When a bargain isn’t all that great

I had today off work to go to the Dentist. As is customary for my days off I overslept and woke up at midday. This in theory should be a treat as I have to get up before 6am on a working day, but when my ideal time to get up is 5am you can see why I wasn’t best pleased.

The trip to the Dentist, which was thankfully nothing more than a check up, resulted in my first health expense of the year, £13.50 for the check up. Eagle eyed readers will notice that this is more than the £5 a month budget for Health related costs, but I don’t really expect to be back in the Dentists chair until July so I do have time to save up and make the money back.

I also had to pick up my prescription from the Doctor’s surgery and it was there that I noticed they had half price offers on a range of gift items.

I spied some things that would have made good gifts for my two nieces to put aside for their birthdays later this year. But in the end, although two sets of gifts for the grand total of £7 would have been a bargain, I didn’t splurge.

Why?

Well two reasons. First of all I am in negative equity, by which I mean after doing a financial forecast I have £11.32 that is surplus money this month (in that this is what is left over once all the other budgets/expenses have been taken out). BUT my boyfriend has got us tickets to see a comedian in late March, which comes to £24.50 each. The tickets arrived today, so I owe my boyfriend £24.50.

£11.32 – £24.50 = -£13.18, which I guess I will have to spread over from next month’s Social budget.

Secondly, I don’t want to get my Nieces, or any family member, a gift I got on the cheap that they may like. I want to get my friends and family gifts I think they will love. Like is not good enough, only Love will do.

After spending 2016 in the friendship wilderness, being too anxious to see most of my friends most of the time, I want to spend this year reconnecting with them and showing them that they do mean something to me. That the problems I had socialising were not a reflection on them but all down to me and my insecurities.

I reconnected with one friend in the autumn of 2016. I hadn’t seen her since October 2015, although to be fair she does live in a different county (and country if we want to be technical about it). The reason for me not seeing her for so long was very much to do with the whole ‘I was a twat with money’ and would make a plan, then get distracted by something shiny in a shop and suddenly have no money for a takeaway coffee, let alone the train fare to see her.

When I reconnected with her I explained about the fact that I had gotten myself into a bad financial way and that’s why I couldn’t see her, nothing more. She, being the reasonable and lovely friend that she is, very kindly said she had been concerned about me and had been a little hurt by my behaviour, but figured that I was going through something and would come back once I had worked it out.

So, the problem is, all my other friends probably feel a variation of that. Or may have wondered why I disappeared off the face of the friendship earth in 2016 (I have also come close several hundred times to nearly deleting my Facebook account as I find it too traumatic). Do I do a public Facebook apology? (The idea of which makes me want to break out into hives), or do I explain things on an as and when needed basis?

The trouble is my social anxiety hasn’t gone away, it is still very much a part of me, it is just that this year I am determined to beat it up and vanquish it to the fiery pits of hell.

Saying that doesn’t automatically mean the problem is gone though so I still have to fight it just to reach out to my friends.

Still if I can resist the charms of a half price lip gloss and nail varnish set then maybe I can fight my social demons.

 

 

A review of this week

I’m bending the rules a bit here as there have actually been 8 days of the year so far, but I thought I would do a little review of where I stand statistics wise, and Sundays always feel like a nice day for reflection.

NO SPEND DAYS (NSDs) = 3

SPENDING

FOOD/HOUSEHOLD

Tissues £0.80

Milk £1

Bread £0.50

Milk £1

Frozen Onion Packet £1.29

Milk, Orange Juice, Bread, Parsnips, Cucumber and Bananas £4.34

Apples and Grapes £2.19

TOTAL = £11.12

 

PERSONAL SPENDS

HOME: Printer Paper and HDMI Cable = £5 (paid for with a £5 note I found on the floor)

WORK EXPENSE: Milk = £0.80

SOCIAL: Train to friends baby shower = £3.90

SOCIAL: 3 Drinks meeting recently engaged friends with my boyfriend = £7

TOTAL SPEND = £16.70

Also this week I have earned 25p in a supermarket survey (to be uploaded to that supermarkets loyalty card) and a £5 Amazon voucher through the app Shopprize.

