Another day, another spreadsheet

I am off work ill. I am the sort of person who meticulously plans out my day. Alright, some days it may be a bit vaguer, with a few things on a to do list and a rough structure, and other times every single minute is planned out.

My point is I don’t do very well with ‘free time’ as I feel immense guilt if I waste time. I feel bad if I waste anything but time is precious.

That’s not to say I don’t sit on the sofa and watch three episodes of Frasier on Channel 4 in the morning, but that’s OK because I actively enjoy that (or am working on my laptop or putting on a wash load at the same time) and that means that that has a value for me.

But sick days are different. I am never quite sure how to navigate them. If I go to the shops to buy cough medicine and someone I work with sees me will I get in trouble? Will I look like I am enjoying the trips to Savers to buy lemsip far too much? Will they think I am truanting?

I have learnt the hard way that being too active on a sick day makes me feel worse, so I have settled for some spreadsheet work at home.

I have long been planning on producing some epic spreadsheet work for my spending records since April 2015. I wanted to produce the data to show what percentage of my income was spent on all the various categories I have of spending.

For the moment I have decided that going that far back will be a bit time consuming and potentially very boring even for someone who loves spreadsheets as much as me. So for now, as I have a very comprehensive record for it, I have decided to just focus on how I spent my money in 2016.

First of all I discovered that 32.235% of my income in 2016 was spent on discretionary, non Bill, related purchases.

My ‘income’ in 2016 was £15603 (in today’s post I am using £15603 as my income amount as that is all the money I had come into my life in 2016, either through gifts, wages, selling things, shopping vouchers etc. In yesterdays post my ‘income’ was £10893.65 as that is the amount I earned through employment in 2016).

Since my income in 2016 was £15603, and 32.235% of it was spent on purchases that could be deemed as ‘non essential’ that means, according to my calculations, I spent £4855.55 on stuff I could have lived without.

Hmm.

That would have done an awful lot to clear my debt, if maybe I had visited the coffee shop a lot less and my cafetiere getting dusty on the kitchen windowsill a lot more.

Now you can appreciate why I am doing a No Spend Year.

Also this has decided something for me.

I am soon to be travelling to the South Coast of England for my friend’s hen party weekend, and I was debating about whether or not I would be allowed to buy a coffee from either the connecting train station shop, or on the train from the buffet cart.

I asked my boyfriend and he said ‘of course you’re allowed’, and I think it is an established truth that if someone else gives you permission to cheat that makes it OK, and I was being persuaded to think ‘I will be on a train for 4 hours and people do get thirsty and need to drink…’ So I was ignoring the fact it would be a ‘solo’ coffee without any sort of social interaction to make it OK.

But I have decided that I am not going to die of thirst or lack of caffeine if I have to go a few hours without coffee, and seeing how much money I spent in 2016 on non essential food (£1056.25 or 7.01% of my income last year) is depressing and it may be around £6 I would have spent in total on my journey there and back, but that’s £6 that could be put to better use.

I don’t want to seem like a killjoy and that I am determined to not enjoy myself this year, but this year is about saying No to what doesn’t matter and saying Yes to having a better quality of life on a budget. And to me a better quality of life involves spending more time socialising with my friends, that £6 could go towards my birthday party fund (I think it is lovely of WWE to hold Wrestlemania so close to my birthday, it’s very kind of them.)

It was the ‘I need this, I want this, I deserve this’ train of thought when purchasing that got me into this mess. And I must tell that side of me to stop being so wanton and instead straighten up.

 

 

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The not so wonderful 2.1%

As I am a sad spreadsheet loser who has a spreadsheet for every single thing, to the point my boyfriend says my next spreadsheet should be a spreadsheet detailing all my spreadsheets, I can tell you exactly how much of my income each year is spent on my bank charges.

Please note this applies only to my main bank, the one my current account is with, the one I use primarily. If I was to total up how much I had spent on credit card charges I would get very depressed indeed! I am saving that harsh reality for when I am debt free.

So, as you have probably guessed, in 2016 2.1% of my income that year (£10.893.65) was spent on paying for the pleasure of having a massive overdraft (total spend £228.22).

In the last 5 years, since 2011 when I first started being charged, I have spent:

£761

on paying for being in my overdraft.

I don’t want to sound like I’m pouting, because I shouldn’t have spent money that wasn’t mine in the first place, and the bank has to have their dime too, but this just goes to show why my overdraft is now my #1 priority.

Because if that money counted towards paying back my overdraft I would have nearly done it by now.

I can also think of many better things that £761 could have gone on in the last five years. Like cats. Lots and lots of cats. 20 cats please.

In the past 5 years 11.2% of my income in total was spent on bank charges.

