Weekend Money Diary 3: Nursing a hangover and testing my new bike

I’ve been inspired by The Luxe Strategist’s old money diaries and, of course, Refinery29, so this is my take on it. I’ll be tracking my spending during the weekends for now, since I like reading what I’ve been doing, and I don’t think I could keep track of an entire week yet. So here’s what I, as a 20-something student/freelancer/consultant in London spend during a weekend.

Friday

This day was a bit of a haze for me at this point, but I had a decent workday and then went over to a friends’ house for drinks and goodbyes before one of them is leaving the country.

7 pm: We are getting bits and pieces done in the house and I also manage to score a few things, including an ice cream mould. We get McDonalds’ and buy some cheap rosé in a supermarket. $23.67

The rest of the night is spent with cardgames, too many drinks, and I stagger home several hours past midnight. My partner is still out, and I don’t notice him coming home before I wake up in the morning.

Total spent: $23.67

Saturday

9.50: I wake up several hours later than usual with a splitting headache and an overall off feeling. That’s the price you pay, I suppose. My partner brings me tea in bed.

Breakfast: Tea and a waffle. I can’t be bothered.

Lunch: We stagger over to a nice little café where we get a jerk chicken wrap and a salmon poké bowl. My share is $20.68.

14.00: We do eventually go out for a walk in the neighbourhood, buy groceries (my partner owes me so he covers them), and watch the rain. We have a decent view over London, so it looks really nice, and none of us has the mental brainpower to do anything remotely productive.

Dinner: We make an easy dinner consisting of peanut stir fry and I make dessert – apple crumble.

We both go to bed and read.

Tried out a TikTok recipe – seems OK!

Total spent: $20.68

Sunday

Breakfast: Tea.

10.00: I clean the flat and start decluttering some of the things that were put in random place as we were moving in. I always feel more productive when my environment is clean and tidy.

12.00: I make a big bowl of pasta salad to last us for a few lunches in the coming week. It is the Cold Peanut Noodle Salad from Budget Bytes, highly recommend!

Taking a break in my old neighbourhood.

4.00: I forgot to deliver a key to my previous landlord, so I cycle over to the old place to hand it in. I am glad I took the bike, since XR protests have blocked a big area of London, but I can easily get through the chaos. I am very new to biking in London and it feels quite daunting, but I learn every time I am out there and I am slowly getting more comfortable. The saved $$$ and additional exercise is also a huge motivation to use the bike (bought secondhand).

Dinner: We’re having plant-based burgers with homemade chips and an apple/kale salad.

Total spending this weekend: $44.35

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 13: August

We have arrived in August, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and we can take stock of how the month went. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

I’ve been working like crazy, especially since BOTH of my holidays were cancelled due to covid. So far, it has not been the best summer, but I am going back to my home country next week, and I hope all the extra work hours will pay off come September. I am looking forward to catching up with friends and family, eat food for free (lol), and have something that can resemble an actual holiday. I’ve also had some luck with eBay and Vestiaire Collective, where I am expecting some money to trickle in soon. Overall, I am very positive about the next few months, even if I am in a tight spot right now.

Savings

My current general savings are $9,066.

My travel and luxury savings are $103.

I have to dip a bit into my savings to make up for the missing $1,721 in state grants, and moving into a place with practically no furniture or kitchen stuff has also proved to be expensive. However, it is true that splitting costs with a partner help lessen the burden, so I hope to bounce back soon. The more I save now, the less I need to loan to cover my tuition for the coming academic year.

There’s also not a lot of luxury in the luxury savings account at the moment – I’ve had to pay for tests before flying, and I expect to use the remaining money for birthday presents and celebrating my own birthday with friends. However, I do feel prepared for these extra expenses, since my freelancing gig is going pretty smoothly. Hopefully, it will help cover the rest.

Spending

I have tracked my spending generally but deleted the sheet before I realised I had to post a number here. Whoops. I promise I’ll do better next month. I can tell you, however, that the number is probably super high…

Investments

My current investments are $6,966 out of my $33,000 goal (21%)
My net worth is -$25,900

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $54,800. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

I plan to relax and try being sensible about my upcoming holidays. I will be saving on general food costs, but I imagine that transport and eating out will go up significantly. I’ll just take things as they come and try to prepare as much as possible for the trip, so I have enough funds to get by.

Continue Reading

Weekend Money Diary 2: Euro 2020, cheap drinks and to take away or not?

