Spending Diary 18th to 24th of January 2021

Hi everybody,

Another week in the life of Flo’s wallet.

18/01/2021

I’ve been having insomnia since Friday just gone. It’s as a result of coming off my medication risperidone. I’ve been waking up at the same times each night – 1.30 AM, 3 AM and 5.30 AM. I’ve then been struggling to fall back asleep each time that happened. I’ve been having some strange dreams and waking up all twisted in the bedsheets.

I have decided to just do walking as my exercise this week, I think I am too tired to do much else.

A surprisingly productive day at work despite the lack of sleep.

19/01/2021

Another night of the 1.30 AM, 3 AM and 5.30 AM wake-ups. I have been able to start work at a good time each morning which is good luck.

I didn’t think I would be able to do any exercise today as I had my counselling session today. I realised late in the day though that she had contacted me to say due to feeling unwell she wouldn’t be doing the session tonight. This meant I saved £35. I went for a walk around the parks in the time I would have been having the session.

20/01/2021

I think last night I only woke up at 1:30 AM and 5:30 AM, but I was awake for slightly longer than usual each time so it still didn’t feel like much of an achievement.

I have just been taking things slow and steady this week.

21/01/2021

Not long till the weekend!

22/01/2021

I don’t think I slept through the whole night, but I didn’t wake up nearly as much as I have done the rest of the week. Today was the first day of the week where I felt truly well-rested.

The flatmate had taken today off work. He went to the shops and bought himself a baguette, cucumber, milk and a gingerbread man for £3 from the local Tesco, which we will put on the food budget. We are doing surprisingly well on that front, giving up alcohol is working for me financially.

Ok, I haven’t given up alcohol, I am just finding I can’t drink anywhere near as much as I used to. I haven’t drunk once this week so far.

I owe my flatmate another takeaway, but he decided he would prefer to have it tomorrow instead. We just had some Spaghetti Bolognese.

23/01/2021

I slept through the night!

I also slept till 11:30 AM, far later than I would like.

The flatmate and I decided to take advantage of the sunny, but still cold, weather and we ran around the parks. We then extended the run to a place we had never been before, which is a local reservoir. It was very muddy and many places were flooded. We ran back home along some quiet streets around the back of the park, this was mainly uphill so it wasn’t completely fun. Back home we fought over who would have the first shower. Our boiler only holds enough hot water for one shower at a time. I said my flatmate could go first, but he began dawdling and it takes an hour to reheat the water so, in the end, I had the first shower.

Snow is predicted for tomorrow!

We ordered an Indian takeaway. We made the same mistake we always make which is ordering far too much food. You would think this would mean we left some of it. We didn’t.

I had budgeted £45 for the takeaway and it came to £34.98, which is a win for me.

24/01/2021

The flatmate woke me up to look out my window to see the snow. It was very light but still enough to cast a pretty light over everything. We quickly donned clothes and went for a walk around the parks. It was quite warm, I was just out in a hoodie and hat, so the snow would melt soon.

We then chatted to some friends on zoom, including a friend in Australia. After that, the flatmate and I made a food plan for the week and then I headed to the shops (it was my turn to go). In Iceland, I bought vegetarian burgers, halloumi burgers, Quorn chicken pieces, vegetarian pies and chocolate bar multipacks x 4, which all came to £17. In Tesco, I bought orange juice, vegetarian sausages, tofu, houmous, rice pudding, Actimel x 12 pack, pizza x 2, spring onions, mangetout, potatoes, broccoli, parsnip, scampi, onions, bread, burger buns and eggs. After reductions, it was £27.91. We still have more than £90 of the food budget to go at this point which is great!

In the late evening, I was messing around on my laptop and decided to place an order with Boots for some toiletries. I thought I had selected all the right products for all the right offers (3 for the price of 2 etc) and it was only when I had placed the order I saw it had only totalled 4 of the 6 ‘3 for 2’ offer products I wanted. In theory, this meant if it had of all gone through successfully it would have cost me another £5, but I would have had 2 products for that additional fiver, not one. Worst of all the product it had registered I wanted two of was probably the product I least needed to stockpile. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but it was still annoying. I had saved over £16 on all the offers in total and came in slightly under budget at £32.27, but I know I will be annoyed about this for a long time.

With that, I declare that the week is over.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £47.91 (MY HALF = £23.96)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £67.25

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £91.21

Spending Diary 11th to 17th January 2021

Hi everybody!

Another week in lockdown, what else is new?

Let’s begin.

11/01/2021

I had a terrible night’s sleep. I woke up repeatedly and slept fitfully the rest of the time. Surprisingly I felt able to get up when the alarm went off at 7 AM. I have a long week ahead of me at work. I did some admin things in the morning, and at 8:20 AM I went for a walk. You might remember from last year I read about the morning walk idea in Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s book ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ and started implementing it last year with some success. I had fallen out of the habit of it as the year drew to a close. I am trying to bring it back.

I suddenly remembered I needed to phone the Doctor’s surgery to make an appointment, so hurried home. I was able to get through to reception with little wait and explained what I wanted a telephone appointment for. I have decided to try and seek a diagnosis for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (hereafter abbreviated to PMDD) as my mental health and general health greatly changes around key points in my menstrual cycle and I am beginning to find my symptoms hard to cope with.

I managed to get a lot of work done before lunchtime. I had a quick lunch as I was starving and then tried to go on the exercise bike. I was feeling extremely nauseated though and stepped off after 20 minutes. I had taken some paracetamol in the morning but would have to wait till later to take my next dosage.

In the afternoon I had an important meeting, and it was at that point the surgery rang me. I couldn’t answer the phone. After the meeting, I checked my messages and the surgery had said to call them back if I still needed an appointment. I did that straight away, getting quite stressed in the process.

Very shortly after that, I was called back by the surgery. I was speaking to a final year medical student helping with the doctor. I explained everything, just how my health suffers across the month, the years I’ve experienced these symptoms and the patterns I have noticed. The student said he would speak to the doctor to discuss a course of action.

He rang back. The doctor wasn’t willing to diagnose it as PMDD but did diagnose it as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) which is similar but less serious. To get a PMDD diagnosis I would have to try out a chemically induced menopause (it’s reversible) and the doctor didn’t want to do that to a young woman (I’m 31).

The student and the doctor thought the likely reason was a recent change in my medication; I am coming off an antipsychotic I have been on for years. I must have not have done an adequate job of conveying that I have had these symptoms for years, not months. The doctor and student want me to monitor my symptoms for another three months. This was extremely frustrating as I have had these symptoms for years, since at least 2009 (when I first made the correlation between being extremely depressed and near my cycle) and I resent that I’m expected to be a sub-standard version of myself one week in every four.

But, PMS is a diagnosis I didn’t have on my medical records before today, and it is a diagnosis in itself. You’ve probably heard PMS bandied about as a reason for people who menstruate getting agitated near their period, but PMS is a genuine serious condition, not just a bad mood. It is a start on the path to managing my cycle. I guess I sound really arrogant here like I know more than the doctor. That’s definitely not what I’m trying to say, more that I was upset to come away without even a change in medication or contraceptive pill to manage my symptoms.

I am looking to make adjustments at work for the weeks when my symptoms are at their worst, so I really wanted a diagnosis to legitimise my needs. The student did say that by merely experiencing these symptoms my needs are legitimised, with or without a diagnosis, which I guess is true.

My flatmate had gone to the shops during the day and came back with summer fruits squash, 2 x 0% Ghost Ship beers, orange juice, Heineken 0% beers multipack, Actimel, part-baked rolls, bran flakes, rice pudding, Cheddar and cucumber from Tesco (£16.10, saving £3.15 due to loyalty card offers). He also popped to Home Bargains and had bought salt and vinegar crisps, dental floss and 4 x Carlsberg 0% beers which came to £3.54. I have seriously gone off alcohol, and the flatmate doesn’t drink much alcohol anyway, so as you’ve probably gathered from all these spending diaries we buy an awful lot of 0% alcohol beers.

The flatmate kindly cooked dinner, though that does mean I have to do the washing up. We watched an old episode of Taskmaster whilst eating. Afterwards, the flatmate went upstairs to call his girlfriend and I watched the news and played away online. I went on Amazon and bought a book called ‘The PMDD Phenomenon’ by Carol Svec and Diana L. Dell, as well as some more ‘Dots for Spots’ which are little hydrocolloid pimple patches, another joy of an extreme menstrual cycle is adult cystic acne. My shopping came to £25.95, but I had £11.50 in vouchers on my account. I put them towards the £11.95 the book cost, meaning it was 45p from my personal account for that, which I also used to cover the £13.99 of the Dots for Spots because I had budgeted for them at the start of the month. The order said it wouldn’t arrive till the end of February, I will just have to wait till then.

Finally, because always going to the shops to buy 0% beers is getting a bit tiring, I went on a beer site I used to use and bought a crate of 20 0.5% beers. That was £29.90 off the food shopping budget. Earlier in the day, I had also placed an order for oat milk and decaf coffee from a local coffee shop, that should be delivered on Wednesday. I will most likely get the invoice the next day though.

The flatmate finally came downstairs to watch Disney+ and I joined him. The day is complete.

12/01/2021

I went to bed at a silly time last night and thus woke up later than I wanted today. I had a meeting before lunch and had done a mixture of admin tasks before that. I was still very sleepy despite my two coffees. I am still trying to exercise every day as part of Red January (a charity campaign where participants exercise every day of January to beat the January blues and to promote mental health). However, I felt extremely nauseated and tired at lunchtime and all I could manage was a brief walk around the park. 

Work went better after lunch. After a while, I began to feel well again. I came across a problem at work and tried to seek help, but everyone seemed to have left for the day. Stuck, I finished early. I had a shower and my weekly beauty maintenance. It was then I began to feel really unwell again. I curled up on the sofa with a cup of lemon and ginger tea. My flatmate took over cooking duties.

I logged into my mobile supplier account and decided on a whim to check out their deals. I saw that I could get exactly what I have now but for £1.10 cheaper. Two clicks of a button and I had saved myself an admittedly small amount of money, but it is money in my pocket, not theirs.

I had my usual counselling session in the evening. Typically my laptop decided to disconnect from the internet just at the point I needed to go into my session. Soon the technical difficulties were over. The main thing I discussed was my diagnosis of PMS, and how I wanted it to be PMDD, and that I felt let done by the GP surgery. My counsellor has a medical background, and she did suggest I may have a need to check things out when I mentioned other problems. I hadn’t told her about my high prolactin levels which I discovered last year, and she was very interested in that. I am due to finish a medication that might be causing those high prolactin levels this week. Perhaps that is why my sleep is so bad at the moment.

My sessions cost £35, but shamefully I forgot to make the payment immediately after the call was over!

13/01/2021

I have been feeling quite flat this week. I am still doing some exercise each day as part of Red January, but it is now usually just a short walk. I had a lot of nausea at the start of the week which is only beginning to ease now. I have definitely got the January blues.

 After midday, my order from the coffee shop arrived. It was three 250g bags of decaff coffee, plus a six-pack of Welsh oat milk – my usual choice of oat milk was out of stock. I had received the invoice in the morning and it all came to £36.90.

I received an email from Amazon to say my order had been updated and would now arrive at the beginning of February. I thought that might happen when I ordered it, so that makes me happy.

