Sunday Ramblings 21

I have spent most of the weekend doing a job application.  I had forgotten how long these take.  Although I chop and change on whether I will stay in my job until the contract ends in September time is moving on.  I saw this job and as the closing date is a few weeks away when we will be on holiday I decided to apply for it.  The salary is a lot higher than the one that I am on now so that is a reason to apply for it.  I’ll only apply for jobs with lower salaries when I’m in my last 6 weeks or so at work.  I feel good that the application has gone off.  I now need to just wait.  In a way I’d rather just leave and move on and get it over with so I can carry on with my life and not have to worry about the uncertainty of not having a job.

There are some jobs that I like the sound of that pay a lot less than the job I am in now.  I would like to apply for them but it seems silly to do so at the moment.  A receptionist in my favourite hotel has come up.  The pay is not good but I think I would love working there.  Time will tell what my next job will be.

I have been ill with a cough and cold the last week or so and Mr 33 has taken over cooking and food buying so meal planning has been on hold for a bit.  I do have a nice stock of frozen meals in the freezer now.  Mr 33 bought a nice leg of lamb for Easter but we did not eat it as I was unwell.

I noticed that The Millionaire Next Door is 99p in kindle format so I have ordered this.  I read it years ago and would like to reread it.  99p is a bargain.   99p is an acceptable price for a book for me.  I won’t pay more than this in a charity shop either.

So I will return to packing for my holiday which is hard as the weather forecast is mixed for next week.  I hope you’ve all had a good week.

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March 2018 update

Hi, I hope you all had a good Easter break.

Here are my 2018 goals and how I am getting on with them.

Non financial Goals

Read 30 books of which at least 8 should be non-fiction

I read 3 books in March.  1 was non-fiction.

The total number of books read for the year is 8 of which 4 are non fiction so I am on target for both my reading goals.

Declutter the flat

No declutter jobs done this month but I’m working on a plan for the rest of the year as this seems to have stopped.  This is in my April 2018 Focus

Make friends / be social / Volunteer

My volunteer work is knitting for charity.  So far I have knitted two squares.

Travel

Nothing new to report.

Continue to learn Italian   Learn German

I’m doing well here.  I completed Beginners German Level 3 and have nearly finished Food and Drink.  I’ve also started German for Holidays.

Financial Goals update

Save £400 a month towards retirement

£400 saved in March.  I’m following the advice of Rich Dad and saved £400 at the start of the month

** New goal ** Save £250 a month for travel

Fail.  I overspent this month so some of this shortfall came out of my travel money and I only saved £223 into my travel fund this month.

My current job will end at the end of September and I’ll be staying that long so I can maximise my pension – it seems that as I’ve worked for the organisation before then my pension will build up and not be refunded at the end of my  contract.  My plan is to freeze my travel fund at the end of April, continue paying into it, and use that money as my spending money in case I’m unemployed after September.  I do have a three month emergency fund for if I’m not working but if I use that then I will need to replenish it which will affect my pension savings.  Using my travel fund to live off will encourage me to look for work as I’ll not want my travel fund to diminish!

Make £100 a month passive income (eg dividends and interest)

Fail again.  I made -£21.05 in March.  This should have been a good month as my cash ISA paid interest on 31 March. However this interest was totally wiped out with further losses on my S&S ISA.  I also had a  default on one of my loans for my Funding Circle P2P lending meaning a further loss of £8.70.  I’ve started to withdraw money from my Ratesetter account as I was annoyed that they didn’t credit my £100 bonus until I prompted them last month making them less trustworthy in my eyes.  I’m doing this weekly as funds become available as otherwise I am charged to withdraw money.  My passive income graph looks like this.

chart (18)

 

I’m not going to carry on putting money into my S&S ISA until the markets pick up which I know is against all advice but I won’t be withdrawing my money either.  I know in the long term it has returned well against what I’ve invested in it.

Extend the lease on the flat

I need to have lived in the flat for 2 years to do this so no action required until September.

Carry on budgeting and tracking expenditure

Done.

**New Goal *** Save £1,000 into a party fund

I put my positive interest for March into the party fund which now gives me a grand total of £195.81 of £1,000 saved.

March was a big spend month.  I was over budget on food by £20 and £60 over on my personal spending.   Our annual flat maintenance fund was more than expected too.  I took money out of my clothes sinking fund and travel sinking fund to make my budget balance.  I made £25 additional income (cashback) via Quidco which offset some of the overspend.

Towards Retirement

On a positive note I’ve now received my much awaited deferred pension statement so I can now give an accurate forecast of when I can afford to retire.  This is when I am 61 years old and 11 months.  However saving £243 a month until I am 60 will allow me to retire at 60.  As I’m aiming to save £400 a month then hopefully I’ll be able to retire earlier than 60.

