Change is A’Coming

This past time of radio silence has been tumultuous in the AF household. Mr AF’s job was a victim of a downsizing company, and I crashed my car into a ditch. We’re both standing and dusting off, but it’s the start of a long road, I feel.

After finding out about Mr AF’s job two things happened. I frittered away a lot of money. I seemed to have this odd reaction of ‘oh crap. Can’t spend on whatever I like soon…better spend now’. I’m disappointed in myself at this reaction but it was almost a knee jerk thing. I still haven’t achieved my first finance goal (be solvent without borrowing from other accounts) but as February to March payday is a short month I’m planning on achieving that goal in the coming month. I’ve already borrowed from another savings account this month which is why I can’t achieve the goal.

The second things that happened is that I devoted a huge amount of resources to paying off my debt. Just under half of my wages at the moment, to get it paid off as quickly as is feasible. So instead of May being my DFD, March will see me free of debt (aside from the mortgage) and also with a holiday paid for (booked before the situation with the job became apparent and not costing us a whole lot). This is the part of my reaction that I’m proud of. This part of my reaction will allow me to cover the whole of the household outgoings without breaking a sweat without digging into any of the redundancy payout.

Next time I’m going to talk a bit about the various things I’m doing and we’re doing to help make things go a little smoother.

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.

Thinking about goals

I was reading a blog post by Notes from the Frugal Trenches the other day and she had such a simple yet brilliant idea for goal setting – first, then. I really like this idea…a fairly quick, short term goal, followed by a more medium term goal. At the moment, my weight loss goal is looking like – first, get into the hundreds (lose 4lb). Then, drop my BMI out of the obese category for my height (lose 7lb). Which sounds far more achievable than ‘lose 42lb’ which is the long term goal.

When I first started this blog I sort of had this idea in the back of my head that I had the blog, I knew what to do, I was accountable to my blog audience, this will now go off perfectly without a hitch. I read a great many personal finance blogs and some days, I forget that they’re usually a great deal further into their journey than I am. My need for perfection, immediately, has a lot to do with scuppering my plans. I also have a huge self-destruct switch in my head; when something in my day goes wrong I tend to throw myself under the bus, so to speak. My weight and spending are two of those things that get squashed on a bad day.

What I need to remember is that even if work feels awful; if I have an argument with Mr AF or my family; if the dog head-butts me (surprisingly painful) or any of the other myriad of things that can go wrong in a day… I can still not go out and spend loads of money, digging into my overdraft. Or eat loads, and put weight on. I can still end on a no spend day, a triumph. I can still stick to my eating plan and end the day knowing I will have lost a bit of weight.

So in the spirit of first, then- my finance goal is:

First, make it to payday solvent (including not having to ‘borrow’ money from other savings accounts except in the case of emergency). Then, get to payday with £20 left. (Don’t get me wrong – my debt payment comes out on payday and the rest of my spending comes from whatever is left. It would be nice to have extra left over to start a little emergency fund though!)

P.S- my debt figure is down from around £3300 to £1680. And that is worth celebrating!

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!