Sunday, 27 May 2012

My 100th blog post

This week has been a pretty hectic week compared to my normal week; firstly on Tuesday, the first of the beautiful weather I was lucky enough to have been given free cinema tickets to see the 'What to expect when you're expecting' film which started at six. I worked from home in the afternoon which was lovley, before cycling to the cinema.

Instead of buying expensive drinks and snacks in the cinema, bumping up the price of our trip, we dipped into Sainsbury's en route to pick up some food. I kept my eyes peeled for deals which included a huge bag of sweet Butterkist popcorn for £1, a huge bag of kettle chips £1 and a meal deal which we split for £3. The film was lighthearted, funny and definitely my cup of tea so I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of the rom-com genre- however it wasn't overly girly and the BF enjoyed it just as much. Once we were home we worked together to re-work the BF's CV ready for his job interview/meeting on Thursday.

Wednesday was another scorcher of a day- and consequently the tubes and trains were all messed up. I finally made it to Putney to meet a friend for dinner at Pizza Express which was nice as we sat outside. She had 2-4-1 Orange deal, but her phone battery died so we had to resort to 25% off using a downloadable voucher on my phone. Even so it came in at just under a tenner which I thought was pretty good- we went for one drink afterwards which was nice. I had budgeted for the evening,which took me up to just under my monthly budget.

Thursday was D-day. The BF was extremely nervous about meeting with his friends boss, and whilst he was in the interview I literally felt sick. The good news is that he got the job!! I was soo happy as it will completely -change our lifestyle and mean we can live like a normal couple pretty much- if there is such a thing as normal? What I mean is that we'll have evenings, weekends, bank holidays, Christmas's, New Years and so on together, which we haven't had in the last four and a half years. It means we won't have to plan literally everything around his work rota, which often gets changed at the last minute without much notice. Finally, besides the extra money it means that when we (hopefully) move into our own home I won't be left on my own.

To celebrate he came to meet me from work, as I was meeting my mum in town too. We all went for lunch then walked over to the South Bank for a drink, then when BF went home me and my mum went over to Green Park to meet my sister as later in the evening we were going to see 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe' in Kensington Gardens.  I picked up three tickets for £40 from Last which is pretty much the normal price of one theatre ticket.

Dancing with the birthday girl

Friday was payday at last; I hit my monthly budget target and now my personal savings total has hit £10,638, while we have £500 in our joint savings. The BF has almost £900 but he needs to use some of this to learn to drive as he'll be driving a company van in the future due to his new job. So all in all things are heading in the right direction. I spent most of the day at a Google event (hello free breakfast, snacks and lunch) and got to spend time in their gorgeous offices.

Then finally, yesterday I spent the morning doing the weekly housework and in the afternoon me and the BF set off with a little picnic to the local park, armed with my SLR camera. And one of my favourite shots is the one at the top of the page. In  the evening we went to a friends 21st birthday party-m I didn't feel too good because of the sunshine so stuck to the diet coke.

Today I think I'll spend the day relaxing before the working week begins again. Hopefully this one will be a little calmer.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Scrubbed, polished and ready to go....

Happy as a pig in mud :) Before...
Tonight with the BF at work I took inspiration once again from Froogs aka Frugal Queen and turned my bathroom into a DIY spa experience.

First of all I rummaged around in the dressing table unit (picked up from Freecycle last year) for a bottle of lavender oil I bought a few years ago. I splashed some onto a flannel, ran the shower so it was all steamy and covered the plug hole with the flannel so the oil would evaporate with the steam- turning my turning the humble shower cubicle into my very own sauna. 

Next I cleansed my face as normal with a Boots own cleanser, then followed up by smearing a layer of their cold cream onto my face, massaged for a few minutes then removed with a warm muslin cloth which came with a hot cloth cleanser I bought in the Boots Boxing day sale. I followed this with an exfoliating face scrub, before applying a Sanctury mud face mask, which was also part of the Sancutry set I bought after Christmas. 

Whilst this was drying I exfoliated using a body scrub which was a birthday present, then toweled my skin and applied some body mud which I was given six bottles of as part of a magazine give away about a month or so ago. 

Once the mud had started to set I jumped back into the shower and rinsed it all off. Once I was dry I applied lots of  facial moisturiser, Boots own part of  a 3-for-2 deal then slapped on the Soap and Glory  body lotion (Christmas presents for the last few years- I've built up quite a collection!). 

Once this was all done I turned my attention to my poor neglected feet. I think there isn't anything worse than seeing a woman wearing flip flops or sandals with awful cracked heals. So I attacked mine with a vengeance using the Ped Egg, which was a present a few years ago. Once my tootsies were free from the hard, dry skin I smothered them in an intensive foot cream which was part of The Sanctury bath set which was a birthday present, popping cotton socks on to seal in the moisture. 

