A Year From Today

I’ve seen plenty of quotes on the internet along these lines but lately there’s a thought, a question that has really resonated with me of late:

In a years time, what will I regret having not started today?

What do I want to be different a year from today?

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Tomorrow is 1st May. What – realistically – would I want to be different on the 1st May 2017?

There wouldn’t be anything earth shattering. We’re settled with where we live, our home, local schools and so on so no big moves or anything like that. The changes I’d like to see relate to more mundane, day to day, very ordinary things! I’ve really given this a lot of thought and have tried not to tackle too many different things to give myself the best chance of success. Here’s what I’ve decided on:

  1. Save money. Ah, it sounds so simple. However, Husband is currently working very hard to get a company off the ground and his earnings vary from month to month. Even on the best months this figure is low so it is hard to cover basics, never mind save. However we desperately need the security of savings plus I don’t want the kids childhoods to go by with no holidays and limited experiences so I’d like to save for that too.

2. Lose the weight. Wow does this blog reveal how long I’ve been trying to do this. I need to lose about 20 pounds to get back to my happy place. But frankly 10-14 would do!

3. Sort out my front garden. My back garden also needs some work and we really must get on with some of our interior work. But seriously, the front garden is in an embarrassing state. It is very unsafe for kids (it’s a sharp slope dropping down to a very busy main road and we can’t put a fence on the boundary) so I struggle to find time to go out there (when my littlest in napping I have to work so it is almost impossible). Plus I have chronic back problems and am having long term physio which also complicates things. But! It must happen. I am determined that this time next year it will not look so dreadful.

4. Writing project. A determined effort must be made. I’ve dithered around with this in one way or another for, oh let’s see, almost twenty years. Yes, years not months. Time to stop messing around and give it a year of attention. I plan to start out with the intention of writing 500 words a day, 6 days a week. I reserve the right to change this to whatever works but this is a starting point! If I can’t do anything with it after a years effort then I am officially freeing myself from it!

And that’s it. Obviously there are loads of other things I want to get done as well. But these four things have got to be uppermost in my mind. Those random little pockets of time that get lost in aimless screen time or whatever? This is how they are now going to be spent.

It’s been a good exercise, thinking about 1st May 2017. What would you regret then that you hadn’t started today?

 

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Food shop:

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Last weeks food worked out pretty well though I did have to nip out and top up on fruit. I can’t remember the exact amount but it was around 3 pounds.

Sticking to my ‘rule’ about keeping the weekly Tesco order at no more than 50 pounds (including non-food items), this weeks shop has come in at 51.38 pounds. 2.60 of that was on colour catching sheets (they have saved many an item of clothing in the past!) and ibuprofen. So the food spend was 49.78 for this week. for this I have bought:

Greek yogurt, Cheddar, 6 eggs, brioche, loaf of bread, 3 bananas, 2 cucumbers, cheese and onion bread mix, 2 honeydew melons, ice cream, lollies, 2 different kinds of pasta, 12 pints whole milk, 2 packs Ryvitta, babycorn & mangetout, breadsticks, yellow pepper, grapes, frozen mango chunks, frozen cherries, broccoli, 2 packs babyleaf salad, baby plum tomatoes, beetroot, coleslaw, ham, 5 oranges, butter, stir-fry veg pack, celery, 2 packs apples, whole chicken, baby potatoes and strawberries.

I think that’s a pretty good haul all things considered! Here’s the corresponding meal plan (also using things I already have in my pantry and freezer):

Beef casserole and veg

Roast chicken with roast potatoes and veg or salad

Ham with new potatoes and salad

Jacket potatoes (with either tuna, beans or cheese) and salad

Pasta

Egg salad with new potatoes etc

Eggie bread or beans on toast for the kids / Stir fry for me when I get in from work

 

Salad is going to be featuring quite heavily for the first time this year. The great, GREAT advantage for me regarding salad based meals is the fact that I can prep all (or nearly all) of it in advance. This means that if the weather is reasonable (ie not pouring with rain) then I can take the kids to the park or the beach after school). This is hard otherwise as they get in STARVING and the  have to wait while dinner cooks. While wanting me to do a hundred other things at the same time!

