Financial Review of Weeks 13, 14, 15, 16 (I’m sorry for the delay)

Here’s the thing about working 7 days a week. Even when the 6th and 7th days of working total just 8 hours you find you lack the time to get everything done.

My Blog has taken the hit.

I will proceed with the financial reviews:

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Pizza, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Cookies, Bread, Milk, Yogurt 8.35
Super Big Tesco Delivery 114.34
White Bread and Cucumber 1.15
Juice, Cheese Slice, Pasta, Pasta Sauce, Garlic Bread, Cheesecake, Bag for Life 8.14
Carrot Chips, Corn on the Cobs, Onion Rings, Chicken Strips, Chicken Popsters, Cheese Pizza x 2 11.98
Potatoes, Orange Juice, Carrots, Milk, Popcorn, Raspberries 5.99
Flu Powder, Face Wipes, Moisturiser, Hand Sanitiser 3.85
Toothpaste, Floss, Shower Gel, Handwash 4.86
Toothpaste, Soothers x 2, Vanish, Allergy Tablets, Toothbrush 7.45
Greaseproof Paper, Coconut Water x 4 2.75
Toothbrush Holder 0.29
Rolls and Lettuce 1.75
Spray Oil x 2, Laundry Cleanser x 2, Toilet Roll, Bag For Life, Laundry Bag 11.34
Massive Pizza, Jon Pizza, Cookies 6.5
milk 1.09
tortilla chips, rolls, cookies, gum 2.74
Milk, Carrots, Bag for Life 1.37
bread, doughnuts, garlic bread, lasagne, cucumber, parsnips, bag for life 6.6
Sweetcorn, Cheese Pizza 3.5
Orange Juice, Ice Creams x 2 3.9
Aqueous Cream, Hair Remover Cream, Bath Foam, Body Scrub, Razors, Face Masks x 3 7.87
Sprite Six Pack, Fanta Six Pack, Orangina, Garlic Pizza Bread, Canneloni, Bread, Cookies, Bag for life x 2 11.2
Colour Catchers, Cotton Pads, Toner, Hand Cream 6.56
Chicken Dippers, Marmite, Chicken Breast, Mince x 2, Peppers, Onion, Boy Pies 19.86
Prawn Crackers, Yoghurt 1.85

TOTAL SPENDS = £255.28 (WEEKLY AVERAGE = £63.82)

We are already over budget for this month of April and still have a week to go so it’s not going that well.

DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING

Milk for work 0.8 WORK EXPENSE
Gum 1.5 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Easter Egg for Jon 4 GIFTS
Prawn Sandwich 2.2 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Pie Minister 17 SOCIAL
2 x Sets of PJs 34.05 CLOTHING
Apple and Banana 0.67 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Tupperware From Paperchase 1 HOMEWARE
Ale 4.5 SOCIAL
Burger and Tea 10 SOCIAL
Pizza 6.5 SOCIAL
Shonen Knife T Shirt 15 CLOTHING
Make Up 30 MAKE UP
Subway 4 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Ale 3.65 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
2 Pairs of Trousers, Exercise Tights and Top 24.05 CLOTHING
Let’s Eat Grandma Ticket 10 SOCIAL
Peach Green Tea Lemonade 3.35 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Chiropractice Groupon 23.95 HOBBIES – HEALTH
Food for Homeless person 4.28 GIFTS
Plastic Cutlery 0.75 WORK EXPENSE
Water and Mango Coca Cola 1.8 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Pint of coke 1.99 SOCIAL
Lipbalm 1.2 MAKE UP
Chewing Gum 0.45 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Sweets 3 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Train to Grangetown 3.4 TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)
Paying Postage on an unstamped card 2 POSTAGE AND PACKAGING
John Lewis Gift Card 15 GIFTS
Chocolate Treats for Hedy 2.5 GIFTS
Money for the Nie-phews 20 GIFTS
Posting the Kids Treats 6.9 POSTAGE AND PACKAGING
Indian Takeaway 16 SOCIAL
2 x Flat Whites 4.8 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Tissues for work 0.39 WORK EXPENSE
Milk for work 0.75 WORK EXPENSE
2 x Beers 7 SOCIAL
Posting parcel to Chris 1.87 POSTAGE AND PACKAGING
Boots Meal Deal 3.39 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Kimono 4.99 CLOTHING
coffee and apple 3.15 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Five Guys Burger, Fries and Drink 12.15 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Donation to Ben 15 GIFTS
Cookies and Donuts for a homeless person 0.78 GIFTS
Milk for work 0.8 WORK EXPENSE
Boots Meal Deal 3.39 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Next Voucher For Tudor 10 GIFTS
2 x Books 9.98 HOBBIES-BOOKS
Manics Vinyl 20.04 HOBBIES-MUSIC
2 x Cocktails 8.45 SOCIAL
Five Guys for 2 25.45 SOCIAL
Ice Cream 2.5 SOCIAL
Gum 0.5 NON ESSENTIAL FOOD
Fixing Jeans 5 CLOTHING MAINTENANCE
Jeans 5.99 CLOTHING
Milk for work 0.8 WORK EXPENSE

