Sunday, 27 November 2011

Lizzie's Lynx - Sunday reading

I have been hopping from site to site trying to find an authentic, simple and tasty sauerkraut recipe. These were my favourites, here and here.

Totally love budgets are sexy's comments on everything you need to know about personal finance.. Deadly accurate but very amusing.

foster mummy has been busy with her crafting. I so want the Christmas Pudding hat!

Froogs has started us on the road to Christmas food prep

The year of doing something more interesting

That was my keynote for 2011. For us and for the kids.

Specifically we said : Making progress with Crete House, about being healthier, happier and more financially viable individuals.

Not sure this wasn’t more of a mission statement than goal & for 2012 I will be more SMART (Specific, Measurable and um, well you know, Realistic and the other ones).

Was it more interesting than 2010?

The kids seem to have made more progress here than us. They took to climbing like ducks to water, as predicted. The eldest one goes 2 or 3 times each week and makes him very smiley indeed. They both qualified as Swimming Teachers (with top marks – yaay, proud Mummy) so they have a back-up skill if they have trouble finding jobs in their real fields. Ahdel is building a new computer today. Boxes have been arriving all the week. Now he can get on with his IT course. Jamal is still studying ready for enough bash at getting into the merchant navy next summer. He has also taken up Ju Jitsu. Ahdel, of course, also decided he was leaving home but came clean and admitted he didn't want to go so is now firmly settled into home again, must to all of our amusement.

We went to stay in the Crete house for over three weeks which was enough to feel totally absorbed into the atmosphere and community. That was great and I enjoyed having a house full. In fact we could do with a couple of extra bedrooms. Next week we are off to St Malo in France with the rest of the family. It will be great fun. Ahdel can’t come as he is working but everyone else is coming. My dad is already planning where we will eat. We have been out to eat as a couple or a family quite a few times but not enough to be frittering money away.

Did we make progress with the Crete house.
We made really good progress there though with the steps. Plastering and painting, sealing windows, decorating, making shelves, hanging curtains. Very good progress this year, we could only do better by being there more often.

Are we happier, healthier and more financial viable:

We are happy but we were happy already so that was more a goal to maintain. We have done this.
Healthier, more veg, more wholefoods, smaller portions (mostly), more active but still need to work on this one.
More financially viable. Hmm, well we introduced budgeting and are now sticking to it, We have employed a consultant in Crete to look at the legalities of our building works, we couldn’t have done that before because of the expense. We also made the decision to sell up in Syria however things have now hotted up out there and my sister in law doesn’t feel safe going there to sort it out. So we don’t actually have the cash that we were expecting to start work on the Crete Old House renovation. This one needs more work.

I think 70% success. 2912 can be even better

Saturday, 26 November 2011


Last night we went to a birthday party. I didnt especially want to go because I was proper tired and not feeling so good after my flu jab. Actually had a lovely time, possibly not unconnected with being given copious amounts of wine. And on the way home searched high and low for an open Chinese takeaway. Yep, we weakened but it was yum. I had the leftovers for brekkie though to redeem myself slightly. My lovely husband even missed his favourite events of the month, poker night, for me. Bless. He was teasing me during the evening that it was definitely his turn to win this month and so I was missing out on my present.

Jamal and I were up bright and painfully early to get our grocery shopping done. We had a massive box of veg delivered on Friday so didn't need any extra veg from the shop. Consequently we were feeling we had forgotten something and weren't sure what. Shopping came in £62 but we probably have around £7 in vouchers for next week using the ASDA price challenge.

The rest of my day is all house worky. I never run out of cleaning, sorting, tidying or cooking. Lunch/Dinner, which we have around 4pm, will be a steak sandwich each. There was steak in the reduced section this morning so I thought that a treat was in order. It isnt much more than the price of a cheese sandwich but I tihnk that might say more about increasing cheese prices than the steaks.

