Saturday, 21 September 2019

Aaaaaaaand, done!

It's all done! And so quickly, too.

I got my bank transfer on Tuesday, immediately paid off my 0% interest card (£1100), and part of my 29.9% card (£790.45). Once the latter payment had cleared a couple of days later, I shoved the remainder (£1700) onto the 0% card, along with a small fee of £40.80, and that 'cleared' on 19.09.19.

For some reason, the date really pleased me - maybe it's all the 9's!

This did increase my Canadian LOC by $3300, but because I send Sterling on a reasonably regular basis and the exchange rate generally isn't too dire, I do get a bit more 'bang for my buck' so to speak and it allows me to pay an extra $10 or so here and there.

It means I can adjust some savings here a little bit, and free up a bit of cash to perhaps do a class of some kind one evening a week. 

Or not. Regardless, I'm feeling much lighter for having made this decision and even more so because it all happened so quickly and so smoothly.

Of course, now I'm fussing with my budget well into next year when I really have no idea what NEXT month is going to look like! I need to save a flat deposit and pay down/off my Visa. Those are my two financial priorities at the moment. It means I need to try and get a few extra shifts at the shop over the next few months, too, but that shouldn't be too difficult with the students now heading back to Uni. Hopefully, a few extra slots will be up for grabs on days that I can actually do them.

I've made a little bit of overtime this month (4 hours so far), and am going to rack up some more on Monday when we head north to Solihull (nr Birmingham in the Midlands) for a day of training for ANOTHER new system that we'll have to start using in the office. To say that we're not really excited about it would be 'a bit' of an understatement, but whatever. It will add to my paycheque next month too, so I'm pleased about that.

I bought my sister a fridge the other day, although not as a gift. She is going to pay me back for it. A fridge and washing machine are required items when you move into your own place here (at least it's not like Germany, where you have to supply your own entire kitchen!), and she's been eating convenience foods since she moved in. The little fridge wasn't that much and it's more or less a necessity. She doesn't have the funds for it, so I put it on my CC for her. Obviously, she'll be paying the interest on it as well.

Roomie E and I were talking last night about the flat. Lately, I've had this feeling of great anticipation, an almost physical reaction, to SOMETHING. Roomie E is hoping it's not bad, but it doesn't feel that way to me - it feels terribly exciting and HUGE, and like it's going to affect both of us, but in very different ways. But it's just out of reach at the moment.

I gave her and my neighbour a copy of my 'book' to read and I think my part of this 'thing' has something to do with that; hers is related to work and her career. She's given me some really great feedback on one of the characters that she's actually helped me create (a sommelier - weird! Ha ha!). I know there's a kernel of a really good idea there, so I've decided that if I'm going to do this, I need beta readers. I trust both of them to give me genuine, well-thought-out suggestions and comments on the story (which is a complete and utter mess at this point, basically stream of consciousness rubbish). I've learned that you cannot get better as a writer if you're not willing to take criticism/critique and take on board suggestions that will ultimately make your writing the best it can be.

Strangely, two of my current neighbours are actually characters in my book (even down to the same names)! They were written long before we moved in here, however, but I find the similarities quite spooky...

I've also taken a bit of a break from the cafe. I'm finding it a bit tough going now that I've got the shop on Saturday afternoons. I only have an hour in between the two to sit down and relax and eat, and it's a bit much. I've been at the cafe for two years, however, and am not ready to leave for good, just for a few months. I was really dreading going in this morning and that's not how I want to feel about it, because it's a lovely place to be. Thankfully, the manager understood, so while I was sorry to do it, it's the easiest thing to let go right now.

Today is supposed to be our last lovely day before a week of rain! It's been a lovely September so far, so I suppose, it being England, it was only a matter of time before the rain returned. At least it's still on the warm side.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 15 September 2019


Well, I went ahead and transferred money from my Canadian LOC yesterday. I re-read the offer I got, and although the transfer needs to be done by the end of September, the 0% extends to March 2021, which is definitely doable.

The transfer will clear the 0% interest CC, plus take £790.45 off the Visa which will then bring me to below the 90% maximum required for transferring the remainder to the 0% card (plus fee) and shave 29.9% interest from my monthly outgoing payments!

