Sunday, 3 February 2019

January wind-up - hello, February!

Word(s) of the Month: Trust (in the) Communication

I spent most of last week sniffling and coughing at work, and took advantage of potentially adverse weather on Friday (and the fact that I've been sleeping so poorly the past couple of weeks) and finally took a sick day. We're pretty slow in the office at the moment, so I'm sure I wasn't particularly missed. There'll be plenty waiting for me when I get back tomorrow.

The adverse weather (heavy snow) affected most parts of the UK, including routes to and from London. I could have made it to the office, but quite frankly couldn't be bothered after waking up yet again at 4 a.m. I was feeling really rough, and I'm glad I took the extra day to just rest. There's apparently something going around, so I suppose it was just a matter of time. It wasn't too bad, considering, but has drained me of energy and it's been nice to sit and rest for a couple of days. I woke up this morning with a much clearer head, after a good sleep, so am finally feeling more or less back to normal.

I went to the dentist last Saturday and was pleased (and very relieved!) to have a clear checkup. I mentioned that I've been clenching my jaw and she didn't seem overly concerned as there was no pain or swelling anywhere, so there wasn't any damage to the muscles or joints. She did give me some paperwork about some exercises that might help a little bit, but it appears that clenching my jaw is how I deal with stress. Knowing that, I just have to be aware of it and unclench when I realise I'm doing it. I do, however, need a good clean, so that's booked for the end of March.

I also returned that book I didn't think I could! After all that, I'd just picked the 'wrong' choice on the Amazon return options. I went old-school and printed off what I needed and off it went. The credit, less £3.99 for postage, was applied in the next couple of days, so I'm pleased. I've since removed payment details from my account so that there's no temptation. I do, however, visit my Wish List page daily, because sometimes there are free books that show up on it! Yes, please!

I'm still reading up a storm, and I cleared at least six books from my NetGalley list last week. To be fair, one was only a novella and took just about an hour to complete, but I'm feeling a bit better. I'm still two months behind, but I'm getting there steadily. Most have been very enjoyable, fortunately, with only a couple that I was slightly disappointed in.

Regardless, I'm looking forward to getting to the bottom of that TBR pile.

I've also been Netflixing a fair bit the last few days. I've worked through most of a 90s English show called 'Jonathan Creek' which is a murder mystery series. It's quite good - it stars a comedian called Alan Davies as Jonathan Creek, a magician's assistant (more or less) who lives in a windmill and solves murders. There have been some great guest stars. I've moved on to 'Hinterland' now, a Welsh police procedural filmed in and around Aberystwyth, on the central Welsh coast. I do love the Welsh accent, it always sounds musical to me. The show is really good, too. I saw the first several episodes a couple of years ago but started from the beginning again anyway. I didn't remember enough about them to skip them. So I'm going to carry on with that.

I had a bloodwork appointment at my new surgery (medical clinic) on Thursday morning. Here I was thinking a vial or two, but the nurse kept adding vials to the dish until she had six! Yikes. The doctor must have wanted tests for everything...fortunately, it was quite straightforward (I've got good veins), and I was in and out in about 10 minutes. I was startled, therefore, to get a call the next day to let me know that my doctor wanted a urine test and is going to book me an appointment for an ultrasound of my kidneys and abdomen. Nothing I've not done before, but it seems this issue is rearing its head again. I wonder if it could be part of the reason I'm so bloated? Anyway, happy to do whatever I need to - I've done all this before and if my current doctor wants to have a closer look at it all, that's fine with me. Perhaps I might get some answers this time? I'll have to wait and see.

As part of my 'Discover' January, I took myself to the Citizens Advice group at the library. Part of my stress is around how much debt I have (all, once again, self-inflicted) and was starting to panic a bit. I basically wanted to talk with someone about what options are out there for assisting with this sort of thing (without feeling the need to resort to something as drastic as bankruptcy). I spoke with a lovely lady, who walked me through some options and possible solutions and worked up a financial statement for me. I did a bit of reading up on the solution we discussed (a debt management plan, or DMP) and it seems to be the right solution - when I'm ready. One of the things that I'm trying to avoid is affecting my credit rating (which is VERY slowly creeping up). I got myself into this debt and it's my responsibility to get myself out of it. I'm not going to renege on my responsibilities to the creditors, but I am struggling a little bit at the moment.

Anyway, there is a slight risk that landlords may refuse to rent to you if you have a DMP on your credit record, although it's obviously not as impactful or serious as a bankruptcy or a debt relief order. With a move of some kind likely within the next few months, I'm not willing to take the chance that I could be turned down for a flat. As long as I keep on the way I am currently, paying my priority bills (rent, utilities, etc.) first and paying my minimums on my non-priority (CCs, etc.), then I'll be okay. Once moving is out of the way, then I can make a final decision on the DMP.

