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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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