Uber Frugal Month

Homework, day 1

Why am I participating in this challenge? What do I hope to achieve? What are my long term life goals, 5-10 years? What about my current lifestyle may get in the way?

During the pandemic, we have gotten into bad spending habits, buying adhoc from online shops, spending more on food, eating takeaways more regularly, just spend spend spend! We have also booked five holidays this year and one booked for next year! Wows, crazy but also super exciting, three holidays were bargains (!), one is not bad at all for what it is, and two (one this year and one next year) are expensive. We have put three of these holidays on to credit cards to manage without causing too much stress. We put them on my credit card, then tarted them over to husbands card as he has 0% on transfers for 18 months. We paid a fee for this (3.9%), but it is cheaper than leaving it on my card, and we don’t have the money now to pay them all. So not frugal at all, but still evidence that I am thinking ahead about saving money sort of!haha. So long story short, we are starting this year in debt, and we want to get on top of this as quickly as possible. So, I would like to achieve control over my money, get back into the head space where I am not just impulse buying or wasting money. 

I really struggle with the whole life plan stuff, I still don’t really know what I want to do work wise, I guess I will still be nursing, I may have applied for deputy manager by then (I did apply last year then cancelled the interview and applied this year but they had already hired within), I would like to get my NVQ level 5- sent an application off today. Home wise, I would like to be debt free, start investing, have savings, continue to overpay mortgage, be married to hubby, keep loving all our rescue animals! 

Our lifestyle doesn’t need to be as spendy as it is, this is just bad habits, so that is the biggest threat to reaching my goals! I guess my desire to travel would also play a part, but to be honest, travel is important to me so I am not seeing it as a negative. I have a little run around car, I paid £800 for, we own the other car outright, we OP our mortgage every month and even though we have debt we make sure its as cheap as possible! We are actually a couple who don’t need a lot, but get caught up in things! 

Step 2- review last months spending.

There is no point, it was Christmas and I went crazy spending, I also bought my new laptop and an e-bike- I picked it up yesterday and I enjoyed cycling! We went to Cardiff, I bought more presents, it was hubby’s birthday as well so I got him great presents, I used savings for all of this, so no debt was incurred. My laptop and bike were in the sale, I tried to live without my laptop the last few months but I hated it, so got this in the sale. Bike was in the sale, have been discussing getting an e bike for the last year, I am a big girl so I am hoping the motor will help me want to cycle rather than it feeling like torture. I have gotten into a super bad habit of popping to shops and buying food, nipping in before work and buying stuff, or popping on my way home and getting random vegan bits and bobs. I don’t need to do this, but do it for convenience. I am working the next two days, so I aim to get some food ready in advance so I won’t go and stop!

Step 3- list your spending, step 4- what can I eliminate entirely?

Fixed vs mandatory spending, I will go off and do this with good old fashioned pen and paper, will also need hubby as we spend from our joint account and individual accounts to get a better idea of spends. Step 4 will depend on sorting step 3! To be reviewed!

Step 5- Embrace the art of substitution

This will be helped once the spending lists are made, what is important how can we get it cheaper/free? I joined a gym this year, didn’t read the small print and had to give three months notice- hence paying £115 a month for three months and not going to the gym- made me anxious, will get into this some other time! So, I have now got my bike, a barbell, dumbbells and kettle bells- I discovered I like weights! I got all these in sales/charity shops so this will be my way of substituting the gym. I have toyed with the idea of the local smaller gym, which is £35 a month, including swimming and exercise classes. I will see how I get on. 

Step 6- Reduce discretionary spending

There are definitely savings to be made here, we do a big shop at Aldi, great, I pop to Tesco or other, and buy random bits I don’t need, or I go in for something I do need and get caught up in everything else. This can stop, hopefully! Clothes, ah yes, I do like to buy stuff, I don’t need to buy any at the moment though so need to remind myself of that! Oh and send things back- I have a dress to send back and a present for hubby that I bought the wrong version of! We can review our utility bills, not sure how much room there is there though. 

Step 7- Empower yourself to insource

I understand this one, and we do try, hubby has limited time around work and I am not great at being handy, so projects can take a huge amount of time. I won’t lie, I would prefer to pay someone to paint than do it myself, I hate it, I always need to do multiple coats, I would prefer to work overtime. We do a lot ourselves, our dog care is done by hubby’s parents as they are retired, we give them eggs or fuel money every now and then, my mum will help when needed. We do our own cleaning and gardening, no children so that’s fine, we do go to the hairdressers- I go once every 6 months and dye my hair myself, I am 34 and not ready for a full head of greys at this time. We have been doing projects ourselves more recently, though they do take a long time!

