90 Days

Today I didn’t spend any money. Always a bonus.

I had a very freeing feeling that I had everything I needed today. It began in the morning when I did a food inventory of everything in the cupboards. I had enough to survive. What I needed to buy I could do without.

It was nice.

I also had my best night’s sleep in about 2 weeks. I was able to work well. I had a productive day.

I went for a run. I am on track to have run 100km by the end of the month.

I have done a tenth of the days since I began the countdown. I have been paying off my debt for 1637 days, what is another 90 days?

91 Days

Pay day. Joy of Joys. The thrill I get from pay day is being able to build up my savings. And of course, spend money again.

I have bought some supplies. But other than I was good.

I paid off the new credit card debt in full. I am back down to just the £600 of debt.

I went for a run. I have run 49 miles this month so far. I’m going to try and get it up to 60 miles by the end of this week. You might as well have something to aim for during lockdown.

It looks like restrictions are easing in England but not Wales yet.

This week I have had a longing to hug someone. I want to hold someone in my arms. I want to feel love.

Everyday gets me closer to my debt free date. Tomorrow I will have vanquished a tenth of the days since I began my countdown. I get closer. It is a small thing that makes me feel like I am getting closer to the life I have dreamed of, which isn’t a bad way to be feeling during the uncertainty of lock down.

I get closer.

I paid £5 towards my investment account today. I don’t put very much into it each month, just spare change.

I am considering the purchasing of more sports bras. 2 more would get my collection up to 7 and then I would have enough for each day of the week, and that should keep my laundry in check as I continue my running streak. The number one barrier I had in my mind for continuing a running streak was keeping on top of the sports bra washing. I just don’t have a tumble dryer and have to dry clothes on an airer to make sure no mould develops in the flat. I don’t want you to think I’m unclean. I do my laundry.

Anyway, I am faced with another weekend ahead of me to get things done. But even in lock down there still doesn’t seem to be enough time.

 

92 Days

Another day where no money was spent. I am able to do my end of month accounting as I received my pay slip today. Tomorrow is pay day. A great day. Better than Christmas because it happens 12 times a year.

Next month isn’t going to be as much of a struggle as I first thought. I may even be able to buy a notebook or two. Small luxuries.

I have decided that I will pay off the new debt in full, and rebuild my savings after that. It might turn out to bite me on the behind, but I’m sure I will survive one way or another.

On my run today I went via a postbox to post some birthday cards and a letter to my Grandpa. I decided to do a 5km. I would be lying if I said I found it completely easy, I didn’t. But I ran the whole thing.

I have run 46 miles this month. I’m going to try and get it up to 60 by the end of this week. I am thinking of doing a 10km on Sunday. It will be a challenge as it will be the longest distance I will have covered since the 14th March when I did a 20 mile race. I have lost my fitness in lockdown. I will be trying to bring it back whilst time goes on.

I am still going to keep up my running streak. I’m sure there will come a day in the not too distant future when I just won’t run, but I’d like to see how far I get.

But I will probably have to buy more sports bras if I do. I best research the best deals possible.

 

93 Days

I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and attended an online celebration of the 3 year anniversary of a running group I joined last year. I am still working on my social anxiety, though it is probably only about a tenth of what it was a few years ago.

It was nice. I like being less scared compared to how I used to live my life.

Today I decided that practically speaking I didn’t have enough time to get everything done unless I thought strategically. So I combined picking up my medication and posting some overseas letters with my daily run. The run commute probably only was about 1 mile in total, it was a near 11 minute run time and my pace is about 10.5 minutes a mile when running.

I spent a couple of pounds on the stamps, other than that there was no other spends today.

I made an interesting dish yesterday. Somewhere between a bubble and squeak and a tortilla. It was mashed potato, spinach and onion moulded into patties and then baked in the oven. Although I found it mighty tasty I am not sure of its wider appeal so I may hold off posting a recipe for it. But in terms of meeting my May goal of cooking 4 new recipes this month it will count towards that.

