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

Published by flodebtfreediary

Hello, I write about food, debt, saving money, mental health and social anxiety.

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