I probably had the most productive day of the week today. I have been working till late into the evening due to starting work later in the morning than I would like because of my excessive tiredness. The medication I am coming off affects sleep – usually in a positive way for me – so perhaps withdrawing from it is what is making me so sleepy now. I am having trouble falling asleep at night. I try to relax by reading and turn off the lights when I start yawning, but I am still usually awake an hour later.

I am definitely in need of sorting out a few things in my life.

14/01/20201

Shamefully it took me until today to realise that I hadn’t paid my counsellor yet, so I did that as soon as I remembered.

Today my order for the case of 0% beers I ordered at the start of the week arrived. I didn’t have time to unpack them because I was in a meeting, so I just left them on the side of the counter. 

I had another email from Amazon to say my order would be coming on Sunday now, score!

I had a good one to one with my line manager before I went to lunch, and it put me in the best mood I had been in all week. I decided to use this to my advantage, and I went for a 5km run at lunchtime. Back home I quickly washed my face and then went into a coffee connect scheme with a colleague who works in the same department as me, though the department is huge so we still haven’t encountered each other before today. He recommended a good book to me, and I recommended a network I was part of to him. It was a great catch up.

I wanted to work till late today, but my flatmate was getting anxious about going to the shops and making dinner. I finished earlier than I wanted to and off we went to the shops. It’s encouraged that you shop on your own, but neither my flatmate nor I drive, and we try to shop big and therefore infrequently, so it does mean we need both of us to carry the shopping back home.

We bought Pepsi Max, milk, ice cream, Lucozade, spaghetti x 2, Quorn Nuggets, veggie sausages, houmous, broccoli, Flora, felafel, sweet potato, mayonnaise, stir fry vegetables, cucumber, parsnip, tofu, halloumi, bread, carrots and tortilla wraps, which came to £25.58 after discount.

Back home, we made a stir fry for dinner, watched Taskmaster, and then did our own thing. I went on Duolingo for a bit, and then got caught up watching an ITV show. I went upstairs to my room at 10:20 PM, read for a bit, then tried to sleep. It was still a while before I fell asleep though.

15/01/2021

I woke up early, hooray! The morning seemed to pass quickly before I had my weekly social catch up coffee session with my colleagues. I decided to head to lunch early. I went for a walk first, taking a route around some residential streets as opposed to the park, to be around fewer people.

Arriving home, I made sure to watch the Welsh news. The First Minister is announcing more restrictions today, it was mainly concerned around retail. Supermarkets would have to restrict numbers, unessential items could not be purchased and there is a clear clampdown on the abuse that retail staff have been facing.

I made a quick cup of tea and then headed back upstairs for my next meeting.

 At lunchtime, I went for a quick walk. I chose to go along some residential streets where it would be quieter. I came back and watched the Welsh news as there were going to be some more announcements about the lockdown, mainly concerning supermarkets.

There was another meeting in the afternoon, and then I managed to finish the part of the work I had been on since before Christmas. Once my colleagues finish their parts we will be going on to the next project very soon.

Today is the first night I won’t be taking any dosage of a medication I used to be on called risperidone. My doctor has gradually been withdrawing me from it as it could be causing my high prolactin levels. I am a bit nervous about going to sleep tonight. Risperidone makes you drowsy, so it has always knocked me out and I’ve had a pretty good sleep because of it. During the times I took it, if I forgot to take it one evening I would have a really disrupted sleep because of it. I predict that will happen again.

16/01/2021

I was right, I did have a crap night’s sleep. I woke up wide awake at three different points, all far too early from a midnight bedtime to get up. I managed to get back to sleep each time, but it took a while.

My alarm went off at 10 AM, but I still dozed for nearly another hour, even though this meant turning off my alarm every ten minutes.

I realised that a book I was waiting to be released on the 14th of January would now be ready. Before Christmas, my friend sent me a £20 WH Smith voucher. I had been skulking their site for a while. I went on it and selected ‘Some Body to Love’ by Alexandra Heminsley, this is the book I was waiting to be released. I also selected ‘The Skincare Bible’ by Dr Anjali Mahto. Both of these books were £11.99, and I had to spend over £25 to get free postage and packaging. I added some jaunty fast food stickers (£1.99) and that meant my £25.97 order only cost £5.97 in cash.

It took a while to get going today. In the early afternoon, I went for a 5KM run. Back home I sat down in front of my laptop and fell asleep. I didn’t even realise I had fallen asleep until I woke up again. It was liked I had blacked out. I had a shower to wake me up.

I did some Duolingo lessons, and just relaxed. I was extremely tired today.

The flatmate and I had a late dinner, and then watched Dunkirk, which I had never seen before but thought it was tremendous. 

I went to bed a bit later than I would have liked to, and it took me a little while to fall asleep.

17/01/2021

Once again I had a disrupted night’s sleep. I woke up at several points and struggled to fall back asleep. At 6 AM I woke up and was still awake 20 minutes later. I decided I may have to get up.

I went downstairs, had breakfast, put on the TV, and then fell asleep. Like yesterday, it felt like I had just blacked out, I had no idea I had fallen asleep until I woke up. I ended up dozing off at another point, and it was about 10:30 AM before I felt awake enough to do anything. I’ve been trialling going without caffeinated coffee, I’ve switched to decaf, but I needed caffeine so had an instant coffee. It should have less caffeine than the ground coffee I used to have.

At 12 PM I went upstairs to begin an application for a role that could change my life if I’m accepted. It is for a degree-level apprenticeship in economics, I’d be gaining a degree whilst working at the same time. I applied for the scheme last year but there were three preliminary tests you had to do first, and I did not reach the pass rate on the numerical test. That meant my application was not taken beyond that point.

I haven’t gained significant mathematic skills in the last year, but today I felt very confident in the test. I finished, then had to wait about five minutes whilst my results were processed to see if I would be able to continue.

I had passed! This is already an improvement from last year, which is something to feel good about. I wrote the rest of the application and then pressed submit. I will have to see what happens.

The application process took me up to 4 PM. I quickly went for a 5 KM run, I was due to do a 10 mile run today, but the application was more important. I had a shower whilst my flatmate made dinner. I began to have really bad stomach cramps and didn’t finish all of my dinner. We watched various TV shows, and then I headed upstairs to read and to sleep.

The week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £112.02 (MY HALF = £56.01)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £6.42

COUNSELLING = £35

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £97.43

Spending Diary 4th to 10th of January 2021

Hi everybody,

Welcome to the first full week of the new year!

Let’s get started.

04/01/2021

It was back to work for me today. The flatmate and I are still self-isolating as he went to get a test yesterday. We might get the results today. We are taking it very seriously and aren’t even going to leave the flat to take the rubbish out.

I was especially sleepy today at work. This is usual for me when I return to work after a break. I think it is just the January blues as well. The weather has suddenly become a lot colder and I have taken to having a blanket on my lap a lot of the time. This is another factor that makes me just want to snuggle up in my bed with a cuppa and a book.

I completed a lot of admin tasks today, including some things I didn’t particularly need to focus on just yet. It wasn’t my most productive day at work but I was happy with what I had achieved.

It was well into the evening when my flatmate got his test results back. They were thankfully negative. This was great news for us. However, a colleague and close friend of mine revealed on our work messenger chat that she had tested positive. As had another colleague. Both of these colleagues were temporarily staying with their parents, and their parents had all tested positive. I really hope they all get through it ok.

I started reading a new book at bedtime – “Eat Sweat Play: How Sport Can Change Our Lives” by Anna Kessel – and turned off the light at what was probably a far later time than it should be on a school night. Oh well.

05/01/2021

I was really struggling with tiredness today at work. It was really cold too. I definitely had a blanket on my lap at my desk.

At lunchtime, I checked the post and saw I had received a card from my Grandpa. It also contained a cheque as my Christmas present. I decided to make my Red January exercise of the day a walk into the town centre to pay it into my bank. I ate a quick bowl of cereal for lunch and set off. I was really pleased to see it was so quiet in town. I was the only customer in the bank when I first arrived. I was in and out in a couple of minutes. It was a gloriously sunny day, though still cold.

On the way into town, I had also withdrawn £20 from my personal spends bank account to pop in a card for the son of my step sister. It had been his birthday at the weekend.

After work, the flatmate and I hurriedly tried to make dinner before I had my Skype counselling session, but I ended up having to leave half the dinner in the oven. My counselling session was good – cathartic – and gave me lots to think about. My sessions cost £35.

The flatmate and I desperately needed to do a food shop, so we headed out in the cold. At the supermarket, we bought pizzas x 2, crisps, bread rolls, mushy peas, self-raising flour, hula hoops, baking powder, tortilla wraps, spice mixes x 4, orange juice, cheese slices, flora, cheddar cheese, lazy chillies, milk, stir fry vegetables, carrots, houmous and prawn crackers which all came to £28.30. I also picked up some batteries for my kitchen scales that were £4.50.

Back at home, we made use of the new Disney+ app we had which my flatmate had received a free 6-month trial of through his phone contract.

I went to bed, again much later than is ideal for a school night, but in good spirits.

06/01/2021

Unfortunately, my mental health has severely dipped this week. I went for a run at lunchtime, which did help things a little. I am still in quite a bad way though.

07/01/2021

Another day where I felt unable to do anything because of my mental health. I went for another run at lunchtime. I am doing a challenge called ‘Red January’ which is where you exercise every day of January to beat the January blues. There is the option to raise money for charity but I decided not to do that.

08/01/2021

I checked my bank account and saw that I had been charged for my subscription to Smol, which make environmentally friendly cleaning products. I would be getting my pack of dishwasher tablets in the post soon. This was £4.60.

I went for a walk at lunchtime to try and manage my mental health. It helped a little. I also went to pick up my prescription.

I feel like this week has been a write-off. Bring on the weekend.

09/01/2021

I woke up horrendously late. It may be a weekend day, but I still don’t like getting up at 12:30 PM. I went for a run before it got dark, covering 5KM. When I got home, I saw that my flatmate hadn’t been to the shops yet, so being a kind flatmate I decided to join him. It was just as well because it was a massive shop. 

In Home Bargains, we bought Pepsi max, Lucozade, 2 x Carlsberg 0% beers, Bavaria 0% beers, bleach, handwash x 4, Cadbury’s Double Decker multipacks x 2, paracetamol x 2, electrolyte tablets x 3, pilau rice, Walkers Sensations crisps, naan bread and Monster Munch crisps which came to £19.52.

In Iceland, we bought Vegetarian southern fried chicken strips, Linda McCartney pies, mango chutney, tikka masala sauce and poppadom’s which came to £8.50.

In Tesco, we bought Bread, chopped tomatoes x 4, basmati rice, cauliflower, potatoes, cucumber, parsnip, vegan pizza, pizza, onions and eggs which came to £14.12. The person behind us in the queue wasn’t obeying social distancing at all and it was really disconcerting.

And finally, we went to a local Indian food shop and bought some treats to go with our Indian meal tonight, which set us back £3.

At home, I had a video call with my younger brother and his girlfriend, and one of my older brother’s. We played a game and just chatted about things and health, all of us have our health complaints. When that finished, I went downstairs and helped my flatmate cook dinner. I’ve been trying to get back into better sleeping habits, so I went upstairs to read a bit before bed rather than watching more TV.

10/01/2021

I woke up horrendously late again. I then began to panic about time, and my lack of it, as I had a lot to do. I had a bit of a meltdown. My flatmate calmed me down and then I went for a 10-mile run. It went better than the 10-mile run I did on New Year’s Eve, though it was still a slower time for me, taking about two hours.

