Thursday 30 August 2018

Monthly Roundup - August 2018

It's been a strange kind of month really.  Expensive in some areas and not in others, but overall the budget fared pretty well for once. Here's how it all panned out:

Food - This came in at £16.95 under the usual monthly budget of £400 which was very good.  Possibly because we went away for three days, whereby family members kindly fed us, but I was never the less happy with this result.

Household - This budget was one of ones that came in over, namely by £8.05 over the £50 budget.  Not bad though, as this is usually one budget that gets well and truly busted each and every month.

Miscellaneous - This budget came in at £27.99 under the £50 budget allocation.  I'm not sure why this was really, save that there were no birthdays and I had less cakes to buy at work due to the fact that most of the interns left whilst I was on leave for a week.

My Personal Budget - This went over the £25 allotted by £15.15, which isn't too bad for me.

LB's Budget - This was the major overspend this month at £90.16 over the £25 allotted, mainly because I bought her some new school skirts and socks and I also got her hair cut properly for a second time, after the previous hairdresser was frightened to cut as much off as she wanted.

In addition, LB was going to a music festival at the end of the month with a friend and her family and needed a few things to wear/take with her, so I obliged and also gave her some cash to spend whilst there. Not a big deal, as she doesn't ask for much these days.

Home - This budget also went over by £17.75 over the budget of £20.  I did treat myself to a new docking station for my iPod which cost £16 from the CS though, plus some other bits and pieces for the house and garden.

Travel for Work - This budget came in under by £14, due to the fact that I had put £10 on my travel card at the end of last month which saw me through the first week, plus I was absent from work for a week.

In all, a good result, but I needed to be a bit careful this month due to having less income.  OH usually gives me some money towards groceries, but he had a large credit card bill after our holiday, so he put it towards that instead, which was fine by me, as he actually paid for the groceries when we were in Portugal.

Next month, I don't think I've got any major expenses coming up.  I am, however, going to start thinking about Christmas presents and possibly start early buying some of them.  I suggested forgoing gift exchanges to one family member last week, but she really wanted me to continue to buy gifts for a couple of her children, so I relented.  The others I'm giving cash to though, which will simplify things a little.

I hope your budgeting efforts have rewarded you this month.

Monday 27 August 2018

Relishing the Bank Holiday Weekend

It's been a very relaxed kind of weekend around here.  We came back to London from Yorkshire on Friday afternoon and have been settling ourselves back in.  There was the obligatory food shop and some washing to take care of, but other than these things, I've been able to do as I please and continue to relax on my week off work.

I haven't tackled the house yet, as I'm still not feeling it. I did venture into the spare bedroom/my sewing room in an attempt to do some decluttering, but I have to say that the whole process left me feeling a bit overwhelmed and depressed, due to the amount of stuff that is in there and that I am going to have to make decisions about at some point. A few things did find their way into the donation box, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Anyway, I've managed to catch a couple of classes at the gym this weekend, which has been good and has helped to shake me out of my lethargy. It was definitely necessary, as I'm back at work tomorrow and it's going to be full on, mainly due to the fact that we are down to minimum volunteers now all of the interns have left.

LB is going away with a school friend and her family on Thursday, to a music festival for three or four days, which is very exciting for her. I've been speaking to her friend's mum today about boundaries and such, which reassured me. Apparently, there are a few local families that go there together each year, so there'll be quite a few people she knows there.

I dragged our tent out of the shed yesterday morning for her to take with her.  It hasn't seen the light of day for quite a few years, since there was a camp out at her cousins house some years back. This afternoon, LB and OH are taking it to the park to practice putting it up.  I might go along with the dog just to watch the spectacle.

Needless to say, LB is super excited about the trip and can't wait to go.  She's been packing since we got back to London. As a consequence, I've decided to leave cleaning the house until she's away, but we'll see if that happens.

I feel very rested which is good and I'm slowly trying to psyche myself back up for returning to work. We might try to squeeze in a visit to the allotment this afternoon, to harvest more tomatoes.  I need to pickle some beetroot that we picked last week and use some cooking apples that OH's parents gave us from their garden.

I'm already enjoying the cooler weather and am looking forward to getting my winter wardrobe out and cosying up in sweaters, jeans and boots. I'm an autumn girl at heart, being born in October. It is probably my favourite season, what with the excitement of Christmas to come and the stiflingly hot weather behind us. After tending the allotment all summer it always feel great to gradually put it to bed for the winter and turn toward more home based activities.