Step 8- Change your habits, Step 9- plan ahead

This is a big one, this is where I stumble, it is work food! I need to make a big effort to buy in advance and work out what I want to eat. I work 12 hour shifts, one shift on its own is easier to manage than three, as I get in late am tired, and don’t want to prep, so I will be working on this. Today, I will make plans for food for the weekend, we also need to meal plan again as this really helps. I popped these two together as they link up nicely!

Step 10- If you need to buy, buy used or cheap

This is fine, I look on facebook etc, we have a charity on facebook where I have got some good deals, generally I like a good shop around and I like to find deals. I am worse at the impulse, food based buying! It took me a year decide to buy my bike 🙂 

Day 2- Write down your goal and pop it in your wallet

So I will do this, I think I will put on about wanting to be debt free and wanting more savings, working towards mortgage free wannabe. This is meant to help with impulse buying as I will see the goal every time I go to get my bank card. Seems like a good plan!

Day 3- Wait 72 hours before buying non necessities

This should be ok, leave it in the basket, think about it, and decide after three days if I really want it! I know some of the websites I use sometimes send you a little discount if you leave items in the basket, so could be beneficial.  Whilst waiting, I need to consider, do I actually need it, what else could I do with the money, do I own something that could suffice, could I buy it used for less, could I borrow it from a friend? Therefore, minimising impulse buying and regret!

Day 4- Where’s your money?

  1. Track your spending, this is ok, I used savings to buy for Christmas and get myself a couple of things, but normally I don’t spend like that. My biggest outgoing at the moment is impulse buying random stuff and stopping to buy food for work, or popping into the shops to get one thing and spending a small fortune!
  2. Know your net income. Yup I know what this is, my pay is pretty constant unless I pick up overtime, so this is already sorted.
  3. You need to know what you owe. Hubby and I did this the other day, we have two credit cards and one personal loan, he has a student loan and we have the mortgage. It is noted to make note of interest rates, this is an area I try to be smart. Both credit cards are on 0%, the loan was a good interest rate, and was fixed into the life of the loan, and I have already paid the interest off so am into the capital now, the student loan is hubbies and he deals with it, not much to do I don’t think, and the mortgage is on a good rate, locked in for another two-ish years! I am happy with where we are at in this area, obvs no debt would be great, but it is what it is. 
  4. You need to know what you own. We own our cars, we have a savings account together and one each, not a lot in them but they are there! We both pay into pensions, I don’t understand my pensions, I have had a few and think most are together now!

Managing Money

  1. Pay down high-interest debt according to interest rate. If I was to do this, I would be focusing on the mortgage! Personal loan interest was added to loan and is now paid off, Credit Cards are both 0% and we are good at tarting and transferring, so expenses are saved massively with this.
  2. Save up for an emergency fund. So it is advised this should be between 3-6months worth of living expenses, this is something we always talk about doing but are rubbish at, we have always ended up spending it on other things. This should be a priority.
  3. Save for retirement. We both have always payed into our pensions via our jobs, I have had a few jobs so this has left my pots a bit bitty, I did look into this a lot the other year and got so confused with what I should be doing. I will revisit!
  4. Start investing. Again another area I find all confusing, but will look at again. I have saved a page on money saving expert to read, the frugalwoods one is fine, but it is based on american information.

Twixtmas

Ah, that strange time between Christmas and New Years, the world is all a bit lost, food and alcohol is still abundant and the pandemic life is still going strong, adding to all the confusion. I have been debating whether to keep the blog going as I am super flaky, but I really enjoy sharing all the thoughts in my head. I have signed up to the frugalwoods frugal January again, so will use this platform to explore the challenge. I will also do a review of the year, look at debt, look at whats coming up and review the mortgage, we hit a lovely milestone of getting into the next bracket! I worked Christmas day, but had a lovely Boxing day and will be working New Years Eve and New Years Day, extra moolah which will come in handy as I have been overzealous with holidays next year, oops!

It has continued to be a very strange year, I have been vaccinated and boosted, had Covid last Jan, have been hit by more infections in one year than in the last ten years combined, including a nasty throat infection (I was fine with covid, just a mild cold basically which was good). Hubby has been promoted and has done a little side work where his passions lie, so I am hopeful that this may lead to something. He didn’t catch covid so is super human, and is now vaccinated, awaiting his booster.

I adopted two guinea pigs in Oct, Frank and Pumpkin, they are skittish and loving life in their new palace, they are staying in the stable until Spring when we will then move them into the field where they can have lots of green space and it won’t be as cold by then! We now only have two chickens, Abernathy and Ruby, after losing the others this year, and the dogs are awesome as always! Lady is definitely seeming more old these days, but generally they are doing well.