At home my flatmate had used up all the hot water, so we ate dinner whilst the water was heating up. Afterwards, I had a long, hot shower and then did the washing up. I quickly did some admin tasks and then watched a bit of TV. I went upstairs around 10 PM to finish reading ‘Beyond Limits’ by Lowri Morgan. If you like ultra-running then I definitely

recommend this book.

And with that, I declare that the week is over.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £78.04 (MY HALF = £39.02)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £24.50

COUNSELLING = £35

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £98.52

Spending Diary 28th December 2020 to 3rd January 2021

Hi everybody,

This week I will say goodbye to the last part of 2020 and say hello to the first part of 2021. I wondered what both will have in store for me and my wallet.

28/12/2020

This week I plan my assault on the diamond league of Duolingo. My goal is to be number one in the league and to gain the badge that comes from that.

I spent hours on Duolingo today. I have been concentrating on the stories as I do tend to neglect them. They are also high in points so I figured it would be a good way to keep my total high.

I also had a nice catch up on Skype with one of my best friends, her husband and her toddler boy. It was a short catch up but splendid all the same. It was only in lockdown that it occurred to us we could have been catching up on Skype all this time. We live in different countries and even before lockdown only saw each other in the flesh infrequently.

The flatmate and I had run out of treats, so I headed to the shops to buy some more. On the way there I passed a homeless person and I asked her if I could get her anything to eat. I haven’t carried money on me since July so I couldn’t give her any change, but I could buy her something to eat. She asked for a cheese sandwich.

In Tesco, I bought two packets of Choc Leibniz biscuits, potatoes, Actimel, yoghurts, two packets of vegetarian meatballs, Hula Hoops, tortilla chips and another multipack of crisps. This came to £17.96. For myself, I bought two big bags of crisps that cost me £1.90. For the lady, I encountered on the way to the shops I bought a triple sandwich pack and three chocolate bars. When I left Tesco there was another homeless person outside the store so I gave her some of the chocolate bars and then gave the sandwich and a chocolate bar to the first lady I met. 

My flatmate has been playing Mario 64 on an old Nintendo 64 console we have and he was getting very close to completing it. It was fun to relive memories of my childhood playing this game and the N64 in general. I used to play it a lot with my brothers. I don’t really have an interest in playing it again myself, but it is fun to watch my flatmate play it.

I completely failed to go to bed at a sensible time, especially since I stayed up late reading Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I want to finish it before 2021 begins but I don’t think it will happen. I neglected it months ago. I had set a goal a few weeks ago of finishing the four half-read books I had on the go before 2021 begins and I have finished three of them so that is not too bad going.

29/12/2020

I had another epic session on Duolingo. I really want to get to the top of the diamond league just once so that I can never have to worry about getting there again and I can just relax with Duolingo. I like collecting the badges you get on it!

The flatmate and I have been seriously neglecting to do a proper food shop. Though to be fair I am trying to keep the shopping to a minimum as we are seriously over budget and I don’t get paid until tomorrow. Despite all this, we still had to go to the shops again today. My flatmate bought Lucozade, two Ghost Ship 0% beers, Heineken 0% beers, bread, sweetcorn, a Jamaican beef patty, mushy peas, orange juice, cucumber and peppers which set us back £13.34. We ended the month exactly £78 over on the Food and Household Shopping budget for the month. I will work out the amount of who owes who what and sort out the bill money with my flatmate this evening.

I decided to buy some things that were on my shopping list. I wasn’t doing too bad on my finances after getting some money for Christmas and would survive until payday tomorrow. I bought a data decoder, which is a device that blocks out confidential information with a block of indecipherable text. I bought this because I had heard shredded paper isn’t that secure and can’t be recycled, so this looked like a good alternative. I had budgeted £20 for this, but the website I had seen it on was only selling it for £10. A sensible person would probably have taken the extra £10. What I did however was then buy another item I wanted which was a card blocker device. You put it next to your bank cards in your wallet and it prevents the information being scanned by a thief. I then was completely sucked into buying a set of privacy blockers for webcams. All in all, I spent £32.96 when you included postage and packaging. It was a bit over what I had planned to spend, but I felt it was worth it.

30/12/2020

Normally on payday, I wake up early and sort out my finances. I was still awake late at night when my wage came through to my bank account which meant I had already sorted it out. All my money was moved into my sinking funds and I deposited some money to my investment account. I then checked what my financial net worth was like this month versus what it was last month. It had gone down by £62.12. My meagre savings had taken a battering before Christmas. I should be able to repair them now.

I had a catch up with another friend today on Skype. It was so lovely. I am really trying to make the most of lockdown in terms of keeping up with my friends’ whatever way I can.

I still obviously spent a long time on Duolingo today. I’ve got to keep my total up!

31/12/2020

I woke up at 12 PM. That’s probably sensible on New Year’s Eve as it would give me more energy this evening. It wasn’t that sensible for me though as I needed to run 16 KM today to reach my target of running 1000 KM for the year. I ate some toast and about ninety minutes later I set off for my run. My breakfast hadn’t properly digested and I felt really uncomfortable during the run. I got a stitch 2/3’s of the way around and took a detour back to my flat for a quick break and stretch. I set off for the final third. It was tough. I had to run until the stitch came back, walk until it went away, and so on and so on. In a disappointing 140 minutes plus I completed the run and could finally relax in the joy of my achievement.

I had to go to the shops, again, it feels like I’ve spent most of my week in the shops. I bought two bottles of tonic water, two bottles of Pepsi Max, washing up liquid, milk, two dispensers of handwash, cucumber and a bag of Cadbury’s Chocolate Orange Buttons. This was the first £10.30 spent on the new Food and Household Shopping Budget.

I had a shower, and then the flatmate and I ordered a takeaway pizza. We used deals and my half was £11.49. I then spoke to my Dad and Step mum on a video call to bring in new year wishes. 

Finally, I went into my Zoom drinks with my friends. There were so many fireworks set off around my neighbour. It was lovely. At 1 AM I finished my Zoom drinks and went to hang out with my flatmate who was trying to complete Mario 64. He wasn’t successful though. We went to bed, I had a quick read of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, but I didn’t finish reading it before 2021 had begun. Oh well.

01/01/2021

I had an extremely relaxing day. I spent a long time on Duolingo and watched two Pixar films (Brave and Inside Out) whilst using the exercise bike. I am doing Red January which is a charity initiative of encouraging people to exercise every day of January to aid mental and physical health.

In the evening I finished off the bottle of prosecco I started yesterday. Since that time, I gave up alcohol for five weeks I haven’t been able to drink as much as I used to, which admittedly still wasn’t a lot. I used to be able to set a bottle of prosecco back quite easily though. At least this will save me a lot of money though.

My flatmate completed Mario 64 this evening. I hadn’t seen it be completed since what must have been the late 1990s. I had forgotten most of it.

At bedtime, I read a bit more of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I might be able to finish it tomorrow. I wonder what I’ll read next when I do.

02/01/2021

I woke up wide awake at 8 AM. I guess I must have had enough sleep the last few nights to make up for it. It will be nice to get into a regular habit before I start work again.

I watched The Simpson’s on TV whilst writing. I analysed how much I had written in 2020. It was over 140,000 words! Not too shabby. I had dramatically fallen out of the writing habit by the time 2020 had begun, probably long before that as well. It was around April 2020 I began trying to write again and relaunched my blog. Typically, it would take a global pandemic to give me the time to write again. I just really hope I keep this habit alive after the pandemic is over.

I checked my bank account and saw that I had been charged for a coffee subscription pack which I thought I had cancelled. It’s a good quality product, but I had decided to change suppliers and didn’t need this one anymore. This mistake cost me £7.95. I must remember to cancel it.

I went on the exercise bike for half an hour with the plan to do a strength workout. I began to feel a bit anxious and then my calf started playing up. I changed my exercise plans for a long walk. I had to go to the shops and in theory, it would have only been a five-minute walk to get to them. I decided to do a long detour around the parks and up some streets before ending up at the shops.

I went to Savers first. For the house, I bought a dishwasher cleaner, washing machine cleaner and toothpaste which came to £6.98. For myself, I bought four SPF lip balms and a tube of hair conditioner which set me back £7.99. I then popped to Tesco and bought Lucozade, rice pudding, chocolate bars x 8, coconut milk x 2, tofu, avocados, bananas, bagels and eggs which came to £23.43. I then went to the post office to see if they had Runner’s World magazine. They didn’t. I ended up buying Women’s Running magazine for £4.50. I decided to check out Sainsbury’s to see if they had Runner’s World magazine, which sadly they didn’t. I bought Women’s Health magazine and Cosmopolitan which came to £7.50. I will probably have to go into the town centre to buy Runner’s World magazine.

Back home I had a quick shower and then had a catch up on WhatsApp with my friend who showed me her new baby boy. 

My flatmate had gone to the shops as well and came back with Erdinger 0% beers x 2, 0% Ghost Ship beers x 2, Brew dog 0% beer multipacks x 2, mouthwash, bread, potatoes, parsnip, spring onions, stir fry vegetables and raspberries which came to £20.27.

In the evening I finished The Wind-up Bird Chronicles. My flatmate was having a tough day so we relaxed with TV.

03/01/2021

I was checking Facebook after I woke up and saw it was my Stepsister’s son’s birthday today. I had completely missed that, oops. I will send him some money in the post.

The flatmate and I were planning on doing a food shop, however, things changed.

My flatmate has had a continuous cough for a couple of days and it got worse today. He made the decision to go get a COVID-19 test, meaning both of us had to self-isolate until his results come back.

So, unable to leave the house to post things or buy things, I declare that the week is over for spending.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £100.23 (MY HALF = £50.12)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £70.30

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £120.42

Spending Diary 21st to 27th December 2020

Hi everybody!

The week of Christmas begins!

I’ll be spending Christmas away from my family due to the new lockdown restrictions, so how will this impact my spending this week?

Let’s take a look.

21/12/2020

I woke up at midday. Today is the first day of my Christmas annual leave. I went to bed around 2 AM the night before. I really benefitted from this sleep and was glad to have had it. I will try to get back into better habits as the holiday progresses so that returning to work in January isn’t such a shock.

I was feeling a bit aimless because although there are lots of things I would like to do, nothing is particularly urgent. That was making it hard for me to focus today or get down to anything. I was feeling distracted by the state of the flat as well. The flatmate and I spent most of the day tidying it up. I was a bit naughty and threw out some remnants of food that could have perhaps been used. I just felt like they were hogging too much valuable real estate in the cupboards.

My room needed a serious tidy up. I hoovered the floor, put away the clean and dry clothes, tidied up the dirty clothes, emptied the bin and changed the bedsheets. I then sprayed the bedsheets with lavender sleep spray to help me fall asleep easily tonight.

I was able to spend some time on Duolingo today, though not as long as I would have liked to. I finished the course I was on yesterday and had to go through checkpoint three today to get to the next course. I then did a progress quiz and did the best I ever had done on one. I wasn’t able to start any of the new topics though today.

I did some writing and played around on social media. I felt a bit unwell in the early evening, much as I did on Saturday.

I received some bad news today which was that my step mum’s operation had been cancelled. It was due to happen tomorrow. This was terrible news to receive in addition to everything else that has happened since the weekend announcement of the new restrictions.

In more positive news, my friend from Good Gym has decided to run a marathon whilst dressed as Santa on Christmas Day to raise money for the NHS. His initial target was £100 and it was on £60 when I donated my £12 (plus 54p admin fee), but by the time I had completed my transaction it was on £90 and within an hour it was up to £380 which was fantastic.

