Last Week’s Food Prep 3rd-9th July 2017

Hi guys,

So I am writing this a little late – mainly because I was mainly eating on my own (as OH didn’t fancy ANY of the food I had planned!) and I got treated to a couple of meals for doing some extra bits and pieces for people. My £25 food budget ended up lasting me two weeks and I topped up during this week (10-16 July) with some impromptu snack foods as I was working super late one night and had run out of food and a trip to McDonalds >.< so I've probably spent around £50 over the two weeks.

I did the majority of my food prep in one day whilst I was doing some paperwork at home. I did have a couple of cravings for certain foods which I made using stuff I already had so I didn't buy any additional ingredients (10/10 for sticking to the budget for me!).

So first off I cooked my gammon joint from Aldi. I used this recipe from Feisty Tapas and then made a delicious gammon and vegetable soup based on Feisty Tapas’ recipe here. I added a few more veggies to clear out what I had left in the fridge and to bulk it out a little more as well as adding a cinnamon stick, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns for extra flavour. I really do recommend this recipe – it’s so delicious and I love using my new Instant Pot.

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I used about a third of the gammon joint to slice back up and put in the soup and I sliced the rest to use for another meal.

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The night before I marinated my chicken drumsticks. I marinated half in a BBQ sauce I had lying around and the other half I did my own marinade of soy sauce, fish sauce, honey, pepper, chilli, garlic powder and some smoked paprika. I then roasted these and took the meat off the bone for meals, sandwiches or salads in the week.

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At the same time I roasted some new potatoes and carrots to go alongside some meals.

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Whilst the oven was still on, I also roasted my lamb leg with some courgette slices. I put garlic pieces in little slits all over the lamb leg and then covered with salt, pepper and mint sauce.

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Midway through the week I had a craving for a creamy pasta bake. I made a cheese sauce from scratch using a bechamel base (flour, butter, milk). I used some water in place of some of the milk to reduce the calories a little bit. I threw in some of the chicken, a slice of gammon as well as broccoli and cauliflower and some pasta we had in the cupboard. Placed it in the oven for around 20-30 minutes until golden brown and served it with homemade garlic bread. I had made a homemade loaf but forgot to take a photo! To make the garlic bread, I toasted it before putting a mix of butter, garlic powder and chopped garlic and placing it in the oven for the last 5 minutes.

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I also had a super craving for congee late one night after work which I also forgot to take a photo of as it was so late and I was a little hangry. I based my recipe on this one from Pressure Cook Recipes. As I used the chicken I cooked earlier, I reduced the cooking time a little to just cook the rice through. I added preserved Tianjin vegetables and some pieces of spam I had sliced in the freezer from the last time we had hotpot. Really delicious.

As of today, I still have some leftover pieces of lamb and gammon and some frozen veggies and potatoes. My next post will be on some of the meals I’ve eaten over the last couple of weeks.

Until next time.. x

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Budget : December 2016 Goals

Hi guys,

Another month, another lot of goals. Yay.

December Goals:
– Meal plan thoroughly
– Eat less takeaways and spend less on food
– Start saving an extra £150/month for house deposit
– Start saving an extra £150/month for travelling
– Save £700 for my accounting tuition for January
– Drink more water

Budget (Income approx. £2264):
– Food: £300. I spent just over £500 last month so I want to cut this down by £200. This is manageable. I can do this.
– Pension: £160
– Netflix: £7.49
– Experian: £9.99
– Petrol & Parking: £60
– Usual Savings: £400
– Additional Savings: £300
– Accounting Tuition: £750
– Christmas purchases: £250
Total: £2237.48

Until next time.. x

Budget : November Week 2-4 & Monthly Round Up

Hi guys,

I’m a little behind on posts so I’ve decided to merge the posts together so that I don’t get too behind. November has ended up being quite an expensive month as I splurged on a couple of items >.<

8th-30th November breakdown:

Income: £2061.96 (two incomes+interest on bank account+HMRC refund+remainder of week1+selling my Macbook Air)
Total monthly income: £2416.09 (two incomes+interest on bank account+HMRC refund+Macbook sale)

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Expenditure:

  • £427.75 on groceries and eating out. Totalling £536.02 in total for the month. Big ouch. I’m going to really try and cut down on the take outs next month and maybe eating more at the restaurant. Especially that hits 25% of my monthly budget.
  • £306.64 on work expenses. I will be getting this back in the near future as long as my boss remembers to pay me back.
  • £160 on pension payments. £60 to my SIPP with Virgin Money and £100 to my workplace pension (NEST)
  • £28.91 on iTunes purchases. Enough said.
  • £56.91 on parking and petrol.
  • £33.25 on software. This was a one-off payment for a programme for work and my monthly subscription to use Adobe Photoshop.
  • £400 on savings. £200 to ISAs and £200 to regular savers.
  • £78.92 on Amazon purchases – some Black Friday splurging including a mini hoover for the car, desk lamp and a case/screen protector for my phone
  • £479 on replacing my phone with iPhone 6s (after much umming and ahhing). Partly funded with selling my Macbook.
  • £79.83 on clothes in the Black Friday sale. A few jumpers, pair of jeans and a scarf for the cold weather.