So hopefully, if all goes well, it should be another week staying within budget.

 

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This weeks food shop: 43.34

While this weeks online food shop has only come to 43.34 I did go slightly over my weekly budget of 50 pounds as I spent 9.70 on household items:

Plasters – 1

washing up liquid – 75p

18 loo rolls – 6

3 x wipes – 1.95

 

The food spend of 43.34 went on:

2 x honeydew melon – 3.50

Babycorn, asparagus, baby sweetcorn and tenderstem broccoli – 4

Pack of stir fry veg – 1

Chicken portions – 3.50

Chicken and mushroom pie slices – 1.50

12 x yogurts – 2

Skimmed milk, 2 pints – 75p

Whole milk, 12 pints – 2.96

Baby plum tomatoes – 1

Cucumber – 42p

Potatoes – 1.19

Broccoli – 39p

Red grapes – 2

Bananas – 61p

Brioche x 8 – 1.20

12 x gala apples – 1.50

6 eggs – 89p

20 lemon and ginger tea bags – 75p

3 x Napolina pasta sauce jars – 2.70

Breadsticks – 1

Ryvittas x 2 – 1.60

Frozen salmon fillets x 8 – 5.60

Fishfingers – 1

Bread – 75p

Ice cream – 1

Butter – 85p

Frozen yorkies – 49p

 

From looking at the above you’ll note that while we eat quite a lot of fresh produce I unapologetically don’t make everything from scratch! My kids don’t like my homemade pasta sauce at the moment so while Napolina have a fab offer on of 90p per jar I’m stocking up. We like Tesco frozen yorkies at 49p a bag – I can’t make them in small quantities for that price. And a pack of fishfingers are always handy to have in the freezer!

The big treats this week are the honeydew melon and the ‘posh’ vegetables. We usually only have carrots and broccoli but, as I mentioned the other week, I’m trying to broaden the food the kids are getting access to at home. At 4 pounds for three packs of vegetables it seems a lot but I think it’s worth it. I also stocked up while there was such a good offer on frozen salmon.

While I will be using things that we already have in the pantry and the freezer, you can see I am also stocking up for future weeks (with the salmon and pasta sauces etc).

Here’s the meal plan:

Tuesday: Jacket potatoes (some with beans, some with tuna mayo)

Wednesday: Chicken and mushroom pie slices with veg

Thursday: Eggie bread / Stir fry

Friday: Pasta

Saturday: Chicken Korma with rice

Sunday: Salmon with a light cheese sauce and veg

Monday: Random bits – there are always bits and bobs leftover! Failing that either pasta or something from the freezer.

The kids tend to have some variation on brioche, yogurt, fruit or scrambled egg for breakfast. Ditto me. Husband doesn’t eat breakfast. Neither kid would eat toast daily (seriously – once a week MAX) and neither has every ‘got’ cereal.

I don’t plan lunches particularly. Husband comes in and out and grabs something depending on what work is like that day. I tend to go for Ryvitta and / or soup (there’s always a lot of soup portioned up in the freezer as that’s how I make sure no veg goes to waste). My son (2) tend to eat some of whatever we’ve come up with but he’s not hugely keen on ‘lunch’ and my daughter get free school dinner as do all kids under 7.

And that’s it!

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When you’re spending too much on food…

…well, you’ve got to cut down haven’t you?

I’ve kept track of everything we’ve spent since the beginning of the year in this rather fabulous (and possibly inappropriately luxurious) diary:

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I’ve totted everything up monthly and, this morning, I got around to working out what we have spent on everything in the first quarter. Even with meal planning we’ve spent more than we can afford to on food and houesehold items. In the first three months of the year we have spent:

Food: 833.76

Household items: 78.22

Total on ‘supermarket’ shopping: 911.98

Divided by 13 weeks this means we are averaging 70.15 pounds a week. This INCLUDES additional ‘shops’ for when we’ve run out of things. We invariably run out of something like butter or milk or eggs and we always need at least one top up shop for fresh fruit. The household items included laundry detergents, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, toilet paper and so on. I’m intrigued how some people report these items all together or, conversely, how some others seem to ahve a super cheap food shop but it’s because they don’t include the things like binbags that other people just lump in under the food budget.

