Well Hello There!

I’m still around and doing my best. So much has happened in the past few months; I lost all of my focus on everything but kept plodding away at creating our own personal slice of freedom.

So far, we have made £1500 worth of overpayments to our mortgage. When I look at how much comes off the capital with each monthly payment that equals roughly 15 months! 15 months closer to our goal of completely owning our house, 15 months closer to my goal of being able to step back from working my fingers to the bone and enjoy life more! My next overpayment date is coming in January, what a way to beat the winter blues.

On a not so good note, The Princess had a tumour on her nail bed, which had to be removed. We decided to go all in and get a dental done, walking away with a slightly teeth grinding (pun not intended) bill for almost £400. She has her own savings account so it wasn’t too painful, and my husband did put in some cash too but it has depleted my spare cash down to pretty much nothing for a while. That’s okay though, she’s happier and not in pain so we can live with scrimping and saving! I’m starting to think that we must be getting a frequent flyer discount at the vet as they charge us very little for follow up visits. It’s always worth a box of Roses and a friendly disposition!

Also, my Grandfather passed away. It had been very difficult for us due to some family drama which I will not go in to here, but I went totally spiralling out of control for a while. I had rediscovered the Paypal pay after delivery option, which is great for getting the food for our foster hound, but not so great when you’re having an out of control spending spree. My bank account is now clear of all Paypal payments, but I’m having to very carefully budget for the next few months to be able to do all the things I want to do. I’m grasping on to my last shreds of control like a drowning woman, but I know that they are what will get me through.

Speaking of which, control is what’s getting me through. So many unpleasant and traumatic things have befallen us as a couple in the past months that I truly felt my life was spiralling out of control. I’ve gone from being truthfully calm and settled, to a seething pit of rage, to trying to get on the road to being me again. An important part of that has been regaining control of the two things in life I should always be able to control – what goes in my mouth and what comes out of my purse.  I’ve not spent an unbudgeted for penny this month! I know! Who could believe it? And part of that has been not going to the supermarket three times a day to fritter money away on snacks and god knows what else. (I appreciate it seems not far on in the month but my month starts on payday!)

Well, we’re being whipped around by Storm Desmond – no rain here yet but the wind carried me swiftly down to the post box and back and the dogs may end up in Kansas next time they go out. Stay safe!

It seems strange to think…

That in five days, I will be personal debt free (mortgage I’m counting outside that). So, yay, that obviously means life is sorted out, right? Ummm… Not so much. I’m still running out of money before I’ve run out of month. But the fact that I don’t spend in that time, rather than ramp my credit card or overdraft up, says that I’m making progress. I did sign up for an Ancestry membership in a moment of ‘sod it, I’ll pay for it next month’ but… I cancelled it. The thought of putting money onto that squeaky clean credit card made me feel queasy. I’ll save up for it instead. I paid for the insurance excess on my car from the savings I put aside every month for car bills so there was no struggle there. Definite progress. Millie was so lonely without Roger and we knew that whatever we vowed, we would end up with another dog. An opportunity came up to be a long term foster for a beautiful old man greyhound and we knew we couldn’t say no. So we’ve done something good but at minimal cost to us as his bills are covered, and he’s bought so much joy into our lives and Millie’s life. The wedding on an *extreme* budget is one of the ways we’re making the money situation work. So far, we have spent £199. That’s suit, venue and licenses. Just my dress (about £40 ish) and his ring to go. The honeymoon is weighing in at…erm… Quite a lot. The Motorhome we’ve hired is costing us £1000 for ten days. But I can justify that! Kennelling fees for ten days would be about £200+, plus buying food out (even in self catering we would only be able to take so much food with us), would soon mount up. The Motorhome hire place is near us, so it’ll be picked up, brought back here, loaded up with food and all the goodies we need (no suitcases required!) and then at the end, brought back here, unloaded, cleaned and taken back. So I’d like to show you a big way I’ve been getting through a very lean time…

IMG_0294 I had a strange few days where all of a sudden I became terrified at the thought of not having anything in to get through if there was a flood, or a zombie apocalypse (I have OCD and my brain tends to latch on to thoughts like that and terrify me). Don’t worry; I didn’t take out a second mortgage to build a nuclear bunker or buy 6 years worth of dehydrated food packs. What I did do was hunt down bargains on shelf stable foods and household necessities. This past few weeks having these stores has meant that I can keep the shopping bill under £25 a week which has been incredibly helpful, although it does mean it needs to be built back up again!

Now That 2014 is Done and Dusted

Last year was a tough one, emotionally. I don’t subscribe to the theory that the passing of a few minutes sending you into a new year will magically make everything better but it’s interesting to see how far I’ve come since this point last year.

My debt has shrunk to £1480- around half of what it was. I could have done more, coulda, shoulda, woulda, but for losing Roger and the emotional tailspin that put me in to. But hey! I halved my debt! Celebrate that! I berate myself for not doing as well as I wanted to and totally overlook what I have achieved.

My weight has been up and down but I’m still 2.5 stone lighter than my highest weight, and that matters. My eating plan may have crashed and burned a few times but I got back to it, and I haven’t packed it all back on and then some which is what I’ve done so many times before.