I have also earned enough points to exchange for a £10 voucher for a store of my choosing (from a selection) through a shopping data collection company I use.

Including the £5 note I found this week I have earned £20.25 on top of my wages.

The food shopping money comes from a separate budget so this week I am in profit when you compare my personal spends against what I have acquired.

I would find it extremely hard to make every week like this week, but I feel very positive about this start to 2017.

Also I have lost three pounds through healthier eating so go me.

Next week is going to have a few more spends in it than this week. I am on annual leave tomorrow and am using the day to go to the Dentist for a check up. Then I am travelling to a Football Theory session with my team on Tuesday, Wednesday should be a NSD, but Thursday will involve travel to my Football training, and also paying for the football session, Friday will hopefully be a NSD but then I am watching my football team on Saturday and may be seeing friends afterwards.

All of those things have been budgeted for but it still involves money leaving my pocket, something I am keen to do a lot less of this year.

I need to do a tally of all the money I have this month as I am determined to clear one of my credit cards-the one with the balance of only about £90 on it-before payday.

Wish me luck guys.

 

 

 

 

I am doing better than the national average person

Hi everyone,

I have been awake for about 45 minutes and in that time I have learned something of value to a person in my situation.

According to a new report by the TUC, full details of which can be found here the average household unsecured debt in the UK is £12,887.

So my debt of £5996.12 isn’t looking so bad.

That is until I realised that a household normally contains more than one person when taking debts into account, so I am actually doing my fair share of the debt.

And as my boyfriend has no debt I am the household debt in our house.

Oh dear!

I am for the most part managing, I have a very small disposable income (which isn’t really a disposable income as all of it is budgeted for) which I can cope with as all my other expenses-bills, food, football training-are covered, so I don’t really need a disposable income.

But I do live pay day to pay day, I have no savings, and my contract at work ends this April.

So as long as everything stays the same I will survive.

If things change for the worse then that is when life will get very difficult.

I know my debt may seem smaller than some, some people may have £6000 debt on just one of their credit cards, but for me it is very much proportional to my income. It is a third of my annual pre tax, pension and student loan income, so it is difficult to pay off quickly.

Also my income is going to take a hit as I was under the impression that I was paying into my pension at work from the start of my contract, it turns out it only comes out of my wage after three months of employment.

This will be tough and I may have to readjust the budgets.

I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

 

Adventures Close to Home

I have finally learned how to shop well.

All because I nearly undid my 6 days of good work.

I was food shopping, just a few essentials, when I went into Iceland (cheapest place for frozen veg based on price per gram-I work this stuff out) and saw a shelf full of Wok’s.

I could do with a wok, so I had a look, and the offer was buy three Uncle Ben’s products and get a free wok.

Good deal surely.

So I had a look at the products available. I can take or leave Uncle Ben’s, and I would never spend £1.70 on a packet of microwaveable rice when it is 50p down the road in Home Bargains, but there were some nice little rice and curry pots (vegetarian as well) for £1 each. That was only a spend of £3 for food and a wok, great deal.

But then I put them all back, because the rice pots were probably full of fat and sugar, because the wok looked cheap and nasty and I have been down that road with wok’s before and I want a good one when I next get one, and also because I was considering asking for a wok for Christmas and I didn’t because me and my Boyfriend do not need a wok on account of my boyfriend not liking stir fry or curry.

Yes I’m sure a wok is more versatile then that, but space is a premium in our kitchen on account of me having every kitchen gadget under the sun, most of which have been used once, or less!

It would have only been £3, it would have been nice, but I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

Anyway it’s my birthday in a few months, I can always ask for one then.

I still did my usual looking down every aisle for a good deal, or something magical and exciting (do such things exist in Tesco?) but in the end I left with just the items on my list.

SPENDS

ICELAND – Frozen Chopped Onions – £1.29

TESCO – Milk, Orange Juice, Bread, Cucumber, Parsnips and Bananas – £4.34

All from the food budget.

I started off with the best of intentions, honest! (Also NSD # 3)

When I acquired my first ‘didn’t belong to a bank I was with’ credit card it was honestly with the best of intentions.

