All posts by flostick

Hi, I am Flo. By December 2015 I had amassed nearly £6000 in credit card and bank debt. Whilst this isn't the highest amount of debt a person can have, the minimum payments made up a substantial amount of my income and I was about 2 steps away from a financial meltdown. In 2016 I got serious about paying my debts and ended the year....in more debt then ever!!!!! (Well, I was unemployed for four months of it) That is why in 2017 I have decided that I will have a No Spend Year, with the aim of tackling my debts first. However, I also suffer extremely badly from Social Anxiety, and have decided that this year I can spend money on seeing all the friends I was too panic stricken to see last year. Join me as I navigate 2017 with my debt and my social anxiety. I hope to combat both. I live in Cardiff, Wales with my boyfriend who has quite sensibly (given my debt levels) stopped me from having a pet cat. I love spreadsheets and play football. My three loves in life are budgeting, cooking and writing, so this combines all three. If you are socially anxious read about how I am too. If you love cooking then stop by and watch me try to combat food waste. If you love spreadsheets and household budgeting then stop by on a Sunday when I do a weekly financial review of the week.

I did my taxes last week, and it was chaotic

I did my self assessment taxes last weekend. This is where I declared all the money I had earned in the 2016-17 tax year through doing self employed contract work at an Arts company, and also all the money I had earned through my market research and ‘money making scams’ as the boy calls them.

Yes, all those Amazon vouchers I had earned through apps and doing surveys, I hate to break it to you but you do have to declare them as earnings. I am ridiculously honest when it comes to my taxes, I even declared the money I had earned as tips when I was a waitress. I have spoken about it before but I will declare everything I earn on my taxes, as people’s taxes paid to look after me (when I was a child in a single parent on benefits home) so I will pay every penny I am due to in order to give back the same to society.

I don’t say any of that to be all ‘holier than thou’, I’m just explaining that this is my particular principle I stick to. As I usually say at this point, do what you like.

Now, normally doing my taxes is one of my favourite days of each year (yes, I am a complete weirdo and really I should have been an accountant) but this year was a little different.

I made a mistake.

In the last tax year I held two different jobs at the company I am working for now. There was a four month gap between the two roles. I wrongfully assumed that the P60 I received earlier this year covered all the earnings I had earned in those two roles, as they were both in the same tax year at the same company.

So I input my earnings on the self assessment online form, and due to earning so little in the last year (due to the four month gap of unemployment) I was due a nice fat rebate of around £490.

Which for me is like winning the lottery.

So I was coasting on a sea of happiness for several hours until I remembered something.

I had been issued a P45 for the first job when the contract there ended.

Which I hadn’t declared.

So I got in a bit of a mental state, embarrassingly in front of my accountant (also known as my father in law), as I was petrified the ‘tax man’ would come after me and get me.

To cut a long story short, I could easily amend the form, and I was still due a rebate, but of £180. Nothing to sniff at, but I’m sure we all would prefer nearly £500 to nearly £200.

And, to complicate things, I was paid the original rebate amount first, so then I had to phone up the tax helpline to pay back the rest of it.

But I am all up to date now, I have paid what I owe to society/the country, and the rebate means that I could pay £100 off my overdraft, and I could give the boy £100 which means I now only owe him £40, which is down from over £1000 earlier this year.

I should point out, the rebate was actually more, but due to not having paid enough national insurance contributions in the past tax year (due to not earning enough) I had the option of voluntarily paying what I owed in National Insurance contributions. Now this is voluntary. I would not, necessarily, get into trouble if I didn’t (what I mean is no one would come after me demanding money if I chose not to pay them).

BUT, in the UK, and don’t ask me to explain it in too much detail because I will fall flat on my bum if I do, you pay national insurance contributions so that you can be eligible to receive things like your state pension or job seekers allowance if and when needed.

And as I am one of those ‘artistic’ people, who typically don’t earn very much money, I chose to pay the national insurance contributions because it could potentially save my skin in the future.