Even with the increase in my LOC, the interest rate is 'only' 11% (less than half the CC interest rate). I'll continue to pick away at it as I have been doing forever, but I feel this is a good solution. This 0% balance transfer offer is a one-time-only deal, so I feel I would be remiss in not taking the opportunity (speaking of signs, Treaders?).

I've made some o/t this month, the manager at the shop is going to look into my pay shortage (I believe I'm still owed 15 hours), I can cancel my £135 auto payment to my MC and leave my £40 auto payment in situ for the 0% card. I believe this will put me slightly ahead this month, and I'm hoping that with all the savings/shuffling of cash/overtime, I will be able to pay for my brakes without depleting my savings accounts.

It may require a slight increase in the monthly minimum payment on the 0% card but I foresee only about £10 if that's the case. That'll leave me more to put towards the LOC and my flat deposit. Plus, the satisfaction of knowing that every single (extra) penny that I put towards the 0% debt WILL BE BRINGING IT DOWN IN REAL NUMBERS.

It seems to make the most sense all 'round, really. Plus, this clearing of credit cards should help boost my credit rating. It's been quite soft the past few months, which is not ideal.

I actually got a set of keys for the shop yesterday, too, although I'm sharing them with someone and have to drop them off on Wednesday night for him. He apologised for forgetting about us last week and bought me a chocolate bar to make up for it (I chose a massive Galaxy bar, one of those that only the English have - 360g for £2).

Like I'd say 'no' to that? Ha ha! Anyway, there weren't any issues (thankfully!) and we were out of there before 9:15. So, at least I know what I'm doing now, although it's still frustrating to work with someone who struggles with knots...he does, however, know the till and lottery really well, so that's exceptionally helpful! We all have our forte, right?

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Time does fly

It's been a bit of a week or two...

One of my colleagues has been away since the beginning of the month, more or less, and we've gone 'live' with a new appointment booking system. It's the same system as the old one, just web-based rather than in a virtual server within our server. So adjusting to that and being one person down has been a bit stressful, although by yesterday we were definitely feeling better about it all. It's just a matter of using it and getting familiar with all the changes. It's actually a better layout and once you get to know where you need to go to find things, it's a bit easier as well.

I did, however, begin and end the day by sending snippy emails to a surveyor. The second email was snippier because I had to placate a client who phoned to chase a report that should have been sent that morning and wasn't even typed yet. I believe there could be the potential to lose a house because of this. I sent an email stating that I was very angry about having to apologise and make excuses for her, copying in both the office manager and the managing director. The office manager was aware and spoke to our director (her son) about it. I am not hopeful that the reports we need will be waiting for us on Monday, but will have to deal with that on Monday.

I lost no sleep last night over my email, however. I am a very even-tempered woman for the most part and it takes a lot to wind me up to even get to 'snippy', but I refuse to take the hit for someone who is supposed to be a professional and has said she can do work that she obviously can't. I'm not paid enough to do that. On top of that, this is the sort of thing that can damage the company and its reputation.

So. I'm glad the week is over. Although I did make a bit of overtime, so there's that! :D

I bought a few practical bits & pieces for my sister and her new place - a set of mugs, some tea towels, a can opener and a little rubbish bin for the bathroom. They were all on sale, and I'll take them with me when I go to visit in October. I just have to confirm dates there.

My car did not, in fact, pass its MOT. It needed a rear registration light and a new coil spring on the front passenger side (it helps to keep the car at a proper height above the road)! I was shocked and disappointed until I remembered that I had hammered through a pothole in the spring. When I asked about it, the mechanic said that would definitely have done it. You look for immediate damage to tire or wheel, but don't think about anything that's not visible. The force of going through the pothole obviously snapped it, which accounts for the creaking that followed for the next few months. It's all fixed (£226) but the rear brakes need replacing desperately, which I've got booked at the end of the month (another £350. Yeesh). Cars. 😩😐

Otherwise, she's in good shape for a 12-year old car, so that's good. This is also why I want to be within walking distance to work - bills like this.

