81 Days

Something that you do every day is better than something you do once in a while.

I’m taking good habits here. Drinking alcohol every day instead of once in a while is not an example of a good thing to do.

I am not conscious of having good money habits once a week, or only once in a while. Every day I think carefully about money. Every day I am careful to make sure I never have the habits I once did.

I feel that the Flo that got me into this mess couldn’t be further removed from the Flo I am now, but maybe the Flo of the past had to exist in order to make me the person I am now.

If you believe in that cosmic stuff.

I have nearly counted down a fifth of the amount of days of my 100 day countdown. When I’m running a race, and I find it difficult, I break it down. I remember the very first 10k I did where I ran the entire distance. I wasn’t finding it easy. But after I did the first 1k I just said to myself you just have to do 9 more of that, and it wasn’t so hard. When I reached the 5k point I said to myself you just have to do the same again, and you can.

Provided I become debt free on the 27th August then I will have been on a debt free journey for 1727 days. A long time by any definition. It would have been nice if I had been debt free by my 30th birthday like I was originally aiming for, but we can’t have everything we want. Things got in the way. Things didn’t go to plan. But I survived and got through it. And I am making it now.

I hope you all have a lovely rest of Sunday.

 

Spending Diary 1st-7th June 2020

Hi everybody,

Let’s see what this week holds in store for me.

01/06/2020

I had the day off work today. I woke up later than I would have liked at 9am, but at least I had a decent amount of sleep. It was pretty hot last night and that makes it hard for me to sleep.

I was trapped in the house as I had to wait for a FedEx delivery driver to come and collect an incorrectly delivered parcel from the week before. They came and said the parcel was missing the correct label and they couldn’t take it with them, so that was that. But that did mean I was free to leave the house after that, so I combined my daily run with going to the shops. I went to Savers to pick up some laundry and cleaning supplies for the month ahead. That came to £21.81 but it will last us the rest of the month. I split the household shopping with my flat mate so it only cost me £10.91 really. I also picked up 2 body scrubs, 2 toners and 4 SPF lip balm’s for myself that came to £10.32.

I then headed to Iceland and picked up bread, milk, orange juice, 2 packets of cheddar cheese, frozen sliced peppers and frozen diced onions and that all came to £9.69, or £4.84 for my half once it is split with my flat mate.

Hopefully we will have enough food to last us a good while. I’m really trying to avoid going to the shops as much as possible.

02/06/2020

Back to work, it seems like I have less time to do things now in lock down compared to at the start of it. Maybe I’m just prioritizing different things now. I do do a lot more writing now than I did at the start of lock down. That can only be a good thing. Plus now I am trying to blog every day counting down to being debt free.

But today was Blackout Tuesday, so I didn’t blog or go on social media. I just quietly pottered about the house thinking of all the injustices in the world.

My delivery of craft beer arrived today which was great. I am trialing getting a new crate delivered every two months. I like trying new things. This was ordered the week before and featured on last week’s spending diary, but it was £26.90 for those who don’t want to go back. I am unlikely to continue with this after lockdown is over (having it delivered would be a hassle given that I work full time and run all the other times) but I am enjoying it for now.

03/06/2020

The flat mate joined me on my run today. That was nice, it’s nice to spend time in other people’s company, though obviously I want everyone to be safe and will keep up my standards. We keep meaning to do a food plan to organise what we are going to eat over the next week or so to keep us out of the shops, and only buying what we need when we do go shopping. We do have a lot of things in store so we haven’t had to go to the shops since Monday. The flat mate and I take it in turns to go to the shops, so it is his turn next. We made spaghetti Bolognese for dinner and made an extra portion for a lunch another day. No money was spent.

Running every day is easy if you just plan when you’re going to fit it in. I do a lot of running to and from the shops, small runs but every little helps. It is a good way of remaining active during lockdown.

The FedEx driver from Monday also came back to pick up the parcel, it turns out it was just a miss communication and the wrongly delivered parcel didn’t need a new label. Glad that was over with. That is the second wrongly delivered parcel I’ve had in lockdown, I wonder why they’re all happening now.

