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Sunday, 11 September 2016

How I Organise my Money

It's one thing to make a budget and stick to it. But how do you keep your money organised while it is waiting to be used? How do you stop it getting mixed up with money meant for other things? My solution to this is separate bank accounts. I currently have two current accounts. One of them is my 'house account' which has all my direct debits set up for house things, such as rent, council tax, utilities, phone, Internet etc. I currently put £680 into that account each month because that is my total budget for all those 'house' things each month. Obviously some things are variable and not the same every month like electricity so the whole £680 is not always used. I also have a £200 fee free overdraft and I keep an extra £100 in there just in case some bills are more than expected I have a buffer. At the end of every month I look at this account and bring the balance back to £100, sweeping up any extra money that might be in there into my savings or making it back up to £100 if there was an unexpected bill. Having that buffer in there gives me a peace of mind that I'm not living down to the wire and if something goes wrong all the other bills will still be covered.

My second current account is more of a personal one. But as I try to work in cash I rarely use it. I keep the balance of that one at £500 and that is mainly for emergencies. For example in case I get stuck somewhere and have to get cash for a taxi, or a hotel room or car repairs. Anything really that is an unexpected expense but I need to pay for now. Or if you are out shopping and something on your forever list (you know that list that has things you would like on it but they are luxuries not essentials!) is on sale at an unbelievable price, there is a buffer there to be able to purchase a bit of an impulse buy. Or you see the perfect birthday/Christmas present for get the gist! This account is also made back up to £500 at the end of every month so too much spending can make the next few months very stretched which helps to keep any unnecessary spending in check.

So I have two current accounts to keep things separated but I also have several savings accounts. Interest rates are so ridiculously low at the moment that I just see my savings accounts as pots I keep my money in not as any way of it growing and making money. My first savings account is just an online saver that I keep a balance of £1000 in. This is basically so I have money there ready for any big purchases like holidays. I recently booked some flights which cost about £500 and it was so easy to have the money there ready and waiting. So my savings next month will go into this account to make it back up to the £1000 before topping up any others. It's good because I'm owing myself money rather than a credit card or overdraft!

My second savings account is that whole 'three months income' one. As my income is just minimum wage I only had to build that up to £3000 before that was done! Again it's just an online savings account but if I don't make any withdrawals I get a ever so slightly higher interest rate. So I could get a whole 25 pence if I don't take any money out, imagine what I could buy with that!

Now when those are 'full' any extra money at the end of the month goes into an isa. Since the government increased the amount you can put into savings tax free, isa's have become a bit redundant to me but this is a slightly (for me) crazy one. It's partly a stocks and shares isa so some of the money used is gambled on the stock market. This account is used for very very long term. It will hopefully be a deposit for a house, but the deposit I would need is so ridiculously huge that I will probably never be able to save enough, therefore this account doesn't worry me because I won't be needing the money anytime soon, the markets will not go down forever and I will hopefully earn a bit more than standard interest rates on my savings having the money in this account.

I also have a credit card. I only have about £800 credit on it so I couldn't go mad but I mainly use this for online purchases because it gives you a bit of security should anything go wrong. It also doesn't charge me to use it abroad so when I go on holiday I usually load it up with some money and it's like just having a debit card with you in whatever currency you are in fee free. I pay it off in full when the bill comes in, I don't spend money I don't have on it. Using it will also build up a good credit rating for me if I ever get to apply for a mortgage or loan in the future.

That's it that's where I keep my money! I have bits and bobs in other accounts from childhood and premium bonds, but I quite like knowing that there is the odd few hundred pounds here and there should I ever desperately need it! I don't have a lot of money but sorting it out this way gives me peace of mind, knowing that if something terrible happened I would be able to cope (hopefully)!

Saturday, 10 September 2016

A Wedding Quilt

I somehow seem to have got myself thinking I need to make quilts for people as wedding presents!

It started with my friend Lizzie's wedding 2 years ago, where I decided to make her a library quilt.

It was the first quilt I had ever made (actually to date the only quilt I have ever made!) and for some reason I decided I would just do my own thing and not follow a pattern or anything! It seems to be the way I work best, I enjoy the planning and problem solving stages, often coming up with solutions during my sleep. It is just the actual making bit I struggle to motivate myself with! So this quilt should not have taken me as long as it did but my procrastination definitely dragged it out a lot longer!