There was also another horrifying and eye opening category – snacks. I forgot to take my packed lunch to work one day plus then there’s been all of the times where we’ve wwanted some ice cream or chocolate to have after dinner. Or when we go to the park and don’t want to get stung by the concessions stands. So it’s saved money in one way but – at 70.69 (over three months so an average of 23.56 a month) that needs to be cut down too.

I’ve already had some of this plan in operation for a few weeks now but I’m brainsorming other ideas too. So here’s how I’m making serious cuts to our food (and household) spending:

  • I’ve signed up for Tesco’s deliver saver deal. As I get my delivery in the more unpopular midweek slots I get a discounted rate. The first month has been free and after that I will be paying just 3 pounds A MONTH for my weekly food delivery. I couldn’t drive to Tesco and back for 75p so this is great. More importantly though having the delivery means I have much more control over my spending. I can see the exact running total for what I’ve spent. The value of this cannot be underestimated. It also means you don’t get tempted to pick up extra things.
  • Keeping that total under 50 pounds. The order HAS to be over 40 pounds (otherwise Tesco charge me extra) so if my basket shows less then I stock up on things that I know we are always going to need like loo roll or laundry detergent. However, the figure in the basket (according my own self-imposed rules) must not be allowed to go over 50 pounds unless there are exeptional circumstances. Such circumstances would include buying extra food as we are entertaining, a really good offer on something like buying meat or fish when in quantity that can be frozen (thus bringing down the shopping total in the coming weeks).
  • The 50 pound a week total, sadly, has to include all of the household items like cleaning products, loo roll, bin liners and laundry detergent. I’d like to be able to spend the whole 50 pounds on food but we just can’t afford to allocate our budget like that at this moment in time.
  • I need to plan better for a greater variety of food. I know some bloggers and people in online forums seem to be able to spend hardly anything compared to me. I honestly don’t know how they’re doing it. We only eat meat or fish once and twice a week. We don’t buy cereals. We don’t buy the fancy or luxury versions of anything (apart from the occasional box of herbal tea). In spite of this I’ve really noticed that, in trying to keep costs down, we’ve been eating quite a restrictive, unvarying diet. I’m getting worried that the kids could develop fussy/narrow eating habits as a result. For example we had friends over for lunch last week and so I bought some hummus which we haven’t had since sometime last year, not being an essential. Both of mine refused to eat any after the first taste and clearly didn’t like it at all. So, while spending less, I somehow need to find a way to increase the variety of foods we are consuming.
  • Try to plan better so I don’t need to do ‘extra’ shops in the week. OR if they are essentially spend no more than absoloutely necessary.
  • Try to spend A LOT less on extra snacks when we’re out and about. It’s easy to spend on snacks in a way as so much of what we do for leisure time is free so we’ll have gone out for the afternoon but only spent 1.50 but still. It really does add up. Perhaps I could buy some multipacks of treatish food. The trouble here is that I can’t trust myself not to eat it (and I would have to hide it from Husband as he would eat it too!).
  • I don’t think I can really cut back any more on household items. I alternate between washing up by hand and using the dishwasher depending on which makes most sense with what needs doing. We need binliners. I only buy one kitchen cleaner and one bathroom cleaner and I stock up when they are on offer at 1 pound each. I buy own brand bleach for the toilets and own brand washing up liquid. I also buy own brand laundry detergent and fabric softener though I may look into seeing if Lidl or Aldi do a version that is genuinely cheaper. I may also try to buy loo roll in bulk as I seem to be buying it all the time (it doesn’t help that we also use this for tissues and have just been through cold ‘season’).

In short I will do an online shop for no more than 50 a week including all household items. I will try to spend nothing extra on snacks when we’re out and seriously limit what extras we buy inbetween shops.  I will see if I can buy laundry detergent and loo roll in bulk from a cheaper source.

Onward!

