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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SPENDING = £75.08 (MY HALF = £37.54)
PERSONAL SPENDING = £80.24
WATER BILL = £131.91
TOTAL SPENDING THIS WEEK = £249.69