went for a short run after 3pm.

When I got back, I chatted with a couple of my brothers on WhatsApp whilst drinking a beer. I then did my Duolingo lessons and finally completed a really difficult section. I then watched ‘The Princess Bride’ whilst my flatmate made dinner.

I feel it is fair to declare that this week is over for spending. The wallet is closed!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £153.64 (MY HALF £76.82)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £52.33

COUNSELLING SESSION = £35

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £164.15

Spending Diary 26th October to 1st November 2020

Hi everybody,

As usual I feel I don’t have any money. This week will however bring about pay day which is always a delight, so the end of the week will probably be quite heavy on the spending.

I have decided to be a bit relaxed about how the food budget has gone to hell and is way over budget. I have the means to buy things we need and just readjust. There were plenty of times in the past when I would be so het up about the food budget that I would refuse all spending and make some interesting and bizarre meals in order to really use up our supply’s first before going to the shops. In theory that isn’t too bad a habit. I do feel more relaxed when I feel I can buy what I need rather than survive without.

26/10/2020

I’ve been having trouble with the Superdrug order I placed last week. It hasn’t turned up and when I check the My Hermes tracker it seems to say both that it’s been delivered and that it is with them. It was a huge order for me and I really hope I get my items. I’m running on empty in terms of my toiletry’s supplies. I’m having to wash my hair without conditioner and just use leave in. It’s not ideal, but I feel reluctant to buy things I am waiting on to turn up in the post.

I did go on to Feel Unique and buy some things my friend Kate recommended to me. My friend Kate is a skincare goddess. She knows everything and anything about skincare and she is my first point of call for advice until I have the money to go to a dermatologist. She recommended some beauty pads which I bought, and I also picked up an eye cream as mine is running out. The order came to £24.74. The odd price is based on getting 10% off as I was a new subscriber.

I have decided to wait till tomorrow to contact Superdrug about my order. I placed it last Wednesday and the original email did say it could take a week to arrive so I will be polite and give it time. I do really want my items though.

27/10/2020

I had the day off today to go to the Doctor’s for a blood test. I have a bit of annual leave to use up before the year is out so I am taking days off here and there. There was a bit of a delay at the surgery and I was glad to get out of there. My results should come back within a week, so I will call up the surgery next Monday for the results. If they come back early and there is something to discuss with me, I’m sure I’ll get a letter about it so I’m not worried.

After finishing at the surgery, I went to the shops and bought things on a credit card (‘creative accounting’ afoot) for the rest of the week. In Iceland I spent £6 on frozen blueberries, frozen sliced peppers and Quorn chicken pieces. In Savers I spent £18.24 on Lenor laundry scent beads, three packets of handwash refills, laundry anti-bacterial cleanser, washing machine cleaner, dishwasher cleaner, mouthwash and toothpaste. Then I went to Tesco and spent £28.49 on two bags for life (rookie error of leaving my normal bags at home), frozen peas, scampi, frozen sweetcorn, vegetarian soya mince, vegetarian sausages, summer fruits squash, cereal, two tins of black beans, two packets of tomato puree, Flora, tofu, cheese, noodles, bread, eggs, tortilla warps, spinach, onions, smoked salmon and mushrooms. Back at home I had my breakfast and then just relaxed reading for a bit. In the afternoon I called up my internet supplier and changed the contract to a new one. We were out of contract before and paying £41.59 and now we are on a new twelve-month contract paying £35.99. This isn’t necessarily the best deal though. The reason is if my flat mate and I cancel the contract at any time within the next twelve months (due to us finally moving out from each other) we will have to pay a fee of £15.64 for each month of what remained of the contract. Which could be quite costly. I don’t know what the future holds and this contract may or may not pan out for us, but I know that I don’t have the money now for an expensive contract, whereas I may have more money in the future for a fee. I guess I will have to see what happens.

I then logged into my energy supplier account and reduced our monthly bill from £150 to £120. We are in credit with them and I send meter readings every month so I will be able to see if we go over budget in Winter and need to increase the bill. Again, I could really do with saving the money now.

Despite spending so much money in the shops earlier there were a few things I missed so I had to go to the shops again and buy them. In Tesco I spent £5.91 on ice cream, houmous, cucumber, crisps and a courgette. I was glad when I could relax in the evening.

28/10/2020

The day before pay day. And I still had to spend money on food! The flat mate needed milk, so I went out at lunch time to the nearest shop and bought a bottle for £1.15.

In the evening I tallied up the ‘November 2020 Finances’ spreadsheet once again to make sure everything was set up for the next day. I made my flat mate transfer me the money for his share of the bills, plus his half of what we overspent on this month’s food budget as all the excess had been bought by me. We were over on the October 2020 Food and Household Shopping budget by £88.83! I created a quick spreadsheet to compare our food budgets before lockdown to the ones during lockdown and it has increased by an average of £112! It is definitely much more expensive shopping during lockdown than before. Admittedly I have things now that I didn’t before such as a coffee subscription, a wine subscription and a beer subscription. I’ve also to an extent been buying more ‘treat’ foods than before as it is just so b-o-r-i-n-g during lockdown. However, my local supermarket does sell less budget options and has less deals on offer, so that also hasn’t helped during this time.

I was all set for pay day. My ‘treat’ on pay day is to get up early and sort out my finances in the morning. I’m weird, I know, most people don’t consider getting up early a treat but I genuinely do enjoy doing this.

Off to bed I went.

29/10/2020

True to form I woke up at 6am, the earliest I have gotten up in the last few weeks, and I transferred all my sinking funds to their various pots, added money to my investment account and got everything organised.

I checked what my net worth this month was compared to last month’s net worth. I do a snapshot on my pay days. I technically cheat a little as I factor in the amount of debt, I pay off my personal loan even though that payment comes out a couple of days after pay day. My net worth once again is a decrease from the month before, by £139.58. This is from using my savings to pay for things. I am not getting into debt, the amounts I put on my credit card have been factored in from the get go and will be paid in full this month, but using up savings will still decrease my net worth. I must get into better budget habits; anyone got any tips?

It is my brother’s birthday in early November and when I asked him what he wanted he said some incense sticks would be nice, so I got him a nice set from Amazon that with postage came to £18.48.

Earlier in the week I had contacted my cousin who is a Body Shop seller to place and order which I was finally able to complete today due to having more money again. I bought an SPF face mist and a bright bold pink lipstick. There was a 10% off deal due to it being my first order so it came to £23.40. I try to support my friends and family where I can with their ventures and I do love The Body Shop and their ethics so it was a win win situation.

30/10/2020

Today at work we were having a special Halloween quiz which we were all encouraged to dress up for. The costume I bought a couple of weeks back but was secretive about was because my work colleagues may read my blog and we’ve been encouraged to keep the costumes a surprise. I can now reveal that it was a skeleton all in one outfit, as well as a spooky skull mask. The costume is so comfy, not the mask though, but the outfit is like a goth onesie, I love it!

I came fourth in the quiz, standard fare for me. I have another quiz tomorrow with Good Gym so I’m hoping these questions today will be on tomorrow’s quiz and that could be an easy win for me.

To give a clue as to where my skills lies, I got more points on the music round than I had on the entire quiz up to that point. More than 50% of my total points were due to my musical knowledge. I guess it is good to have some areas of expertise.

I promised my flat mate a takeaway and we haven’t had a Chinese for ages so that’s what we went for. It was a huge meal. I ordered prawn toasts and a tofu and vegetables in black bean sauce dish, plus I had 50% of the rice and chips we ordered. I live in Wales and ‘half and half’ (half chips, half rice) with curry is a standard option at any respectable takeaway, so I know this is Chinese food but I am keeping the spirit of ‘half and half’ alive. Another thing I picked up in Wales is chips and curry sauce – this is my absolute favourite way to have chips now – so of course I ordered a pot of curry sauce for my chips. Wales has contributed enormously to my culinary landscape.

I also purchased my annual Christmas jumper, apologies if the ‘C-word’ is a trigger this side of December. It is from a site I had seen advertised to me on Facebook and Instagram as my friends follow it called ‘Merchoid’. I guess me buying from them shows I am a marketer’s dream customer. The jumper I bought was £1.99 over my £35 Christmas jumper budget. However, it is a ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ jumper, so my teenage love of Tim Burton and the fact I can wear this at both Halloween and Christmas shows value for money.

Finally, the last way my money left my wallet today was I saw my favourite cook and campaigner Jack Monroe had posted a fundraiser for an account they follow on Twitter. It was another cook and campaigner account, and that person was struggling financially, so I donated £5 to them via PayPal.

31/10/2020

Boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! It’s Halloween!

I woke up a bit earlier than usual for me, but somehow seemed to waste the morning. I was tidying up, so it’s not like I wasn’t doing anything. I went intense on the tidying up. I moved all the furniture to hoover around things, even under the rug. I also did the monthly tasks of cleaning the washing machine and dishwasher. As a result, we ran out of hot water by 2pm. I had to put it on later in the day for my shower.

The flat mate needed to do some tasks at the shop so we both agreed we would go together and I would help him and he would help me with the food shopping. He needed to get a birthday card and postage materials for his mum’s birthday, which isn’t easy when birthday cards are an unessential purchase during the fire break lockdown in Wales. We did strike lucky though in the end.

In terms of personal shopping at the shops I bought a copy of the latest issues of ‘Runner’s World’ and ‘Women’s Running’ magazine which came to £9.40. The rest of the shopping I did at the shops was for the household.

I am really trying to work on having good gut bacteria, so we went to Holland and Barrett and I bought two cans of kefir and a can of kombucha, plus brazil nuts, flaxseed, vegetarian pies and the flat mate bought some effervescent multi vitamin tablets. That load of shopping came to £24.64.

Next, Home Bargains. We were mainly in here to hunt for birthday cards, but we picked up two multipacks of crisps for the house. That was £1.98.

Finally! The old faithful Mr Tesco. A big shop, I bought orange juice, rice pudding, 0% alcohol Ghost Ship beers, Yakult, 0%  alcohol Brew Dog beers, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, soy sauce, four packets of spice mix, two tins of chick peas, mushy peas, two sweet chilli stir fry sauces, two multipacks of Cadbury’s Double Decker’s, Wispa, Twix, broccoli, butter, two packets of cookies, M&M chocolate bar, sweet potatoes, potatoes, cucumber, carrots, cheddar cheese, paprika, poppadom crisps, avocados, parsnip, baby corn, stir fry vegetables and a cauliflower. After club card price deals this came to £43.40. Not included is the three scented candles I bought. I haven’t included them because they came to £8 and I put my £9.50 of Tesco club card vouchers towards them.

In case anyone from outside of the UK is wondering about what ‘club card’ is all about in the store Tesco I’ll explain. Tesco is a big supermarket in the UK – one of the market leaders – and they have a loyalty scheme you can sign up for which is called ‘club card’ and it’s where you are given a card/key fob and this gets scanned every time you go shopping. You get 1p in points for every £1 you spend in store. Typically, Tesco send out vouchers every three months, though through your account you can redeem as soon as you have £1.50 in points without waiting. Before lock down I shopped around and didn’t use Tesco as much, so I received about £4 in vouchers every three months. Now, with Tesco being my biggest and nearest and cheapest supermarket within walking distance it has the biggest share of my wallet, so now I get about £10 in vouchers every three months.

Finally, club card prices. Every week now in Tesco they will have products which will have a club card price on them, for example a bag of ground coffee might be £3.50, but then the club card price is listed as £2. This means if you are signed up to the club card loyalty scheme and have the card and buy this coffee, it will only cost you £2 whereas someone without a club card will have to pay £3.50.

It is free to join the club card scheme.

In the evening the flat mate and I were keeping an eye on the news as a month-long lock down was going to be announced in England. Although we live in Wales and have been experiencing a fire break lock down already, England as another devolved nation was just doing the three tier local lockdowns and hadn’t gone back into a national lockdown again. Now it will. Since the flat mate and I live in Wales and our parents live in England we keep an eye on this news even if it won’t affect us directly as it will affect our parents. Everyone is keeping an eye on what the rules are going to be at Christmas. I am inwardly preparing myself for a Christmas in my flat, as this way I won’t be disappointed if it does happen.

I had a quick shower, put my skeleton outfit on and settled down to the Good Gym Halloween quiz. I won! Once again, I got the majority of points on the music round, but I wasn’t doing too bad before that. I have a unique skill in quizzes which is where if I don’t know the answer, I have enough surrounding general knowledge and intuition to guess the correct answer. So literally, I don’t always know things, I just guess correctly.

