Tuesday, 5 January 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!


its me, sam said...

I love the idea of no sugar, and was thinking of doing it in February too... I love your goals for the month...

Saskatchewan Savings said...

Going over budget by only 5GBP really isn't that bad if it will make you money on the side one day. It's still early enough in the month to cut back with other categories as well :)

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Sam! I had more than my fair share of sugar last night...shameful, really. But I'm keen to get started on the no sugar programme and am looking forward to some real changes. And thank you - January is a tough month, so having gentle goals is the way to go I think! xx

Hi SS! Thanks for stopping by. I agree, £5 isn't TOO bad and I've been sticking to my budget elsewhere - more or less, at least. The £80 spend on the programme for February went on my CC and came out of my 'Misc' budget, so I'm well over on that, but figure if I can maintain - or cut back elsewhere - for this month, then I'll be ahead for next month and can tweak as needed. My trouble is making sure that I mark it down. xx

Jane said...

I read somewhere recently that cutting down gradually on sugar is better than cold turkey so just consider this your gradually cutting back period. I've been struggling with headaches this week as I "gradually" stop eating sugary stuff, all junk food and processed food. IT'S HARD and my body isn't happy with me. Actually I suppose my body is happy but my brain isn't as I've been fighting terrible cravings and succumbed to a bag of pretzyls. And last night I finished off a box of Honeycomb cereal. :( I think it's good to take your time and set up for success in February.

Northern Living Allowance said...

Jane - I think you're right. I was absolutely rubbish over the holidays, so need to focus much better and get myself organised so this will be easy(-ier) to manage in Feb when it starts. Stupid sugar ...