This is a picture of the finished quilt top. I don't seem to have actually taken a picture of the thing sandwiched and quilted! It was by no means perfect but I was pretty impressed with it for a first attempt at making a quilt.

My next quilt is for my brother and sister-in-law and again I've decided to do my own thing and make up a pattern! I'm making a double sided quilt in a kind of his and hers style. My brother's side has some blocks made up of his old shirts and logos from school/uni things he did.

I've also found some fabric which represents Paris and Bali where they have been on holiday together.

And cross-stitched a bride and groom with the date of their wedding. 

Now as you can see their wedding was in March and since I haven't included a picture of the finished quilt you might gather that I am behind and haven't finished it yet...and you would be right! I didn't get it finished for the wedding date and then when the pressure for that date had gone other projects took preference. But I am aiming to get it finished and wrapped up for Christmas in the hope that they won't be expecting it then and it will be a nice surprise for them. But Christmas is a busy time of year for crafting so I'm putting in the hours now to hopefully have it finished in plenty of time and I can then crack on with the Christmas crafting! (Plus there has been another wedding since then which I haven't even started a quilt for yet!)

Saturday, 2 July 2016

My monthly budget


I'm going to share with you my monthly budget for June. You may remember last month I told you that I get paid in cash and that I live off the previous months wages. I get paid on a Thursday so after the last Thursday of each month I sit down, put all my wages together and allocate it to various expenses.

Firstly I empty last months 'envelopes' and bring my budget back down to zero, essentially sweeping up anything that I overbudgeted for the month into my savings. Unfortunately last month I had quite a few things to pay for so after balancing all that out I only had £64.63 to put across into my savings.

Once last months money is dealt with I turn my attention to next month and add up all my weekly pay packets to get my total. In May I earned £1151.12. So this is what I have to live off in June. 

I then place any coins into a couple of money boxes I have. £2, £1, 50p, 20p and 10p's go into one money box and 5p, 2p and 1p's go into another. I put £11.12 into one and 22p into the other. I decided to see how much was in these money boxes out of interest and just by putting the coins I get paid with and any leftover coins at the end of the month in I have managed to save £70.30 in one and £17.34 in the other. Not bad for just a few months and I haven't missed the money. Hopefully this can be spending money when I go on holiday or something.

Next I get out my envelopes and put the required amount in each one for the month. 

They go as follows:

Rent: £450
Utilities: £70
Council Tax: £100
Internet: £30
Mobile Phone: £20
Spotify: £10
Food: £50
Petrol: £50
Birthdays: £40 (I look ahead in the month to decide how much I need in this envelope so it depends on how many birthdays there are in the month. I budget £10 for friends and £20 for family)

So that's £820 in total allocated for my monthly budget. That leaves me with £319.78 'spare' for the month. As I said earlier I had to pay for some hen party things like activities, accommodation and food. I had a deposit to pay on someone's 30th birthday celebrations. I also treated myself to a lamp and a few new plants for my flat so I only ended up with putting £181.29 into my savings account this month. I aim to save £250 a month but sometimes that amount just isn't possible.

I'll share with you what accounts I use and how I separate my money in another post.

Saturday, 14 May 2016


I have been moved into my small 1 bed flat for almost two months now. It is the first time I have ever lived by myself, and so far I absolutely love it! I can do what I want when I want, things don't move when I go out, nobody makes a mess and doesn't clean it up except me!

What I am also enjoying about living on my own is budgeting my money. I know it isn't the most exciting of things but I do genuinely really enjoy working out my budget, seeing if I can stick to it and saving money at the end of every month.

My job doesn't pay much, it is minimum wage and not quite full time each week, but my basic hours guarantees me about 35 hours each week. I also do some cleaning, gardening etc for my grandma once a week which she pays me a bit for.

The best thing for my budget that I have done, which I haven't done before, is to live off last months earnings. I get paid weekly and in cash from my job so when I get paid

I put it into my money box until the end of the month. Then at the end of the month (usually after the last pay packet for that month) I open up all the envelopes and put them together to see how much I have to budget with for the next month. I have found this system really good mainly because I don't earn a salary so what I earn each month changes, so it is good to know exactly what I have to work with each month. It also means that I don't have to wait for my next wage to be able to pay bills etc. The money is already sitting in my money box waiting to be allocated.

