Frugal spend w/e 18/09/16

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Out of this week’s budget of £20, I have spent nothing.

Total £20 into savings.

Food shopping

  • Cookies – £1.00
  • Lindor – £3.50
  • Pork mince – £1.99 (reduced)
  • Cucumber – £0.45
  • Pizza – £3.50

Subtotal – £10.44

My husband went shopping and bought a load of stuff which included some things for two events – £69.17

Total – £79.61

Running total for September – monthly budget £150, £110.92 spent, £39.08 remaining.

Counselling savings- £109.80/£435 (to cover initial consultation and ten sessions) – 25%

Simplify – weekly wishes w/c 12/09/16

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Last week’s wishes – 05/09/16

  1. Schedule: work out what I’m doing on evenings and weekends this month, and schedule in pending activities. 100% completed. 
  2. Letters: finish one half-written letter. 0% completed.
  3. Declutter: put two items on eBay. 0% completed. 
  4. Finance: find out how to log into an old bank account, transfer remaining funds and close it. 66% completed. Logged in and transferred the funds. We have to go in-branch to close it.

Healthy habits

This week I’ve made a couple of changes. There were two activities with timescales that were causing me to resist, so I’ve reduced the length of time I have to do them for now, with the aim of getting back into them and then increasing the length – meditation and Alexander Technique. I’ve also added a new habit to “Brain” – working towards a location-independent business. At the moment, this means working through the Location Rebel and CopyHour courses, and setting up a new language blog.

  1. Strength
    1. Walk for 20 minutes. Mon, Tues x 3, Weds x 4, Thurs x 2, Fri, Sat
    2. Complete one primal sprint session. X
    3. Complete a long and steady run. X
    4. Go for a bike ride. X
    5. Do 10-minute strength training session (including 30 Day Shred). Thurs
  2. Flexibility
    1. Do 10-minute yoga session. X
    2. Do 5- to 15-minutes semi-supine and Alexander Technique directions. X
    3. Do super brain yoga. Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat
    4. Body brush. Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat
    5. Use Better Back: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  3. Mindfulness
    1. Do 10-minute writing meditation session. Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Practise mindfulness during a daily activity. Sat
    3. Do 5- to 10-minute mindfulness meditation session. Sun
    4. Complete mindfulness journal. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    5. Use Happify or another stress relief technique. Mon, Tues, Sat, Sun
  4. Eating
    1. Enter meals on MyFitnessPal or blog. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Eat under 150g carbohydrates in a day. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Have an added-sugar-free day. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    4. Eat 5 portions of veg or fruit. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  5. Brain
    1. Come up with ideas (based on this post). Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Write 750 words. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Language study: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    4. Work towards location-independent business: Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  6. Positivity
    1. Think of 3 things I’m grateful for. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Listen to affirmations: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Volunteer: Tues, Sun
Category Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun Total
Strength  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  7
Flexibility  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  7
Mindfulness  3  3  1  1  1  3  3  15
Eating  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  35
Brain  5  3  5  5  5  5  5  33
Positivity  3  5  3  3  3  3  5  25
Total  18  18  16  16  16  18  20  122

Weekly wishes for 12/09/16

  1. Letters: finish one half-written letter.
  2. Declutter: put two items on eBay.
  3. Social: go to knit night.
  4. Social: cook something Whole30-compliant on Thursday when my parents stay with us.

Frugal spend w/e 11/09/16

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Out of this week’s budget of £20, I have spent:

  • £14.99 – trousers (to replace my beloved grey trousers that got a hole in them)
  • £2.99 – armband to hold my new phone while I’m running (the old one isn’t the right size)

Total £17.98, £2.02 into savings.

From savings I spent £24.99 on a laptop backpack, as I need one for work.I also spend £95 on organisational membership. I have been awarded a staff scholarship to do a course with this organisation, but it doesn’t cover the membership fee.

Food shopping

  • Green olives – £2.00
  • Mushrooms – £0.75
  • Pork mince – £1.79 (reduced)
  • Avocados x 8 – £3.50
  • Tomatoes x 2 packs – £1.70
  • Pork ribs – £3.49 (reduced)
  • Pork chops – £2.79 (reduced)
  • Cucumber – £0.45
  • Cauliflower – £1.00

Subtotal – £17.47

Total – £17.47

Running total for September – monthly budget £150, £31.31 spent, £128.79 remaining.

Counselling savings- £109.80/£435 (to cover initial consultation and ten sessions) – 25%

Location Rebel – how did I do in August?

In July I registered for the Location Rebel course (read about my buying decision).

First, I should say that when you purchase the Location Rebel course, Sean Ogle advises that you allocate ten hours per week to spend on it. This is a feasible amount of time to fit in around full-time working and other unavoidable commitments, and allows you to see real results. I was aware when I bought the course in July that I don’t have ten hours per week to devote to it this year, as I have other priorities until Christmas. However, I thought it was worth buying while there was a sale and bonus offer, and I thought I could spend a lesser amount of time on it each week, which would allow me to be in good shape to start devoting more time in January 2017.

