This week among the usual shout out to family and friends I am grateful for 4 women I met 12 months ago on a development course. 2018 was a very chaotic bumpy year. The course was split over five 2 day modules with the first starting January 2018. We were put into peer groups of 6 to work together for various activities.
The year started great and we bonded really well, sharing stories and spent a lot of time together quite a bit to put on a workshop around better ways of working. Then I missed the 3rd module because of the health problems. This really knocked my confidence as it was just after the scare with the breast lump and subsequent panic attacks. Again they were there for me, as we are all spread around the north of England this was remotely and mostly by whatsapp but it was nice to get a few messages of support.
For module 4 I managed to get to the classroom for Day 1 but found it so stressful and hardgoing and so didn’t attend the second day where we would be just in the peer group. I wrote in an earlier blog about how my anxiety got so bad last year I lost contact with people and when I was with people struggled with the idea that they were on my side or was just weirdly angry at slights that just didn’t exist. Anxiety can be awful on friendships sometimes.
Even up until Tuesday I really didn’t want to attend the last sessions and would not be able to give the requested feedback. You know what though? It was absolute rubbish! I think this week was actually my favourite session of all. I got to really re-connect with the others and genuinely bond with them. Some of us have very similar work struggles and we had a good hour airing our grievances about jobs which was really cathartic but then after that we spent another hour trying to work out how each one of us could work around that or suggesting ideas for moving on. I came home today feeling really inspired and empowered. None of this would have happened if I’d given in to the anxiety at the beginning of the week and the chimp in my brain telling me it would be a waste of time (for chimps see The Chimp Paradox by Steve Peters)
At the beginning I mentioned a group of 6 peers but a shout out to only 4 (with me making 5). Sadly one seems to have dropped out. She disappeared part way through the day I missed (I’ve been told why and it’s not relevant here) and never came back. She’s not shown much interest in staying in touch in between but that happens and on a course like this you won’t bond with everyone and you can’t please everyone.
Going forward the 5 of us are going to have monthly calls to chat about work and what our current steps are and will try and have 6 monthly meet ups somewhere. I’m so glad to have met them and grateful then when my life got chaotic they were there and supportive when I needed it most.
I’ve ended my first month of side hustles and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed the little bits and pieces I’ve dipped into which have earned me £135. Of that there are some sites where I still need to earn more to reach a download limit so I haven’t accessed all of it. Then being January and a long month I’ve had to dip into the rest to pay for the dentists and some other unexpected costs but in the end today I paid off £40 towards a high interest loan I have bringing me that little bit closer to clearing it. This is the priority in my debt clearance as everything else at least has a definite end date or a lower interest rate.
I’m really pleased with what I’ve managed to do. It’s been simple and for the most part hasn’t taken up much time. I’ve listed the websites below for anyone that wants to try some of these and also the 101 side hustles blog page that I found my inspiration.
This week I’ve struggled with my health with an old issue flaring up and had to deal with lots of travel disruptions so it would be easy to end the week feeling miserable however the biggest thing I’m grateful for this week are my friends. I have one on holiday in Plymouth texting me pictures of her new puppy and then tea and cake with my closest friend.
I’ve been reading a short book by author Jill Mansell that I found in my kindle where she lists an A-Z of things that make her happy. I decided to have a go. It’s very hard to think of some things for the more unusual letters but after my friend said to think outside the box I managed it. I was going to add explanation but in the end decided a simple list is enough. The review for the book can be found HERE
What would your A-Z look like?
A = Art (Galleries)
B –Bubble Baths
C – Crafting
D – (all things) Disney
E – Exercise (Gym)
F – Friends/Family
G – Genealogy
H – History
I – Ice Cream
J – Japanese Blossom Trees
K – Knitting
L – Laughing
M – Music
N – Novels
O – Ocean
P – Pizza/Pasta
Q – (Rose) Quartz crystal
S – Seaside
T – Travel
U – Underwear (can’t beat a beautiful set of matching undies!)
Yesterday was quite the day. I had to go over to Blackpool for a meeting. Or rather a small town within walking distance and its own train stop. Originally I’d planned to get the train to Blackpool and then a taxi to the office but was told the local train stop was practically next door so to get that. This turned out to be a BAD THING as several trains were cancelled – all of them being the rare few that stopped where I needed to be. I ended up with a 2 hour delay at both ends of the journey. On the outward journey I stopped off at a Costa Coffee to pass the time and check my emails. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself at this point as I’d been up since 5am and was a bit cold. Talking to the coffee shop staff though they were all worried about their jobs. The shop was part of the Debenhams chain and there is talk of 40 of their stores closing one of which was potentially this one. Closing the store would mean closing the coffee shop. A customer in front of me mentioned that the store was the heart of the town centre and that if it closed then you may as well close the whole town. They also mentioned that the chain of Patisserie Valerie are expected to go under at some point this week. So many jobs from all of this will be lost not to mention its impact on already struggling high streets across the country. So thinking about it, my journey was delayed which was inconvenient. I was cold but had the funds to warm up in a coffee shop and most importantly I have a job and as a civil servant will probably always have a job no matter how much it sometimes frustrates me. I think sometimes we forget these things and hearing about the struggles of others makes you appreciate what you actually have.