Got to get going with my housework to warm up a bit. It is December on Thursday and so far no heating on in the house. I just keep throwing fluffy blankets on top of people. Everyone is wearing thermal underwear too if they are to be believed!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Weekly Updates Wednesday

I find that having to do things because I have said on here that I will helps me to keep structure and focus. So another new regular thing I intend to do is a regular update for myself, not just money as life is obviously so much more than money, but all areas.

Something that made me laugh and cry. Last night my husband, who wasn;t feeling too well as some of his meds don't agree with him, said 'i just want you to know where the money if I die'. What? Well I wasn't expecting you to die anytime soon but how much money are we talking? Vision of £20k available to me for my renovation project danced before my eyes. So he followed up with 'well, there isn't any yet but I just thought I would tell you where I will put it, when there is'. What a let down. bearing in mind that we keep our money in the bank rather than under the mattress if we have any, and that he only get pocket money, fuel money and a little money for bargain food spotting I am guessing it will be some years before I open a teapot or breadbin and find the imaginary £20k. Bless.

Weekly updates
Health: Fahed is going to ask his GP if he can come off his sciatica meds. He feels they are making him unwell. Jamal is going to work with him on an exercise program to build up his lower back muscles instead.

Money: Net worth is varying quick a bit from week to week as exchange rates vary but nothing too drastic. Massive property tax bills are expecting on the Greek house but I suspect nothing like as much as we already pay for property tax in the UK.

Home: Looking for a new gas man to move the cooker. Painting of hall, stairs and landing is progressing (and looking pretty cool actually).

Fahed not feeling so good but addressing the potential problem by replacing meds with exercise.
Jamal is doing pretty good at college & should be re-allying to merchant Navy in May 2012. Seems to have settled into his JuJitsu class and taking first grading shortly. Driving is well improved and we will buy him his theory test as one of his Christmas presents.
Ahdel is spending every penny he earns on a super computer for his studies. As well as working full time as a delivery driver (and hence not needing to go to the gym) and studying part time he is also going to the swim school this week to see if he can work for them for two days a week on their IT issues, admin, website, registers and reports etc.

Me: I have started my new manager at work and am finding stress levels dropping hugely as I don’t have to keep on top of two jobs. I didn’t realise I was stressed until I started not to be. Even the solid and painful muscles in my neck are starting to understand times are changing.
Interesting (to me) stuff: I am interested to see that both kids, who were definitely never going to uni and couldn’t see the point, are now on the road (or in Jamal’s case at least route planning) for their degrees and hopefully without the risk of massive student debt hanging over them for years to come. Ahdel pays his fees monthly from his wages ( he will have to give up work to attend full time for a short period in about two years time) and Jamal’s plan for entry into the merchant navy includes 3 years of sponsorship whereby he is at uni locally when not at sea. Apparently they are not as daft as first thought!

Thats it. New categories to be added as I think of them.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

In the beginning

This is my first ever blog post from 2007. I thought it might be interesting to look back.
Like so many others I am beginning to notice that I want to make changes in my life.

Everything is happening too quickly and in such confusion. Its always Monday, always Christmas, always washing day, its always ages until pay day. I moan about people wasting food when I read a newspaper article, and then I throw away something from the back of my fridge which has somehow got overlooked as my week rushed past me.

It is time to slow down. Simplify and de-clutter are the buzz words but I visualise something more like a pruning. My cherry tree benefits from this when we remember to do it, so why shouldn't we too. Pruning can bring clarity and definition as it cut away the old dead wood.

My home needs to be the centre of my world. At the moment I expect a lot from it without giving it time and attention. The house itself is quite a small traditional semi built in 1908. It is packed to the eaves with far too much junk but it is a happy house and always full of visitors.

I work full time and that isn't likely to change for a few years. I need to pay the mortgage but also I am lucky enough to that my job is important and the sort of work I would volunteer for even if I didn't need a salary. This is a good thing but work must also be kept in perspective. It cant be the centre of my universe.

So, we are content with ;-
the family, two lovely & occasionally troublesome teen aged boys and one grumpy old bloke (who is slightly younger than me but don’t remind him as he gloats).
Still content with the family. Kids have grown out of their stroppy stage and poor old Fahed had depression and we didn’t realise it.