Of course, it’s a gamble, as the world could all go to hell by the time that day comes. But if everything is to stay the same then it was a good decision to have made.

Well, that’s the story of my taxes. Can’t wait till next year when I get to do it all over again.

Financial Review of Week 32

Hello everyone.

Delayed due to internet issues, here is the financial review of the week previous to this one (7th – 13th August)

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Orange Juice, Twirl Bars, Cucumber £2.35

Danish Pastries, Frozen Broccoli, Milk, Celery, Courgette, Bananas, Leeks, Cereal Bars, Carrots, Bread, Pasta Sauce £10.44

Chicken Tikka, Steak Pies, Frozen Peppers £6.29

TOTAL SPENDS = £19.08

 

DISPOSABLE/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING

GIFTS

Gift bag £1.29

Lip balm and hand cream £4.90

Cookies £1

Wine £5

Card for my Mum £2.50

TOTAL = £14.69

TRAVEL (VISITING)

Train fare to visit family = £33.75

TOTAL DISPOSABLE/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING = £48.44

 

TOTAL SPENDING WEEK 32 = £67.52

 

Carrot and 2 x Apple Bread

I got my bake on last weekend. I was going to make the Courgette, Sultana and Lemon Bread recipe in Jack Monroe’s ‘A Girl Called Jack‘ cook book, but then, I dunno, totally free-styled it by thinking ‘A Carrot is like a courgette, and apple and carrot go well together, I think, and dried apple is a dried fruit like sultana’s’ and made this.

THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO USE UP THE BREAD FLOUR THAT WAS BEST BEFORE MARCH 2017 AND THE DRIED YEAST THAT EXPIRED LAST MONTH.

INGREDIENTS

1 large carrot

300g Bread Flour

a 7g sachet of fast-acting dried yeast

a cup of dried apple rings cut into little pieces

About 300ml of warm water mixed with 2 table spoons of lemon juice, BUT you will most likely not need all of this. I just like being prepared.

 

METHOD

This was my first (successful) attempt at making bread, so be aware I am not a magnificent baker.

Grate the carrot and apple, add to a mixing bowl. (If you want to be a true food waste warrior then grate all the skin in as well)

Add the flour and yeast and dried apple rings, combine everything.

Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and gradually add some of the water until you have a nice sticky dough. The wetness of the apple and carrot go a long way to making it sticky already so that’s why you probably won’t need much of the liquid mix.

Tip the dough out on a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Leave the dough to rise in a nice warm place in the bowl with a tea towel over the top (I put mine on top of the recently used microwave).

Go have a cup of tea. Chef’s orders. Or if you are a ‘keener’ then do the washing up.

Come back 30 minutes later or when the dough has risen and knock the air out of it. Pop in a lightly oiled or silicon loaf tin, cover with cling film and leave to prove for around 40 minutes.

Pop the oven on at gas mark 4 to preheat.

Cook for around 35 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

It’s best of all eaten warm.

 

 

 

 

Batch Cooking My Work Lunches: Yellow Split Pea Soup

Hi everyone,

Don’t worry, my silence on here was due to problems with our internet connection, not a mental health breakdown. Did you miss me?

(Tumbleweed blows past)

Anyways, this is what I made last Sunday. It made three portions of yummy soup. Three g e n e r o u s portions of soup, so really if you have a normal size stomach instead of one the size of Australia then it will probably feed you for a lot more days.

I was trying to make some sort of pease pudding type thing from a recipe in ‘The Bean Book’  by Rose Elliot (a book I borrowed off my sister in law over a year ago and am yet to give back), but then decided it was going to be mush, and who wants that? So I blitzed it into soup.

You will need:

250g Yellow Split Peas

2 x celery sticks

Leek

Carrot

Onion

2 Litres of stock

Turmeric, because like my previous post ‘There ain’t no party like a Turmeric party’

 

METHOD

Cook the yellow split peas first in about 3/4 of the stock till soft. Don’t do what I did which was leave it thinking it would take ages only to come back not long later and see all the water had absorbed and the peas were only just saved from being stuck to the bottom of the pan.