My prize is my very own litter picker for our next litter picking missions, and a custom carry case for it to go in. The prize originally was going to be a bottle of wine, the quizmaster said he had drunk it though.

I was feeling quite pumped up after this and stayed up watching TV and went to bed late, and was still awake probably about 90 minutes later. Since reading a book about sleep I have become a lot more relaxed about moments like this and just accepted the rest time I was having to day dream in bed. It was nice and eventually I nodded off.

01/11/2020

I woke up a bit later as a result of the late-night last night.

I did some batch cooking and just generally prepped for the week ahead.

I declare the week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £129.81 (MY HALF = £64.90)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £144.51

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £209.41

Spending Diary 19th to 25th October 2020

Hi everybody,

Money is tight this week, let’s see how it gets spent.

19/10/2020

I woke up unsuccessfully today. My alarm went off at 6am. I got out of bed at 8:20am. I was just a bit extra sleepy today. I did my morning routine, including my cold shower, and then started work whilst listening to the ‘Wake Up to Money’ podcast on the BBC Sounds app.

I had a good day at work. I achieved my target in terms of stats for the day and I was even able to work on some development work too.

After work I did three Duolingo lessons. The flat mate had decided we would get a take away today as we both needed cheering up. He would pay for this one and I would pay for the next one we get. We ordered from a Lebanese place and as usual ordered far too much food. We watched old series of Task Master on the All 4 app and just relaxed. I definitely feel it is colder at this point in the year than it has been in previous Autumn/Winter’s. My flat mate suggested it was the contrast from the boiling hot summer we had. Either way I find I am snuggling up underneath a blanket on the sofa a lot more than I ever remember having to do before in this flat.

As my flat mate paid for the take away, I tidied up the kitchen whilst he spoke to his girlfriend online. It was announced today that from 6pm this Friday through to the 9th of November Wales would be going into a national lockdown, much like the ones in March. The shuts when they did open after the first lockdown opened at a later point in Wales compared to England. Luckily, I don’t need to buy anything. Especially lucky as I don’t have any money.

I have to say I am getting into low spirits because of the pandemic. In no way am I suggesting I want things to ease, because for me people’s safety is the most important thing. What I want is for all of this to be over, because it is finally safe and sound.

I am going to have to rethink my running plans. I’ll still be allowed out for exercise, but it might go back to the one-hour limit like at the start of lockdown. At my current level of fitness, it takes me nearly 80 minutes to do a 10km, and I’m trying to do one of them a week at least. This also means volunteering sessions at Good Gym will be cancelled for the duration of the new lockdown. I expect I will have to have a Christmas with my flat mate this year, but I will see what happens with that. I expect the move to have a lock down over Christmas would be so unpopular a decision that probably no politician would be brave enough to suggest it.

I began to feel tired around 11pm and felt it would be best to give into my sleep desires.

20/10/2020

My sleep wasn’t too successful. I went to bed apparently at 11pm but what I remember is reading at midnight until half past, so I can’t remember where that last hour went. My first alarm went off at 8am and I got out of bed at 9:30am. I quickly had my cold shower, I actually really do look forward to them, and got ready for the day. Because I started late, I would be working till later today, so I might do my run at lunchtime instead of after work.

I didn’t do a run in the end. Instead I spent my lunch break cycling on the exercise bike whilst watching an episode of Gossip Girl.  After lunch I finished what I was working on before lunch and then it was all great from there as I achieved more stats by the time of my 4pm meeting with my line manager than I had yesterday. Good work Flo.

I felt I needed some cheering up and empowerment this afternoon so I listened to Beyonce and then Spice Girls. There are some perks to working from home.

I revised some lessons for my excel exam later this week, and then I put the skills I had learnt into practice with my own spreadsheets.

I have tomorrow off as annual leave, so I decided today would be one of my three drink days of the week. I have noticed my anxiety seems to spike when I drink alcohol so for the time being I am only going to drink when I have the next day off work. Today is a drink day, and Friday and Saturday will be too.

I have two double whiskeys. Penderyn. I have limited whiskey knowledge but I do know that I like Penderyn.

I made the dinner, a stir fry with noodles and vegetables and tofu. My flat mate is devising a pub quiz for him and his friends and he has put a huge amount of effort into it. He went to practice it with his girlfriend online and I watched more Gossip Girl.

I did my Duolingo lesson and relaxed for the night.

I’ve been making reference to ‘having no money’. I thought I would explain more.

In my main current account, I have £11.49. The only bill I have left to pay before pay day is my Which? Membership that is £6.37. The remaining £5.12 is what is left of the food budget. Both the flat mate and I split the food budget, but it is controlled from my account and I do the majority of the shopping as the way we divide the labour.

£5.12 is probably not going to last very well over the next eight days until it resets on my pay day. It will probably require some ‘creative accounting’ on my part.

Now, onto my other account.

I have a challenger bank app and I use that for my personal spending. On that account I have over £300, but only £10.90 of that is free to spend, as the rest of the amount is spread across various pots I have for infrequent bills and things I am saving up for.

So that is what my finances look like at this stage of the month.   

I don’t need to buy anything urgently, but still it feels a bit scary being over a week away from pay day and not having a lot of money to get me through that time.

With Wales going into a ‘fire breaker’ lockdown for two weeks soon it’s not like I will have many opportunities to spend the money anyway. I just like having excess money instead of non-existent money.

21/10/2020

My day off today. I still woke up at a sensible time though as the main point of today was to do revision for an exam tomorrow. I spent most of the morning revising, had a quick lunch, and did more revision before going to meet my friend for a walk around the park. I bought a tea in the café in the park for £2. After coming back home I did some more revision then made dinner. I transferred £3.90 to another friend in place of a gift.

Other than that, not much to report on today.

However, as the night wore on, I started filling an online basket with beauty items as I have run out of nearly everything. My basket at Superdrug came to £98.53 and I bought hair remover, shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, a hair mask, face mask, two toner bottles, two day creams, two night creams, two shower gels and face scrub. With all the offers on my shopping I saved £35.92. A lot of this should last me for the rest of the year.

Eagle eyed readers will have noticed I earlier this week claimed to have no money. This may be an example of my ‘creative accounting’ a foot.

There was some more ‘creative accounting’ afoot when I went online and bought items for a Halloween costume. My job is doing a big quiz on the Friday before Halloween and we are being encouraged to dress up. I went as cheap as possible because no matter how much creative accounting I do I still don’t have a lot of money, so in total with postage and packaging my items came to £25.82.

And before I could do any more damage to my wallet, I went to bed to read.

22/10/2020

I woke up at a sensible time and went downstairs to do my morning routine. Today I had my Excel Exam resit. Sadly, once again I failed. My problem is I am too slow and although I knew I was doing everything right I just am never able to answer enough questions in the 60-minute time slot.

I feel one area I can highlight for my next resit is to memorise where things are on the Excel Ribbon. I think that is what is causing a lot of my delays.

After work the flat mate and I went for a very small run. We stopped off at the shops but only my flat mate went inside as I had forgotten my mask. He bought cucumber, bread and milk. He forgot to pick up a receipt but said it cost about £3.05.

We finished watching an old season of ‘Task Master’ and then we watched the latest episode of this year’s season. It is hilarious.

I found out that my Superdrug order had been dispatched, but they had to refund me one of the shower gels. So, yesterday’s shopping only(!) cost £97.03 in the end.

I still feel there are more things I need to buy for my skincare. Plus, my cousin has become a seller for The Body Shop and I would like to buy some things from them/her. I must reign in my spending until I get my payslip and know what I have to work with next month.

23/10/2020

At 6pm today the country of the UK I live in (Wales) will go into a ‘Fire Breaker’ lockdown until midnight on the 9th of November. This will be like the original lockdown in March – all pubs, clubs, café, restaurants, non-essential shops etc will close. I am facing it with a grim determination. I hope people are sensible and don’t panic buy.

So please don’t think it was for this reason I went food shopping at lunchtime. We genuinely needed the things I bought. In Iceland I bought Linda McCartney pies for £2 and then I went to Tesco and bought orange juice, three tins of chopped tomatoes, 1kg peanut butter, golden syrup, two bars of dark chocolate, non-alcoholic beers, mushy peas, two packets of mozzarella, potatoes, sweet potatoes, two bags of ground coffee, bananas, tomatoes, avocados and carrots for £29.11. I had £3 off the shopping because of Clubcard prices. I love this scheme!

Then as a way of treating myself before the Fire Break lockdown, I headed to Coffee#1 and bought a large pumpkin spiced latte for £3.30. I seem to remember I’m not actually especially keen on pumpkin spice, but this was actually delicious! Pity I won’t be able to have any more this year.

Yes, yes, yes, I know. I’ve made numerous references all throughout this diary at the start of the week that I didn’t have any money and that I only had £5.12 of the food and household shopping budget left, and now I just seem to be spending money left, right and centre. God bless ‘creative accounting’.

I’ll explain what ‘creative accounting’ is. It won’t be anywhere as interesting as the term creative accounting makes it sound. Quite simply I am using my credit card, keeping a meticulous note of every single thing I am putting on the credit card and how much it costs, and then I am recording this on my ‘November Finances 2020’ spreadsheet and listing it as a bill to pay next month. This means I am factoring the cost into my bills before I even begin to think about what my spending money on pay day is.

Warning flags might be going off for some of you. I personally feel I can manage a small splurge pre payday on a credit card. I have sometimes had to do this creative accounting on my debt free journey and I never got into trouble because of it. My latest credit report said my credit usage was too low! The crazy thing is you need to use a credit card to show you can use credit and to build up a good credit rating. Madness.

I am still not completely happy with my finances at the moment. I would be a lot more relaxed if Christmas wasn’t nine weeks away today. I’m not particularly prepared for it. Luckily my family and I don’t really buy presents for each other so my costs are less than others might be. The only people I really get gifts for are my nieces and nephews. Somehow the cost seems to rise anyway.

24/10/2020

The food shop yesterday will keep me out of the shops this weekend which is nice. It is the first full day of the fire breaker lockdown and I did notice the parks were quieter when the flat mate and I went for our run. However, the weather was quite bad today so maybe that’s why.

My flat mate was doing an epic quiz with his friends in the living room, so I went upstairs and labelled all the storage boxes and photo albums I had bought in my decluttering/organising spree. I then did some Duolingo lessons. I then went downstairs and made a big batch of lasagne using leftovers from the fridge. The flat mate and I usually eat a quarter of the batch of lasagne I made, but we have recently come to the conclusion that that is far too much and as a result I divided this batch into six portions. This will save us money and calories.

The only money I spent today was on a donation to my step sister’s birthday fundraiser on Facebook. She was raising money for the charity that her mum – my step mum- works for so it was a worthy cause. I spent the last of the money in my personal spending fund which was £7.

25/10/2020

I unfortunately felt quite unwell for most of today. I felt really nauseated all day. It doesn’t always occur to me to take painkillers. I only like to when the pain is very bad, so it was around 7pm when I finally took some paracetamol. It made me feel better almost instantly. I tend to rely on herbal teas to make me feel better. I’m not phobic or afraid of painkillers, they do a great job, they just aren’t the first thing I think to turn to.

As a result of feeling unwell I didn’t really do anything of worth today. I did do 14 lessons on Duolingo which meant I finished a lesson I was on, I guess that was good.

The house is tidy, I am fed, the day and thus week is over.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £34.16 (MY HALF £17.08)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £139.05

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £156.13

Spending Diary 12th to 18th October 2020

Hi everybody,

Another week in the life of Flo’s wallet.

I have got the urge to spend money. I do not have any money. This week might be tricky.

12/10/2020

I woke up at 7am with the alarm and promptly turned it off and got back into bed. If you’re thinking ‘Flo, why don’t you put your phone on the other side of the room? That way you’ll have to get up to turn it off and you’ll wake up as a result of that’. Well, I already do that. I’m a deep sleeper. Even though it is me who set the alarm, when it goes off all I am thinking is that something is disturbing my sleep and I must stop it in order to go back to sleep. I have no recollection that the alarm is anything to do with getting up.

I decided this isn’t helping me though, so when the alarm went off at 7:10am I got out of bed (I set multiple ten-minute interval alarms because of the see above). I went downstairs and was successfully awake for about an hour, then I fell asleep on the sofa. I started work earlier than I normally do, but later than I wanted to today. Oh well.

Late last night I bought a kindle copy of ‘Glorious Rock Bottom’ by Bryony Gordon. I had been wanting to read it since it came out and it was the 99p kindle book deal of the day so I wanted to take advantage of that. The money actually came out of my account today though, which is good because I was having guilt about spending money after I posted my spending diary for the week yesterday.