The animals - two naughty and adorable cats and a chatty cockatiel. My adored cats have been gone for years now and I still miss them daily. My cockatail is still chatty but now he has the run of the house without the pesky cats.

The job Our organisation merged with two others so it hadn’t been dull. In fact it has been a real stretch but I had suitably sized pay reviews so it’s all good now.

The car - ancient Astra estate. Still got it but I feel it might be a bit closer to the scrapyard in the sky than previously.

The house - small but perfectly formed, however the extension is nearly finished.
Extension is finished but still a bit of renovation to do.

The extension - home built by us, except for some of the electrics, and mostly from recycled and scrounged building materials.
Yaay, all done.

The garden - still suffering from the building work but it was rather cute before and will be again.
Looking much better with just a few more jobs outstanding

The allotment - the sister and I spend a few happy hours each week in the 'green gym' which is just 10 minutes walk down the lane.
Sadly couldn’t keep up with the weeds and had to hand over to someone with more time on their hands.

and we are slightly less content with;-
the overcrowded house Still a bit tight but much easier since I got rid of so much stuff.
the 'lost' things which are often re-purchased because I cant find the originals.
Haha, cant remember the last time this happened.

the food which get thrown out because i forgot it needed producing at meal times.
Still happens but very infrequently. Soup is the answer, everything can go in there!

the birthdays & anniversaries which get forgotten and the associated guilt buying
.No more, diary software saved me from desfent into chaos.

the 'cant find anything to wear to work' about 4 times every week. Nope, small and basic wardrobe of work clothes and now we have a Friday dress down day so even better.

The grumpy old blokes blokes business, which is taking a long time to build up and which is supposed to support me in old age!
We bailed on this sadly. We learnt some lessons which we need to remember if we start up again. He now has the same job but employed so now risk. The pension is planned as rental properties instead of swim school.

I feel a plan of action is required!! Tonight I will sit and knit my winter scarf as I make my plans.
I have no idea what happened to that scarf!!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday

Last weeks menu plan was;

Monday & Tuesday Beef stew with dumplings – Had this Tuesday and Wednesday instead
Wednesday - Lentil Soup (Mahklouta) and home made bread – Had this Saturday and there was enough o freeze for lunches.
Thursday- Sandwiches and salad. Moved to Monday
Friday- Grilled chicken wings and cheese and onion jacket potatoes. Abandoned. We had cheese on toast instead as no-one was hungry.
Saturday - Home made pizza. Yes,these were very popular. We put on too much topping, the dough was too thick and the cheese was too strong but they were still lovely so how good will they be when we really get the hang of it.
Sunday - Chicken Soup & Burghal. Changed. We decided to have a winter barbecue with lamb, sausages and potato salad. Also lit the pile of waste wood and garden stuff so had a lovely time out in the garden in the dark.

This week

Monday - Leftovers from Sunday night barbecue.
Tuesday - Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup with Garlic Dough Balls.
Wednesday - Family meal at the local Carvery (must remember to look for a voucher)
Thursday - On toast night, maybe beans, maybe mushrooms, maybe cheese.
Friday – Party with food. No cooking required.
Saturday - Maklouta(Lentil Soup)
Sunday - Wait and see how we feel day but I suspect sandwiches

For more inspiration go to organisation junkie

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Lizzie's Lynx - Sunday reading

Afford anything sums up my favourite personal finance tip: Cut ruthlessly on the things you don’t care about. Spend lavishly on the things you love. Ignore conventional wisdom.

Afford anything again with a sensible view on working free lance. When you view the world as a place of abundance, you start to SEE that abundance everywhere

Jacquie at Bunny Mummy is being creative and starting us on the road to Christmas a nice easy home made mincemeat.

A salutary take from Judy at we may be poor but we are happy. I will be avoiding the credit cards as usual this Christmas

Moyra at Get Stuff Done – Creating My Life looks at her plans from one year ago and finds herself a little closer and happily seeking out new creative ideas.

