Monday, 29 April 2013

Work life and budgets!

meal plans

Last week I went back to work after 4 weeks off due to my foot pain.  I had already attempted once but my body has a new trick now when I do too much and that is a migraine :(  I have always suffered with migraines, but they were always a rarity.  Now my pain is an absolute trigger so it makes it difficult to do anything.  The previous week one lasted for about 3-4 days and I can honestly say it was probably one of the most painful migraines I have ever had.  I had already asked to reduce my hours as I am not able to manage a full-time schedule at the moment so I dropped Mondays, thankfully I was able to readjust and now I work Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday which are the main medical clinic days.  Having two days off means I can rest, work on my strength and fitness and hopefully see my health improve.  I won't say it will be easy financially as we have been used to two full-time wages for almost 2 years now but we will manage.  It also means being very frugal which is a path we set on a while ago and have renewed our plan this month.

I discovered a few blogs about saving money and embracing a simple lifestyle last year and I find them very very inspiring.  Most of us are motivated by money and things so much in this life that it is a welcome change to be motivated by saving :)  Having gone back to full-time education as a mature student and a few redundancies over the years have found ourselves in debt which is never nice but sadly also usually very normal.  We manage what we owe very well but we just want that amount  them gone (don't we all).  We decided to start a spending fast this year and really commit to completely clearing our debts and for the most part we have done really well.  Change isn't easy though and we have been less mindful about watching the odd spend slip through the cracks so having more time at home means that I can start to take better care over our finances.

So today I have reprinted our cash-flow and budget spreadsheet and decided to really track everything that we spend this month.  We are very strict with budgets but we just need to tighten the belts back up. We are only talking about minor things here and there like food but it all counts.

I find saving money so much fun, which is a complete contrast to my younger self who was literally addicted to buying things!  This week I have focused on meal planning and sticking to our food budget.

I have found a few things really help:

1: Using cash only, this really helps to question where your money is going.
2: Internet banking, I check my transactions daily, it also helps you to see how the debit card is used so much!
3: Meal planning and cooking in bulk, both Mark and I take lunch to work he prefers a sandwich I like a warm meal so I made a veggie chilli in my slow cooker and I take it too work everyday with cous cous or rice, so my meal costs us pennies.
4: Using a list when food shopping, this really helps otherwise it is so easy to rely on ready meals and such and they are so expensive.
5: Rewarding your efforts, not with a financial incentive, but a gratitude list or a goal review.
6: Reading about others who are living a simple life or attempting a spending-fast.

It is a long-term plan so it won't be done overnight but knowing we are investing in our future makes me feel really proud. I think I will start to post this journey as it is a motivation to keep pursuing my long-term goals.

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