The second part of my story yesterday includes a walk. No trains to get home so I decided to take advantage of some fresh air and walk into Blackpool as there would be a better chance of getting home. Rather than google map the journey I walked down to the small town promenade which led to the main Blackpool one. It was so cold! I really wish I had a had my hat but it was so wonderful to have a bit of time in nature watching the sea however brisk the weather. The walk though had me thinking about the future. For over 20 years I’ve had in the back of my mind how much I would love to have my own B&B. Walking through the towns though I saw so many closed buildings. They were in a state of disrepair rather than closed for the off season so definitely an economical thing. I think a B&B just isn’t going to work in this day and age; I can’t see it being financially viable. This then took me to Plan B which is as old as the B&B idea which is the desire to retire to a coastal town.
If I can retire at 60 I have 13 years to get some cash together. If I wait to the state retirement age I have 20 years. It will come around much quicker than I expect it to. 2019 is all about paying off my debts. 2020 then will be to start working on a future that will support me financially in my old age. Me and a friend were talking about grown up thoughts and that it’s always scary doing this. Who wants to be a grown up? People keep asking me what I want to achieve at work (job roles/promotions etc) and actually all I want is the space to build my future plans. This is where putting into place this year all the side hustles will start to pay off. Once the debts are cleared they will be part of the retirement savings plan.
So a day of mixed feelings. Even having gratitude for having a job I couldn’t escape the fact that the British Rail infrastructure is terrible and an inconvenience. It wasn’t just my trains with issues. The weather is so cold that having to spend 35 minutes waiting in the freezing cold was horrible on the final leg of trying to get home (and I definitely know there are people far worse off than me) but I finally have a bit of an idea about the future and how I can start to build towards it. I’m a massive fan of action plans and I think at the weekend it’s time to start looking at building one and what it will take to get me where I want to be.
I’ve been talking and hearing a lot about gratitude lately. My son’s depression has flared up and we’ve been using it as a mood booster. At the same time my close friend is trying to keep a daily list. I am planning to do these weekly on a Friday but got a bit distracted yesterday so one day late:
Meals with friends: I used to be part of a circle that met monthly to go for a meal and a catch up. 9 years ago we were all working in the same office and part of it is to keep the connections going despite many of us now working in different offices and in some cases for new companies. I had so many issues last year for me this stopped happening. My anxiety was just too high for casual socialising. I actually thought the last meal I attended was late summer but when we looked at it, it was actually May! I don’t feel guilty about it though. That way lies more anxiety madness. It happened, I’m back and was welcomed back with no issues at all. It’s easy to forget how much I enjoyed this little get together.
Hustles: I’m grateful to the sites I read a few months back that list the many ways to make a little extra money. I’ve a few hustle blogs to do in the next week but I’ve made over £100 since Boxing Day which is amazing when I haven’t touched the big money earners. It’s £100+ that will be deducted from my debts and £100 closer to being debt free. As I mentioned in a previous blog I wish I’d known about these things years ago it would have saved a lot of negative mental health issues. It’s also totally changed my thinking about money too. I’m no longer in that negative mindset and constantly thinking I can’t.
Other friends: My closest friend text me on Tuesday to see if I fancied a coffee before work. We had about 45 minutes before I had to go to my job but it was nice to have that little bit of relaxation and chat before I had to tackle some major issues in the office.
The gym: Never thought I’d say that! But while I’ve been going completely off the rails with food the gym at least has kept me in a healthy mindset and gives me not only me time but the mindfulness practise. It’s just me, some exercise machines and whatever the PT has on the music playlist which this week has been 2000’s pop music. I’ve been happily singing along to Britney and Busted this week, again not normally something I thought I’d ever say.
Which leads me to the last thing and the work’s craft club and more mindfulness. This week we did some mandala colouring in. It’s like being 5 again. I took 2 people who don’t normally join in with the craft club and we had an hour away from our day jobs to sit, chat and colour and de-stress. An offshoot of this as my Tuesday coffee friend saw my pictures and went out and bought some crayons and books. I love being able to share fun stuff 🙂
In my goals for 2019 post (2019 Lifestyle Choices not resolutions ) I mentioned this year is all about the side hustle and ways to make and save money. I’ve done a massive amount of research over the last 2 weeks and will be continuing to look up these side hustles but thought as I go along I’ll share this journey and hopefully there will be something that will inspire or help others.
