Monday, 30 January 2012

Be gone credit card and good riddance!

Yesterday myself and the BF spent the day in London celebrating Chinese New Year with my Mum and Dad. We headed past Trafalgar Square up to China Town in pursuit of dragons, drums and decorations. Things were pretty crowded and quiet in comparison to other years so feeling the cold we went to Carnaby Street for a bite to eat.

Conversation turned to our current living arrangements and how I am increasingly getting fed up with living with other people who bring drunk 18 year olds home who puke in our loo and who don't seem to know how to pick up a hoover. Anyways, after discussing finances and savings etc the conversation turned to my BF's credit card and the extortionate amount of interest he is paying, and what a rip off it is. My mum, (who used to be a personal banker) strongly advised that I pay off the balance of £900 using my savings, and my BF pay me back instead. A monthly repayment of £75 should clear it within the space of a year. So that's what we plan to do, I have just made the transfer and it should hopefully be paid off and sorted out by tomorrow.

They then said that if we (I?) continue to save how we/I am then they may be able to help us with some of the deposit on a flat in around a years time. I almost cried with relief that I won't have to put up with this situation for too much longer and we may even have our own, settled home. It almost seems to good to be true and so far away, but will feel so worth it if it does happen. Though it is a little disheartening transferring almost £1,000 out to pay of the credit card certainly makes financial sense in the long run. If things go to plan I should have around £10,000 by the end of July (if we stay living in the same place we are now- fingers crossed, even though the people aren't great its affordable, is a fairly nice, newly refurbished flat and is also great location wise).

So come July time that leaves ten months to save £500 per month, maybe more if I get a decent pay rise in October and the BF starts saving too. That's at least a total of £15,000 so would probably need to borrow £10,000 off my parents for a deposit. Their mortgage is going down shortly and they have my sister and her BF living at home paying a couple of hundred pounds rent between them so all being well they can help us towards our future. Eep!

Day to day saving seems so hard, but I just keep thinking every thing I buy means our own home is just a bit further out of reach. I've resisted the daily diet coke, and have a weeks worth of meals planned so won't need to do a shop until the weekend when I plan on going home as my BF is working nearly the whole weekend and I want a couple of uninterpreted good nights sleep (as well as some free food as well of course hehe!).

I'll keep my little turtle tracker at the same amount as I will be recouping the money over the next year and want to know where I am in relation to my overall goals.

Does anyone have any inspirational quotes to keep me focused? and does anyone else struggle with just keeping going? Please feel free to share your tips.

Hope you've all had a Happy Monday and may the frugal feeling stay with you.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fulfilling my resolutions

Tropicana brightening up Trafalger Square

Today myself and the BF had the day off to spend together which we (I?) decided would be best spent taking in what our capital city has to offer.

 It was one of my new years resolutions to make more of London, and I believe I am starting to fulfill it. Earlier on in the week I made sure to check out Tropicana's art installation in Trafalgar Square; a bright artificial sun which is meant to be visible from space. 

Somerset House: Forgotton Spaces exhibition
Today we went to Borough Market, a food market close to London Bridge. I always mentioned going whenever we passed by on the train, yet had never got round to it. We tasted some foods that were on offer, lots of cheese and bread etc and tucked into German Bratwurst sausages in buns, followed by slabs of fresh cheesecake and coffee for dessert. 

Lovely wood grain
We then went over to Somerset House to see an exhibition which was recomended to me by a friend. '20 years of dazed and confused' which was on fashion photography. Then next door we noticed there was a journalism expo; This documented how the development of technology had changed the shape of journalism. The section on the 2011 riots was particularly interesting- the journos had to go undercover by dressing as yobs to capture the sheer carnage. The Gadaffi coverage was also interesting and covered the debate on whether the public should have been able to see the graphic images of his death which were plastered everywhere.  

We had a couple of drinks in a few pubs to round the day off which came to a total cost of; 

Travel: free for me (season ticket), discounted travel card for BF £5.40

Drinks: £8.40 first round, £6.40 second round (joint account) 

Food: £8.00 hotdogs 
£5.00 x2 huge slabs of cheesecake (should have shared)
£5.00 x2 coffees 

View overlooking the Thames
Entertainment: free 

Total: 38.20 - under £20 each which I'm fairly happy with as it doesn't happen too often. 

On Sunday we also plan to go uptown to celebrate Chinese new year in Soho to welcome the year of the dragon. 