 

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Home Improvements on a Zero Budget

One of the things we’re really aware of is that we ought to be getting ‘on’ with the renovations on our property. We managed to buy at a low price because of the amount of work that needed to be done. However – we really can’t afford to spend anything on it right now! We must, must, must get some money put back in general savings. If there were funds available for anything extra then I would be totally spending them on some kind of family holiday – even if that was a seriously last minute two-nights-an-hour-down-the-road kind of affair. I would so love to be able to give the kiddos something that felt like a holiday this year. Which makes home improvements a rather forlorn third on the list.

But! I still want to feel like we are moving forward and improving our home for the better. Thus I have been, and will continue to be, contemplating the way in which we can improve our home – for nothing.

Well, ok, in an extreme pinch I might empty my purse of change or scurry up enough for a small pot of paint or another second hand dining chair from the tip (more on that another time) but hopefully you get my point.

In some ways this is an offshoot from decluttering, reorganising and spring cleaning. But it is surprising how just moving things around or reorganising how a corner is used can be quite a dramatic home improvement – and it doesn’t have to cost a penny.

In the last month or so I have had some SERIOUS decluttering sessions and really made progress with certain areas of the house. We have a very awkward cupboard under the stairs that I managed to donate LOADS of things from, mainly baby related stuff that we don’t need anymore. As this freed up a lot of space I managed to store away some things that we don’t need on a day to day basis but we should definitely not throw away as they will get used again in the future. In turn this has made the rest of the house less cluttered for not having these items ‘out’.

We also had a semi disaster a few weeks ago when the weight of Husband’s fish tank suddenly became too much for our aged and fragile sideboard which began to collapse. By an extraordinary stroke of fortune we had an alternative piece of furniture on our garage. Some friends were giving it away a year ago and although we had no where to put it in the house we said we’d take it as it was so nice. Hey presto, Husband scurried up the road and managed to make the switch before the sideboard collapsed totally.

Unfortunately the replacement is a table with one drawer rather than a sideboard with three cupboards and three drawers. However, since I had been decluttering like a demon I managed, over the course of a week inbetween work and looking after the kids, to relocate everything that we wanted to keep. And we didn’t have to spend anything! We must take the broken sideboard to the dump though. The back garden is beginning to look like Steptoe’s yard…

I’ll be thinking up other zero budget home improvements that I can make over the coming weeks. I’d love to hear if anyone else has managed any zero (or almost zero) budget improvements!

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Building a savings plan

There are lots of ways to start building a savings plan. For us, at this point in our lives and in these circumstances, these savings fall into two categories.

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The first comprises a series of small savings accounts that are planned to cover everyday, relatively predictable expenses. These include:

  • car maintenance (namely the annual MoT for both cars)
  • School stuff (uniform plus the constant stream of requests for everything from sponsorship, trips, non-uniform days etc)
  • Kids clothes and shoes: My kids are aged 5 and 2 so not much fits from one year to the next, they are growing so fast! They seem to need 2-3 pairs of shoes each year depending growth. They usually only have one pair of shoes that fits at a time though my eldest will probably also have a pair of non-school shoes to wear over summer. This fund does not include trainers needed for school etc.
  • Gifts: This includes birthday parties for the kids, presents, anything for Christmas etc. We have a huuuuuuuge list (still!) of people that we buy for at Birthdays and Christmas. I’ve tried valiantly to cut this back but to little avail. Or rather I did quite well cutting back to mostly just buying for children in the family and of close friends instead of adults. At the same time, however, my eldest started school and everyone seems to have huge class parties so we end up buying an extra 10-15 or so gifts a year just on that! I digress…

There are other small accounts but these are the main ones. They are defined by the fact that they are for predictable expenses. Things like school uniform, birthdays, kids growing and needing new clothes and shoes, Christmas, school holidays, MoTs…they should come as no surprise.They rock around at the same time each year and it is very wearying to end up in a panic over the same things year in year out. My advice, should anyone want it, is make like a tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race.