In a separate pan lightly cook the leeks, carrots, celery and onion until soft but not burnt.

Add all together, with the remainder of the stock and as much turmeric as you feel is decent and when you feel ready add it to a blender and blitz the cr*p out of it.

WARNING!

If you have a nice pristine white blender, then I’m sorry to say you may risk staining parts of it permanently yellow due to the turmeric.  I like yellow so I like the look, but you might not. If you don’t want this to happen leave out the turmeric.

Take into work and be the envy of your colleagues.

 

5 NSDs so far this month, boo yeah!

Yes I have clocked up 5 NSDs (no spend days).

I am aiming for 15 this month, wish me luck.

I say it was a NSD even though I paid for my counselling session because I consider that a bill, and I don’t count paying bills when it comes to achieving a NSD.

I feel good, sometimes I feel very scared, but mostly I feel good.

 

Batch Cooking My Work Lunches: Mushroom ‘Barlotto’

I have been feeling guilty about my long forgotten grains in the cupboards which expired months ago, so decided today when it came to making my lunches for the week I would use up the one with the oldest best before date. Which was my Pearl Barley.

(A quick note, yes I am gung ho and cavalier with my best before dates, because that is ok, the food was just better before that date. You can disregard a best before date but you should never disobey a USE by date. You can really make yourself ill.)

IMG_7244

As usual I used almost exclusively frozen vegetables because it’s cheaper and suits the boy and my’s lifestyle.

The recipe came from the excellent student cook book ‘Beyond Baked Beans Green’ by Fiona Beckett.

A ‘Barlotto’ is a risotto type dish made with pearl barley. You don’t need to stir it as much. And it is cheaper.

Normally I tell a little whimsical story about something I did whilst I was cooking this, but unfortunately the boy and I were getting angry with each other and our internet as it had stopped working and we were failing to get back the connection. I know, I know, ‘First World Problems’, but that’s why I wasn’t doing something cute. I wasn’t even listening to Absolute 80s.

IMG_7248

250g of pearl barley, celery, frozen mushrooms, 1 red onion, frozen onion and a tin of chopped tomatoes and 500ml stock equalled four work lunches made up of 3 heaped kitchen spoon portions. I should be fine till Friday, when I will panic.

FINANCIAL REVIEW OF WEEK 31

So you have just read about how I wasted my money in the whole of the month of July, but how did I do this week?

Let’s take a stroll through my spending.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Milk and ‘healthy’ crisps £2.49

Mouthwash £3.99

Cucumber, Celery, Courgette, Chocolate, Cereal Bars, Ice Cream, Sausages, Tomatoes, Bread Rolls £9.34

Takeaway Chips £1.80

Face wipes, Naan Bread £1.49

Frozen Peas, Frozen Sweetcorn, Blueberries (which I froze) £4

Hay Fever Tablets, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Interior Dehumidifier x 2 £2.81

Bread, Poppadoms, Carrots, Baking Potatoes, Mozarella x 2, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas £6.59

Milk and Scampi bites £2.45

TOTAL SPENDS THIS WEEK = £34.96

 

DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING

CONTRABAND/I F***** UP

Coffee and Gum £1.79

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)

Bus ticket £1

POSTAGE AND PACKAGING

Postage box and envelope £2.88

Posting two presents £6.30

(Total = £9.18)

GIFTS

Wrapping paper x 2, Gift Bag, Anniversary Cards x 2 = £6

SOCIAL

Burger, Coke and Pint of Bitter £10.70

Coffee Bean Ice Cream Sundae (I have no regrets) £5.95

Berry Soda £3.85

(Total = £20.50)

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING = £38.47

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING THIS WEEK = £73.43

Things are about to get a whole lot tighter because I have to do my taxes next week, yowza’s.

I actually love doing my taxes. It’s one of my favourite days of the year. I definitely should have been an accountant.