Saturday, 12 January 2019

Update time! A few random bits & pieces...

I'm back again, feeling like I need to update a little. I imposed a three-month social media ban on myself from Jan 1, but don't really consider this social media (as such) so want to continue my as-and-when postings. 

The holidays were okay. Not as relaxing as I would have liked (partly my own fault for taking on a little bit of work, partly not), but it was a nice long break at least.


Did I say that I love my new car? If not, I do. I really, really do! I'm still getting used to it, but what a difference it's making to my driving confidence. It's wider and more solid than the Clio - to the point I had to get out of the passenger side when I'd got it squeezed into the garage last week - ha ha ha! I've since figured out the secret to giving myself an extra inch, so I haven't repeated that, but it is tight. Hadn't occurred to me it would be a problem, but there we are. She fits - snugly - and I can now get in & out with relative ease.

The engine is fabulous - so much bigger than the Clio's! I'm less nervous about pulling into traffic, but at the same time, I can't get over-confident about it. I'm being quite precious about her at the moment - parking in the widest parking spaces I can find so she doesn't get dinged, and once even in a row all by herself at the far end of the lot. My friend laughed but didn't complain about the 'long walk' to the restaurant.

Still haven't settled on a name, though...


I mentioned I purchased her by cashing out an RSP. The after-tax funds totalled just over $8,000. I left $2,000 in my Canadian bank account, which is going towards paying down my LOC. My LOC was down to around $7,000, but sometime in December, I happened to notice that they had increased my limit around Christmas (I'm not clear why). So, after a bit of a think, I used some of that to clear my last Canadian CC. Not actually getting myself further ahead, but condensing everything into one (slightly lower) payment. That, of course, brought me back up over $10,000. While I'm okay for about six or seven months at the moment, I'm checking regularly to make sure nothing drastically changes. I set aside £50 a month to go towards this. My goal is to eventually only have this debt (and then, obviously, none).

I've put away my MC and am no longer using it. The interest rate is stupid and there's no reason for me to use it. Right now, it's eating up £50 a month that could go towards other things. I'm determined to get this one paid off this year, somehow. I'm going to let it sit and have the payments accumulate for about six months (bringing the balance down to about £1000). Depending on how things look in May - the month before our flat lease is up - my plan (at the moment, at least) is to borrow again from the LOC and clear the remaining balance. The £50 can then be redistributed accordingly. This is currently the solution that feels best to me, but things can and do change.

So, the remainder of the RSP was converted (at an utterly DIRE exchange rate) and I received just over £3600. £2300 went to the car (which, as I think I said, was the top of my budget), £360 to my travel account, and I put £800 into my flat account. I'm happy with the distribution. I now have a deposit + first month's rent on a (very cheap!) flat as/when I need to move. Roomie E and I will obviously each get deposits back for this place when we leave it, but that can take up to six weeks and I genuinely don't have enough resources to finance a move otherwise. I'm really pleased - and so much less stressed! - with this in place.

The £360 towards travel is ostensibly for a trip to Bruges in May with a friend. We've made a little bit of noise about it, but haven't moved forward much beyond provisionally reserving some hotels. We don't even really have confirmed dates yet. But we're both keen and it would be a nice break, so I'm keeping that in place. IF something should happen before May and I need to take funds from somewhere, then it's available to me.

Part of me is anxious that the travel money goes towards a CC payment instead. But along with paying off the debt, I also need to have something to look forward to and Bruges is it!

I've bought and returned some Amazon items (books), and once a final credit is applied to my card will remove the details from the site. The last item I bought was a book that I thought might be useful, but I'm not a Millenial so made the 'executive decision' to just return it. I have MORE than enough books to read already.


Is okay. I've actually lost almost a stone since last summer (14 lbs) and am now hovering around 11st. I'm not exactly sure how this happened, but although I'm feeling pretty good overall, I still need to work on a couple of things.

I'm on a new prescription for my stupid menopause issues. But there we are. The results from the last procedure were the same as from the procedure(s) before, so the doctor suggested this particular pill might resolve the issue at last. I'm not sure, but we'll see. Anyway, it's this or a coil and...eeyew! I've said I don't want anything in me on a permanent basis, but it may come down to no longer not being an option. I appreciate they're just doing due diligence, but surely I get some say as to when it's all over? Maybe not.

I've signed up for a food delivery service to see if that will help me with my cooking & eating. My first delivery is tomorrow and it's mostly vegetarian/vegan. I'm going to try to eat less meat and see how that makes me feel. Certainly, more veggies in my diet are never going to be a bad thing, so at the moment I've got one delivery (three meals) a week coming for three weeks. I can suspend at any time and it's currently £30 per week. I'm going to see how I'm feeling at the end of the month and if I want to continue or perhaps amend the deliveries to twice monthly, etc. It's all pre-portioned and planned out for you and everything is either returnable to the company, recyclable or reusable; they buy produce and meat from small farmers around the UK; and, they also donate one meal for schools for every box you order. So their food & business ethics are definitely something I can get behind. I'm just not sure if it's good value for money for just one person.

