Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mid-November update

What have I been doing? That's a good question.
  • I'm almost 50% through my Pathology course. I'm picking away at it and doing well so far. It's more or less designed for massage therapists, so the 'therapist's notes' portions aren't necessarily relevant to me as I won't be doing that programme. I'm going to concentrate on 'just' understanding the actual pathologies, rather than the therapy required to both save myself some time and some reading.
  • Roomie P was at his parents' for a week and it felt like a month! I was by myself for most of the time, as Roomie E works long hours. It was nice but also a bit odd, as even when neither of them is here, I don't feel 'alone' in the house yet I felt that way last week. How funny!
  • The chickens are happy and healthy and I've been collecting a good number of eggs from them. People tell me they're delicious, so I suppose I should really try a couple! I actually managed to pet one the other day - soft! - although they weren't really thrilled about it. They're still getting used to me, I think.
  • Work is steady, not overly busy but not dead either, although it is coming up to that time of year. We're busier this year than we were last year at this time, so that's something at least, and hopefully, the momentum will see us through to the holidays.
  • Thursday night I went to a ladies' group meeting with the group I'd been part of for the past year. It was so nice to see everyone! I stayed overnight with one of the ladies and from there I took myself to my hospital appointment on Friday (found my way to the hospital on my own - woot!). That was a pretty miserable experience and not what I had anticipated. I was expecting just a chat to see how I'm doing after my procedure in May, but it turned out the doctor wanted another sample (something to do with the womb lining changing - so this is a pre-pre-pre-cancer check, from the way I understand it). Fair enough. Except that it's an exceptionally painful procedure to endure for me these days (not that it's ever fun or discomfort-free, but let's just say there were tears involved this time). 
  • This just means I'm put on a waitlist for another out-patient procedure, literally so they can get a sample that would normally take about 5 minutes. I'll be under general anaesthetic again... :( But as it's much less invasive and quicker than the other procedure, the recovery time will be far quicker so that's something.
  • I've found myself a part-time job! Roomie E works at a 5* hotel about 10-minutes from home and spoke with her boss about some potential work for me (even if it's just over Christmas). I am now the washer and polisher of glasses for the sommelier department. Literally. That's all I do for about 3 hours a night. It's perfect, although hot and noisy as I'm located at the back of the kitchen. But I'm not dealing with the (5*) public and it apparently does help the sommeliers if the glasses are prepared and back area is tidied, as this is normally something they would do. I just go in at peak times (7-10, 8-11 sort of thing). And only on Fri/Sat nights as this is not something I'd leave or compromise my day job for. I'm on a zero-hours contract, which means no commitment from either side which is actually perfect. I can pick up/turn down shifts as I like or as I'm needed. This will help with at least a couple of loan payments and hopefully also get me a new set of front tires for the car.
  • I had hoped to do Nanowrimo again this year, but that hasn't happened. 
  • I'm still fiddling with my budget and have made a couple of purchases I'm considering returning. My 'need/want' switch seems to be stuck, so I think I'm going with my post-spend nudges and send the items back.
  • I have a long weekend this weekend, so am looking forward to tomorrow as well as it means I have a whole day to recover from the weekend. Yesterday I was fighting a headache ALL day - I finally took some ibuprofen later in the afternoon and that got rid of it, but last night I remembered to take water with me and went through about 1.5L whilst I was working, so that helped immensely. I'm not nearly as dehydrated this morning.
  • I do, however, need a better pair of shoes. I'm wearing boots and they're just not appropriate - far too hot - so I need to scour the grocery store lines and the second-hand shops for something cheap and cheerful.
Otherwise, I've been quiet and just enjoying my space.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Thinking ahead

I'm thinking ahead to the end of the year and some goal setting, but the two words above came to me a couple of days ago as my 'theme', if you will, for the new year.

I (by nature? by nurture?) don't tend to give a lot of thought to my purchases, instead going on my impulses. That instant gratification, the Thrill of the Buy, the ongoing 'want vs need' war.

The purpose of this theme is to get me consciously thinking about what I spend, what I do/don't do, eat, etc.; to focus and make me differentiate between excuses and reasons, and to fill my time more purposefully, whatever I feel that may be.