I am watching A Streetcar Named Desire on YouTube in instalments. I watched over an hour yesterday, and I plan on finishing it tonight.

Compared to how I felt last week I feel a lot better. Today was a productive day at work. I was able to focus and I got some good work done. I have still decided to take every Monday in June off work. I have had that approved.

In England they are looking to reopen shops on the 15th of June. The same is not happening in Wales, or at least hasn’t been announced yet, but still it makes me feel that things are beginning to change and that normal service might once again be resumed.

I have a colleague who started working for us in January, and as such has now spent longer working under lockdown at home than she did in the office.

Tomorrow I get my pay slip and I will be able to do my accounting for the next month. I have decided I will pay off the new debt on my credit card in full and then save less this month, and save more the following months.

If lockdown is eased that means it will become a necessity to look at finding somewhere new to live this autumn. I am not prepared for that. I love where I live, and I have a good set up with my flat mate, but my flat mate is my ex-boyfriend, who is in a new relationship, and there is little sense for us to continue living together. It certainly would impact my future dating prospects if I was interested in that. I can’t imagine many men who would be interested in romancing a new love in front of her former love.

So that raises a question of whether it is good to pay off the debt in full now and rebuild my savings, or accrue debt and then pay it back in installments. What is better for me is to pay off the debt in full, but that leaves me vulnerable financially in case of an emergency.

Ultimately no one knows what is going to happen next, this is uncharted waters. I must just do what I can to navigate safely.

 

94 Days

I think a lot of people are beginning to be annoyed at the large amount of bank holidays during lock down.

I am of course only pretending to be annoyed by this. In the grand scheme of things it is not important.

It is still nice to have some time off work. I am debating whether to take a full week off work as annual leave or to take 5 Mondays in a row off work. I am now leaning towards the later.

I am feeling a lot recovered from the long weekend and I feel perhaps I am over the worse of my lock down burn out.

I have looked over my ‘June 2020 Finances’ spreadsheet which is where I detail my money in versus my money out. It is not entirely up to date given that I won’t get my pay slip until tomorrow but the prognosis is next month isn’t going to be as bad as I initially feared. My savings are going to take a hit, and I am still in two minds as to whether I am doing the right thing prioritising paying off the debt over saving. In the book I am writing I did just go over why it is better to prioritise savings over everything else on a financial journey and I really don’t want to be a hypocrite. I will see what I can do. I might partially transfer some of my new debt on to my 0% balance transfer cards and pay off the rest in full, and then the amount on the balance transfer card I will pay off over four payments.

I shall investigate.

It is nice to spend time in the house and make the most of things. I think I will watch A Streetcar Named Desire on the National Theatre YouTube channel later. Or some Netflix. Who knows, the world is my lobster (I know that’s not the actual expression, it’s something my flat mate and I say).

I still have a decent amount of jam tarts left. Just like Grandma used to make, literally.

I have some batch cooked Tuna Pasta Bake to see me through to pay day, and some potatoes that need eating up. All is good really when you think about it. What I mean is I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation.

I really do wonder what life is going to be like when ‘normal’ service is resumed. They keep talking about the ‘new’ normal and I wonder what that will involve. What will we keep from lockdown and what will go.

I am happy in myself.

My diet has completely fallen apart. I used to religiously eat my five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. For the last week or so that has fallen apart. Boo hiss. I don’t want to come out of lock down looking like a diagram of the covid-19 cell, big, round and with spiky bits (my hair is a bit wild). Despite running daily it turns out if you eat a lot of cake and jam tarts you will still put on weight. Who would have thought it?

I base my day around a to do list, it gives me an enormous sense of achievement though how much of that is actually real? I mean, putting ‘Hoover’ on the to do list takes 10 minutes if that, and is an easy win, but it contains the same real estate on a to do list as ‘write 3000 words’ which will take significantly longer. So it is important to do what I call the ‘Macro’ tasks first. I live my life by thinking macro over micro. What I mean by that is I prioritise the things that will give me the biggest pay off, the 20% of effort that produces the 80% of results. It doesn’t always happen but that’s what I work to in theory.

