Gratitude and Wishes

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.


Saturday Gratitude

I’ve been talk ing 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 🙂


Loyalty cards – #minimilism #declutter

The Marie Kondo TV show on Netflix has got lots of people looking at their homes and seeing where they can declutter and craeting lots of chatter. I’ve been a follower of her methods for a few years now (there are various blog posts if you fancy a scoll through) and I’ll be good for a while and then end up with more clutter.

When I had some couselling last summer we discussed my spending habits and debt with the intention of exploring addictive personalities and using money to fill a ‘gap’ in a persons life. I definitely get addicted to things and very easily. Having alcoholics and drug addicts in the family (sadly all deceased) makes me very conscious (possibly too much) about excess drinking so I’ve never fallen into those traps. Instead when my depression takes hold I usually find something to obsess over and spend. It fills that ‘gap’ but only for a short while and then I end up with an excess of junk that I don’t use.

It’s not only monetary items though. I started reading the free books through netgalley or on Amazon Kindle and if I total it I’ve close to 1500 books unread. I’ve got far too many bookmarks, post it notes, stationary items and so on. The other year I got on top of the clothes addiction and now have a capsule wardrobe and that works for me.
So now to clear some of the unwanted stuff. I found in a drawer a pile of loyalty cards an inch high. I don;t use them but when shops started using these I developed one of my obsessions and must have one for so many shops that I just don’t go in any more. As you can see from the pictures attached I spent today tidying them out and cutting them up. It’s a great feeling. There’s no need for them, I haven’t gone into that pile in over 6 months. So now I have a core capsule of loyalty cards of shops I’m actually loyal to and that feels so much better. Slowly I am making in roads into my clutter and filling that ‘gap’ in more healthier ways

Ready, Steady…Bake

I did some baking this afternoon for the first time in 6 years. The last time I used a TV show recipe rather than something I know and trust. I don’t recall there being that much difference except possibly a bit more sugar but after 3 days I’d had 7 hours of sleep and was suffering heart palpitations. It was quite frightening. Speaking to the doctors the only thing they could think of that was causing it was the baking as I was perfectly healthy. We have never fully got to the bottom of it but I stopped baking for myself and went back to eating processed, pre-packaged cakes. Probably not the best idea.

My goals this year include continuing to eat better, reduce spending and the amount of junk I buy along with the amount of things I buy covered in plastic so I decided that when wanting something to along with Saturday night TV I should do it myself. I dug out a recipe book I have of my mums that she started in the 70’s when me and my brother was small. Those recipes were given to her by her mother. There’s no big game changing bake in there just everyday apple pies, sponges and savoury pantry pies but using it makes me feel closer to my mum (who I’ve had an up and down relationship with) and my late grandma. This was especially true when it turns out neither of them wrote the cooking times down and I had to call to find out….

Also in the book were old Cadbury’s cake recipes for tanks and cannons. I’m pretty sure they were used for one of brother’s birthdays so that would make them from the 80’s.

So first batch achieved and I felt good making them. I’d forgotten how therapeutic it can be to bake, how much I hate touching raw dough but at the same time how much I like eating the raw dough! I’m tempted to make a batch of buns but my son rarely eats cake so that would just leave me to eat everything. I know moderation is the key… so I’ll make them tomorrow 🙂

2018 quick health review

I started keeping track of my footsteps last year and kept a spreadsheet tallying up every step recorded on my fitbit to see how much I did. The first half of the year was amazing and I regularly kept up to my 10,000 steps per day but then in July I joined the gym and the steps seemed to drop off although there was still exercise so not an issue too much. Looking back over December I was definitely in Christmas mood and only averaged around 5000 per day. I’ve a good idea now of how many steps I do on average of each day and where I can walk to build up more so I’m not going to do another spreadsheet for 2019 but it was interesting to see where I ended up.

So the grand total for 2018 was…. 3,179,748 which equates to 1505.56 miles or 2423 kilometres.