My laptop broke a few months back and I have been trying to see if I could live without it, but I can’t, so I am now on the new laptop, which was a bargain in the sales at £190! I love having a laptop again!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Weight Update

So, if anyone has been on tenter hooks waiting to hear from me about my surgery, it was cancelled. Unfortunately, covid 19 came to my work and we lost a few lovely old folks- who were end of life which is why they were with us, and about 21 of the staff team tested positive including me! I had felt some cold like symptoms- sneezing, snotty nose and my chest felt a little off, not unusual for an asthamtic in Winter. Anyway, I was self isolating on my lead up to surgery, following the Liver Reduction Diet and generally psyching myself up, went for the covid test and blood test on the Wednesday, got a call on Thursday saying I was positive for covid and surgery was cancelled for Saturday. Called work then booked myself and husband for another test as I was convinced it must be a false positive, it wasn’t! But hubby was negative and no symtoms of any kind which was good, so after already isolating for 12days, we then had to really isolate for another 10. I am lucky to get paid as I work in health care, hubby didn’t but managed to move some annual leave around to help him out. We are not eligible for any assistance as we earn too much- which isn’t actually a lot! I was on a total rollercoaster of emotions for next few days, angry, upset, frustrated, depressed, hopeless, glad, happy etc. After the weekend, I did start to even out again, the Saturday which was meant to be operation day was the worst emotion wise, I felt like a complete failure, I couldn’t even get surgery right.

Long story short, what I took from the LRD and lead up from the 1st Jan was that I had actually lost weight, I had walked a lot on LRD- completely on my own and in quiet isolated areas so no risk to anyone before I knew I was positive-so it proved my body was capable of so much more than I had ever realised. By the end of Jan I had lost 1stone 7pounds and was very curious about how I had done this! That month, we had one take away pizza on the day I found out I had covid, it was sooo good, and I drank one bottle of wine on the 31st Jan. I had no interest in chocolate and things were great, I was also off work for most of the month and this set me up well. Once I was back in work and trying to figure out eating, managing emotions and the usual crap thats difficult for those of us with weight issues I hit a plateau. Instead of my usual reaction of exclaiming I had failed yet again and was clearly a complete waste of space, I read about plateaus and wondered with myself if that might be why I had infact appeared to have gained two pounds yet knew I was calorie counting well. I stuck with it and the following week I lost the two gained pounds, plus another one! Over Feb I lost 5 and a half pounds. My exercise/walking went to pot in Feb, a mix of tiredness back in work, struggles with eating, feeling overwhelmed at times and general life made it a very tricky month. So, I decided that for March I wouldn’t focus on a weight loss goal, but a physical movement goal, so I decided to set myself a goal of 11k steps a day for the entire month. This has been the push I needed to get myself moving again and I have done some great walks and at 19 days in have done at least 11k steps every day! I am very proud of myself! Eating is still a massive issue and some days I am winning and others I am doing my best.

I feel I am learning lots of things about myself that I never knew before, I feel that some skills I couldn’t grasp before are starting to make sense and my ability to use those skills is improving. I am trying to just be curious, nothing is black and white, I am constantly learning and educating myself around weight management. I have ruled out bariatric surgery, but not the gastric balloon which would assist me with portion control and they have a substantial supportive 18month psychological program as well. As it stands I have lost 2stone 3pounds to date, I have never lost this much weight before! I am giving myself until my birthday doing it this way and then will revisit the balloon. Currently I am using my fitness pal to work towards a calorie deficit, continuing with DBT, reading books like Dr Chatterjee Lose Weight Feel Great and still speaking to fitness lady from the NHS!

Stay safe everyone!

Uber Frugal Month, Days 1-6

Firstly, Happy New Year!

Now on to the main reason I am here- Day 1 is about reviewing the homework, or completing it if needed which I have already done, well done me!

Day 2 is to focus on your long term goals, therefore you can ask yourself, ‘Do I want to buy the new Sims game, or do I want to achieve my goal’. As we know I am flaky about long term goals and am still working on this, but having no debt and knocking the mortgage right down are definate goals! I mean, I haven’t spent the money on my op yet so that is nice, but as soon as it is paid I think it will ignite me to be more specific on spending/saving.

