I haven't written for a while because things have been so hectic here. I've managed to complete 2 more of my 101. I've decluttered the entire house and sold a lot of things on ebay - clothes I'm not going to wear again, handbags I don't use and a games console and games my ex bought me.
I made enough money to buy the storage I wanted from Ikea for under the stairs so I'll keep you updated on the work in progress. First of all I need to take everything out and paint the bare plaster white with some leftover paint to make the space look cleaner and bigger. Then I have some spare carpet from my hall and stairs that I am going to put down to make the cupboard more user friendly. At the moment it is so dusty in there and I would like to be able to store my work shoes, coats and sports equipment in there instead of falling over everything in the hall! I've bought adjustable shelves on a racking system so I can amend them in I change my storage needs, and some clear plastic tubs to keep everything together neatly. Currently my diy tools are stored in 2 plastic buckets and some bags and I can't really see what I have or find anything without taking everything out. All my tins of spare paint are stacked on top of each other and I always need the one at the bottom!
I've also managed to save my emergency fund -six months salary is sitting in a high interest internet account. Next year's aim is to increase this to a year so if we have children we will be able to spend time with them rather than us both having to hurry back to work. I've signed up for the Live on £4000 a year challenge for 2010 and here's my planned budget;
Household and toiletries £155
TV Licence £143
Landline/TV package/Broadband £400
Mobile phones £120
Clothes and shoes £150
Car tax £120
Home Insurance £100
Social Life £200
So I've just got car insurance, life insurance, council tax and holidays to pay for from mystery shopping income. I'm aiming to overpay my mortgage and reduce the balance to under £140,000, and also to repay my £5,500 loan in full this year.
I wasn't sure how realistic my budget for 2009 was until I got this far in the challenge and while I've gone overbudget in some areas, others are still on track and my total spend for everything I included should end up being around £3,500. So I've been able to include far more categories in next year's challenge and still be confident of success. When I talk to friends and hear how much they spend on groceries it shocks me. One couple I know are spending £120 a week on food and there's only the 2 of them! We are spending around £20-25 a week and we're not eating less than this time last year when I was spending around £45 a week. I prepare most meals from scratch, and it doesn't take much longer than microwaving a ready meal because I organise myself with meal plans and while I'm making dinner I do prep for the next night's dinner - getting food out of the freezer, cooking extra for the freezer, marinading, chopping veg etc
I finally got my Itunes organised - it took a long time to get this sorted out because I have sooo much music on my Itunes. The genius application helped a lot by creating playlists for me, and I went through all my podcasts and removed anything I'd already listened to or that wasn't relevant anymore. I really like the Genius toolbar, I have some fabulous playlists based on my favourite songs and have re-discovered artists I hadn't listened to in a while.