I hope you're enjoying your Bank Holiday Weekend.

Thursday 23 August 2018

A Holiday Charity Shop Haul

During our few days away in Yorkshire, LB and I managed a bit of recreational thrift shopping.  I don't go into charity shops much these days, due to working in one, but we had an hour to kill before LB had a hair appointment, so we used it to scour a few local shops for bargains.

Here's a few things that I bought:

First was a new jigsaw for our next break. We've been working on one this break, which is a map of the world.  Unfortunately, when we finished it, we found that there was a piece missing from it, which is a pity.  It was new when I bought it, so we must have lost it somewhere on our travels which is a bit annoying. I have a suspicion that the dog may have run off with it. 

Anyway, I've bought us our next one which is this lovely jigsaw of the London skyline.  It's new and still in it's cellophane and cost just £2.99.  I really enjoy doing these, although I do get a bit obsessed.  Such a simple and relaxing past time, which always helps me to unwind.

I also bought this lovely cloth shopping bag for £1.49.  It has lovely large gold spots on it, adding a bit of glam and glitz to the often mundane task of grocery and everyday shopping.

I also bought a couple of items of clothing.  The first was this pair of harem pants which I have already worn and found really comfortable.  These will be added to my current work wardrobe.  Quite a bold print, but they are made of the softest jersey.  They cost just £3.49 and I can see me wearing these a lot, for work and then possibly the gym eventually. (The black fake fur lined skater shoes I'm wearing in this photo were a bargain from H&M in the sale the other week.  Just £6 and I'll be wearing them for work in the autumn).

Finally, I also bought this lovely grey/black spotted scarf for me.  It is new with tags and cost just £2.50.  I may do my usual of making it into an infinity scarf and I will be wearing it for work in the autumn winter. 

I bought one other item, which was a pair of white light up flashing trainers for LB to take to a music festival with her.  They were brand new and are chargeable using a USB cable. She was so happy to  find them as she's wanted some for a while and they cost £35-£40 new elsewhere.  I bought them for £6, which was a bit of a gamble, as I didn't know if they would work, but they charge up just fine.

Sunday 19 August 2018

A Week Off

Yesterday, was my last day at work for 9 whole days.  I'd booked another week off during LB's summer holidays from school, so that we could hang out together a bit before she goes back to school. To be honest, I was glad to get away.  Just recently we've had lots of shop lifters in the shop and it's starting to get me down. We work so hard to raise funds for the charity and people just come in and help themselves to whatever they want.

We try to keep an eye on people acting suspiciously, as much as possible and do sometimes deter or catch shoplifters in the act, but we also can't  be expected to catch or prevent every single one, especially when some are under the influence of who knows what and quite scary or intimidating to approach. It just makes me a bit cynical on the whole and disappointed in humanity.  After all, these people are stealing from people who have very little, not even basic human rights in some cases. It makes my blood boil.

Anyway, no more talk of work, I've got a whole 9 days of not having to worry about it.  The shop is closed for 4 days during my absence for maintenance work, which makes it easier for the manager in some ways.  The takings will be down, but it can't be helped. We start the shop sale when I get back, which should be interesting.

So, what am I planning to do this week?

We are heading up to Yorkshire for 3 days to visit family which will be nice.  It will be good to get out of London, especially in light of the way I'm feeling at the moment and just have a complete break, as it allows me to forget about work for a while and not wonder what's going on in my absence.

On the other days, I'm intending to do a whole new raft of decluttering around the house.  I've already pulled out about 15-20 books from the bookshelves in our bedroom that I'm going to part with, as I'm not going to read them again. I've also got in mind some items in the kitchen cabinets that I'm going to donate, some of which belonged to my mum, but I just don't use them. I will keep one, as a memento, but the rest can go and find a new home.

I need to get LB's hair cut before school starts again and before she goes to a music festival at the end of the month.  I got it cut a few weeks ago, but the stylist was frightened to cut it as short as LB wanted it, so bottled out, but this time around we both want a good 6 inches cut off for going back to school. It will be good to get rid of any split ends.  LB has lovely long thick hair, not at all like mine, but it takes quite a bit of managing, so getting it cut into a long bob will mean a lot less work for her and besides it will probably grow back in no time and a change can be a good thing every now and then.

I really need to try to do some cleaning around the house this week too, but I'm not sure how much of this I'll get around to doing. I've not really got much interest in housework at the moment, but it needs to be done so I am hoping to get around to cleaning some rooms.