I now have about £20.06 disposable income until I get the £30 refund from Naked Wines, but this £50.06 has to last until the 30th, and I still need it to buy food, so it is, as my flatmate says when watching a nerve-wracking game of football, ‘squeaky bum time’.

Although I am debt free from credit card and consumer debt, I still live paycheck to paycheck and have minimal savings behind me. That’s a bit of a stretch of the truth. I have no savings behind me. I have a perfect credit score, but I’m still not where I want to be financial. Please know that everyone is on their own individual money journey and some people will be better in some areas compared to others.

The flatmate and I watched Galaxy Quest on Netflix which I really enjoyed. I don’t think I have properly seen it all the way through before. Then we started watching the WWE PPV ‘TLC’ (table, ladders, chairs).

The flatmate had cooked dinner today, so that meant I had to do the washing up. I was feeling better from earlier so made sure to do it this evening as it is such a drag leaving washing up for the next day. I’ve definitely been known to do that though.

22/12/2020

I had recently completed some market research work, and today the company sent me a £45 voucher I could redeem at various shops. This was perfect as I desperately need some clothes. I could do with a pair of jeans, and I had also seen a coat I liked at New Look. I exchanged £40 into New Look vouchers and also added a £10 voucher for New Look through Shop and Scan which is another one of my side hustles. I selected the coat which had £20 off and a pair of jeans and the basket came to £55.98. That means in cold hard cash it only cost me £5.98.

I have been devising a spreadsheet where for each month I list what I need to buy on one sheet versus what I want to buy on another sheet. I had set a goal of buying some jeans in January so I am pleased I was able to get them early at a good price.

Other things on my need list for January are a slatted spoon, a security device that covers up addresses on letters and conditioner.

Things on my want list for January are lots and lots of books. I am a book buying fiend.

I haven’t spent as long on Duolingo so far this week as I thought I would have. I have some serious catching up to do. I may have to reset my goal of being number one on the Diamond league to next week instead.

The rain was holding off so I did a warm-up on the exercise bike, then I did half of my strength work out. I realised it was getting later and soon it would be dark, so I went for my run halfway through the strength workout. I ran just under 7km and then I walked to the pharmacy to pick up my prescription at the pharmacy. When I went into the pharmacy there was one other customer in-store. A little while after I went to another customer came in and the first customer asked the pharmacist how many people were allowed in the store. She said 3 or 4, which sounded quite high. The customer who came in after I had got a bit aggressive towards the original customer for asking that. I was glad to be out of there.

I finished off my strength work out at home when I got back and then had a shower and my weekly beauty maintenance. I left the face mask on too long and it made my face bright red. Luckily it went down eventually.

I’ve been having trouble going to bed at a sensible time and today was no different. I was having trouble falling asleep and got out of bed at one point to read at my desk for a bit. I eventually felt tired enough to try again.

23/12/2020

I woke up at 5:30 AM and tried to fall asleep again, but was still awake at 6 AM. I decided to get up. I was a powerhouse of productivity in the early morning. I gained 250 points on Duolingo and did a long-overdue task of going through all my blog posts on here and adding tags to the ones that didn’t have tags. By 12 PM I was absolutely shattered. I should have had a nap, but instead, I carried on. I was in a bad way from the lack of sleep. I had the bright idea of going to the shops thinking it would wake me up. It wasn’t too busy surprisingly. I bought a tub of Pringles to replace the one I had eaten, a loaf of bread, orange juice, houmous and a cucumber. This all came to £4.73 as the Pringles were reduced by £1.50 for having a club card.

I tried to watch Christmas films when I came back, but I was just too sleepy to concentrate on anything. Around 4:30 PM I fell asleep on the sofa for about an hour which did make me feel a lot better. The flatmate and I had Mexican wraps for tea and watched TV. We caught up with some mutual friends on Zoom and did a few quizzes.

Despite being as tired as I was, I went to bed at a stupidly late time. Because I had been playing around on my phone beforehand, I was quite wired and didn’t fall asleep quickly.

24/12/2020

I woke up in what felt like the middle of the night, but I checked and it was 7:30 AM, which is a far more sensible time compared to yesterday. I remembered that they were showing Raymond Briggs animations on Channel 4 at this time, so I got up out of bed. I successfully watched the Raymond Briggs animations – The Snowman, The Snowman and the Snow Dog and Father Christmas – but fell asleep on the sofa during The Simpson’s Christmas episodes. The doorbell rang and it was Royal Mail with my New Look delivery. I tried on my new jeans, they fitted perfectly, and my coat looked swish too. I showed them off to my flatmate who was still very much trying to sleep, but he was kind enough to indulge me. I then got dressed in my exercise clothes because today I am going to fulfil what will be a three-year tradition of running a 10km on Christmas Eve.

I came downstairs and had a cup of coffee whilst watching The Junior Great British Bake Off. I then decided to do a half-hour warm-up on the exercise bike whilst watching episodes of Nigella Lawson’s Cook, Eat, Repeat that I hadn’t seen yet.

Since 2018 on Christmas Eve, I have run a 10km distance. I wanted to make this a real tradition so I set off to do it again today. It was really pleasant. The weather was lovely today, it had been quite terrible yesterday.

The flatmate and I had a relaxing night in. I guess there’s not much choice otherwise considering there is a lockdown on. I went to bed at a fairly sensible time and waited for Christmas.

25/12/2020

I woke up at 6 AM and went downstairs to watch The Simpsons. Due to the lack of sleep the last few nights, I spent most of today feeling really sleepy.

Fears about epic traffic jams meant we set off to my flatmate’s parents house with his sister around 8:30 AM. The roads were empty. It was quite nice to see my flatmate’s family again. I had spent many Christmases with them over the years when my flatmate and I were in a relationship.

We exchanged presents; my flatmate had bought me a plastic slotted spoon as part of my Christmas presents so that was one thing less, I would need to buy. We all watched some TV, including the Top of the Pops Christmas special, had the Christmas meal and then went for a walk. Again, we were afraid of traffic on the roads so we set off at a decent time. I was very tired when we got back home, but my flatmate and I stayed up for a few extra hours watching TV. They had special shows about the comedian Victoria Woods which I really enjoyed.

Eventually, I went to bed. This wasn’t the COVID-19 Christmas I had originally planned, but it was still a lovely one.

26/12/2020

The flatmate and I needed supplies. I headed to the nearest Tesco because I couldn’t be bothered to go further away to the bigger store. I bought milk, wholemeal baps, veggie sausages, prosecco, courgettes, peanut butter marmite, burrito, tofu, peppers and limes. The shopping came to £27.05.

I went for a run earlier in the day, a comfortable 7km. The second part of the Victoria Wood special was on in the evening and we watched that. I needed some good sleep and was looking forward to a lie in the next day.

27/12/2020

The main plan for my day today was to run another 10km. The weather has really been holding up for the last few days and was lovely and sunny. I have been really trying to relax this last week and I was very grateful to have another week of annual leave to look forward to.

I didn’t spend any money today so I declare that the week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £31.78 (MY HALF = £15.89)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £18.52

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £34.41

Spending diary 14th to 20th December 2020

Hi everybody,

We’re on the steep approach to Christmas.

Whatever way you choose to celebrate this time of year, I wish you the best.

Will I be sensible with my money in the run-up to Christmas? Or will I blow it all in a fit of holiday decadence?

There’s only one way to find out.

14/12/2020

I woke up at a fairly reasonable time and had a bit of spare time to pass before I started work. I decided to indulge in some retail therapy. I normally treat myself to a takeaway coffee on a Monday and Friday morning, but I decided to skip them this week and buy a book instead.

There’s a book I’ve got called ‘How to be Brilliant’ by Michael Heppell, who is the author that arranged the writing class I did this year. I have an old copy of it, much annotated. About six years ago he released a 10th-anniversary edition of the book which I also had. I lent this book to someone about five years ago and am no longer in contact with them so am unlikely to ever get it back. I decided life was too short to cry about that, so I bought a replacement copy of the 10th-anniversary edition. It was a lovely price of £10.65. Why is that a lovely price? Because you have to spend over £10 on books to get free postage and packaging on Amazon. I really must cut my reliance on Amazon.

At work one of our colleagues had organised the presents for a colleague whose birthday is on Thursday. I happily sent over my share of the total gift cost to her.

Monday is a rest day for me, so I used my lunch break to make a cake I had been trying to make all weekend. It is a waste-free orange cake. The idea is you boil the oranges in slices till they are soft enough to mix into a puree. I had cooked them on Saturday but haven’t actually had a chance to make the cake until today. Unfortunately, I had to take it out of the oven when it was still a little undercooked, otherwise, it would have burnt during my meeting. It smelt delicious though. When I tasted it later though I discovered it was a bit too bitter. I hadn’t used enough sugar. It was still quite nice though.

Five weeks ago, I decided to give up drinking alcohol to see if it would have any positive effect on my health. I decided that it would only be for five weeks. At the time I had been listening to Dr. Rangan Chatterjee’s ‘Feel Better Live More’ podcast and in particular episode 85 with Andy Ramage on it, the person behind ‘One Year No Beer’, and he had suggested that everyone takes a twenty-eight-day break from alcohol to see how they feel. I decided on the spur of the moment to do one better and do five weeks. I have been having problems with my weight, sleep, anxiety, and IBS and had already introduced changes like only drinking on nights where I didn’t have work the next day. The only way I could find out if alcohol is harming me was to cut it out. So, I did.

In these five weeks, I have discovered that there has been no change, positive or negative, to my weight, sleep, anxiety, or IBS. All were the same. Therefore, I could happily conclude that alcohol, in the amounts and ways I was drinking it, didn’t harm my health.

I decided I would really like an alcoholic ginger beer, so when my flatmate said he was going to the shops I asked him to pick me up one. He came back with one alcoholic ginger beer (I had been hoping for more, but it was my fault for not specifying that), chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, Lucozade, bread, and the same two tins of soup I had bought myself as he had been jealous of them. He spent £7.85 which is rather reasonable for him. I will add it to the Food and Household Shopping Spreadsheet for this month later. Did you really expect me not to have a spreadsheet for the food budget?

I had a really productive day at work, achieving the same amount of work in one day (in terms of stats) as the two previous weeks combined. I would really like to finish the particular work I am on this week.

I tidied up the house before I settled down after work with my alcoholic ginger beer. I really enjoyed it. A really indulgent treat is putting a double shot of rum in a pint glass and then add the bottle of alcoholic ginger beer on top. If only I had some rum.

15/12/2020

I was so sleepy today that I just slept through all my alarms and woke up horrendously late. Boo hiss. Maybe it was the alcohol after all?

My day at work today wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I still achieved some good things.

At lunchtime, I incorporated my run into completing errands around the local streets. I then ended up at the park and did some laps before heading home, having covered just over 5km in total.

One of the errands was delivering the Secret Santa gift to a work colleague who lived near me, I hope they didn’t see me run-up to their house. I really hoped they liked my gift.

My flatmate went to the shops in town and asked if I wanted him to pick up anything. I said if he happened to end up near the Lakeland store could he lookout for an apple corer for me? He said he would. When he came back later, he was a bit funny about whether he had bought one or not. He revealed that he had wanted to give it to me as a Christmas gift, but I need to use it now so I said I would pay him back as planned and he could get me something else. It cost £8.99.

