Sunday, 22 April 2018

Phew!

pintrest.com


I've been a bit stressed the past several weeks while the new flat search has been on. We saw several places that weren't good, one that was fabulous (really!), and one that was 'okay' but not quite right.

Fortunately, because we have time, we weren't TOO panicked, but you know how it is - you just kind of want it over and done with, so you just don't have to think about it anymore. Other things are still going on in life, after all!

After losing the really fabulous (yet unaffordable) flat, I'm very relieved that we have actually found somewhere! This place popped up several weeks ago and Roomie E was on it like a fly on poop. I also sent an email about it, but got a call from the agent to say that it had been rented already! The agent said it had gone to an older couple (I think in their 70s) and as the building residency leaned more to that age group, it probably wasn't what we wanted anyway.

He obviously has no idea about our lives...hahahaha! 

At any rate, we were disappointed, so I lined up three more potential viewings and a half-day holiday to see them. But on Monday afternoon I got a call from the agent to say the flat was back on the market if we were still interested! So I arranged to see it Tuesday evening and took my sister with me as a second pair of eyes.

The photos are pretty accurate, although it's actually a bit roomier than it looks. The rooms are all good sized, there's a small dining area off the kitchen and we have a small outdoor space off the living room. It's literally just a patio but we can put a bench out there, some plants, a bird feeder, etc. and it'll give us some peace and quiet. The landscaped gardens aren't used for anything except to make it look pretty (shame), but that's not too much of a problem as we're now only a 15 min walk from the beach. It's in a lovely residential area, has two bathrooms, an enormous amount of storage and comes with a garage!

Fantastic.

The reason the original interested party backed out is that it's only a 12-month lease and they want long term. Roomie E and I are fine with a year (unclear if there's potential for an extension as I believe the owner is looking to sell it eventually) so more or less from the moment I move in, I'll be saving for the next move, but there we are.

The only concerns I have are: council tax is quite high (just the county we're in) and heating is electric storage heating. This is an older style system which can be more expensive, but we don't need it at the moment, so we'll manage ourselves accordingly through the summer. There's no gas supply, so that's one bill saved at least, although I know very well how expensive electricity bills can be! And council tax is only paid over 10 months, so we'll have a couple of 'free' months towards the end of the tenancy which will help.

Roomie E is taking the larger bedroom, but I get the larger bathroom in lieu (with tub). A democratic agreement I'd say! :D

Our move-in day is while my Mum is still here, but it won't take very long for us to get ourselves set up, as we don't have much stuff. My sister will be around to help too, so all we need is a man with a van and really, we're all set for a few hours. We'll probably be able to leave a few bits & pieces at the house if we need to, as well, and pick them up later.

We still need all the referencing and applications to be approved, but I can't foresee any issues with that part of it. 

One good thing is that by this time next year, there will be NO agency fees to pay on top of rental deposits! Roomie E and I, between us, are paying £675. On TOP of the 6 weeks' deposit for the flat. I understand the deposit, that's expected, but the fees are horrendous. I'd actually be okay with, and understand an admin fee of £100-£200, but almost £700?? Ridiculous. And that's to EACH agency you register with (costs vary). But the Government has stepped in to finally say 'enough' and will let renters off starting next April, although I'm sure the agencies will find some way of taking a cut. But it's a start.

Otherwise, I had a lovely birthday in Edinburgh at the beginning of the month, although the weather was atrocious - rain, snow, more snow, some snow...and me without a sweater! Honestly. It did limit my excursions, I have to admit, but I saw plenty and the day I left was absolutely beautiful - clear and cold. I hadn't realised when I booked my dates that it was Easter break for the kids so there were a billion people around and lineups everywhere! I avoided lineups where I saw them but did enjoy a walk around the beautiful castle, which affords views for MILES from the top.

The flat I had was fantastic, comfortable, in a perfect location for everything and I spent a decent amount of time there, too, as I would take myself back for lunch or to warm up with a cup of tea before heading out again.

Edinburgh is a small city. You can walk around the whole thing (the old city at least) in less than two hours but it's absolutely beautiful. It's a city I would love to explore more of - in much better weather - so is going on my 'to do' list again.