Future trips I want us to do in the next few months include; going to see the 'Woman in black' film starring Daniel Radcliffe- perhaps for Valentines Day as it's released around then. Also to visit Boxhill in Surrey when the weather is a little warmer, and finally to go to Dagenham market to check out the fake designer goods my sister raves about. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Payday ticker update- £60 straight into the ISA. Hoping to get my £100 for the Wii at the weekend, and I have acquired a days holiday at my bar job somehow, though not sure how as it isn't a regular occurrance, but I'm not complaining. This is due to arrive on Friday.

It's someones birthday today in the office (another one, there's been about three here in just a couple of weeks) but I had to eat my pre-prepared cheese pasta lunch I made a few days ago so gave it a miss. My freestyle recipe most definatley needs some work. I was tempted to go for something yummy at the pub but I'm going out for dinner for dim-sum Friday evening with a friend so I'll save it for then instead.

Oh I have also completed one of my New Year resolutions too; yesterday I had my hair cut asymmetrically and I'm feeling pretty bald on the left side of my head at the moment. It's really short so will take some getting used to. 

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lost funds

I have a budgeting app on my phone where I record what I spend on a daily basis, and this month I seem to have lost about £70 somewhere. I've gone through my bank statement and from what I can see it matches my spending on my phone so I'm going to have to go through with a fine tooth comb exactly what has happened.
Any advice? 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Gym memberships and exercise

Another quick note today, I cancelled my £42.00 per month gym membership. This is mainly due to changing jobs and having an annual season ticket so I no longer need, or can really justify the cost of running a car too, and I can't get to my gym without my car. That and the parking where we live is super awkward and annoying so can't wait until I don't have to worry about it being parked about five minutes walk away.  I plan on storing my car on my parents drive at home-lucky them!

Those reasons are coupled with the fact the gym has hardly any decent classes starting after 7.30pm in the evening during the week (I can't make any ones starting before that) and the fact the Saturday morning zumba class is impossible to book into. This morning I rang at 7am and the class was already fully booked- they start accepting calls at 6.30am-tis slightly ridiculous, the world seems to have gone zumba crazy!

There's a zumba class on just up the road from me at the local primary school which I might give a go, or my mum and sister go to a class too so I could just go home one night in the week and go with them. I think the classes are usually around £5.00 per class, so I would be saving £22.00 what I'm paying now for my fancy gym membership if I was to go once per week. Alternatively, there is a gym round the corner from my work I could join which is around £50 per month and no contract so I could give that a go and see how much use I get out of it. Hmm.... I guess we'll see!

I wish I was one of those people who could just go running or cycling in the street but it's either too cold, too dark and I don't really feel very safe on my own. Also, I don't like home workout DVD's and think I would probably get in my housemates way too. Anyone have any ideas? 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Just a quick post to say that today I set up my pension scheme through work. Though the company no longer contribute to employees pensions I will get tax relief. This means that when I pay in £50 per month around £30 I would have paid in tax anyway will be put towards my retirement fund. Not huge amounts but better than nothing.

I also had news today that the BF's sister will be buying my Wii off me which will be paid in two installments of £50, one tomorrow and one at the end of the month so should be able to squirrel most of this away. 

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Financial update

Last night I asked my BF to put some body lotion on this very small patch of dry skin at the bottom of my back. I handed him a tube of body lotion which I had cut the top off to get to the lotion which just will not squeeze out the tube no matter how hard you try. And he says to me 'Are you on some kind of super-saving spree?' So I replied, 'I just don't like waste' hehe. He's only just noticed.

On another note at the weekend my mum gave me cash for my Bluewater Christmas vouchers, despite protesting slightly. I have also re-ordered a new card and pin number for my personal Barclays account which I haven't used in years. When it arrives, and payday is finally here I plan to work out my disposable income for the month after putting any money into my ISA and putting the spare money into the account so I know exactly how much I have to play with. I have been having to account for the weekly direct debits which leave and go into our joint account as well as taking into account the regular standing orders which are going out such as rent and mobile phone bill. This way should be much easier. I am also intending to start my pension plan through work but am a little concerned that people have lost thier money when companies go bust...what to doo? I have to decide by the end of the week.

I have also set up a saving account which £20 per month goes into from our joint account. Its flexible so if there is more fundage available I/we? can just transfer this in as and when to put some money aside for our holiday towards the end of the year (hopefully!).

Finally, I was reading a blog earlier and saw that one blogger recommended placing a dishwasher tablet into the toilet cistern so that every time you flush it cleans the loo. Does anyone else do this? After sitting on our downstairs loo seat and cracking it in half (eek! didn't realise they were sooo flimsy and yet so expensive to replace!) I don't want to break anything else in the house that I would have to replace if I were to damage it. We have a whole bag of dishwasher tablets sitting underneath our sink not doing anything as our last flat had a dishwasher, and this one sadly doesn't.