The year 2015 I did two calculations, one was the overall percentage spend on bank charges (2.41%) and one was the first 6 months of the year when I was still underemployed on a zero hour contract, before I got my full time job.

The percentage of my income spent on bank charges then was 4.72%

There are two primary reasons for that.

  1. My income was a lot less so the bank charges were the percentage of a much smaller income, making it appear larger.
  2.  My income was a lot smaller, meaning I had less money clearing my overdraft and I was frequently not having enough to pay my bills.

Sure you might be thinking ‘less than 5% isn’t that bad, that’s like, what £50?’

Well if I was spending that much of my income on bank charges now that would be close to £724 which is nearly what I have spent in the last five years combined!

Thankfully I am no longer a twat with money.

I plan to have my overdraft cleared, if all goes well, by November. Maybe earlier if I get a lot of money for my birthday.

Fingers crossed.

Eventually is where I got

Had a half day at work today. I celebrated having extra time at home by doing something extremely exciting and dangerous.

I did a complete food cupboard inventory.

Whaddaya mean that’s not dangerous? A tin could have fell off the shelf and hit my foot!

As mentioned before I have food hoarding tendencies. There are a few reasons for this but it mainly comes down to the fact that as a teenager my family struggled with money and we would frequently be making the best with the very little we had.

Sure none of us exactly looked like we were starving (I blame the three different types of potatoes we would usually have at meals to fill us up), but our diet wasn’t great. I didn’t know what a butternut squash was until I was about 16! And I am relatively knowledgeable…

As a result of being scared that the food will run out I have some pretty bizarre ’emergency’ food items in my cupboard.

Like a packet of instant mash potato.

I have never in my life, not even as a child, eaten instant mash potato. I don’t entirely believe that it actually contains any real food in it.

And yet in my cupboard proudly sits a packet, for a ‘just in case’ moment.

I also seem to have a split personality when it comes to food buying, as I have the ‘foodie’ side of me that loves cooking, that loves ‘weird and healthy’ things like nutritional yeast and quinoa and loves stocking up the cupboards with exotic ingredients…

And then I have the ‘F***, dinner needs making and I’ve only got 5 minutes’ side of me that loves quick fixes like crumble mix, instant noodles, pizzas and microwave rice.

There’s not much I can do at the moment. I spend 3.5 hours travelling to and from work each day, meaning during the week I am out of the house for over 60 hours. This is the price I pay for having a job I love, which is fine, I would rather have it this way round then a job over the road that I hate, but it does mean I am time poor during the week. The week tends to be about ‘surviving’ rather than living.

I also have a boyfriend who, bless him, is a bit fussy as an eater. He has moved on from the childhood phase of eating rice, chips and ketchup for dinner and is much more experimental when you compare it to how he used to be, but we are still at odds with what we like to eat.

This is a list of what I won’t eat:

Meat (I eat fish)

Tinned macaroni cheese (yuk!)

This is a list of what my boyfriend won’t eat:

Mushrooms

Bacon

Eggs

Mayonaise

All fish apart from scampi

Lamb

Pretty much all meat really other than beef, chicken and pork sausages

Garlic

Anything too ‘oniony’

Anything too spicy

Most pasta dishes as they are too ‘boring’

Any nuts of any description

Spinach

‘Stinky’ cheese

I don’t want it to seem like I am making fun of my boy, as people are allowed to have specific tastes (not eating meat is a pretty specific taste, I could be considered just as fussy easily), I’m more explaining why it is a bit hard for us to find meals that we both like to eat. For instance most of my boyfriends strongest dislikes (stinky cheese, garlic, fish, pasta, mushrooms) are my FAVOURITE things to eat.

But enough is enough, and I have decided I am not going to do any large food shops until I have cleared my cupboards of all the emergency/just in case/weird and healthy foods that I have collected.

I have a few things I specifically want to tackle in my cupboards and they are:

Bread Flour

Dried Soya Mince

2 x tins of rice pudding

bag of mixed seeds

jar of molasses

dried fruit

that darn instant mash potato

all my dried lentils and grains

2 x tins of broad beans

and my 13 other tins of various beans/pulses (how the hell do I have that many when only one of us eats them?)

I am going to try and make some new, interesting and cheap dishes that both my boyfriend and I can enjoy (or at the very least I like and I can take in to work as lunch)

First up I think will be broad bean pate.

And maybe some stinky cheese on the side.

I have options (shopping options)

Today marked an important day for my finances.

I said at the start of 2017 that I would be allowed to buy clothes if I bought them with vouchers and spent nothing in terms of cash on them.

Today I got my Tesco club card statement and vouchers through. In the last three months I have collected enough points to be rewarded with £10 in vouchers.

Add this to my faithful £6.50 in vouchers collected across the previous 6 months and I have a nice little pot of possibilities.