Day 3 focuses on managing impulse spending by waiting 72hours between wanting something and actually buying it, giving us time to evaluate if we really want something. So far this month, I have paid £18.80 in customs for dresses I bought last year, spent £30 on presents for my best friend and her new baby, and £70 on new fencing as my dogs are at war with the new dogs across the way which is just so annoying and anxiety provoking. Oh and we have had to pay £106 for gas bottles as we have ran out. Already an expensive month, oops! Hubby paid for food shop and it was £60 which is about £15 less than normal. My plan is to wait 72hours before all purchases- I do have my eye on a cheap treadmill at the moment so will see how it goes! I have wanted a treadmill for many months now as I love walking, but sometimes I just want to stay in with the dogs (they are arthritic so minimal walking these days), I will step out in my lounge but it isn’t the same! So a treadmill won’t be an impulse buy at least, and I am waiting for a good deal. Mrs Frugalwoods points out that when waiting the 72hours, consider if you really need it, calculate what else you could do with the money, can you alter something you already own, can you get it cheaper- ah facebook market place!- and finally could you borrow it from a friend. So many good points, it is pay day tomorrow so I will be using this as a good start point to practice this. I have also tried to be careful up until now but as I just proved I have still been spending :0

Day 4 looks at food shopping, Mrs Frugalwoods asks, do you eat everything you buy? I won’t lie, I am not always the best at this side of things, but we did a meal plan and food shop so this week we have been doing well so far. We do food shop weekly, and use Aldi unless we need something we cannot get from there- Vimto is a need when on offer! I have also decided to not drink alcohol as my surgery means I cannot anyway. We are not very good at bulk cooking, but try to plan easy quick meals when I am working as I get home late, and I don’t mind a tiny bit more complex on my days off and more complex again when we are both off if we want! Though cooking isn’t really our thing. We won’t be buying take out, I won’t be allowed/able after surgery and in these weeks working towards surgery I have to follow a strict plan. Freezing food isn’t something we do often, but I have been advised that before the op I should freeze food as I wont have the energy or inclination initially. Also, we normally eat all our food on our plates so left over food is rare! I do need to have a very good look at the Liver Reduction Diet that I start on Saturday for two weeks to make sure that I meal plan correctly.

Day 5 looks at our discretionary spends, Mrs Frugalwoods says that we should times monthly discretionary costs by 12 to work out yearly costs, and see how much you might earn if you invested it instead. I am not very with it when it comes to investing, I don’t really understand the process and have looked several times but not taken the first step. I probably should! I think this time round I will focus more on this area, and try to make some effort! This is a good article that I am reading to help with this from Mrs Fruglawoods.

So today, day 6, is about organising your finances. Tracking monthly spending, knowing your monthly net income (mine does vary due to length of the month some are 4 weeks some are 5 weeks), you need to know what you owe and you need to know what you own. As suggested by money saving expert and Mrs Frugalwoods, always try to pay your highest debts down first, focus on the interest rather than monthly cost. So, as it stands I have a £5k loan with a set cost, therefore nothing to be saved from paying it off quickly as such, I will have about £4k on a 0% credit card for 18months, it probably makes sense to try and pay this off first as after 18months (though I plan to tart the card to not pay any fees) the APR is 18%. The loan is set to take 5 years to pay off and I have already had it since August 2020. I have about £2.5k saved but as I have said before, I don’t know how long I will be off work so want the cash to cover any unforeseen time off so I can pay my bills. Whatever is left when I get back to work I will pay off. I also will be able to save a chunk of my wage tomorrow as it was a 5 week month, and I get some extra moolah for bank holidays. The next step is to create an Emergency Fund- we have £1k left in our emergency fund now as we paid off some debts last year. Mrs Frugalwoods talks about saving for retirement- my work pension is a basic one and the outlook is poor, when I tried to increase payments, both my work and the pension people were totally unhelpful so I pay the usual amount in. Not really sure what else I can do here? And finally she talks about investing, it is on my to-do list I promise!

I am expecting a call from the dietician to discuss my pre op diet later today, she just called to see if I am free, exciting but nerve wracking. Need to re read the plan so I can make sure I have all my questions ready. I will also have a good look at my personal savings after pay day and money dance on my next day off, look at how much I still owe on the loan and work out when I need to pay for the surgery! I still need to book and pay for the dentist too, bah!

Uber Frugal Month Challenge 2021 More Homework…

Step 3: Categorize your expenses and Step 4: What can I eliminate entirely?

So Mrs Frugalwoods says that our spending all fits in to two catagories: Fixed Mandatory and Discretionary. She is very clear that we do not include groceries here, so my mandatory expenses are: mortgage, electric, gas, water, car insurance, house insurance. Not much there really!