March Focus

  • Meal Planning – Going ok.  I have lots of frozen meals now but the food budget was high this month.
  • Learn German – See above.
  • Date night – Two this month – this is why I’ve overspent on my pocket-money budget!  Theatre night and a meal out.
  • Go outside at weekends (weather allowing) – more snow and now I’ve got a cold so fail.

I hope your March goals went well!

Sunday Ramblings 20

Today I have been trying to locate the source of an intermittent squeaking sound.  My first thought was that it was our smoke alarm battery so I took the smoke alarm off the ceiling and put it in the spare room but the noise continued.  I am now unable to fix the smoke alarm back on the ceiling again.  I am still non the wiser about the noise.  I have turned the electricity on and off with no luck.  I’ve also turned the central heating off so it’s not that either.  I’m wondering if it’s coming from outside.  It’s very annoying.  Mr 33, no doubt, will not hear it.  I will give him the task tomorrow of locating it and refixing the smoke alarm.

We are arguing about light fittings.  All the lights in our flat are circa 1970 which is odd as the block of flats was built in the 1990s.  I hate all the light fittings so much that I have told Mr 33 to take them down so we’ll just have hanging light bulbs until we decide what we want.  I tell a lie the bathroom light fitting is nice and our bedroom one is okay.  The rest need to go.  He wants some elaborate light fitting which will require rewiring and an electrician.  I just want some nice light shades.

Meal planning is going well and I was very excited to find that the meal planning pad that I bought has a tear off strip for the shopping list.  Today I made nut roast but forgot the cheese.  It was still really tasty though.  I don’t like lentils or mushrooms so it was difficult to find a nut roast recipe without either of these in it.  I’m trying to get into the habit of cooking something new on a Sunday with portions to freeze.

March comes to a close and the clocks have sprung forward.  I’m looking forward to the Easter break and a four-day week next week.  Enjoy the rest of your Sunday everyone!

Friday Meal Planning

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Meal planning has taken a step forward as I have purchased the meal planner pad from Wilko.  I also purchased a few other stationary bits, some face wipes and had a mooch around the homeware.  All this made me late for work.

Anyway, back to meal planning pad.  It’s pretty pastel colours with 52 sheets and has a magnetic strip on the back so it can stick on the fridge.  It is A4 size and has lots of rows for different meals including snacks and a block at the bottom for shopping.  The cost is £2.75.  I am looking forward to filling it in this weekend.

Mr 33 and I cooked together one night last week.  This reminded me of why I am meal planning and cooking for myself.  We cooked stir fry or rather he cooked stir fry and I gave him instructions.  I told him to use 3 nests of noodles.  The stir fry appeared and was mostly noodles and hardly any vegetables.  I asked him how many nests of noodles he used.  Five he said.  So the stir fry that I was looking forward to ended up being a bowl of noodles.

April 2018 Focus

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Ok I know we’re still in March but I know what I want to do in April so here is my April focus post.

As you may know I’m on a mission to declutter and Spark Joy into my house.  It’s started well but I’ve lost momentum so in April I want to plan my decluttering for the rest of the year.

To do this I will:

  • Buy a nice notepad
  • Buy some nice handwriting pens
  • Finish reading Spark Joy
  • In my notebook plan what I will do each month until the end of the year.
  • Cost out my plans – curtains etc cost money
  • Adjust money going into household sinking fund each month if needed

So quite a nice thing to be doing in April, planning and reading and possibly some decluttering too.

I also want to open a Nationwide Flexdirect account,  knit one thing for charity, carry on with the meal planning and eat and give a few Easter Eggs.

Sunday Ramblings 19

Yesterday I was reminded of why I am doing this cooking for myself and meal planning malarkey.  I went into town to stock up in case of snow.  Oh no she’s one of those hoarders who clears out the supermarket I can hear you say but no I just got one loaf of bread, some milk, a few other bits and a bunch of daffodils.  Mr 33 said he would cook pizza for us – his pizza and my salad.  I told him to add to my salad meaning tomatoes, peppers and rocket which I had in the fridge.  Came home and my salad had been pimped up with onions, not spring onions but normal white onions.  The pizza arrived out of the oven cold.  Mr 33 had added tomatoes, peppers and more onion to a shop bought pizza but having no knowledge of physics had not adjusted the cooking time.  And for some reason he cooks on the bottom shelf of the oven.   Eventually we did get the pizza and salad but I would have been happier with my original plan of boiled eggs for lunch.

When I eat pizza I like to buy an expensive pizza (usually on offer) like the pizza express ones or make my own.  The less onion the better.  I had to resist saying anything as we went out last night and I didn’t want to have a row and put risk to that.  I was already seething as Mr 33 had yet again used all the soap in the shower and not thought to replace it.

