Cost versus convenience

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my budget recently and where I spend my money. I let money control me last year and therefore made some awful decisions and overspent. This year I am taking back control to pay off my credit card and set up an emergency fund. At the same time I have been looking at my habits to see where I feel I waste money just because I have it in my account. It’s got me thinking about my attitude with money and is helping me understand why I place value on certain things over others.

This is where cost versus convenience comes into it.

There are a number of products I spend money on each month that I can definitely do for less money if I really wanted to. However the convenience of the products plays a massive part in why I value them.

  • Poopy Cat Litter Trays – I get these delivered every month to my door and they are fully disposable and made from recycled materials. The only downside is that my recycling collection will not take them as garden waste. These are super convenient as it takes me less than 5 minutes to change each week and the waste can be flushed down the toilet. This saves me so much time each week I find the benefits outweigh the costs at the moment. If the cost of the litter trays increase I will have to reconsider though.
  • Mindful Chef Boxes – I get these delivered most weeks and they contain 3 meals with all the ingredients I need. I’ve always had a troubled relationship with food and this box has helped me not only improve my relationship with food, but also my cooking skills. I know I can cook all the recipes I receive in the box with ingredients from a supermarket, but making the time to be organised enough to do that has been a stumbling block as meal planning and diet mentality are a major trigger. This is super convenient for me as without it I fall into unhealthy eating habits.
  • Cleaner – Last year I decided to get a cleaner and it was one of the best decision I’ve made. It has meant I can focus on my job and enjoying my free time, rather than stressing about making the time to clean. I absolutely hate cleaning, but I also hate living in dirt, so this works. With working away more in my new role it has meant I can really come home and relax and that is worth the cost.
  • Beauty Therapist – Getting my legs waxed each month started because I was doing so much swimming and found I rarely showered at home, making it difficult to keep up with shaving. So going to see someone each month made the world of sense. I’ll admit I’m debating it at the moment as I do less swimming, but the amount of time I save by doing this for 30-45 each month rather than several times a week still makes it worth it.
  • Therapy – This is a huge cost for me at the moment, but it has to be done. I probably could search for a cheaper option, but being about to build trust and talk about eating disorders with someone is what I needed. Being able to FaceTime is also hugely important to me.

These are all luxuries and I am very lucky in being able to afford them. They are also my choices and I’ve been having to remind myself of my reasons why I spend money on what I do recently. Convenience is a huge part of that of the choices I make as the time we have is also valuable and I want to spend it doing things I love. I want to travel and move to a new city in the not to distant future, but there are some things I need to do now to help make that happen. My attitude towards money needs to shift a bit to help with this though. That is what I need to work on now.

There are still some spending habits I would like to tackle so that I can do more things. After decluttering I know I do not need more things, so it is all about enabling myself to have experiences and adventures. I have since decided to add an additional goal to this year in terms of changing my attitude – I want to have money left in my account at the end of each month, not just what I put in savings accounts.

It’s okay not to be okay

Some posts are really easy to write and other are not at all. This one is definitely the latter and it’s quite frustrating as I’ve been openly talking about mental health and my personal mental health for a while. So why does it feel so hard to say ‘I’m not doing okay right now’?

I went back to the doctor this month to ask to go back on anti-depressants. I should have gone back a while ago, but made many excuses not to until I couldn’t think of any other way to help myself.  I also felt a lot of shame and guilt for needing to and that is the most frustrating part and I would not put that on anyone else at all. But that is part of what made me realised I’m not doing so well right now.

  • My negative internal voice is up at full volume.
  • I’m not sleeping well at all.
  • I don’t find joy in so many things.
  • I struggle to put my energy into social activities.
  • I’ve stopped exercising.
  • I am eating so much convenience food.
  • I’ve put on weight (I can tell from my clothes).
  • I’ve been avoiding family.
  • I feel tired and low all the time.
  • I’ve lost my concentration for reading and movies.

But at the same time I have been doing so much to keep myself going and functional

  • I’m doing weekly therapy sessions.
  • I’m bullet journalling.
  • I’m talking to close friends and family.
  • I’m enjoying my job.

In some ways then I am more than okay. At work I am thriving and love being challenged. But that is where all my energy goes and there is nothing left for taking care of myself or having a life outside of work. This won’t work long term.

So I asked to go back on anti-depressants as I know they will help me sleep. That in term will give me more energy to exercise and eat better, which is all part of taking care of myself. The activity I do like doing is with friends, which ups my social activities. The only side that feels hard is my family, where I just don’t feel like I fit in any more. My depression brain is sending all sorts of messages and at the moment, right now, they are too hard to untangle. I need some space and time to unravel my thoughts and find my place.