TOTAL SPENDS = A LOT (£421.66/WEEKLY AVERAGE = £105.42)

I promise I will be better at blogging from now on.

This Wonderful World of Purchase Power: Financial Review of Week 8/52 2018

Ahem.

I spent more on Thursday and Friday on personal spends then I have in some months. In fact it is very easy to say I spent more this week than I have in some months.

It was all stuff that I needed, and also included The Boy’s birthday present, but the thing was I couldn’t really afford to buy any of it, so I put it on my credit card, reasoning that I had about 6 weeks before the next statement and therefore next due date to find the money. I figured I would do it in instalments.

But it turns out that I have such an aversion to owing money that yesterday I paid the card in full, even though none of the items had cleared yet so my account will be in credit first.

It may mean that I have to not have any fun until I have money again, but I’m glad my debt is cleared.

Let’s get down to business.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Milk £1.10

Bread, Cookies, Garlic Bread, Chilli Spices x 2, Spaghetti Bolognese Spices x 2 £6.10

Milk, Margarine, Pizza, Baguettes x 2, Pasta Sauce, Crisps, Baking Potatoes, Stew Pack, Apples £8.96

TOTAL = £16.16

Now let’s move on to the B I G spends.

DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDING

WORK EXPENSES

3 x Cartons of milk £1.79

NON ESSENTIAL FOOD

Jacket Potato and tea £6.70

Coffee and Biscotti £4.15

GIFTS

Sweets for a work colleague £0.75

The Boy’s Birthday Treat Number 2 £63

BEAUTY 

Hair cut and tip £25

Hair Mask, Special Hair Brush and Hair Clips £7.72

CLOTHING

Running Trainers £108.05

16 Pairs of Pants/Knickers (4 x 4 packs) £20

Dressing Gown and Slippers £22.50

SOCIAL

Baguette and Wedges £4.15

Comedy Gig Tickets £6.50

Indian Takeaway £16.10

HEALTH

Dentist appointment £14

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)

Bus Ticket £1.60

(Let’s add up this scary amount of money)

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME SPENDS = £302.01 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING = £318.17

The funny thing is we are now £1.31 over the food shopping budget after doing the weekly shop, and I knew we only had a little bit left so I was saying to The Boy I wanted to restrict our spending to just the essentials. The Boy, who has plenty of money began ‘It’s great that you have a food budget and that you do all this, but….”

‘You don’t want to be deprived because you have lots of money’ I said.

‘….Yes’

Now, in order to try and claw back some self respect from you all, I will go through my ‘wombles’.*

10% Discount on the Running shoes = £12

Multi Buy savings on the Hair Products = £1.25

Free Biscuits that The Boy has brought back from work = £1.25

Using vouchers I had earned on the Dressing Gown and Slippers = £22

Watching a film for free at the Cinema through volunteering = £7.90

Total savings this week = £44.40

So it could have been a lot worse.

*Womble = Saving money, getting money off, or getting something for free. Based on The Wombles, a UK Children’s TV show about furry creatures who ‘make good use of the things that they find’ (that is a line from their song, yes, they had a song).

 

I just bought a £128.23 Amazon order for £4.27

Hi everyone.

Like some sort of money saving squirrel I have been storing my voucher ‘acorns’ for the winter.

And today I decided to get started on my Christmas shopping and bought 10 of the Christmas budget presents (this includes some December and January birthdays).

I used the Amazon vouchers I had earned through doing things like surveys and using phone apps.

These are all the things I did to help reach this bounty.