My order of the reusable sanitary towels was coming today, even though I only bought it yesterday and didn’t select special delivery. Bonus!

Today I also had delivery of an order I placed last week from an independent coffee shop. I had previously ordered from them in the summer but then thought they had stopped delivering but I recently realised they still were. I had ordered ground coffee, 50% cacao chocolate chips, coffee filter papers, a six-pack crate of almond milk and a six-pack crate of oat milk. They were delivered to me before I had even paid for them, but I did later receive the invoice and promptly paid it. The order had come to £32.33 and will keep me going for most of the rest of the month. The food and household shopping budget is now at £319.50 spent out of the £400, so I only have £80.50 to last sixteen days. It should be doable, as long as I can keep my flat mate from buying lots of treats. I started devising a shopping list around a dinner plan for the rest of the week. I think I have unfairly accused my flat mate of buying treats as I probably could be doing better with what I have planned to buy for dinners versus what we already have in the cupboards.

I tidied up the kitchen and then settled down to Netflix. I plan to get a really good bedtime routine set up so I’m going to begin getting ready for bed at 9:30pm.

13/10/2020

Today was much like yesterday. Got out of bed on the second alarm. Fell asleep on the sofa downstairs. Boo.

I felt tired in general all day. At lunch time the flat mate and I did a small run around some parks near us. I was hoping that would give me energy but it just made me more tired.

I got a mix of things achieved both at work and at home. After a catch up with my line manager I went to the shops as I needed to pick something up from a specific shop that would shut before the others. I also picked up my prescription from the pharmacy. I went to Home Bargains to pick up some handwash refills. They were 10p more than they would have been in Savers, which shuts even earlier, but at least at Home Bargains I don’t have to answer questions at the till about whether I would be interested in buying random fragrance, batteries or hand sanitizer. The handwash refills cost £2.97 for the three of them.

Then it was off to Tesco, where I bought all the things I devised on the list yesterday. As I feared I spent a lot of money. I bought some rather decadent pizzas for Friday which cost nearly a quarter of the total spend. The rest of the shopping was Actimel products, five multipacks of Cadbury’s chocolate bars, vegetarian meatballs and sausages and burgers, eggs, plum tomatoes, avocadoes, scampi, plain flour, tortilla chips, carrots, apples, two packets of cheese, bread rolls and salt. The shopping cost £42.41 and I had 80p off because of the club card prices deals. I could get used to that discount.

It took a long time to put all the food shopping away and to reorganise the fridge, freezer and cupboards with the new stock items. I then put the dishwasher on, did a small washing up turn of things that can’t go in the dishwasher, cleaned and wiped the surfaces and sorted out the recycling. It is rubbish night tonight. As in previous weeks one of my neighbours has been putting their rubbish in my bin. This is annoying. I don’t know who it is as a lot of houses nearby us have over flowing bins, so although I think it is one of the other flats in this building it could actually be another house on the street. I just don’t know. I guess I should get over it. It’s a bit annoying as I can’t put my rubbish in my bin now, that’s the only reason it gets to me. Plus, I can’t fathom how people can produce so much rubbish in the space of two weeks.

The flat mate and I made wedges and scampi for dinner and we watched Beyond the Mat on Netflix. I’m a big wrestling fan and I thought I had seen this before but I think it was actually another wrestling documentary as I don’t remember a lot of this.

I am still planning on going to bed early. I’ll begin the routine at 9:30pm today just like I did yesterday. I was still awake at least an hour later in bed last night when I turned off the light at 10:30pm. It is going to take some time to sort out my sleep.

I have realised from several weeks that I actually find my drinking alcohol is more sensible when I spread it over four nights over the course of the week and have three alcohol free days, instead of drinking on three nights in a week and having no alcohol on four nights. I just found I was drinking lots on a Saturday because it felt like my only chance to drink, and that is silly behaviour. I drink less than the 14 recommended units for a female each week anyway, so I don’t have a problem with drinking too much in general, but I noticed I was drinking more because of lockdown.

I’ve become very dissatisfied with my body. I kept my weight relatively constant throughout lockdown (or so I thought) but I have finally conceded that I have put on weight. I also feel that I have lost muscle and exchanged it for body fat. I haven’t put on a significant amount of weight at all, but I do look different to how I looked pre lock down. On the 14th of March, a couple of days before I was sent home to work, I ran a 20-mile race. It seems like a lifetime ago now. I haven’t even run 10 miles since that date. My running has slipped during lockdown and I need to bring it back because my 2020 marathon that has been postponed to next year might go ahead. So, I have to be prepared.

I had a bit of a mental health blip as the evening went on and my flat mate sent me off to have a shower and an early night. Both sorted me out and I felt much calmer. I turned out the light at 10:30pm and hoped for a good night’s sleep.

14/10/2020

I woke up a couple of times in the night. At 3:15am and 4am. The old Flo would have got up at those times as I clearly felt awake, but I knew this wouldn’t be good for me, so I tried to go back to sleep. It worked. I woke up at 7am and had a restful morning. I watched a show on BBC iPlayer that I think was first broadcast in January called ‘Easy Ways to Live Well’ as it covered two things I wanted to work on, stress and gut bacteria. It seems that having cold showers for between 3-5 minutes reduces stress levels, so I started off with a warm shower then turned the temperature down all the way for three minutes. It did make me feel better.

The reason why I am keen to work on my stress levels is because a recent blood test has revealed that I have an abnormally high amount of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin is commonly found due to stress, or an under active thyroid, or because there is something up with the pituitary gland. I am having the blood tests repeated on a day that would have been four weeks after the first tests to see if it has continued to rise. I don’t actually feel stressed in myself, but I am willing to try things to reduce these levels.

I made the mistake of being on my laptop too close to bedtime and as a result I was still awake two hours after turning off the light that just made me frustrated and stressed. So, all in all today wasn’t a success.

15/10/2020

I woke up much later than I wanted to because of the lack of sleep last night. I decided to try and keep up my good habits, so I had another cold shower. It is definitely easier to have a cold shower in the morning than the evening.

I have recently reread a book I’ve had for years called ‘What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast’ by Laura Vanderkam and I found it really useful. I have decided to finally buy a book of hers I’ve been meaning to read for years, which is ‘168 Hours’. It cost £10.99 for a kindle copy – more expensive than the physical for some reason – and I look forward to reading it.

But first I read a book I bought for my kindle back in January and never finished reading. ‘This Book Will Make You Sleep’ by Jessamy Hibberd and Jo Usmar. I have started trying to read this book at least four other times, but I knew I had to do something that would make me feel like I was being proactive towards my sleep problems. I did feel calmer and a lot more in control for having read it. The first thing I did was move a loud ticking clock out of my bedroom and onto the landing based on a suggestion in the book. I feel less stressed about going to bed tonight and getting shut eye, which should really help my prolactin levels.

Today was also the day that I do the meter readings for my energy company, in order to get accurate bills and to make sure we don’t run up a huge debt again. It looks like we might be in credit, but that will dramatically decrease over winter so I will keep it as it is for now. Also related to my energy company is that I have signed up for their carbon offsetting scheme, so I had £1.82 come out of my account today to offset the carbon I produce each month.

The flat mate went to the shops and came back with Thai crisps, milk, a milkshake and a cucumber from Tesco. That came to £3.02 and he got £1.29 off due to the club card price deal. He also went to Home Bargains and bought twiglets, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant and shower gel. The shower gel and deodorant won’t go on the household budget, so the amount to deduct from the household budget was £5.27.

I batch cooked a big portion of vegetarian chilli, did the washing up and tidied up the kitchen. I sat down at my laptop to do my Duolingo lesson for the day. My life just feels a bit hectic at the moment so I am temporarily aiming to only do one Duolingo lesson a day and try to pick it up again in November.

I think the flat mate and I are going to have to rethink the boiler settings. It is cold! Il fait froid!

16/10/2020

I felt empowered after reading the sleep book yesterday and woke up with my 6am alarm feeling refreshed. Because it was a developing habit, I still slept in until the second alarm, but I was downstairs by 6:25am.

I also started keeping a time log. I haven’t started reading 168 Hours yet (because I am reading another book about sleep – Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker) but I know that the main instruction is to keep a time log, so I have opened up a spreadsheet and will be doing this as accurately as possible for the next week. I have discovered it takes me six minutes to make a cup of coffee. Something to keep in mind for if I only have four minutes before my next teams meeting one day. This does mean a lot more admin in my day, but I feel it will be worth it.

I had my most productive day at work. I nearly did three times as much work in this one day as I did in the rest of the week combined. It must have been the power of a good night’s sleep.

However, I later received some bad news in the day that affected me, and then I heard even worse bad news about a friend, and this sent me into a tailspin of anxiety and depression. I had made today one of my drinking nights and I’m beginning to wonder if there is a correlation between drinking alcohol and feeling anxious. I feel alcohol is an amplifier of your emotions, so I was already stressed and in shock before I had my alcohol, maybe that was it. To be clear, I am just talking about one (admittedly large) glass of wine and a can of beer, rather than anything heavy in terms of drinking. I noticed another day I drank recently that I began to feel anxious. I do have the high level of stress hormone going about my body at the moment so that probably isn’t helping. I am also about to go on my break from my pill, so that’s probably making things worse. I have to work on my stress levels for my health. High prolactin levels (the hormone I have too much of) can mean a few things, all of which can appear to be treated easily (the rare occasion where consulting Dr Google made me less anxious not more) but it would be good to work on my stress to see if that is the cause of it.

So, I am considering finishing the open bottle of white wine in the fridge tomorrow, and then maybe taking a drink from alcohol for a while. Just to monitor my anxiety levels to see if it is made worse by alcohol when I reintroduce it. I’m not drinking as much 0% alcohol beers as I used to because I’m trying to see if they’re affecting my IBS. I like data. I like quantifying things. I like knowing what works best for me in terms of ‘hashtag living my best life’. I really don’t feel like I am living my best life at the moment, but does anyone feel like they are in 2020?

I tried going to bed early, but I was just too het up. Twice in the two hours between first trying to sleep and then perhaps eventually falling asleep I got up to do something to tire me out. I cancelled a hair appointment I had booked for a date in November. I can’t afford the cost of it even though it is two pay days away. Not when winter and Christmas are coming. I now have a £20 credit on my online account from the deposit for the appointment being refunded. It is a pity I couldn’t have it refunded to my card but I assumed something that like would happen. I also watched some of ‘Master the Mess’ on YouTube. If you’re not aware, before Netflix the Home Edit had a series on YouTube. It’s quite good. I’m obsessed with the Home Edit. I keep looking at my cupboards and wondering if I can make my life better just by reorganising them.

Eventually I felt tired enough to try out sleep again.

17/10/2020

I woke up at my 7am alarm, and of course got out of bed on the second one. I put on some Gossip Girl and pottered about drinking coffee, making breakfast, cleaning up the kitchen and playing around on my laptop. I kept a time log during it all of course. I also made croutons because we had a stale roll in the bread bin.

I had another cold shower. I think I am coming to like them. I haven’t noticed if they’ve actually had a positive effect on my mental health, but I certainly feel like they have a good placebo effect on me.

The flat mate and I made a food plan for the week ahead and then I went to the shops. My old faithful Mr Tesco. It wasn’t too busy, but still there was a wide selection of people doing what they wanted whether it was safe or not. I bought Pepsi Max, orange juice, mayonnaise, gravy granules, Flora, mustard, stir fry sauce, baby corn, bananas, two broccoli stems, mangetout, tofu, Quorn nuggets, oranges, bread and eggs. Clubcard prices took off £1.60 from the shopping meaning it came to £21.71. According to my time log it took thirty-three minutes to do the food shopping and twenty-two minutes to take off my shoes, wash my hands, put away the food shopping and make a cup of tea and sit down at my lap top. You may ask what the actual point of boring time admin is. Well, I can see that from start to finish it takes at least an hour to complete a shopping trip from start to finish. This is good to know in the case that one lunchtime I might be twenty minutes into it when I decide to maximise my day and do the food shopping before restarting work. It would result in me being late for work, not a good look at any point but particularly bad since I work from home and have no logical commute or time delay to explain it.

I went for a long run in the afternoon, in a time that was about two minutes faster than the last time I did this distance. I haven’t made any improvements in my running for a long time so I felt happy about this. Back at home I put the boiler on to heat up some water and then I did Duolingo lessons for nearly an hour (thanks to my time log I know how long it has taken). I then did my weekly pampering session and later in the evening the flat mate and I relaxed with a film. We watched Enola Holmes on Netflix. It was ok, not the best thing I had ever seen but enjoyable enough.