04/06/2020

Went for a run, this time on my own but my flat mate said he would join me for a run tomorrow. It was just a short distance of 3.91km but it was just what I needed. We made dinner using things in the house though my flat mate is talking about doing a food shop soon. We didn’t have to spend any money today which was good. I was expecting my case of wine to arrive today but late in the day I got an email from the supplier to say the delivery had been delayed and it would take up to a week extra. Disappointing but not the end of the world. My beer orders had arrived this week so I still had things to drink. I am trying to only drink 3 days a week, generally that would be Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I am looking forward to having my first drink of the week tomorrow.

05/06/2020

The flat mate did go to the shops today. He bought a real mixture of things, he really likes sweet things and has a major sweet tooth in general so he always buys more sweets then I typically would. He came back with cookies, ice cream, ice lollies, strawberries and breakfast biscuits, along with things like ingredients for a stir fry, vegetables, cheese, falafel and frozen foods. His shopping came to £41.89, so about £20.95 for my half. We had gone for a 5km run before he went to the shops and got caught in a rain shower, though I didn’t mind it as much as the flat mate did. The flat mate left a few things off the shopping list as he did do a massive shop and couldn’t bring any more than he did back (neither of us drive so do everything on foot) so I will be going to the shops tomorrow to pick those items up.

I decided not to have any alcohol today as we were going to be having a lot of cookies for dessert so my first drink of the week will be tomorrow. This means I am one day up on my target of 4 drink free days a week which is nice. Doesn’t mean I can go crazy on Saturday and Sunday though!

I do need to begin to think about getting more toiletries again soon, but I am going to hold off for as long as possible as I don’t have much money left this month and I want to be careful. I tend to hold off doing shopping for as long as possible now whereas before lock down I would tend to just buy things as soon as I felt I needed them, now I am really trying to extend my products life span and go shopping as little as possible.

There are a few other things I’m considering buying such as more sports bras, but I will hold off until I know I can afford them. I really want to subscribe to more magazines as well but they aren’t essential purchases so they go at the bottom of my buy list.

06/06/2020

I had a bad night’s sleep where I kept waking up during the night. I woke up wide awake at 5am and decided to get up. Predictably I did later fall asleep on the sofa around 8:30am but I had managed to have a productive morning first by sorting out my inboxes at long last. I deleted so many emails and folders, now it is all nice and streamlined. I used to work on a ‘keep it just in case’ system, but after I went on a records management course in January through work I began to see this system was totally ineffective. So I’ve been meaning to tackle my inboxes ever since and today I finally got round to it. I have already tackled my work inbox this week so it was time to do my personal ones.

I did go to the shops early in the morning. I went to Tesco for Beetroot Juice, Pepsi, Milk and Bananas and then I went to Holland and Barrett to buy Tahini Paste. Combined the two lots of shopping came to £9.14, so £4.57 for my half. I timed my visit to the shops quite well as there weren’t that many people there so I didn’t have to queue.

I did a few admin tasks at home then the flat mate and I started watching an old Euro 96 game of Scotland versus England. My flat mate told me I couldn’t miss the second half, so I quickly went for a run just before half time and came back when the second half was just starting again. It was good!

I got a lot done on my to do list, but not everything, but one thing I did do was the weekly pub quiz with my siblings, it was nearly a full house with 5 of us in total (I am one of 6 siblings) and my sister’s children all take part too so it was good fun. It was a tricky quiz put on by my brother and I came second to last, but I don’t care, I’m just there for the fun of it. I had some low percentage beers during the quiz so it was nice to try out them.

The flat mate and I watched 13th on Netflix, and it just devastated me and made me so sad and angry and depressed all at the same time and it made me realise I could be doing so much more and it is clear that we need to in this climate.

I went to bed later than I would have liked and I made it worse by reading for a bit (A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami, I am reading all of his books in chronological order as a personal challenge I have been wanting to do for years). But I fell asleep quickly which was good.

07/06/2020

Sunday Funday! I am not going to spend any money today, at least not if I can help it, so I’m going to sign off this week.

I have been setting up a Facebook page and Facebook group for this blog, new today, if anyone wants to join me on those, and I also have a Twitter and Instagram account. This blog is still going to be the main source of information, but the other accounts have their purpose too.

I wish you all a lovely Sunday and a great week next week.

TOTAL SPENDING

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING = £82.53 (£42.27)

PERSONAL SPENDS = £10.32

TOTAL SPENDS = £52.59

 

 

 

82 Days

It is nice to be in a position where I can make a little financial gesture of love.

My mum texted me to say she was reading Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and she had just seen that the film was going to be on TV tonight and she was torn as to whether she should watch it and spoil the book she was still reading.

I simply texted her and told her I would buy her a copy of the film on DVD for when she finishes the book. It is a small gesture, will cost me approximately £5 according to its current Amazon price, yet it wouldn’t have been that long ago that I wouldn’t have been able to afford to do that.

I’m not saying the only way to show love is to by buying people things, but this is a small thing that will cost me little but will mean so much to my mum and I didn’t even hesitate about offering to buy it for her.

This, to me, means wealth.

When I was a teenager I merely wanted to be rich enough to afford to buy the music magazine Q each month. It was my favourite magazine, but it was at the time a stretch to buy on the teenager annual income of £0.

I still don’t really think I am rich enough to buy it each month now, but that is only because my priorities have changed. I get cheap magazine subscriptions all the time. I currently have an ongoing subscription to Moneywise magazine. So it is not a case of not having enough money to buy magazines each month, it is a case that I still don’t have enough money to spend on things that don’t hold a maximum value to me. I can afford what I need. I can’t yet afford what I want. But there were plenty of times in my life where I couldn’t even afford what I needed.

I feel I have wealth now because in 2014 I could only afford Lush products by buying them with debt on a credit card. Now I can just about afford what I like from Lush with actual money from my wallet. This to me is wealth. It is a wealth that at one point I could only dream of. I still have to be very careful with money. Money is always going to be at the very least a minor source of anxiety to me, but it hasn’t been the crushing despair and stress that is once was for years.

Poverty is not being able to afford what you need. Comfort is being able to afford what you need. And Wealth is being able to afford both what you need and want.

Is it wrong to aspire to wealth? I just want to be comfortable, but I want to be comfortable in style. I don’t necessarily aspire to have a McMansion but a little place of my own would be nice.

At this moment in time I may be moving out of my flat in September. I would like to live alone. I cannot afford to live alone. All my friends are settled in their lives and I don’t really know anyone who I could move in with or who could move in with me. Therefore what will likely happen is I will rent a room in a flat share, with people I haven’t met before. It is not my ideal scenario, but it will be cheap and that will be a nice benefit in itself.

I am worried about being financially independent. Yet it is what I have always craved, so surely I should be leaping into that challenge? It is just a bit scary and daunting. But it has to happen at some point.

It is critical that I get some savings behind me, and I must work on that. I must stop dreaming about sports watches and instead focus on building my savings and having a good safety net behind me.

In 82 days I will be debt free and it is time to stand on my own two feet and be my own woman.

 

83 Days

No matter how bad a day has been, I believe in the power of a good night’s sleep to restore balance. I felt better today. I had a good day at work. I ran 5km in a slightly quicker time. The house is tidy, and I have a three day weekend ahead of me. It is 83 days until I am debt free. It gets closer.

84 Days

I had anxiety today.

I said something that got taken the wrong way.

It seems you can’t be too careful.

It was in response to someone in a running group I’m a part of sharing news that one of the half marathons I was going to do later this year had been postponed. I said that I expected a news announcement to come out at this time as it would be the point that people would have to begin training. This was taken to mean I meant training schedules were the priority, not saving lives, which wasn’t my intention.

As someone who is shy, quiet, reserved, I generally at the best of times panic about speaking to people. I struggle to explain myself. I am nervous about talking to people. An incident like this sets me back months while I struggle to regain my confidence in speaking to people again.

I was already feeling a bit out of sorts in this running group, as I saw someone from this group on a dating app I was using at the time months ago and he seemed nice, so I swiped right. He didn’t. And I think he knows I swiped right on him as before lock down happened he seemed to be avoiding me like the plague.

I don’t know how to be around people. I struggle to understand people. I miss cues. I don’t always know when people are joking. I can’t read people.

This puts me at odds with people, which is why I struggle to talk to them and feel awkward when I do.