I will report back.

I've made a dentist appointment for the end of the month. I'm long overdue for a checkup and this particular clinic is at the local grocery superstore (!), just five minutes down the road (three in the new car). I know my bite has changed - I clench my jaw so I'm sure that's the reason why. I discovered this in December, so it's only been fairly recently. I also have a sneaking suspicion I may need some fillings replaced (bye bye travel funds??). The problem is that I'm now a nervous patient, not helped by not having anyone to get referrals from. I'm taking a stab in the dark and trusting that I'm picking a good practice!

I've also started taking a walk during my lunch hour. Even a half hour helps. I'm keeping in mind the phrase, 'start as you mean to finish' and apart from our half-hour lunch breaks on Friday, I'm doing well so far. Once the evenings get lighter later, I'll be taking myself down to the beach and the water after dinner. I'm aiming for an hour total a day, to start.


Overall, the flat is lovely. On the cold side, but lovely (but it is winter in England, after all). I'm still keen to be closer to work, but I feel committed to seeing out at least our year-long lease, which I think is fair. Things always have a way of changing, though, as Roomie E has the opportunity of a fabulous job at a 2-Michelin star hotel and would have to move counties if she got it. She's off to Italy tomorrow for a few days (to rest and have some health concerns investigated), but I think will be visiting the hotel the following week for a trial shift. No guarantees but I think if she's offered the position, she needs to take it. She's beyond miserable where she currently is and I'm sure that's part of the reason she's unwell at the moment.

There is also some (fairly serious) mould in her room. I'm not sure how far back this issue goes, but it pre-dates us and is supposed to have been resolved. The issue is also in the kitchen. Our property manager will, I'm certain, be contacting us early next week once she has spoken with the owner, after discussing it with the building managers. We can't really do/say anything until we know what exactly is going on and how it's going to be resolved. 

There was some fairly minor mould in several places which was, apparently, the result of not enough ventilation in the flat, but I'm not entirely sold on that explanation based on where it was along the top of baseboards. Regardless, I removed it this morning and it hopefully won't come back.

I suggested that perhaps the mould is part of the cause of Roomie E's health concerns, but I'm not sure it's got that established or bad yet. Regardless, it definitely could become an issue if not taken care of.

I feel quite bad for the owner. This not only causes a problem for us as her current tenants but also potential problems in respect of the sale or further rental if not resolved. At any rate, as I say, nothing we can do until we know what has been discussed.


We started back slowly this year, which is great. Got a few outstanding little bits & pieces cleared up at the office last week as none of the surveyors was at work until this week. They more or less hit the ground running, but the work hasn't trickled in fully yet.

The boss is back on Monday and I will be asking at some point if our annual reviews are going to happen at the end of the month. I'm still bored, but have decided that I need to focus on work at work and make sure that I'm spending my free time doing more stuff that I enjoy, regardless of what it is: reading, writing, driving my new car (have I said how much I love it?), etc.

Outside of Brexit (tick, tock), I can't really see anything affecting my job so that's a bit of a comfort. And also a big motivator regarding getting out of debt faster.


My sister, brother and I have started a discussion about our mother and her long-term health and care. We're all non-residents of Canada now, he in South Africa, and my sister and I here, so the distance makes things more difficult. My sister and I are wondering why my brother didn't start this conversation two years ago when he visited her and noticed that she's not as strong as she was...

Anyhoo. The convo is now started and we're tossing around potential ideas and thoughts for discussion before broaching the subject with Mum. What is the best solution for someone who wants one of her daughters (specifically my sister) to return to Canada to care for her, neither of whom wants to? This is the least happy and healthy solution for all concerned. Plan 'A' - in my mind - is that Mum puts herself on a wait list for semi-independent living at a residence where a number of her friends already are. Staying in the same town, with her friends, familiar places to go, etc., would be the best. And the wait list is unlikely to move quickly. In the meantime, we think of a Plan 'B' (a perm move to SA for brother and SIL to care for her? An enormous, expensive and difficult undertaking at the best of health. For an 86-year old...? But they have both said they'd be happy to care for her permanently. But she has to ask. Which won't happen in a million years). Care in the UK is expensive, varies in quality and with the utterly dire (current) exchange rate, any money made from the sale of the house, etc., would be quickly eaten up and then what? Neither my sister nor I have the means to care for her.

There is a lot to talk about, not least that if someone does return to Canada, even temporarily, we'd be unable to work legally (as non-residents) and would have no way to earn any kind of income to support the needs and care of self and Mum. She has small pensions which go some small way of paying for the basics, but anything over and above that is going to need more substantial income.

Anyway, the discussion has started and all we can do at the moment is to continue and try to figure out a reasonable solution that we can at least start a conversation with (although I suppose the next discussion is who's going to start THAT conversation...).