I then tried to go to bed at a sensible time as I had to get up early tomorrow for a run. Some anxious thoughts started creeping it. It is night that gets to me. I can be fine during the day and then as soon as I’m in bed I start mulling over all the bad things that didn’t bother me during the day. I think it is disrupting my sleep pattern. I am working hard to overcome it.

18/10/2020

This morning was successful because I actually got out of bed on the first alarm. I put on Gossip Girl and sat down at my laptop with some coffee.

I had another cold shower. I don’t start off having a cold shower, I have a normal wash with a normal warm temperature and then I switch to cold for three minutes. I’m not sure what effect they are actually having, but they do seem to have a placebo effect and I do look forward to them. Then I brushed my teeth, washed my face and headed out to do my run with my friends.

We ran a 5km route that is usually the most popular park run in my home city, but there have obviously been no park runs due to lockdown. This is the first time I have been in that part of my home city since before lockdown, and the first time I have run 5km all the way since 11th September. So even though I was the slowest in the group, and I don’t even have the excuse of being injured like the second slowest, I still enjoyed the run and it has given me a confidence boost.

Because we are a running group who do good deeds we then went and did litter picking for forty-five minutes. When it was over, I walked back home with my friend in the group who lives near me talking about Gossip Girl. At home I put on the hot water for my second shower and did some Duolingo while I waited for it to heat up.

I had my shower, put on some warm and comfy clothes, and then snuggled up on the sofa with my Kindle. I read for about four hours, only pausing to get some teas and crisps during that time. The flat mate started making dinner and I caught up with some work. I was in charge of making the Yorkshire puddings and I went to check on them.

And after a successful dinner, I declare the week over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £107.71 (MY HALF £53.85)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £11.98

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £65.83

 

 

 

Spending diary 5th to 11th October 2020

Hi everybody,

Another week of spending begins.

Let’s see where this week takes us.

05/10/2020

I woke up at the alarm feeling quite well rested. I had to get up early to begin a course at work. I had struggled to get to sleep the night before and woke up during the night as well but surprisingly I felt quite good this morning.

I came downstairs and straight away put on a wash load. I then had my daily morning ritual of 500ml of water with my medication, then I made breakfast. I checked the message I had about the course and realised it started even early than I thought. Good thing I woke up early!

I began to feel really ill over the course of the day. I suffer from IBS and it has been playing up all throughout lockdown with a real attack over the last few months. Luckily, I had quite a good workload today so it wasn’t too bad at work. I took some paracetamol at lunchtime and felt better within an hour.

At lunchtime a parcel from Hermes was delivered to my address, but it was labelled to a person who is not me or my flat mate. I tried getting in contact with Hermes to get them to collect the parcel and return it to sender, but it was impossible to. In the end I did some detective work and looked up the return address. It was a residential address, but it was also associated with a business that had a number listed on their Yelp page. I rang that and spoke to a lovely woman. It turned out it was for her son who lived on my street, just a couple of doors down. It was a mistake on the address. She phoned him and he came to collect the parcel. All’s well that end well!

I had an hour between finishing work and going into my telephone counselling session so I had dinner. It was very beige food, not healthy but good for nausea. My flat mate went to the shops during my telephone counselling session and picked up crisps and bread for £2.25. We watched some wrestling and then Netflix. I don’t feel as cold as I did yesterday but I am wearing a great deal of layers.

I checked my account and noted that my subscription to the environmentally friendly cleaning supplies (specifically dishwasher capsules) had come out of my account. I was expecting it. That was £4.60 and will last a good while.

I went through and decluttered my email inbox and saved some old documents on to my memory sticks which took a really long time. My computer crashed as well which scared me since it is new.

Today didn’t really feel like it went that well. It wasn’t bad, I just felt ill and mopey as a result of that. I think I will try and have an early night.

06/10/2020

Sleep failed me again, and I felt ill and under the weather. The remainder of the training course I was doing was very good. I really enjoyed it and took so much away from it and started sharing my ideas on my work’s MS Teams channel.

I began to feel a bit better as the day went on but it is clear I need to take my health seriously. These sleep problems and stomach complaints are really driving me crazy.

The flat mate and I wanted to go for a run after work, but the weather was diabolical so we were lazy and chickened out of running in the rain. Cowards.

We stayed in and watched Netflix and relaxed. My flat mate has been feeling ill too. We’re both pretty run down. The change in the season has dramatically affected me, and I claim that autumn is my favourite season! I am not enjoying it much so far.

I’ve been dreaming of getting weighted blankets, high thread count bedsheets and thermal clothes. Alas, my money will not stretch that far.

I did some terrible habits in the evening of staying on my phone and laptop far later than I should have and as a result even though I went to bed at 11pm I was still awake over 90 minutes later. I hope tomorrow isn’t too strenuous.

07/10/2020

All my Amazon vouchers from my side hustles had come through for the month. So, I decided to go shopping. I had £45 to use. To an extent I bought things I needed. I was short one photo album from when I bought the last batch, so I bought one more of them, two more sets of the labels I had ordered, gold and silver marker pens, a laptop case and two packets of ‘Dots for Spots’ which really help with my acne. My personal spends came to £2.93 in cash after all the vouchers were taken off. On the Food and Household budget I bought a silicon tipped metal balloon whisk from Lakeland for £8.49 as our old one recently broke.

I check my bank account every day and checked off the bills that had come out against my list of bills that need to be paid each month spreadsheet. I had a folder for every month of every year since 2015 on my hard drives and each month had three spreadsheets in it. One is the ‘Food and Household Shopping’ spreadsheet that runs from one of my paydays to the next. My flat mate contributes half of the £400 budget each month but I am primarily in charge of the actual shopping and orders because if he was in charge he would run off and spend it all on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bars.

The other spreadsheets are these. One is what I call my finances spreadsheet, so ‘OCTOBER 2020 FINANCES’ is what this month’s is called. It is made up of two sheets. The first sheet is all my bills, budgets and direct debits added up and then subtracted against my income and taking into account what my flat mate pays me for our shared bills that come out of my account, and what shared bills he pays that come out of his account. The surplus money is carried over to sheet 2, where I have all my ‘sinking funds’ budgets lined up. My sinking funds are typically for things/bills that do not get paid monthly, like insurance, Duolingo, water bills, my blog fees etc. I divide the amount these things typically cost each year by the twelve months and then I pay each sinking fund’s monthly fee into a saving pot. This is how I roll baby.

The final spreadsheet of each month is the expenses spreadsheet, ‘OCTOBER 2020 EXPENSES’ for example. This lists all the things I spend my disposable/personal income on each month. I know exactly how much money I have spent each and every month since April 2015. It has really kept me accountable for my financial journey and I recommend this as being one of the first things a person should do if they want to change their finances for the better. Yes, it was a faff at first, and frequently I have been without a notebook and pen and have texted myself things like ‘pint with friend – £4.50’ to add to my spreadsheet later. This is how I roll baby.

I logged into my investment account as I wanted to see if they had changed my details yet. They hadn’t. But I saw that one of my shares was performing quite well. Only about a month ago the investment account had dramatically notified me that that particular share I had had ‘plummeted’ but I had decided to play the long game and it seemed to have paid off as it was now doing well. I pay some money into this each month and had enough to buy another share so I did. If you are thinking I’m some sort of Warren Buffett figure then I must crush your dreams now, this is literally (correct use of literally) just a phone app and I have three shares across two companies. I have literally only made 8p from my shares (correct use of literally – my flat mate is fanatical about people misusing the word literally so I always have to assure him when I use it correctly).

The weather is cold, damp and dark outside. My flat mate and I plan to go for a run after work and at least it isn’t as bad weatherwise as it was yesterday. We won’t be chickening out. At least I hope we don’t! I had to work quite late today so we’ll see what happens.

At the end of the working day I checked my personal emails and saw I had been paid the £5 from the old phone I sold last week to one of those recycling plants. I transferred the £5 into my personal spending account. I looked out of the window and saw it had started raining. Merde.

We went for a run anyway, but it was quite a short one. The rain held off and it didn’t feel too cold. We stopped off at the shops after the run to pick up milk. As is always the way we ended up getting even more items. Two Gingsters Quorn vegan pasties, two tins of chopped tomatoes, rooibos tea, cucumber and I saw an orange Twirl bar that I had to try. The shopping came to £8.50.

We watched Netflix and had chilli for dinner. Then we tidied up and headed to bed. I hope for a peaceful night’s sleep.

08/10/2020

I woke up early. Early for me, not early in the grand scheme of things. I was certainly able to get started on my day and do a few things before starting work.

At lunchtime I went for a walk and came back and checked the post. I had a hand written card, but I didn’t recognise the hand writing on the envelope. When I opened it up, I saw that it was from the woman I spoke to on Monday about the misdelivered parcel. She had sent me a thank you card for returning the parcel safely to her son. I’m so overly polite I almost felt compelled to send her a thank you card for her thank you card.

After work I sorted out my home insurance. I had decided to go for a highly rated insurance company and they only do policies over the phone. I had realised I had greatly undervalued my possessions in the past on home insurance policies and wanted to start afresh this year. The firm I had chosen came highly rated on the Which consumer site. As I am insuring for a higher amount than in previous policies and this provider was top of the class, I knew it would hit my wallet hard. I was right. It was actually around what I was expecting. I was expecting to pay £180 and it came to £178.94. The policy jumped £11 because I live with a flat mate who isn’t family and that’s a higher risk. I knew that could be a factor. I bet if my flat mate was still my boyfriend, I wouldn’t have been charged that £11. I told my flat mate he was a financial liability to me as a joke.

We went to the shops after that, going a detour route to take in some of the lovely autumn evening on a walk. We stopped off at Iceland first for vegetarian pies and frozen peppers which came to £3. There is an amazing worker in Iceland who I always try to get served by when I go there as she is just so warm and lovely. I felt really cheered up after seeing her.

We then went to the Tesco nearby and bought almond milk, oat milk, washing up liquid, Lucozade, two multipacks of non-alcoholic beers, soya mince, potatoes, green tea, crackers, parsnip, ground coffee, salted and unsalted butter, bananas, three baguettes, raisins and avocados. I saved 35p on the three baguettes in a multi purchase offer. Tesco have introduced ‘club card prices’ which is where certain products are cheaper if you have a club card, so I saved a further £1.55 on the shopping because of that. Every little helps!

Back at home I made dinner of spaghetti and vegetarian meatballs and then did some work on my laptop.

09/10/2020

I woke up early, wide awake at 6am. It felt great. I finally completed a really difficult level on Duolingo and had plenty of coffee.

I have decided an easy way for me to make every day a little bit more special is to wear perfume. Previously I saved it just for special occasions. I have a big perfume collection and love perfume in general. I am obsessed with having a signature scent. My current favourite is ‘Joy’ by Dior which was a 30th birthday present from my former in laws. I cherish it. I am wearing that today.

When my mum passed away and I first went to her house to go through her possessions I knew that the only thing I wanted most of all was her perfume. She always wore ‘Opium’ by Yves Sant Laurent. It’s not the scent for me to wear but I have always loved it on her and love it because of her. Sometimes I spritz Opium to remember her.

I had a fulfilling day at work. The flat mate and I were going to make a very big dinner of burgers and wedges and watch shows about John Lennon on BBC 4 as today would have been his 80th birthday. I was a huge fan of John Lennon as a kid, and The Beatles in general, though of course I still am now. We started off with the film A Hard Day’s Night then watched a TOTP2 (Top of the pops) Lennon special and mid-way through a show about John Lennon’s years in New York I went and had a shower and then went to read in bed as I had to get up early tomorrow for a volunteering session.

10/10/2020

I woke up late. I set my alarms on time, but I had gone back to sleep after they went off and when I did wake up, I was already late. I got ready in a very quick amount of time and started running to where I would be helping out. I had a very good session and even very bravely saved the group leader from having a rather sizable spider climb on her head by brushing it off her shoulder. I was standing far from her and honestly, I could see if clearly from that distant and my instinct was to ‘save her’ even though I myself am terrified of spiders. I don’t think I could have done it if I wasn’t wearing gloves. I’m rather proud of myself.

I had then planned to run into the centre of town to pick up a bracelet I had taken to be fixed, that turned out couldn’t be. However, I realised I needed the bathroom and that would make the long run uncomfortable. There’s a distinct lack of public toilets round these days because of the pandemic. So, I stopped off at a café I like and bought a coffee and a mango juice and after I was finished with them, I used their facilities. That cost me £4.40 but at least I was free to run after that.