Social media can be a pretty bleak place but I spent some time deleting massive amounts of unused Facebook groups and pages and joined ones that will be of benefit to my needs. These include savings pages, minimalism ones and a No Spend 2019 one. No Spend will mean different things to different people as I’ve found in the group. Some people are simply cutting down on spends and others are practically going to live off the land. I’m a bit in the middle. There are things I want to keep like a meal out once a month but there are times where I know I am wasting money. So my changes will revolve around cutting these out for now. I’ll review it each month and see where other changes can be made if necessary.
I’ve also joined several savings groups and found quite a few fun challenges. I’ll add some links at the bottom of the blog. There’s the penny challenge where you put in 1p on day 1, 2p on day 2, 3p on day 3 and so on for 365 days.
There’s the shaded challenge which I am doing. In here you have a sheet with various amounts on it including £10 in 5p and up to £400 in £20 notes. You simply shade in a circle every time you put a 5p, 10p and so on into the tub. If you complete it all you end up with about £1300 in the tin. Seeing as the majority of my cash will be going towards clearing all debts this year I don’t aim to complete but rather accept that whatever is in the tin in December is a nice bonus for Christmas.
Another one is the £1 in coke bottle (on the Facebook group the UK people are using Oasis bottles as the opening is wider) – you simply fill the bottle with £1 coins.
Lastly after seeing an advert on TV I have opened a Moneybox account. This is an investment ISA but with some twists. For a start it’s an app rather than a traditional bank. Secondly you can amend the amount you want to put into the account as often as you like. There’s the option to put away a weekly amount from a minimum of £2 p/w. Then the bit I really liked is the option to round up your spends and input that difference to the account. It links to your bank account (I’m very security conscious and they have lots of measures in place to protect you with this) and lists all the amounts that you can round up. So for example I’ve spent £1.99 – then it will ask if I want to put the penny into the account. You can accept or dismiss each one. It’s very easy to get excited and accept everything so be careful. I’ve given myself the option to round up anything 20p or less as it still adds up quite quickly. It takes the money each week and you also have the option to go in and clear the weekly balance before it’s taken if you are worried you’ve overdone it (or you can reduce/increase the amount). I’m loving this app as despite being constantly skint I feel like I’m in control of actually saving something however small.
So that’s my savings and spends so far. I was talking to my mum on New Years Day about everything I’d found out and how I finally feel in control despite being in debt. I really wish I knew 4 years ago about half the things I found out about in the last few weeks as I think it would have helped reduce my debt quicker but also had a much more positive impact on my metal health.
After years of making goals and resolutions for the new year, last year I decided that I would stop putting targets on myself and just make changes. If you’ve read any of my blogs over the last 18 months you will have seen my attempts to deal with social anxiety and my diet and exercise. That worked well for me as when I set targets I have a tendency to get close to it, panic and self sabotage leaving me no better off. Making small changes seems to work best.
I finish 2018 thanks to those changes 24lbs lighter than when I started it and with a 3 times a week 30 minute session each time gym workout (and joining a gym was definitely not on my list of things to do at all!) so rather than say I want to lose a certain amount of weight this coming year I just want to continue with the changes I made. And start cooking again. I’ve filled the freezer and so on and made a meal plan for January so off to a good start but if I go off plan a little bit….it’s ok. I don’t need to beat myself up about it, just start again. That’s probably the only sensible thing I ever picked up from 20 years of yo-yo WW/Slimming World diets.
I have 14 months left on my debt plan. This makes me so happy going into the new year; the idea that when I write the 2020 version of this blog it will shortly be over. Except I’m hoping it will actually have gone. I’ve been reading up on side hustles and all the ways to make extra money. I’m going to write a separate blog about this as there’s a lot to say but why wait until the new year? I’ve spent the last 3 days setting things up and am already in profit by about £15. I need £600 to end the debts in 2019 rather than 2020 so I’m feeling very motivated by my choices.
I want to be greener and use less plastic. Again I’ve been doing some research and in 2018 I already started making small changes to reduce my plastic usage. I had no idea about palm oil and the damage it causes until the recent Iceland banned Christmas advert but now I do and so am trying to make food choices that doesn’t contain this. 2019 I want to continue making those changes and improve even further.
Lastly I am going to do more crafting. I do actually have small targets here. I want, by the end of the year to have produced a cushion cover which would mean getting the sewing machine out of the shed and actually learning to use it and also to crochet something. I started to learn a few years ago but using a book and it didn’t work for me so I am going to look at other teaching methods (probably YouTube or a woman at work will teach me). I joined the craft club this year and it’s opened my eyes to so many crafts so I want to just continue learning new things and see what catches my interest to take further.
So no new year new me just a continuation of what I think has been some positive changes in 2018 and in doing so will hopefully make me the well rounded happy individual I aim to be.