I have to be really careful with my finances as over the next three paydays I’m going to try and save enough money so I can buy a new laptop. I will then have to hit the saving goals hard again to try and save enough money for moving next year.
I currently live with my ex-boyfriend, the aforementioned flat mate in previous posts. He is my best friend and I sort of see him as family now though there are no romantic feelings between us anymore.
We split up in August 2019. At the time we were in the process of renewing our tenancy agreement and the only option at that point was to renew for a year. Neither of us felt like dating at that point and we had simply fallen out of love with each other, so there was no bad blood. We felt trying to move at that point would have been too much.
We planned to not extend our tenancy agreement this year and just move out in September. I was even looking at houses to move into. But then my mum passed away and suddenly being faced with the prospect of having to find a new place to live in amongst the pain of the grief was too much. So my ex/flat mate and I have negotiated to change the contract to a rolling monthly contract and now we have a bit more freedom to still move out and go our separate ways, but at a time that is better for us.
Anyway, I have waffled. Back to what you’re all here for which is my spending diary.
After a bad night’s sleep I woke up a little before my alarm and decided to get up and stay up. I did 9 lessons on Duolingo, my French skills are coming along nicely. I then decided to do the worst thing first and went on the exercise bike for 20 minutes and then did a 40 minute body weight strength work out. It was tough. I hadn’t properly woken up and my knees felt stiff but by the end of it I was in a better mood. I had a quick shower, made a coffee, and then started work.
It was my friend’s birthday today and I sent her a message in the morning. I saw she was doing a Facebook charity fundraiser for her birthday and sent £10 to her page. I’m going to see my friend this weekend in Gloucester, which will involve a train journey. Transport for Wales (the train operator in my area) is encouraging people to book their travel in advance as due to lockdown/covid restrictions it can ask people to leave the trains if the carriages are too full. So even though I would not be going a great distant at all and wouldn’t normally book the journey I bought my train tickets in advance. Booking them in advance saved me a bit of money, especially after I applied my rail card which gives me 1/3 off. Buying them online does mean I have to pay a 30p booking fee though, but even that was discounted because of my rail card. The train tickets cost £14.05, I saved about £7.75 in the process. My rail card expires next year and I will be past the age limit to renew it, so I have to benefit from the discount I get currently. Soon there will be no more discounts!
Then I booked a haircut at my favourite hairdressers. It is in extremely high demand, particularly if you want a cheaper stylist (which is all my budget calls for). In the end I booked an appointment for the 27th November, which is when I also hope to buy a new laptop. I didn’t specifically plan it for this, but the 27th is Black Friday so I hope I will get a bit of a discount on my shopping that day, but literally the only reason I am planning my shopping for that date is I will have had 3 paydays by then.
My haircut appointment wouldn’t be at my local salon but at their office in another part of my city which I could either walk to or get the train to. Even paying for the train will work out cheaper than seeing my usual stylist at my usual salon. To book this appointment I had to pay a £20 deposit, which is a big chunk of the money I have left for this month. But I desperately need my hair cut. By the time of that appointment it will have been 51 weeks since my last haircut! When you are on a debt free journey and your income is limited you have to make sacrifices here and there and my hair is usually the first thing to be sacrificed. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to make it look really good, so sadly I can’t indulge in it and have found a style and upkeep regime that makes it look as good as it can on a budget. My hair is thick and curly and I have chosen this particular salon because they are trained in dealing with hair like mine and know how to work with it. So even though I could go somewhere cheaper to get my haircut I go to this salon because they treat me well.
Buying these things left me short of money and I had to transfer money I would rather have saved into my spending account. Just because I’m debt free doesn’t mean I’m suddenly rolling in money! I do feel I generally have a good grasp on my finances but perhaps this day suggests otherwise.
In the evening I had some whisky, a really special treat for me, and I placed an order for some toiletries with Boots. I bought the Carbon Theory vegan charcoal soap that is supposed to be very good for acne. I have mild adult cystic acne and can’t afford to go to a dermatologist and it seems a bit selfish to go to the doctors about acne during a pandemic so I will try anything I can get my hands on. I also bought my usual charcoal face mask and some micellar water. It came to £16 plus £1.50 to deliver it to the Boots nearest my house. I can collect it on Wednesday. I’m really beginning to struggle for money but still have enough to keep me going for the rest of the month.