PHONE APPS

Shoppix and Shopprize (ask me for a referral code if you want a boost) and my beloved Job Spotter made up the bulk.

SURVEY SITES

Valued Opinions and Pinecone Research

OTHER

Shop and Scan. I felt like I had won the lottery when I was selected for Shop and Scan.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of how you can make money for minimal effort. I will explain more in another post coming soon. Now that I am unemployed I have a lot of time on my hands.

 

Eventually is where I got

Had a half day at work today. I celebrated having extra time at home by doing something extremely exciting and dangerous.

I did a complete food cupboard inventory.

Whaddaya mean that’s not dangerous? A tin could have fell off the shelf and hit my foot!

As mentioned before I have food hoarding tendencies. There are a few reasons for this but it mainly comes down to the fact that as a teenager my family struggled with money and we would frequently be making the best with the very little we had.

Sure none of us exactly looked like we were starving (I blame the three different types of potatoes we would usually have at meals to fill us up), but our diet wasn’t great. I didn’t know what a butternut squash was until I was about 16! And I am relatively knowledgeable…

As a result of being scared that the food will run out I have some pretty bizarre ’emergency’ food items in my cupboard.

Like a packet of instant mash potato.

I have never in my life, not even as a child, eaten instant mash potato. I don’t entirely believe that it actually contains any real food in it.

And yet in my cupboard proudly sits a packet, for a ‘just in case’ moment.

I also seem to have a split personality when it comes to food buying, as I have the ‘foodie’ side of me that loves cooking, that loves ‘weird and healthy’ things like nutritional yeast and quinoa and loves stocking up the cupboards with exotic ingredients…

And then I have the ‘F***, dinner needs making and I’ve only got 5 minutes’ side of me that loves quick fixes like crumble mix, instant noodles, pizzas and microwave rice.

There’s not much I can do at the moment. I spend 3.5 hours travelling to and from work each day, meaning during the week I am out of the house for over 60 hours. This is the price I pay for having a job I love, which is fine, I would rather have it this way round then a job over the road that I hate, but it does mean I am time poor during the week. The week tends to be about ‘surviving’ rather than living.

I also have a boyfriend who, bless him, is a bit fussy as an eater. He has moved on from the childhood phase of eating rice, chips and ketchup for dinner and is much more experimental when you compare it to how he used to be, but we are still at odds with what we like to eat.

This is a list of what I won’t eat:

Meat (I eat fish)

Tinned macaroni cheese (yuk!)

This is a list of what my boyfriend won’t eat:

Mushrooms

Bacon

Eggs

Mayonaise

All fish apart from scampi

Lamb

Pretty much all meat really other than beef, chicken and pork sausages

Garlic

Anything too ‘oniony’

Anything too spicy

Most pasta dishes as they are too ‘boring’

Any nuts of any description

Spinach

‘Stinky’ cheese

I don’t want it to seem like I am making fun of my boy, as people are allowed to have specific tastes (not eating meat is a pretty specific taste, I could be considered just as fussy easily), I’m more explaining why it is a bit hard for us to find meals that we both like to eat. For instance most of my boyfriends strongest dislikes (stinky cheese, garlic, fish, pasta, mushrooms) are my FAVOURITE things to eat.

But enough is enough, and I have decided I am not going to do any large food shops until I have cleared my cupboards of all the emergency/just in case/weird and healthy foods that I have collected.

I have a few things I specifically want to tackle in my cupboards and they are:

Bread Flour

Dried Soya Mince

2 x tins of rice pudding

bag of mixed seeds

jar of molasses

dried fruit

that darn instant mash potato

all my dried lentils and grains

2 x tins of broad beans

and my 13 other tins of various beans/pulses (how the hell do I have that many when only one of us eats them?)

I am going to try and make some new, interesting and cheap dishes that both my boyfriend and I can enjoy (or at the very least I like and I can take in to work as lunch)

First up I think will be broad bean pate.

And maybe some stinky cheese on the side.

How to save money on your shopping

Ever heard of extreme couponing?

It’s the act of collecting and stockpiling enough coupons that you can get something ridiculous like £1000 worth of groceries for 6p, or even free.

There is a hit US TV series of the same name which will help give you the gist of what it entails.

I am nowhere near those leagues yet, but then again I am a baby in terms of my time spent extreme couponing. But through a few hours of work sat watching the TV I have amassed a useful amount of coupons for my shopping.