I have spent most of my employment history on a zero hour contract basis. A zero hour contract is basically a contract where I would be employed by a company on an ‘as and when needed’ basis. I would have no guaranteed contracted hours. Some weeks I could be working 30+. Sometimes I would be given a three week rota with only one shift on it (a short one at that).

This made it impossible to predict an income or even to budget effectively. Some weeks I would be flush, and other times I would be buying a reduced loaf of bread on a credit card as I didn’t even have 40p in my bank account (true story).

So I discovered you could get credit cards through places that weren’t banks. And as I was sick of borrowing money off my boyfriend just to pay my share of the household bills (although he was happy to do it I thought of myself as a parasite during these moments) I decided I would get a new and shiny credit card to use only in emergencies when I had a shortfall in my income.

But then I decided that I ‘deserved’ that new book by my favourite author. I decided I couldn’t possibly wear my current clothes on a night out and I ‘needed’ a new outfit. I wanted some new jewellery and make up to go with the new outfit.

Soon I had maxed out the card, so as at this point I still had a passable credit rating, I applied for another.

And then another.

Until I had 5 maxed out credit cards, increasing bills to pay and was still on a zero hour contract.

I wasn’t afraid of hard work. At one point I had SIX part time jobs at the same time just to try to desperately earn an income.

That is why one thing you will never hear me say is that my income is too low or that I need a better paying job.

Because they wage I’m on at the moment, whilst still entry level, makes me feel like a millionaire.

It’s just that I spend nearly £300 of it getting to work a month, and I spend an almost equal amount of that just on my debt repayments a month.

It’s not my income that’s the problem. It’s me, and my bad habits in the past.

But I have good news.

In 2016 as all I did on 4 out of 5 credit cards was pay towards them each month they started throwing balance extensions my way. This meant my ‘credit utilisation rate’ went down (meaning I had borrowed a small amount of money compared to what was available to me) which meant my credit rating went up!

I get a free credit report every month. It is by no means a perfect indication and the company I go through isn’t the best, but since I am not really applying for anything major in terms of credit all I want is a happy little indicator that I am doing good. And the day the report comes out is a good day for me as I can see the little, probably meaningless, numbers go up.

This means I have better options available for me in terms of credit, such as a nice low rate balance transfer card.

I have been accepted for a new 0% balance transfer card and soon all my credit card debt will be at 0%, meaning when I spend £250 a month on my debt payments, you know that it will all come off my debt.

Previously I was lucky if over £100 of it was cleared from my debts a month.

I got myself into this mess and I don’t mind working hard to get out of it, but will still do things to ease the journey. A 0% balance transfer card is a good compromise, it is still a debt, but one at a better rate.

I know the year is only 6 days old, but things are going well.

The pleasures and sorrows of over buying (and NSD #2)

My name is Flo and I’m an over buyer.

The world is made up of under buyers, over buyers and probably a huge amount of sane normal people who buy as and when they need something. Lucky gits.

I am someone who buys multiples of everything. Does a shirt I like come in three different colours? Then that’s three different coloured shirts I am going to own. Is something on special offer? Then I’ll buy 20 of it. I don’t buy a weeks worth of shopping, I buy a months shopping at the start of the month, so that I have lots of everything. I like to stock pile and stock up and as a result I spend a lot.

I am a hoarder. My Dad is a hoarder and I get many of my tendencies from him. His stems from some deep childhood trauma I won’t bore you all with and mine….also stems from a deep childhood trauma which I won’t bore you with.

In particular I am a food hoarder. In my cupboard I have 6 tins of Green Lentils which I use when making veggie lasagna.

I last made a lasagna in the summer.

And yet I still buy the tins.

The obvious reason behind this is I am afraid we will one day run out of food. I don’t mean that in an apocalyptic ‘the end of the world has happened’ way, I don’t really fear that. It’s more I’m scared that one day something will happen to our finances and we will have no food and have to survive on our wits.

Yet, the crazy thing is I won’t touch some of the tins, as I like having 4 tins of baked beans as it means I have baked beans available and yet I won’t eat the baked beans in case we run out of baked beans.