My Discretionary spends are: everything we spend on the dogs and chickens, technically a fixed spend as we buy good quality foods in the cheapest way possible. Dogs medications, we get them as cheap as possible but one medication Red has is £120 for 6months not including vet app and prescription. We have to buy it from human pharmacies as our vets no longer supply it and it is actually cheaper than from the vets! The dogs also have supplements, inflamation and pain meds which are not expensive. I spend £16.40 on being with the RCN and they are my protection if anything bad happens when I am nursing. Fuel costs for the car, these are variable and I am unsure how far a full tank goes on the new car so will monitor this. Food shopping- this is normally £70-90 a week, never seems a lot of food but always costs, I will be stopping drinking alcohol for at least 6 months after my op and hubby doesn’t drink so that will be a saving, also my food intake will be a lot smaller and we won’t be buying takeaways at all initially/forever. I will be meal planning before my food shop on Sat, where I will be starting my Liver Reduction Diet- low cal, low carb and low amazing food I love!- for three weeks leading up to the operation.

We don’t pay monthly for the car insurance, it is paid in full as is the road tax for both cars. We don’t pay monthly for the house insurance that is paid in full. So that is good. Last year we stopped a few payments and I am still moving the £80 saved into the savings monthly. I got hubby to cancel my lonely planet subscription as it has changed to another mag during covid which is not as good, I have spent money on a rubbish game on my phone as I get sucked into it, massive waste of money on reflection and this will stop. I have bought a new book by Dr Chatterjee which has just been released about managing weight and how multilayered this is a thing so should be good reading. I will need to pay a large amount of money to have work done on one of my teeth as I am no longer under the NHS and no where local is taking on, I managed to chip the tooth so need the work doing sooner rather than later. I will need new work trainers soon, but will wait until after my op as only have 4 shifts left in work. So need to spend should be minimal until all my clothes are too big :0 and then I should be able to find clothes in second hand shops :0 exciting! I will continue buying hair dye at about £5 a bottle, does vary as can be on offer and I do have preferred shampoo and conditioner that I buy on offer. I can’t think of anything else except for joint spends, and we have done a good job of wearing these down last time and haven’t added anything else since then so I will look at this but am hopeful it is all good!

Step 5: Embrace the art of substitution, Step 6: Reduce spending on discretionary expenses, Step 7: Empower yourself to insource! Step 8: Examine your habits, Step 9: Plan ahead, Step 10: If you do buy stuff, get it used (or cheap!), Step 11: Banish excuses.

I felt I would put all these steps in one heading as I can cover them all within the next section rather than under each heading. Within substitution, I already dye my own hair rather than pay a hairdresser, but I do have my haircut by a hairdresser once every 6months or so at a cost of £15. I love walking and spending time in the garden and could easily do more of this if I plan my time better. Mrs Frugalwoods does a whole section on how to frugalise your groceries, and many other articles on food and money management that it will be worth reading over. I need to read more about my pre op diet requirements and expectations of food after to start to change the way I buy food. We don’t really pay for any outsourcing, except for specialist services like the gas boiler. We have been able to do most things between us- mostly hubby he is the doer and we have become more adept at insourcing. But time is always a constraint as we both work full time so we have to judge this all together if something needs urgently fixing. We recently removed the downstairs shower and plan to put storage in its space, but there is no rush so we have time to think and plan before we have a go ourselves. On the other hand the concrete floor in our lounge is cracking in places, this won’t be a job we can do and do well, so will be outsourced at some point!

I think I will start making a note of habits I have, I rarely buy drinks on the go, I tend to make my own drinks and take juice to work, but I could do better with my work food which links in with better planning really. It is a habit to always buy snacks and biscuits, this is something we can stop- hubby can have biscuits in his car if he wants! I think I also need to work on distracting myself from having my day revolve around food going forward. Work on making my days more focused and structured. Meal planning is a greatly under used tool in this house and will be focused on more, including making meals and freezing them. I will keep an eye open for gifts throughout the year rather than waiting until we need to buy things. I love marketplace on facebook and keep an eye out for anything I want on there to try and make it more cost effective. I have found a lady on youtube who is ‘fabulous 50’s’- I am not 50 for another 17years- but her workouts are free and set at a level I can follow and feel I have exercised. I need to work out if my teenhood bicycle can be fixed or if I should look out for another one as I would like to get into cycling. Whenever an excuse pops up as to why I can’t do something, I need to really think about it and what the excuse is and what it means, is there a real issue or just complacency and fear of change?

So, in conclusion, I feel terrified of surgery, but feel it is my only option now, it is worth the fear to have a more fulfilling life. Therefore all of this other stuff should fade in contrast with the fear of surgery and not being able to eat even solid food for over a month! I feel that I have tried to do small changes for so long, that this year I am going to be dramatic and do big, bad changes that will hopefully be genuinely life changing!

