Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Busy week, but the last in the month, hurrah.

  • Stitched up a rip in our duvet cover. The fabric is becoming too thin really, but a quick repair should help it last a little longer.
  • Making slow progress on repainting get the back door and frame. We’ve thought about getting a replacement for some time, as it’s just wooden and doesn’t fit the frame well or insulate at all, but having added the cat flap I’ve come to the conclusion were not really going to spend £600 on a new back door. So I’m slowly stripping off the many layers of peeling paint (inside and out!) and attempting to repair and improve it. I don’t think any maintenance has been done on it in about fifteen years. Hopefully I can find some way to get a better seal on the door ahead of winter.
  • Hung a lot of laundry on the line, avoiding the tumble dryer.
  • Lovely housemates are still lovely, and still paying their rent on time. Good for us, and the fact we’re all sharing a house is good for the environment (no empty rooms, or under-used houses).
  • I’m staffing a weekend event that my partner is attending, so there will be free meals and free refreshments all weekend long for me and I don’t pay to attend.

Nothing big, but you have to hold onto the little wins some weeks!

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Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

It’s been a really good week for me. Lots of time for myself, finally, with not too much scheduled in and lots of space to just pootle around the house.

  • Three buy nothing days this week, which is really good. Instead of buying things when I think of something I want/need,  I’ve been writing a little list in my notebook and mulling on them.
  • On Monday I ate a dinner of left over bits that the kids I was working with didn’t eat. Saved stuff from the bin, saved me from having to find/cook anything.
  • Wanted to buy a fan during the week, as the temperatures have been more than 30*C and we’ve suffered a couple of nights of almost intolerable heat. But I resisted and temperatures have returned to a more tolerable level. I will keep an eye out for a desk fan when I’m charity-shopping in future though.
  • Organised a trip to the pub to celebrate finishing training with a large group I’ve been seeing once a week for a couple of months. Only bought a half, so spent very little, and still had a lovely time.
  • Batched errands to the tip and to drop off a sack of donations, put a few extra hours on the clock at work, and treated myself to a quick and pleasant commute by taking the car (rather than the usual two busses) to work on Wednesday. A nice treat, particularly when it is so hot that the busses are almost intolerable. The tip is half way to work, and the charity shop almost all the way, so it really is pleasantly efficient!

I suspect the coming week will not be particularly frugal, as we are off to the City, as well as hosting overnight guests at least twice, but I shall endeavour to plan ahead and see what savings can be made…

Friday’s Green and Frugal Five

Being exhausted

Right now I am exhausted. Tired enough to fall asleep on the sofa in the afternoon, or on the bus on the way home. So tired I’m struggling to get up in the morning, I’m getting in to work late, and I’m low on patience or care.

Basically, I’m doing too much. 

In the simple/slow/minimalist blogs I read ‘saying no’ and stopping ‘busyness’ is pretty big. There’s lots of folk talking about slowing down and avoiding the overwhelm that is often modern Anglophone life. I thought I had a pretty good handle on my time, and that I wasn’t falling into that place. I mean, I only work part time!

Evidently I was wrong. This last month has been steadily too much, and I’m now in a place where I’m having to slash back at my commitments. Part of me feels guilty about this. I ‘only’ work part time. Surely I should be able to handle a few late nights? I try and correct this thought by listing out all the things I do: Primary job every morning, hour and a half to two hours travel every day, then second job and dance class Monday until 10pm, therapy Tuesday afternoon, training to volunteer with a charity until 9:30pm Wednesday (then more travel), college until 9pm Thursday (and travel). 

Does that sound like a lot? Sometimes it does to me, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m really aware how long days and nights are some people’s normal. And then I feel like I should just be able to take it. But the thing is I can’t. I’m exhausted (to the extent that I just lay down and slept for an hour right in the middle of writing this) and I’m struggling to enjoy anything.

And that really is the sticking point here. I don’t intrinsically mind being tired, but I do mind being unhappy. If I can’t see any relief in the future, if every week looks the same, just full to the brim with even more on the horizon, I just end up feeling down about it all. And what’s the point, in the end? I am not motivated to be a millionaire, to retire at 40, to own a big house. I have some mid and long term goals, but nothing that’s worth being unhappy for. 

So it looks like I’m going to have to cut back on some things. But that’s a bit more of a complicated decision, so in the short term I’m going to use the last of my holiday allowance to book some days off and schedule in absolutely nothing. Well, I’m going to plan nothing, and just let myself do whatever I feel like. Hopefully in a week or so I’ll have the headspace to think a bit more clearly. In the meantime, I’m going to work on not feeling guilty for needing more time and space in my lifetime. We’ll see how easy that is!