I have also been using a bit of an envelope system to work out what needs to go where. I use plastic wallets to put the money for rent, council tax, utilities, car, phone and Internet. I also have a purse with two coin sections where I put food money in one side and petrol money in the other. I am attempting to be really tough with myself in that once the money has gone from a category that is it. Even if I have spare in another envelope.

At the end of each month I take my budgets back down to zero, essentially sweeping up all the loose change into my savings, however small the amount. For example, if I budgeted £30 for my internet and it is only £27.99 then the extra £2.01 goes across to my savings.

Because I do love budgeting I have spent a fair amount of time (mainly on Pinterest!) reading people's different budgeting techniques and I have taken bits from them to make my own budget work for me and so far so good. I am not stressing about money despite the fact that this is probably the time when I have the least spare cash because I know how much I have and where it is. I am working on building up emergency funds for life's little surprises and hopefully going to have enough money saved up for a holiday or two this year!

At the end of the month I will share with you my budget so you can see how I allocate my spending, and where I save each month.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

A year down under

That's it, it's over. I was in Australia for a whole year and now I'm back in cold, miserable England (seriously I didn't see the sun after I landed for 11 days!)

How does it feel to be back? Have I changed? (and do I have an Australian accent?!) What am I going to do now? These are just some of the questions everyone asks you when you get as soon as you get back from the airport having just been on a plane for 19 hours!

How does it feel to be back? 
This one is hard to describe, it almost feels like another life. A bit like Narnia or a dream. I know I was in Australia (I have thousands of pictures to remind me of this) but it somehow feels like none of it has happened. I have come back and everything is the same like I was never away.

Have I changed? (And do I have an Australian accent?!)
I don't think I have changed as a person. I still like the same things, enjoy doing the same things. I haven't had some kind of epiphany and come back living by a different set of beliefs. But I think being away and travelling on my own has shown me that I actually can do things I didn't think I could but I think I always could do this I just didn't believe it. For example, I have always thought I was quite an introvert and shy person. And whilst I am definitely not the most extrovert person you will ever meet I am not as introvert as I thought. I went out and made friends, both aussie's and fellow travellers, I didn't get the dread in the pit of my stomach about having to join in a group activity or ask strangers for directions or even to answer the phone. I realised how many friends I actually have and somebody with that many friends can't be completely introverted and socially inept right?!
I don't have an Australian accent (I can do some good impressions though!) but then I don't have a particularly good English accent either. People often wouldn't be able to tell I was from England and then the fellow English people couldn't place whereabouts I was from (for a small country we have pretty broad range of accents I think) a lot of Australians thought I was from Melbourne...

What am I going to do now?
This is the hardest question to answer. I don't know! I've never been one of those people who knows what they want to do in life or even which area they want to be in (I really envy those people). I started out wanting to find my 'career', my path in life. Something I would want to do until I retire. But I just don't think there is one thing I want to do for the next 40 years. I know I don't like working in retail so I wanted to steer clear of that. Office work is mega boring but does pay fairly well for not much effort. Then I started to panic that I had been home for 2 months and still didn't have a job and started applying for anything. Then I saw a poster in a local bakery window...and now I am a trainee baker! I have to be at work for 5am 6 days a week but the work is interesting enough at the moment to keep me entertained. Active enough that I don't feel sluggish and lazy like in an office and pays me enough to move out of my parents house (just!). It is the least stressful environment I have worked in. I seem to have enough time to do my work without running around like a headless chicken, they are not ridiculously understaffed (retail I'm looking at you!) there doesn't seem to be the annoying work dramas that go on in bigger places. It's just chilled , turn up do your work, go home and forget about it. I'm finished by lunchtime at the latest. Will I be doing it for the rest of my life? Probably not but for now it is exactly what I want from a job. I just don't think I'm a career person!

Seriously how cute are koalas?!

So what will I be blogging about in the future? There will be a few more Australia posts (sorry it gets boring I know but it's the most exciting thing I've done with my life!) then it's back onto the crafts and the baking and I think I want to share some of my money saving tips with you (people keep asking me for advice so maybe I am actually good at something!) so goodbye for now- I promise I am back into the regular blogging now rather than the yearly blogging I seem to have been doing recently!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


Oops I've not been doing very well at keeping this space updated have I?!

