Tuesday, January 5, 2016
Here we go - 2016!
Here we are, another corner turned and into another year full of promise. That's what's so great about them - there's always something to look forward to! :)
New Year itself was very quiet. My cousin gets back today sometime, so I spent it by myself although I had an invitation from a neighbour to join them if I were so inclined.
What I did instead was some tarot card readings. I did a couple for me and one for my sister, which turned out well. I re-did one of mine the next day as I didn't feel quite 'on' when I was doing it the first time and was much happier with the result. I'm not sure if that's cheating, but there we are. :)
I spent loads of time over the holidays going over and over my budget and it's looking good. Obviously there will be tweaking here and there if things don't quite work out as I have it set, but I'm okay with that. It's got to be a bit flexible or what's the point? This month I've allotted and set aside a monthly amount for groceries, but think I will go back to weekly envelopes starting in February - the way Gail says to do it.
I have already, for example, gone over my allotted monthly treat amount of £20. I bought two books on Amazon and the total came to £24.69. The premise behind the books, however, is to work on something fun and writing oriented that might (!) make me a bit of money on the side. We shall see, we shall see.
I've also organised how I'm going to pay the debt I still have. I've found a money transfer site that has excellent reviews, I've asked a few questions and set up an account. Banks charge ridiculous fees for this kind of thing, it's not wise or safe to put money in the mail (although I have done it the past - better safe than sorry), and this seems to be a safe and direct way of doing things for very little fees (£3.23 on my first transfer to be exact). I'm not sure what the other end looks like as it's my first time using it, but if all goes well, then I've found a way to send regular payments. The rate, while still excellent at the moment, fluctuates constantly, but once you've got yourself set up you can keep an eye on things and see what you can do. In the couple of hours since I registered, for example, the exchange has sunk from 2.0440 to 2.04226 and is now up to 2.0460! The rate you 'lock in' at is valid for 24-hours, so by the time my details are confirmed, I'll likely have a different rate, which is fine. It's still over twice what I'm sending from this end.
If I can send £200-£300 per month, I should be able to bring my debt down substantially by the end of the year. My outside goal is to reach $10k, but I'd be thrilled with $11k. I'd like to aim for $1k into my RSP (to go towards my LLP), clearing my MasterCard and making a big dent in the LOC; both of these have been hard hit this year. As well, if I'm not able to manage it on a monthly basis, I still have enough going this first time round to cover me for several months while I save up to send more. So a win either way!
I have to remember, of course, that I still have bills to pay here. My UK credit card has a £500 limit and I've set up a direct payment of £100 per month to pay it down after using it to buy supplies for my (now-abandoned) no sugar eating plan. Some of those supplies have since been returned, but the card will be clear by May.
As I mentioned above, I abandoned my no sugar plan for the time being, but there's an online program starting February 4 and I've joined that for some structure and guidance. I'll use what I can and modify - it simply costs too much to get specific stuff. It cost me £80 for an 8-week program (just gone up, apparently), but the background work is done for me: meal plans, shopping lists, etc. That will make it easy to budget for. This is something I *need* to do, regardless of whether my cousin joins me or not.
I called my doctor's surgery yesterday to see if I could get an appointment (two weeks seems to be a standard wait time). Once I got through to the office, I was, surprisingly, given a choice of 9:00 a.m. or 7:10 p.m. today, so I took the evening appointment. I want to ask for a blood test (to get a baseline for a few things that will hopefully change for the better whilst on the no sugar programme) and have a check up to make sure that I'm fit enough to take an exercise class close to home. It's called "Boogie Bounce" and utilises those mini-trampolines for 40-minute cardio sessions. While it runs 4 times a week, I'll only be able to make it once a week as I don't get home until just before most of the classes start. It's £5 per session, and I'll have to budget for that now, so will consider this one of my February goals.
Another plan this month is to visit the local library, check out the selection of books (DVDs cost £2 each to borrow, so it's not really worth it) and see if they have a meeting room that is useable by the general public and get some details about it if they do. I've been looking for a writing group to join since I've been here and have approached several, hoping that one would be a good fit. One that I liked met mid-afternoon, one I thought was nearby in the Forest but turned out to be almost an hour's drive away, and although it's technically not far, I don't really want to come back into Southampton after I'm finished work. So I thought I would try to start my own group and a notice at the library seems like the best place to do it. I've never done one before, but want to start fairly small and try to figure out what we DO at a writing group (do we write or just review our writing? Do we have speakers or opt not to? How many can we work with? Do we charge a modest fee or meet at someone's house so we don't have to?). We'll see how it goes.
Anyway, that's about it so far. January could turn out to be quite interesting actually. We'll see how things go!