It’s a weird place to be right now. I don’t want anyone to treat me differently, but already see it happening with family and it sucks. It makes me feel I can’t be myself as depression me needs special treatment, which I don’t believe that to be true. I just want people to know I am trying, but I’m trying for me, not for anyone else. Don’t put pressure on me to conform. Don’t be offended if I say no. None of this is about you. It’s just me and that’s okay. I need to find my own way and I’ll ask for the help I need, don’t try to force it on me.

I don’t feel broken. I don’t need anyone to fix me.

My brain just isn’t quite working correctly at the moment and that’s okay.

I’m okay with not being okay.

My Bullet Journal

I’ve never been able to stick to writing a journal. I couldn’t do the ‘dear diary’ thing all the kids of TV shows were doing when I grew up. I was never very good at getting my thoughts out of my head. No wonder I have trouble expressing myself. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to start a blog as I wanted to share what I was doing and how I felt about things in a creative way. I am not the type of person to write and then edit. I say what I want to and hit publish, simple.

However I have always been a huge fan of lovely notebooks and funky colourful pens. I loved being in school at a time when computers were still only used for IT classes. I still find if I need to remember something I have to write it down. So all my lovely notebooks have often just had scribbles of random projects I’ve been working on over the years. However there has been a change in the last few months as I decided to have another go at a bullet journal.

So as I embark on starting a brand new Harry Potter Moleskine beauty of a notebook I thought I would share my set up for May with you.

Lets just take a moment to appreciate the stickers that are hidden in the pocket of the notebook and that I have chosen to stick on the very first page (you know the page that is attached the cover so is not really a usable page? Yeah that one.)

I start my bullet journal with a a date and key. I keep it as simple as possible and have chosen symbols that I already use when taking notes in work. I can always add to it if I need to, but after a few months I’ve found these are the ones I use.

Next up I like to have a view of the whole month. I like to know what I’m committed to already so I can plan my time well and make sure I get enough downtime to enjoy the fun things. I use one main colour per month and the other colours will pop up as nice bursts every so often. This way I can easily see which pages belong together if I ever need to look back.

The next section I include is a gratitude journal. I’ve always had trouble keeping up with these if I’ve kept them separate to my calendar, but have found this works really well. I limit myself to a sentence at most, but some days it’s just a word or two. It’s nice to look back on, but the use I get from this is that it makes me pause for a minute and think of something I’m grateful for. I also try to put down something different each day, but don’t worry about looking back at the previous months.

The next section is my master to-do list. This is for the big stuff I need to do each month. It might include the stuff I don’t have to do regularly, or one off things, or things for later in the month I might forget about otherwise. I keep the day to day stuff in a later section and I also have an app on my phone for reminders so I’m pretty well covered.

I then move on to some trackers. First up is a mood tracker. I find this really useful to remind myself how my mood fluctuates and that all feelings are temporary. I added a simple note section to this month as found it useful to look back on when talking to my therapist about any sudden dips and the possible triggers.

The next tracker I have is a habit tracker. I have chosen to pick four each month and see how I get on. The aim is not to do each one every single day, but look at routine and relate back to my mood tracker. This month i am going back to basics on a few things to bring back some good habits and also work on one (getting up) that has been a stumbling block this last month. This is also where all the colours come out!

I think I’ve put the next section in the wrong place and will rectify that next month as it is not really a tracker and I think should be at the start of the monthly section, rather than in the middle. I’ve been doing a monthly reflections page for the last few years as it is a nice way to spend half an hour with a coffee and just look back and forwards in order to focus on the now.

The next tracker is all about the money baby. I’m working really hard on curbing some unnecessary spending habits as I want to build an emergency fund and save for holidays and other fun stuff. I’ve found since the widespread use of contactless has happened I have become lax in keeping an eye on my spending. I’ve got my spending spreadsheet, the banking apps on my phone and use Money Dash Board, but right now find backing those up by writing each expenditure down makes me think things through. I used this tactic in university and it work really well, so I’m bring it back for 2017. It’s quite time consuming, so I don’t think it’s a permanent thing, but a useful tool to pull out of the box every so often.

I then have a section to focus on my blog. I’ve scaled my blogging down in the last year and my aim is one post a week as I really enjoy it, I just don’t always make the time with my job being busy. This allows me to think and plan ahead and it works really well.

The next section is also one I find extremely useful. I used to have my therapy session and then move on to something else and was getting super frustrated with forgetting what I’d been talking about the week before. Then I saw something like this somewhere I can’t now find and made it my own. I now spend 5-10 minutes after my session just noting down a few things and then before my next session I can recap.

Then comes the biggest section – the day to day bullet journal. This is where I note down anything I want to each day. I haven’t set myself a limit and just let myself free flow and go based on what I need each day, which means some days have 2 lines and others take up a page. I take a look in the morning to note down anything I need to do and then return in the evening to check those things off and note my thoughts/feelings/questions about the day. Like I said at the start I keep it simple and make it work for me.

The one thing I have found that the bullet journal doesn’t work for me with is random thoughts or working through things to make decision. So I also have to have a separate notebook to do this. I find this work for me as it also means I can use my phone notes section for random thoughts and not feel it must be transferred to the bullet journal.