I ran into town, passing by the building I used to work in before lockdown meant I had to work from home. I cut through a beautiful park I haven’t frequented nearly as much since lockdown started and ended up at the top of the street the jewellers are on. I picked up the bracelet. I will have to think about what I will do with it. It will cost almost as much fixing it as it would to buy a new one. I didn’t even buy it from a jeweller. It seems to be a Tiffany bracelet, it has the heart on it, and a hall mark, but I bought it at a jumble sale for about £3 or something silly like that. So, the Tiffany heart might be genuine, and it was put on an inferior fake bracelet maybe. I shall have to think about what I can be bothered to do with it.

I ran back a way that would take me to my local shopping high street nearest my house and picked up a few things at the Tesco. The shopping came to £12.90 and I got 75p off because of the club card prices scheme. Yippee!

I did some Duolingo lessons, watched episodes of The Home Edit I have already seen at least four other times before and did chores as well. I changed the bed, always a big job to do. The flat mate and I had a zoom call with some of our mutual friends and I got to see our friends newly acquired third cat, a black fluffy kitten called Chilli Bean. I love cats and would love to one day have three cats.

The flat mate wanted a chippy for tea so we went to the local fish bar where there was a huge queue and people weren’t properly distancing and some weren’t wearing masks. I try to remind myself that not all disabilities are visible and there are a number of people who would be exempt from wearing one, but it does make you feel insecure. I guess that’s just the heightened atmosphere. Originally my flat mate was going to buy the chippy for both of us as it was his idea and I am tight for money after the home insurance this week. I began to feel bad about that though when we got home and I happily sorted out my finances so that I could pay him the £5.82 for my half of the takeaway.

We watched Netflix and then we sat down to watch a video on YouTube by an account called Twin Perfect who would be explaining the film Mulholland Dr, one of the most unfathomable films made. I love Mulholland Dr; the director David Lynch is one of the main reasons why I studied film at University. I’m not sure what this video will really explain but I know from watching Twin Perfect’s previous video on explaining Twin Peaks that he is really good at what he does.

Whilst watching the video, which was really good by the way, I started analysing my spreadsheets of my finances for the rest of the year. I also looked quite far into next year as well. This is what I do. I call it a ‘financial forecast’ and it is where I try to plan my finances as far in advance as possible. It looks like I will be quite poor around about the end of the second and beginning of third quarter next year. I want to look to replace my phone. I would also like to start buying ‘adult’ jewellery. So expensive items like that I have to plan up to a year in advance and think backwards to what I need to do to get there.

I also have to take into account the very real fact that I spent my Christmas 2020 budget on a laptop! I am going to have to save super hard in the two pay days before December begins, because as soon as December 1st hits, I want to be ready to Christmas!

After much toing and froing and raiding of savings pots not just now but on my future month’s finances spreadsheets I can afford Christmas this year based on the following conditions:

  1. I stop saving up for bills that won’t have to be paid until August next year. This means in January I will have to be saving at a higher rate due to only having 8 months to save up instead of 12, but I can manage it.
  2. However, in response to above, I am only doing this for bills that will cost under £100 at pay time. The bills that will cost over £100 at the point that they need to be paid are still being saved up for.
  3. I may still be under budget for Christmas. There is a chance due to my city being under local lockdown that I won’t be able to leave my city to go home to see my family at Christmas, so whilst that would be awful it could mean a saving, so I am aiming at this stage for a target of saving 80% of my original Christmas 2020 budget by the pay day I will have at the end of November. Worst case scenario I will be able to cover the remaining 20% with my disposable income.

I am glad I took the time out of my evening to manage these budgets. I feel a lot calmer now.

11/10/2020

I woke up on time. What I mean by that is I only snoozed between alarm one and alarm two. I had to get up early because I would be going for a run at 10am with my friend. A very sensible, social distanced, easy run.

I had some coffee because a morning without coffee is very sad. Then I looked at my last remaining shred of disposable income and bought some reusable sanitary towels. For people who would prefer not to read about this feel free to skip to the next paragraph. I had been meaning to buy them for a while but wanted to run down my supplies of disposable ones first. I figured lock down is a good time to try them out because what was putting me off was using things like reusable towels and moon cups whilst out and about, but I’m not out and about now so I won’t be facing that dilemma for a while. They cost £22.99 for a pack of ten from Amazon.

I went to meet my friend and then we did a lovely chatty 4.96km run. I don’t have a sports watch but she does have Strava so that’s how I know the very specific distance covered.

Back at home I started watching Gossip Girl and half way through did my weekly beauty maintenance. My acne is really playing up. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been using retinols for the first time, or because of the constant mask wearing, or stress or out of control hormones. Whatever it is there are only so many ‘dots for spots’ I can buy before I start to think I should invest in a new skincare regime.

I’ve been holding off on posting this diary because I wanted to see if I would spend more money, but I feel it is safe to say the spending is over for the week. My wallet is staying shut for the rest of the day!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £69.54 (MY HALF £34.77)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £36.14

HOME INSURANCE = £178.94

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £249.85

Spending Diary 28th September to 4th October

Hi everybody,

I went on a bit of a spending spree last week. New laptop, storage boxes, photo albums and books, I really made my cards work last week!

I am hoping for more of a restrained week this week. Though this week will also involve my favourite reoccurring day of ‘pay day’! Who doesn’t love pay day? So, I may treat myself, though I really, really shouldn’t. Last week involved a lot of big treats so I don’t really need the same this week, do I?

Let us see.

28/09/2020

I woke up early for no particular reason. What I mean is I set my alarm a little earlier though I didn’t have to as I am still signed off work and am not going anywhere. I felt like going back to sleep for a little bit extra but after a twenty-minute snooze I thought I was being silly and just got out of bed.

I was expecting some deliveries today so I wasn’t going to be going anywhere. The postman arrived first carrying my MS Office package and my security package for my new laptop. The postman also had a letter from my cousin, some charity letters and this month’s new issue of Runner’s World magazine. A great post day! My cousin writes great letters and designs really interesting envelopes, it is always a treat to receive cards from her.

My Paperchase storage boxes and stickers arrived later, and then the delivery driver came back as he had left off my wine order from last week. It was a hefty box. I would be giving four of the bottles of wine away. Three to my flat mate’s girlfriend and I’ll give another bottle to my friend who fixes clothes in exchange for her fixing my jeans which I managed to rip today. Good thing I was just hanging about the house, it would have been embarrassing if I had been out and about.

I opened up the wine box and put them away, then I took the storage boxes upstairs to distribute my possessions. I put on an album (Titanic Rising by Weyes Blood) and I thought I would finish the task very quickly but I was able to listen to the full album whilst packing up my keepsakes. I divided my bulkier keepsakes into 4 categories. 1. Ticket Stubs. 2. Keepsake Papers. 3. Physical Keepsakes Pre-University Graduation and 4. Physical Keepsakes post University Graduation. I archived my cousin’s letter that I received today in the box relating to that side of the family, then I picked up all the rubbish and recycling, hoovered the floor, and finally I was done.

I felt a little sleepy in the afternoon. I didn’t want to cook so I thought I would be extraordinarily lazy and buy a pizza from Tesco. I decided to blow the food budget and picked up a lot of other groceries like cucumber, bananas, potatoes, onions, cheese, crisps, bread, oat milk, milk, non-alcoholic beers and of course the pizza! I treated myself to a big beast of a pizza. The shopping came to £24.77 which I thought was quite reasonable.

In Tesco I ran into my friend from work (Hi Becca!) but hanging about a grocery store during a pandemic with our lovely masks on isn’t much fun so it was a short but sweet conversation but it was really nice to see her.

I stopped off at Home Bargains on the walk back to my house. I used to visit Home Bargains at least once a week but I had been avoiding it during lockdown as the queues were just too much for me. It was so quiet at this late point in the afternoon that I could just walk straight in. I saw they had face masks on sale and it is so hard keeping on top of the washing of my reusable ones that I thought a few reusable spares would be good. They were 3 for £3. I chose two camouflage colour leopard print ones because they looked like something my second favourite band Manic Street Preachers would have worn in their early years (if there had been a pandemic on) and a floral print one. I’ll give one of the camo-leopard ones to my flat mate as he is also a huge Manic Street Preachers fan.

Then I went to pick up ten black fabric coat hangers – my reason for going into Home Bargains. Now that I have organised my wardrobe, I wanted all my hangers to match and nearly all of them were the same black fabric ones I had bought on a previous trip to Home Bargains. However, I did have some hangers that were different, and I had other clothes in the wash and at my friend’s house being fixed that would need to be taken into account. A pack of ten hangers should cover it. At first all I saw were grey fabric hangers, and I did briefly consider changing my colour palette, but then I saw some of the black ones tucked away. This shopping trip cost £5.99 and I had a lovely chat to the cashier.

Back home I quickly did the washing up and hoovered the floor. My decluttering at the weekend has produced 7 bags of recycling. My neighbours are going to hate me when I put the bins out tomorrow. Yikes!

I cooked the pizza and had a medium glass of red wine with it. I settled down with my laptop (the old one, the new one hasn’t arrived yet) to do my end of month spreadsheeting. My flat mate had paid me his half of the bills that come out of my account early so I had some money in my account. I paid the credit card I had put my new laptop purchase on, so I didn’t even have the ‘debt’ on the card long enough to have been sent a statement for it. I’m that adverse to debt that I just have to pay things off early.

I called my line manager earlier on in the day to confirm that this week being signed off because of my mental and physical health has done me the world of good and I plan to return when my sick note expires on Wednesday. She was very happy to hear that I am feeling better and it felt so good to have a sensible and open conversation with her. I’m looking forward to returning to work.

I paid £15 into my investment account, then did some Duolingo lessons. I got promoted to the Diamond League, yes! My hard work yesterday paid off and I finished in third place in the league below. Small things like this matter to me, I’m a loser. I also sent an email to a local Etsy seller who makes postal order brownies and blondies to place a new order. I have chosen cookie dough brownies but I will be paying for them tomorrow.

I wrapped up my day, put the dishwasher on, had a herbal tea, then began to get ready for bed.

29/09/2020

I always seem to wake up early on pay day. Today was no exception. I woke up naturally at 6am feeling wide awake, so I decided to get up and stay up. One coffee and 2 slices of marmite on toast later and I was sitting in front of my laptop sorting out my money. I set up a standing order to repay the person in my life I owe money to which will go out in a couple of days’ time. It feels so good to be getting my life on track.

So, to be clear, I am free from credit card debt, I have no overdraft, no loans, but I do owe a significant person in my life money from when they helped me out during some financially bad years for me. We’ve come to very mutually agreeable repayment terms and we are both happy with what we will do going forward.

I decided to buy myself a book missing from my Haruki Murakami collection. I used to have it but my brother borrowed it and lost it, when he has done with at least 2 other books and he has denied all of these accusations but my books are my babies and I know when they’re in distress. The book was ‘Underground’. I needed a particular edition to match the rest of my collection, so I headed to eBay. I saw it for £4.32. It has been such a long time since I last bought something on eBay that I really had to sort out my details. I still have an embarrassing username from when I first set it up in 2007 or whenever it was. Oh well.

I have about £100 disposable income to last me till next pay day. I don’t really need anything, but my splurges last week have returned my spending desires back to me and I am still in the process of doing up my life in terms of storage and organisation, so I really do want things. However, I don’t need things, so I will be good.

In October I will owe my flat mate two takeaways because I didn’t get him one in September. I am getting him one takeaway each month up until December because he is going to do some branding for another site I want to launch.

I went to the doctors for a blood test. I then dropped off a bag of donations at the charity shop and then I backtracked to the shops. As it is pay day, I can stock up on things I had been putting off as the budget run out last month. I went to Savers and bought washing machine cleaner, two packets of colour catchers, laundry cleanser, laundry scent beads, washing up liquid, dishwasher cleaner and I had to pay for a bag as all my other bags have gone with the donations to the charity shop. This came to £13.41. I stopped off at Iceland to pick up frozen blueberries, frozen peppers, three packets of vegetarian burgers and a multipack of tinned tuna, all which came to £11.50. I didn’t realise it when I picked them up but I saved £1 on a multi buy offer. Finally, I went to Tesco where I bought almond milk, Pepsi Max, Actimel, beetroot juice, avocado, tonic water, five packets of spice mixes, vegetarian mince, frozen peas, frozen sweetcorn, bread flour and eggs plus three bags for life. This came to £23.81.

