Saturday, 29 November 2014

Commuting costs and update

Lyndhurst Village High Street.

The pictures were taken earlier in the year, but still highlight the charm of the New Forest. Lyndhurst is the Administrative Centre, where all decisions concerning the forest are discussed, decided, recorded, maintained and put forward.

One of half a dozen donkeys grazing in the area.

Cows at large near Bolton's Bench, Lyndhurst.

Ponies at Bolton's Bench, Lyndhurst (one is wearing a reflective collar, which is designed to help prevent collisions with cars - but drivers, it's actually YOUR responsibility to prevent this, so please SLOW DOWN in the Forest).

Hard to believe November is, for all intents and purposes, over. Christmas is looming and then there's another brand new year right around the corner! I started the month with a week off, a plan to join Nanowrimo to write my No 1 Best Seller, and a two-week job trial and I finish it off with a permanent job, 1500+ more miles on my car, no book, a hit to my savings, but also down another $400 in debt.

The new job is great if I'm honest. Absolutely frustrating and exhausting but there's so much potential for growth that if we can make it through the next few weeks, we're golden. There's a huge amount of organization needed, but we've just hired an office junior to help with the little things (filing, photocopying, scanning, answering the phone, etc) which allows the Office Manager and me to get on with the bigger things - the ones that bring in money.

The commute is 1.5-2 hours each way and is deathly boring, but I'm actually already getting used to it (scary!). I get more stressed out if it's raining, as I don't like driving at night and when you add rain, it just makes it worse, but ultimately my goal is to find somewhere mid-way between my cousin's place and work. That won't be for awhile, though, but I'm already looking. There are huge costs involved in a move and I just don't have funds for that at this point. It's actually easier for me to drive every day and fill up twice a week.

It will be easier to set up a budget now that I've had my first paycheque and have an idea of what I'm earning. We get paid weekly, but two weeks behind. There is overtime available sometimes, which I'm happy to do, but I would stay in town overnight in that case instead of coming all the way back to the Forest (which, I realize, slightly negates the point of overtime, but makes more sense) and then going back again in the morning.

Cash-wise I'm down more than I'd like in my savings to cover some of the initial travelling expense (gas), but will now be putting that money back weekly, so am not worried and hope to see a steady increase there.

My debt is also steadily decreasing and I'm down to $7600 from almost $14000 at the beginning of the year. I removed my ticker thingees because I wasn't keeping up with them and could never remember my password to get into them. I know I won't make my goal of paying it all off this year, but I've managed to get almost halfway and I'm very, very pleased by that. I'd like to see my debt at zero by the end of next year and my savings over £1000.

I'm doing well with my eating too. I started out buying lunches and breakfasts from the cafe on the trading estate, but it's all fried food which, while quite delicious, is absolutely no good for me on a daily (or twice-daily) basis. So I've been eating apples (Pink Lady), hard boiling eggs, nuts, and buying ready-to-eat salads from the grocey store and have been managing very well on those for the past week and a half. The salads are very simple, but they fill me up and they aren't expensive. I've also had containers of pineapple to snack on during the day too. If I'm spending 12 hours a day sitting down, I need to make sure that whatever goes in my mouth is going to work for me, rather than against me. So far, so good.

My cousin and I went to a pub quiz last Sunday and came away with a £10 gift card as third place winners (our second win!). It was a lot of fun, but quite a tricky one, and I find them challenging because they're very English-centric - obviously. There was actually a Canadian question, but I got one wrong (not really), which I absolutely questioned. Canadians, back me up here: Ottawa is NOT one of the top 5 Canadian cities by population, am I right? According to the quiz answers it is. Vancouver, our number 2, was nowhere in sight and that's what I questioned.

Regardless, I get stupid excited about quizzes, pub or other. I love them. I'm not particularly good at them, but they're fun and that's the part I like. There are about half a dozen quiz shows on TV and I'm going to fill out an application form for one for my cousin and I. No guarantees, but what the heck. We went to another one on Thursday night which was a charity fund raiser. It started at 8pm and we didn't get home until after 11:00! There were about 200 people there. It was fun and dinner was included (a delicious but titchy one), but by the time we'd finished we were hot and had mostly lost our enthusiasm and motivation. 

We didn't win, in case you were wondering!

My Nanowrimo efforts have been, for the most part, a bust. I'm not even halfway to my 50,000 word mark, but have been surprised where the story went. I had hoped to start my first mystery series, but I'm getting more of a romance with an unexpected character popping up. There's a vague mystery (I've killed someone off), but I'm not sure how - or if - I'll carry on with that. Still, it might give me something to chip away at and who knows? I may come up with something complete after all.

This weekend is quiet and restful. I have a Skype session with a friend tomorrow evening and that's the extent of my excitement. I am going to add a bit more to my writing, get some supplies (food) for the coming week and add a touch of oil to the car, but that's about the extent of it.


T'Pol said...

You seem to be having a good time with your cousin and putting your life in order. The place you live looks very pretty. I know how terrible long commutes are. I drive about an hour and a half each way every day these days and believe it or not, I drive only 25 km. That is the price of living on the Anatolian side and having a customer across the bridge on the European side. Istanbul's traffic is terrible but I cannot imagine living elsewhere.
Do you live close to any other family members? What are your plans for Christmas?

Jane and Chris said...

I love quizzes.We are watching 'Only Connect' on Youtube every evening.
Jane x

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi T'Pol!: I am having a good time :) I hate commuting, but the job IS worth it. A move is not imminent, but will have to happen, as I don't want to spend that much time in a car (I'm doing 104 miles a day - 167km?). It's stupid.

My other family live much further away (and there's no rooom for me - they all have their own families), so I'm content here for the time being. I'd just like to have my own place really. I miss my own space. Christmas will be spent with my sister and then some time here in the New Forest with my cousin. You?

Hi Jane!: I like 'Only Connect' too! I'm hoping to get my cousin and I on 'Pointless.' Have you seen it? It's vey good. xx

The Asian Pear said...

Both Vancouver and Ottawa are less than 1M. If you refer to Greater Vancouver Area which is quite sprawled out, then it's closer to 2M.

Jane said...

Wikipedia has Ottawa in 4th place, about 200,000 more people than Vancouver - I was surprised!! I LOVE the idea of the New Forest - I would be in heaven if I could live in an area like that, in harmony with nature and the animals. Congrats on the PERMANENT job!! What type of business is it? I wish you didn't have to drive so far but at least you won't have to deal with snow...right? One more year and you'll have that debt wiped out! What a difference that will make!