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.

Financial Review of Week 41

Let’s cut to the chase. I am watching Romy and Michelle’s High School reunion and I swear this is the funniest it has ever been.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Pizza and Milk £2.80

Ice Cream and Choco Leibniz £2.74

Carrier Bag, Tomatoes, Cheese Rolls, Cucumber, Pain au Chocolat, Strawberries, Pizza x 2 £10.02

Almond Essence, Cake Decorations, Walnuts £5.95

Almond Butter, Magnesium Pills, Dried Apple £11.37

Bleach, Icing Sugar, Naan Bread, Poppadoms, Dates, STs, Gum x 3, Red Lentils £11.18

Yogurt, Milkshake, Eggs. Bread £3.49

TOTAL = £47.55

Moving swiftly on…

DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING 

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)

4 x Bus Tickets £4

TRAVEL (VISITING)

Train fare to my Dad’s house £61.20

CONTRABAND

Sandwich and Banana £3.60

Chocolate Bar £0.30

Sandwich £3.60

Chocolate Bar £0.65

4 x Bras £34

TOTAL = £42.15

SOCIAL

Beer £2.19

GIFT

Whiskey Magazine £6.99

TOTAL SPENDS THIS WEEK = £116.53

F*** Me

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I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

(By the way you should totally read the short story the title of this post comes from, but I must warn you, it is a brilliant story, but it is also one of the most depressing things you will ever read)

Today was not a good day.

I was overcome with despair. I haven’t been well all week and felt that I couldn’t take a sick day on account of having a day off this week and also having only something like 10 days left in this role.

I was holding back the tears on my walk into work.

I nearly called in sick when I was at home in the morning.

I nearly called in sick when I was on my walk to work.

I nearly turned round when I was on the campus even though I was only about 5 minutes away from my desk.

I went in. And I tried not to cry all morning.

I sent a message to my mentor at work, saying I was going to cancel our meeting on Friday, on account of how I have lost all confidence and motivation to apply for jobs and as I have no applications to go over I don’t want to waste her time.

She responded with lovely messages. I forwarded them from my work email to my personal email so I could keep the words close to me.

I had bought in soup for lunch. But I needed more. I needed comforting carbs, a cheap source of dopamine. I bought a sandwich and a banana. And I obviously had the soup as well.

I felt better after lunch in terms of my mental health, but began to feel worse physically. I was functioning at about 60% capacity.

I felt weak. I felt traumatised by my 30 minute walk to the station, then my 40 minute train journey, then a further train and a further walk home.

The boy tried to talk to me on the phone but all I was capable of was blunt monosyllabic replies in an oh so quiet voice.

The thing is a bad day isn’t a case of things going wrong for me. A bad day feels like the end of the world for me.

I feel like I am doing too much. Sometimes I have to fight the compulsion to just lie on the ground like the dude in the video for ‘Just’ by Radiohead and not be moved.

I have the urge to do self destructive things. Over eating is self destructive. It may be more socially acceptable then being an alcoholic or constantly injecting heroin into your face, but it is still a stupid action. A stupid source of negativity. I feel bad so I overeat. Then I feel bad about my appearance. Then I overeat.

My trouble is this.

If you overeat you need to find a non food way to reward yourself for good behaviour.

If you are a compulsive shopper you need to find a non financial way to reward yourself for good behaviour.

So what is my reward for being good? I can’t spend, and I can’t eat. I (don’t) shop, therefore I am (not).

Therefore I am losing the motivation to be good. Being bad is easy.

Sometimes I just want to scream. People generally scream because they are trying to attract the attention of a hero to save them, because they need help, because they are scared.

I need to scream.

But I can’t.

Rustic* Festive** Fruity Parcels

  • *Rustic = A euphemism for ‘looks like they were assembled by a toddler’.
  • **Festive = I wanted to use the seasonal ‘C’ word but felt I might get beaten up by scrooges if I did.

Hi everybody.

I haven’t been feeling 100% all week. Each day brings on a new symptom and today at work was tough.

The boy was going to a gig. I wanted to go to the gig but couldn’t afford it. Normally I would use a night in without the boy as a good excuse to get my bake on, but I felt so shattered after work that all I could muster the energy to do was to put anchovies on my pizza.

Then I saw in the fridge was a packet of frozen puff pastry I had taken out to defrost on Sunday with the intention of using it on Monday.

And the packet recommended using within 24 hours of defrosting. Aye Aye Aye.

So after a quick energy boost (double shot of fake Baileys) I got to it.

INGREDIENTS

1 x 500g Block of puff pastry

4 Apples

1 x 400g Jar of mincemeat

Caster Sugar

RENEGADE SUGGESTIONS

My cooking often involves a random ingredient that caught my eye. So at step 2 I also threw in 4 apple & rosehip tea bags and a bit of orange juice. You don’t necessarily have to copy me.

