trEAsury ~ simplifying money matters

As autumn is underway now and my world of paid work is but a distant memory I still feel I haven’t settled into any worthwhile routines or daily rhythms.  I suppose they take time to shape and develop, so I am going to give them a bit of a nudge and create some that are a bit more in step with my life now and reflect the simplified life I want to achieve.

You may have noticed over the years that I am hopeless at routines – evidenced by my erratic posts – I plan to do things then get absorbed in something else.

I did have a really good ‘getting to work’ routine – well I did have 19 years of practice – but I don’t need that now (the work routine not the practice of course).  In fact I could be tempted to sneak back to bed in the mornings – but I don’t.   Honest.

Since stopping work I find my mornings are spent doing a bit of this and that, checking emails, reading blog posts, tidying, ironing – but nothing consistent or that could be considered a routine.  I tend to agree with the idea that a good morning routine is the foundation of any successful day as well as starting early – unfortunately, I am no morning person either – so that will be challenging too.

One of the daily routines I am going to tag onto my morning routine, such as it is, will be a daily financial check so that I can keep a close eye on our spending.  As the effects of being on a limited income are now being felt I can vouch for the fact that a single *state pension alone does not go very far and the monthly bills soon eat their way into the bulk of it.  I need to take action so we don’t overspend and start drawing on our retirement fund.  I don’t intend to dip into that unless it is absolutely vital.

I read somewhere that you should take time each day to actively manage your wealth and set aside a further 30 minutes to an hour every week to review your budget and handle the associated paperwork mountain – statements, bills, insurance and utilities.  Now I have the time each day I plan to adopt this daily and weekly routine to help me to keep on track and highlight any areas I think we may be overspending.

I am also determined to simplify the process, it seems to take far too long and perhaps one of the reasons why I often put off doing it or just can’t find the time to sit down and do it.  And so it all builds up and then takes a long time to sort out.  I think little and often would be much better – it is worth a try – so during October this will be one of my main goals.

So, starting today, and first thing every morning I will get into the habit of overviewing my finances for ten minutes, noting the amount of cash at the start of the day and recording the previous day’s receipts and spending.  Each week I will then balance statements, pay bills and check the bank balances.

Well that is the plan and by starting small I might even succeed.  I must admit I quite like a financial challenge – in my teen years I was always good at managing my pocket-money and setting aside enough each week to buy all my relatives a present for Christmas – usually from the Co-op in the village where each year they had a wonderful display of bath salts and embroidered hankies – you know the kind of thing.

I must admit the stack of paperwork on my desk at home waiting for my return is a bit daunting almost as high as my ironing pile was a few weeks ago. I have been very inattentive to our finances since leaving work other than keeping in mind that I shouldn’t be spending as much as I was…on anything.  I should have set up a new budget by now more in keeping with our new income but confess I just haven’t got round to it.

After banging on the calculator for a few hours, adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying the *state pension I decided is not going to go very far (no overtime available and not much chance of a pay rise!), and annoyingly paid every 4 weeks on a different day each month, so my conclusion is we need to conserve money where we can and be vigilant at recording and monitoring our spending and challenge ourselves to plenty of ‘no spend days’.

Today just happens to have been one of them.  We survived.

*I still can’t quite believe I am talking about a living on a pension (where did all those years go before this point).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ enjoying the slower pace of life

It was sunny and dry for most of the day, the day before yesterday at least while we were in the garden – it has turned out that we picked a good few days after all to visit the cottage.  Thank goodness as there is so much to do in the garden and we are trying to take it slowly and sensibly to avoid an achy back.  I have areas to put to bed but also areas where I want to have a move around – plants that have outgrown their space or would be better in a different location.  When I started in this garden it was a case of getting anything in to cover the ground – well it has done that and more.  Everything here gets a bit oversized because of the mild climate.

I will be doing a garden update soon of our progress – perhaps a few before and after pictures if I can remember to take the ‘befores’!Bramley apples

The windfall apples are outside our gate now waiting for any takers – I am hoping people will come with large bags or big pockets as it would be a shame for them to go to waste.

Tuesday afternoon we had to drive in to town for more provisions and to swap the empty spare gas cylinder.  Living so far from the nearest town (15 miles) it is essential we have a backup in place.  The place we buy the gas is one of those places that sell all kinds of oddments and the guy was selling off bags of branded farmyard manure for the garden at £1 a bag – normally £4.  Bargain – so we bought 3 bags.