Part of the reason I wanted to gather some information was that I'm tired of not being able to do anything simply because I can't afford it. If I didn't have my debt, I'd have £375 a month to put towards travel, savings, horse riding lessons, yoga...whatever I wanted. Instead, I miss things like my brother's wedding because I can't afford it, even if part of the cost was covered. I'm angry with myself for being here at this stage of my life.

I discovered lots in January.

However, February has just started off on the right foot - my computer anti-virus is due for renewal soon and a little reminder popped up about half an hour ago. A few weeks ago, I had decided to amend my subscription renewal so that instead of automatic renewal, I would get a reminder instead. I'm not sure what prompted me to do it, but I'm glad I did! My auto renewal would have cost me £219!! That's for multiple devices, mind you, but holy Sh!t. I clicked on the website and changed my subscription to a 1-year, single device (desktop) subscription and paid £25 (it was 50% off for some reason - yes, please!). So I'm now renewed until next Feb. Phew! A good catch, I'd say.

So let's see what insight February's words bring.


Jane said...

You saved quite a bundle on the anti-virus - good catch indeed! I was wondering if you can borrow books from the library directly to your computer? As a fellow speed reader I found getting books downloaded for free saves me a lot of money. Maybe you're already doing that.

JiCaLu said...

Look at you, working on your debt repayment, and kicking ass! Good job :) :) :)

Good thing you took the sick day, and missed traveling in the snow. It was a mess here in Toronto last Monday and Tuesday. My boss let me off early, and I walk to work - it's never been that bad that he's ever let me leave early due to snow.

I hope you feel better!! I am hoping to read more too, I joined a goodreads group with a diff theme every month - started the Feb book already!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Jane! Yes - I couldn't believe the cost. Plus, I don't really need multiple device coverage anyway. I only really use two devices and even then, the iPad just to read and play games. I can borrow books on the iPad, I've got an app - I just haven't used it yet! I want to get through my 'have to' reads before adding anything else. I'm 'only' two months behind now - hahaha! xx

Hi JiCaLu! Right? I'm just information gathering at this point, but forewarned is forearmed, isn't that the saying? By the time I get to the point when/if I go ahead, my debt will be smaller and I'll have a better idea of whether it's worth it or not too. Yeah, I'm happy I took Friday off - it was worth it, as I'm feeling much better today. I'm on Goodreads too, and post all my reviews and books read on there. I don't belong to any groups, though. xx

canadian sadie said...

Check out Gail Vaz-Oxlade and her website. She has a fantastic budgeting tool that will make your life much better financially. The jar system is fabulous, and helps you find the money at the end of the month. She had a show on Canadian TV, *Til Debt Do Us Part* and it is all about couples and families getting their spending and debt under control. She calls it like it is, and is absolutely fabulous, IMHO. She has retired from television the last few years, but has several books out as well. You could YouTube her episodes if you want to watch some.

I have recently been listening to Dave Ramsey, as well. He is American, so his investing advice is useless to us both, but his method of debt reduction and his common sense plans for moving forward are both easy to follow and difficult to muck up. He does have a religious aspect to his podcast, which you can embrace or ignore as you desire. There is not a lot of religion, so I just fast forward through that part.

I have dug out from under a SUBSTANTIAL amount of debt myself. I do not like the idea of a DMA, if you can avoid it. Getting out of debt stinks. It can be is just a slow slog to do it on your own. Good luck! You can do it!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Sadie! Thank you for stopping by my blog and for your comment. I love Gail! I used to watch her regularly, but my problem is the motivation to use/continue the jar/envelope system. I've tried multiple times but it seems to fizzle dramatically after a couple of months. No harm trying again, though. :D

There are some good British folk who do this sort of thing, and I have some good books to read, but perhaps part of the problem is that I'm trying to use someone else's 'rules' and haven't got it fine-tuned enough for me yet.

Anyway, I'm digging (still) one tiny spoonful at a time - it's all you can do sometimes, isn't it? Thank you for your support and congratulations on getting yourself out of debt. What a great achievement! xx

JiCaLu said...

hope you're well!! I lost $76 to a stupid automatic renewal yesterday. Sigh. I thought I had a year, not a week. Got 0 reminder emails, just got the email when they took my $$$. Hard lesson to learn!

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi JiCaLu - thanks for your comment! Yes, I'm well, just lazy - ha ha! :D

Hate those auto-renewals! Convenient, yes, but how frustrating. That's a lot of money. Makes me glad I actually thought to check my reminders for the antivirus. Hope you're enjoying your new car, too! xx

JiCaLu said...

I am glad you're well!! :) the new car is doing well thank you, i cannot wait until Spring!