I did a great ghost walk, too, an underground one. There are plenty of options about, walking through graveyards and underground during the day and later into the night, but as I was a bit pushed for time, I decided an early afternoon one would be best. It was great, and next time I might even take on two of them, as I would have liked to have had one around Greyfriars Graveyard, which is the largest - and most haunted - graveyard in the city.

Next holiday is May when my mum is here, then a long weekend in Nottingham to visit my friends there (and go on a ghost hunt in Sherwood Forest!), and then hopefully a few days in September when I have some friends visiting.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Lucky you!

ndmagazine.com

Two posts in two days from me! This is just how fast stuff is changing around here. I'm having trouble keeping up. But at least it's all somewhat clearer, so my frustration level is coming down which is good for everyone. :D

I had a great sleep last night so am feeling much better today, which helps immensely. The landlady said this morning that the house closing isn't until July (!) which, even for England, is a long time. This is good for everyone; it means no panicking (on my part, at least), more time to save and more time to look, as the market is continuously changing.

To that end, I made some adjustments to my budget to the end of the year, realising that things will change again, probably more than a couple of times. 
  • Pay off my MC as it's got the lowest balance and the highest interest rate. I'm aiming to do this in the next 6 months, but hopefully sooner (snowflaking is the most likely option).
  • I won't have a 'chicken' budget after July so can put that £10 elsewhere.
  • Continue with retirement savings generally, and emergency funds to £1,000. As I'm going, that will be December next year but I'd like to try and fund it fully before that, so that'll take a bit of thought and playing with numbers and accounts. Again, though, I'm leaving this alone for the time being as it's working fine and overthinking things will get me flustered and muddled.
  • I'm going to start looking at car insurance too. I know I can get a better price than what I'm currently paying, but my current insurance is valid to the end of July so I'm okay for the time being. I'll be dropping comprehensive coverage and going strictly Third Party (my car is worth about £50, comprehensive simply isn't worth it). I should be able to get a really reasonable price if I do that. Plus, as I'm now over 50, I'm hoping to snag a bit of a deal that way too.
  • Everything is a big question mark after July but have left it all as it is for the time being. I'll have to add utilities and council taxes, possibly more rent and petrol.
  • Savings will stay the same until I need to change them: I've set up car, travel, flat deposit, emergency and retirement savings accounts. As long as I'm saving something, I'm happy. They currently all get about £25 a month.
  • But that brings up the question, should I use some of that to clear my MC, instead of paying it off monthly? The problem is that I may likely need some of that as a deposit for a flat, so don't want to change things too much at the minute.
  • I also still have Canadian debt, being chipped away currently at $240 a month. I don't have to worry about it until next year, but I need to start saving to continue with that starting in June or July to send a chunk.
There is one final no-sugar programme starting tomorrow and I registered for it. They're winding up the whole business after this, and I've done a big backslide since the last one (as usual). Another auspicious date, I'm considering this another birthday present to myself. There was a 40% coupon for it, so I took it. I'll likely be a week behind as I'm away this week, but I can at least cook where I'm staying and will try to focus on veggie-heavy meals if I can.

Hope you're all getting some spring weather where you are.

Friday, 30 March 2018

Feeling tetchy


All this moving stuff has me unsettled. I've lost out on the little one-bed flat in Ringwood that I saw (and loved!), but know that there are others out there for me - just not yet. I've more or less come to terms with that, as it would have been just too tight for comfort, although I am still a bit disappointed. Someone else got a real gem!

So, instead, we looked at this place for the three of us that's just down the road (quite literally). It's dated but otherwise in good shape, although quite compact. Although originally coming onboard with us, I don't think P was particularly keen on it and he's since decided to take a step back (again) and instead look at buying a flat which, honestly, makes far more sense for him. So I'll call the agent today to let her know it's a no-go, unfortunately.

But the waiting and flip-flopping is frustrating. I just want it done, although I *know* there's really no panic.