A bit later on in the day I had a message from another work colleague who said they had my Secret Santa gift, but they weren’t the Secret Santa, but they would like to deliver it to me on behalf of my Secret Santa. I said that was more than fine and, in the evening, they popped by and dropped it off at my doorstep before leaving, all socially distanced of course.

I was expecting to have a counselling session today, as that’s what my counsellor said we would be having last week. When she hadn’t rung me straight away, I knew that was a bit unusual so I checked my emails and saw that half an hour ago she had sent me an email saying she had mixed up the dates and she wouldn’t be seeing me until January. It was a bit annoying as I had finished work earlier than I would have liked to make the appointment. On the plus side, it did mean I saved £35 from what I had budgeted.

I didn’t have any alcohol today. I was far too sleepy already.

Despite feeling cream crackered* most of the day when I went to bed early at 9:30 PM I was suddenly wide awake and it wasn’t till after 11pm that I eventually dropped off to sleep.

*knackered – informal British slang.

16/12/2020

Surprisingly what I thought would be a bad night’s sleep turned out to be quite good. Although I woke up at 3 AM I dropped off again and when my alarm went off at 6 AM I was able to get up straight away. I played around on my personal laptop before work, doing boring admin tasks like clearing my inboxes, removing spam emails, checking accounts, and updating details.

I checked my energy supplier. The payment gets taken today and I submitted the energy meter readings yesterday. We were about £200 in credit last month but now even with our payment, we are only about £40 in credit. It pained me to do this but I manually updated my account to increase our payments from £120 to £160. That should stop us from getting into too much of a deficit. January and February always feel colder than December so we would only be likely to use more energy in the coming months, not less. I briefly looked at different energy suppliers, because changing might reduce our bills, but we are likely to move out before the end of the contract period which would involve an early exit fee, so it was really hard to predict what the best thing to do would be. I will probably just have to stay with the same supplier. At least they are 100% renewable energy.

I got a lot done in the morning and then at lunchtime I did a strength workout. I noticed I was getting better at some of the exercises, go me! This was nice to notice as I had been getting a bit depressed about my weight gain in lockdown, so it is nice to know that my fitness is improving even with that going on.

The First Minister for Wales lunchtime address was on. Wales would be going into another lockdown from the 28th of December, and all non-essential retail and venues would close from Christmas Eve. Wales is the only country in the UK that hasn’t had falling COVID-19 cases, apparently, one in five people are testing positive and the situation is really bad. Just before lunchtime, the Good Gym WhatsApp members were debating whether to cancel a social run and litter pick this Sunday in light of the COVID-19 cases. We all felt it was the right thing to do. This means that the Christmas Tree outfit I bought has become a bit redundant. I’m sure I’ll find a use for it.

The flatmate received an email from the water supply company asking him to switch to online statements by setting up an account, and that our bill would be ready soon. He created an account and the statement suddenly appeared on the screen. It was £263.81 between us for the last six months, so my share was £131.91. A little more than I had budgeted for but I was able to cover it. I put £20 a month into a saving pot so had £120 squirrelled away, so just a bit extra needed to come from my disposable cash.

I made a curry for dinner, which used up some of the stock I had languishing in the freezer. That freed up crucial space because I decided to freeze the cake I had made on Monday as there was so much of it and I wouldn’t eat it all before it would start going off.

17/12/2020

I woke up early but fell asleep on the sofa midway through my Duolingo lessons. J’étais endormi sur le canapé! I eventually had more coffee and powered on through.

It is a day of festive celebrations at work, virtually of course, so I decided to debut my Christmas tree dress. It is a bit ridiculous.

Then of course the doorbell rang and it was the postman, so I had to answer it in my dress. He laughed.

The day of festivity at work was lovely. It was a day filled with quizzes and virtual get-togethers and all sorts of fun. I was glad I could make use of my Christmas tree dress.

My flatmate was spending the evening at his girlfriend’s. I was pretty tired and couldn’t be bothered to cook a dinner from scratch so I just cooked some rice and heated up some leftover curry from yesterday. I may have been enjoying some Bailey’s at the same time!

18/12/2020

I was very tired all day. Thankfully it is the last working day of the year for me. The flatmate and I were due to exchange Christmas presents tonight, but he said he wanted to do it another day this weekend instead. I was treating him to another takeaway tonight as payment for designing a family Christmas card for me. Originally, we wanted a Taco Bell, but it wasn’t delivering tonight. So, we selected another Mexican restaurant on the other side of town. It was pretty pricy and cost me £45.30, the most I’ve ever spent on a takeaway. It was quite nice, but the travel time did make the food a bit cold.

I have been struggling with my mental health since drinking alcohol again, so I am going to take another break from it. The anxiety isn’t worth it.

19/12/2020

I was not in a good way mental health-wise today. I met up with some friends outside in a park. I bought some snacks to share beforehand at the nearest Tesco, such as doughnuts, crisps, and a sandwich. It set me back £8.50.

Meeting up with friends in the park, we went to the café and I ordered a Terry’s chocolate orange hot chocolate. It was pricy at £3.50 but tasted lovely.

Sitting down in the outside café I began to feel really ill. It was a combination of my mental health playing up and feeling really nauseated and dizzy. I eventually had to leave early. I rang my flatmate and asked him to come and meet me on the walk home, which he kindly did. He had already been to the shops today and had bought 3 x Ghost Ship 0% IPA’s, baking potatoes, orange juice, Gu desserts x 2, broccoli, parsnip, cucumber, bread rolls, and a loaf of bread. This cost £16.11.

I went on a full anti-alcohol spree and cancelled my subscriptions/memberships with Naked Wines and Flavourly Beers. I had £60 on my account with Naked Wines, so that would be refunded to me. I’ll split that refund with my flatmate as technically we both paid for it. I could definitely do with that extra £30.

I was feeling really sorry for myself on the sofa and decided to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life Again’. Halfway through the film though my flatmate told me to put the news on as there had been new announcements. We watched the news for hours as it unfurled that the previous relaxed Christmas travel and meet up rules had been dramatically changed. It was now only going to be the one day of meetups and travels. I was due to go home on Monday and now wouldn’t be able to and couldn’t spend Christmas with my family. My step mum was going to go into hospital on Tuesday and would need support. My friends and I started messaging each other. Wales was going into lockdown at midnight tonight and that was going to leave two of my friends stranded. One was due to travel back to her family tomorrow, another friend was originally going to be picked up by her family next week. It was a stressful night.

My family cancelled our Christmas plans. I refunded my train ticket. I have to pay a penalty fee for refunding it, but if I tried to claim a full refund it wouldn’t be allowed as the train company doesn’t refund tickets if they’re affected by COVID-19 restrictions. In the end, even after counting the refunds on various tickets, I had spent over £60 on train travel I wouldn’t be using.

My flatmate was on the phone with his girlfriend and family and when he came back downstairs, he said that his family had invited me to spend Christmas with them as they lived within easy travel distance and would be the correct number of households. It’s not the way I expected to spend Christmas, but at least I wouldn’t have to be on my own.

My mental health relapsed and I was in a really low state all evening. I went to bed at a ridiculously late time in a foul mood.

20/12/2020

After a long restful sleep, I woke up in a dramatically better mood and was happy all day. The flatmate and I had a zoom call with his family to discuss Christmas which went well. My flatmate revealed that his family had gotten me a small gift which meant I wanted to get them something too. My flatmate had bought two tubs of biscuits for my family, but since I wouldn’t be seeing them, I bought them off him to give to his parents. That was £6. We then decided to brave going to the shops to buy food, and I would pick up presents for his sister there.

In Tesco, I was in a real mood to treat ourselves and to make the most of it being a festive season one way or another, so we did go overboard. We bought 2 x Brew Dog 0% multipacks, Heineken 0% pack, Lucozade, Ghost Ship 0%, summer fruits squash, Pepsi Max, crisps, Doritos, Twix multipack, 3 x pizzas, Flora, Pringles, mushy peas, Cheddar cheese x 2, lazy garlic, black beans, mayonnaise, onions, halloumi, falafel, tortilla wraps, eggs, and celery. This shopping came to £51.12, plus I had spent £14.50 on chocolate gift packs for my flatmate’s sister. Her birthday is on the 27th of December so I wanted to get her a present for that too.

I had put the food shopping on my credit card as I didn’t have enough money on either of my main cards to buy it. I knew we had gone over the food budget but I would have to sort that out at home.

When the flatmate and I go over budget on the food and household shopping it is easier if just one person buys all the overspends. That means when it comes to sorting out the bill money, one person just gives the other half of the extra money spent. I have appointed myself as the food and household budget overspends purchaser.

Sorting out the budgets and spreadsheets, I transferred money from various accounts and paid off the credit card straight away. I updated the Christmas 2020 budget spreadsheet with the additional presents.

I really don’t have much money left to last me till payday, and even less when you consider I still have to buy food for the rest of the month, so on that note, I declare that this week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SPENDING = £75.08 (MY HALF = £37.54)

PERSONAL SPENDING = £80.24

WATER BILL = £131.91

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £249.69

Spending Diary 7th to 13th of December 2020

Hi everybody,

Let’s see what this week holds in store for me.

07/12/2020

I had the day off work today. I woke up what felt like early for me but was 7 am, a little later than usual. Not as horrendously late as yesterday though. I did ten lessons on Duolingo which is about twice as much as I normally do.

I had received an email from Google which mentioned their changes to Google Drive documents, and it made me wonder what I had still in storage. I deleted everything, but a few things I downloaded first and saved on my computer. It felt good to clear up some digital clutter.

I put on a wash load and later put it out. I also updated next year’s finances spreadsheets. Yes, I already have them prepared. I need to prep 2021’s expenses and food budget spreadsheets though. I then left the house to get my hair cut. I had miscalculated how long it takes me to get into town and arrived twenty-five minutes early. I went to Boots and bought a face wash, but I also had to spring for a single-use paper bag, which was 7p, bringing my total costs to £5.06. I then headed to WH Smiths and bought this month’s Runner’s World magazine and two pads of paper. £14.88. I put that transaction on my credit card because I had had a weird notification on one of my latest credit reports that said something about my credit limit. It panicked me into thinking my account had been scammed, though when I logged into my account and checked it the balance was as I suspected on £0. Still, I thought a sure-fire way to see that the credit limit was fine was to use the card and see the purchase go through. Which it did.

I considered going to Lush to buy some more Ultrabland, but there was a queue that would have taken me too long to get served before my haircut. I headed to the salon. I considered getting a nice haircut, an actual style, but in the end, I settled for just a tidy up. I figured I needed a low maintenance hairstyle in case there are more lockdowns and the salons close. I don’t want to get a haircut I have to maintain every ten weeks as I just can’t afford that. It has been over a year since I last had my hair cut, which is only partly covid’s fault.

My hair felt much happier after I had the four or so inches taken off it. I had £40 on my account with the salon so I only had to pay an additional £10 extra. This felt like a win since I had budgeted £20.

Back at home my flatmate fancied going to the bakery I went to on Saturday, which made me want to go too. I was sensible and ordered half of what I had on Saturday. We went first to a nearby bookshop so he could pick up a gift for his girlfriend. At the bakery, my flatmate treated with for no other reason than his declaration of ‘Merry Christmas’.

