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

Spending Diary for 7th to 13th September 2020

Hi everybody,

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

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

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

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

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

07/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

08/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

09/09/2020

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

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

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

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

10/09/2020

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

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

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

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

11/09/2020

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

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

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

12/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

All in all a good day.

13/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPENDING TOTALS

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

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £85.28

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £119.27

Spending Diary 31st August – 6th September 2020

Hi everybody!

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

31/08/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

01/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

02/09/2020

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

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

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

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

03/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

04/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

05/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

06/09/2020

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

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

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

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

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

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK

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

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £144.35

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £202.81

Apple and Maple Syrup Oat Cookies

Apple and Maple Syrup Oat Cookies

Hi everybody,

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

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

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

INGREDIENTS

4 x Apples, cooked and processed

1 x Tsp Cinnamon

4 x Tb Spoons Maple Syrup

30g Coconut Oil, melted

30g Chia Seeds

300g Porridge Oats

100g Sultanas (or any dried fruit)

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees

Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl

Mix together until all combined

Shape into 12 cookie rounds

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

Leave to cool, then enjoy

Spending Diary 24th – 30th August 2020

Hi everybody,

A monumental week for me as you all know.

Here is how my money was spent this week.

24/08/2020

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

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

25/08/2020

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

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

26/08/2020

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

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

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

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

27/08/2020

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

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

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

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

28/08/2020

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

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

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

29/08/2020

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

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

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

30/08/2020

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

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

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

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

And with that I declare my spending week over.

TOTALS

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £152.43 (£76.22)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £210.13

TOTAL SPENDING = £286.35