Then there is the second category of saving – the big stuff. Or, in our case, the stuff that is beyond the very basics (and yes I do count birthday and Christmas presents for my kids as basics. We’re not on the poverty line. And, from the other end of the spectrum, they don’t expect/receive ponies and unicorns either). In my mind there are 3 or 4 things I would like to save up for, namely:

  • A holiday: A real one. I haven’t set foot on foreign soil since 2009. This is WITHOUT QUESTION the thing I miss about having more money.
  • A decent mini emergency fund of 500 pounds. We managed this briefly a month or so ago but then Husband didn’t get paid that much one month and it more or less got cleaned out again. Sigh.
  • A big fat savings account. Yep. I want one of those. Not because I’m a giant money grabbing ho-bag but because I’m am soooo sick of living so close to the edge. I want to be as close to financial independence as possible. I’ve had to turn down several different opportunities in the last few years because I didn’t have the savings to bridge gaps etc. Plus the worry is fairly awful at times. And I’m not getting any younger and have nothing sorted out for retirement (though I will do more on this once both children are in full time education and I can take on more paid work. But still).
  • Renovations: We got our house at a low price because it needed a lot of work doing on it and the elderly owner didn’t want the bother of doing it just to sell. We did a few major things just after we moved in (before bub 2) and then it all ground to a halt due to lack of time and money. We’re not talking a few scatter cushions – things need to happen. I think this is a case of having to save a little bit here and there and seeing quite how much we can do with pure elbow grease / no budget!

For me (the household financial planner) it makes sense to have these two categories of spending. The savings funds in the first category are non-negotiable. Just because they don’t go to a third party by direct debit doesn’t mean that they aren’t essentials or should be treated as ‘raidable’ pots. Unless you can easily pay for new school shoes or a new car battery then this money has to be treated with the same reverence (I confess I have raided the car account upon occasion but only in a pinch and it has always been replaced within a month or so!).

The second category covers the extras. Some people would probably argue that general savings should come under essentials. In an ideal world they would be right. But sometimes you’ve got to pay for the car to be fixed and replenish the empty fridge or whatever it might be. Holidays are a luxury and one I’m very keen on having (and being able to provide for my children). And I’m also the kind that enjoys a comfortable, attractive home. So these are the areas that I have chosen to focus our efforts on.  Now it’s just a question of where to find the money to fund all of these grand plans!

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My current finances

Our household income changes from month to month (due to Husband being self employed) but is generally very low. I use an old-school Book Keeping Journal to plan our finances for the year. Most people, I know, would prefer a spreadsheet but I like the act of committing our expenses to paper with my own pen. Also we haven’t had a printer for eight years and I like something that I can look at and scribble notes and amendments on!

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I keep track of our joint finances and mark off each direct debit or standing order as it comes out our joint account. Husband and I still use the system of having our own accounts and then each paying in an agreed amount each month. Our joint account expenses include: Water (South West – notoriously the highest charges in the country), Council tax, Boiler insurance (saved our skins this winter I can tell you), life insurance, home and contents insurace, Mortgage, combined gas and electric, insurace for both cars, TV licence, car tax for Husband’s car (he puts in extra funds for this). We also budget to save 40 pounds a month towards car maintenance and theoretically we would also save money from here towards anything else – hoidays, emergency funds etc. I say theoretically because quite often we struggle to just pay for the basic commitments above to it isn’t always possible to put aside anything extra.

The above also includes 200 pounds for food for the month. Honestly this isn’t really adequate as this also includes non-food items like toilet rolls, laundry supplies, toothbrshes etc and we go over this without fail every.single.month. But the grocery budget will be a whole other post!

My personal budget (ie what is left over once I’ve made my contribution to the joint account) looks like this:

Lovefilm/Amazon Instant Video membership – 9 (We get huge value out of this and I think and average spend of 2.07 a week (calculated over the year) makes this well worth the spend. Particularly since we don’t really get to the cinema anymore. Haven’t been to see a grown up film for about 3 or 4 years. We go to see a kids film maybe once a year. So this membership is great for us.).

Petrol – 30: I work from home half of the week and only go into the office for one day. I also work locally so that keeps expenses low. I could earn more if I went to the nearest big town but then I’d have to pay more in commuting and parking. I walk whereever possible (though living rurally this isn’t always feasible!).