I THINK I have thought of a way to 'downsize' my debt but I have a few numbers to crunch and a couple of phone calls to make before I make any drastic decisions. The ultimate decision would increase my Canadian debt (but at a much lower interest rate, 11%) and I'd be able to clear the zero interest CC here, plus part of the second and move the remainder of the second (29.9%) to the zero-interest card. It would save a lot of interest, but I just want to see what the minimum payment will be. I got an offer in the post about a balance transfer and it seems like it could be a good decision in the long run. Particularly if it saves me so much in interest payments. I have to make a decision by the end of September, and any transfer has zero interest until March 2021. A decent offer by all accounts. I think I need to make a decision by the end of this weekend, as it can take a few days for the balance transfer to happen.

I got 'trapped' at the shop last Saturday night. You know how I've said that there isn't a senior keyholder on Saturdays? The fellow who was supposed to come back didn't, and I had to call the manager. I think I woke her up, but as a manager, this is the sort of fire you are paid to fight, right? She was understandably annoyed, partly because she lives too far away to come herself, and so was the fellow she managed to find to come back and close. As was I having to resort to that. I got half an hour's extra pay though. No way was I signing out until everything had been taken care of. What a pain! No idea what's going on tonight. I don't expect anything to have changed, though.

Ah well, the weather is lovely this weekend and I plan to enjoy my time off. :D

Sunday, 1 September 2019

September arrives

Here we are, the cusp of another month - my favourite one! Pleasantly warm days, cool evenings - what's not to love? Well, traffic, now that the kids are back in school, but apart from that, it's all good. :D

Anyway, my word this month is actually a phrase, and in Italian:

Affronta il mondo
It feels appropriate somehow. Like I need to get laser focused and move forward on things, take charge, make decisions - that kind of thing.

I haven't been sleeping that well the past week (thanks, hormones), and Friday I woke up feeling particularly self-doubting (according to my sister, this is also due to a transition of a new moon into Virgo) and couldn't shake it for most of the day. It didn't help that my boss was in the office for about an hour that afternoon and was being kind of a bitch.

It's not like this is unusual/out of character for him, but is just something I was particularly sensitive to that day. I'm keeping a note of all this stuff so that when I start looking for a new job next year, I can leave with no guilt. I'm committed to this flat for the next 12 months, so once this starts winding up then I'll be looking for both a new place to live AND a new job. Roomie E is (more) disgusted with her workplace as well but, like me, says the commitment to the flat has to keep her focused before looking for something else.

So we're feeling a bit stuck, but all is not bad.

My part-time job is enjoyable enough. Like I said, not something I can maintain for the long term, but right now is absolutely fine. I seem to be scheduled every Saturday night with no senior staff member to close up, which is kind of ridiculous and not particularly well planned on the parts of the manager(s). It means that someone who's already worked all day has to come back for a half-hour to lock the doors, take off the tills, set the alarm, etc. I'm also missing half my hours on my first paycheque, so have to find out what's going on there.

Wish me luck... 😕 Not the most auspicious start, but there we go. Gift horses and looking in mouths and whatnot.

I've taken three days holiday at the end of September because I just really need a break and have holiday time to use up (use it or lose it). I've picked up a few extra hours at my second job but am really hoping to just read, rest, relax, write, etc. Then potentially a week mid-October when I might go see my sister in Devon for a few days. I'll see.

I've had no response to my email to a thatcher, but have seen a thatcher en route to work the past several days, so am taking that as a sign that I need to send another email to follow up. I do need to speak with one. However, I have heard back from the genealogist I contacted and I'm meeting her next Monday for a drink and a chat. I'm so excited (and very nervous)!

Car is going for her MOT tomorrow, and I'm hopeful that she'll pass with flying colours.

I have a bit of a crush on my neighbour (who, I've discovered, is actually older than I thought - and older than ME). Just enjoying it as it's been a very long time since I've had one. It's a bit of a surprise, actually - he's shorter than me, smokes, is kind of a workaholic and overweight. We have some good conversations, though, and it's nice to have someone 'my age' to talk with. He seems like a good guy. I told my sister I'm working really hard to not get way too far ahead of myself and just enjoy it for what it is.

Well, I have a bunch of stuff that needs to get done today before I go to the shop this evening. I actually have a proper list that I'm crossing items off of to feel a bit accomplished today.