US & UK politics continue to be complete shitshows. Brexit vote in Parliament on Tuesday. Will we leave with or without an agreement in place? WHO KNOWS? Certainly no one in Parliament. Everyone keeps saying that the PMs plan is awful, but no one seems to be able to suggest anything better, soooo...? Shut up, boys. You BAILED. B.A.I.L.E.D. Your opinions are no longer relevant in this farce. I'm no conservative, but I'm feeling resentful on Mrs May's behalf because of all the shit she's getting for taking this on when no-one could be bothered.

Anyhoo. Roll on 29/03/2019. Let's just get it over with.

And on that note, have a good weekend everyone! xx


JiCaLu said...

Zomg, so much info to unpack. Good luck on continued saving, and debt pay down.
I hope the mould can be resolved, and that none of you are going to be affected by it.
If roomie does get this new job and has to leave, when might you need to move??

As for your mama, good luck there too. My great aunt has dementia, and right now a bunch of us help out, but she does not want to move to a home per se. She was fiercely independent, so that transition has been difficult. Ideally, your mom should move into a semi independent facility, but I get that she wants one of y'all to help her instead - but that is not realistic either *yeesh* Maybe if y'all had a family convo with her, she might agree to live with your brother in SA?

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi JiCaLu - ha ha! A bit of an info dump, I know. I started writing, thinking it would be a quick update and it went on and on and... But thanks for the support! One of the kicks up the bum in respect of becoming seriously debt-free was missing my brother's wedding last October. I'm missing out on all kinds of stuff because I owe other people and I'm tired of it. Finally. And I finally, genuinely GET IT.

If Roomie E does move, it would likely be in the next couple of months (that's assuming she's offered and accepts the position, of course - she always finds an excuse not to take these awesome jobs that are offered to her), so having the means to up & go on hand is a bit of a comfort. Otherwise, I'm aiming for June 1, the end of our lease. We'll know in March what the landlord/owner wants to do with the place, though, so will have a better idea then of what we need to plan for.

Thanks for the Mum support. It's easier in that she's got her full faculties so there's no having to deal with dementia aspects (so sorry about your great aunt - it's a wretched condition!) which is a blessing, really. I think to get her to SA, it would be a matter of my brother & SIL physically removing her there. But, one conversation at a time. Good luck with your auntie xx

Jane said... do you like your new car? :) That's quite an update - you've had a lot going on with shuffling money, new car, possible move of Roomie E (does that mean you would have to find a new roomie?) or move? (Oh never mind, read comment from JiCaLu and found the answer. You won't be panicked as you can see it coming plus you've got the money put aside. Looks like travel is up in the air, so to speak, you have options for trips (hope they work out) while I need to wait til my and Kazi's health concerns are taken care of :( If I can make it over this year and if you're available I will try to work in a visit to your neck of the woods somehow. Even a couple of days would be nice. Time will tell.

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Jane! Thanks for stopping by. I suppose I could find a new roommate, even temporarily, but ideally I'd find something new and close(r) to work. I sent my friend an email over the weekend to ask if she'd be open to postponing Bruges to September, because I only JUST realised that the end of May is when we'd potentially be moving! :P Plus, it would give us a bit more time to save a little extra money towards it. I'm also waiting to hear what the dentist has to say in two weeks' time...I know my bite has changed and I need a really decent clean. Outside of that, I'm actually a bit nervous to know what s/he finds. I hope you & Kazi get your health concerns taken care of. It would be lovely to see you, but obviously if you're not well, that needs to be your priority. But let me know, I'll make sure I keep some time to see you obviously! xx

Treaders said...

Just hearing about your mom it sounds like assisted living in Canada would be the best option for her if her friends are around. It is a nightmare though isn't it. And you're right, homes for elderly people in the UK are incredibly expensive and you can soon run through any money from the sale of the house. Good luck with that - it's one of the big disadvantages when everyone lives so far away isn't it. Well done on the weight loss - man I've got to do something about my weight too. And I agree with you about everyone slamming Theresa May. They've all got "great ideas" and big mouths but none of them would be capable of coming up with anything better I think. She's in an impossible position - no-one will be getting what they want - and I think she has shown strength and class to keep plugging away with all those rottweilers snapping away at her heels! Anna

Northern Living Allowance said...

Hi Treaders! Thank you for stopping by. I'm leaning towards assisted living mostly because it allows for more immediate assistance if something should happen. Home-care is an alternative, but neither my sister nor I are in a position to help financially at the moment - this is also a reason I need to hyper-focus on my finances this year. But, we're just starting the process and are currently waiting to hear back from my brother before continuing the discussion.

I honestly don't know how I managed the weight loss - it happened when a) I moved out of the other place, b) I quit drinking (just a couple of ciders over the weekend, but still...), and c) I don't know! Regardless, I'm pretty steady at 11st at the moment and DO feel better, so it's all good.

I'm with you - Mrs May is in an impossible - and unenviable! - position. No one is happy, no one WILL be happy, and no one could have done better (or worse) despite the howling yobs surrounding her claiming otherwise. It's disgusting. Hope you are well (considering) xx