Have a lovely Sunday

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Free Homemade Calendars using your own photos

Just had a great 30 minutes fun making a Meerkat calendar for my sister here.. Idiot proof (i.e. even i could do it) and more fun than you might imagine.

All going well (so thumbs up)

My eldest son works full time but is also studying on a three year IT course. His computer cant cope with life in the fast lane and just died on the desk. We knew this was coming so have been pricing up the components to build a new super computer for a few months. It started off by costing £900ish. Re=pricing by our almost resident IT specialist (Ahdel's mate Matt) suggests it would be nearer to £1400 after recent price rises. Ouch, might be time for mum to get involved.

Now Ahdel isn't brilliant with money naturally but he knows his shortfalls and how to manage himself. Our resident accountant (me) works through with him what he needs in different categories. On payday he transfers his non pocket money into a savings account and there it stays until needed. Unfortunately he had a spell of unemployment when his last contracted ended so he didnt work for some months and all his best laid plans had un-ravelled in that time and so the computer is being built on a seriously tight budget which will eave him nothing in cash for another 4 weeks.

I worked through the items needed for the rebuild and we balanced cost against reliability of supplier. We were happy to buy from Amazon,, Novatech etc not so much from Bobs computer bits and the like. We avoided what might be the super economy route of ebay because it can hard to return things when they don't work. We got the price down to £895. Not exactly cheap but at least it makes up for the recent price rises.

His father bailed him out with a few quid and also said he would let him have a little pocket money during the next four weeks. I will absorb the cost of petrol from our join use of the car, as long as journeys are local and minimal. I will also manage without a house keeping contribution until next year. Everyone seems to have adapted to the super economy meal plan and are definitely less wasteful than previously. So actually we are doing okay.

When he is a millionaire IT designy type person we will have our investment back.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

On my mind

I have a day off tomorrow. I planned my day:
Breakfast around 7.30 with my parents
grocery shopping with youngest son (no college)
paint the halls, stairs and landing.
and now I have just noticed that my larder needs a serious sort out.
No chance of running out of work, even on a day off.

Catch up with other things on peoples minds at Down to Earth

We are what we eat

It is quite an expensive job keeping three fairly active men fully re-fuelled. We have all home- made food, except the odd frozen pizza (Lidl stone baked, delicious)so we are part way there on health and frugality but we have to go further.
This week Fahed was called in to the doctors to say they need to monitor his liver, according to his bloods there seems to be a problem. He doesn’t drink alcohol except something like an annual glass of wine. Also his stomach is sore and tender. He has to take medication for his heart already (a huge range, probably due to heart attack in his thirties), also his happy tablets and some nerve related stuff for his sciatica and pain killers for the same. I am pretty sure that some of these cause additional problems. So I have a plan. I won't stop the tablets obviously but I want to work on making his diet as healthy as possible and increase his exercise specifically to work on his sciatica. He built up the muscles in his lower back when something similar happened in his 20’s and didn’t opt for the medical way out.
The plan is that the exercise will work towards banishing the sciatic and so the associated painkillers and neuro- whatever-they-are drugs. The healthier all round diet will help with weight loss so will also back-pain and sciatica. The healthier diet should also help with stomach tenderness.
When I say he needs to eat more healthily and exercise more, then I am wrong. He already eats quite healthily (he does but apparently not enough) and exercises enough (yeah right, sure you do) but now the doctor has indentified a problem it is suddenly real and maybe I am right after all. So I will hit him with large stick until I feel better and then plan our new and healthier life.
1st step. I have re-started our weekly veg box delivery. This is good because you get a range of veg not just your usual ones and favourite ones. Should force us to be more creative again. I think I have got a little lazy in preparing the same dishes every ten days or so. Some things will need very little improvement, sneak a few more veggies into the stew, mash some other root veg into the top of cottage pie. Close my ears to pleas for white bread. Chuck out the deep fat fryer (which I can never get clean anyway) and buy no more cooking oil. The larder has a ton of dried beans, pulses, lentils which I regularly forget to soak, so more pre-planning and less last minute panics. At least we don't resort to takeaways unless it’s a real treat. Plus we rarely drink. Do I get any brownie points for that??