All though I never need an excuse to visit a stationery shop I had to buy a birthday card for my older brother (he is 70 at the weekend…blimey!) so I took  the opportunity to have a quick look in W H Smiths for a new notebook at the same time.  I could only find page a day diaries and they are expensive, but on buying the card I was given a voucher for 25% off a 2018-2019 diary.  It doesn’t really matter that the pages are dated I can ignore that if it makes buying a notebook cheaper.   I didn’t go back and buy one – I am taking a moment to think about it.

We stocked up again at the supermarket – all the ‘cheesy’ rolls had gone so we chose crusty baguettes instead and then found we couldn’t buy a small jar of mayonnaise other than in plastic – I prefer a glass jar and anything in a glass jar was the large size.  It can be difficult buying for two so must be virtually impossible for one.  None of the large hand cooked crisps were on offer either – so in the end being frugal we did without.

By tea time the weather had turned unexpectedly cooler with a little drizzle – so far this visit it has been good gardening weather, but that could all change overnight as I suspect it could easily become much colder.  I have noticed that over the last week the trees and hedges are all turning brown along the shore road where they face some quite strong winds.

We were glad to get back into the car to warm up and on the way back to the cottage we had a slight detour round to Portpatrick, a little harbour village that faces out into the Irish sea, just to sit and look out to sea for a while.  The wind had got a little stronger by now causing a big swell to the incoming tide; I love to see the frothy white waves rolling in and sending up a dramatic spray into the air as they crash against the rocks. Standing at this point to take a photo of the sea can be a bit treacherous – It is a really windy spot and the water on the floor is from the sea spray coming over the top of the large rocks on the left and at high tide can easily sweep you into the sea.  So I didn’t linger! Round the little harbour the Council have put a string of lights which are quite pretty – Portpatrick  is a well visited tourist place and a lot of money goes into its upkeep – much more than our little village where the council seem to only spend the bare minimum.

Yesterday (Wednesday) it was very overcast in the morning and we ached from too much gardening the day before (and old age of course) so feeling a bit rickety we allowed ourselves a day off to recover.  I quickly made some sandwiches with the crusty baguettes; filled with crumbly cheese and a dollop of chutney, added a small container of salad – no crisps or mayonnaise of course – a piece of sultana cake and a flask of hot chocolate.  Then we headed off round the bay to the Machars to the Wigtown Book Festival.

This is the best part of not having to go to work you get to decide what you want to do and when and you can make those snap decisions to just go out.

I will update you with photos from the event later. x

 

 

 

dEAr diary ~ thoughts on planning

Life goes more slowly down here on the Mull; lots of time to ponder, reflect and make plans that I don’t often allow myself at home.

I feel the year is slipping away quickly now and I am conscious of that ‘big’ event, which we don’t mention just yet, looming on the horizon and I need to make some tentative plans sooner rather than later.Last November I bought myself a gorgeous pale pink and gold leather look notebook from W H Smiths to record my monthly intentions – these are ideas of what I want to do (and sometimes must do) during the coming month in the various aspects of my life – home, self, outings etc.  I have mentioned this before in a previous post and you can read my monthly intentions by clicking on the fEAsible intentions category in the sidebar. I also make a list of thirty or thirty-one simple tasks that I can complete during the month (basically one a day) and tick them off as I go. It is also a place where I capture my thoughts, record notes and ideas, jot down website addresses or telephone numbers and stick in clippings of anything that grabs my attention – new finds and discoveries, seasonal looks, a new product, a book to read or a recipe idea – just about anything I want to make a note of – it has become a bit of a jumbled catchall but I actually feel it works well for me and keeps all of those bits and pieces in one place.

At the moment my pages for September are full of Autumn colours and ideas and quite a few notes and lists with regards to my ongoing decluttering project.

But I need somewhere to start capturing ideas I have for Christmas well before I get to December and last year I found this notebook a bit limiting in space to contain everything I wanted to make a note of for the Christmas period.  So I have decided I will buy a new notebook and dedicate it solely for this purpose.