Ending this with genuine trepidation!!

Uber Frugal Month 2021 Homework continued…

So I have read the article I mentioned in my last post, it is interesting as I feel conflicted, having not completed the suggested work of writing out a dream bio, but thinking about it instead. I kinda wanna carry on with Dementia nursing, I don’t hate my job, it doesn’t make me stressed (well, it does because looking after humans does that), I actually, genuinely, love my residents and I have a great staff team who are all such hardworking, lovely people. But in a dream world, I want my own doggy hotel, a lovely posh place for a small amount of doggies, especially Staffies who are super dear to my heart as a misunderstood breed, where we can offer stress free homes to dogs whilst their owners are on a lovely vacay somewhere. It feels like a complete pipe dream to be honest, plus I trained for three years and have worked for triple that as a nurse (plus a few), so surely carrying on makes sense? Who knows! Anyways….homework!

Step 2: Review last month’s spending

I don’t want to….I was really silly in December, I spent silly money on things…I dont want to be held accountable! Ok, I will work backwards- £8.97 to the dogs trust, thats ok, I am happy to pay that! £17.49, that was for the latest sims 4 expansion, half price and definately fun so far, so maybe not frugal but I am not ashamed! £7.19 at subway, this is a weird, after surgery I wont be able to eat this any more moment, so totally a waste! £5.27 on costa, a specialty hot choc and orange choc muffin…yes, wasteful. £4.79 on hair dye, totally worth it, I am not ready for these grays yet! £23.30 takeaway pizza- no judgements!! £6.99 on a stupid phone game- yes I am embarassed…£6.25 on wine in Sainsbobs…£100.50 on Christmas shop in Aldi including a lovely tablecloth! Worth it sorry! £20 cash for nephews birthday. £7.36 for lunch for work and snacks, covered two lunches. £46.10 on Christmas bits from Asda, not really worth it! £20 animal angels- worth it, locking a lovely dog sitter in too look after the dogs in Sept covid allowing, a large expenditure in reality, but so worth the peace of mind from someone looking after the house, dogs and chickens (£500 for two weeks, most already paid for two cancelled hols). £90.63 for two items of clothing from Blackmilk in a size 16 for after op…clothes were on offer and amazing looking, wont be the only charge from this shop, £2.49 charge because it is from Australia. Oops. £43.24 for fuel, 14th Dec- still have two bars left on my car! £46 Amazon- gifts. £25 paid for a chance to win a house, whilst raising money for the BHF. £23.40 another takeaway… £43.20 on buying two lots of completely recyclable toothbrushes, whilst donating the same amount of toothbrushes and planting trees. £10.40 amazon- maybe a gift? £59.90 and £1.64 for another item from Blackmilk and fee as from Australia… £59.86 food shop. £12 Sainsbobs, wine. £11.25 two butties from the butty shop. £25.80 pizza takeaway…£15 oxfam- present and small donation. £17.27 vodafone bill. £30.57 brownies delivery- very very tasty, maybe supporting a small business? Or a total waste of money? This doesn’t include joint spending as this is separate and we just send ourselves the money so not always clear what has been spent on what. Total spend: £ 791.86

Wows, I mean this isnt’t a totally normal month thank god but still insanely spendy and would have totally helped my surgery payment if I had held on and been more careful, and November is probs worse as I bought most of Christmas then!

Oush, thanks UFM for making me do this, it was particulary painful!

Uber Frugal Month 2021 Homework

I completed the Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM) in 2020 with some really positive behaviours which have slipped during this crazy year, and due to deciding to have bariatric surgery, I will be entering February 2021 with personal debt of nearly £10k which I have never had before in my life! Though mine and hubby’s personal debt is now only the mortgage- we have paid off the car loan, bought a new second car outright (for a bargain) and paid off our credit card this year. Hubby has changed jobs and this one is much less money than his previous job, though he is so much happier which is the most important thing, meaning we have a little less money to play with than previous years. We have adapted to the reduction- we lowered the mortgage OP to £50 from £250 and paid off the car loan ‘saving’ £200, meaning we haven’t had to miss the larger wage too much!

One problem I have is that I do love things, hence the title of the blog being aiming for the good life, as I am not quite sure what that actually looks like, but I am trying to head in the right direction. Also, holidays, man I love holidays! I am working on creating a frugal lifestyle which incorporates holidays! Right, homework!