Basically I won’t be running out of yogurts and tea bags anytime soon.

I started doing this in the Summer of 2016 when I was temporarily unemployed. I didn’t want my boyfriend to ‘suffer’ in terms of not having a fully stocked kitchen filled with all his favourite treats, but I needed to be a bit creative with how I food shopped.

I am the sort of person who always has a stockpile of cards and stamps, and I love writing and receiving letters, so what I did was of little hardship to me. I can understand it might not be to everyone’s taste, but here is how I saved money on my food shopping.

Basically I wrote to companies I liked, explaining how much I liked them, and I received coupons in return to save money on my shopping.

Here are my top tips.

  • Never ever directly ask for a coupon or voucher, even if you are complaining about something and feel it’s fair. I think it is human nature (or British nature) to feel a bit put out when someone demands something for free. I recently complained to a major supermarket about a perceived injustice. The injustice was to the matter of 20p. I didn’t ask for anything, just clearly stated my disappointment. They sent me a £5 voucher.
  • Be creative. It would not be unheard of to send a company you like a poem about how great they are or draw a picture about their brilliance (or get a willing child to do so). I haven’t gone to quite these extremes as I am not that talented, but what I do is send Thank You cards (£1.49 for ten in Card Factory) and decorated the cards and envelopes with stickers saying things like ‘Fab’ and ‘Good Work’.
  • Be truthful and specific. Companies love feedback. If you say something generic like ‘You’re great’ that won’t really be good for them, but if you say something like ‘Despite living on a strict food budget and having to buy own brand or value products, we would never compromise on the brilliant taste of X Product and always find the money to buy them.’ They will be more likely to reward you for some information they can take to their directors.
  • Be selective. Don’t write to every company under the sun as not only will you most likely waste all your profit on the stamp costs, but you can’t guarantee how much, if anything, the companies will give you in vouchers. Also you should write to companies you genuinely love as if you get a £1 voucher for a product you only sort of like which normally costs £4 anyway, you won’t really be motivated to use it and would therefore have wasted your time and money on the stamp.
  • Don’t expect immediate results as big companies have lots of mail/emails to go through, but you will hear from them eventually.
  • If you choose to go down the email route make sure you put your postal address in the email as they may send you a voucher in the post. A voucher sent to you is better as with print off vouchers you will normally have to download a (free) bit of software to make sure the barcode scans, but some supermarkets can be funny about print off vouchers.
  • When you have obtained your lovely vouchers, don’t head to the shops straight away. Instead head to the website mysupermarket.com and check to see which supermarket is selling it cheapest, or doing an offer on it. If you have a ‘One Free Product’ voucher, then it would be worth checking to see if a supermarket is selling if buy one get one free, because that way you’d get two for free. Also if you have a £2 voucher for a normally £3.50 product, it would be worth using mysupermarket to see if a supermarket is selling it for £2, as again you would get it for free that way.
  • It would be best to head to a major supermarket to use your vouchers, I know Savers don’t accept vouchers.
  • In my experience it would only be worth writing to a supermarket if you have a complaint. I have sent many (genuine) praiseful letters to my favourite supermarket and whilst they have been thankful for the feedback, they haven’t felt the need to reward my praise.
  • There are two websites, Everyday Caring (Johnson and Johnson) and Super Savvy Me (P&G) that have vouchers available all year round for free for the specified companies.
  • One of my favourite websites ever is the Money Saving Expert website, and they also have a supermarket vouchers section. They also use mysupermarket to tell you if the voucher will get you the product for free anywhere.
  • Whenever you are going to a chain restaurant look to see if they have a voucher offer on their website (maybe for signing up to their newsletter which you can always unsubscribe from) or see if they have an app as that may also give you a voucher. I joined the Hungry Horse newsletter and got a £5 off £15 on food voucher, and downloaded the TGI Friday’s app this year to get a free appetizer.
  • I know you may be thinking “who has time for all this?” and be put off. I won’t lie, it will take time, but it doesn’t have to be a chore, just do it whilst watching TV. The main way to think about it is like this-based on your hourly wage, if it takes you say 3 hours to earn £25, then would it be fair to say it should take 3 hours of effort to save £25?

Now I will get into the admin side of things. For anyone who likes spreadsheets this will be heaven. For anyone who doesn’t…maybe find some other way of doing this.

