Monday, 25 May 2015

All my doing

Hello. How has my day been? The usual, Crafty Club, a bit of work on the summer house, a Rocky bimble, made the curry with the beans, and sewing I'm making some shopping bags. I'll not go on about it, instead I'll recall an incident that happened a couple of days ago.

I was browsing in The Range last week, a big department store on a Retail Park just outside of town. Not looking to buy anything, but to get ideas. I do that sometimes, I call it research, or snooping if you like. I heard someone call my name, only she didn't use my first name, she used my middle name. I was day dreaming and she called again as if she wasn't sure she had got the right person. I looked and recognized her face but couldn't think where I knew her from. Then the penny dropped, ah yes, once she started talking I remembered. P joined the Introduction Agency / Singles club I used to run. She was a bright full of fun happy lady, always had a smile and a laugh and a joke. Down to earth, call a spade a spade, that's what I liked about her.

She hooked up with an equally happy and fun loving chap called B, they were well suited. I saw them lots of times during their courtship, always smiling always talking about where they were going and what they were doing together. I was so pleased that they had found each other.

I asked her about B but was very sad to hear that he had passed away five years ago. She had nursed him right to the end. She missed him greatly but she told  me about the little dog she adopted. We chatted about allsorts. She is still down to earth, the odd swear word popped out which made me smile, yeah call a spade a spade I thought, ha ha. Then she said something which almost brought tears to my eyes. She said, 'Yes, I miss him, but we had ten wonderful years together, I was blessed.'

We said our goodbyes, she got in her car and I walked across the car park to mine, it was then I was smiling to myself. I remembered when they first met. Those two getting together was all my doing. If I hadn't started the club they may have never met. I'm pleased that they had ten happy years together. Oooh, I'm coming over all soppy just thinking about it.
Toodle pip.    

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A little bit more work on the bespoke summer house

Hello. I'll get on with this while I'm feeding my face, multitasking, I can chew while I type, ha ha. As you can see the roof is on. I have used the panels exactly as they were, didn't need to cut any off. There is a good overhang which is what I wanted. I had to move four of the support boards, I spaced them evenly across the top but they needed to be two for each panel with the outer ones being right on the edge. Each panel has two screws at each end holding it in place. Although it is pretty solid I might add some more. We have had a bit of wind, but I wouldn't want them to take off across the neighbours garden if it gets very blustery. 
Front left corner.
I need to seal the joins with tape, that will be a job and a half, my step ladder is not high enough and my arms are not long enough. It rained this morning and I went out to inspect it. I couldn't see any leaks, but I think it still needs the tape. The rain ran off it, it has a slope.

Front right corner.

The side against the back hedge.
The floor is next. I don't have enough slabs, and the ground is not level, so a bit of jiggery pokery going on here. I need to shuffle them around. I stopped at this point, needed to eat.

And this is my no cook dinner. All gone now, scoffed the lot. Iceberg lettuce, pickled onions, grated carrot, beetroot, Wensleydale cheese with apricots, and I opened one of the big tins of mixed bean salad. I thought I might make a bean curry but then I couldn't be bothered, I might make it tomorrow.

I'll sign off now, the dawg wants a walk. We are still meeting at the crafty club tomorrow, even though it is Bank Holiday. Enjoy your day off.
Toodle pip

Saturday, 23 May 2015

When does a simple routine become more complicated to the point of being obsessive?

Hi peeps.
From time to time I get emails asking for tips and advice. I try my best to come up with a constructive reply, but be aware that I don't know everything. I am not Superwoman, I just do my best with the life I have been given. An email dropped in my box this week.

Hi Ilona,
I hope you don't mind me asking for some advice.
I seem to complicate things with a lot of paperwork re. our finances and bank accounts, vouchers, shopping rewards cards etc., do you keep reward cards? We use credit cards for rewards and pay off every month so we don't pay interest. Its not budgeting I need help with, its just a simpler way of doing things. As we get older I'm so overwhelmed now with things. I use a budget software and categorize everything which I want to stop doing! Can you give me any tips please.
Thank you.

Hi Anon. I do have your name but I will not reveal, thanks for contacting me. At first glance you seem to have a lot going on regarding your finances. It will be difficult to make comparisons between how you manage your money and how I manage mine, because of the differences in incomings and outgoings. Maybe it would be a good idea to highlight these differences. I have a state pension and a small top up pension, no savings except for a small emergency fund, that's it. You may have more incomings from different places, stocks, shares, investments, savings. My whole lifestyle is very simple, you may have more going on in yours. Your spending will be different to mine, your priorities will be different. I have no commitments other than to provide for my pets, you may have other family members involved which can complicate things. 

You say 'bank accounts plural, I'm wondering how many you do have, and what you use them for? I have one account which everything goes through. I get a statement in the post which I can check. I have minimum direct debits, I never get more than one page because there is not much activity going on there. I withdraw cash from the machine inside the bank as and when I need it, £50 or £100, more if I am going on holiday. I have no problem with cash in my purse, because I have a strong discipline that I don't make impulse purchases. It will be two, three, or four weeks before I need to get some more out.

You ask about shopping rewards cards, I assume you mean store cards. I don't have any, why would I need them. Most of the purchases I make are in shops which don't have cards. You have to remember that store/loyalty cards are only dished out to entice the customer to spend more. I know how much I want to spend, and where I want to spend it, a card is not going to make me spend more. Dump those which you haven't used for a while and never go in their shops again, it makes life more simpler. 