Total monthly expenses: £2427.02 – £304.64 (work expenses) = £2122.38 (remaining £293.71)

A big chunk of money was spent on “spur of the moment” expenses such as clothing, Black Friday purchases and the phone. The remaining £293.71 will be placed in one of my regular savers. I’ve also opened a new M&S Bank Account as it is currently offering a £100 M&S voucher and £10/month every month you deposit £1000 and I can’t say no to free money.

November Goals Recap:
– Re-work the budget and regularly log expenses – success.
– Start thinking about Christmas gifts – plan Black Friday (online only) – fail. No presents bought as of yet as we still don’t know what we’re doing for Christmas.
– Start saving an additional £150/month for house deposit – fail.
– Start saving an additional £150/month for travelling – fail.
– Stick to 3 solid healthy meals a day – fail. I’ve been really ill this month which explains the lack of posts. The really painful abdominal pain stopped me from eating for a few days.
– Drink more water and cut down on fizzy drinks – fail. On the days I wasn’t eating, I was getting through the days on full sugar lemonade.

Until next time.. x

Budget: Net Worth – is it worth measuring? (Net Worth as of 16.11.16)

Hi guys,

So I’ve been reading a lot of personal finance blogs recently (mainly US and Canadian ones – I’ve yet to find a decent UK one that I like to read) in an attempt to a) learn more and b) see what my budgeting blog style is. Quite a few detail their net worth and I was wondering  if it’s something that is vital to keep track of.

Net worth is basically your assets (cash, investments, stocks) minus any liabilities (loans, credit cards, mortgage). It doesn’t give you a full picture on your finances but a snapshot of your financial viability. I guess it’s just like a statement of financial position (or balance sheet) for a company and gives you something to compare. Although not in depth, it does give an indicator of your financial health and it seems that with a lot of personal financial bloggers I have come across, this seems an important thing to keep track of and goal worthy (as in my goal of 2016 is to achieve a net worth of £50K).

After much reading and personal deliberation, I thought I should calculate my personal net worth. One of the questions I had was do I calculate my student loans? In the UK, due to how student loans work out and is subsidised by the government, many financial experts advise this to be the last debt that you pay. As far as I know, this debt isn’t considered when applying for a mortgage or loan as it isn’t on your credit report and if you do not earn over £17495 (Type 1 – £3000/year tuition fees) and £21,000 (Type 2 – £9000/year tuition fees), you do not pay a penny back. Obviously, this is still earning interest but it gets written off after 30 years. My student loan debt as of April 2016 (as they only send you a yearly statement and as far as I can see, I can’t get a “current” balance on my account) is £24,393 – this includes type 1 (my university loan) and type 2 (my accounting diploma).

Therefore, I have decided to be an awkward turtle (as my sister would say) and calculate both. Most American and Canadian blogs include their student loans but I believe that these work differently to ours and they have an effect on their credit reports. I think it would nice to do both as I can see where I am and also my student finance account only gets updated once a year so it can get a little demotivating for it to still sit at the same place despite the fact I’ve made contributions this year (£471 so far according to my payslips but not sure on how much interest is applied).

Assets
£19404.59 (cash, current accounts, pensions, car)
Liabilities
£6486.55 (house deposits, current credit card bill balances which are paid in full)
Net Worth (not including student loan): £12918.14
Net Worth (including student loan): -£11475.09 Yikes!

So, I definitely think this gives me something to work on. I’d like to be out of the negative numbers, despite paying my student loan via PAYE and not making additional payments. Maybe that’s a 2017 goal?

Until next time.. x

Budget – November 2016 Week 1

Hi guys,

Hope you’re well. So, I realised I do have quite a few expenses throughout the month so I’m breaking it down week by week with a monthly summary 🙂

1st-7th November breakdown:

Income: £566.46 (two incomes)

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Expenditure:

  • £108.27 on groceries and eating out. Ouch. I’ve just been buying as  I need and had a couple of dinners out this week. I need to work on what I eat when I’m working from home as the takeaway is just too convenient when staying in a hotel.
  • £111.25 on professional accounting fees. More ouch. I made the decision to continue my studies and start the CIMA professional certificate in January. They have a special offer of free exemptions this month so £77 is my joining fee and the remainder is my final direct debit for my full membership with AAT
  • £46.94 on stationery – so not a necessary purchase but I haven’t made a purchase in months and this makes me so happy!
  • £30 on unlimited hotel wifi for a month. My iPad’s 3G punked out on me and I couldn’t spend all that time in my hotel room not doing anything at all. Worth it as I’m in hotels every weekend until Christmas.
  • £7.49 – Netflix. Enough said.
  • £9.99 on CreditExpert. I like regularly checking my credit file. I also check Noddle and ClearScore which are free but I tend to find that CreditExpert update pretty regularly and is the most accurate. I get a cheaper rate as I’ve been with them for a while.
  • £51.99 on a foot massager. With being on my feet all the time at my second job, this was much needed. I was spending around £70-100 every other week on full body massages as my body is crying so hopefully this will cut this expense right down.
  • £10 – savings. Most of my savings is done towards the end of the month so this was just one of my smaller accounts.
  • £212.33 remaining for the month

A few large expenses this month. Hopefully I can work on reducing my food spend, though this week (15th Nov) I did spend a small fortune on Christmas jumpers in the Colleague 20% sale at Asda – it’s a work expense of course (my December uniform at the restaurant).