I have a habit of ‘be rejected’ each day. Each day I try and strike up a conversation with people. I obviously do this virtually now. It has helped me overcome my social anxiety, but I am always going to have some degree of social anxiety. I probably have only about 20% of the social anxiety I used to have, but there was once a point where I couldn’t live my life because of my social anxiety. It led to me losing a job because of it.

I think I am just going to keep my head down for a while.

In debt news I get ever closer to being debt free. That is the bright light on this day.

85 Days

I decided not to post yesterday due to it being Blackout Tuesday. It was a small act of respect I could do for the movement.

Today is another small milestone towards my financial journey. I don’t want to hurry down the days. I want to savour each day as it comes. It is important to take in an embrace the days, they don’t come back again.

But in 85 days I will be able to make my final credit card debt payment. I am under no illusion that I will never use a credit card again. I will. For one thing I have a rewards credit card. I am a strategic shopper, I will do what I need to to get the best deal.

But I won’t get into the same levels of unmanageable debt that I once had. I know how to live within my means. Living within my means gives me great comfort, it makes me feel safe, in control. I can handle that.

I want to work on my pension. I have no way of predicting what the future holds, but not having an adequate pension plan in place would terrify me. I will spend some time working on that this month.

Next week marks the 16 week countdown to my first half marathon of the autumn, and my prediction is that next week it will be announced that it will be cancelled for this year. I feel that would be the responsible thing to do. I predict the half marathon that would be the week after that one will also be cancelled. There is still currently enough time for enormous changes to happen so that my marathon can still go ahead, but my prediction is that it won’t. This doesn’t disappoint me as much as it might have done if I had heard the news in January. I know I can run.

It is very hard to feel upset by the sort of things that would have upset me before in this new landscape. They really do seem like first world problems. I just want everyone to be safe. I want as many people to live as long as possible. We must protect people.

I am likely to wake up on the 27th of August still working at home (I will have the day off though) and my previous plans for a massive blow out party won’t be happening, but that is ok. I might make a cake. I had better brush up on my decorating skills as the last time I tried to decorate a cake it looked like a Pinterest fail.

So 85 days to the next stage of my life. Enjoy the journey.

 

87 Days

Today I begin my book writing course. I am trying to make sense of my journey to becoming debt free and maybe telling my story will help others not feel so alone.

Debt is lonely. It is claustrophobic. It narrows your life. It limits you and your options. My life became smaller because of debt. In the end I had to make peace with the fact I was unlikely to have the big life I wanted and I would have to learn to live a small life in a big way. I have actually become happier in myself because of it and I do feel that I have the life I want now. It took a long time to gain that clarity.

I never fully learnt about money and how to manage it from my family. They did try. I don’t blame them. They did teach me to be frugal. My Dad taught me how to find the cheaper option. My mum instilled in me a love of charity shops. I remember very clearly my mum trying to teach me as a child that if I saved my money I could afford bigger things, and that if I spent my money it would be gone.

So it’s not that I didn’t learn anything about money from my parents, because I did learn some valuable lessons. But what I mainly learnt was how to survive on the bare minimum. I didn’t really learn how to make money, I didn’t learn how to scale up my finances. And I don’t blame my parents for that. But what it clearly makes me think of is the beginning of the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ by Robert T. Kiyosaki. It took me a long time to like that book and the author. I read it a couple of times before it really sunk in, and although I would say me and Kiyosaki would disagree about a lot of things politically, I have come to learn good messages from this book.

I need to work on my pensions. I have a couple of pension pots from old employers that I want to look into merging and maybe then paying into on a monthly basis. My pension with my current employer is very good. So good that I am reluctant to ever leave this employer without good reason. Due to the way the pension works there isn’t necessarily a benefit to merging the other pots with my current one. But I do have some admin tasks for my current pension to take care of such as appointing who would receive it if I died in service. Not a matter to take lightly during this time.

I have done some shopping today, and hopefully that will keep me out of the shops until the later part of this week. I have enough to be getting on with.

87 days to freedom.

Review of May 2020 Expenses

Hi everybody,

Let us all have a look at how my money left my wallet in May.

I like to put my spending into categories to assess how much I am spending on different things. I also have a yearly spreadsheet to see what I’ve spent each year. Yes, I am a loser.