Confused?

This is what it is like living in my crazy brain.

It’s not like there is going to be an international baked bean shortage, and I can always go to the shop and buy another 4 tins of beans, so why don’t I?

I don’t know, I think that is the root of my problem. I am scared of ‘running out’.

When I was a young girl my family had little money, we weren’t on the poverty line (at least not until I was a teenager) but we were a typical working class family, too many mouths, too little money.

A lot of my clothes were hand me downs, I mean that’s hardly a hardship is it? I lot of younger siblings wear their siblings hand me downs.

Except my same age siblings were all boys. I did have sisters, but they were 15 and 14 years older than me so their hand me downs weren’t appropriate for a 10 year old girl.

As a fashion conscious kid, teenager and adult, not being able to express myself through my clothes and style was quite unpleasant.

When I had a disposable income, or money to spend (whether it belonged to me or a credit card) I spent it on clothes, because I was comforted by having a bulging wardrobe. I was comforted by having so many clothes that the rail in my wardrobe broke. Because to me that was a sign of ‘Wealth’ It was a sign I was doing ok, that I had money, that I was doing better then my childhood.

But spending all the money I (didn’t) have on clothes meant I couldn’t see my friends, I couldn’t afford to go out and show off the clothes, all I could do was stay home and watch TV.

I remember one weekend when cash was a bit tight and I saw it as a violation of my human rights that I had to spend that weekend at home.

I know I’ve already said it but I was a complete an utter twat. I have never considered myself a particularly materialistic person, but looking back I was the dictionary definition of one.

Over buying is a pretty bad way to live, but it occasionally has benefits.

I have spent today and yesterday off work with a nice general lurgy, my immune system is clearly under attack because I even have a cold sore.

I was all set to go to the shops and buy some cold sore cream when I decided to search the house first to see if it was something I had in stock.

And lo and behold there was some, in a slightly damp medicine bag on the bathroom shelf, but the packaging was intact so I dosed up.

I had been planning on not only buying cold sore cream but also a face scrub and maybe some cheese, but I decided I could live without the other stuff and was happy to report I got to stay at home and recover.

So on this occasion I was saved by my previous spending idiosyncrasies.

Maybe I can survive this year.

Better and Worse

On January 1st 2015 I bought a five year diary. Here is what I wrote 2 years ago today:

“Somehow I have become a financial hell hole again. I don’t know how I do it.”

Hmm, somehow I still hadn’t grasped the concept of spend more than you earn = bad times.

Or to put it much better, the famous quote:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.” ― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield.

My 2015 diary entries are littered with days like the above.

May 13th 2015: My credit card extension came through. Spent loads.

June 25th 2015: I am very poor and I don’t realise it.

June 27th 2015: Got paid by new job so have had one of the best days of my life.

October 8th 2015: OH and I went for a 2 mile jog! We also had an argument about money.

October 31st 2015: Had a wobble over finances.

November 16th 2015: Bit of a low day. Felt too mentally unwell to do anything. I need to raise money and fast.

December 5th 2015: I need a lot of money.

Also littered throughout that years diary entries are the many, many days when I had either gastrointestinal problems or eczema. Both were caused by stress.

I was stressed by my job at the time. I worked in a call centre. I worked with absolutely amazing people, but unfortunately my anxiety over talking to people I don’t know, inability to deal with conflict and did I forget to mention my PHOBIA of talking to people on the phone meant it probably wasn’t the best job for me. But I had to work it, as I was in debt and had huge credit card bills to pay.

So I was stressed by money and my mounting debts, so I needed my job to pay them, but I hated my job and was unbelievably stressed by it and ended up using all my allowance of sick days in a less than 6 months meaning on the occasions when I was off work sick with stress after that I had reduced sick pay.

So you can understand a little bit more about how I got stuck in this mess.

I shopped to feel good as everything else in my life was going wrong.

Things are better now.

In 2015 I frequently had insomnia and difficulty falling asleep as all I could do was panic over my spending chaos, my huge debts, what could soon turn out to be a negative income and how I was going to tell my OH (Other Half) that despite earning MORE than him I needed to borrow money.