In August, I read through the initial Location Rebel course and completed all the question-answering activities. I also chose two blueprints which were of interest to me, and read through them in more detail. These were project management (which I do in my daily work) and technical writing (which seemed one of the less popular options, so I thought there might be more opportunity there). I also introduced myself in the forums and have expressed interest in an accountability group. Towards the end of August, I signed up for the CopyHour course which was included as one of my bonuses. I therefore plan to go back and read the copywriting blueprint, to see if that also seems to be of interest. If not, at least I’ll have learned more about how copywriting works and be in a position to apply it to my own website.

One of the key concepts introduced in Location Rebel is Relative Expertise. In many areas of your life, although you may not know enough to consider yourself an expert, you may know enough more than other people to consider yourself a relative expert. For example, at my work, my colleagues don’t know much about social media and WordPress. When we have a new project, I set up a WordPress site for it, along with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Although this is pretty basic stuff which only took me a few hours to pick up, and although there is still a HUGE amount I don’t know about these topics, within my team I’m the expert. Location Rebel suggests that you identify this kind of area in your own life, and work to establish yourself more efficiently as a relative expert, so that you can leverage this expertise when looking for location-independent work. For example, if you want to get into SEO or copywriting, and you’ve established yourself as a relative expert in cookery, then you have a good reason to approach companies working around cookery and offer them your services, since you’re providing what they require, and have a background that means you’re likely to be better at it than someone who doesn’t know anything about the field.

I speak a number of languages, so am now thinking of establishing myself as a relative expert in the language field. To this end, I’ve set up a new WordPress blog.

Aims for September

  • Work through CopyHour assignments as received.
  • Update the pictures and contact information on my language blog.
  • Read through the Location Rebel copywriting blueprint.
  • Write one post per week on my language blog.

Simplify – weekly wishes w/c 05/09/16

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Last week’s wishes – 29/08/16

  1. Social: host lunch for my mother- and brother-in-law. 100% completed.
  2. Strength: complete three Les Mills body pump workouts. 100% completed. Done on Tues, Thurs, Sat.
  3. Letters: finish one half-written letter. 0% completed.
  4. Declutter: put five items on eBay.100% completed.

Healthy habits

  1. Strength
    1. Walk for 20 minutes. Tues, Weds x 2, Thurs x 4, Sat x 2, Sun x 5
    2. Complete one primal sprint session.
    3. Complete a long and steady run. X
    4. Go for a bike ride. X
    5. Do 10-minute strength training session (including 30 Day Shred). Tues, Thurs, Sat
  2. Flexibility
    1. Do 10-minute yoga session. X
    2. Do 5- to 15-minutes semi-supine and Alexander Technique directions. X
    3. Do super brain yoga. Mon, Fri
    4. Body brush. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat
    5. Use Better Back: Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  3. Mindfulness
    1. Do 10-minute writing meditation session. Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Practise mindfulness during a daily activity. Mon, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Do 5- to 10-minute mindfulness meditation session. Sun
    4. Complete mindfulness journal. Mon, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    5. Use Happify or another stress relief technique. Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  4. Eating
    1. Enter meals on MyFitnessPal or blog. Mon, Tues,Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Eat under 150g carbohydrates in a day. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Have an added-sugar-free day. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    4. Eat 5 portions of veg or fruit. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  5. Brain
    1. Come up with ideas (based on this post). Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Write 750 words. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Language study: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
  6. Positivity
    1. Think of 3 things I’m grateful for. Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    2. Listen to affirmations: Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun
    3. Volunteer: Sat
Category Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun Total
Strength  0  1  1  1  0  1  1 5
Flexibility  1  1  1  1  1  1  1  7
Mindfulness  3  0  1  3  3  3  5  18
Eating  5  5  5  5  5  5  5 35
Brain  5  5  5  5  5  5  5  35
Positivity  3  3 1  3  3  5  3  21
Total  17  15 14  18  17  20  20  121

Weekly wishes for 04/09/16

  1. Schedule: work out what I’m doing on evenings and weekends this month, and schedule in pending activities.
  2. Letters: finish one half-written letter.
  3. Declutter: put two items on eBay.
  4. Finance: find out how to log into an old bank account, transfer remaining funds and close it.