I’m happy with that. It could have been better but it also could’ve been worse and as my introduction to a healthier lifestyle I had to start somewhere. Let’s see how 2019 goes 🙂

Every Day I’m (Side) Hustling

I’ve been having a look around the various money saving websites and especially in regards to ways to make a few extra pounds. It seems a common thing to side hustle and I kinda wish I’d looked earlier but better late than never. I’ve got a list of the ways I can do this ready for 2019 but why wait?

I still have to get my head around the Profit Accumulator site but that’s a job for this weekend but whilst messing around I found £1.29 on an old betting website. My son takes part in a free bet syndicate through work and Sky sports so I copied his win/loss/draw onto the bet site (his was also based on goals which I ignored) with a 20p on each one. Not a lot of money but then small amounts means more responsible betting. I finished the day £2 in profit plus my money back.

Then I had a look through a cashback site. I do my shopping online anyway each payday and buy for the month splitting across 2 retailers. I got myself 50p cashback from one of them. On the other I lost the cashback as I had other vouchers I could use. However those vouchers were a total of £9.50 in savings off my bill so much better off anyway.

Then we had our usual Boxing Day (a UK bank holiday) pizza – going through the cashback site again to order I made another 1% cashback – 13p.

So in total my side hustling & small time betting today earned me £12.13. Helped by having the vouchers but every little bit helps. I’ve spent the last few years trying to use a cash only system whilst my debt repayment is in place but while that has drastically helped my budgeting I may have been selling myself short a bit and losing out. I need to think cleverer; can it be bought online and if so can I get cashback on it?

I have 14 months left on my repayment plan. If I can hustle £600 over the course of the year it reduces the plan by 2 months and I could be free of it by 2019 Christmas. If not then I know I will have given it my best shot and be pleased with myself regardless.

I’ll write a part 2 when I’ve got all my side hustles lined up and ready to go. What side hustles do you use?


7 Days of Good Thoughts

I’ve started a new book Happy Go Money by Melissa Leong and one of the chapters talked about having experiences rather than spending money on stuff. It got me thinking (as everything does) about money and how it’s spent. One of the questions was around looking at recent experiences and seeing if they were costly or just something simple and life affirming. This is a bit of a list of all the nice things I could think of that happened around the last 7 days and their worth:

  • I’ve moved to a new team at work and I went to my first all day meeting. It’s nearly Christmas so the mood was light and fun. One of the ice breakers involved a dancing pass the parcel that saw our head boss doing the time warp and a colleague showing us how to do the YMCA dance on our backs using our legs for the arm movements. You had to be there possibly but I haven’t laughed until I’ve cried in a very long time. Cost: nothing
  • The woman that sits next to me has regular Clarins facials and treatments and knows the staff quite well. Well enough that rather than throw out old stock because the ‘recipe’ had changed they gave it to her. Who then brought it to work with the result ebing I got 3 new expensive lipsticks. Cost: nothing
  • I’ve had 2 crafting sessions at work this week. In the first one we were given a small canvas, some coloured thread and buttons and designed Christmas Trees on the canvas. In today’s session we made snow globes. I may be 46 but I have been looking forward to this session for weeks! Everyone had such a good time, forgetting the cares of work & life for an hour. Total cost: £3.50 (as a craft club member I get subsidised prices)
  • Two people I’ve been thinking about recently that I haven’t seen in a while got in touch to arrange a coffee for the coming month. Cost: nothing (so far)
  • Another one who I was thinking of but wasn’t sure if they were actually bothered about being friends texted me to say she missed me and hoped to see me soon. Cost: nothing
  • I found a box of Bakewell tarts in the cupboard. Cost: I’m saying no cost as I bought them weeks ago.
  • And tomorrow I round the 7 days off with a free Arm Knitting session where we get to learn to knit with needles about 4 foot long! Never tried it before but it looks fun. And as I say, it’s free

So lots of positive experiences over the week and the total cost comes to £3.50 which isn’t really very much in the general scheme of things is it?