After our bakery treats lunch my flatmate went upstairs to paint and I began baking Christmas delights. I have never successfully made mince pies, and most years I am so put off by earlier experiences that I don’t bother. This year I thought I would give them a go. It was my most successful attempt…but that isn’t saying anything. I jazzed up the store-bought mincemeat with some cranberries and orange juice. I only made five mince pies so I had a load of mincemeat to use up. I decided to make a fruit loaf cake with it. That also wasn’t a complete success. I mistakenly thought it was cooked and it was only when I went to cut a slice that I discovered it was still raw on the inside. So, I had to shove it back in the oven. I also made gingerbread with some stem ginger, the dough for that was chilling in the fridge for an hour beforehand. They were rather lovely and were the most successful of the three bakes.

Once again, the bakery lunch was so filling that neither my flatmate nor I could be bothered to make dinner so I had a sandwich and he had some Quorn nuggets with salad. We were watching a WWE NXT takeover pay per view event – War Games. I was due to speak to my Dad and Step mum after 8 pm but my step mum messaged me just before 8 pm to ask to change the call to tomorrow because she was having a bit of trouble with Dad. He had a stroke on New Year’s Eve 2019 and although he is a lot better it has still had a lasting impact on our lives. I became worried about my step mum. I wish there was more I could do to help, but there’s not a lot I can do due to the restrictions of lockdown.

I decided to just relax for the rest of the evening.

08/12/2020

I needed extra sleep this morning and thus woke up at 8:50 AM with a 9 AM meeting to go into. The joys of working from home are I can be at my desk instantly. I was able to finish a tricky piece of work that had been bothering me since the week before. I took a late lunch and ran 5km during it which felt lush. I wanted to go for a run today and was so glad I had taken the chance to. I then had a shower, finishing with three minutes of cold to invigorate me.

My flatmate went to the shops during the day and came back with 2 posh pizzas, more alcohol-free beers, milk, bread, and a bag of poppadom crisps. Although we could see we had been charged the right prices it still felt like the £14.80 total was too much for those things. We had gone to an expensive Tesco extra instead of the bigger Tesco Metro. It does make a difference in the prices.

After work, I did 10 lessons on Duolingo, same as yesterday, which means I am making great progress. I want to get on to level three before I go on my Christmas annual leave. That way I can explore the next level freely during my annual leave and make great progress with it.

I had 2/3 of one of the pizzas for dinner and then went upstairs for my counselling session. It was good to work through some issues. I feel so much happier than I do the week before. This session wasn’t as tough as last week. I then listened to a few songs on YouTube before my Dad and Step mum phoned me on Facebook messenger. It turns out yesterday wasn’t much to worry about. It was good to see them in good spirits. We discussed Christmas. I want to try and travel down a bit earlier to see them at Christmas to look after them both for when my step mum goes into the hospital.

After that, I listened to a few more songs on YouTube and remembered to pay my counsellor for the session today. I usually forget to do it on the day and do it the next day instead.

I then went on Amazon. I had £25 in Amazon vouchers from a side hustle burning a hole in my account. I had put off spending them as I didn’t have a burning desire for anything. I had decided on a whim today that I wanted to start collecting Tom Waits albums, so I added a few to my basket. Then I remembered that Good Gym is organising a fancy dress social run in a couple of weekends and I wanted to make an effort. I wanted to get a Mrs. Claus outfit but most were too overtly sexy. There was an affordable one that seemed a sensible length but the sizing options looked weird and I didn’t want to risk buying the wrong size. I then found another option – a Christmas tree dress. I liked it because it was silly and wasn’t trying to be sexy in any shape or form. I can’t pull off sexy outfits convincingly. I then needed to spend 1p extra to get free postage and packaging. The only option was to add the first Tom Waits album ‘Closing Time’ to the order to bring it up. After my vouchers and free postage and packaging, I spent £2.98.

My flatmate came to check on me. His girlfriend had come round to stay at ours and he just wanted to make sure I was alright. He also wanted to see that I was done with my calls because they planned to play guitar and the N64 for a bit and didn’t want to disturb me. I came downstairs with him to make a tea and then retreated to my room. I wrote for a bit whilst listening to BBC 6 music and drinking a lemon and ginger tea. I then decided to read my kindle. My goal is to finish the four books I have started at various points this year before 2021. Pointless life goals.

09/12/2020

Today wasn’t a good day.

My mum passed away in July. At the time we believed it was a heart attack. The autopsy revealed in September that she had passed away from an acute tramadol overdose. There were then court proceedings to determine whether it had been accidental or intentional.

Today I received an email from my Uncle who had written about today’s news regarding my mum’s death. Due to miscommunication, this was the first I had heard about there being news. My cousin, a lawyer who had been representing the family, phoned me, and told me the news.

My mum’s death had been ruled as accidental. That was a blessing. Some important things had come out though. My mum did not have a tramadol prescription. It had not been administered by her doctor. The most likely scenario is that a well-intentioned friend had given my mum some to help with back or tooth pain.

The dosage of tramadol that killed my mum has been fatal in other cases, but it was at the lower end of what a fatal dosage could be. My mum had suffered from alcoholism and substance abuse for several years and was a small, petite, woman. The autopsy also revealed that an artery in her heart was clogged. Therefore, the tramadol dosage might not have been fatal if she was in a stronger state. It was a combination of her being perhaps weaker than we knew and the tramadol.

I spent a lot of today crying. I am trying hard not to think too much about it, because I know I will drive myself crazy if I think along the lines of ‘what if?’

I considered doing some retail therapy to cheer myself up, but I knew that would be self-destructive behaviour. So, I didn’t.

I was able to distract myself enough with TV and magazines to be able to go to bed in a relatively calm state.

I had been planning to send out my Christmas card email to this side of the family today, but it felt a bit ill taste too. I will save it for tomorrow.

10/12/2020

I woke up in a good mood. As I’ve said before I believe in the transformative powers of a good night’s sleep.

I wanted to run, but also had some chores to do. I had to pick up my prescription, and we needed some things from the shops. I would be working late as a result of starting late, so I couldn’t pick up my prescription after work.

In the end, my flatmate said he would be going to the shops. I set out at lunchtime for my 5km run, having warmed up for 15 minutes on the exercise bike first. It was a beautiful run. I have found a very happy, comfortable pace. Admittedly it is slow, nowhere near the times I used to do, but it is a pace that makes every run feel glorious and wonderful. There are geese by one of the bigger parks on my usual run route and I have been trying to take a photo of six in one shot as a sort of ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ vibe. No such luck.

After my run, I carried on a little and walked to the pharmacy. I was really lucky that there was no queue. I was cutting it fine to eat lunch as well in these ninety minutes, so I picked up some ready to eat things from a Sainsbury’s Local. I bought reduced sushi, a chocolate milkshake, and a yogurt and granola pot. They came to £3.34. On the way home I bumped into my flatmate who was going to the shops. He later came back with five tins of soup, a pasta meal, Pepsi, Marmite, a beef patty, Flora, a Pot Noodle, two packets of instant noodles, crackers, cheese rolls, strawberries, and a cucumber. He spent £15.32 on the food budget.

It took me a little while to complete work today, but I did get some done by the time I had to finish.

I decided to change my train ticket or travelling back at Christmas, and I made an expensive mistake. I didn’t think I could rearrange the tickets I had already bought so I bought new ones for £45.65. I then found out I couldn’t refund the tickets I already bought, and I could have changed the travel arrangements after all. I don’t know why I didn’t check first, I think I must have just been distracted. That was very silly of me. I’ll still look into it to see if there is anything I can do. Perhaps I can refund the new tickets?

We had burgers and wedges for dinner and watched some TV. It is Taskmaster day, the highlight of my TV viewing week. Today’s episode didn’t disappoint at all.

I have been trying to select what I want for Christmas from my flatmate. I have been having a bit of a confidence crisis, especially regarding what my body looks like. I decided that a weight loss book might make me feel like crap, so I selected some well-being books instead. I chose Matt Haig’s ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’, Julia Samuel’s ‘Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving’ and Maggie O’Farrell’s ‘I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death’. I look forward to reading them all, later on, once I received them of course. In my research for other books to choose I discovered that the two Anna McNuff books I don’t have were very reasonable on Kindle. As a treat, I bought both for £5.98. I had decided to seek out adventure books, and Anna McNuff fits that perfectly. She recently ran around the whole of the UK with one important distinction – she did so barefoot. None of her three books are about that adventure though, which is incredible that she has already had three significant other adventure books. She is so cool.

I went upstairs to read Runner’s World magazine before bed.

11/12/20

I woke up naturally at 5:30 AM and decided that that was a reasonable time to get up. I have been waking up at all sorts of strange times this week. I caught up on some admin tasks I had been putting off, which ranged from checking my emails, doing surveys, and filing away my paperwork. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. I then did five lessons on Duolingo, I want to complete the level I am on before the 21st December, that way I can indulge in lessons on my Christmas break.

I later paid the price for waking up at 5:30 AM and felt very sleepy. My flatmate came upstairs to say he was going to the local shops and did I want to join him. I was fighting sleep so I thought the walk might wake me up. I then remembered I was running low on deodorant, so I picked up two Mitchum’s in Superdrug. They were on offer, two for £4.

The walk did do me good and I was able to be more productive in the afternoon.

In the evening my mood dipped. I was filled with self-loathing towards myself. When my flatmate went to his girlfriend’s I couldn’t think straight from how much I hated myself and went to bed. I hoped a good night’s sleep would sort me out.

12/12/2020

I woke up late, and I had a Good Gym mission to get to. I was about 15 minutes late, which is horrendous by my standards. I stayed a little later to make up for it. I was cutting back brambles and ended up with lots of cuts on my hands, despite wearing gloves. After the mission, I ran back down to the way I would end up to go home but then added on a run around the park. I didn’t find it very easy. It was quite hard truth be told even though it was only 5km. I had a relaxing shower at home and did my weekly beauty maintenance.

I then tidied up the house, which always seems to take longer than it should. My flatmate and his girlfriend came round briefly before going back out again. After they were gone, I was able to do the hoovering, and finally, the tidying up was complete. I then headed to the shops. First Savers, where I bought more laundry scent beads and a handwash refill for £3.49. Next, Tesco, where I bought bran flakes, a 1kg peanut butter tub (should a runner buy anything less than 1kg?), Actimel, French onion soup, spicy parsnip soup, washing up liquid, orange juice, plain flour, 4 x plum tomatoes, three ginger tea, conchiglie pasta, farfalle pasta, bananas, salted butter, 4 x spaghetti Bolognese spice mixes, apples, eggs, and a frozen pizza. I was upset when I got home and saw it was the plum tomatoes I bought. I had meant to buy chopped tomatoes. I make this mistake quite a lot! I know I can just blend them, but it is annoying.

That shopping came to £32.74.

Back home I did some Duolingo, then I started making a cake. This cake will be a slow process. First, I have to cook some cut orange pieces in a pan of water over medium heat for two hours. So, I cooked my frozen pizza for dinner whilst they were in the pot and watched “Muppet’s Christmas Carol”.

After Muppet’s Christmas Carol was over, I put on “It’s a Wonderful Life” and left the oranges to cool. I would make the cake tomorrow.

After my Christmas movie double bill, I went to bed as I had another Good Gym mission in the morning.

13/12/2020

I woke up at a more sensible time today. I had breakfast, warmed up, and then ran to the mission. We would be building a shed. It would be an outside task. It is cold and it is raining. My hands froze at various points. There were fewer of us at the mission than usual so building the shed was hard work, but we did more of it in a quicker time even with fewer people. There were four of us by the end. That is the final shed for that particular charity and I was really happy I could be part of it.