I WAS A TWAT!

I have no one to blame but myself, which is why I ‘reject’ sympathy. I got myself into this mess and by hook or by crook I will get myself out of it.

Please don’t feel sorry for me (you probably weren’t, you probably agree that I was a twat but let me continue). Yes I can make an argument that my shopping addiction started as a result of a deep empty void, terrible stress and low self esteem but then shopping has never been listed as a cure for mental health difficulties now has it?

In December 2015 my finances were in such a dire state that I had to withdraw the money I needed for my upcoming personal expenses, and then put the right amounts into separate envelopes, label the envelopes with what the money was for (Work Xmas party, Slimming World etc) and then give the envelopes to my OH to look after and have him issue them to me on the days I needed them, but I was incapable of not spending money in my account.

It didn’t matter is I had £55 in my bank account, and I had £55 of expenses that month. I would ‘forget’ that the money was reserved for other things and I would head straight to the shops and buy something, anything.

I considered it a violation of my human rights if I couldn’t go straight to Peacocks on payday and buy a new outfit.

In the early part of 2015 I did realise I was getting out of control, and I did start making baby steps towards getting under control.

On April 1st 2015, as it was the start of a new tax year (one of my favourite days of the year is when I get to do my self employed taxes. I don’t know why I just love doing my taxes. Yes, I am weird) I decided it would be a good idea to start keeping a spending diary. Truth is I got the idea in March and not in January when normal people start diaries but oh well.

I religiously kept every receipt I was given, and I showed them in a folder.

Then one day when my OH was at the football (I support the same team but was too poor to go, probably on account of spending all my money in Peacocks or on Faberge Eggs or something ridiculous) I started creating spreadsheet spending diaries for each month of that year. I also love spreadsheets, you’ll get to find out more about that over time.

I still do this to this day.

So I can tell you exactly how much money I spent on the various categories of my spending. And I can tell you that this year I have spent on average £40 less a month then I did in 2015. So things have got better.

I now spend all my time thinking about money, in particular my money, my attitude to spending, how I spent, how I calculate things.

It is my all consuming thought, but it makes me happy now. I am in control and take pleasure from being in control and knowing everything about my spending.

Which is why I am desperate to pay off my debts as soon as possible. Because as soon as I pay off my debts I can return to studying. I am going to study either Economics, or Accountancy, or train to be a financial adviser. I want people to know there is a way out, whether your debt is £6000 or £600000 it is possible to lead a life of value and fun, pay off your debts and make your dreams come true.

I have direction now, which I didn’t have before.

 

NSD #1

I am pleased to report that today was a ‘No Spend Day’ (NSD) meaning so far this year 1/3 of the days have not involved any money leaving my wallet.

Yes the year is only three days old but I will take victories where I can.

In December I think the weight of 2016 had finally gotten to me because I was buying a big fat sugary latte coffee (despite being more of an americano kinda girl) at least once a day in order to just get through the day with at least one eye open.

But that can happen no more, so it was goodbye Java Mermaid and hello supermarket own brand gold roast instant coffee. I do like a nice ground coffee but am perfectly happy with instant, I know to some that is a sin but I don’t really have very discerning taste buds.

It was so frosty this morning, and so cold, and so dark at 6am that I was a bit like ‘Up with this I will not put!’ but there are far bigger problems in the world.

We do need more milk, but I think we can live without replacing it until tomorrow. I am desperate for as many NSDs as I can get.

In 2016 I achieved 71 NSDs.

In 2017 I want to achieve double that.

Some may wonder, what’s the big deal about a NSD? Why go out of your way to have X amount of NSDs when all that matters is that you stay in your budget?

I agree, to a certain extent. The trouble is I know myself, or at least the old self. I could barely go more than half a day without spending my money on something. It didn’t matter what it was.

I am the sort of person for whom money really does burn a hole in my pocket.

I remember when I was a 12 year old girl and was going shopping in town with my friends (no parents, woo hoo!) I would spend all my pocket money there and then, and if I had 50p left, then I would find for something, ANYTHING, that was 50p just to buy it and to have more more things.