Oh, while we are on the subject I have been reading everywhere that landlords are not renewing rental contracts in the months running up to the Olympics and are planning on doubling rents in some parts to cash in on the games. Our contract is up for renewal at the end of May, and so the seed of worry has started growing in my mind that we may have to move yet again....*sign*.

Besides the financial cost of having to cough up yet more money to cover estate agent fees our furniture has tripled in the space of a year and the location is so good for me, just a three minute walk from the station with a direct link taking 35 minutes into London Waterloo. I'm seriously hoping we can stay put, even if the rent does go up just a little bit.

 In an ideal world myself and my BF would just move back to my parents to save for our own place, but this would involve some major disruption to our lives as he would have to transfer his place of work and I have no idea where all our furniture would go as I have fitted wardrobes in my bedroom and no place for a double bed. I seriously hope it doesn't come to that. Watch this space folks.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Friday the 13th....

Happy Friday the 13th readers- does anyone have anything nice planned for the weekend?

This week has gone by quite a lot quicker than last week, even though I've been at work an extra day. I stumbled across this interesting article on one of my favourite websites about money management and shopping which makes for some interesting reading.

And this is also worth a quick skim

I have also been pondering some New Year's resolutions, and better late than never here they are as well as some commentary on the last few weeks.

1. Save and reach target of £10,000 in my ISA account and look into putting this money into a fixed account with a higher interest rate. I want to achieve this by around July time ideally.

2. This year I want to go on a 'proper' holiday towards the end of the year. In our four years together we have never been on holiday on our own either so I want to make sure this happens, which means regular stashing of joint account money as and when to take the financial edge off when we come to book.

3. I want to keep my job for at least a year. I passed my probation period this week too (helloooo private healthcare, but sadly no contribution pension scheme for new entrants :(). Last year I had three different jobs which messed up my stability and my pay somewhat as it was just too tempting to take a week off between jobs unpaid (one week wasn't my fault though!) Finally I am in a job where I can actually see myself staying all being well so I hope this one happens this year.

4. I wanted to include Zumba dancing into my exercise routine this year, however there is only one class on at the weekend and it seems everyone is getting up at the crack of dawn come Friday morning to clamour for a place. Two weeks into the new year and I'm yet to secure a place. Note to self, call the gym as soon as I open my eyes next week.

5. This one is a little odd but I want to get my hair cut asymmetrically properly. I had this done once by a bit of an inexperienced hairdresser and it just looked a bit wonky. My hair appointment is already booked at a salon I went to once before and was really pleased with it for the end of the month.

6. Another one which seems to be going okay so far, cutting down on cans of coke. I've substituted the fizz for sparkling water but treated myself today as a little Friday treat.

7. I want to start drinking more water again, which I have been trying to do whilst at work.

8. I want to make the most of my annual train ticket and see more of London and make the most of it. I wanted to go to a fashion photography exhibition today at Somerset House but it closes at 6pm and I won't make it in time. May have to be shelved until a day off. I do intend to be in town to experience the Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of the month which I haven't seen since I was little.

9. I want to go on a short break to Bath as I have never been before.

10. And finally I want to keep my blog up over the next twelve months as its a great way to learn from others, practice my writing regularly and reflect over the year. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Slowly but surely the tortoise wins the race....

The season ticket loan has finally come through, a few weeks late damn the finance department. It was a good job I had some funds saved to fall back on. Anyways, I've put the whole amount back into the ISA making up an extra £240, meaning the little turtle that lives on my ticker has inched along a little further.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Making food go further

Yesterday evening I made a lovley little pasta dish inspired by watching a Nigel Slater TV programme called 'Making food go further' (is on BBC iPlayer). It involved using very few ingredients, all of which I already had in the cupboard/fridge/freezer.


1. Pasta shells
2. Frozen peas
3. Margarine/butter
4. Cheese
5. Fresh basil


1. Cook pasta and drain
2. Cook peas in microwave for a few minutes
3. Put a generous scoop of butter in frying pan and heat until melted
4. Take butter off the heat when begins to bubble. Pour in peas and torn basil
5. Pour butter mixture into pasta, sprinkle over grated cheese and serve

What I loved about this recipe, besides its simplicity is how the peas sit inside the pasta shells. This week I also want to give a Jamie Oliver pasta recipe a go; red onion, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Though I don't have these store cupboard ingredients at home at the moment.