My boyfriend kindly agreed that the Tesco Club Card vouchers can all be mine this year, and I know that I can do a club card boost and exchange them for up to 4 times their value on meals out and things, but having looked through the options I don’t think my boyfriend and I would actually enjoy the places on offer.

Today was also notable because I earned 500 points for uploading pictures of my shopping receipts on the great consumer market research scheme ‘Shop and Scan’ which means I now have enough points to exchange for up to £20 in Vouchers, for places like New Look or Amazon.

The old me, if I suddenly had vouchers that were mine to spend, spend, spend would have used them in about 30 minutes.

I am not in a hurry to use them, which feels great, like I am in control, because part of the No Spend Year idea is also to produce less waste, to revamp, reduce, reuse and recycle. So do I need anything?

No.

So they will sit proudly underneath the Hello Kitty magnet on the fridge until I have a real need to use them.

I have also come to realise something just about everyone else on the planet had already taken as an established truth which is that it really pays to buy quality first time round.

For instance, I have always been more cheap and cheerful then quality, because even when I was spending other peoples money (I mean on my credit cards, not that I was going through people’s wallets, honestly guys I’m not a thief!) I had a sense of spending as little money as possible.

As a result of this I buy a £4 bra that lasts about 5 months before the underwire pokes out and it is all stretched and baggy. When if I had bought a nice Marks and Spencer’s bra (is it just me or does it seem that you can do no wrong if you go to Marks and Spencer’s?) for about £25 I would probably still have it 5 years later.

I have realised it pays to buy good quality the first time round through two ways.

One, My Doc Martens. I spent £90 on them two years ago and they are only now beginning to be ever so slightly worn out. They still have, I reckon, another 2 years in them at least. They are certainly the most expensive item of clothing I have ever bought, and I know it’s shallow to say this but they make me very happy.

Also before the No Spend Year began, in late 2016 I bought a pair of jeans to see me through 2017. They cost £30 which given the most I had ever spent on a pair of jeans before was £14 seemed like a fortune to me.

Well, I can happily say they are the nicest jeans I have ever worn. They are beautiful and the quality of them feels great compared to the very flimsy £9.99 jeans I had spent the majority of 2016 in.

So I will save my money from now on and buy higher quality items when I need to instead of trying to buy as much tat for as little money as possible.

My Worst Moments of Anxiety #3 Graduation Day

#3

Newport, Wales, UK 2011

I have a habit of getting extremely anxious at big social gatherings which are supposed to be happy occasions. It is primarily for this reason that I fear having a big wedding and instead hope to have a small one.

In general I had poor mental health whilst at University. I saw a counsellor in my first year and the rest of the years were dotted with moments of breakdowns where I couldn’t speak and would just be some sort of comatose blob on the verge of tears.

In many ways I should have been happy at University. I was away from my overbearing father and to a certain degree I had freedom. In some ways I was happy.

But I guess it’s the classic tale of a high achieving student going into an environment where they are no longer teachers pet or the best in the class. I compare myself to other people in every single way possible and suddenly I was forced to be alongside hundreds of students who I all considered to be better than me in terms of talent, or they were thinner, or prettier, or had a boyfriend or were more popular.

So you would think graduation day would be a happy day as I would be leaving that world behind and would never have to be in that high intense situation again.

Except a few things had happened in my last year and the summer preceding my September graduation.

In Summer 2010 my grandmother passed away. She was the matriarch of my family, our carer, our shining light. I did not cope well with her death.

As a result of this I did quite badly on my course in the final year. I also spent most of my time at University not going to lectures with my classmates as I found it too terrifying being around people who were so much better than me. I couldn’t handle that intense scrutiny, whether imagined or real.

There was also the fact that realising I was potentially going to get a bad grade on my degree I decided that the best way to give myself some good employment prospects was to gain work experience. So I went through one of those companies that arranges a work experience placement abroad in a relevant area.

Except they never found me a placement.

And they never refunded me.

And I can’t take them to court as when I sought legal advise my lawyer had to tell me it would cost thousands of pounds and the company had so many bad things about it I could lose on a technicality.

This is how I originally got into debt.

So graduation day approached. A time to put the bad times behind me?

There were many reasons I was not looking forward to my graduation. One was the fact that I had (by my accounts) ‘failed’ (this means I did not fail, I got a grade that many people would be happy with, but for me as a high achiever it was one of the worst grades I had ever got).

There was also the fact that my Dad had decided his car wouldn’t stand the journey from West Sussex to South Wales and decided he wasn’t going to come. For some reason getting the train didn’t occur to him.

I am still angry about this.

I woke up early on graduation day to straighten my hair. For many years I would refuse to leave the house if I had hair that hadn’t been straightened. I had such low self esteem I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me if I had my natural curly hair on show.