I picked up some envelopes of various sizes at the post office for £6.679 and finally I was done and could go home and put the shopping away.

I made vegetable stock from a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer. I ended up with three portions of that in pots in my freezer. I also made a vat of banana ice cream. The main purpose of today was to get through my to do list which I made very good progress with. Some days I get a lot done and am uber productive, and other days I just want to sit on the sofa and watch Netflix. Both are perfectly acceptable ways to spend your time.

I finished a level on Duolingo and then the flat mate and I put all 8 bags of recycling produced from my decluttering session and all the orders I had recently. I’m so glad it’s rubbish night!

I did some chores in the evening and then relaxed.

30/09/2020

Back to work after my period of sick leave. It felt good to be back. It turns out the project I was working on before I went on sick leave with the rest of my team was nearly finished meaning we would begin new work again soon. Yippee!

To celebrate returning to work my flat mate decided he wanted a takeaway for dinner. I owe him one for each month up until the end of the year in exchange for branding work, so I had to get this one. We opted for an Indian takeaway; we love getting the whole shebang. The restaurant we normally order from was doing 10% off orders today which worked out well for me. The takeaway came to £32.24.

I had placed an order earlier in the week for cookie dough brownies from a local Etsy seller in my city and today I made the payment for them. They are from the same seller I ordered back from in August to celebrate becoming debt free. It was £18 for a tray of the brownies. There’s no getting round it; this is a completely unnecessary purchase and I can easily make adequate brownies for much less than £18. However, these brownies are amazing and as a special treat I think they are well worth it.

Ultimately, I haven’t got any credit card debt anymore, I live within my means, if I want to spend £18 on brownies and I don’t use debt to pay for it, then who am I harming?

My new laptop also arrived today, so in amongst the excitement of eating a takeaway I was also setting up that. I had trouble with the security features at first and was getting stressed but eventually it was all sorted. I will have to have a proper play around on it tomorrow.

01/10/2020

Today my monthly top up to Naked Wines was deducted from my account. I pay in £20 a month and think it works out as great value for money. I also had my subscription to Flavourly beers come out, that was £26.90.

Today was a very busy and stressful day. The whole building had workmen coming round to fit alarms around the five flats so there was banging and drilling and disruption all day. To make things worse our Juliet balcony doors that have been broken since the summer, meaning we have been sweltering in the flat with no adequate way to ventilate it during the hot summer, were finally going to be fixed today. Just in time for winter when we won’t need to open them as much! So, there was going to be more disruption and noise and chaos in the flat as well as in the communal areas.

I was also getting two old work laptops picked up around the time that I had to go and collect the brownies, so I had to leave strict instructions with my flat mate about how to hand them over if the driver arrived before I got back. I rushed to the brownie lady’s house, picked them up, then came back. The driver hadn’t arrived. I made lunch and then started work again. The driver arrived a little later than expected and it was a bit of a kerfuffle trying to leave the flat to get to the front door without getting in the way of the workmen. But it was all done. The brownies were collected, the laptops were collected, the alarms were fitted and the Juliet balcony doors were fixed. Phew!

I had wanted to get the food shopping out of the way at lunchtime, but that wasn’t to happen. Instead the flat mate and I did a run commute first to drop something off at his sister’s flat (socially distancing all the way!) and then to the shops. We went to the old faithful Tesco again. It is the biggest and best value for supermarket within walking distance of our flat so we haven’t had much choice about where to shop throughout lockdown, though we do like Tesco any way. The shopping was so much easier and less stressful with both of us there. It was a big shop. We bought Lucozade, oat milk, milk, coconut milk, orange juice, antibacterial wipes, carrots, lemon and ginger tea, 4 x 4 bar multipacks of chocolate, Club bars, dark chocolate, tomatoes, cucumber, spaghetti Bolognese spice mix x 3, cheese, oat cakes, lazy garlic, pizza, peppercorns, curry powder, crisps, rice cakes, burger buns, turmeric and eggs. The shopping came to £35.41 and I had a small saving of a couple of pounds through multibuy offers. Every little helps! I was so glad we both went to the shops as I think I would have struggled carrying all that back on my own. We have started watching a new Netflix TV series when we have our dinner.

It felt good to do a run again, even though it was very small and I did walk a couple of points. I have fallen a bit out of love with running and am trying to get back into it and build up my stamina.

02/10/2020

The weather has taken a turn for the worse and was very cold all day, plus there was a lot of rain. I was originally going to do a run after work with a friend of mine from Good Gym but we called it off as the weather was just too bad. It felt quite miserable all day and I started dreaming about merino wool jumpers, onesies, weighted blankets and thermal duvet covers. I love autumn and I love being cosy, but I hate being cold. I also hate being too hot. I like being comfortable. Don’t we all?

I had a couple of beers in my living room after work to get the Friday feeling and just wanted to relax. But it wasn’t to happen. Probably as a result of the weather our broadband started failing and that scuppered all our plans for the evening. So, we started watching BBC 4 music documentaries which used to be a highlight of our Friday nights at an earlier point in the flat mate and my relationship. The internet started working again much later on in the evening, but by that point it was bedtime. I had a late-night shower, wrote in my notebook, then went to bed after 1am.

03/10/2020

I woke up wide awake at 6am and decided to get up. The flat needed a lot of tidying. My flat mate doesn’t allow me to hoover before 9am so I tidied up everything else in the flat and then waited patiently for the clock to tick over to 9am. I fired up the hoover as soon as it did. I did have some fun in the morning. I spent 36 minutes of Duolingo.

I felt like doing a 10km run today but I knew I would have to adapt it to fit my current fitness levels. I ran for 10 minutes and then walked for 3 minutes and ran for 7 minutes in every ten-minute interval after that. This meant the run was very slow, but it felt comfortable at all times and it is the most I have enjoyed a run recently. I ran for 80 minutes, covering just over 10km during that time.

At home I did my weekly beauty regime (body scrub, shave, face mask) and then put on warm and comfy clothes. It is still raining. I did some more Duolingo French lessons and also watched episodes of ‘master that mess’ which is a series The Home Edit had on YouTube before their Netflix series which I am obsessed with.

I went back out. I had to post an old phone I had sold to one of those recycling firms. I should be getting £5 for that but for me it was more about getting the old phone out of my life (still decluttering!) than about making any money from it. I then went to Tesco to pick up things for dinner tonight. I bought yet more 0% alcohol beers. I should explain, I don’t really like soft drinks, but get bored with tea, coffee and water, so in the evenings I like to drink 0% beers on days when I’m not having any alcohol. I try to have 3-4 drink free days a week, though my units and frequency of drinking days have begun to creep up so I must get them back under control.

I also bought milk, felafel, halloumi, cheese slices, 2 packets of houmous, porridge oats, courgettes, cucumber, tortilla wraps and bananas. The shopping came to £20.26. About half of the monthly food budget is now gone so I will have to start reigning in the spending.

I was extremely sleepy when I came back from the shops, so I had some of my brownie stack to give me energy. I guess having only around 5 hours sleep and then running 10km isn’t the smartest move.

In the evening the flat mate and I had falafel wraps and watched Netflix. Then I went into a Zooms drinks meet up with my friends, getting to try out my new laptop for the first time. I was very sleepy throughout. We were playing a game called ‘Stay The F*** Inside’ and we had finished the original edition so the Zooms host paid for the expansion pack. It was about $3 so around £2.31 in GBP; I sent my friend 75p as a contribution because I had her banking details.

Eventually at far too late a bedtime I went to snooze land.

04/10/2020

Today is the day of the virtual London Marathon. I got up early to watch some of the coverage on TV and also because my friend from my Good Gym running group was doing his own virtual marathon today in our city. I wanted to cheer him on. I checked the notifications on my phone and saw that my Amazon order of lavender pillow spray and the latest book by The Home Edit was going to arrive unexpectedly early today. That meant I had to hang around and wait for that to arrive, but I was eager to get them. I left the house around 10am in the rain to try and see him in the park. The notable thing about his marathon today is he is doing it for charity, having raised nearly £3000 for Mencap, and to make it extra challenging he is doing it dressed as a star. I had got to the park too late and missed him. He would be coming back through the park at some point so I thought I would wait. I was frozen! I eventually went to get a takeaway coffee from one of my favourite cafes to try and warm up and wake up. It cost £2.55 but it was worth every penny as it revitalised me.

I went to where my friend would be finishing his marathon and saw some of my other friends from the running group there. It was very emotional seeing him finish his marathon, he looked so proud and so transformed from his experience. It was too cold and wet to hang around and only same households can go to food establishments together, so most of us went our separate ways. I went home and discovered we needed potatoes for dinner. The flat mate and I argued a bit about who should go out to pick up the potatoes. He agreed to go, but he was feeling ill, and realising I needed to pick up the clothes my friend had fixed meant it was logical that I go out to the shops. It was nearly 4pm and the Tesco shuts at 5pm on a Sunday, so naturally there was a massive queue to get in. It went down quickly though. I only needed to pick up a few things, a parsnip, sweet potatoes (all out of potatoes – to be expected on Sunday lunch day) and 2 tins of mushy peas. I had run out of gin last night during my zoom drinks (the bottle was nearly empty! It’s not like I glugged it all in one night) so because it was on offer with £5.50 off, I picked up a bottle of Bombay Sapphire. It’s one of my favourites for little more than I like the bottle design. I really need to expand my drinking choices. The shopping came to £25.40. I walked by my friend’s place on the walk home to pick up my clothes. I’m particularly glad to have the jeans, shirt dress and merino wool jumper back as they are part of my autumn/winter essentials.

At home I had a boiling hot shower in order to get some feeling back. I put on my PJs and over the top of them I wore my warmest tracksuit trousers and a favourite jumper and then I snuggled up on the sofa with a fleece blanket and my new Home Edit book, and I still wasn’t warm enough so I put the heating on. I’m going to have to call a house meeting with my flat mate to discuss how we are going to heat the house this winter. The significant detail is because we are both working from home, we will have to choose whether we heat the house during the day and thus drive up our heating costs, or try and brave it out in the cold. We have only recently got into credit with our energy company, and we can’t switch because we plan to move out within a year so it’s not worth it. Plus, silly I know, but I like my energy company because they use renewable energy sources. I may invest in more merino wool and maybe even cashmere jumpers as the cost of them might be offset by not feeling the cold as much and therefore keeping the heating off.

Does anyone have any economical heating tips for winter? You know what they say in a popular TV series…WINTER IS COMING!

My flat mate is cooking dinner, there is a wrestling pay per view on this evening. With that I declare that the week is over and it’s time to tot up my spending.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £202.64 (My half £101.32)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £52.64

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £153.96

Spending Diary 21st to 27th September 2020

Hi everybody,

Welcome to this week’s spending diary.

Let us begin.

21/09/2020

Back to work after the weekend. The notable thing that happened today was I had an anxiety attack and felt I should tell my line manager about it as it happened during working hours. Today felt like a bit of a write off.

22/09/2020

In my one to one with my line manager she started talking about how she feels it might be in my best interest to look into taking time off work due to my mental health. This caused me a lot of anxiety and distress. I had to give serious thought to this.

23/09/2020

I called my doctor today and was signed off work for a week due to my mental health. I discussed this with my line manager and then shut off my work laptop.

To cheer myself up I did something I had been meaning to do for over four years. Something I had been saving up for, and something I had already planned to buy.

I bought a new laptop.

I have never owned a new computer. The first computer I ever bought for university was an ex display model with three dead pixels that everyone at university was quick to point out to me. The second computer I bought, this one, was purchased second hand off my friend for £90 in 2015. She had already owned it for four years at that point. I felt lucky to own this one at the time. I still do. US financial mastermind Dave Ramsey talks about ‘Dave cars’ which is where you buy the car you can afford to buy in cash, even if it isn’t very cool or stylish, rather than finance a flashier car. So consider this laptop my ‘Dave laptop’. I finally have purchased a new laptop. I did endless research into this. I know I bought the best laptop I could for my budget. I also bought MS Office, a two year accidental cover policy and security. All in all I spent £559.97 (I got £20 off the MS Office, woo!). Now, don’t worry, but I put this on my credit card, only because it is good practise to buy electrical items on a credit card in order to have better consumer protection in case I need a refund on it.