There’s a quote usually attributed to Thomas Edison, although I don’t know if that’s correct (it seems people always want to attribute sensible advice to someone famous) that I love, and I will always try to live by…

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time

Now That it’s all Over…

This Christmas has felt far less excessive that previous ones, thankfully! Just the one present for me from Mr AF – a shiny new road bike which I am itching to try out as soon as the rain stops and the lake-like puddles dry out. Mr AF was pleased with his presents, all carefully researched and chosen at the lowest prices I could get them for, two even came with cash back.

My mother didn’t go overboard but the naughty woman did buy me a brand new bread maker instead of a second hand one. It’s already on it’s second loaf and we haven’t touched the store bought bread which is now taking up space in the freezer! I think the bread will cost more per loaf, but it will taste better and not be full of God knows what.

In January, I usually either want to BUY ALL THE THINGS or buy nothing. This year, I’m in a buy nothing and enjoy what I have mood. I’m on track to achieve my first goal – to be solvent without having to borrow from my other savings accounts. Any money left at the end of the month will be split 50/50 between an emergency savings account and my final debt. It’s creeping ever lower and if I don’t knock that odd £30 off by the end of this month it’s going to drive me nuts.

But for now, time to relax. Time to declutter and get my thoughts in order. To me, 2015 has already started and while I can’t guarantee a good year, I can guarantee a productive one.

Taking Advantage

No, I don’t mean in a bad way, but are there money saving things as part of your job or any other schemes that you’re not taking advantage of?

Through my work I get a basic level of health insurance. I just pay tax on my employer’s contributions and that’s it – it costs me in the region of £10 a year.

I’m pretty religious about going to the dentist yearly (issues with my front teeth and being terrified that they will just snap one day) and as a glasses wearer the cost of keeping my eyes healthy soon mounts up.

Some people at my work don’t bother to put claims in to get their costs back and at first I didn’t either – I mean, they didn’t do it, so it must be a pain in the arse to do it, right?

Wrong.

2 minutes filling a form in and writing an address on an envelope and I’m done.

I’m currently waiting on my benefits to renew to be able to use the sexy 50% off another pair of glasses voucher to be able to get some prescription sunglasses for ‘free’. My dental treatments this year were covered. My glasses and sight test cost me about £13 out of my own pocket.

Look around. See what you’re entitled to. You work hard for these things and it seems silly to not use them, I mean, in my case it was only through laziness and being intimidated by a piece of paper.

All that said, I might actually now go and put in my overtime sheet!

Gradually getting there… Over the Christmas season no less!

Things seem to be going almost suspiciously well at the moment.

My plan to focus on healing my bingeing has had a positive impact on my body as well as my bank balance. My money is never spent on big ticket items, just a pound here, a fiver there, all day, every day. So stopping that trickle has made a big difference.

I’m also 3lb lighter! I am following an eating plan, which although not the most frugal of weight loss methods is proving to be very effective for me, to give me a break from food and food decisions. £8 a day is a lot, don’t get me wrong, but it’s less than I was spending on binge foods.

I have committed myself to doing at least 15 minutes of exercise a day. Not a lot, I know, but it’s enough to get me moving every day but not too much to be intimidating myself with. I’ve been doing free exercise videos on YouTube (Leslie Sansone is a goddess, and anyone struggling to get moving should check her out) cast onto our TV with a Chromecast (more about that in another post).

The odd thing about my spending is that gift money is never frittered away. I still have gift cards in my purse from last year because I want to buy something special with the money that I really, really want. The money I fritter is money that I worked hard to earn. It’s almost like I think to myself that I earned it, so I should be able to spend it however I like. That’s all well and good but when it ends up not being money I’ve earned but money I’ve borrowed from the bank, it causes a problem.

All of my Christmas shopping is complete and done within budget. My £50 a month direct debit will carry on going into that account and will cover presents all year. My newest budget takes into account every worst case scenario in a five week month that can occur and all of my standing orders have been adjusted accordingly.

Time to get real, time to focus on living and not just on spending every penny of my hard earned money!

When you just can’t commit to any more

I’ve said here before that I am very much an all or nothing person. Currently (well, a few days ago) I was actively trying to be frugal, lose weight, get active, work, live, and do all that other gubbins.

It all started to crumble around me, so I sat and had a word with myself, wondering how I could figure it out.

The one thing that ties a handful of my commitments together is binge eating. Binge eating costs me a lot of money; it makes me gain weight; it stops me from doing a lot of things.

So by focussing on my bingeing, perhaps the other commitments will start to fall into line gradually. I have never seen anyone about the way I eat; it embarrasses me too much. This is a take-a-deep breath post really; I’ve not really admitted this much outside conversations I have with myself when I’m alone in my car. So, I’m not claiming to have an eating disorder but I do have a disordered relationship with food.

I can eat upwards of 1-2000 calories in a single binge, binges can occur usually twice but sometimes three-four times a day. Bad days have been known where I would consume probably 5000 calories a day. I eat my feelings, I eat my boredom, I eat just because it’s a habit. I eat alone in my car, or when Mr AF isn’t here, or if he’s gone to bed early.