General – 30: This pays for my weekly coffee out with friends (2.25 if you’re interested and totally worth it), make-up, a book, going out etc. To be honest though this tends to get sucked away on random little expenses here and there.

Car tax – 15.75: Really I could have set this up to come out of the joint account but it didn’t work out that way!

Holidays – 10: Theoretically I could leave this alone and afford an ‘away’ holiday in about 1 million years time but it always ends up being used in going out during the school holidays. Which I’m fine with.

Personal savings – 9: Theoretically this pays for my hair to be cut every 2-3 months and any clothes or shoes I’d need. Let’s just laugh about this for a moment. Surfice it to say that – hooray! – I’ve had my hair cut once this year and I have bought zero in the way of clothing or shoes. Ditto make-up and skincare actually but that’s another post as well.

We get a small amount of tax credits (we could get more but haven’t got all of our figures ready – self employment is complicated) and we also get the monthly standard child benefit that everyone gets. Out of this we have lots of mini funds that pay for school uniform, kids clothing, birthdays, activities, school trips etc. Basically it all goes on the children.

My youngest turned two in January and is going to start pre-school next month. As he isn’t 3 and we’re not hard up enough there is no help with funding for this so we’ve got to find just over 12 pounds a week to pay for the 3 hour weekly session. My parents used to help with childcare but now they don’t. This means Husband can’t work on the day I go into the office and I have to get the rest of my work done when our son is napping. But I’m not getting enough done in that small window anymore so we’ve had to cave in and try pre-school (it’s a lovely one, I would have preferred to wait to go to a different one though but they can’t go there until 3). Realistically we need two mornings but it’s already going to be a struggle finding 50-65 pounds a month to cover that one morning. I’m really not sure where it will come from. As you can see there isn’t much wriggle room in our budget. But I’m sure we’ll find a way!

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It’s been a while…

Hello folks. It’s been a while! I seem to be back. A year or so ago another website started streaming my content. Goodness knows why. But I really didn’t like seeing photographs I’d taken around my home appearing on another website – it was a very odd experience. I’ll have to take some sort of action if it happens again but for now…well…I’ve missed being here.

A few weeks ago, in a fit of nostalgia, I started looking back over old entries. It was like reading something that someone else had written! We forget so many things in such a short space of time. And it was lovely seeing the things that are recorded here. It’s obviously only a very narrow snapshot of our lives but so much better than any other record that I’ve ever managed to keep before. So many things I can barely remember! Like cooking on a Saturday morning, going to the library and then having a read or a nap before going out in the evening. Two kids later and I can’t even begin to imagine doing that! But there it is, preserved in time! What a strange and unique gift.

The fear that has stopped me blogging more than once in the past has been the loss of anonymity (and I have had one person in ‘real life’ who has not respected that). But. Sod them, eh?

I’ve been keeping close records this year and my mission for 2016 has been to record my spending for an entire year so at the end I know how much we’ve actually spent on everything from food to kids clothes and parties! I’ll share my spending reports sometime soon. I’m also starting to feel ready to get really serious about saving. In the past I’ve done well at saving for really specific things (like maternity leave or a holiday) but now it really is time to think about building a big safety net for the future. Years of being on lower incomes, two rounds of maternity leave and Husband’s move to self employment have used up our reserves and put us more or less in a hand to mouth situation. This is okay really because we’ve navigated what I always perceived would be our roughest financial waters: completing our family, moving to our ‘forever’ home and Husband breaking free from a job that was almost literally breaking his back. Importantly, we’ve done this without getting into debt and have managed to live within our means even during the leanest of times. So here were. Dusting ourselves down and ready to go. It’s good to be back.

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February’s food plans

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There’s been a bit too much of the above in our house lately! On the run up to Christmas, during the festive period and then through the birthday-packed month of January I basically ate whatever I liked. Smoked salmon and cream cheese on bagels? Why have one when you can have three?! Cakes? I’ll just finish this plate off. Ooh – chips! Mmm, cream in coffee! Yay, vanilla latte! And repeat. The result? I have put on almost 10 pounds in two months! Oh dear, and I was doing so well.

