Saturday, 20 June 2009

Relaxing Saturday

Today I had a relaxing day, I went to get a frugal haircut today in preparation for 2 weddings I'm going to in a couple of weeks. Then off to the library for some new books, I have to admit I've got into Mary Jane Staples novels even though they're nothing like my usual history or travel books. I spent the afternoon with my husband at a romantic country house, so I ticked off task 25 on my list for June, and took some lovely pictures I'm going to get printed to make my mum a homemade birthday card later in the year.

I also chose one of the MIT free online courses to started on. I'm going to study "The places of migration in US history", and I've downloaded the material to have a look at tomorrow night. I also went through all my old magazines I've been keeping for a rainy day and cut out anything that caught my interest to start number 11 -keeping an ideas scrapbook for creative plans. I've got travel ideas, sewing ideas and some recipes and interiors ideas, all ready to be stuck in a scrapbook tomorrow.

I've started my diet in a bid to get my BMI under 35, which is the 3rd item on my 101. I have been prescribed Xenical by my GP and I started taking it today - nothing to report yet on side effects, which I've heard can be a little distressing if you eat too much fat. I had a small bowl of cereal for breakfast, steamed salmon and a salad with a handful of pumpkin and linseed nuts for lunch (see picture), and tuna with mash for dinner.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Back to the reality of everyday life....

I'm back from holidays and pleased to report I had a fab time and enjoyed spending some quality time with Mr SC - and got a few of my 101 started as well! We had several picnic lunches so I've ticked off 74 - Go on a picnic at least 4 times each summer - for 2009 at least. I kept a travel journal of the trip and took over 400 pictures in a week! I really like my new camera - I got a 13megapixel one for £99 and although I'm still learning how to use it I'm enjoying taking pictures of anything that takes my fancy. There was a lot of pictures of random things, food we ate, designs of buildings I liked, wildlife I saw, to keep a record of things that please me. All I have to do now is task 56, pick my favourite holiday shots and get them printed so I can add them to my travel journal.

I didn't know what my husband's favourite book was, so while we were away I asked him lots of questions about his favourites of every kind of thing, and it turns out his favourite book is also one of mine, so I'm going to re-read it and then that's number 54 ticked off. It also drew my attention to the fact that he still hasn't moved all his stuff here from his parents house so we are going to sort that out next week so the house has more of his things integrated with mine (and his mum can finish turning his old bedroom into a larger living room!!) I organised all my finances so my savings come out by standing order once I get paid every month so I can achieve 21, 22, and 23 and my savings will take care of themselves while my mortgage balance reduces.

The most important thing I think I've done this week though is find out how to register for bone marrow and organ donation - and next week I am going to donate blood for the first time. I read about platelet donation and how each donation provides enough to treat 3 people and that I can donate every month if I'm suitable so I'm going to do this. When I go they will register me for the bone marrow register as well. I'm not sure if this qualifies as doing something charitable regularly as I kind of felt I should volunteer at a domestic violence shelter or to help a charity with an event but I want to commit to something I will be able to keep up on a regular basis.

I've added some pictures from our holiday of the beautiful scenery that we were surrounded by. Nothing could beat the feeling of swimming each morning in the open air pool surrounded by trees and greenery, I only wish I could afford to live in a village that has an open air pool (and the weather to use it all year round!)

Sunday, 7 June 2009

I've finally finished off my 101 list and I'm feeling quite pleased with my list. I did struggle at first but once I got going and looked a few other people's lists it became easier. I'm off on holidays on Tuesday and can't wait for a bit of rest and relaxation and to spend some time with my husband. I'm going to write a travel journal while I'm away to make a start on task 59 and then when I get back write some reviews on tripadvisor (task 60) - I chose that particular website because I use it when booking holidays to check the hotels I'm considering get good reviews.

I spent yesterday catching up with a friend who has made a change in her career too and taken a new job, we went for some food and to see a band and it was amazing. It made me feel younger - when I was younger I used to see bands live at least once a month and I've got out of the habit of it, and my husband has very different taste in music to me - so I'm going to make more of an effort to go to gigs. It's one place I feel I fit in and I'm not socially awkward because noone cares what you wear to see a band, you can be outrageous or dress casually and I don't get judged or as though I'm in a fashion parade. I've kept to my task of taking a picture every day and am going to keep my camera in my handbag fully charged from now on so I don't miss any opportunities to take spur of the moment shots.

Unfortunately the diy has come to a halt because the weather isn't great - and we're going away so no point in starting anything. But I've organised all my paperwork and everything is ready to go on holiday so no last minute panic and stress like usual. Here's some pics I took last week...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Today I have added a few more to my 101 list as I chose my part time courses for the autumn. I'm going to continue with my language classes and pass my AS level, and also take a dress making course. I was considering a GCSE photography course as well for Saturday mornings but I think it might be too much to fit in with a full time job and trying to study hard for my AS level. Plus I take language conversation classes every fortnight, and need to fit the gym in -hopefully 3 times a week or more.

I promised to explain more about the change in my financial situation this year and how I've adapted so here goes....

I owe slightly over £140,000 on my own home, which I bought almost 3years ago and redecorated from scratch, this costs me £400 a month interest only (I'm overpaying to reduce the capital). I also have 2 rental properties I bought a few years ago and fixed up, they both have mortgages that are covered by the rent and I have long term tenants. I also have a loan of £7,800 which is interest free and I pay back at least £200 a month on. I pay my credit card in full each month if I use it, and I'm suceeding at the Live on £4000 a year challenge so far. I keep track of what I spend with an Excel spreadsheet separated into categories, and every month I save money - to overpay my mortgage, save for a new car, and to build an emergency fund.

Before I changed jobs I spent every penny I earned, and there were at least twice as many pennies to spend! I owed almost £4000 on my credit cards and had no savings at all. I couldn't afford to overpay my mortgage and I was spending about £40 or £50 a week on food alone, plus endless amounts of eating out, cheap clothes, and magazines. So I took steps to change this, I joined the library and started catching up on all the books I'd never read and always meant to. I made meal plans and went to the supermarket with a list, and started batch cooking and eating in more. I went through all of my outgoings and researched cheaper options - gym membership, life insurance, household insurance, everything I bought! In some ways I was lucky that interest rates fell so dramatically because it cut back my mortgage costs so much I could afford to overpay and start saving on a smaller wage, and my husband starting paying for half of everything.

I thought I would feel as though I was missing out by giving up so many meals out and cutting back but I haven't once felt like that. Because of the credit crunch everyone is cutting back so I'm not the odd one out, and 2 for 1 offers and discounts have meant I've been able to enjoy myself without spending a fortune. My supermarket own brands are no different to premium brands once they're made into a delicious homecooked meal - I have to admit I still buy branded ketchup, cola, and a few other items. I also feel part of a community on Moneysavingexpert - some of the frugallers are really inspirational with their own animals, creative pursuits, and ways of saving money and the environment - that's what I'm aiming for.

My ideal view

My ideal view