Step 1: Establish your goals

  1. Why are you participating in this challenge? This is quite simple, I am entering this year with the largest personal debt I have ever personally had and it is scary! We made some great headway this year in reducing our joint debt and starting to rebuild our savings, the mortgage OP’s have taken a hit, but for hubby’s sanity that is worth it. Anyway, back to this challenge, I want to set myself up to start to repay this loan- £5k loan and credit card on 0%- £3.7k plus some tooth work at £720 (freaking ouch in more ways than one). I do have about £2.5k in savings but want to keep this until I am healthy and back at work as I am unsure how long I will need off and will be on sick pay for. I am using just under 3 weeks of annual leave so that is very helpful. I did some great work last challenge, and want to get back into it!
  2. What do you hope to achieve? I want to feel back in control of my money, and I don’t want to use spending as a replacement to eating after my operation which could easily happen! At the end of Jan I would like to be able to save extra money, to feel reasured that I can smash my personal debt as quick as possible! To add all this together into making a Jodie who is more focused on looking ater herself in a variety of ways.
  3. What are your longterm life goals? I won’t lie, I am not great at long term planning as such, I am not good at future thinking and planning apart from holidays! I mean my goals could be broken down, professionally- get my NVQ level 5 in management, my manager has requested this for me and hopefully it will be agreed. I would like to do a Masters in Dementia but this is quite costly and wouldn’t really benefit work, but it is a personal interest. I would like to consider perhaps looking at becoming a Deputy Manager, maybe, but also am not sure I want to go into management either! Personally- To have my bariatric op and use this tool to become more comfortable in my own skin and to be able to enjoy the adventurous things I want to do but am too heavy for. To fit comfortably in my car without the steering wheel touching my tummy, to be able to bend and touch my feet without difficulty, to be able to walk distances- which I can already do- with ease comparatively. To aim to walk a few half marathons, I have done one previously and it was so hard, would like to manage this with much less difficulty. To carry on loving my hubby and pups and having great friends and family. Mostly vague!haha.
  4. Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10 years? This is like the above goals again! Ummmm, debt free would be good, in 10years getting close to mortgage free would be great, a healthy weight, active and doing lots of fun stuff, hiking, paddleboarding and zip lining to start! Maybe be in management in nursing, maybe having a small business on the side, still rescuing animals and travelling. Building up great savings, living a frugal life.
  5. What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from happening and what can you do about it? My weight will get in the way, but hopefully with bariatric surgery this will help this goal. Debt free boils down to me being more money savvy and frugal, so that boils down to me again! So really me and my lifestyle could all get in the way, plus my uncertainty about what I actually want and in what kind of timeline I want to achieve it.

And on that note Mrs Frugalwoods has written an article about the very areas I struggle with so off I go for a read!

Weight Part 4

A couple of months ago, I had a zoom meeting with a surgeon to discuss bariatric surgery. I have spent many years thinking about doing it, then hoping I could make the life changes needed to lose weight myself, failing and gaining more weight, whilst simultaneously eroding my self belief and self worth. By making everything about my weight, by tying all my self worth to the scales, I made my relationship with food and eating volatile and unpleasant, going from eating whatever I want, gaining weight, to trying to restrict, struggling to do so and then ‘failing’ continuing the cycle. Leading me to this person today, who is relatively happy with her life, who is actually quite successful in many areas, but feels her weight is the most defining thing. I have been working on this area, my brain, with some positive progress recently, but I am uncomfortable in my body, I do feel shame and guilt for being morbidly obese, I do feel less worthy, I am not someone who can love my weight as it is.

I started an online DBT group, which has definately helped me to start making some good progress brain wise, and the lady who created this group had a gastric sleeve, making her relateable in a way many others aren’t. One of the things she says, is that having surgery is not a cop out, it is not the easy option, it is a life chagning tool which just boosts those of us that struggle in this area. She said that when she decided to have the surgery, she felt a weight was lifted, and that it made sense. I felt the same after talking to the surgeon. This is a relatively low risk, minimally invasive- comparative to other surgeries-tool which could, no, will, assist me to change my life. It it not about my size as such, I just want to feel more comfortable, when I drive the steering wheel doesnt touch my tummy, when I reach to put socks on I can breathe, when I want to put clothes on I am not restricted in any way, if a resident falls, getting on the floor with them doesn’t make me want to fall into the ground because I am so awkward when getting on and off the floor. I cannot remember a time when I was a slim person, I have no comparison on how it feels to not be big, I am excited to move as a smaller person, to see how it feels, if life is less awkward and cumbersome. I mean, it would be easier if I could just love me and be happy, but this is not feasible at my current size. I have no interest in being tiny, I feel a size 16 would be tiny enough as a goal!

So, here I am, booked in for surgery on 23/01/2021, I have had my preop assessment, and am now very nervous when I think about surgery, but I have tried so many different things and I am ready for a big change. I am planning on changing many things in the next few weeks, not for ‘new year new me’, but for new year and more adventurous me!