I spend a lot (A LOT!) of time on electronics - my iPad, my computer, the TV. I don't spend nearly enough time reading (although a huge number of my books are on my iPad now so that's a bit of a catch 22), walking, cooking, baking. I don't spend ANY time meditating, doing yoga, or simply resting.

So when this popped into my head the other day, I jumped at it. It's not meant to be an exercise of spending hours deliberating about the reasons/justifications to do/not do something, just to literally give me a few seconds to consider, reasonably, about my choice or option and why/why not.

Why wait to go for a walk? Why wait to take myself away from Candy Crush? Why wait to read that page for school? Why wait to have tea/cake/bacon? Why wait to purchase a new set of boots? Why wait to have an apple?

The little changes will hopefully work into larger ones, and also help me to live more in the moment, rather than terminally waiting for the 'when I...' of the future which never seems to happen. I struggle with this.

Funnily enough, I came across this video this morning, posted by a friend on FB and it, almost literally, is exactly what I'm trying to do, only said with much more clarity and meaning than I could ever do.

It's 22 minutes long, but it doesn't really feel like it. It sort of tapers off at the end with a plug for 'learn more at', but the bulk of the message is there and I really appreciated it.

Just be more conscious and work to define needs/wants more clearly. Train the brain! :D

Friday, 27 October 2017


There are arguments about which is better to do when tackling debt: I believe Gail Vaz Oxlade was a proponent of ridding yourself of the smaller, more easily removed debts first, as I think she felt you could mark the little achievements as big milestones, and then roll that payment onto a second one (snowballing) to bring that down faster. Others prefer tackling the higher interest ones first, which also makes sense because of the interest tacked on each month.

I'm not sure where I sit - somewhere in the middle, although I only have one choice that makes the most sense for me. My loan is the lowest unsecured interest rate I have, so it makes sense to pay off the credit cards, both of which are twice that. My LOC & Canadian CC both have interest rates under 9%.

So I paid off the CCs. 

Cleared - both CCs are now at a zero balance. Woo! Phew... 

Set - my Canadian debt repayments this morning: 15 months' worth! I'm putting $200 per month on my LOC (for a total of $3,000), and $75 per month on my credit card (for a total of $1,125). That takes me to the end of January 2019, but will revisit at the end of next year, just to make sure things are on track. I can check on things anytime and adjust as necessary, but love that I can more or less leave it alone. The exchange rate was relatively good (£1 = $1.69) so I decided to go ahead and send the funds and get everything set up (today it has already fallen slightly, so my timing was good).

Registered - two of three online portions of the programme I'd like to do next year - £100. One takes 8 hours, the other about 30. The final one is 64 hours, so I'll be looking at that in January or February. It felt a bit overwhelming at the moment! Once that third and final portion is done, I'll have to see how I'm doing before registering for the full programme. It might be that I have to postpone for another year, but at least I can get started.

I've just received confirmation that my material is ready for download so, HURRAH! I can even get started on this stuff this weekend.

Yesterday I put a full tank of petrol into the car and bought a few toiletry bits that I've been putting off. I also removed my credit card details from my Amazon & FB accounts.

Today I need to buy chicken food for the girls and some envelopes so I can set myself up for cash only from this point on. 

I got a bigger paycheque today than I was anticipating, which is great. I have to get two new tires for the car (I had considered four, but think I will maintain it on an 'as and when' basis, so I can build up my emergency fund again). I can now cover those - which should be less than £100 according to the guy at the garage - and my homoeopath appointment on Tuesday.

I was flipping through a local magazine yesterday as well and came across an ad for a cleaning company - who are hiring! I'm sitting and thinking about this, but the pay is weekly and it's around the New Forest so I hope I could get something fairly local. I'm not willing to go too far just to clean someone's house and wind up using my paycheques just to cover petrol. I'm going to send her an email to inquire and see what she says. My hours are limited because I can only do weekends/holidays, but it costs nothing to ask at least. It's hard work, cleaning, but it doesn't have to be forever.

I also sent an email to the local organiser of the Ringwood ladies' group that I was hoping to join to say that I didn't think it was a good fit for me, but would take her suggestion about contacting a different group. She agrees as she thinks they're a bit closer and certainly have a more 'youthful outlook' - ha ha! So I'll be sending an enquiry email about that over the next few days too.