Here is what I spent my money on in May

GIFTS – £18.09

There were two work colleagues birthday’s this month that I contributed to their gifts. I also sent a couple of Moon Pig cards for people in my life who deserved a card.

BEAUTY – £54.52

I have been experimenting with new products during lock down. I have adult cystic acne and I’ve been trying out some products my friend who is into skin care recommended to me. So far so good. I did end up spending £14 on a conditioner from Lush which when it arrived turned out to be smaller than a can of coca cola (always check the measurements!) but on the plus side it does make my hair smell lovely.

POSTAGE AND PACKAGING – £11.56

This was a pack of first class stamps and posting some letters to Ireland. I like to keep in contact with my family through letters.

BUSINESS – £495

As you know I purchased a book writing masterclass which ate up most of my budget in May. I had to seriously move some money around to pay for it. I’m still not entirely sure if I made the right decision about signing up for this course, only time will tell, so I guess I have to make the most of this opportunity.

STATIONARY – £23.43

I bought two beautiful notebooks. One is for my French lessons on Duolingo, and the other is for my general notes. That should keep me busy for a while.

HOBBIES – BOOKS – £2.99

I bought a kindle book about learning languages quickly and in a way that will make you become fluent. I am yet to read it but I look forward to it when I do.

CHARITY – £27

And finally, in May I donated £5 to the RSPCA, and £22 to a dear friend’s Go Fund Me fundraiser for an operation she needs. I try to donate whatever I can afford to charitable causes each month, I really wish I could have given more last month to my friend. But I guess something is better than nothing.

TOTAL SPENDS IN MAY = £632.59

This definitely seems a lot, but £495 of this was for a course, meaning my other spends only amounted to £137.59 which seems a lot more affordable. It’s not like I’ll be making a purchase that big every month, at least I really hope not.

So that’s it, a review of my spending in May 2020.

88 Days

I am feeling a bit hot and queasy. I think it’s just tiredness. I wake up bright and alert at 5am thinking all will be fine, and then I later crash as the day goes on.

It could be the heat, it is very warm today.

I have become a bit more mature with money. The lock down has made me consider really using up what I already have in stock first before replacing it. I keep extending the time between when I first think I need to buy something and when I actually do. I like this.

There isn’t really anything to spend my money on, which isn’t to say I have lots of money. I don’t. But it is easier to meet my needs now then it was before when everything was making demands on my time and money.

88 days. Palindrome days.

I have had my delivery of notebooks and a French/English dictionary. I look forward to trying them all out in good time. I may be having one of my beer cases deliveries coming today as well. Joy of joys. Though today is a drink free day. And I take that seriously.

I am going to set my phone and laptop aside soon, and just read. Read with a drink feeling the sunshine through the window. It will be beautiful.

 

Things to do with leftover vegetables and fruit

Hi everyone,

I’ve been making a few things this week which I didn’t really feel were special enough to dedicate a post to on their own, so I’ve decided to combine them all in one.

I have some sad looking potatoes and onions, so by adding spinach I made these potato and spinach cakes.

IMG_7713

I cut about 3 big potatoes into tiny pieces, boiled them, then mashed them and left to cool. Whilst that was going on I was wilting the onion and frozen spinach in a pan with some butter, and eventually added to the mashed potato. I added a bit of wholegrain mustard and chilli, 2 slices of bread worth of breadcrumbs, and 2 eggs. I mixed them into about 7 patties, and then baked them in the oven.

I also had most of a bag of carrots looking sorry for themselves, so I made carrot, ginger and coriander soup. Just soften some onion in a pan with butter, add the carrot then add about 1 litre of vegetable stock and cook until the carrots are soft. Add some coriander and then blend and divide into four portions.

Finally, frozen yogurt.

IMG_7714

This was made more because I had some soy yogurt about to go off. For the banana frozen yogurt I blended 250ml of yogurt with 2 frozen bananas in a food processor, adding some cinnamon to the mix. For the strawberry frozen yogurt it was 200g frozen strawberries plus cinnamon and 250ml soy yogurt, also blended in a food processor. What I did was place them in tubs and then put them back in the freezer to go solid.

There you have it, three quick things to do with leftovers. Waste not want not!