Thankfully, the allotment is more or less taking care of itself at the moment, what with more changeable weather.  We harvested lots of tomatoes and beetroot last week and I need to pickle the beetroot, use up some rhubarb and continue to use the mountain of tomatoes in the fridge. I've frozen a few bags of ones that had split through being so ripe, but I may have to freeze more to get the best use out of them.

I'll try to post a few times during the week to keep you up to date with my progress.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

A Much Better Week

After complaining of not really being very productive for the past few weeks, on account of the heat, this week I've managed to achieve a bit more, thankfully.  Productivity  has mainly been on the gardening front, but at least it's something.

On Sunday morning, on the way back from the dog walk, I dropped into the allotment to water the plot and harvest anything that was ready.  There were lots of tomatoes, beetroot, rhubarb, potatoes, more French beans and a couple of courgettes.

I ended up staying for a couple of hours and weeding the plot, as it was in total shade, thanks to the boxing club next door. This made it much more bearable and I was able to get up to scratch with keeping it looking tidy.

I didn't manage to get any photos, however, as I'd left my phone at home charging.  I'll try to get some the next time I visit.

Later in the week, on my day off on Wednesday, the weather was decidedly cooler so I ventured into the garden, which had been looking a bit overgrown since we came back from our holiday.  I nearly didn't do this, as I got it into my head that I would go to the garden centre instead, to possibly buy some new plants and have a mooch. Thankfully, the frugal part of my brain, which sometimes makes itself heard, told me not to bother and that it would be a better idea to stay at home and tidy the garden instead, which is what I ended up doing.

I gave some of the shrubs in the borders another chop back and also cut back some of the climbing plants that come from next door and start to smother my plants if I don't take control of them.  After I'd finished I was happy with my progress and proceeded to clear one of the raised beds and sow some more lettuce seeds into it for an autumn salad crop.

We're managing to use the existing cut and come again salad at the moment, but there's not that much of it left now, so I thought I'd better make arrangements to grow some more for when it eventually dies off.

I did a couple of other small jobs, including repotting a Date Palm, that I'm trying to grow as big as I can before I plant it in the border.  In the autumn, I'm finally going to remove some of the old woody shrubs and put some new plants in, as one of the borders is getting very congested now.  It will be strange and a bit sad to see the old shrubs go, but I feel it's time for a change and I'll enjoy sourcing some new plants for this border and seeing how they grow and fit in.

After sweeping up the decking, I moved inside to do some other jobs, the first of which was to boil up some beetroot I'd harvested on Sunday and pickle it.  It made a couple of jars, so that should keep me going for a few weeks or until I make some more.

I've currently got French beans drying on the window sill to use as seeds next year, green tomatoes ripening and sweet pea pods also drying, so it's a bit of a production line around here.  There's also lots of rhubarb in the fridge, plus gooseberries and blackcurrants in the freezer, that I need to make into jam at some point. I still have more than two jars left from the last time I made some but it's quite tasty and is a good way to use the fruit up that no one else in the house likes.

Finally, I also blanched and froze some French beans we've had in the fridge for over a week, as I didn't want to waste them by letting them get past their best. So, it's been quite a productive day all told.

I'm hoping the cooler weather continues for a while so that I can get more jobs done.  I'll keep you posted.

Monday 6 August 2018

Earn/Save an Extra £2018 in 2018 - July

This month, things have slowed down dramatically on the saving and earning extra money front.  The main reason being that I've decided that using supermarket vouchers doesn't always save money, especially when said vouchers are for use at Waitrose. I end up spending way more on groceries than I would if I shopped at Lidl for them, which is madness.

Instead, I've been trying to do all of my shopping at Lidl for most of the month and not using the vouchers at all. I'm hoping it will help keep me within budget.

So, that said, here's where I have earned or saved extra this month.

1) I sold a few more items on eBay this month.  This has earned me £9.64 this month.

Total earned on eBay - £9.64.

2) I got a free bus journey to work the other day, on account of the ticket scanner on the bus not working.  This saved me £1.50. Every little bit helps.

Total saved on bus fares - £1.50

The total amount of extra money earned this month is £11.14, which when added to last month's total of £796.17, brings my current total this year to £807.31.

As you can see, I've saved a lot less money this month, partly as a consequence of what's mentioned above and partly due to going on holiday for one week too. I'm not sure how much more money I will be able to earn save this year, but I'm going to continue to plod on and do my best.