The trouble was as it was Wales, in Autumn, there was mild rain and just picking my mum up from the station about ten minutes away was enough to put a wave into my hair that I found horrendous.

I was already in an extreme state of anxiety when I got to my University and was getting overwhelmed by everything. I had bought heels to wear but after realising they were impossible to walk in I decided against it and had to carry them instead and wear my flats.

As I entered the hall where my graduation would begin I was looking around for where to go when a member of staff took me by surprise by saying hello to me. I was in a state of anxiety remember and this threw me. It was then the member of staff next to him felt the need to do that thing I hate most. Which was to say ‘Smile’ in a snotty voice.

I think there is a special place in hell reserved for those people.

The actual graduation event itself passed relatively straightforwardly. I even evr so slightly cheered up.

But the rest of the day was just awful. It’s like my anxiety sees a happy occasion and puts me in a state just to spite me, just to go against the grain.

My boyfriend and mum were both attending and I couldn’t even stand near them or talk to them. I would pointedly stand a few steps away and could see them getting more and more concerned and asking each other what was wrong with me.

I couldn’t be happy at graduation because I had failed. I was in such a state that I walked past my best friend and blanked her without even realising whilst she called after me.

In some ways going to University was the happiest time of my life, and I did have good moments.

In many more ways it was hell for me.

Most people are normal and feel happy at graduation days, like so many other happy events before me I was incapable of overcoming my anxiety and instead had a miserable time.

In the end it was a good thing my Dad hadn’t come as I couldn’t have been anxious or been uncommunicative as my Dad has never understood mental health or anxiety and he would most likely have ended up screaming at me or something. Maybe, maybe not.

I did not take a single photo at Graduation, and I certainly didn’t have one of those classic professional graduation photos done. There are only a few photos of me that friends took where I have a posed smile on my face. I just want to forget that day ever happened.

A Sneaky Pre-Superbowl Post

A few financial things have taken place since earlier.

I have decided to enter a 10k race which takes place on my birthday weekend as a novel way of celebrating the event. I had decided last year that entrance to races like this would be allowed on the basis that I normally run alongside my friends or boyfriend, and that it involves raising money for charity.

However I lacked the foresight to create a budget and category for this which led to a hasty ‘where the hell do I put it on my spreadsheets?’ and decided it would be another thing for the social category.

Then I checked Facebook for the first time in a long time and saw my friend had posted about collecting the money for the Hen Party weekend at the end of February, so I transferred that money across.

My boyfriend has temporarily lent me the money for both until I go to the cash machine tomorrow (on account of me rounding my bank account down).

This led to an excess of £1.68 in my account which I then paid towards one of my credit cards.

I also have non financial and social anxiety news. As you may have picked up from reading these posts I have a bit of a weight problem.

I record my weight everyday and do a weekly average on Sunday’s. I also use the app MyFitnessPal to monitor my daily calories and nutrients.

I have lost 9 pounds since the start of the year.

I do have the potential to put it all back on tonight with the Superbowl food we have planned, but until that happens I’m just going to do a little happy dance in the corner.

You Know What Time it is (Financial Review of Week 5)

Hi everybody,

Well another week has been completed, it’s Sunday, that means it’s time for a financial review!!

Here is how my money left my wallet this week:

SOCIAL

Ticket to football match in March £23

Coffee x 2 with friend £5.59

WORK EXPENSE

Milk £2.25

GIFTS

3 x presents £24.87

3 x birthday cards £2.57

TRAVEL

Bus £1

POSTAGE AND PACKAGING

Stamps £3.84

FOOD

Milk, Bread, Cucumber and Cheese £5.19

Carrots, Instant Cous Cous, Naan bread, Poppadoms, Tortilla Wraps, Fry Lite and Potatoes £6.56

2 x pizzas, ketchup, carrier bag charge £6.05

Lettuce, Sweet Potatoes, Orange Juice, Coleslaw, Burger Baps, Bag Charge £4.37

TOTAL SPENDS THIS WEEK = £85.29

So it has been another week of heavy spending. Everything has been needed (apart from the 15p spent on plastic bags), everything has been in budget, and no forbidden purchases have been bought.

I find it shocking that I am spending close to £100 each week, as I don’t have that in disposable income each month, so it is strange to see how all your expenses add up without you realising.

I am hoping today will be my third No Spend Day of February.

I have tomorrow off work because today, as I’m sure my American readers are well aware of, is…..THE SUPERBOWL!

Watching the Superbowl is almost like a national holiday for my boyfriend and me as we take the next day off work, eat a huge amount of food, use it as an excuse to drink as much as we like and in general feel very much in the party spirit.

Although we have no particular allegiance to any individual NFL team, we love watching the Superbowl and season in general.

So I won’t wish any team good luck, I will just say ‘GO SPORTS’