To keep my budgets a bit more in check I batch cooked a tuna pasta bake for my lunches for the rest of the week. I am desperately trying to lose weight. Although I have great cardio fitness and am in general good shape, I am carrying a bit of extra weight and my health has become a concern given that my mum passed away suddenly and completely out of the blue from a heart attack. My dad had two heart attacks before the age of 65 so this is something I’ve got to get serious about. It’s just quite hard in lockdown because my job, when I was in the office, was quite physically demanding. I would also walk to and from the office which was 60 minutes of exercise before I even did things like my running group sessions.
I then quickly wrote a card for my grandpa and went to post it. The nearest post box has a collection at 9am each morning so if I posted it this evening it would be picked up tomorrow.
I then settled down to the radio with another whisky (whoops) and started to unwind. The washing up was done, the hoovering could wait, and it was time to get myself together.
I actually began to get really depressed last night. It is a good thing I have my first work benefit scheme counselling session later this week. It is part of my employee benefits that I have access to counselling sessions. I hope to get some help.
This morning, despite being very tired, I actually felt a bit better about myself and about the things that were getting me down last night. I really do believe in the transformative powers of a good night’s sleep. In the morning I had a ‘coffee connect’ with someone in another department of the Civil Service. Coffee Connect is a scheme at my work where I sign up and then every 4 weeks I am matched with another Civil Service worker and we get together for a virtual coffee and chat. I had a job once that had a similar scheme and I really enjoyed it. Plus I’m really trying to get out of my comfort zone socially. The coffee connection was really fun. I enjoyed it.
However as the day went on my mood got dramatically worse. I’m not sure why it began but I have found this week very hard so far. I guess it could be delayed grief from when my mum passed away. I am suddenly incredibly anxious about my health and want to do more to keep myself healthy and to lose weight. My health anxiety is focusing purely on what I weigh and what my waist measurement is and I’m seeing both as dangerous. I used to have severe health anxiety a few years ago and I’ve made great strides in overcoming it. I thought it would be a global pandemic that brought it back, but it was my mum’s unexpected death instead. I miss her so much. I think on some level I still haven’t fully accepted that she is never coming back. It still feels like she is in my life in some way. I guess it’s because most conversations happening nowadays, particularly with my family, are solely about my mum which is why she still feels like a big presence, so I may go through another grief spell after everything dies down.
So although I didn’t spend any money today, I cannot say this day was a good day. My mental health is descending to such low levels that I am really struggling to cope this week.
I have decided to avoid alcohol for the time being. I don’t think it had any cause on my bad mood arriving yesterday, but I don’t think drinking in a low mood is a good idea. I have a very strict rule with alcohol which is I can’t drink it to improve or enhance a mood. I don’t ever want to associate alcohol with being something that improves my mood because I am worried I would become dependent if I did. My mum in earlier stages of her life was an alcoholic. This was incredibly hard to grow up with, but I am so proud of my mum for having the strength to overcome it.
I was in a really bad way with my mental health all day today. I did my 60 minutes of exercise as I had every other day this week, but I was very tearful whilst doing it. I had used the exercise bike for 60 minutes as it wouldn’t involve leaving the house. I was in an extremely bad way and had been unable to concentrate all day on work and was then getting stressed about being unable to concentrate on work all day long. I really felt pretty desperate today.
I had it together enough to go do some food shopping that came to £26.82, but the day was just awful from start to finish. My flat mate came with me to do the shopping because it was beyond me to do it on my own. It really helped having him there. We bought almond milk, oat milk, blackcurrant squash, milk, frozen sweetcorn, oat cakes, black beans, 2 tins of baked beans, 2 packets of ground coffee, rice cakes, avocado, cucumber, smoked salmon, 3 packets of microwave rice, a multipack of Twix bars, tortilla wraps and eggs. We have fallen out of the habit of planning our meals for the week which is bad behaviour, so we are just buying food on a whim and without prior thought. This is really reflecting in the food budget. We have spent £288.20 at this point which is a huge amount for what is still quite an early point in the month. I’m going to have to be really careful and really plan the rest of the month.