I remember my friend had to stop me buying a 15p shampoo that had the look of washing up liquid just in order to use up my last pennies.

My problem is shopping gives me a high, and ok my tastes are cheap, think Peacocks not Prada, but debt is still debt whether it came from haute couture or the high street.

This may seem like a big revelation, but actually I have known for a long time that I am on the hunt for something that will make my life better. I am on the hunt for essentially a magic wand or a genie lantern.

What is wrong with my life? What do I have to complain about?

My life is pretty blessed, but I do have mental health problems, hormone problems, anxiety problems and low self esteem. Aye aye aye.

I was after a magical product that would cure my problems. Dealing with them head on in a mature and reasonable fashion would be too simple and sensible for the old Flo. Instead I tried to buy happiness. I had a hole in my heart that needed to be plugged with something shiny.

So when I did go shopping I couldn’t stick to a list. Oh I would make a list, but I would add to it. I couldn’t just buy the loaf of bread and milk that we needed, I would hunt high and low until I left the shop with the baking supplies, herbal teas and wonder products just to buy some lifestyle I was hoping to emulate.

I don’t really have the confidence to be me. To say and believe that I am fine the way I am. I seem to be trying to find someone else’s idea of perfection in the shops.

What I’m hoping this year is to cut to the very core of who I am and rid my life of ‘clutter’ whether it is in terms of clothes, physical items or mental clutter.

NSDs do me good. They make me realise I can live without buying crap.

Just 141 more NSDs to go.

 

 

My adventures so far

So the year is only 2 days old, how have I been doing?

Well the universe seems to be wishing me the best as on my trip to the shops today to get milk I found £5.

This is great for me as I had been panicking about the £2.50 I owed my other half for the printer paper (which led to the hastily assembled ‘Home’ category on the years budget) and then last night whilst trying to watch Netflix from Computer to TV the HDMI cable stopped working, so my OH bought a new one on Amazon for £5.

That means I was already over budget on the ‘Home’ category and the year had barely begun.

So as soon as I walked in the door I handed the £5 note over to him.

If things keep going like this I should be fine.

I also picked up milk for me to take into work tomorrow, which comes under the ‘Work Expense’ category and I had my two online food shops arrive this evening.

I should explain a little about our food budget. As it’s just my OH and I we have set a budget of £185 for the month. The food budget month runs from my payday to the next payday. I generally get paid on the 27th, unless the 27th is a weekend day or bank holiday.

As my December payday was before Christmas our food budget this month runs from the 20th December to the 26th January. Our budget for the month is £185 based on no other factor than that’s the number we settled on. I think it is a little lower than the national average for a 2 person household, but I am a pescetarian who rarely eats fish and my OH is an omnivore who eats a mainly vegetarian diet (thanks to me) so it is fine for us.

Now this is where you may go ‘WTF? That’s madness’ but I usually (not always) get TWO monthly food deliveries, one from Tesco’s and one from Morrison’s. The reason is we find this works for us as we can compare the deals (making sure we get the best ones on offer) and also some products we cannot live without, and they are only available in one of the stores.

So my Morrison’s food delivery was £49.91, and the Tesco’s delivery was £46.14.

Now thanks to it being a longer food month then usual I find that we have less than £30 of the food budget left to last us till the 26th.

I also seem to get to this stage every month.

But do you know what? Somehow I usually manage to sneak in past the payday finishing line with a couple of pennies to spare. This does mean we often spend the last week of the month eating strange meals and not having much in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables, but until my debts are cleared we can’t spend much more on the budget.

But I make sure we have beer and my OH has steak this month, so I am not a cruel mistress, we do have some luxuries.

We also have a hell of a lot of basic own brand labels but I have never been a brand snob and thankfully my OH isn’t either. I say we eat frugally rather than badly or desperately. For this I am grateful.

As this year goes on you will get to know more about me and my ‘childhood traumas numbers 1 – 256’ that may explain a little bit more about how I got in this mess.