I saw my brother & SIL on Tuesday evening. They had just arrived from Vancouver that afternoon and driven directly to my cousin's so were pretty exhausted. We went out for dinner, though, and managed to have a decent visit and catch up. They are finally engaged, too - it only took my brother 13 years! They then went to Wales for an overnight visit (!) before heading back to London yesterday for a few days to see friends there. They fly back to South Africa on Monday.

My sister arrives on Monday for two nights, too. I haven't seen her since May, so we'll be able to have a good catch up whilst she's here. I'm looking forward to that. She'll be arriving mid-afternoon Monday, so once I've picked her up at the station we'll have a couple of hours so I can show her around a bit. The clocks go back on the 29th (just here, don't panic!), so it'll be dark by 5:00 or so.

I decided last week that I needed some proper wet weather gear, so I did a bit of a spending flurry and ordered a new waterproof jacket, a pair of Bogs, and a proper, pretty umbrella (it's a sunflower!). This means I need to go through my closet again and sort out my coats, jackets, etc. I have two that need re-waterproofing before I give them away, so the stuff to do that with has been added to my Amazon wishlist. The Bogs fit a bit snugly, despite being my usual size, so have reordered a half-size larger. I'll be sending back the original pair next week. The boots and jacket are teal so I'll stand out amongst the Brits, who tend to black, brown, navy blue, and grey. I do love my colours.

Anyway, tonight there's a week's worth of ghosty shows starting on TV - you can bet I'll be watching! I love that stuff. And Tuesday is the final of the Great British Bake Off!

Have a great weekend, all!

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

(Almost) Clearing debt with...more debt?
I am both terrified and pleased by this. This whole 'borrowing from Peter to pay Paul' existence of mine is a creation of my own doing; I appreciate and accept that. The bank said 'no', so I went elsewhere to try and, today, an hour after applying for a loan, the money was in my bank account.

So. In full disclosure, I got £7,000 at a rate of 15.9% for five years (repayment total over that time is £9,828). I now have ONE reasonable monthly payment of £164.28, can pay extra as and when I can and pay it off early, both with no penalty. This saves me approximately £150 a month, giving me a little breathing room. Obviously, the sooner I pay it off, the less I end up paying.
Repayments start on 24 November, so I have a month's grace. I'm pleased because even though the amount isn't QUITE enough to clear my entire debt load, the interest rate is half of what I currently have on my credit cards, so guess what's getting cleared first? One has already been done. I'm still expecting things to go through on the other one so am waiting for the numbers to change before I clear it.
I've put £1,000 directly into my savings account, as I also want an emergency fund. This is a flexible number, but is a good place to start. This can also be used to towards the loan, which seems a little contradictory, but I'm going to see how I go in the next 12 months.
The other half of the loan is going back to Canada to continue paying down my debts there. With the current exchange, that will give me approximately a year's worth of payments. I'm sure there's a way to set recurring payments, so I'm going to look into that over the next few days and set that up. This gives me a year's grace, so to speak. Once that's over, then I'll have a second monthly payment to contend with, but by then the minimum payments will have fallen considerably and I can adjust accordingly.

I intend to get this paid off long before the five-year mark, however. It means some serious belt-tightening and watching every penny, but this is the 'terrified' part of the whole thing. I absolutely do not want to fall behind, miss payments, or in any other way mess this up. And I don't want to still have it in five years. Or four years. Or even three. It feels a bit 'loan shark-y' although has good general reviews and a good score from the financial overseer of such things.

Anyway, I am feeling a bit lighter now and with the right focus and plan, this feels much more easily resolved somehow.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

A bit of overtime!

Just today really. But how's that for an earworm? Oh, boy! That takes me back a bit.

Anyway, I 'volunteered' to do a few hours overtime (and am taking 15-mins to type this) as we were short staffed this week and our typing got a bit ahead of us. Although we're more or less up to date with it, it's easier to come in and hammer out a few reports so that it's not so overwhelming. The phones aren't ringing, there's no one asking me to do other things, and so it's actually far more productive.

Plus, it's a pretty miserable day today - Storm Brian is en route and there are heavy winds and periods of torrential rain. Apart from wondering how the cat is, I'm happy to be inside for the most part.

I won't see the extra pay until next month's pay cheque at this point, but any little bit extra is welcome.

I'd best get back to it, as I don't want to be here all day and have a couple more reports I'd like to get done before I leave (and it's almost 2:00 already).

Have a great weekend!