There is loads of inspiration out there on what a bullet journal could do for you, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. I cannot be arsed with an index as I know I won’t keep it up to date, therefore I also don’t need to number the pages! I’m breaking the rules, but who cares, I don’t have enough fucks to give for that kind of thing.

Decluttering (my life)

I’ve been itching to declutter and tidy my house since December, but have waited until I could dedicate some solid time to it, to do it properly. I think this has always been about more than just the physical things I want to clear out, but it has only come to light as I’ve been doing the physical decluttering that the mental decluttering is coming to the surface. More on that later.

In terms of physical decluttering, I felt I had so much stuff taking up space that my home was feeling suffocating. Not nice! This has stemmed from a change in mindset I’ve been through in the last year. I’ve switched from wanting all the things, to wanting all the experiences. Many of the things I have bought or been given over the years have not stood the test of time and live up to the memories that are much more valuable. I’ve also bee inspired by a few people out there taking a more minimal approach and it resonated so much.

I decided to buy the hold grail of tidying books – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo. This was a really interesting read and it definitely made me think about what I have in my space differently. I’ll admit now that I did not fully follow the method, but I definitely took on the principles, which led to a much more thorough clear out than I would have been able to do otherwise.

My clear out has been so thorough that I now cannot put my car in the garage as there is so much stuff in there that needs to go to the tip of charity shops (I have a plan for the next week or so to get this gone!).

It was an exhausting few days, but it was so therapeutic doing it and seeing the results instantly. This is also when it hit me about the mental decluttering. I turned down a few invite over the weekend as I wanted to concentrate on doing this and I think I was able to process some stuff I’ve been working through in therapy while sorting out the things. I’ve been letting things sit silent rather than face them over the last year and it’s all just under the surface and I am worried I will explode, but now I feel calmer. I want to face some things and deal with them no matter what the outcome as I know that will be better than keeping the issues all within myself. It’s made it very clear to me that some relationships in my life need to change, just as I needed to change how my home felt. It’s made me assess what is important to me and in turn what is therefore not important and has to go.

My home now feels peaceful and welcoming again, which is good timing seeing I’ve had to work from home this last week after hurting my foot (yes caused by tripping over the decluttering). I have space and gaps in cupboard and drawers and I have no desire to fill them up. I’ve moved things around a bit to give the things I value more space. My bedroom is no longer the storage area and my space room is now set up as a work space again. The cats have their space, but do not possess the whole house anymore (to their complete disappointment).

Wandering all over the place

I planned this post to be about my weekend away, but I ended up travelling quite a bit for work either side of the weekend and it’s felt like I’ve been all over the place both physically and mentally.

I started off my travels by heading to London for a last minute trip with work. I needed to catch up with a few people and all of them were at the London office so it made sense to head there for the whole day. I quite like going to London with work, but I do like it when I have a bit more time so I can add on an adventure like going to a museum exhibition or head to the Japan Centre for supplies. This was a rush job as I needed to be back in time to pack for the next location.


My next stop was Brighton! A trip with the girls for the marathon weekend. I’ve been going a few years now and it is always a great weekend. Two girls were doing the marathon, another two did the 10k and a few others did the local park run. I walked everywhere as my foot is still playing up with plantar fasciitis. It was super hot and I caught the sun while we were shopping and relaxing on the beach. We even bagged free t-shirts for taking part in a game that involved being broadcast on the big screen on the beach! 


Sunday involved coming back from Brighton with a quick stop at home and then driving up to the Lake District for another work trip. It wasn’t too bad as a friend drove back from Brighton so I only had the trip north to do. I hoped by going later in the afternoon I would miss the holiday traffic and I was right! I got up to Kendal at 8:30pm and crashed out. It worked out really well as I was refreshed for my 9am meeting in Grasmere.


The weather continued to be wonderful and spending the afternoon out around Grasmere was great. I love my job! After a day in the Lakres I then headed over to the Yorkshire Dales for another work trip. I met a work colleague for dinner in Settle and enjoyed a lovely evening and meal before more work in the Dales the following day.


The next was spent working from a local office with the local team. A piece of work I am doing is being tested up in the Dales and I don’t get to go up very often to work with the team and it’s always a good day. Fingers crossed I can work it out to go on a more regular basis.

After a day in the Dales it was time to head home. Unfortunately the traffic was not so kind on the way home and I got stuck and didn’t arrive home until 9:30pm. This is where my brain stopped working for 24 hours! I was so on form throughout all the travelling, but once back to normal I lose momentum and felt awful. I underestimated the impact of the travelling and paid for it by trying to push through it. Next time I need to plan in time to rest and rebalance. 

I love exploring but I also need the energy to do it and enjoy it. Just being able to pause in between is useful and I’m learning all the time what I need to do physically and mentally to be my best with everything I want to do.

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