I have two spreadsheets for my coupon collection. One is a Profit and Loss spreadsheet, which I will talk about first. This takes into account how much I spent sending the letter to the company (stamp cost plus 15p for the card and envelope) and what I got in return. When I first started this in the summer I didn’t receive a coupon from every company I’d written to, but I had made nearly £30 in coupons, £15 of which was profit. Sure that may seem like a small amount, but the cards and stamps I already had, so they could have been considered a sunk cost. Any money I saved during the summer of the great unemployment was of great benefit to me.

(I’ll admit it’s probably only a loser like me who loves spreadsheets that would go to this much effort)

The second spreadsheet is one I would definitely recommend having. It’s just a simple way of keeping track of how much the coupon is for, if there are any conditions for using it, and when it expires. You don’t want to go to all that trouble of collecting these coupons only to have them go out of date. This is a good excuse to acquire a pretty folder.

I have now imparted all my wisdom. I hope some of this may help you.

Once again I am saved by my stockpile

So this morning I was about to make breakfast when I realised we only had a small amount of bread left, which I would have to leave for my boyfriend as he would kick off if he had to have anything other than a sandwich for lunch.

Luckily I remembered that I often secrete leftover slices of bread into the freezer for such an occasion as this, so a quick route around and I had the two slices I needed for my breakfast.

Ok, so they didn’t match, but I can live with that.

Today will not be a NSD (I haven’t managed one yet this week) as a coffee date I had arranged with a work colleague for yesterday had to be rescheduled for today.

I am really looking forward to this, and not just because I will be allowed to have an illicit takeaway coffee as I will be with someone and therefore it will be a ‘Social’ spend.

No, the reason why I’m looking forward to it is because I had struck up a conversation with this colleague at the Work’s Christmas do in December and I forget exactly how it came about but I discovered she had been in quite a lot of debt before and had managed to clear it. So we had a happy chat (if you can call it that) about debt, 0% Balance Transfer cards, the Money Saving Expert website and yearly budgets.

I belong to a forum about debt and post on there, so I know that people in debt exist but it is nice to meet someone in the flesh who has been through it all, it gives me hope that I won’t fail and that I will smash the debt.

My old friend Mr Anxiety strikes again

Today involved a fair bit of spending-all from the approved categories.

£1.10 for Milk (Work Expense), £3.90 Train fare to friends house (Travel Day to Day) and a £2 donation to my Boss’s maternity leave present (Gifts).

The reason why I was travelling to my friend’s house is because she is the Vice Captain of the girls football team I am a part of and we were having a theory session.

I started off in good spirits but soon my mood deteriorated.

The trouble is other than the hostess who I have been good friends with for years, I either know everyone else a little bit or not at all. Some people are new and I don’t even know their names yet.

Some would see this as an opportunity to get to know people, but I am scared and intimidated by these girls. They are all lovely, some of them I have spent a lot of time talking too and we have even competed in the same running events, but I am shy and feel too scared to strike up a conversation.

Why? Well I guess the answer is I think very little of myself. Indeed I have often wondered how other people’s insults could ever hurt me as I don’t think there is anyone on this planet who hates me more than I do.

Ultimately I think of myself as worthless, and I find it hard to talk to people and to get to know them because I am scared that the more I reveal myself the more they will hate me.

I am genuinely puzzled when people say nice things about me.

I think this is the route of why I got into debt. Part of me was desperately trying to be normal and liked. Have nice clothes so that people wouldn’t realise I was weird. Buy a round of drinks so that people would like me. Get people good gifts so they might just give me the time of day.

Yes, effectively I was trying to buy people’s affection.

I do have a strong core of friends who I am almost completely certain do like me for who I am. My problem is I need constant validation just to believe it.

When you feel bad about yourself you search for a quick buzz in whatever makes you feel good, no matter how temporary. So maybe it’s better that all I did was run up a lot of credit card debt then get addicted to drugs or alcohol, but my vice is just as damaging and will have a lasting impact on my life for the foreseeable future.

Some days I feel good about myself, and actually my debt has given me a drive and a focus that I have never had before. Bizarrely the thing that makes me happiest is my debt because I am obsessed with saving money, getting the best cash back deal, comparing price per gram across different foods and seeing the debt decrease month after month. I love everything about my tackling my debt, I just wish I didn’t have to be in this situation.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.