I have one credit card, that's all I need. Years ago I used to juggle a few cards with 0% interest, purely to fund large purchases. It worked for me at the time, but as the statements were cleared I cut up the cards and cancelled the contracts. My one credit card earns me points, not many because my spending is controlled. I use it for convenience, mainly for petrol and food shopping, and of course it is cleared every month. I'm wondering how many credit cards you have? And why do you need more than one? How many statements do you get every month? If you are juggling several, can you use just one card, keeping it all in one place? On my one monthly statement I usually have only three or four lines on it at most.

Vouchers. I assume you mean money off vouchers. I know there has been a lot in the press, and some bloggers are really keen on couponing, to the extreme in some cases. I use very few of the vouchers I receive. You have to remember that vouchers are given to encourage you to spend more. If I forget to use a voucher before the date expires, I say, so what, I didn't need it anyway. 

A lot of people find budget software a useful tool for keeping track of things. I haven't tried any, I don't need to. It would be like adding an extra layer to my simple way of checking my finances, and would entail sitting in front of the computer longer than I already do. No thanks, I am not a number cruncher. All I need to know is that my pension is going into the bank every week, the few cheques I write are cashed, the withdrawals I make from the machine are entered on the statement, and the two monthly direct debits have gone out.  

I used to keep a spending diary when things were really tight, when my income was so low I had to account for every penny to make sure there was enough to pay the mortgage, utilities and council tax. I was sailing close to the wind at times, but my bank balance never dropped below the bottom line. The spending diary I had was a note book, took a couple of minutes to enter figures when I came back from shopping with the receipts. 

I have never needed to use a budget software to keep track. I see that as over complicating matters. I keep pieces of paper in different folders in date order. Once checked they are put away and forgot about. I only get them out if I need to go back to something a few months or even a year before, if some query arises and I need to verify something I have the statements. 

So, Anon, are there two people in your house? You say, 'as we get older I'm so overwhelmed with things'. Does this mean that all the finances are left up to you? Is that a job you willingly do, or is it that your partner does not want to be involved? Are you perhaps becoming a little bit obsessed with keeping things tidy and in little boxes? Everything in it's place? I'm wondering if this is a reflection of how you tackle your housework, your appointments diary, and your social life? Are you a person who needs to scrutinize every little detail about your life? Of course I am only surmising I only have your short email to go on. But I'm wondering if your complicated paperwork system is part of a bigger picture. 

You say, 'categorizing everything which I want to stop doing'. Not sure what you mean by that. I think you have missed a comma out there. You maybe want to stop categorizing. Ok, try this.

You need to declutter your paper/software systems. Give them a good clear out, only hang on to the information you need. Again it's down to 'needs' and 'wants'. Once you have a good understanding in your head of where your money is coming from and how it is spent, and that your budgeting is under control, you can begin to relax a little. I don't need to account for every penny now, my diary is redundant, because I trust myself not to go bananas and spend willynilly. 

If you are confident with your budgeting, try letting go of the reigns a little bit. Get rid of cards which you are not using, cut it right down to one or two. The points and rewards you accrue though using them are so piddlingly small it's not worth the hassle of keeping them. 

Vouchers. Sort them out as soon as they come into your hands. Do not hang on to any that you definitely won't use, or those that you might use. Chances are that you will forget and they will be out of date. Bin them straight away, banish them from your house. You have more important things to think about rather than rushing off to Tesco to get 10p off a pack of frozen peas. I get the £3 and £4 off a £30 shop at Tesco. I only ever use the £4 off one, the rest get binned. 

Close down your budget software, delete it. I know everyone is trying to get their customers on paperless billing, but I love it, and will not change. I have box files, the bills are checked and bills filed. Put away in a box where I don't have to look at them. If you have to stick with your computerized system, and you are confident that you are not overspending, only check things to make sure your cards have not been cloned or your account has not been hacked into. 

Personally I am very careful where I give my credit card details. I don't have any financial information on my computer. No internet shopping, no paying bills on line, no banking online. I take great care where I withdraw cash, only at a machine inside a bank, never outside. 

Phew, I think I've covered most points. If there is anything more to ask dear Anon, please email me again. It's sunny outside, it's a Saturday morning, and I'm going to get off my backside and get out there. 

I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you are doing. 

Tattybyes and Toodle pip.

PS. Please be aware that if you are reading seconds after I have published, what you see might not be the finished article. I always edit after I publish. Thanks for your patience.

PPS. I've just looked at the title of this post again. I am obsessively simple, ha ha.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Found some roof panels.

Hello. Look what I found. Yipeeeee. Five polycarbonate sheets found at a conservatory company. They are 9 feet long and 3 feet wide, filthy and need a good scrub. The boss asked for a charitable donation which I was happy to do. Not quite free, but at least they are recycled second hand. I brought them home in my car, with a big overhang at the back end. Again the bleeper was warning me that the luggage compartment lid was not closed. I had the front seats pushed forward and I was driving with my knees wedged under the steering wheel and my head touching the roof. Phew, I made it back without any falling out, good job it's only three miles. 
I've had lunch, so now I'm off out in the garden to clean these up. I shall be busy with this over the weekend, lets hope the rain holds off.

Have a good weekend whatever you are doing. I'll be back with a progress report.
Toodle pip.