Until next time.. x

Budget Update – October 2016

Hi guys,

So this budgeting malarkey has gone out of the window a bit with me working so much! Plus, I have been staying away from home 2 nights of the week, meaning my expenses have risen (especially as it’s a Friday/Saturday night) but in my eyes, it’s worth it to save the two hour daily commute after a 12-14 hour shift.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, food has been a bit willy nilly to be honest. I haven’t been able to do a proper food shop and so there have been a few takeaways here and there and a few meals out when I’ve had a couple of hours to spend time with friends and family.

I have managed to keep to my extra pension payments and my existing savings so far. I haven’t yet made any additional payments apart from opening another regular saver with Nationwide (5% – £100/month).

I have been making a few advanced payments for my workplace and not yet claimed them back. We’ve needed decorations for our Halloween weekend promotion and for some extra odds and ends plus a couple of Booker runs. I’ll probably get this back at the end of the month.

OH and I are thinking of planning a London trip when I go for a conference in May so I’m going to start thinking of saving up for hotels and spending money for the non-conference days. I’m still contemplating where I would like to travel next year – I’m still thinking I want to visit Canada but I think I might like to go this time next year. Either way the travel savings account needs bumping up in the mean time!

November Goals:
– Re-work the budget and regularly log expenses
– Start thinking about Christmas gifts – plan Black Friday (online only)
– Start saving an additional £150/month for house deposit
– Start saving an additional £150/month for travelling
– Stick to 3 solid healthy meals a day
– Drink more water and cut down on fizzy drinks

I think that’s it for this month. Hopefully I’ll have a better update for you next month!

Until next time.. x

September 2016 Budget & Goals

Hi guys,

Well a crazy end to August so apologies for the lack of posts!

Today I’m sharing my budget for September. I am going to be paying my credit card debt off in full as usual and I’ll be fully keeping track of what I’m spending. This month will be my clearing-out-bad-habits month (aka housekeeping) so from October it will be looking more normal. I have grouped all the mini bills into categories for simplicity this month but future budgets will have a more detailed breakdown.

Background: Our bills are quarterly and shared between me and my housemates and I don’t pay rent in lieu of looking after the house and sorting all the admin for my housemates so don’t think I’ve omitted these by accident! I pay nearly everything on credit card so I can get my rewards but have to admit I’ve been also dipping into my account on a number of unexpected expenses recently including visiting my Uncle in Hong Kong before his passing, lending some money for an emergency and I was probably a bit over budget when I was in San Francisco back in April! So this month I will be clearing the slate so that the money I put on my credit card will be sitting in an account until it needs to be paid.

Groceries – £200. I’m going to try and start cooking more at home. This number might be less as I’ve been working 60-70 weeks recently so fitting in shopping and the actual cooking time may be a problem! I’ll see how this month goes and adjust accordingly. This also includes some groceries for my ex as I’m helping him get back on his feet.

Petrol – £150. I’ve increased this amount recently due to my second job. I have to travel an hour each way and they want to increase my days so hopefully this will be an accurate estimate.

Spending Money – £70. To cover odds and ends. I work pretty hard so I don’t restrict myself to much on odd treats here and there.

Eating Out – £100. It’s my sister’s birthday this month and I’m meeting up with a few friends when my schedule allows for the first couple of weeks for dinner.

Kindle/iTunes – £20. I love reading and playing games to de-stress after a long day so I have a separate little budget for this.

Short Term Savings – £500. This is divided into different regular savings accounts I have. I want to build up my emergency fund a little more before diverting all my savings to a place of my own.

Additional Pension Contributions – £110. I’ve recently been worrying about planning for retirement so I have started contributing extra to my workplace pension and setting up my own private one too.

Pet Insurance – £33. I contribute to two of the family dogs’ pet insurance. They live at my parents’ house and I just like to help out a little.

Paying off Debt – This forms just over 42% of my income for this month. Which admittedly is quite high even for me! This is a culmination of a series of emergencies I’ve had to pay for in the last few weeks. From next month I’ll be totally debt free.

September Goals:

  1. Walk at least 5,000 steps a day, with 2 of those days being over 10,000. (Let’s start small!)
  2. Lose five pounds – I failed at the losing weight last month so I’m striving to try better!
  3. Get my eyes checked – I keep forgetting to go to the optician’s for my yearly check up and I’ve noticed recently that with the increase in computer usage, my eyes seem to not be focusing as quick.
  4. Clearing my debt so I can start putting money towards a house deposit
  5. Achieving my professional goal this month of organising staff and completing all my paperwork.

So that’s it for this month. My next post will be a little more weight loss related (kind of!) and I’ll be doing a health update in the next couple of weeks after my check up appointment. Let me know what your goals are for this month!

Until next time.. x