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

I am off to London for a course at the end of the month. I am going with a mate of mine who is equally clued up with regards to his money. So we do have a bit of challenge between us to see who can come up with the most enjoyable day at the least amount of personal expense.

So a course in London that finished at 1pm. After that we are entitled to lunch on expenses as we are out on company business. As the train leaves at 6.30am that morning, I think we can safely say we dont truly need to come back to work. So we need something fun but affordable to do for the afternoon. No point in wasting the cost of the trip.
We have chosen Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Doesnt it look great. Loads to do and very pleasantly Christmassy. But loads to do includes loads to do for next to nothing.

Sometimes you can find a proper treat, a real feel good treat,without breaking your own rules. Not often, but if it was often then it wouldn't seem so special.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Who has their heating on?

It's 9 degrees c tonight.

We have our thermal lined curtains closed, our thermal door curtains, Jamal & Fahed are bundled up in fluffy blankets and we have a candle alight on the coffee table.
How much longer can we last without any heating?

Menu Plan Monday

I have been menu planning more and more lately but now I am publishing the plan to make sure I stay committed and play by the rules (i.e. my rules!)

Monday - Beef stew with dumplings (includes plenty of carrots, parsnips etc for extra yummyness and extra healthiness)
Tuesday - Leftovers (it always lasts two days although day two is usually meatless)
Wednesday - Lentil Soup (Mahklouta) and home made bread- Lentils, veg, rice and a very small amount of minced beef all spiced up with cumin.
Thursday-Sandwiches and salad. This is the most difficult night to feed everyone as no-one is at time together. Its our sandwich/toasty night for convenience.
FridayGrilled chicken wings and cheese and onion jacket potatoes
SaturdayHome made pizza - used to be a regular but got forgotten. Back in this week.
SundayChicken SOup & Burghal - really a chicken, tomato and potato stew. served with course bulgar whear.

Hop over to I'm an organizing junkie for hundreds more ideas.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Lizzie's Lynx

I am painfully haphazard in linking to good blog posts I have come across, sometimes I drown in then and other times nothing so I am attempting to create a little corner of my blog where I make time to remember to share the goodies

Julie at Beside Still Waters talks about caring for ourselves on a budget
Laura at Move to Portugal remind us very stylishly to treasure our treasures

Judy at We may be poor but we are happy reminds us that a period of enforced inactivity can actually be quite productive.

Daizy at Frugal Freedom has the kind of weather (and snakes!) that makes me glad to live in dull little Allbrook

How did I do for my first attempt? See, she can be taught!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

I'm skint

I read on someone blog ones that it winds them up when people who aren't skint say that they are. Sorry, I am doing it anyway. My money has been firmly compartmentalized. So when I say I am skint I am effectively just that and I am not hitting savings pots just to make easier. This stops me from being properly skint.

I am still sticking to the ultra low budget this month. I am enjoying the knowledge that we can do it but cant say I am enjoying it otherwise. I am stretching the food and the larder is actually starting to not look completely overstuffed, which is a good thing as it prompts me to have a bit of a sort out in their too. What I don't like is the feeling of vulnerability that I couldn't manage if anything different came along. Its daft to feel this way as I could dip in the savings if required but keeping it away from me and under lock and key has certainly kept it safe. Fahed in his turn seems to have stopped spending anything at all except his fuel for getting to work. Our little money pots are certainly looking a little better with the stricter regime.

Why are we doing it again? Oh yes, freedom! Get our old house in Crete restored to be let out and get some passive income in. That's Fahed's pension and also something to hand over to the kids one day.