But one thing I don’t want you to do is feel sorry for me. There is nothing wrong with my life that time won’t fix. I have so much to be grateful for. I’m doing ok. For the first time in my life I have a direction, a purpose, a reason to get up and go.

I once said getting into debt was the best thing that ever happened to me. Whilst I now know that was going WAY too far, I do have to acknowledge that there have been positive benefits to my life as a result of having to dig deep and use my resources and develop some wily ways about coping with life.

It’s back to work tomorrow. Am I nervous? Yes, of course. I hate having an extended break from work as I become convinced I will have forgotten everything. And I know it will be busy for the next few weeks at work.

Oh well.

See you tomorrow for more Money Managing adventures.

 

Day 2 and already I am struggling

Hi everybody,

Despite the fact that the year is only 2 days old I have had some pretty big spending struggles.

The first happened yesterday. My boyfriend needed more printer paper, so we added some to our food shop from a certain well known supermarket and I was about to give him half the money when I panicked.

It was because I had decided that I was only going to spend money on things that fell into these categories: Gifts, Health, Postage and Packaging, Travel, Work Expenses, Social and Clothing Maintenance.

I did not have a ‘Printer paper’ category.

I did have a major panic and was saying to my boyfriend ‘If I give you half the money then I will have already failed and it’s only been one day’

So call it cheating but I have decided that printer paper is a worthy item to buy. So I have moved £2.50 from my social budget and created a category called ‘Home’.

Have I cheated? Well, printer paper is something I am clearly going to use in the next year, and if I really need to print something then doing it at home will be significantly cheaper then going to an internet cafe. I did think that a ‘Home’ category would be useful, it’s just that I was scared because last year I bought an awful lot of things for the home that were more decorative then essential and I was worried I would use the ‘Home’ category as an excuse to get a shopping fix and buy something pretty.

So this has led me to create a few ground rules for the year.

I can only buy a ‘forbidden’ item if the following is taken into account.

  1. The item would save me money in the long run.
  2. It is an item that will reasonably benefit me and my boyfriends life.

I have also decided that if I want to buy something pretty and shiny as opposed to useful and essential then I can, but I can’t spend any money on it.

Now before you think I am going to take up stealing I’ll add that I can only purchase the item with vouchers. I cam’t spend a single penny on it.

This is a little easier then you may think. I have many ways of maximising my income and I do it through things like shopping apps, online surveys and shopping research. In fact I frequently buy a job lot of presents for many people online and it only costs me about £4.30.

When the next Tesco club card vouchers are released I will have collected about £15 in total. After a little discussion with my boyfriend he has agreed that I can keep the club card vouchers for my own personal use this year.

So I may not exactly look cutting edge this year, but at least I know if I need something like an emergency pair of black jeans I can pop along to the big Tesco’s in Cardiff and buy a pair for £0.

Through another one of my ‘Money making scams’ (as my brothers would call them) I am due to receive enough ‘points’ that I can exchange it for a £10 voucher for somewhere like Amazon or New Look.

So it is perfectly possible that I can still indulge this year without spending any money.

I am just going to have to prioritise and be crafty this year.

One thing I did decide against buying is an independent magazine that I write for. I have had some of my work published in the latest issue, and I normally buy a copy not just for my own work but because I love the magazine.

I have decided against buying the latest issue.

I may ask my boyfriend to buy it for me as an early birthday present, but right now it is not an essential item, it does not benefit both me and my boyfriend, it can’t be purchased with vouchers and it will not save me money in the long run.

Therefore it can’t be purchased.

This year isn’t going to be easy, but that’s why I need to do it.

Do you know what is easy? Buying things without thought, without compromise, without a budget or thought or care.

It is easy to pick up a lot of stuff and put it on a credit card. It is harder to make tough decisions about what you can and can’t purchase.

I got into debt because I wasn’t prepared to ‘deprive’ myself, which says it all. The fact I considered it deprivation to not buy new items of clothing every month shows what a twat I was being.

This year I want to get back to a core sense of what I do and do not need to lead a happy life. I want a stream lined life. I want a life free from hassle and clutter. I think not buying rubbish will do that.