Friday 3 August 2018

Sweating it Out

Another hot day and I have to say that I'm really struggling with the heat.  I can't seem to motivate myself to do much at all. Yesterday, on one of my days off, I caught a class at the gym in the morning and then did a top up food shop and from then on I gave up and binge watched the new series of Anne with an E (based on Ann of Green Gables) on Netflix.

I feel super unproductive, but I just can't bring myself to go outside.  If I manage the laundry and washing up and load/unload the dishwasher, I feel like I've achieved something big.  Is anyone else feeling the same way?

Today, I feel a little more comfortable. I have walked the dog, (keeping to the shady side of the streets), hung some washing out inside and washed the vegetables that OH harvested from the allotment. OH has got  out the air conditioner, that we bought last year when the weather turned very hot, but was only used once or twice. It makes the kitchen much more bearable, but I still can't bring myself to venture outside. Even the dog has stayed inside today and is currently sat at my feet underneath the kitchen table.

I have even taken to buying plastic water bottles this year, (please don't judge me), which I never do, and freezing them, so that the defrosting bottle cools me on the way to work and keeps me hydrated with lovely cold water for most of the day, when I remember to drink it, that is. What I should do is try to freeze a reusable plastic bottle and see if that works as well. It would be much more sustainable.

I've also been keeping the freezer stocked with ice lollies to help cool us down.  If we had a freezer box at work, I'd do it there too. Instead, we've been fighting over the fans.  The one in the office I use always gets taken to the office upstairs (that I don't use), and I'm left with no fan.  I took one out of the stockroom on Wednesday and put it in my office, only for someone to take it back into the stockroom again, where there are four others.  I wasn't happy. Being a woman of a certain age, having a fan is even more essential for me, but I'm not going to go around telling people that.

As a consequence of the weather, I personally am being very neglectful of the allotment and garden.  OH has been over to water and harvest a couple of times since we came back from Portugal, but I haven't set foot over there yet, which is a bit naughty. It's just so exposed, with no shade at all.

We've got a bit of a glut of tomatoes and French beans at the moment. We're slowly working our way through it. There's lots of cut and come again lettuce in the raised beds in the garden too, which we are eating. I'd love to be outside gardening, but I just can't face it.

Having said all of this, I'm very grateful not to be in Portugal right now where temperatures are predicted to rise to over 40 degrees centigrade this week. It's bad enough here at 35 degrees. Will I ever get used to this hot weather? I'm not sure I will, maybe I just need to stop whingeing just get out there and get on with things regardless.

If anyone has any tips regarding how to keep your cool in this weather, I'd be happy to hear them.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Monthly Round Up - July

A busy month with work, our holiday, school ending for the summer and visiting family members(although they didn't stay with us). It's not been so bad, budget wise, but I did go over in most categories, mainly due to buying bits and pieces for the holiday.

Here goes with the results:

Food budget - This came in £6.90 under the £400 budget, which considering we were away for a week, isn't too great, but under budget all the same.

Household budget - This went over the £50 budget by £30.68, mainly due to buying sun cream, insect repellent and other toiletries for the holiday, plus the regular stocking up of some toiletry and household items.

Miscellaneous budget - This went over the £50 budget by £34.85 this month, due to a niece's  birthday gift and buying a few extras for the holiday.

My Personal budget - This went over the £25 budget by £80.02 because I indulged in a few more t-shirts and tops to wear for work. I have devised myself a uniform for hot summer days, which consists of long black short sleeved t-shirts from H&M and loose fitting harem trousers.  It works well in the heat and I wanted to buy enough to get me through the summer.  It makes getting dressed for work much quicker and easier.  I also had a haircut which cost over £30, but was badly needed.

LB - This £25 budget also went over by £49.93, due to buying her several new pairs of shorts for the holiday/summer holidays and also another £30+ haircut.

Home - I went over the £20 home budget this month by £32, to purchase my sun lounger, plus a couple of other small items for the house and garden.

Travel - This £40 budget came under by £4, mainly due to being on holiday for a week.

All told, I was happy enough, as I cash flowed holiday spending money (even coming back with lots of euros for the next time we go away), LB and I got much needed haircuts, I've now got lots of options to wear for work and I still had some money left over to transfer to one of my savings accounts, which I consider a positive result.

There shouldn't be much required expenditure next month, unless we go away again, as I will be taking another week off in August. We will probably stay in the UK though, so we can take the dog with us. There will be the expenditure of buying a couple of new school skirts for LB and maybe some socks and underwear, but otherwise, I have no spending planned. I'm hoping to put a bit more money aside next month as a consequence, but we'll see what happens.