Once my Clinique wide awake toner stuff runs out, which, although I love, I don't love enough to splash my cash on at the moment I'm going to have to downgrade to an old toner from Tesco that I bought over a year ago, resorting to an old green tea tea bag to give me 'firm' skin- supposedly!  

Here I am sans make up after my scrubbing and polishing session; not too bad though I wish my under eye bags/circles would go away (please excuse the vacant-eyed-stare!). Does anyone have any tips on getting rid of them? Is it really a case of eating more iron based foods, or do I have to rely on the magic touch of concealer forever? 

If you have any DIY beauty secrets please share.....go on I won't tell, my lips are sealed! ;-) 

Another weekend, another update

Things on the blog front are starting to seem a bit predictable right?....

Anyways, this weekend went pretty much as planned and was good on the spending front; I budgeted £20 for drinks out on Friday night, a catchup with old work friends. I really enjoyed the eve and spent just £8.50 as I was so busy chatting away.

Saturday, I worked at Twickenham as there was another rugby game on. I did 10-4 so should get £35 quid (approx.) for this; the game wasn't until five, so we didn't get busy until half two when it went mental. I finished at four, ate my free dinner, abbott ale steak pie, mash, beans and gravy and escaped the madness. I watched some of the Chelsea game with my housemate and snoozed the eve away.

Sunday myself and the BF had the entire day together, which is somewhat of a rarity. We spent it cycling the surrey countryside out in the fresh air which is what I needed. By the time we arrived home it was dinner time; we cooked chicken thighs, drumsticks and wings in a marinade, some rice which was egg fried as the eggs go off tomorrow and home-made guacamole. I've just eaten the left overs at work, which were also yummy! (It's a no-spend day for me today!)

This week will be a little busier and more fun filled than last week, with cinema, dinner and theatre trips planned throughout the week, and a house party this weekend. On Thursday the BF has an interview as such with an air conditioning firm for an apprentice position. It means that if he gets the job he'll be a- working with one of his best friends, b-working normal hours so we'll have a higher quality life together now and in the future, c- once he qualifies he will earn more than what he can if he progresses in retail management d- he'll get a company van which will mean free travel for us too!

On the flip side, for this year he won't earn as much as he would once his promotion goes through at work which means I'll be the one saving- however I had only worked out what I was able to put away anyways, so that isn't too much of a disaster as I hadn'd really banked on help anyways.

He's rediculously excitied, but I can't help but think I shouldn't get my hopes up just in case it crumbles around us again. Tonight I'll be re-writing his CV which he'll need to take along with him on Thursday.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Living on a financial edge

Inspired by this post by Frugal Queen, who has become one of my favourite go to inspirational blogs over the last few months, I whipped up a rather unconventional culinary treat last night.

Out came the big box of fishcakes which were £2 for about 12 I think, I popped five into the oven so as to have some for my lunch at work (today). Realising I had no potato-type foods I scavenged in the back of the cupboard for half a packet of couscous I'd pegged down, and rummaged in the freezer for some peas. I was feeling quite hungry so also used up a naan bread that I had frozen before it had gone off. The combination was fairly strange to see and a few people commented on my random assemblement of food but it filled a hole (twice) for almost nothing. I kind of wish I had taken a photo- but I'm sure you can imagine it.

I cooked my dinner and placed the remaining food into a washed out plastic Tupperware container (recycled from a housemates recent take away) to take to work. I think one of the key aspects to saving as much as possible is being organised- from doing a weekly food shop for foods which will a- last the week and b- make enough filling, healthy meals, to making sure the washing is kept on top of so as not to buy any impulse clothing buys, to keeping a constant eye on bank accounts etc, and finally always looking for the best deals from car insurance to washing powder.

Just one week away from payday I feel quite like Astra from who looks forward to her monthly bank statements as its the reward for a months worth of hard work saving. I feel the same and can't wait to have a new budget, plus to see my figures increasing on the spreadsheet knowing we are getting closer to our goal.

I have roughly £4 at the moment once all my bills etc are paid, and I'm off out for a few drinks tomorrow night. However, I figure the money I'll get from Saturday's bar shift should be enough to cover this cost. Otherwise I'm just ploughing on with the no-spend days.

And I've also updated the ticker so that the figures are all proper.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Just a quick update; I checked all my usual accounts etc this morning, including my new credit score and its gone up 37 points since I last logged in and is now sitting at 935 I think inching its way to excellent. I'm really pleased, its because I've had my credit card three months now (I think- I can't find the post where I wrote about it). However, I'm not really too worried about my score, its my BF's. But he has been using his credit card responsibly, and has a direct debit to pay it off in full now so hopefully this will be enough to improve it. He's kind of in denial about his score, and won't check his report- grr!

Also, I've been paid from my first lot of Quidco cash back £13 (was meant to be £18 but they take £5 for membership type fee) so I have approximately £4 to my name which isn't tied up. However, I have picked up another bar shift Saturday at Twickenham which should be an extra £30 or so, so I can squeeze by to payday in 10 days time.