I spoke to my Dad and Step mum on Facebook Video Messenger and told them how I was struggling and it naturally made them very concerned but I think it was the right thing to do. I avoid talking to my family about my mental health as their natural instinct is to worry. Of course they would worry, they are a great family, but I don’t like being a cause of worry. I know that is a silly thing to say when they are only worrying because they care. I just don’t like being vulnerable around people. I like to project the image of being capable and strong. I am in no way suggesting having mental health or being in a bad way means a person is incapable or weak. It is just that I can be very hard on myself.
I went to bed early. Well, early for me. 11pm. About an hour earlier than usual, so it is still quite horrendously late and not good for me. I will try and work on my sleep and improve it.
I cannot begin to describe just how different today was compared to the rest of the week. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. I was in a good mood all day. I still felt the best thing to do was to tell my line manager about my mental health, which I did towards the end of the day. I felt free from the tyranny of my awful low mental health this week. The only money that came out of my account today was for my dishwasher tablet subscription. £4.50.
I just felt that talking about my mental health with my family last night was the right thing to do. That, and the ‘early night’ may have resulted in my good spirits today.
The mistake would be to try and invalidate the feelings I was having at the start of the week. They were as real and as vital as the good feelings I’m having today are. I did the right thing in talking to my line manager about my mental health as I had to establish I was in a bad way as I may be in this bad way again. Grief is not a simple thing to go through. I should know as I have experienced a great number of deaths in my life. None of them have been easy for me or my family or those affected by the death. We just have to carry on and do the best we can.
My flat mate and I went for a 4 mile walk after we had finished work. That was my 60 minutes of exercise for the day. It felt good to be out and about in the fresh air and to talk to him about my week. He had been an enormous support to me this week. He really is like a family member, or certainly a very good close friend.
When I woke up I saw I had a missed call from my line manager and that made me anxious which sadly put me in a bad mood. Missed calls are a huge source of anxiety for me. She was in meetings so I wasn’t able to get back in contact with her straight away, which to my shame made me a bit mopey in a catch up virtually with work colleagues. My anxiety, when it hits, tends to take over things and just rule my emotions. I was sad about being sad in the virtual meet up. I really try to be in a good mood when I socialize with people. I felt unable to go into a second virtual meet up with my colleagues due to my low mood. I later spoke to my line manager though and felt so much better for it. She was concerned that I hadn’t gone into the second virtual meet up and I guess I should make a better effort in the future to structure my day/working week better so I can take part without worrying about work. In terms of my output it wasn’t a successful day as I wasn’t able to finish the work I had started, but I felt good to an extent. Certainly compared to earlier points of the week. I worked a bit later than usual and ended the day on a high.
I then spent the evening doing the KonMari method on the category of ‘books’. I’m not sure if you read my spending diary last week but what I am doing starting from last weekend is over the next six weeks I am decluttering my possessions. I am doing this for two reasons. Next year, as mentioned at the start, I will be moving out. I am likely to be moving into a house share meaning I will go from having half a flat to contain my things to just one room and maybe some shelf space in the kitchen. The other reason I am doing this process is I am also tallying up what my possessions are worth as in November I will be renewing my home contents insurance and I want to make sure I have the right cover for my stuff. It is beginning to look like I am seriously undervaluing my stuff. What I have done is I have made a five sheet spreadsheet detailing all my possessions by category and what it would cost to replace them if anything happened to them. This is how I am beginning to realise I am undervaluing my items as I had previously had cover for up to £10000 but my clothes spreadsheet seems to suggest it would cost £6000 just to replace them! I don’t even have any designer clothes, I just have a lot of cheap stuff! Totting up my book and magazine collection from an insurance point of view seemed to suggest it would cost nearly £8000 to replace them, and again, I don’t have any expensive or posh or rare books, I just have a lot of cheap books! And awful lot!
I ended up with 6 bags for life to take to the charity shops but somehow it didn’t seem to make a dent in my bookcases, they’re still full to the brim! Taking six bags to the local charity shop with just my inadequate strength will be hard. I treated myself to watching Watchmen. I love that film! I went to bed late, for me, by which I mean it was already after midnight when I hit the pillow. I have to get up early tomorrow. I hope I don’t oversleep!