So we're back to Square One now, looking at 2-bed places. Roomie E has found several nice ones, but I have a very limited budget. I think she's leaning towards another house, which is a great idea, but that costs more overall, and I can't afford to pay more than £550 (incl everything). She can pay more, but I don't want it to feel too unfair and in the case of a house, it would be.

I have found this little gem, though, that I'd like to go and see if it's still available. It's about 5 minutes drive from E's work but adds about 10 mins to mine which in the grand scheme of things, isn't such a bad commute (giving me 25 mins of travel instead of 15). Plus it's all on roads that I already drive!

Well. Disappointing. The landlord won't accept 'sharers', so we have to keep looking. :( I wonder if this is going to be a bit of a roadblock...hm.

I've been sleeping badly since the time change last weekend and have been waking up before 5:00, regardless of when I get to sleep, leaving me tired and tetchy. Wednesday was 'one of those days', a collection of tiny little mishaps that just got the better of me: I broke an egg in the morning, stalled in an intersection, spent the morning at work feeling fat and bloated (but better after a walk at lunch!), got home to find a dog had peed on my cross trainer, my mother called and mentioned that my brother's fiancee had called her and offered to pay for our tickets to SA (from London) and would I think about going as she doesn't want to go alone (yet I'm sure she told my auntie that she wasn't able to go...?), so on top of having to think about the move, I'm being guilted into having to consider being an escort/chaperone to my Mum for a trip I can't afford and which is, sorry to say, the last thing I want to do (sorry I'm sounding like a shitty daughter). I went to bed early after having a figurative tantrum and venting to my sister, who, fortunately, understood.

The SA venture will be a topic during The Visit in May. 

Prior to that, however, is my trip to Edinburgh, beginning on Monday. The 'Beast From the East' has been downgraded to 'only' rain, which is good, but how much? Anyway, I'll make the best of it and am going to spend some time this weekend figuring out what best to do. Monday consists of arriving and settling into the flat, meeting a friend for dinner and walking up Arthur's Seat. Outside of that, a visit to the castle, the haunted Blackfriar's Kirkyard (just up the road!) and a ghost walk are on the agenda so everything else will have to fit in around those. I've had loads of suggestions from my sister, so it's a matter of prioritising it all into three days - and if it's raining, what will keep me inside for the most part.

Our book launch next week is no longer happening! Very sadly, the gallery where it was to be held is closing permanently on Sunday. This is disappointing not only for us but the town and the artist community it was trying to support. A real shame!

Outside of that, I don't have much on the agenda on this very wet Easter weekend apart from a couple of shifts at the hotel and organising myself for Edinburgh, which won't take very long.

Happy Easter everyone!

arabiangym.com

Sunday, 25 March 2018

On the move again...but not JUST yet!


Well, a move will happen, we're just not sure when. The house is for sale and there have been three viewings this weekend. T had been on holiday for a week or so and made the decision while she was gone that she wants to see it through this time.

Roomie E hadn't been wholly on-board because T doesn't make up her mind quickly and since she arrived here from Spain (saying she's put the house on the market), she's not been focussed on it 100%, and just hasn't been able to make up her mind what she wants to do. That's left us a bit uncertain but now that the decision has been made FOR SURE, we can make plans to get ourselves organised for a move.

I've been looking for awhile now (I'm always looking) and last week viewed a very compact, cosy one-bedroom flat about 30 seconds walk from work! I absolutely loved it and would have signed the paperwork there and then if she'd had any. However, sense prevailed and I've since crunched numbers and decided that although I CAN actually afford it, it would be too tight to be comfortable and would empty my savings accounts for the deposit and fees, leaving me very vulnerable if anything happened. A further chat with Roomie E has confirmed that she's now on board with a move and is happy to continue sharing with me.

There's also the possibility of 'dragging' Roomie P with us as well, as apparently he was a bit hurt that we hadn't included him in our discussions about moving. We didn't include him because we were under the impression that he was going to go north, to be near his parents, but that's apparently not the case. But he didn't say anything to us, so how are we supposed to know?! Honestly...