I also distracted myself by doing stage four of the KonMari method designed by Japanese tidying up Guru Marie Kondo. Stage four is ‘komono’ which is miscellaneous items to the other four stages (clothing, books, papers, sentimental). I produced three bags of charity shop donations, two bags of rubbish and one bag of recycling. Komono involved making lots of notes about exactly what I owned and how much it would cost to replace everything if it all burnt in a house fire. One of the reasons why I am doing this decluttering project now is because I renew my home insurance in November and I wanted to know exactly what my possessions cost. Turns out I have been dramatically undervaluing my contents when it comes to home insurance.

I went to bed feeling a little bit brighter, but perhaps a bit dustier. 

With that a notable day in my life came to an end.

24/09/2020

I don’t know how to relax. I don’t know how to take time off. I want to be busy and productive at all times. I feel lazy when I’m relaxing. So I am not entirely sure what I will be doing to keep me occupied during this week.

I decided I would take some time off from exercising. I’ve been pushing myself quite hard in a bid to get my running fitness back and also to lose weight and just manage my IBS better. So at least in that way I would be relaxing.

I decided to get some chores done. I took the three bags of charity bags to the charity shop and I also posted a letter that had been wrongly delivered to our flat. I then did some food shopping, buying milk, orange juice, almond milk, oat milk, a milkshake for my flat mate, mozzarella, peppers, two tins of chopped tomatoes, black beans, a sourdough loaf and a bag of frozen broccoli. The shopping costs £10.03. As I mentioned on last week’s post I am over budget now but will split the excess with my flat mate.

I also picked up a bottle of white wine to give to my friend as she is going to fix some clothing for me. The wine cost £8. After doing the shopping I went round to her flat and dropped off the wine and the clothes. I used to take all my clothes that needed fixing to a lovely seamstress near me but she is shut due to the lockdown. My friend used to work in fashion so she definitely will treat my clothes well. She took one look at the holes in my black merino wool jumper and said I probably have moths or bugs in my wardrobe. I had wondered that myself.

Back at home I ate a quick lunch, then I tackled the big task of the day. KonMari method stage five – sentimental.

I am a hoarder. My Dad is a hoarder and my mum was a hoarder. My room in my flat is a museum of my life. I keep so many things. I found a cinema ticket for the 2005 SpongeBob SquarePants movie. And worse of all there was no method to my storage. Things were just in boxes within boxes. Photos and letters and mementos were all just in amongst each other. So I had two tasks at hand. I had to declutter my sentimental possessions, but I also had to find a system for organising them.

This was going to be a mission.

I got to work. I uncovered two S Club 7 CDs and a Spice Girls CD. I started forming piles of letters all over my bedroom floor divided by the person who had sent them. I’m from a family of prolific letter writers. My mum’s pile was naturally the biggest. She one year sent me two Christmas cards before the 30th November. I also had to do some serious dusting maintenance around my wooden storage box. That in itself was a sentimental item. As a child my Dad bought one each for his children and designed the interiors specific to each child. Mine has a lovely blue and purple and silver star design. I have always had it and have spent most years storing precious items in it.

I am also a serious diary writer. I have been writing in a diary since 2005 so I have a lot! They all ended up in the revamped wooden box along with some miscellaneous papers. My photos were all collected together and ended up in the plastic drawers in my wardrobe. My mementos (things like ticket stubs and wedding favours) are all currently stored in an old vanity case. The letters have been divided up in my Dad’s side of the family, my Mum’s side of the family, work, friends and my mum had a pile all to herself. Each individual pile was placed in a box.

After a quick hoover I declared that the room was finished. I had one bag of rubbish, one bad of recycling and two bags for the charity shop.

I made a lasagne for tea and cleared up the kitchen.

Then I began shopping. I have completed the decluttering KonMari method. But now inspired by my intense viewing of The Home Edit on Netflix I realised I have to now organise my possessions. So I went on the Paperchase website and order 7 storage boxes. That came to £49. I then went on Amazon and bought 5 self-adhesive photo albums, lavender pillow spray, labels and The Home Edit book. This all came to £89.92. I feel like I have spent a lot, but I feel happy that I’m beginning to get my life in order and becoming more of a grown up.

I read a little, then went to bed.

25/09/2020

I woke up at a good time and then got cracking on updating my spreadsheets. I had been neglecting them. I had a very chilled day at home, though I did do some chores such as picking up my prescription, taking the bags to the charity shop and buying a few toiletries. The total amount of money I spent was £13.47. I’m doing low impact things. Stuff that will keep me busy but not be too stressful or strenuous. I’m still not planning on exercising. I’m working on making my diet healthy first.

At 3pm I had a call with Mind active monitoring, and then I caught up with some TV. I had leftover lasagne for tea. I began looking at jewellery boxes. I don’t have much jewellery, and all I do have is definitely ‘sentimental’ not valuable. But I would like a more adult way of storing things. This decluttering process has really made me see that I’ve been hanging on to a lot of childhood stuff and I need to move on and grow up and become more sophisticated. It would be nice if people saw me as a 31 year old woman rather than keep asking me for ID and asking me what I’m studying. I have nothing against students but I graduated 9 years ago and I would like to be considered a woman, not a girl.

I suppose there are worse things to complain about.

I’ve been watching films this evening. Both ones I’ve seen before and both on BBC iPlayer. Molly’s Game and the Damned United. I really like both and enjoyed watching both of them again. I think I will watch more films tomorrow.

26/09/2020

I woke up at a good time and weighed myself. Saturday is my weigh in day. I don’t do Slimming World or any crap like that, but I’ve done enough of it in the past to keep some of the ideas in mind. So Saturday is my official weigh in day where I base the weight on this day in comparison to the week before to see whether I’ve lost any. This week I weighed 2.5 pounds less than the week before. Good progress.

I did the washing up and then the door buzzer went. It was my order from Paperchase of my storage boxes. This meant I could begin archiving my possessions. I took the box upstairs to my bedroom. First I began by cleaning out my wardrobe. Upon my friend’s belief that there may be bugs in my wardrobe I cleaned the top of it and reordered the storage boxes on there. I’m creating more space.

I stored my letters in the new keep sake boxes and then analysed the stuff I had left. I opened up my vanity case of keep sakes and started sorting them into physical items, gig tickets and the like and bulkier papers like zines and programmes. I would need about 4 more boxes to store my things in.

I hoovered my bedroom and the rest of the flat, and then I had a shower. I ordered the 4 extra storage boxes from Paperchase and bought some stickers to push my order over £25 to get free next day delivery. I had £5 on my Paperchase Treat Me card to use so that was a nice bonus. I also ordered a crate of wine from Naked Wines. I pay £20 a month into my account and had £90 in my account already so the crate I bought cost just an extra £14.99. Naked Wines had given me a free magnum bottle worth £19.98 for when I next ordered 12 bottles so I have that to look forward to as well.

I made some cheesy garlic bread and then I watched Pitch Perfect on Netflix. I have never seen it before but was really in the mood for a good girly film.

I’ve been feeling down today because I’ve had to cancel my trip home next weekend to visit my Dad and Stepmum. My city will be going into local lockdown from 6pm tomorrow (Sunday 27th) and I can’t justify making the trip next weekend when people’s safety is at risk. At least I will get a refund on my train ticket because I took out insurance on it.

I am also sad because of things relating to my mum’s death.

I bought a takeaway Papa John’s pizza and sides for dinner. I rounded up the amount to £23 as the round up amount was donated to charity. I loved the Papa John’s I had in August but this one was disappointing. At least I didn’t have to cook and I’ve got half of the takeaway saved for tomorrow.

I watched more films as the night went on. I watched Pitch Perfect 2 and then I started watching Mamma Mia. I’ll probably watch Mamma Mia 2 as well.

27/09/2020

I woke up early and started watching Gossip Girl on Netflix. I had seen some episodes here and there over the years but never watched it in full. I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with it but it is fine for now.

At 11am I went into a zoom call about one of my running groups. It was quite good to be involved in that. Then I had leftover Papa John’s for lunch.

I called up my Aunt to speak to her about my mum. My mum was her twin sister. It was a short call but a good one. I must call her more often.

I listened to a radio 6 music show about Kate Bush and then I went on a hard core Duolingo binge. I was languishing in the bottom of the obsidian league and wanted to get promoted to the diamond league again so I was on Duolingo for hours getting my points back up. It’s one way to spend a Sunday.

I spoke to my Dad and Stepmum around 8pm and caught up on some messages and watched more Gossip Girl. I was waiting till the end of the day to see if I would spend any more money but it is 10pm now so I declare my week of spending is over.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £25.02 (MY HALF £12.51)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £768.86

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £781.37

Spending Diary 14th to 20th September 2020

Hi everybody,

Welcome to another week in the life of my spending.

14/09/2020

I woke up early today. Well, early for me. I started work at a good time and achieved more by the end of the day than I did last week due to my poor mental health. I was in much better spirits today.

I’ve been suffering a bit with my IBS and keep looking into healthy gut bacteria. I think it is part of the reason why I’m struggling to lose weight as well. It just makes me feel awful. It always flares up at times of stress. I’ve had it quite bad during lock down. I was getting it investigated but the test results were delayed because of the pandemic. I guess no news is good news.

I got a wash load done during the day on my lunch break and it was almost dry by the end of the evening as it had been a really sunny day. My flat mate and I don’t have a tumble dryer, though we don’t really like tumble dryers anyway, so we dry clothes on an airer and my bedroom is the designated drying room. We have to dry them quickly and with the windows open otherwise they begin to smell damp which no one wants. It is a household chore done with military precision catching the windows of time when the clothes will dry best.

My flat mate went to the shops as he fancied a different type of dinner. He bought 5 packets of instant noodles, Pepsi Max, 2 chocolate milkshakes, potatoes, hummus, falafel, vegetable sausages, tortilla wraps, a meat pasty, strawberries, courgette and a cucumber. It came to £13.03, but we split the food and household shopping between us so I will pay him back my half later.

I did 30 minutes on the exercise bike before dinner, which then gave me such a bad tummy ache that I was unable to do anything more afterwards. I try to do 60 minutes of exercise each day. We were watching Devs, maybe that made me feel uncomfortable.

I then was on my phone and decided to place an Amazon order with my vouchers. I had £21.28 in vouchers and I bought a 128 GB USB stick and some glasses lens cleaner. It came to £21.98 so my order cost me just 70p in cash. I bought the USB stick because this weekend is ‘papers’ in the KonMari method of decluttering my possessions and I am including all my digital files in that. I wanted a brand new USB stick to move all my digital files on to. I plan on going through every memory stick, every SD card, as well as all my email folders. I am quite looking forward to it. As a career I work in records management and I should really practice what I preach.

Today was also a successful day because I was able to keep under my calorie target. I used to weigh myself everyday but now I am only trying to weigh myself a couple of times a week. I think I was getting a bit obsessed and it was making me miserable. I’m willing to trial a few things to help me lose this stubborn stone.

I had a shower last thing at night and went to bed at a relatively sensible time. It is getting darker much earlier now. Summer has ended, sad times.

15/09/2020

I woke up at 5:45am and as I had to get up early today I thought I would stay awake, however I later fell asleep on the sofa downstairs. I was still able to start work earlier than usual though, and even earlier than yesterday.

I had a 9am meeting today on MS Teams which is why I was eager to get up early! That went very well, there wasn’t much need for me to contribute anything in this meeting so it was a low pressure feeling for me. I once again achieved a good body of work today.

The Boots order of toiletries I ordered last week never turned up at the store so I contacted Boots last week to try and track it. Today they got back to me. The order had either gone missing or never arrived at the store because it couldn’t be traced. They offered me the option of requesting a refund or having it reordered. Because the delivery never turned up last week I had to buy some additional toiletries at the weekend to get me through, so I requested a refund. That can take up to 2 weeks to come through though so I set a reminder on my phone two weeks today to chase it up if it doesn’t come through by then.

Also at lunchtime I submitted the meter reading to the energy company. I am keeping avid track of it as we got hugely into debt with them and had to pay a much bigger monthly amount to bring that debt down. Normally I would switch accounts to a new energy company or renegotiate the direct debit amount, but as I mentioned in last week’s diary my flat mate and I are looking to go our separate ways from this property so we are unlikely to be able to renew to a better annual contract. I haven’t actually looked into it one way or another, so I could be wrong.

I always submit the meter reading on the 15th of each month as the direct debit bill comes out on the 16th so it feels like the best date to check our energy usage for the month against our monthly bill. It certainly seems to be working so far!