The other three had to go to Screw Fix, and as fun, as Screw Fix is, I decided to run back home. I tagged on a lap of my local park so it was about 11km in the end that I had run in total. I had a quick lunch, then changed into some dry exercise clothes as my other ones were wet from the rain. I then did a two-hour cycle on the exercise bike whilst watching Die Hard.

My flatmate came home about fifteen minutes before the film finished, and he had a virtual catch up with his friends soon. I tidied up the kitchen, then had a lovely hot shower. I took my laptop upstairs and did Duolingo. I came downstairs about ninety minutes later to eat the dinner my flatmate had prepared. We watched Taskmaster and then His Dark Materials. It was too late to finish making the cake, I merely pureed the orange slices today. I would make it tomorrow. I was very sleepy and went upstairs to read before bed.

I declare that the week is over!

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £70.95 (MY HALF = £35.48)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £46.24

COUNSELLING = £35

CHRISTMAS = £45.65

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £162.37

Spending Diary 30th November to 6th December 2020

Hi everyone,

This week is the week I can finally listen to all the Christmas CDs I bought. BRING IT ON!

I must also keep on top of my money and not let myself down by putting Christmas on a credit card.

This week also involves some serious life adulting in the form of getting my will signed, which will be another big expense.

Let’s see how I do this week.

30/11/2020

I had today off as annual leave, and I have next Monday off as well to really get me in the Christmas spirit. I woke up early but was pretty sleepy as I hadn’t managed to fall asleep until quite late the night before. I was able to do my hour of Duolingo lessons though in the morning. I then treated myself to a salted caramel latte from Caffe Nero on my morning walk. I know getting a big sugary coffee is not really the point of a wellbeing walk, but I wanted to make today special. The drink set me back £3.95 and when I checked my app later that day, I saw I had been rewarded a free drink voucher. Winner!

I had a quick half-hour back at home doing a video lesson on the ‘Write That Book’ masterclass I signed up for in the summer and am finally trying to complete. I only have three videos and three assessments to go. I’m aiming to complete it today. Video lesson 1/3 completed I left the house to go and sign my Will.

I had revised my Will under the Will Aid scheme which is where for a £100 donation to charity, a solicitor will write a Will for you. The £100 donation is a suggested amount, you could give less, but I would feel bad about that. The appointment went very quickly, and I paid the £100 which was £10 less than I was expecting to pay as another perk of the Will Aid scheme is the cost of registering the Will is free. That £10 will genuinely come in really handy this side of Christmas.

I felt very pleased with my serious life adulting today.

Back at home, I waited for my order from the local coffee supplier to come. I was glad I was back in time for it. I had ordered a 1kg bag of coffee, 6 x Oatly barista milk, 6 x almond milk, and 2 packets of 100 coffee filter papers. It was a hefty order and when I decanted the coffee into my biggest Kilner jar (which still wasn’t big enough) the house smelt lovingly of coffee.

I then shut myself in my room and finished the ‘Write That Book’ masterclass lessons. I had finally completed it. I felt really pleased that I had finished what I started. I lost my way on the course after my mum died and it has taken me this long to get back to it.

After a bit of writing, I tackled some Christmas chores, mainly the writing of cards. I commissioned my flatmate to produce an image I can use as an email Christmas card to my far-off family. I then wrote a baker’s dozen of Christmas cards to various other friends and family and quickly nipped to the post box before the last collection.

After that, the flatmate and I headed to Tesco for supplies. I quickly nipped to the kiosk and bought a new 12 pack of first-class stamps, I will still have a few more cards to write. £9.12 left my wallet. Then we bought Pepsi, orange juice, mushy peas, stem ginger, two jars of mincemeat, mayonnaise, ketchup, caster sugar, two Christmas selection tubs of chocolates, unsalted and salted butter, tofu, Cheddar, halloumi, dried cranberries, stir fry vegetable mix, sweet chilli sauce, egg noodles, potatoes, tortilla wraps, scampi, a Jamaican beef patty, felafel, bread, courgette and carrots which after various savings and deals came to £41.93.

We whipped up a quick stir fry at home and then watched TV. I may have listened to a lot of Christmas music today.

01/12/2020

I woke up early. This did mean I fell asleep during my Duolingo lessons. I put on BBC Radio 2 and they were playing non-stop Christmas songs which were delightful. After I fell asleep partway through typing a sentence on Duolingo I decided I needed more coffee and breakfast. I made toast with avocado and it would have been two poached eggs but I messed up the first one. The other one was more successful. It reminded me of a scene in Julie and Julia, which I watched again at the weekend, where Julie tried poaching eggs for the first time. Poaching eggs was a skill I only learned during the lockdown.

I checked my emails and saw I had received the invoice for the coffee order yesterday. It had come to £55.80. I may have to cut down on coffee! That seems an excessive amount. All the items will last well into January though so it is still good value for money. When paying that I checked my account transactions and as expected saw that my £20 subscription to my wine supplier had come out. I think I now have about £60 in that account. I have given up drinking alcohol until the 14th of December so I am not in a rush to order more alcohol. I found giving up alcohol much easier than I thought and I do really do feel much better for it. I’m sleeping better, I have fewer stomach complaints and I feel like I have more energy. I don’t think I will go back to drinking as much as I did before this break, and certainly not on a school night, though I wasn’t really doing that before either.

For the last two years at Christmas, I have bought every one I work with an individual chocolate Santa, a shared tin of biscuits, and sharing festive flavoured tea and ground coffee. Because we are now all working from home and I don’t have people’s addresses, I can’t do that this year. What I decided to do instead was order a Christmas gift for a child in refuge through the ‘Kids Out’ charity, and order it in the name of my team as my Christmas gift to them. It was hard to decide what the best gift for a child would be, so in the end, I went for a universal gift of a £25 food voucher. I figured that may have the best use, or can at least be spent on a wonderful amount of chocolate and sweets.

For a large chunk of my teenage years, my family lived in poverty, and I know how hard the pressures of Christmas can be at a time when things aren’t going well. Whilst I try to be charitable throughout all of the year I especially am so at Christmas. In previous years I normally do a supermarket collection with my local food bank charity, but that is another thing not happening this year.

As the day went on my IBS started playing up and, in the end, I asked my line manager if I could stop working for the day as I was in too much pain. I felt really bad about that. Paracetamol just wasn’t solving the problem.

To cheer me up my flatmate went to the shops and came back with some tinsel to put around the flat. He also picked up more paracetamol, alcohol-free beers, squash, milk, and raisins, spending £10.92 in total.

I ended up getting in a bit of a mental health moment, but luckily I had my counselling session to go to. The sessions cost £35.

02/12/2020

The main thing to report about this week so far is my mental health. Since Saturday I have been on a lower dosage of an anti-psychotic that I take at night time. This medication could be the cause of my high prolactin levels. Since I don’t have severe enough mental health problems to warrant being on this medication my doctor wanted to take me off it. I have been on this particular pill for years and I am used to the higher dosage. So, this week on the lower dosage my mental health has plummeted and I haven’t been able to concentrate or think straight, and I’ve been a bit hysterical at times. It has made this week hell.

I know I have to do the right thing for my health by coming off this medication, but I value my mental health above all else and I try to protect it at all costs. I haven’t felt this bad for a significant period and it is awful when this feeling comes back.

I hope the week gets easier as it goes on and I get used to the lower dosage of medication.

03/12/2020

To cheer me up from this crap week I purchased a marathon training guide by Laura Fountain. She is one of the co-authors of a book called ‘Tri-curious’ about undertaking triathlons, a book I love. She is also a running coach and I decided I wanted to invest in her. I bought her guide from her website and it came in a series of downloadable files, including videos for running form, warm-ups, and cooldowns. I have a quick glance through the guide before going to bed and it looked like it would be a really good read.

I am making steady progress on Duolingo this week. I really want to keep my place in the diamond league, my ultimate goal is to finish in first place at least once. I’m not really sure how much effort I can be bothered to make with it though. It is a lot of hard work to just keep my position in the diamond league. I have to really decide what my priorities are.

Today was one of the worst days for my mental health. I have just become fixated completely on my appearance and I am filled with self-loathing and hatred for myself. It is exhausting. I really can’t be kind to myself. I show everyone on earth more compassion than I do myself. I just want to be at peace.

My flatmate really tried hard to help me today. In the end, I just needed a healthy dose of Taskmaster to cheer up a bit.

04/12/2020

I was in much better spirits today. I treated myself to a gingerbread latte from Caffe Nero on my morning walk. It was a freebie. I found an old full loyalty card in my wallet whilst doing a clear-out and decided to see if they would accept it. They did! That’s a saving of £3.95 not to be sniffed at.

Google Play had emailed me a £3 voucher for use on a book, so I checked the price of a book I was considering and saw it was only £3.99 so that seemed like a good investment. 99p is always a good price for a book.

I’ve really been off exercise this week. I just have felt utterly crap. I’m well aware that exercising may have cheered me up, but I just didn’t feel I could bring myself to do hard intense running or strength and I’ve been doing low impact movement.

So, although I took a 90-minute lunch, it was to take care of Christmas related admin. I went to the Post Office to post two birthday parcels and three lots of envelopes stuffed with cards for the family. It was a good thing I had a long lunch break as there was a huge queue snaking around the whole Post Office. One parcel was for my sister whose birthday is on Monday. The gift I ordered had only turned up the day before so I was cutting it fine with getting it sent to her. I paid for guaranteed next working day delivery for that parcel. The other parcel, a present for my step mum whose birthday on the 13th was sent normal first class as there wasn’t a rush. Those two deliveries cost £9.14

I had three brown envelopes filled with three cards each for the families of my two sisters and my step sister. There is a general Christmas card for each family and then a card for each child (my two sisters and step sister have a son and daughter each). Each card contained £20 which is my going rate for the kids. I wasn’t sure if the envelopes would need extra postage because of the weight of them, but the Post Office employee checked them and said the envelopes would be fine with just a normal postage stamp. So, the amount of money from my Christmas budget today was £122.28 – £120 in cash for the six kids, and £2.28 in stamps for the cards.

I spent an hour in that Post Office, so I decided to buy a meal deal from Tesco for lunch. It cost £3 for a tuna mayo pasta salad, a malt loaf snack, and a carton of coconut water. I also picked up a loaf of bread (£1.25). The pasta salad was very disappointing, but at least it was something that could be eaten quickly.

In the afternoon some work colleagues and I started planning gifts for another colleague who is leaving under not-great circumstances. It will be really hard to lose her. We all wanted to get her really special things. One person was designated to take care of the ordering of gifts, but she asked if we could maybe contribute some of the amounts upfront. I was happy to and sent her my share straight away.

When checking my bank account, I saw that the payment for my domain name renewals had been taken out. I had been saving for this all year and was expecting it and had already transferred the money over from my saving pots to it. The amount was pending on my transactions, so isn’t officially cleared yet, but the £124.70 is in the process of being taken.

I have also recently renewed my donation with Good Gym. I had been meaning to for a while and finally got round to it today inspired by some friends. It will be £9.94 a month and the first payment will come out before my next payday, so I took the money from my Monzo account to transfer it over to my main account.

Friday evening passed without any drama. I felt a lot more relaxed than I had earlier in the week. It was easier to be kind to myself.