I am thoroughly enjoying my job again since I have replaced my 'off sick' manager and so am not doing two jobs all by myself. I was just stressed out by having two senior staff members responsibilities. Buts its all good now and I no longer feel I have to plan to retire as soon as I can. That may sound inconsequential but actually it does make a difference because our plans can all change when we know that I probably have another 11 years (finishing at 60, eek)on a good salary and will have an acceptable pension when I leave. I have contributed the absolute maximum that I can to my pension for the last 28 years, one of most most sensible moves. In fact maybe my only sensible move.

Most useful thing anyone ever told me to avoid being 'real skint' rather than my kind of skint is to take out your savings from your money on pay day not at the end of the month. It seems obvious as an adult but back then it was a revelation. The hard line successful debt repayers seem to be using the same method, overpay all bills and live on the little bit that is left, not live and then pay over what you have left. I do it with the saving still but also mortgage overpayments. Hand it over on pay day and then make the rest stretch. I am sure that has made me pay more than i would if I waited to see what was left. Although that could be just because I am not especially disciplined!

So of to the supermarket shortly to spend approx £40 on this weeks groceries, then two pots of paint from B&Q. Thats all for this week, I am skint.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Frugal Christmas

Well its November, so cant be avoided for much longer. I have been making a start already

1) Cards - only for people who we wont see and who do not 'do' email.
2) Decorations - plenty of them in the attic so no further expenditure required.
3) Presents - I have bought the presents for everyone except Fahed and kids. I used groupon vouchers to get a cool Body Shop basket for each couple. I was bang on the allowed budget (£10 per person so £20 per couple) but they got 335 baskets because of the vouchers.
4) Kids and husband present - I am using amazon, play, ebay and the book people. Present will be good but affordable.
5) Food- We have Christmas Eve at our house, Christmas day is at Mum & Dads and Boxing Day at my sisters. This spreads the cost out nicely among us all as we do contribute various dishes day by day. We also economics by not buying three of everything so the cheeseboard has contribution from all but we don't get stuck with a load of manky cheese in January.
6)Christmas parties - This year everyone is rising to the challenge. All the usual places are still having a party or dinner out but they have been seeking out the deals.

what have I forgotten?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Well I have been done!

Its too early to say whether my People Who Do session has really cleared my mind of a build up of years of data but after working through some piles of junk yesterday and dragging a ton of additional junk out of my head I slept unbelievably well.

I have booked sessions into my diary for my weekly review. Once I get into all the right habits I will probably move my system onto a computer. I do love notebooks for making notes but I like the way with computers that things can be move about and re-ordered. A small book probably suits people with large projects that take up a lot of their time and whilst I do have some large projects, at home as well as work, I also have write a lot of (what always feels like) tedious minutiae which would fill a book in a couple of weeks. Thank you Moyra and great to see you 'in reality'.

Everyone else at the course seem to have far more exciting careers than ours, art, radio, consultancy, music. It did prompt us to have a bit of a discussion about doing other things but today we were back at work today and rushed off our feet, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it so I guess I am meant for the corporate world. Plus there is the whole getting paid quite a bit thing which I really like! We both really like to travel and for that you need money so we are happily keeping noses to grindstones, just in a far more organised fashion.

Anyway all thoroughly recommended and Brighton is as appealingly quirky as I remembered too. The window of our lunch time cafe has fluffy seagulls hanging up and a knitted Brighton Pavilion. Sometimes I just love that the British are crackers. My friend David and I loved it so much we are looking out for other courses in the area just for a chance to hang around the town a bit more!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Extra Frugal

Slight miscalculation this month.

I paid a chunk of extra mortgage repayment this month plus half of the money for a consultant we have employed in Greece to make sure a legal on everything we do and have done. I also had to fork out for Ahdels month tuition fee for his IT course and his swimming teachers course. He will give me the money back on the 18th when he gets paid but because he has just started a new job he has four weeks before he has any cash in his pocket.After all of the additional expense, four days later Fahed's money arrived, considerably shorter than normal. I remember now he missed some work when he had a chest infection.