Whilst I was on the energy company’s website I saw they had introduced a new feature called Carbon Offsetting. I looked into it. It was a way to do a quiz to see what my carbon footprint on average is each month and pay an amount to ‘off set’ it. I should mention that this particular energy company was chosen by me because it uses renewable energy sources so it is very environmentally friendly. I did the quiz and found out that it would cost £1.82 a month to offset the negative impact I have on the planet each month. Not a bad amount, it was less than the ‘prices start from £3’ it advertised, so I must be quite good. I paid the first one today and now that payment will come out on the 15th of each month.

I also did another wash load, I can nearly see the bottom of the wash basket which is cool as I haven’t seen the bottom of it for about 6 weeks! It was just full of laundry all the time. Finally I’m getting somewhere with it.

My flat mate was spending the evening with his girlfriend today. I went on a 60 minute walk around the parks in my local area, posting letters to my Aunt and my Grandpa on the way. I came home and made an interesting lentil and sardine daal/curry type meal. I liked it! I think I actually got the right amount of spices in it. I put in loads more garlic than usual too. Garlic is a good choice for healthy gut bacteria.

I put the dishwasher on and did the remaining bits of washing up, wiped down the surfaces, and also took the rubbish out as it is bin day. My neighbour has been putting her rubbish in our bin. I’m not sure why it bothers me. My flat mate and I produce less rubbish than she does, it makes sense she puts the rubbish bags in the bin if there’s space so they don’t hang out outside and attract rats, but I’ll be honest it does bother me and I don’t know why. I know what neighbor is it too because her flat’s bin had the same type of rubbish bags in it, and was overflowing. I don’t get how one person produces so much rubbish!

Aargh, I’ve ranted enough. It really isn’t a big deal at the end of the day. I just wish she had asked permission first. I wish I could put a lock on my bin.

I quickly did some Duolingo lessons. For the first time ever I got demoted from the Diamond League to the Obsidian League. Grrr. I have fallen a bit out of love with making time for the lessons, though I have still kept my 150 day plus streak going.

I’ve naturally been watching Marie Kondo’s TV series on Netflix whilst I am doing my decluttering. I just remember two years ago in 2018 when my flat mate and I moved into this flat as a couple from a 2 bedroom house it was a nightmare downsizing and due to various commitments we didn’t really have the time to dedicate to decluttering ahead of the move until we actually were moving! I remember my flat mate’s parents helped us at the time and they were getting stressed by just how much stuff we had.

I don’t want that to happen when I move next year. I want to be prepared for it. So I am decluttering now before I have to so it is far less of a stress.

It is now getting late and I still have some things to do before bed, so I will bid you goodnight.

16/09/2020

I went to bed after midnight last night and as a result I was sleeeeeeeepy this morning. Four cups of coffee seemed to do the trick. I started work later than I have the other two days this week which meant I would have to work till later to do a full day. There are some wonderful perks to my job and the flexible working hours and ability to choose my hours to an extent is lovely. There are certain hours I have to do each day, I have to start work before 10am and I can’t leave work before 3pm unless I especially book it off using holiday allowance, but those are agreeable terms.

I managed to get a great deal of work done. I presented some information to a different team on higher grades to me and it seemed to be well received so I enjoyed that experience. I managed to hit my target stats for the day, something I failed to do every day of last week when my mental health was bad. I cherish the support I have had from my line manager and colleagues recently. It has made losing my mum and getting back to reality so much easier.

Towards the later part of the day I was reading some updates on the Department’s intranet page and I saw a memorial notice had been listed for a member of staff in a team I don’t come into much contact with. I read the notice, this staff member had passed away from an aggressive form of cancer diagnosed just 7 weeks earlier. The passionate way this colleague was spoken about in the notice really moved me. I saw that a Just Giving page had been set up to raise money for Greenpeace. I copied the link and sent it to my personal email address so I could follow it up after work.

When I finished work I went to the local Tesco to pick up a few things. I don’t normally go to this Tesco because it’s small and is an Express and as a result the products cost more here due to the increased rent than the bigger Tesco Metro a little bit further away. But my flat mate was starving and wanted to make dinner as soon as possible. So I picked up onions, orange juice, lucozade and because I was craving it I bought a bottle of Pinot Grigio. The shopping came to £12.80. A bit more than it would have cost if I had gone to the other Tesco. Oh well.

Back at home I went on the exercise bike to cycle 15km whilst my flat mate made spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. I’m trialing eating my food slower instead of my usual tactic of pretty much shoveling it down in a really fast time. As a result this was one of the extremely rare occasions where I finished eating dinner after my flat mate. I had a large glass of the wine with dinner whilst we watched Devs. As my flat mate had made dinner it was only fair, as per the household rules, that I do the washing up. I put on today’s episode of Neighbour’s and watched up whilst it was on.

I had an app on my phone called SnapMyEats which rewards me for uploading food receipts, but recently it has become so full of glitches and annoying that today when I saw I had enough points to cash out a  £10 Amazon voucher I decided now was the time to delete it. I redeemed the voucher first and once that was uploaded I uninstalled the app and sent the support team an email about erasing my data.

My Amazon delivery from the start of the week arrived, all ready for my KonMari weekend of doing my papers and electronic files. It was a large memory stick and glasses lens cleaner. I kept borrowing my flat mate’s since I bought the blue lens filter glasses.

I then donated £10 (plus the £1.50 fee) to the Just Giving page I had emailed myself earlier.

Finally I wrote in my diary about my day and got ready for my shower.

17/09/2020

I woke up later than I would have liked, again. The trouble is if I go to bed any time after 11pm I am just a mess the next morning. I must work on that.

I was able to start work at a good time and had a very productive morning. At lunchtime at the advice from my line manager in a previous work catch up I decided to go for a walk because the weather was so nice. The UK might not be known for having good summers, but it does have good autumns. And autumn is my favourite time of year.

The walk took up the whole of my lunch time, but I had had a big breakfast so I didn’t need a hefty lunch. The walk did me a lot of good because normally I get a really bad afternoon slump straight after lunch, and although I still had a bit of brain drain it came at a much later point in the afternoon. I believe the Japanese have a way of living called shinrin yoku which translates into ‘forest bathing’ so I do try to get my daily dose of ‘trees’.

I had a counselling session on the telephone at 5pm. At least, I thought I did. My counsellor never rang. I checked the message I had about the appointment and it listed the 18th as the date, but we had agreed on the phone last week that we would have appointments at 5pm on Thursdays. So I’m not sure what happened. I guess I’ll see if I get a call at 5pm tomorrow.

I came downstairs and my flat mate decided he really wanted an Indian meal for dinner as we hadn’t had one in a really long time. We go all out when we have an Indian. Naan breads, samosas, onion bharjis, poppadum’, mango chutney and rice etc. Good thing I went for that walk!

It was his turn to go food shopping, so whilst he was out I went on the exercise bike doing interval sprints for the specific time of 47.5 minutes as that meant I had done on average 60 minutes of exercise each day. Every time my flat mate goes food shopping he always comes back with more things than were on the list and I keep telling him off for going overboard. Today was no different. He spent £11.55 picking up the main items we needed in Iceland and then £3 picking up the samosas and bharjis from the Indian food store near us. At least he was prepared to start the cooking. The dinner was really good. We watched Extinction: The Facts, the latest BBC David Attenborough show. It made for shocking viewing.

My flat mate then went upstairs to his room to paint. He is a painter in his spare time, mainly working on still life and landscapes. I did my Duolingo lessons and messed around with my online accounts changing some details. I had uploaded a £10 Amazon voucher from a side hustle so I bought 3 kindle books. They were ‘Just Eat It’ by Dr Laura Thomas, ‘Nudge’ by Dr Richard Thaler and ‘How Bad are Bananas’ by Mike Berners-Lee. The books cost me 25p after my voucher was taken off.

I still had the washing up to do and the night was getting on. I really wanted to read in bed. I finished watching the Marie Kondo series on Netflix and then the Home Edit started and I thought I might as well watch that whilst I did the washing up. I had tried watching it before and found it too bubbly. I guess I’m a real sourpuss! It seemed more enjoyable to watch the second time.

18/09/2020

I woke up at 3:45am feeling wide awake. I decided that was a crazy time to get up and tried to go back to sleep but was still awake half an hour later. So I decided to get up in the hope of making myself tired to fall back asleep, but it didn’t really work out that way.

I decided to get started on my KonMari method of decluttering my papers. I had decided to include my digital files in this so got out all my memory sticks (8) and camera SD cards (9). I went through so much stuff, so many old papers, pictures and old crap I no longer needed. I managed to make a great headway on the camera cards and had transferred all the pictures on to memory sticks and backed them up before I started work. I then had my most productive day at work, achieving my best stats of the week. I left my work laptop in really good spirits.

But then I had my telephone counselling session and my mood went downhill quickly. It just got to me talking about my body concerns, health concerns, reliving my bad mental health from last week that I just felt really bad.

My IBS has really been flaring up all week and I’ve had terrible stomach pains and felt so awful and under the weather. I scrapped my plans for a run, cycle and strength work out and went for an hours walk instead. I was feeling a bit mopey and in pain whilst doing my walk, but I felt immediately better when I got home. I made a quick omelette for dinner whilst watching today’s episode of Neighbour’s. I then got stuck into going through the digital files on my memory sticks. Lots more pictures. Things I hadn’t seen for years. I felt quite good going through them and remembering old times. I still decluttered/deleted some of them. I used to have a blog called ‘Umbrella Graveyard’ which is where I took photos exclusively of old, abandoned, broken umbrellas – a common site in Wales. I liked the premise of the blog but at the time I lacked the discipline to keep it up and I just let it flounder. I liked my photos but future generations might find it weird I had loads of folders of umbrellas, so I deleted them all.

I was watching The Home Edit on Netflix whilst decluttering. I ploughed through the series. I moved from digital files to my paper files and even though it felt like I went through these recently I found so much stuff to get rid of. I was ruthless. I then got rid of all the old plastic wallets I used to keep papers in that I don’t need anymore. I ended up with a bag of paper shredding and once I added all the other recycling and rubbish during the clear up I had another bag of recycling and a bag of rubbish to take down to the flat bins tomorrow morning. My flat is beginning to look pretty swish. I expect next weekend – komono (miscellaneous, or what I would call ‘bric a brac’) will take me longer than one night. I’ve been deliberately putting off moving on from one category to the next in the same weekend. I feel it is doing me good spreading the decluttering out and still giving myself time to do other things.

I had two glasses of white wine whilst decluttering, because it is Friday night after all, I deserve a treat.

19/09/2020

I finished watching The Home Edit and loved it so much that I watched it all over again! Seriously! 16 episodes in 2 days. That’s lockdown life for you.

I also had a look at the Tiny House Nation series on Netflix, and I watched The Minimalists documentary on Netflix too. Decluttering my possessions is changing my way of thinking. I want to stop buying lots of cheap stuff and buy good quality things. I want to look after the things I do have. I want to accumulate less and enjoy and appreciate the things I do have to the full.

I feel having watched The Home Edit that the KonMari method of decluttering is step one, or as Clea and Joanna would say ‘the edit’ and soon I will be on the stage of sorting out and organizing my possessions. I wish there was a Container Store nearby!

So naturally I had to buy the book. I looked on Amazon and one of the two books was substantially cheaper on Kindle, so I bought that one first. It cost £3.99.

20/09/2020

I woke up later than I would have liked to and delayed meeting up with my friends for our walk around a local park. They went to get coffee from the park’s café but I had stupidly forgotten my mask so had to wait outside. I paid my friend back £2 for my Americano. We walked around the whole park and then sat on the grass and chatted. I spoke about my mum for a bit and felt much better for it. I then left to get back to my home to do a Skype call with my brothers. I have three brothers and two half-sisters. One of my brothers is an English teacher in Vietnam so it can be hard to get hold of him. We had arranged this time as being mutually convenient for all. We spoke about issues surrounding my mum’s death. She didn’t have a will written and it has caused some delays and made elements of the admin side of a death harder. My youngest brother has taken over all the administration of my mum’s estate and has been doing everything. I really am thankful for that. I don’t think I could have done it.

Then the flat mate and I went to Tesco to do the food shopping. We bought squash, coffee, Pepsi, Lucozade, oat milk x 2, Yazoo, Actimels, milk, chopped tomatoes x 2, beyond meat burgers, orange juice, mushy peas, gravy granules, marmite, mayonnaise, 2 x pizzas, Weetabix, cheddar, bread rolls, carrots, avocados, apples, lettuce, parsnips x 2, bananas, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. We spent all that was left of the food shopping budget and some extra. We are now £15.51 over budget.

So with that I better stop shopping and finish the week here.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £86.15 (MY HALF £43.07)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £20.26

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £63.33