I woke up at 9am and quickly got to it. After my mandatory cup of coffee I went to the charity shop with four of the six bags (and have the welts in my arms to prove it!) after having phoned them to make sure they’ll take donations. I then walked back to my house, picked up the final two bags, and dropped them off. Then I had about 30 minutes to get ready for a long run with some friends from Good Gym. I had organised it on Thursday when I was in a good frame of mind. I thought it would be good to organise a 60 minute run with friends as not only would it be my daily exercise requirements for today, but socializing would be good for my mental health. In Wales up to 30 people from different households can meet up outside, as long as they are sensible and obey social distancing. Which we all do because we are sensible.
I had suggested we would be doing a 10km but I bit off more than I could chew with the distance I chose and had to walk some parts. I did 10km all in all but it took me 01:18 to do it in which is much slower than usual for me. Obviously my speedy running friends finished much sooner than I did, but they are nice so they waited for me.
I then went home, had lunched, tidied up the flat, then went to do the food shopping. I bought shampoo and conditioner in Boots. They didn’t have any of the 75p ones so I bought branded ones and spent £5.58. They were on offer and are a brand I really like so although it was more than I wanted to spend I didn’t feel too bad. I then went to Savers and picked up hand wash refills, toothpaste and mouthwash for the house (£7.15) and toner, face wash and a sheet mask for me (£5.17). In Tesco I picked up some chocolate treats and posh biscuits and squash for seeing my friend tomorrow (£10.29) and then did the rest of the food shopping which came to £29.51 and contained a number of treats because it is Saturday after all. In the general food shopping I bought milk, 2 packets of non-alcoholic beers, flora margarine, 2 big chocolate bars, choc Leibniz (very tasty and ‘posh’ seeming biscuits), pizza, cheddar cheese, mozzarella, bicarbonate of soda, salted butter, unsalted butter, giant orange chocolate buttons, bananas, bread, cucumber and yet more eggs. Still haven’t done a proper food plan yet. Maybe I’ll get that done this weekend. I should get round to it!
Back at home after the food shopping I filled out a job application. It is for a role in my team in the grade and pay scale above, so I would still be working with my team I would just have more training and more responsibility and new skills to learn. For the first time in my life I am applying for a job at a time when I am deliriously happy in my current role and would be satisfied by whatever the outcome is. In the Civil Service the job applications are different to what I am used to, so last year I applied for this job when it was first advertised and I didn’t get through to interview stage, so if I get through to interview stage now that alone is an improvement from last year.
I then did my daily 5 Duolingo lessons which meant I completed the section I was on. As Saturday is a drinking day for me I drank some gin and tonics and watched films with a pizza.
All in all a good day.
I woke up at 5:30am and was still awake a little while later so I decided to get up. I came downstairs and watched the new series of ‘Eat Well For Less’ which is a show on the BBC which is about families taking control of their food budgets that they are overspending on, and being shown how to make healthier and cheaper choices. I had my breakfast and my essential coffees, and I went on my laptop to do some writing. I am really sore in the muscles from both the charity shop trips and the long run yesterday. I may have a hot shower.
After my hot shower I did feel much better. I then left to walk 40 minutes to the train station where I was so early for my train I got a coffee to keep me going. That was £2.19 and I didn’t really need to spend it, I just have a high demand for coffee in the morning.
The train journey to Gloucester is quite lovely. You get to see the bridges and pass through a lot of countryside and then all of a sudden you’re in the centre of the town. I got picked up by my friend who had to go to Asda first. I didn’t buy anything. My friend then drove me back to her house which I had never been to before. It was absolutely lovely. We had pizza for lunch and then just chatted and chatted for hours. My friend served me a cake of her own design called ‘Dense Cake’ which is like an extremely thick, custardy Victoria sponge cake. I shall have a go at making it myself one day.
The main purpose of my visit was because my friend had bought my Christmas present early and wanted to give it to me, along with my birthday presents. The gift was absolutely perfect. It was a framed set of commemorative stamps featuring album covers from the band Queen, my favourite band. Lock down restrictions meant I couldn’t hug my friend, but I really wanted to.
Around 3:50pm my friend drove me back to the station and I caught my train. Suddenly I was very tired and I nodded off on the train home. I woke up about half way through the journey and read my running magazine for the rest of the time. I then walked through the city centre to get back to myself, another 40 minute walk.
I’m back home now and I declare that the week is over in terms of spending!
FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £67.98 (MY HALF £33.99)
PERSONAL SHOPPING = £85.28
TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £119.27