  1. Defrost your puff pastry the night before according to packet instructions and then roll out into a large square/rectangle shape and cut into 4 equal shapes.
  2. Cut your apples into small pieces and place in a large pot with the sugar (I didn’t give a measurement because, well, I just threw it in. If you like to be exact I would say 75g is enough). Cover with boiling water and bring back to the boil.
  3. Cook until tender.
  4. Once cooked, drain, and mix in the jar of mincemeat (true story, mincemeat used to contain meat, but generally doesn’t now, but I thought it did and didn’t eat a mince pie until I was something like 17 because I thought it would compromise my at the time vegetarian beliefs).
  5. Divide the mix across the four puff pastry squares and then pull up the edges until you have little parcels (or you could be really neat and bring out a protractor or something and have something a bit more professional looking).
  6. BONUS STEP! I meant to do this, but then forgot. Lightly brush the parcels with a milk and/or egg wash.
  7. Bake in the oven on gas mark 4 for a very long time because you are watching the new episode of your favourite show ‘Eat Well For Less’ and don’t want to miss any of it (The episode was an hour long)
  8. BONUS STEP! Turn off the oven but leave the parcels in to stay warm and then go to the shops to get ice cream because the boy refused to do this for you earlier. What a d***.
  9. Watch today’s episode of Neighbours whilst eating the parcel. And then watch Eat Well For Less again.

IMG_7348

 

 

I May Be On TV

There’s an app I love called OLIO.

As you may have gathered from my batch cooking, food budget economising, being flexible with the confines of a use by date, using up leftovers and potato peel soup, I don’t like food waste.

OLIO is the perfect antidote to that.

Are you going away for a few days and have a bag of salad that will go off? Do you have an abundance of courgettes from your allotment? Or did you stumble across a packet of quinoa in your cupboard and think ‘How the f*** did that get there?!”

OLIO to the rescue!

You upload a picture and description of your food stuff that you are going to give away, and OLIO users in your local area will see the listing and request the item off you.

You no longer have to throw away food, someone will take it off your hands for you.

Anyway, yesterday I received an email from the OLIO founder. I knew it was the OLIO founder, because when you hear that someone has the name ‘Saasha Celestial-One’ you remember it. She emailed to say that BBC Wales had contacted OLIO looking for Cardiff users to feature on a magazine style TV show about food waste.

Despite the fact I have a film degree, I no longer have any interest in being on or working in TV (I’m all about trying to save people money). Living in the capital of Wales means you are never far from a TV camera, and I usually go very out of my way to avoid being captured by one of them.

BUT, I am passionate about OLIO, I am passionate about reducing food waste, and the OLIO ‘zero waste weekly’ email is one of the few I bother to read, so anything to help spread that message I’m on board with.

So for someone who is too afraid to use twitter in case everyone collectively gangs up on me for having bad skin and for being overweight and mental, it wasn’t that I was doing it for my 15 minutes of fame (besides I was only filmed for about 20 seconds in total and you probably saw more of my front door then me). I did have a moment of panic about it. And naturally despite the fact all you see of my house is the front door I still got up at 5.30am to deep clean the house, including under the draining board, which I was relatively certain wouldn’t be filmed. And I put on foundation for the third time this year AND concealer AND you can still see my spots (honestly, I’ve seen custard with better skin then me).

As my street is quite ‘lively’ the film crew had to re-shoot my scene because someone walked down the street yelling ‘Merry Christmas’ apropros of nothing.

BUT, it was fun, it was nice, it helps to spread a good message and maybe it will go a little bit towards making me less terrified of sticking my neck above the water.

 

Financial Review of Week 40

Hi Everybody.

I don’t know why, but I swear that despite no obvious increase in responsibilities or workload there suddenly are less hours in the day.

It’s been a while since I got my bake on, certainly since I made something from my own head rather than someone else’s and I think I am having withdrawal symptoms.

I feel a bit more optimistic about things, but still have a vague sense of apathy and lethargy. My spending is reflecting this. By most people’s standards I haven’t gone ‘off the rails’, but before I considered it an achievement to rack up as many NSDs (No Spend Days) as possible (when I first heard about Buy Nothing Day I was kinda like ‘Yeah I do that s*** already). Now, I will get the bus to the station to get to work as the bus stop is nearer then the local train station, even though my train season ticket covers me from that stop (I maintain I do this because I don’t like travelling any additional distance in the dark at 6am).

This week also saw me get my Marks and Spencer’s voucher which was a ‘reward’ for spending £100 on my newly applied for M&S Credit Card, and as I need new shoes because my Doc Martens are on the way out that’s what I spent it on. One thing this year has taught me is never accept the first offer. Example – I found 2 pairs of shoes I liked on the M&S website which came to £64.50. 2 pairs of shoes for £14.50 isn’t bad, but I knew I could do better. So I logged into my Sparks card account (M&S loyalty card) and sure enough there was a voucher code for 10% off shoes.

Good news is I got two pairs of shoes for £8.05 cash.

Bad news is a few days later I went to M&S for a bra fitting and it turns out I have been wearing the wrong size for, oh, 3-4 years. But by this point I had already spent the voucher so will have to wait till Sainsbury’s do their ‘double up’ event on Nectar points to buy some.