Being exhausted

Fridays Green and Frugal Five

I am absolutely knackered. So knackered, I don’t really think I’ve managed a particularly good week. But here goes…

  • Only had a half out at the pub on Tuesday. Too tired to drink anyway.
  • Trying to get my unused holiday at my second job converted to cash. The only reason I haven’t used it is because it took them nine months to actually confirm it!
  • All this weeks washing has been rack or line dried, even the three loads my partner did yesterday. Realised it costs us at least 50p every time we use the tumble dryer, and told my partner this, so I think we’re experiencing renewed enthusiasm for line drying!
  • Posted a graphics card that my partner no longer needs to a friend of his. Expensive electronics getting a second use, friend saving money, cost me less than £3.
  • Used paint left over from glossing the new back gate to paint the top of the cat’s dining table, which as it was bare wood was incredibly grim after a year of accumulated cat detritus! Really nice looking, and finally easy to clean.
Fridays Green and Frugal Five

Sharing a house at 30+ years

Recently I found myself having to defend myself for still living in a shared house at the age of 30+. The person I spoke to found it not only strange, but kind of pitiful and embarrassing. I’m not going to lie, I did feel pretty angry.

Yes, I live in a shared house. Me and my partner share a house with two other people. Yes, we are both more than 30 years old.

Let me explain why:

Because it means I can work part-time. Yup. I can work part-time. I don’t have to work all the hours I can – if I want to, I can, but I don’t have to.  I can take the job I want, I can go back to college, take night courses, work on community projects, work with young people, volunteer on helplines. Do the things that I think are worth doing in the world.

Because it means when my self-employed partner gets ill, or injured, and is unable to work for more than a year, we don’t go into debt. We don’t suffer. We don’t panic and worry and I don’t lay in my bed wondering how I’m going to make the bills. My partner doesn’t feel crushed by the pressure to earn, and I don’t have to watch them kill themselves doing a job that makes them miserable.

I know social norms tell us we should buy the best (biggest?) house we can afford, in the nicest area, and we should make it as pretty as possible and fill it full of expensive things.

But that doesn’t have to be the way.

You can reject that norm. Have a good-enough place to live, keep the old kitchen and bathroom because they work just fine, even if they aren’t new and shiny. Buy second-hand appliances, and get a sofa from a charity shop. Rent out the spare room, and cover all your bills that way.

People find it weird. Not a lot of folk get it. And I understand. It’s nice not to have to worry about putting on a dressing-gown when you go to the toilet in the middle of the night. It’s nice to walk around the house half-dressed in the morning. But I don’t think any of that is worth hundreds of pounds a month, and it definitely isn’t worth working until I’m exhausted every single day, doing some pointless job that doesn’t do the world or its people a bit of good.

Now, one day I won’t share with people. One day we’ll have a smaller, cheaper house, and I’ll want it to just be the two of us. But what I want more than anything else is to live free from fear. I want to live free from worry, and that means free from worrying about what I’ll do if something goes wrong with the car, with the house, with my health or my partners. And that means living within our means, saving money. Renting out a room is a powerful way of doing that.

Give it some thought, and maybe sharing a house doesn’t seem so weird.

Sharing a house at 30+ years

New Year’s Resolution: June edition

This month’s target for my New Year’s Resolution was ten buy-nothing days. I made it! Again with one day extra. When I set out to make this post I actually didn’t think I was going to be able to write that. It felt like a month when I’d just spent loads and hadn’t had a hold on stuff. When I looked at my budgeting software I saw that actually wasn’t true – I’d spent roughly the same amount I spend almost every month.

Big sources of expenditure were therapy (again, top of the list), eating out (mostly I was just terrible at packing enough food for all the days when I was out from 8am-10pm), groceries (not a problem) and gifts (step-mom’s birthday included a trip to the city, sightseeing and of course a bunch of things I really wanted to give her!).

The only thing I’d really change here is the amount spent on eating out. I tried tackling this by purchasing some ‘Huel’, which is essentially a powder for making meal replacement shakes which, unlike those heinous things weight watchers try and sell you, are nutritionally balanced. My thinking was that if I could just make up a shake and take that with me, it would save me from impulse buying food when I just cannot be bothered/find the time to cook/make stuff to take.

Sadly, I think Huel tastes absolutely awful. I’ve only made it once and it was so bad I could barely finish it. I’m trying the ‘vanilla’ flavour stuff and it almost makes me gag. The big problem is the horrible bitter aftertaste. On the up side, my partner seems to be able to stomach it, so it’s not going to waste. I’ll probably do a more in depth review at some point, when I’ve managed to face up to trying it some more, but at the moment it’s a bit of a white elephant!

New Year’s Resolution: June edition

New Year’s Resolution – May edition

I did it! Actually with a spare day as well. The goal was nine buy-nothing days, and I managed ten. So actually almost a third of the month I bought nothing.

I guess if you’re coming to this cold, that probably doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But I’m really bad at spending a little bit every day. Or just spreading all my spending across the whole month. I’m not even exactly sure how it happens. Stuff just needs to get bought. And I am bad at buying food and coffee when I am out, if I’m really honest with myself.

Big sources of spending were therapy (unsurprisingly), camping/festival stuff (including petrol), the car (chose to buy breakdown cover) and eating out (a couple of dinners out with friends, quite a lot of snack food). I don’t feel bad about spending money on my health, but it does sometimes make me feel awkward as it’s the single largest monthly expenditure. Ah well, it is worth it!

New Year’s Resolution – May edition