Oops. So rather than dig into reserves I thought I would see if I could make it through to the 24th anyway. Well I can tell you that nothing focuses you on really being frugal like not having any money! No spend days were a breeze. I challenged my youngest son to getting the most for the least with me last Saturday and we got a vast amount of shopping fro £71, including £7 of multisave savings and then a further £5 of price challenge discount. I dragged my petrol out to last all week (light has been flashing since Friday). I spent £7 in Tesco Express midweek on some reduced pork chops, mushrooms and something else which I have forgotten. Otherwise nothing. Yesterday I shopped again. It came to £44, less £2 on multisave and another £5 for the price challenge discount.

We have plenty of food for the week. We are introducing a soup day, which will be on JuJitsu day for ease, and a sandwich day which will be on the day when Fahed has an hours break mid evening and then goes to another pool to teach adults and doesn't get home until ten. Pretty sure I have dressed up my frugal choices as convenient common sense moves there too. I have brought my food expenditure down to what I consider to be seriously low levels. I am very pleases to say that my home made bread is so popular that they would happily live on just that given the choice. How I wish I had threatened the bread machine with freecycle previously.

In other frugal news I was rewarded for writing to the council about my parking problem by them rescinding the parking fine so a £50 save there. I also wrote to the bank about my bank charges for the current account that went 20p and then 2p over drawn. They credited me back the original £110 and have now kindly credit me the other £75. I did this by saving my sons holiday money in an account which is at the bottom of my e-banking screen. When we went on holiday I transferred it all to his account but a typo meant I gave him an en extra 20p. I don't know the system would allow that but it did. I didnt notice until almost two months later when I suddenly went £110 overdrawn. The bank were really good but like the council parking people they suggested that maybe I be slightly more observant in future. There are obviously some nice people about.

More frugal news. The hall stairs and landing redec is going well. I used paint I already owned for the most part. Mulberry blush or maybe crush on the feature wall at the top of the stairs and around the front door. Natural calico on the big walls. Crazy cream on most of the paint work. Natural calico and crazy cream are the paints I use everywhere, except a few accents in feature colours, so I had plenty of them plus I did some touching up of existing decor once I had them out of the shed. Bed room and sitting room are now also looking a little fresher at a total cost of nothing. I wish I could be this clever with my wardrobe.

OKay, less talk more action. My roller is calling.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Getting ready to get done

I am doing my homework for my People Who Do course on Monday. I am taking along one of my managers but the poor guy has had the worst week ever. Started off with a VAT inspection on Monday and just got worse. He started work at 6am today to try to get the VAT return finished before he goes away for his birthday present weekend away present form his partner. Worse he is coming back early on Sunday to finish the VAT return finished so we can get into work at 6am on Monday to send of the return and make the payment, and then trek off to Brighton for a 9am start. Either we really need this course (and I really am expecting it to help) or I just don't have enough senior staff because we are always rushed off our feet.

So anyway I have started my homework. I collected up all of the un-filed paper from my desk, removed about half of it as it was confidential and I don't want to be sacked, and bundled it into my lap top wheelie bag. I also have to collect up paperwork from around the house but luckily that is thinner on the ground as I sorted out my filing system and caught up on the actual filing about four weeks ago. Most of the stuff around at the moment is Jamal's college homework and Fahed registers and reports. I am innocent!

Next collect up organisers, diaries, note books by the bucketful. There are a few as I tend to have one per project.

I also have to walk around the house room by room recording unfinished stuff, stuff that bothers me etc. Then other stuff, hobbies and so on. My list will be long.

I am starting to see how much there is and why my brain is aching. And i forgot to print my to do list, bugger.

So next week I have a one day course in Brighton on Monday, working away in Windsor on Tuesday, Two day training course in Reading on Wednesday & Thursday, Management team in Windsor on Friday. Stressed? Moi? Oh, yes indeed.

Oh, oh, I forgot to mention one very good thing, I had a letter from the council today saying that the agreed my appeal relating to my parking fine. Action over apathy made my day.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Structure, structure, structure

I know I acheive more with it but I fight it at every step.