I've been in Australia for 2 months already- blimey time goes quickly! I had Christmas on the beach (very very strange), new year in Sydney before going to Tasmania, Melbourne, Adelaide and finally back the Perth. I'm now on the job hunt because I need money for more travels!!

Being pale skinned with freckles I obviously have an amazing tan from the Aussie sun (after about 2 hours spent on a beach with multiple layers of factor 50 sun cream, most of the time laying on my back, I managed to get a bright red back with the tan lines from my swimming costume- 2 weeks later I'm still crossing my fingers that it will go brown!)

We are heading towards winter now, well I am writing this in over 30 degrees Celsius! So it will be interesting to see how cold it gets in Australia over winter.

I only brought one craft project with me- I had no space for more in my bag and this is very very nearly finished so I will have to go craft supply shopping soon. Such a chore!!

Anyway I best get back to the job hunt!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Getting back into the swing of things

I realise I have neglected my little blog of late. Things have been getting on top of me for the past year or so and keeping up with everything was just too much so things had to give until I sorted myself out again.

I have been doing much better recently and I am feeling like it is time to start blogging again. A lot has happened since I last posted so I will catch you up and let you know where I am going with my life in the future (I'm quite excited and scared about the upcoming changes!)

Firstly a few holiday snaps from my 3 week holiday in Australia at the beginning of the year. I went to Perth for 2 weeks to stay with family and then onto Sydney for a week to do touristy things.

Sorry this post is very picture heavy but it was 3 weeks!!

This is the view from my Uncle's flat in South Perth. The Australian's don't actually consider this to be in Perth but with these views I would prefer to live this side of the Swan river!

Obligatory shot of a kangaroo- they were all a bit hot to be hopping around, it was over 40 degrees centigrade out there.

Not particularly Australian but I just really like this shot of the peacock!

Back to the Australian animals with this Koala who seems to be doing some kind of yoga- how can this be comfortable?!

Obviously went to the beach a lot- swam in 3 oceans by the time I was finished. Although I didn't swim here as the rip tide was quite strong even to paddle your feet it was trying to drag you in. There was a natural reef a bit further out which keeps the sharks out.

Watched the sunset over the ocean and these massive container ships totally got in the way but it does actually give a nice contrast to the orange sky so I'll let them off this time.

I was in Perth for Australia Day which seems to be bigger than Christmas out there. This massive Australian flag was flown around a few times during the day by the tiny helicopter.

The fireworks were amazing. The people who organise the Sydney New Year fireworks do Perth for Australia Day. It was really quite strange watching fireworks not all wrapped up with coats, scarves, hats and gloves like we would be here in the UK to watch fireworks as bonfire night and New Years are in winter.

Onto Sydney and even they have bad days in summer. This is Bondi Beach completely deserted except for some hardcore surfers and us Brits who won't let a bit of rain interfere with our beach day!

I think because there are so many beaches and they have a lot more beach good days the Australian beaches are never really packed out. This is Palm Beach otherwise known as Summer Bay in Home and Away completely deserted!

Mandatory picture of the Sydney Opera House and below is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney's most recognisable landmarks and I have loads of pictures of them from all angles and modes of transport so be grateful I am just showing you one of each!

I actually climbed the bridge one evening. It was really fun, you climb up the top of the arch cross at the flags at the top and the down again, getting amazing views of the city.
Now for my exciting news!! I will be returning to Australia at the end of this year, in time for Christmas for a whole year this time. I decided a few months after I returned from my trip that I was not done with Australia, there was still way to much to see and do that I had to go back. So I applied for a working visa which allows me to work and stay in Australia for a whole year. I'm really excited about going but obviously scared about leaving the security of a full time and permanent job, leaving my family and friends behind for a year but I felt it was too good of an opportunity to miss out on and if I didn't take it I would regret it forever. Hey I can always come back of I really hate it!
So I now have that to focus on and have so much I need to do before I leave including moving out of my house and packing up all my stuff for a year, organising seeing everyone before I go, working out travel plans and money and how to pack for a year in a suitcase!!
I will fill you in on some of my crafty makes in my next post. I'm sure there are lots to show you!