Weight Part 3

I think it is really important for me to explore some information, thoughts and opinions about weight. I really like Iweigh– Jameela Jamil, this is an amazing community about learning and self love, knowledge and learning to be better- not physically but within ourselves. The body positivity ideology kicked off in the 1960’s, focused around the end of fat shaming and discrimination that comes with it, but it didn’t become a full fledged movement until 2012. Body positivity is meant to be about loving a body, regardless of its shape or size, whether it is deemed ‘acceptable’ by media outlets or not. This movement highlighted how much the industry profits off telling women (and men) that they are not good enough if they don’t have x, y or z. It is a multimillion dollar/pound industry. With body positivity, whilst the concept in itself is great, not everyone has the capacity to love their bodies for whatever reason, or the desire too.

Stephanie Yeboah was part of that movement, she is an inspirational woman and quite amazing! She was quoted in an artical written by the Guardian, where she explained that she felt the movement had been co-opted: “It has become a buzzword, it has alienated the very people who created it. Now, in order to be body positive, you have to be acceptably fat – size 16 and under, or white or very pretty. It’s not a movement that I feel represents me any more.” Within the same article, Rebekah Taussig, made this valuable comment: “The body positive movement doesn’t put people with disabilities and other marginalised bodies into the foreground. Body neutrality, I think, has the power to be really useful in particular to people with disabilities, especially those with chronic pain or people with diagnoses that are progressive. Those people are pretty frustrated with the demand to love their bodies when they feel betrayed by them. Being neutral could feel like a relief.” The Female Lead wrote an article about body neutrality and I felt this sentence summed it up nicely: ‘Our bodies keep us alive and we are destroying them to look a specific way’.

Stephanie Yeboah looks at one of the biggest criticisms when it comes to the movement of ‘fat acceptance’ which she moves towards, which is peoples concern around the health of a fat person. She feels this ‘concern’ is just a tool for fat phobia and is not a genuine concern at all. She speaks about the fact that the one and only time she has been admitted to hospital for being fat, it is because she was beaten up because she was fat. How shocking and awful is that? Why does anyone see a fat person and feel such hatred? I truely could have cried when I read that, I am not a bad person because I carry extra adipose tissue, I am not a threat to anyone. Our physcial beings are just a house for our insides, for our hearts and brains to be protected, the outside doesn’t say anything about the inside. I have perfect blood results, I am healthy internally, my body is incredible, I am sure there are plenty of thin people who are worse internally than I am. Stephanie Yeboah rounds off the comments about fat acceptance by clarifying: “We’re not promoting obesity, or telling people to be fat, we’re just saying, if you’re fat you don’t have to hate yourself.”

If we look at the This Girl Can campaign, it is amazing in its simplicity and inclusivity. This campaign was born due to many women not wanting to be active or get active, due to a fear of judgement. The campaign points out that the judgements can be from many different areas in life, fear of judgement over size, looks, taking time out for self, not being with children or family and a general feeling of not being good enough. I think this campaign and its use of real women, and by that I mean women of every shape, size, colour, religeon and fitness level, is inspiring. It doesn’t judge anyone, thin or fat, fit to unfit, althete to complete beginner. It is a celebration of how wonderful our bodies are and how enjoyable being active can be if we find our own thing.

So, even though I am looking at reducing my body size, it is not because I despise fat people, I follow many amazing fat women on instagram and do not judge them. If anything I am envious that they can feel so comfortable in their own skin, what a wonderful way to feel. My personal journey is to seek that, I asked the Dietician I see why I can’t be a happy, comfortable fat person. She answered, all the things that make you uncomfortable are daily experiences and that is why. That is valid and it is my personal experience, but I do not judge plus sized people, I envy them as I might envy slim people. I don’t want the steering wheel to dig into my tummy when I drive, which will happen soon if I carry on growing, plus I feel my eating is out of control. Rather than a thing I do for pure pleasure, it is a coping mechanism.

I think that this piece is valuable at this time as there are lots of derogatory and judgemental comments about weight gain during the pandemic, and of course because Christmas is coming, wouldn’t it be nice to just enjoy ourselves without judgement and the anxieties that this can bring?

October 2020 Mortgage Round Up

We roll into autumn/halloween/October 2020 with local lockdowns and more crappy news. One thing that isn’t crappy, is the mortgage is still reducing, woohoo!

As of the 1st October my mortgage is: £146,387

Last month saw us at: £146,846

That is a reduction in capital: £459

This is with the OP of £50, so fingers crossed we will be in the £145’s in November!

Take care out there!