It costs a lot of money to do this, and makes me incredibly unhappy. When I finish the month with no money and half a stone heavier than I started it, that feeling spirals downwards.

I am on an eating plan currently to try to address some of the bingeing issues, and I am very proud to say that I am on my fourth binge free day! Each day like that is a big celebration for me. I’m starting to feel a little more in control but I am aware that I have a long road to travel. It feels nice that my debit card isn’t getting friction burn from being in and out of my purse constantly. My skin is clearing up gradually and my weight is stable.

I felt that everything in my life was falling apart really, that I couldn’t cope with anything. It seems almost funny now, that when I picked the thread apart it was really only one issue causing the others to collapse.

I even took a jumper back for a refund because I realised that I just didn’t love it enough.

Let’s see where it leads.

A Train of Thought

This week has been trying, to say the very least.

New work hours threw me out.

Blindingly bad headaches. One of which I have right now.

Mr AF trapping Millie’s tail in the back door, necessitating surgery, bandages, tablets.

Oh and a sexy little chest infection to boot.

Do you ever feel that some weeks just conspire against you? I’ve gained weight this week too, which just really put the cherry on things. I like to be in control and when one bit spirals out of control, I let go of the rest too. I really need to get out of this all-or-nothing mentality that has every goal I have in its grip.

So, my aspiring frugaldom has gone a wee bit awry this week! I have £20 and some shrapnel in my current account (all bills are paid thankfully) and £60 in my groceries account to last two weeks. I’d like the grocery money to stretch to two shops which is distinctly possible, but it’s not the end of the world if I go a little over as payday is on the second grocery shop day. The money has gone on thoughtless frittering, ‘treats’ that I thought I deserved (and probably also explains the poundage I’ve gained’. I was adamant I was going to pay for a month at the gym but I’ve decided that can wait for another two weeks. Running in the dark hasn’t done me any harm so far!

I’m following the couch to 5k program at the moment and I was up to week four before my chest infection hit. With no small amount of trepidation I tried to run yesterday and after a coughing fit decided to wind it back a week, so I’m working on week three again. I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything though as despite the coughing I still put in my best pace yet. I’m lucky enough that my Dad invested in proper gait analysis and running shoes for me (hyper mobile joints and an old knee and hip injury made this a sensible course of action) so running now doesn’t cost me anything. Well… I call it running. It’s probably closer to a bouncy walk.

So, this week’s to do is basically, get back in control and try not to spend any damned money. Keep running. Keep going, keep trying.

The not so triumphant return…

I am finally feeling a little more myself, although I will never stop missing my sweet boy I am now able to look beyond that pain and see life again. I know some will not understand the pain I have been through in the last month or so (I have heard a chorus of ‘it’s only a dog’ already) but to me it was a very real loss and to be honest, my life will always be missing a piece.

Onto other things…

Although I have not royally stuffed everything up, I have been in fritter mode. My purse accompanied me everywhere and we all know what happens when I do that. £2.50 here and there mounts up; at least if I had been spending extravagantly I might have something to show for it rather than a bank account running on fumes and a few extra lbs on the scale. Meal planning went out the window in favour of as and when meals; shopping lists went a similar way so when I marvelled at the fact my weekly shop only cost me £25 or so I hadn’t realised I had forgotten half of it and bought loads of stuff that I didn’t need. Cue more trips to the shop. Fritter fritter fritter.

On the positive side, my debt is no bigger – my ‘institutional debt’ sits at £265; this will be paid off in 8 days. EIGHT DAYS PEOPLE!

Yes, I am a tad excited about that. One by one my manacles of debt are dropping off.

Another positive – we went on holiday and the cards were not touched, all expenditure was cash and a week’s holiday on approximately £145 is not bad, n’est pas? I could have cut that right back but the holiday did us good, and to be honest I don’t feel bad about that level of spending at all.

So, going forward…

I’m sticking to my diet. This is the final push to get the last of my weight off and I am NOT going to give up on myself. This also has a sideline of stopping the fritter-y snack-y spends.

The purse is being locked in the filing cabinet. I have no spend requirements whatsoever coming up, I don’t need it.

Meal planning is back! I’m ready for the week going forward and am going to sit down tomorrow and plan next week’s meals. In addition to this I’m going back to click and collect shopping, although I do have a Sainsbury £20 off £60 online shopping voucher, so one of my shops will be delivered :)

Time to get out of the mire and get back into the lifestyle I want to lead!

Austere August Update #1 – the trial

Well, my trial week didn’t go so well but on the plus side I did spend a lot less than I would have done! I had spent the vast majority of the five pound note by the end of Saturday so I need to do better with eking the money out. Mr AF has a habit of tagging on a drink or bar of chocolate whenever I buy anything so that took up a chunk of the money.
 
 This week I’m planning to leave the money locked away for as long as possible as blatantly I’m not at the stage where I can trust myself to keep my purse on me all the time!
 
 Does anyone else find money burns a hole in their pocket or is it just me?