(Sainsbury’s is a big UK supermarket and it is my second least favourite Supermarket on account of it being so f****** expensive, even Waitrose is usually cheaper. Their loyalty scheme is also rubbish but through carefully exploiting deals I have got £10 worth of points, and Sainsbury’s occasionally do events where you can double up your loyalty points. One thing in their favour is I have heard good things about their bra’s)

Anyway, on to the money business.

FOOD AND HOUSEHOLD SHOPPING

Bread, Rolls, Bag for Life, Gum £4.90

Avocado, Bag for Life, Pasta Sauce, Garlic Bread, Fresh Pasta £5.95

Omega 3 Fish Oil, Cucumber, Milk, ‘Screme’ Eggs, Carrots £10.80

Clearisel pads (I am 28 and I have more spots then I ever had as a teenager. FML) £3.49

Chickpeas x 2, Chopped Tomatoes x 2, Orange Juice, White Sauce £2.54

Meat pies for the boy £2

Eggs, Plasters, Gum, Mushy Peas x 5, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes, Bread £7.82

TOTAL SPENDS = £37.50

There is very little of the food budget left. This is what I mean about life getting out of hand.

 

DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING

TRAVEL (DAY TO DAY)

4 x Bus journeys = £4

HEALTH

2 x Gum = £1.98

CONTRABAND

2 x Shoes £8.05

Miscellaneous snacks at work £2.05

Biscuits for me £1 (I regret nothing)

GIFT

Biscuits for work £2

SOCIAL

Pizza Hut Takeaway £12.59 (I regret nothing)

Beer £2.29

Fish and Chips £7.44 (I regret nothing)

Beer and Coke £5.55

(Total = £15.28)

TOTAL DISPOSABLE INCOME/DISCRETIONARY SPENDING = £46.95

TOTAL COMBINED SPENDING THIS WEEK = £84.45

I thought this was a low spend week, and I still managed to sp**k nearly £100.

Maybe I should do a full on Michelle McGagh if I ever want to be debt free.

 

5 Ingredient Banana and Peanut Butter Flapjacks: From Bowl of Delicious

Once again lack of time has prevented me from eating my bananas before they went ripe.

At this stage you are probably thinking ‘How the f*** do you lack time to eat a banana? They are the natural convenience food?’

Trust me, when you lack the time during the week to keep up with basic hygiene levels (TMI?) then you also lack the time to eat a banana.

I felt like using up my peanut butter too, for sh**s and giggles, and you can never go wrong throwing in a few seeds, nuts and dried fruit.

So I found this recipe and got my bake on (by the way, one of my catchphrases is ‘Get Your Bake On’ and I sing it to the tune of ‘Get Ur Freak On’ by Missy Elliot).

I am now very happy as I have something tasty for my on the go breakfasts this week. And I now have to buy more seeds, nuts and dried fruit which always makes me happy.

The boy was very unhappy that I made Banana, Peanut Butter, Seeds, Nuts and Dried Fruit flapjacks when Banana, Peanut Butter, Seeds, Nuts and Dried Fruit are some of his most hated foodstuffs. So I am now making him Hummingbird Bakery Chocolate Cupcakes and is he grateful? No, he is now complaining that we have had to delay dinner.

Grrrr.

Be Prepared to be Bored…6 Month Expenditure Comparisons

I decided that on the 1st of April 2015 I would start keeping a thorough spending diary. I said that this was because it was the start of a new tax year but really it was because I hadn’t had the idea in January.

I never expected to keep it up, but I did. And since that date not a single purchase has gone unnoticed.

I decided for sh**s and giggles to do a spending review at the end of September 2015, which sounds like I had given it a lot of thought but really it was because I hadn’t actually kept track of the spending in any formalised way, I had just shoved the receipts in a folder.

And then I decided to divide the spending into categories as by that point I had fallen in love with spreadsheets (they still remain one of the loves of my life).

I won’t bore you with gory details, but let’s look at some stats concerning my disposable income and food/household spending.

APRIL 2015 – SEPTEMBER 2015 TOTAL SPENDS = £3105.35

APRIL 2016 – SEPTEMBER 2016 TOTAL SPENDS = £3670.45

APRIL 2017 – SEPTEMBER 2017 TOTAL SPENDS = £2856.16

 

So this means…

Average spend per month (on food and fun times) in April 2015 – September 2015 = £517.55 

Average spend per month (on food and fun times) in April 2016 – September 2016 = £611.74

Average spend per month (on food and fun times) in April 2017 – September 2017 = £476.02

So compare this year, the ‘no spend year’ to the first year I started keeping records and my spending has decreased by £41.53 a month (or just over 8%). This is a saving of £249.18 during that time period.

Compare this year to last year, when I went off the rails during my four months of unemployment, and my spending has decreased by £135.72 a month (just over 22%). This is a saving of £814.32 during the same time period.

So for all my struggles with money, for all my cheeky contraband purchases now and again, for all my blog posts that begin ‘I have 72p to last me until payday’ this is clear, hard evidence that my sacrifices have been worth it, that I am making great strides towards paying off my debts, that I am doing well.

Can I get a pat on the back now?