05/12/2020

I woke up early because I was volunteering with Good Gym and doing a double set of missions. As I left the house it was cold and raining, so I treated myself to a bus journey to the first mission. I decided to opt for a return even though it wouldn’t take me all of the way to the next mission. £3.20.

The first mission was finishing the painting of an outside gazebo at a Buddhist centre. My hands and toes were frozen but we all managed to finish the painting in the hour. Then it was over to the next mission in another part of my city. We were going to be clearing some brambles and weeds from a plot of land next to the railway that in time will be a community centre and garden. I really got into the chopping down of the brambles, they were proper thick beasts! It was a bit warmer at this point in the day and the garden work made me warmer as well.

I was pretty cold out in the open, but my flat was invitingly warm when I got back. My flatmate had done a wash load and put the heating on to dry it out. His girlfriend was round as well. They were making lunch so the kitchen was occupied, and I was pretty hungry. To continue the theme of spending for the week I headed to a local bakery and went a bit crazy. I bought a cheese and onion pastie, a vegetarian sausage roll, an apple and sultana danish, and a bag of four jam doughnuts. It all only came to £5.40. I shared the doughnuts with my flatmate and his girlfriend, but ate everything else straight away and felt uncomfortably full afterward. I decided to get active and went to the shops to do the food shopping. In Tesco, I bought orange juice, 2 x multi-packs of Brew Dog 0% beers, 2 x bottles of 0% beers, mushy peas, 3 x cans of tuna steak, a rice pudding pack, tinned sardines x 2, tinned mackerel x 2, fresh spinach and ricotta tortellini, tomato and mascarpone sauce, 2 blocks of Cheddar cheese, potatoes, garlic bread, sweet potatoes, quavers, porridge oats, tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, hula hoops and a multi-pack of crisps. I was expecting a huge queue when I got to Tesco but I was able to walk straight in and get what I needed. The shopping came to £34.57 after various deals were taken off.

Back at the flat I tidied up, did some Duolingo, listened to Christmas music, and then made dinner even though I was still pretty full from lunch. It was a huge mistake! I felt uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. Which was a shame as I was having Zoom drinks with some friends. I am still not drinking alcohol, so I was on 0% beers. I felt pretty uncomfortable throughout the drinks but I suppose the joy of drinking at home is I could make myself comfy on the sofa. In the end, I had to cut the drinks short just before eleven as my stomach hurt too much.

06/12/2020

I woke up horrendously late but got active straight away. The flat required a proper tidy up as the carpets needed an obvious hoover, which makes everything looks messier. I took down the recycling and did the washing up. I listened to one of the Christmas CDs I bought, the 5 CD collection. I am really enjoying hearing new Christmas songs. It is time to break free from old traditions.

I changed my bedsheets and pyjamas for new ones, put away the dry clothes, hoovered my bedroom, generally tidied it up, and opened up the Juliet balcony to ventilate the room.

Around about 3pm I realised that my flatmate had wanted a particular meal tonight, and we didn’t have most of the stuff in. After making sure all the doors and windows were shut and no candles were burning, I headed to Iceland to pick up vegetarian pies. They didn’t have any! So, I bought a Quorn roast, Linda McCartney sausages, and Linda McCartney burgers to be on the safe side. It came to a very reasonable £6.85.

I perused a local charity shop on my way home, and I also bought a 2021 diary in Card Factory for £1.49.

At the flat, I watered the plants and then sat down to Duolingo. I did ten lessons to complete a course, and that had put me slightly out of the demotion zone on the diamond league. I will check it later to make sure my place is still safe. Checking my bank account, I saw that Smol had charged me for my next delivery of dishwasher capsules. I was expecting this. Another £4.60 from the food and household shopping budget.

I made a sandwich. I hadn’t eaten as much today as I just didn’t need to from the blowout yesterday. It was a good sandwich though.

My flatmate came back and played on the N64 for a bit. Yes, you read that right, the Nintendo 64 console from the 1990s! He is playing Mario 64. He made a lot of mistakes trying to collect one star, but at least he could laugh about it.

We then watched last week’s episode of His Dark Materials. My flatmate had seen it but I hadn’t. We then went straight into this week’s episode.

And with that, I declare that the week is over in terms of spending.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £175.92 (MY HALF = £87.96)

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £58.24

COUNSELLING = £35

DOMAIN NAME RENEWALS = £124.70

CHRISTMAS BUDGET = £122.28

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £428.18

Spending Diary 23rd to 29th November 2020

Hi everybody!

Payday happens this week, so let’s see if I stick to my old fail-safe habit of spending all my money in the first few days.

23/11/2020

I had gone to bed just before 10 PM yesterday and as a result, I am feeling less sleepy in the morning. I only nodded off slightly during my Duolingo lessons this morning. I had woken up with the alarm at 6 AM and by 7:15 AM I was feeling alert. Today is a rest day for me in terms of exercise, but I still had my cold shower in the morning as they really do make me feel better.

After my shower, I had a quick breakfast, and then I went to my local Costa coffee shop to take advantage of the points on my card to get a free coffee. I opted for an Irish velvet latte. It was proper lush! I saved £3.75 using the points on my card. That is the last of my free coffees so when I get my next one, I will have to pay for it.

It didn’t take me very long back at the flat to get my things together and start work six minutes early, yippee!

At lunchtime, I went to see if the pharmacy had my new prescription ready. They didn’t. Never mind. I went to Tesco after that and bought 2 x Ghost Ship 0% beers, 2 x Erdinger 0% beers, Greek yogurt, Brewdog 0% beers, Cheddar cheese, potatoes, pasta salad, bread, naan bread, mushrooms, eggs which all came to £21.21. £3.39 remains of the budget! It has to last till Friday. Normally we go horrendously over budget on the food shopping, so this is actually pretty good for us. I would really like to end the month within budget though, for a change.

I shouldn’t have said that. My flatmate went out to the shops and wanted some things to go with our curry tonight, so he bought some samosas, onion bhajis, and a paneer roll from our favourite local Indian food store. He spent £4.25 which means we are now 86p over budget. And we were doing so well too.

24/11/2020

The flatmate had to go to the shops again to buy a 2 pint of milk which set us back 90p. I also had my counselling session today which cost me £35 but is worth every penny. I am eagerly counting down the days till payday, I just have to make it to Friday.

25/11/2020

I was very much in the Christmas spirit today. I had been debating over the purchasing of two Christmas CDs and in the end, I just bought them both. I had £15 of Amazon vouchers on my account so it only cost me £4.31 after that. We had to make another trip to the shops and bought ice cream, cheese rolls, raspberries and cucumber for £5.85. We are now £7.61 over budget on the food shopping and I really hope we can keep out of the shops tomorrow and leave the budget at that.

Having said that, considering we were more than £80 over the last month’s food shopping budget I feel this is progress.

The Christmas lockdown restrictions were announced this week. It does mean I can’t spend as long with my family at Christmas as I would like, but at least I can see them at all. I knew this would cause a rush on the train tickets so I promptly bought mine which set me back £62.25 from the Christmas budget. For the peace of mind, it was worth it. I saved 1/3 on the train fare using my railcard. My railcard runs out in January and I won’t be able to renew it again, so soon I will be paying full price on my travel. I’m not looking forward to that.

26/11/2020

Yesterday was just a prelude to today’s amped-up Christmas feelings. Using money in my Christmas budget I started buying presents, and a few for me may have slipped in as well.

I try to buy presents from independent businesses, and this year I had decided to support my friends as I suddenly realised loads of them have online stores or side hustles and I decided they would be perfect to invest in. I decided to peruse my friend’s publishing company. I know her from the football team I used to train with. Her store looked amazing and I fell in love with so many things.

I bought birthday presents for my step mum and sister who both have birthdays in December. I bought my work colleague a secret Santa present. For me, I bought an intriguing product called ‘Gin Mayonnaise’ (gin-infused mayonnaise) a pair of socks, and a dusty blue leopard print headband. I bought another gin mayonnaise as part of my Dad and stepmum’s Christmas gift. I had a 20% off voucher as an early Black Friday treat. In total, I spent £50.

The flatmate and I kept out of the shops and thus the food budget ended at just £7.61 over budget. I did a food inventory of everything we had in the cupboards

27/11/2020

Payday! Day off too! I treated myself to a gingerbread latte on my morning walk (£3.25). Later on in the day, I did some essential shopping, despite going over budget we were running low on a lot of things. I bought our usual cleaning supplies and laundry items in Savers (£17.15) and picked up some shower gels and body scrub for me too (£3.98). In Iceland, I spent £18 on frozen vegetable bags and frozen Quorn products. Finally, I bought a lot of fresh items, store cupboard essentials, and a few treats in Tesco which came to £44.43. At lunchtime, I treated myself to a Subway using the points on my card.

I am buying my flatmate a takeaway once a month in exchange for some branding work so we opted for a Chinese takeaway today. We ordered almost the exact things as the last time we ordered from that restaurant, we clearly aren’t adventurous. The takeaway cost £22.10 and was worth every penny.

Later on, I was checking my emails and saw that the new book by Roy Wilkinson who wrote the biography for the band British Sea Power had been released in a limited edition batch of 667 copies. As a Christmas present to myself, I bought myself a copy. It will be delivered in six parts once a month. It was £40 and is probably the most I have ever spent on a book.

28/11/2020

I had to get up early because I was doing a GoodGym mission. I was feeling a bit sore from my workout the day before and decided to get the train to the location. I picked up a salted caramel latte from Greggs on the way as I was seriously lacking in coffee that morning, £2.25. The train cost £2.40 because I had 1/3 off due to my railcard. The mission was building a shed for a local charity and it was a lot of fun, though because it was outside it was quite cold. I really enjoyed the mission and it would be my first time writing the run report afterward.

Catching the train back home, I stopped off at my local post office and treated myself to three magazines – Women’s Health, Women’s Running, and 220 Triathlon magazine – which may not be the best way to spend £14.50, but I will enjoy all of them immensely.

Checking my bank account I saw that I had been charged for my next subscription of the laundry capsules I get from Smol, which is another £4.50 off the budget.

My flatmate was having his girlfriend spend the night in the flat for the first time with me also at home, so he wanted to splash out on cooking a nice meal. He hurried to the shops and came back with all the items for a burger feast. He spent £12.71 in Tesco and 78p in Sainsbury’s. We had a lovely meal, but I had received some bad news about my stepmum earlier in the day and I retreated to bed soon after the meal.

29/11/2020

I woke up late, which didn’t make me as grumpy as it normally would. I chilled in the morning and did chores and general admin business. The news of my stepmum yesterday sent me in a bit of a spin, as I wanted to get both her and my Dad really good presents for Christmas. So I went back on the site I bought the earlier things from and added more treats to a basket and paid for them. That was another £54, I am really excited about the things I have bought for them.

Later on in the day, I ran an easy 4.5km and then did 2 hours on the exercise bike whilst watching old Nigella Lawson series on the BBC iPlayer app. It took me a while to get round to doing my Duolingo lessons, but I did eventually and completed a course. I then had to do some extra lessons to secure my place in the Diamond League. I can be oddly competitive.

With that, the week has drawn to a close.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £129.78 (MY HALF = £64.89)

COUNSELLING = £35

CHRISTMAS BUDGET = £129.25

PERSONAL SHOPPING = £129.79

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £358.93

Spending diary 16th to 22nd November 2020

Hi everybody,

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

16/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

17/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

18/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

19/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

21/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I really want to end 2020 having completed the course.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22/11/2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOTAL SPENDING

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

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

TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £248.88