Besides that, things are ticking along as usual; there's been less food waste- just a couple of bits of the end of a loaf of bread which had gone mouldy. I also choppped up some vegetables and put them in the freezer to stop them ending up in the bin.And my BF has sort of got approval for his pay rise; his work are weird they work backwards it seems. He still has to fill out half a workbook, quickly apply and then have a kind of mock interview but I'm hoping he'll have it sorted by the end of the month. I need to stop nagging though, because he's still a bit of a child and he digs his heels in even though he knows it needs doing. Are all men like this?? 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May's happy list

Here's May's happy list; this one took a little more thought than the one I posted in April. Here goes....

1. The smell of freshly baked bread wafting around the kitchen from the bread maker. I baked a loaf last night, snoozed on the sofa and walked into the yummy smell. I wanted to break a chunk off, but couldn't persuade it out of its tin :(

2. I've achieved another good month of saving, and our joint saver is inching towards the £500 mark thanks to the use of a basket in the supermarket.

3. BF is making progress in getting his promotion which will mean that a] we can borrow a decent amount of money and b] he can start helping me with the savings a bit more to scrape together a bigger deposit.

4. Getting organised; I blogged earlier in the month about creating a spreadsheet where I can see and track all finances at a glance. Our piles and draws of paperwork are now also neatly filed in labelled plastic wallets and all junk is in the bin.

5. Our re-arranged bedroom- I think I prefer it to the way it was.

6. Lighter mornings and evenings; last night I had to pick my bike up from the pub and enjoyed the sunny evening cycle which has become such a rarity thanks to the recent rain.

7. Spending time with family.

8. Pigging out! This weekend I enjoyed a couple of meals out, which is a rarity these days and I enjoyed every morsel :)

9. Microwave popcorn, sitting back, snuggling up and watching a good film while the rain patters on the window.

10. Meeting up with old work friends I haven't seen for a year and a half before one sadly returns to South Africa after a recent break up with her English boyfriend. We also have a friends birthday drinks this weekend, and a 21st house party the weekend after to look forward to.

Hmm... not as hard as I thought after all. It's definatley a good habit to get into! Thanks Astra. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Another week, another update....

I've got a bit of an obsession with cat paint atm lol!
I think this has been the longest amount of time I haven't blogged for to date. The reason? hmmm... no real reason really, things seem to be ticking along fairly smoothly, no disasters to report etc. I did end up picking up another four hour, last minute bar shift on Tuesday evening, so come Wednesday eve I was feeling pretty sleepy.

Then on Thursday I went out after work for a colleagues leaving do in town; I made sure I stuck to the happy hour glasses of wine which were £2.70 with 50% off, topped up with soda to make them last longer, as well as to dilute them down. Because we had reserved a couple of tables the bar gave us a couple of platters of free finger food, bottles of champagne and about 20 shots. Luckily I was well positioned when the freebies arrived, so enjoyed a couple of glasses of Prosecco for free as everyone else seemed to turn their noses up at it, some food and three free shots (I'm pretty sure they were mini glasses of bitter lemon lol!) before heading home.

Friday lunchtime we went out for lunch to a new American restaurant called 'Meat Liquor' which is located behind Oxford Street. The food was delicious, and I could see why the burgers have been getting rave reviews all over the internet. The bill set me back £16 which meant  it took up the majority of my weekend budget, but I was paid for the Saturday bar shift so squeezed it in without going over budget. I also put all three meals on my credit card and the others are transferring me the money to get more use out of my credit card to try to push up my credit score. Friday evening I was so sleepy from my huge lunch and kind of late night the night before me and the BF just dozed on the sofa in front of the TV.

Saturday I had to buy my Dad a present for his birthday; I couldn't find anything and decided to give him the vouchers I won through work instead which can be used at Halfords, Homebase and HMV amongst others. My Dad's quite practical (think that's where I get it from) and was very pleased when he opened his card and found these nestled inside. Saturday night, after watching Britain's got talent I cycled to the pub for a few drinks, spent about a fiver sipping slowly lol, and this also included the price of my cab fare home too.

Sunday we decided to rearrange and sort out our room, all junk was thrown out, stuff we won't need has been put away in the loft and all our paper work has been filed neatly into labelled plastic wallets.

Then yesterday we visited my family and went out for dinner for my Dad's birthday. We went to the harvester, and managed to wrangle a free round of drinks for six- and four of them were re-fillable too! The bar man completely messed up the change he gave my dad, and ended up giving him all his money back in a different form. Mum & Dad covered the bill, so will probably have them up and cook something nice as a thanks in the next few weeks or so.

I've got £16 of disposable income to last the week, then I should get paid about £25.00 for my bar shift last week. I'm out for a few drinks Saturday, so this should easily cover this leaving me with about £40. I'm also expecting one of my Quidco payments of £13, so should be able to scrape through the next two weekends and make it to payday.

I think there's another happiness revolution due, but I'm a bit stumped for ideas as to what to include....