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Long weekend - hurrah! :D

It's here at last! The long weekend. Aaaahhhh...An extra day to sleep in, an extra day to putter about the house and hopefully get some writing done, an extra day to recover from my part-time job. Ha ha! Holy cow - only five shifts in and I'm already wondering what I was thinking... it's not the till work, or the tidying (which I quite like), it's the rushing about and doing the physical work of refilling shelves, etc. It exhausts me. But the staff are great, and I have a feeling that I'm going to be in charge of closing the shop sooner rather than later. The colleague I'm now working with on Saturday nights isn't ... um ... capable (?) of taking on that responsibility, so apparently I'll be it. Great?

But, I'll deal with it as it comes. As is was, we were really busy last night so I was trying to get the evening tasks done while also helping with the customers. I forgot how physical retail can be. Despite having a list, it's quite challenging to make sure everything is done within time. Three bodies are infinitely better than two, but there we are.

Anyway. It's fine, just not something I can manage long term, I know that already, but I'll go through the holidays and review in the new year. As long as I have time to recover between shifts, it's generally not too bad. And the extra paycheques, when they finally arrive, will be most welcome!

Otherwise, it's been a pretty good two weeks, actually!

Treaders: before I forget, here is the link to the Nanaimo bar recipe I used (not quite like the real thing, but I don't think anyone will complain! Walnuts are optional):

I sent my sister a container of bars, too. It was her birthday yesterday so I included a card. She's left the place where she was staying (the landlady is a loony) and has moved into an AirBnB while she looks for something else. I'd like to say I have the funds to assist, but I don't and I said no more loans (unless it's for food) so she's on her own. She saw a little bungalow yesterday and is viewing a studio flat today. 

I'm still waiting to hear from "my" thatcher, but I HAVE heard back from the genealogist, which I'm really pleased about! She said she'd be happy to answer some questions, so we're going for a drink one evening in September, once school hols are done and she's caught up on some of her work. So, hooray! This will give me some time to think of some questions to ask.

My Canada talk went well. I had a very loose plan which got even looser when some of the photos I was going to use didn't even show up, so I wound up spending a lot of time just talking about the Yukon and showing my own photos. It's not a place even most Canadians know about, so I'm happy to ramble on about it. The ladies seemed to enjoy it so that's the main thing.

I went online yesterday and bought a couple of dresses from a website I haven't used in AGES. I've been shopping second-hand for so long and am a bit over it right now. In April, I gave myself £100 for my birthday to buy some new clothes. I spent £60 so have been sitting on £40 since, not feeling motivated or interested in getting more stuff. I found these two items (one item heavily reduced) and thought, 'the heck with it!' They'll be arriving sometime next week (with free returns if they're not quite right, so that's good to know). I've already filled my virtual shopping basket with more items...*ahem*

One of the issues I've been fighting for several years is bloat. By the end of the day, I can be up to five pounds heavier than I was when I woke up and it's been frustrating and uncomfortable for several years. I know I'm always experimenting with food, but I decided to see what would happen if I didn't eat as much bread (I have "a bit" of a love affair with sourdough). I am happy (yet sad) to say that I have balanced the scale at more or less 10 1/2st for almost two weeks now (still marginally more than I'd like, but better!). My belly has shrunk considerably and I'm less grumpy because I'm feeling generally better. I just have to remember to keep drinking lots of water, which I'm terrible at.

So I can eat sourdough, just not as often as has been my habit. I've not bought store bread for a couple of years, and buy my sourdough from a proper bakery. All the same, it's a bit of a sad realisation that carbs are not my friends anymore. Particularly not those delicious sourdough ones. And do you know how hard it is to find good sourdough?!

Ah well. Probably not a bad thing.

I sat in the living room yesterday afternoon pondering what I can do with it. There's actually a reasonable amount of space to play with. I've got a lot of plants that I'm still trying to find the right places for, and they're currently in front of the living room windows which I'm not sure is exactly the right place. There's too much direct sunlight and they're getting sunburned and not at their best. At the same time, it's taken a couple of months for them to adjust so they're doing okay considering.

I'm going to take a cabinet out of my bedroom - hopefully leaving me more space - and put it in the living room to use as both a plant stand and storage. This does mean, though, that the bits and pieces that are in the cabinet need a new home. Hm.

Anyhow, it may or may not work like I hope it will, and may lead to me moving my room around again although I don't really want to do that. But there's so much potential, so who knows!

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you're doing!