So what else is new with me?  I’m at risk of getting my second warning at work as have been caught twice walking up the stairs with a hot drink.  This is against the rules and is a H&S risk which I understand but I have a phobia of lifts.  Anyway I will not risk it again and will drink my hot drink in the kitchen if I don’t have a lift friend.

As you may know this job will finish at the end of September.  I found out last week that as I have worked for the organisation before then my pension will not be refunded when I leave but will pay out when I reach state pension age.  As it’s quite a good pension then I will aim to stay in the job until the bitter end and will start looking for and applying for jobs in July/August time.

The snow is really pouring down now.  Mr 33 has just left for work.  I am grateful to be able to stay inside in the warm today.  Keep warm everyone and have a good Sunday x

Sunday Ramblings 18

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Meal planning has finally started and I have at last got my own freezer draw!!  I think you underestimate how excited I am about this.  I decided to do some cooking and freezing yesterday.  On Friday night I bought a bottle of wine on the way home from work as I felt I needed one as it has been a difficult week.  In case you didn’t read my previous post I found out that my job will be ending in September.  I had two glasses of wine, felt tired so went to bed at 9pm.  I didn’t sleep well and woke up feeling depressed.  This is the normal way I feel after drinking.

‘I’m not going to finish that bottle of wine,’ I said to myself.  ‘I’m going to cook with it.’

So  I browsed recipe books to find some recipes.  Yes I know there are six billion recipes online but I still use recipe books.  I had a look, wrote a list, went shopping and yesterday afternoon I made chicken with peppers which was basically chicken, peppers, onions, wine and parsley.  Today I will make salmon risotto with the rest of the wine.  However Mr 33 and I did finish the wine off last night so I will make salmon rissotto with some sort of stock instead of wine.  Some for eating today and some for freezing.

Now I have made my first serious steps in meal planning I will treat myself to the meal planning notepad in Wilkos which I don’t really need but looks pretty.  I’m quite good at lunch box planning and breakfast planning but what I actually eat so far had been eating what we already have.  Hopefully I’ll be planning my main meals too soon.  Last night Mr 33 cooked steak for both of us which was delicious.  We do still eat together sometimes but I am aiming for a healthier diet so I try not to do this more than once a week.

I hope you all have a great Sunday.   Let me know if you have any good recipes for using up wine.

Friday Thoughts

Hope you’ve all had a good week.  It’s been a strange one for me.  This week I found out that my fixed term contract will not be extended in September.  ‘But it’s fixed term,’ I can hear you say, ‘Surely you knew it has an end date.’  Well I did but we were led into a false sense of security by being trained up to do new things at work.  It was a bit of a shock and I will now have to start updating my CV and applying for jobs again.  Different people are reacting in different ways.  Some are in denial and think things will change – well they might but I’m not hanging around to find out.  Some are really upset.  Most of us will be looking for jobs sooner rather than later.  After the initial shock I now feel excited.  A new job, new things to do, new people, possibly more money.  I think I had got myself into a false sense of security and thought I would be in this job until I was 60.  An easy life.  A safe life.  In a way I am happy that this has happened even though I cannot tell anybody this.

Changing the subject.  Meal planning is strange.  So far we’ve been mainly eating what we have in the freezer.  I finally have a freezer draw but I have no idea what to put in it.  It is odd not eating the same food as Mr 33 and having our own food budgets.  We eat together at the same time if we’re home together.  However we are sharing food a lot so I think it will develop into a system where we buy and plan our own meals but share the costs and loosely share our food.  That probably doesn’t make much sense but for example if I buy strawberries I feel mean not sharing them so we will both eat them.  If  I need a banana for work then I will ask for one.  Tomorrow night Mr 33 will cook steak for both of us.  I think this will be a work in progress.  I do want to do some proper meal planning this weekend.

Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday Ramblings 17

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The snow has mostly gone here.  We were one of the red warning areas.  On Thursday I went to work but was sent home again and told not to come in on Friday.  Mr 33 has also been home.  Having two unplanned days off has been odd but I guess going part-time and being retired will be similar.  We couldn’t go out but there was plenty to do in the house.   Yesterday we ventured out and did a bit of food shopping which leads me into a meal planning update.

My plan was to do a big Tesco shop online shop to build up a stock of healthy and essential food.  Last time I did an online shop the delivery cost was £1.50 with slots as low as £1 available.  This time delivery slots started at £2.50 and there was a minimum shop of £40 or a £4 charge was added.  Forget it I thought I’ll just buy food gradually on the way home from work which worked out fine until the snow and ice came.

There still isn’t a lot of storage space in our cupboards and freezer as we are still eating what we have.  I am just buying my own fruit and veg which is disappointing as I hoped I’d be cooking and freezing meals by now.  What I have done is frozen a load of cooked jacket potatoes.