Today I was reading Laura's post updating her achievement of goals for the year.

I did goals at the beginning of the year How am I doing? No idea, cant even remember what they were. I am going to dig them out now and take a look but the fact that I cant remember them means they are evidently not been used a life guidelines.

Lets take a look

2011 is just around the corner. By summer we want to have enough in savings to build on a our 'Faheds Pension' piece of land, ready to sell and hopefully repeat. Things are going to be tight. Syria declined into civil unrest and we are selling the land and apartment for 1/3 of its previous value - which is what can happen when you invest your hard earned cash in somewhere a little risky

One son is still at college and the other is self unemployed at the moment. There was no work at the boat yard but he has fallen out of the love with the idea of working with hands but not brain. He is looking for temp work to keep him going but hopes to get into uni in September of 2011 or 2012 if he cant talk them into it without an access course. In short no contributions to housekeeping from either of them for a while. Both are now studying, one is also working and the other is helping his Dad to renovate our house as he tries very hard to get a sponsership for university. This is better tham I had hoped but not as much money coming in as would be useful.

I have two current accounts but we only really use one. My plan is to move all of the directs debits and standing orders to the other account. There will then be a monthly transfer to the account to cover those bills. All sensible for now. I didnt do this but I am so strict with the budgets that it not really a problem

Secondly I am finally going to admit that I know the car needs taxing, the kitchen needs tiling, Christmas is going to happen in December and actually set money aside for these events. No more trying to finance it all in the month it occurs and spending money meant for other things. Yep, I did that. Brilliant idea.

Thirdly. A friend of mine at work was saying he and his wife stick to their food budget by drawing out the cash and when its gone its gone. I know lots of people do this but I have been a bit of a snob about it. I don't need jars of £10 notes to manage my money. Well maybe I don't need jars but lets give it a go. This is a friend and colleague on approximately my salary. Very good with money (ten years younger than me and he has investments worth more than the value of his mortgage - I would pay off so maybe we don't have so much in common)so perhaps for once I will listen and learn. I didnt go for cash in jars but I do use an app on my phone called spendometer which keeps a note of my virtual jar contents. Brilliant stuff.

Fourth and last. Pocket money for each of us. When its gone its gone. We do this now and it works fine. I especially like the way that Fahed spends it on me!

I have run through my master plan with Fahed as obviously this needs buy in to work. He approves. He wont complain (yeah, I'm sure) and he even came up with some stats to me to work with.I have even budgetted for the weekly lottery ticket.

I want to feel in control. I think this could just do it.

So it was plan rather than goals but considering I didnt check we did pretty well. It must have been hard wired into me by the time the new year had actually started.

This year there will be plans but also goals.

Another new me

I started the painting job for the hall, stairs and landing. I just needed to make the first move and now I am on it. I have no idea why it has taken me so long. Some times I can just plunge in and start things and get them done in no time but some times I avoid and I don't even know I am doing it. Or rather not doing it. I hope it is one of these things that I can recongnise when I do it and then change my (in)action.

I like each new me to be better than the previous one so I am not impressed that I went from jumping in and doing things to making excuses not to do them, even to my self. I am glad if I have turned that corner again. When I look back at some of the things I have done in the past I tihnk I am sometimes quite brave. My first job as a manager of a large department. What was I thinking??? Flying off to New Zealand to visit my sister, all on my own whilst still a teenager. I'll just lave my job and jet over the Greece for a while. No money? No worries, it will be fine (it was). Buy a house in Greece, must be mad, but now I have it and love it. By house/flat/land in Syria, must be madder. I am having to agree on this one hence selling up. I must start being a woman of action agin.

Last week I was really mad at myself because I parked my husbands car and then paid to park my own, and earned myself a £50 parking fine. Today I had an email from the council asking for a copy of the statement form the parking company. They would then consider my appeal. I printed off my statement and emailed it to them within around 30 seconds. Fingers crossed that my fast actions have made up for my stupidity. I managed to be a woman of action here, even if it was only a little action. Hopefully it pays off.

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