Frugal – Year 3 of free fun – Month 3

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This month’s fun activities were:

  • Visited my parents for a week (£16.30 train ticket)
  • Exchanged my library books in Birmingham (included in above)
  • Visited my grandparents (on both sides)
  • Went for a drink with my sister and her kids (£7.56)
  • Visited an old friend at her house
  • Went for dinner with my parents and one sister (my parents paid)
  • Went for lunch with my dad and nephew (my dad paid)
  • Went to a spa with my mum (LivingSocial deal – she paid)
  • Read eight library books
  • Went to a barbecue at my sister’s house
  • Played with my parents’ new kitten
  • Went for lunch with my parents and my husband (my parents paid)
  • Went for coffee and cake with my parents and my husband (my husband paid)
  • Walked around a marina and looked at canal boats for sale
  • Had a takeaway (£37.95 – food budget)
  • Played a free online game (Elvenar)
  • Studied languages online with Duolingo
  • Went for dinner with my Japanese group and my husband (£30)
  • Went back to Birmingham to exchange my library books again (£3.90 metro ticket)
  • Had lunch with a friend at work (once for two different friends, free, took my own lunch)
  • Visited a friend at her house
  • Watched TV via Amazon Prime (paid for last year – Arrow, Parks and Rec)
  • Exercised using workouts on YouTube (£12 dumbbells)
  • Walked in the local park
  • Studied copy writing with CopyHour (course included with purchase of Location Rebel course)

Total – £107.71

I was lucky to get treated to lots of activities around my birthday at the beginning of the month. Towards the end, a couple of meals piled on over 50% of the month’s expenses.

I also bought a replacement phone and laptop as the old ones were broken / not fit for purpose anymore. I’m not sure whether or not I should include them here, but they cost £545 altogether.

Are you ready to die?

Death can be an uncomfortable subject, and many people prefer to avoid it while they’re in good health. However, there’s never a better time to discuss it.

We recently had a death in the family, and the affected couple were the type who never talked about it. That has made things a lot harder for the spouse left behind. There are some very simple things you can do to make sure that if anything happens to you, you won’t be leaving a mess for other people to sort out.

All the information below applies to the UK, specifically England.

Will

  • Make a will. This is incredibly simple and probably cheaper than you think. A quick Google will reveal stacks of online websites which can help with this. My husband and I have prepared ours now, using Ten Minute Will. You can do a mirror will, leaving everything to each other, and nominating someone else, should you both die at the same time. We own our house jointly and don’t have much money, so our inheritance wouldn’t be too complicated even without a will, but we have one now anyway for peace of mind. You should definitely have one if:
    • You live with someone but are not legally married / in a civil partnership
    • You live in a house with someone else and don’t own it jointly (in which case, why not? It will be much simpler and cheaper if one of you dies)
    • You have children
    • You want to make any specific bequests
  • Get your will signed. It’s not enough to just write one, you need to sign it in front of two people who are not beneficiaries. A bit of a faff, but it’s not legal without that.
  • Pick an executor. Just thinking about this and asking someone if they’re willing to do it will make things simpler if you die unexpectedly. There’ll be someone who knows that a will exists, and hopefully where it is (make sure you tell them where you keep it). With our online will, we received a summary to send to our executors, along with some instructions about what an executor has to do. If only one of us dies, the other will be the executor. If we both die at the same time, we’ve each nominated a family member so they can work together.
  • Leave details of your final wishes. We talk about this in my family, but I’m one of four siblings and my parents always forget who wants what, which is why written wishes kept with your will are important. Do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want your remains to go somewhere in particular? Do you want the ceremony conducted through a particular religion or a non-religious ceremony? Do you want any specific hymns, songs, readings or anything else? Do you care about an expensive coffin? Or having an environmentally-friendly one?

Estate

One of the first things your executor (or your administrator if you didn’t leave a will) has to do, is complete an inheritance tax form. In order to do that, they have to work out the value of your estate. If you don’t have a will, your next of kin can’t even apply to become your administrator until they’ve done all this. It is going to be a massive pain for them at a time when they’re already grieving. You are the person best equipped to provide all this information, so why not do it on an ongoing basis?

  • Bank accounts. A list of where you have current and savings accounts, either single or joint (both have to be included in your estate), along with the account numbers.
  • ISAs. Account number and company where you have any cash or stocks-and-shares ISAs.
  • Premium bonds. If you have premium bonds, leave a list of the numbers.
  • Stocks and Shares. Your executor or administrator will have to price these up, so a list of the names and amounts held will make their life a lot easier.
  • Peer-to-peer lending. Easy to forget as they’re relatively new, but form part of your estate.
  • Pensions. Provider and reference number for any private or company pensions.
  • Other. If you’ve got a car, that’s probably easy to find, but items like expensive jewellery should also be included in your estate.

It’s useful for you to know how much you have in your estate anyway, as you’ll have an idea of whether inheritance tax will be owing. You can give a certain amount of cash as a gift each year, so maybe it’s worth doing that if you’re getting older and are close to the tax limit (£325,000 at the time of writing).

If you’re on a roll once you get all that done, you can sort out a Legal Power of Attorney, both for finance and health. You could also leave a list of addresses so that people can get notified in the event of your death. For example, I have a number of penpals living overseas, and my husband wouldn’t know how to contact them if I passed away.