I also plan to treat myself to some earplugs as these are a necessity at my house which seems to be a bit like Charing Cross station at times with two shift workers living there (silent grr!) and living on top of shops this morning a lorry driver seemed to be revving his engine for ten minutes interrupting my sleep- and I love my sleep! Rant over.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

January blues

I think I, like most people am experiencing the post-Christmas January blues. You know the feeling when payday seems sooo far away, and there's less going into your savings at the end of the month because of the festive period.

Rather than getting on with it like I have been doing for the last year and enjoying the little things I keep getting preoccupied with buying stuff, stuff I don't really need and that I know won't make me happy. Stuff like Kindles and touch screen e-readers, iPads and getting my hair cut and coloured even though I only had it cut in late December. It's not that I'm feeling particularly unhappy as such, it just seems that because of buying the computer which ate up £440.00 and having to pay out for some of my annual season ticket (just over a couple of hundred) and the BF still owes me £200 it kind of seems at the back of my mind its like to hell with it this month, in for a dollar in for a pound.

Then Miss Sensible comes along and explains that its silly to think like that, and once the £200 is repaid to me, I get my season ticket loan from work and my sister gives me cash for my vouchers things will probably be ok and I can stash away a couple of hundred into the ISA at the end of the month- eeking me nearer to a total of £7,000. Not a huge sum of money but I'm kind of pleased that its making progress, slowly but surely.

Whats making me feel a bit better is that most people seem to be in the same boat with many of my co-workers discussing plans for the weekend involving nothing too exciting, complaining that they're broke. Last night one of my best friends came over and I cooked home made nachos with cheese and salsa to start and then home made, from scratch chicken and sweetcorn pizza. We chatted on the sofa eating away, and even though my dough didn't rise for some reason, making the pizza extra thin and crispy we ended up feeling sleepy, stuffed and happy.

Today I had plans to get up bright and early to go to a Zumba class at my gym, but yesterday I forgot to book and it was full at 8am this morning. Instead, I started a lethally addictive game of Simms 3 (borrowed) which I sat glued to for the whole morning. I forced myself to switch it off as the bedroom needed sorting out, and other house bits needed doing.

When everything was done I made another big batch of soup, which made five portions. Considering the whole bag of carrots cost 75p I think that's pretty good going.  All I needed extra was a couple of sweet potatoes, a stock cube, half an onion and one roasted pepper (from the jars). So that's lunch sorted for the next week. I also picked up some pretty good bargains (I think anyways) in the Sainsburys local opposite my work. The big Christmas boxes of Jacobs crackers were reduced to £1.20 so I bought two, the carrots, four or five apples which were pretty nice for £1 and a six pack of McCoys crisps a snip at 94p.

At the moment I feel a bit like that fish from the Disney film Finding Nemo who is told 'just keep swimming... just keep swimming..just keep swimming...'

If anyone else feels the same feel free to let me know.....xx

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Welcome 2012

Last night I spent the evening working in the pub where I used to work when I was a student a couple of years back and where my BF still works and our two housemates and friends drink. After making the decision to swerve the 02 Islington with its £25.00 entry fee, expensive drinks and endless waits for night buses home I was told the bar was short staffed for NYE and asked could I help out if possible. I figured that I would only be on the other side of the bar come midnight if I turned the offer down anyways, and the BF was working as well as his cousin and one of our close friends.

The evening started off fine, then as 10pm approached people started to get drunker and more annoyingly rude, one of the staff members who was working had a particularly bad personal hygiene problem and I was hungry! However, disappearing for half an hour to tuck into some homemade soup (1KG carrots a snip at £1-Asda made five jars of soup, four of which are tucked away in the freezer) and a chunk of homemade bread (I was lucky enough to be given a bread maker for Christmas :)) a few deep breaths and peace and quiet I returned to the bar much calmer. That and most of the clientele had left for the evening leaving just the regulars and our friends at the bar. We shut about ten to midnight, had a few glasses of (free) champers to see in the new year and then returned to work for 45 mins. We cleaned up and were finished at about 2am when we all sat down and had another free drink.

 Though it was hard work at some points (why do people feel the need to speak to bar staff like they are stupid when they're actually in the wrong I don't know, and I don't know how people have the patience to deal with them full time- it certainly makes me appreciate my job) I think it was worth it, I didn't spend a penny and people were flinging cash around left right and centre last night, I have no hangover today and even earned a little extra cash too.

Today I plan on going for a little relaxing swim and steam room session, and then will be trying to make my own sweet and sour sauce seeing as I have most of the ingredients in the cupboard (note to self, buy white vinegar) with king prawns, vegetables which need using and rice and making the most of my time off before going back to the grindstone on Tuesday.