My intention was always to have a big dieting break (check) and to get back to it properly the first Monday of February (check). I’m not going to bang on about my plans. My goal is to lose 25 pounds. I have no specific goal for February other than to have made a substantial step towards this by the end of the month.

I am also going to be recording my/our food spending. Our food budget comes ‘in’ on around the 6-7th of each month so I’ll be starting this Friday. At the moment the budget is £220. I need to see if this is still realistic for us or if I need to try and wring some extra funds from elsewhere.

Game on!

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January: 15 in 15 report

I’m planning to report back at the end (ish!) of each month to see how I’m doing with my 15 resolutions in 2015. So for January…

1. Improve health: I’ve been to the dentist, got my last free check-up and also arranged for the crown to be fitted (also free). I’ve been to the doctors about my skin. Next step is an oral medication which I can’t have yet as am still giving baby boy once feed a day. I’m planning to phase that out by the end of February so should be able to have my treatment then. I’ve also been to the doctors about the ongoing post pregnancy/caesarean pain I’ve been having. I’ve had an internal exam (super fun) and have been referred for an ultrasound (just to be on the safe side – doctor is convinced I’m okay). I have also been referred for physiotherapy as my stomach muscles have not knitted together properly which is why I’m getting a lot of discomfort from ridiculous things like…standing up for more than 10 minutes (not kidding). Thankfully this doctor has agreed that a year is long enough to have been patient and it is time to get proactive. If I had not made this resolution I am sure I would have just let a lot of this drag on so it has been worth it for this if nothing else!

2. Get to target weight: My weight is a disaster. See post on this later. Good news is, my action plan starts today!

3. More self care: I’ve been taking more care of my skin by trying to use up a lot of old body creams etc. Whenever I do this I end up thinking ‘Why don’t I do this all the time?!’. My skin feels great. My facial skin has been really crappy as I’ve been trying to leave it alone due to the skin condition. However, I’ve started using my face mask and gentle exfoliator again, just on the unaffected areas. This has made my face look much better overall so I’m going to carry on. Need to get hair cut though…

4. Build a capsule wardrobe: Hmmm. The weight thing is still stopping me here though I did ask for a new shirt (in an unfavoured size) as a present, just to have one nice thing to wear. I wore it on my birthday. I also bought an extra long vest top from Next (only £6) which is AMAZING as it stop that horrible gap from emerging between your jeans and your top. Particularly when you are constantly strapping mini people into car seats / dismantling pushchairs etc. I am too old for that gap. Cheerio.

5. Personal projects & hobbies: I found a discounted online course in something I am really interested in. For £12! I hope to start this in the next month.

6. Replace 2 windows: We have £35 in the pot which, considering the many, many, many birthdays we have in January is nothing short of a miracle.

7. Rebuild ISA: Nope. But I did hear back from the tax credit people. We should be getting something for the tax year 15-16 so the plan is to put all of this money (plus up to £32 a month from our joint account) into the ISA until it is back to £3k.

8. Save £500 Emergency fund: This also has £35 in it, just like the window fund. I am contemplating reorganising this but we’ll see!

9. Stick to budget/cash system: Mostly but not as well as I could have!

10.Work effectively: Still finding the juggling act tricky. Have also found an online course for work. I’ll have to pay for it and do it in my own time but it should help me with my projects. Plus is was discounted to £39 and will look good on my CV should I ever need to dust it off!

11. Quality family time: Making this resolution has been good at creating awareness. I hate to keep banging on about the birthdays but it has been crazy around here. Hopefully things will now settle down to ‘normal’ and I can carve out more time. There has been a lot of music playing and dancing though which is always a good thing!

12. Be organised at home: I’ve been quite good here and have really spent time looking at where my time is going and what I need to get done each day. More on this in another post.

13. Eat well (and on budget): I have no idea how I’ve done budget wise. Honestly, I haven’t paid enough attention. This is one of my main focuses for February. And I’ve eaten like a pig!

14. Set a better example: Probably not but I am trying to be more aware!

15. Home Improvements: Husband went around the house with a pot of white paint and a paint brush (both of which were left from previous projects) and painted over various marks and scuffs.

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