I have the urge to spend money. This is because it is a hormonal time for me and for people who know what I’m on about a little known fact is that people who menstruate tend to feel the urge to go shopping around ‘their time’. So be nicer to your significant other if they come back with half of Primark during their time. I am aware of this so I am quite good at ignoring this, or again I tend to go for purchases that will give me an investment rather than a bunch of tat.

Anyway, I’ve waffled on enough. I wish you all a pleasant Monday.

 

95 Days

Today has been a good day.

I did my longest run in lock down of 6.68km. It’s nothing like the distance I used to run before lock down, but these aren’t the same times.

I made jam tarts, as you know.

I haven’t spent any money today.

I have been trying out the beauty products that arrived in the post. I am not by most descriptions a typical girl. I rarely wear make-up. Surprisingly it takes a lot of money for me to look as scruffy as I do.  I will try and learn more in lock down.

I originally planned on doing a 300 day countdown to my debt free date, but I couldn’t find the time to commit to it.

It only took a global pandemic.

In the end does it matter that I paid off my debt? Does any of this matter in the grand scheme of things? People’s lives have been forever changed by what has happened globally.

I am still focusing on paying off my debts. It’s still my goal. It is still something to be proud of and to work towards. But it does seem less important in this landscape.

Flo’s Nostalgia Jam Tarts

Hi everybody,

Lock down has made me appreciate a more frugal and old style way of life. I have been thinking about my grandparent’s generation a lot, they knew how to survive things. My last living grandparent is in his 90s. His kitchen is filled with old coffee jars that are used to store things like biscuits. He has a small larder which as a girl I thought was cool and as an adult I am deeply envious of.

I too reuse old coffee jars to store things. I currently have nuts, dried fruit, sugar and rice in old Kenco and Douwe Egberts jars. I find them delightful to look at and they always make me think of my Grandpa when I see them.

I first cooked with my Grandma. That’s not to say no other grandparent or parent played a part in my culinary journey, because they all did, but my earliest cooking related memory is making jam tarts with my Grandma.

This particular set of grandparents lived next door to me growing up. Now it is my Dad and Step Mum who live in my childhood home and my Grandpa is still next door. That reassures me during this time.

Since lock down started I have been craving making jam tarts. And to be clear, although I do like jam tarts from a taste point of view, my craving was to make them and remember my Grandma and my first cooking experiences.

This isn’t really a recipe, most people could make this and probably many people have a much more sophisticated recipe than me. But just in case you don’t here is mine.

INGREDIENTS

2 ‘Parts’ Plain Flour

1 ‘Part’ Butter

Jam

Flour for dusting

Butter for greasing

1 – 2 x Muffin Trays

Large circular cookie cutter

Iced/cold water

METHOD

So why parts? It is simply because you can scale up or down this recipe according to your needs. I used 130g Butter and 260g Plain Flour. This made about 17 jam tarts, though the 17th was a bit ‘rustic’ and cobbled together from scraps. If you want fewer jam tarts than half the recipe, if you want twice as many scale it up.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4

Mix the butter and flour together till it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add a tablespoon of cold water one at a time, mixing the breadcrumbs together each time. It is very easy to make the dough far too wet. About 5 tablespoons was all it took to bind my dough together.

Knead the dough, then roll out. If you don’t have a rolling pin, and I didn’t for ages, then use a wine bottle.

Cut out circles using the cookie cutter then line them in the greased muffin tray.

Place one heaped teaspoon of jam in each centre. You don’t need much.

Bake in the oven for around about 12-20 minutes until golden brown. Keep checking.

LEAVE TO COOL FIRST BEFORE EATING! – Hot jam is like lava in your mouth. Don’t do it.