I'm going to see a three-bedroom flat tomorrow near work, but I'm not sure it'll be suitable as Roomie E has said her preference is closer to her work because she sometimes is back and forth several times during the day and Ringwood is a bit too far for that. I can appreciate that, although I'd like to be closer to my work too. Regardless, someone will have to drive a distance.

There are precisely two options in Bransgore for rent. One is a 4-bed house that's too pricey and the other is a 3-bed bungalow just outside the village proper, in a small hamlet less than a 5-minute drive - and walkable, as there's a path leading directly to the village. The house is a bit dated (like, 1960s!) but is in good shape and is in the area we want it (this will all be dumped on Roomie P when he gets home tomorrow - he doesn't know we've planned all this yet) and is more or less the same price as we're currently paying. We'll need to set up our utilities, etc. but that's straightforward enough. So I made arrangements for Roomie E to go and view it on Tuesday. She liked what she saw online - plus the fact it has two bathrooms! - and is keen to see it properly and get a true feel for it. I kind of hope she likes it enough that we can just make a decision and have it done. If Roomie P decides he doesn't want to come with us, then it'll just be the two of us and we can adjust our searching accordingly.

One of the couples who viewed today was very keen and made no secret about the fact they want the house. T couldn't get rid of them, as they wanted to tell her everything they were going to do with/to it. Haha! I'd be very surprised if they didn't make an offer.

I spent the time washing my car - hardly a professional job, but it looks SOOOO much better. The fat wood pigeons have been using it as a toilet and it was quite embarrassing if I'm honest. It's been well over a year since I've had it washed. I'm sure with both more motivation and elbow grease, I'd have managed a much more thorough job, but I'm pleased regardless, as I got the worst of the dirt, grime, oil, moss, and bird poop off of it.

Edinburgh the week after next - at least, that's the plan! The Met Office is predicting yet more snow over Easter, so I'm going to have to watch my flights quite carefully, as I fly out of Southampton on Easter Monday. If it's anything like it's been the last two times, there's a good chance of cancellation/delays, particularly as it's supposed to hit the East and North again. There's a chance that I'll have to cancel or at least postpone, but it's all wait and see at this point. A bit frustrating, but what can you do?

Otherwise, I'm still picking away at my decluttering (took a few items to the thrift store yesterday but brought home 4 - two books, and two pairs of summery trousers), and getting my room sorted out. I'm still keen to do it because even though we aren't moving right away, we will eventually and I know my room won't be as big so keeping things to a minimum is still important.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Work from home, part-time option!

work.chron.com

The potential for overtime at work has come up again - this time potentially doing it from home on weekends, rather than heading to the office. Nothing has happened around it (yet) and I would need a foot pedal, a headset and a dictation software license (easily downloadable, but costs about £120 for the one we use at work). If work covers the cost of the license, I can borrow the extra foot pedal and headset that we have and I'm all set.

However, I've spent about an hour today poking around online and have discovered the world of home transcription work! I won't say it's lucrative, but it would certainly be a simple way for me to earn some extra money. I can download a type of dictation software and license for less than £20 (until 15 March, £50 after that) and could still borrow the foot pedal and headphones from work if it came down to it. It's not that I'm exceptionally excited to do more of what I do for work on my weekends, but I CAN do it, I'm an excellent typist and several of the companies I'm looking at offer as/when type of options - do what you want, when you want - which is perfect! There can be a huge variety of different reports, so that's the part that I'm uncertain about as I only have experience doing survey reports (and I may have to blag my typing speed a bit, too, as apparently, you need 70+wpm and I do about 60-65).

I'm assuming that purchasing a license for the type of software we use at the office would set me back the same as it would for the office to buy me one but as the price isn't on the website, I really don't know.

I've got a potential move to save for, debt to pay down and have just received an invite to my brother's wedding in South Africa in October (ouch!). I can't do it all at once, but having a steady, second income stream would be ideal. 

My first choice would be to spend time doing this for work because I know the system already and it's time and a half, but if I get myself set up with a decent little system of my own, it opens up a lot more options.

Some thought and chasing up the opportunity at work will be the first order of the day!

Hmmm....