I have this bizarre notion that by planning well ahead in my notebook I will make Christmas a simple fuss free affair this year – cosy nights by the fire in soft candlelight, sipping a glass of mulled wine and savouring a ‘just baked’ mince pie whilst watching Little Women and writing my homemade Christmas cards (in good time); the gifts all wrapped neatly in hand printed paper with exquisite handmade tags, a simple wreath hanging on the door and fairy lights outside twinkling in the tree.  Everything will be as peaceful as the season suggests.

I live in hope!

Already I have ideas to make my own Christmas cards again this year and some gifts for my friends but I need to start soon to have them made in time.Lino cutIn previous years I have tried different methods and used various materials but I really enjoyed doing the lino cut – this was my first attempt back in 2013.  Lino cuts are good for printing in bulk (I need about 75 cards) and I have a good stock of card blanks and envelopes that would be good to use up.

Yesterday we drove up to the Cowal Peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute to visit the Open Studios around Dunoon.  It is one of my favourite places – the approaching view from the ferry is breathtaking and we had a wonderful day, mainly dry and sunny which always helps.  A delicious lunch was kindly provided by Freda, my blogging friend from Live Simply, Simply Live, who lives close by.  We ate in a sheltered spot in her beautiful garden and had a general chat and catch up before saying goodbye to go on the studio trail.  Time was quite short but we managed to see two potters, a wood-carver and a lady who did lino cut pictures.

I bought a lovely little pot to remind me of our visit (no doubt I will be putting a picture on soon) and seeing all the work of these talented craftsmen has certainly inspired me to do more myself, especially having a go at more lino cuts.

In the meantime until we go home you will find me wrestling with the weeds in the garden here. x

 

sEAsons ~ Autumn it is then

Cow ParsleyThe Autumn Equinox is official this weekend – I was really sorry to see summer go but I have to admit it has felt so much more like autumn these past few days than it has at this time in previous years.The weather has been so unpredictable – one minute sunshine, the next rain interspersed with anything from a light breeze to a howling gale.  In the calmer moments I have been out and about capturing the hedgerows turning I love the varied mix of vibrant green and red at this time of year, the colours echo those of Christmas.Virginia Creeper Before we left for Scotland I had already switched over to my warmer clothes and these last few days I have been snuggled up in my Parker and woolly hat before venturing our for an evening stroll down to the village and back – well more of a brisk walk really as there is rather a bite in the evening air and a shrill wind blowing off the sea – so we have not lingered – tonight we took the torch with us too as it was dark quite early.Rosa RugosaI did not go in the garden at all today, DH finished the ‘winterising’ of the caravan and then the garage door and I sat inside attending to our finances.  I had a heap of receipts to log, statements to balance and a new budget to set- after all this is not a holiday I still have chores to do!

We have been making more and more cooked evening meals too recently – curries, Cauliflower and Broccoli bakes, nut roasts and baked potatoes – always my favourite – and salads have now been reduced to lunchtime only.FernI was amazed at the colour still in the garden here in Scotland – the pictures were taken yesterday –  but then we are in the Gulf Stream and many of the plants are quite sheltered.

The Valerian – still protected with netting from being eaten by the pesky bunnies are doing well.  This was the tray of plants given to me by Elizabeth MacGregor when we visited her nursery in Kirkudbright at the end of the season last year.  Having such a large garden you have to think of planting in threes or fives to get a good swathe of colour and mass so a whole tray full of around twenty plants was wonderful – an instant garden – thank you Elizabeth!

ValerianThe Chamomile self seeds all over but it is very welcome here on the seaside garden.Chamomile

LavenderThis Fuchsia and Lavender were both one of those cheap plants from Morrison’s – I bought them to fill a bit of a gap in the border when the other shrubs were small and newly planted. They definitely like it here. FuschiaI am not even sure where this white Agapanthus came from I don’t remember buying one but it has sneaked into the border under the Viburnum.White Agapanthus The trailing Nasturtiums flower well into November and are a lovely burst of colour on a grey day.Nasturtium The wild Fuchsia by the pond still providing a little colour now all the summer flowers are over.Wild FuschiaBelow is my dad’s hydrangea taken from his garden after he died – it stands majestically in a central position on the edge of the lower woodland walk. Hydrangea And lastly the Bramley apples – they have been abundant this year and much rosier now than when we picked some on our last visit.  So many windfalls – …we have been giving them away and will probably put some outside our gates for the walkers to take. Bramley ApplesDo help yourself!

 

 

%d bloggers like this: