Tag Archives: Money

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.

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.

Let’s talk about money… part 2

Following on my post earlier in the year I have continued my thinking about how I spend and save my money to be able to do the things I want to do. I want to emphasise the ‘do things’ aspect of my thoughts as that is really a big shift in my mindset over the last few years. Doing things and having amazing experiences goes beyond money, but I find money or the absence of money can get in the way of experiences. The stress money can cause can be horrible, but I truly believe you can have great experiences no matter what your budget it. As I said this is a shift for my own mindset as I have very much lived in the moment with money over the last 7-8 years. I mean I have saved when required, but it’s always been for something specific – my house, a holiday, etc. – rather than having a fun fund or emergency fund to keep life easy. I want to stop living payday to payday as it is so not fun!

So I’ve continued with my goals from January (paying of my credit card and setting up my emergency fund), but I also want to get rid of some hindering spending habits. Lent is the perfect time to do this as a lot of people are giving things up and having a set amount of time to work with is something I have found useful in the past. Although I am not religious I appreciate aspects that have transferred into mainstream society. So for lent I have set up a no spend list!

There are several habits I have formed over the last few years that I feel have gotten a bit out of control, or that I definitely spend money on without fully thinking it through. So I have created a short list of things I will not spend money on for lent:

  • Buying takeaways, including lunch at work and food at the cinema
  • Buying non-necessities – books, candles, accessories, makeup, stationary and other stuff that falls into this category

Basically I want to question myself every time I need to spend money. I want to be become more mindful of my spending and where I choose to give my money. I already have a lot of stuff and I know I do not need more stuff. Along side this I am thinking about decluttering my entire house (I’m actually itching to do it, but would like a block of time to start with) and also think about giving and receiving gifts differently. I want to be generous, but mindful. I suppose I really want to get to a place where I do not worry about money as I know the choices I will  make will support the life I am leading.

Let’s talk about money

This year I have made a few deals with myself that I know will pay off in the long term and a few of them revolve around money.

I do find it quite weird how in general people do not talk about money openly. It is a subject we find emotive and personal. Everyone is in a different situation and has different priorities in the their life that mean different spending habits. It’s too easy to compare to external views of people’s lives though as we only see part of the story. I admit I am the same and very people know an detail about my incoming and outgoings. I also know I can be really judgmental about other peoples spending habits when I only know limited this information (this is family related, not friends). But for the most part I think it doesn’t matter what other people do as long as they are happy with their lives and how they are living. I want the same in return, as I can probably seem quite selfish when it comes to some of habits, for example I will budget socialising so I can save for a holiday and that works for me.

So the last few months I have been reading the blog The Financial Diet and have become obsessed in making my money work differently in ways that will be less stressful and more fulfilling. It has made me set a few goals for this year to get myself in a better position financially and set myself for a future I want to live.

Firstly I am paying off my credit card!

I’m not a big credit card spending, but when I bought my house and had a few years of lower salary than before I ended up with £2k on credit cards. Ever since I have been paying the minimum and moving it round for the 0% balance transfers. This is more annoying than anything else. I am frustrated at myself for keeping it hanging around for so long. So this year I am going to get rid of it! I’ve budgeted it out and any additional income I get will go towards getting this gone. I will then seriously consider how I take credit cards forward. I would like to earn air miles so I am tempted to get a card that will allow me to do that, but I need this gone first.

Secondly I am creating an emergency fund!

This is one I have specifically taken from The Financial Diet and it makes so much sense. Next year I will have been in my house 5 years and all my warranties will be ending and so having a fund that will cover anything going wrong will be a lot less stressful than relying on emergency credit cards.  I am going to start by building up to £1000 in a completely separate account to everything else by the end of the year. Then I will continue to build up a nice amount that could cover me for a period of time if the worst happens with a job or illness. It feels extremely important to me that I am set up to be self-sufficient. I’ve always had my parents as a safety net, but they are getting older and I want to be fully able to take care of my own life going forward without that net. I also don’t want to be like some family who continue to depend on others to supplement income. It makes me angry to see it and I don’t want to be that person. So this makes good sense, but is also a personal value/belief I hold.

Thirdly I’m focusing on travel!

Being able to go to Japan last year was amazing and reminded me how much fun and experience you get from visiting completely different parts of the world. I feel in a place financially where this will be possible as long as live within my means and spend my money efficiently and effectively. This means making short term sacrifices for long term gains. This has to be a big part of my life and as I want to go away for Christmas this year the timing works out well. I can get my credit card paid off and save up an emergency fund and plan a nice trip for the end of the year.

What does this mean for daily life?

In essence not much will change as I have just divided up how I was saving for Japan last year into different pots. I have a spread sheet with this all in and I am going make sure I open it everyday, just as a reminder, to keep myself accountable. I have reduced my monthly budget a bit to ensure I think my purchases through more than last year. I know this will mean saying no for money reasons more often, but I know the long term pay off will be worth it. This is also goes hand in hand with another aspect of my life I want to focus on, which is having people round my house a bit more instead of going out. I am also debating going to a cash based system for a while as it seems with contactless I have become a bit loose with my spending and I do not like it, I’ll let you know how that goes!

So I have set myself a few rules for the next year:

  • Books – no new books until I have read the ones I have (I have 30 unread!)
  • Eating out – reduce eating out and when I do it has to be with others
  • General spending- do not buy replacements until the previous one has run out

Money makes life easier, but it can also make things very difficult. I don’t want my life to be about things and so I will be getting rid of more stuff over the next year. I doubt I’ll ever be minimalist, but I would like to reduce the clutter and only keep the things that hold meaning or purpose. I want my life to be about the simple things that make me happy and feel peaceful – travel to new place, reading great book, fluffy cats, restful space, and knowing good people.

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