I’ve bought myself a nice planning notebook but it has yet to be used properly.  Mr 33 and I are still mostly eating the same food as we are using up all the food that he has cooked and frozen in the past even though I have been saying for months that we need to eat what we have and empty the freezer to defrost it.  As soon as he sees an empty space he will batch cook a load of curry and freeze it for example.  Now he knows I want my own draw he had finally stopped all this bulk cooking of things I don’t like.

Last night we did cook for ourselves and eat different meals.  His plate was packed with chips and Aunt Bessie’s yorkshires amongst other things.

‘You don’t have much,’ he said feeling sorry for me.

‘I have enough,’ I said and I did.

I’d cooked spinach with onions, tomatoes and all spice.  When Mr 33 cooks spinach I get a cold lump of dark green which I eat as I know it is healthy.  My spinach was delicious and hot.  I was also finishing off vegetarian sausages and I had a few small potatoes.  For pudding we did share one of the sticky toffee puddings that is taking up storage space but I didn’t have a large portion.  We are still buying and sharing some things like milk and eggs.  Although we are due to run out of milk and there is none in town.  However I do have dried skimmed milk that I use for porridge so we will be ok.

I like to take meter readings for gas and electricity at the start of every month so I can monitor our usage and also send our supplier regular readings.  I was under the impression that we would have used less this year than last year for January and February but we seem to have used more.  I’m not sure why that is as I was unemployed this time last year so home more.  It’s not a lot more and nothing to worry about. Maybe we were just more careful about putting the heating on when there was only one income coming in.

March means waiting to hear about which bills will go up for the next financial year.  For us it will just be the council tax going up although I have heard that the tv licence will go up.  I hope we hear soon so I can start budgeting accordingly.

That’s it for now.  I hope you all have a good Sunday!

February 2018 Update

I hope my UK readers are staying safe and warm in this horrendous weather.  Being stuck in the flat means that I can do a timely end of month review for a change.

Here are my 2018 goals and how I am getting on with them.

Non financial Goals

Read 30 books of which at least 8 should be non-fiction

I read three books in February.  One was non-fiction.   This was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert which I really enjoyed and would recommend.

The total number of books read for the year is 5 of which 3 are non fiction so I am on target for both my reading goals.  As usual I currently have two books on the go.

Declutter the flat

No big declutter jobs done this month but I’ve been working on selling unwanted clothes on Ebay and taking clothes and other bits to the charity shops.

Make friends / be social / Volunteer

My volunteer work is knitting for charity.  So far I have knitted one and a half squares.  This is quite a relaxing thing to do in the evenings and I hope to be inspired to do a knitting or crochet project of my own soon.

Travel

Nothing new to report.

Continue to learn Italian   Learn German

My upcoming Berlin trip has meant that I’m learning some German rather than concentrating on improving my Italian.  In February I completed the ‘Beginner’s Course 2’ on Babbel and have a new certificate on the fridge!  I’m also working through the Duolingo German course.  My German learning will be ramped up in March ready for our trip in April.

Financial Goals update

Save £400 a month towards retirement

£400 saved in February.  I’m following the advice of Rich Dad and saved £400 at the start of the month.

In February I have saved for 12 days of early retirement

** New goal ** Save £250 a month for travel

Again done at the start of the month.

Make £100 a month passive income (eg dividends and interest)

Fail.  I made £10.37 in February.  Even though this is a fail it could have been a lot worse!  Luckily Ratesetter paid my £100 bonus and this has offset a lot of the fallout from my S&S ISA.  I thought I would come in negative this month.  The £10.37 is -£98 from my S&S ISA (this was a lot worse at the start of the month) and £108.37 from P2P lending.  My updated passive income graph is below.

chart (17)

 

Extend the lease on the flat

I need to have lived in the flat for 2 years to do this so no action required until September.

Carry on budgeting and tracking expenditure

Done.

**New Goal *** Save £1,000 into a party fund

My £10.37 passive income and £3.87 left over from my budget this month was added to the party fund giving me a grand total of £57.81 of £1,000 saved.

By some miracle I came in under budget in February.  I overspent my ‘pocket money’ budget and bought things such as theatre and concert tickets, meals out, a takeaway, some makeup and other bits and bobs so I expected there to be a shortfall which I planned to take out of my clothes sinking fund.  However we came in under budget on food and I made £59 on eBay and had some cash back so I came in at the end of the month with a £3.78 underspend.  This £3.78 had gone into my party fund.

February Focus

  • 14 No Spend Days (NSDs) – currently on 12/28 – fail
  • Get outside at weekends – 7/8
  • No internet after 8pm –  19/28
  • Get two pictures framed – 1/2

See this post for more detail.

March Focus

  • Meal Planning
  • Learn German
  • Date night
  • Go outside at weekends (weather allowing)