I’ve been inspired by The Luxe Strategist’s old money diaries and, of course, Refinery29, so this is my take on it. I’ll be tracking my spending during the weekends for now, since I like reading what I’ve been doing, and I don’t think I could keep track of an entire week yet. So here’s what I, as a 20-something student/freelancer/consultant in London spend during a weekend.

Friday

7.00: Im up and going earlier than usual because I have a lot of work to do, as well as grocery shopping, exercising and cleaning. We’ll see how that goes.

9.00: I go for a small run to the big Sainsbury’s to tick off the exercise bit and buy stuff I need for dinner and drinks later today.

9.30: My boss calls me about a project proposal that has to be done ASAP. I can already tell my plans are going astray.

10.30: I’m back from the grocery shop. I’ll split the cost of wine with my friends, so my share + groceries comes to $21. I also considered purchasing a travel card to see if I could save costs on travelling – but with the recent price increase, I doubt I will be using it enough to justify the cost, so I decide not to.

Lunch: Leftover chicken wrap.

1 pm: I go to the post office to send some clothes I’ve sold on eBay. I use leftover boxes I have gathered in the house over the last few months.

I continue with work and make time for some cleaning too.

7 pm: I’ve done what I can with work and I’m not as behind as I feared. Now I’ll cook dinner (a French casserole recipe) and be ready to have a chill evening with drinks and great company. I appreciate that none of my friends insists on spending every night at a pub or a bar, because I currently need to watch my budget much more than usual.

Total spent: $21

Sold clothes ready for their new homes.

Saturday

7.30: I had a terrible night’s sleep and wished I had had at least an hour more. Oh well.

Breakfast: Tea, toast and scrambled eggs.

12.00: We were supposed to attend a birthday party in a park today, but the host has been in close contact with someone who tested positive. I choose to do work instead so I can catch up and take a mental note of the new date of the party.

Lunch: I get caught up in work and skip lunch. Woops. I have some crisps.

4.00: Im feeling the effects of the lack of sleep now. Maybe if I just close my eyes for a little, I’ll feel better…

5.25: Ah shit. My country is playing today in the Euro 2020 but I wake up when the game has started. We’re doing surprisingly well this year so I actually try to stay updated – we’ve already scored so off to a good start.

Dinner: I have my final leftover chicken wrap, and resist the tempation to get a takeaway. There are a lot of offers since England is playing.

I go to bed and read a bit.

Total spent: $0.00

Sunday

Breakfast: Tea and a waffle. I am waiting for my bananas to ripe so I can experiment with baked oats.

9.00: I check my budget and make a loose meal plan. I have decided on a weekly spending limit to ensure I stick to my budget, so I need to keep track of things.

10.00: Time for run and grocery shop (for the things I couldn’t carry home on Friday). Total comes to $14.09.

Lunch: I have another urge for takeaway, but planned ahead and heat some chips and fish fingers in the oven instead.

Rest of the afternoon and evening is spent doing chores and preparing for the coming week.

Dinner: Stir-fry with easy ingredients from M&S I bought earlier.

Total spending this weekend: $35.09

Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 12: July

Another skip, but I’ve been overwhelmed by everything it seems, haha. It has taken me longer to recover from stress than what I realised. The next few months will be tough on the finance end, but I’ll do my best to make everything work out smoothly.

We have arrived in July, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

The weather has not been very summery, so I’ve mainly focused on work and an upcoming move closer to central London. I also had the unfortunate realisation that I’m losing out on a couple month’s worth of my student grant until I start my Master’s, so I have to save a lot more this summer to avoid dipping too much into my savings. I’m really grateful that I have my freelance work right now, because that will help lessen the impact as well.

Savings

My current general savings are $14,238.

My travel and luxury savings are $64.

The travel/luxury account got depleted, mainly due to flight tickets and so on, but I’m not too fussed. Since I am moving, I’m selling a ton of stuff on eBay so it would be stupid to buy more things anyway (except for the basic apartment stuff, of course). The dip in my savings are mainly due to moving and the lack of income I suddenly experienced.

Investments

My current investments are $6,648 out of my $33,000 goal (20%)
My net worth is -$22,282

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

If I can get through July with a sensible moving experience, some basic purchases for the new place, and work enough to only use a minimum of my savings, I’ll be happy!

I’ll also add a spending category for next month, so I can track how much I spent.

Continue Reading

Weekend Money Diary 1: You don’t spend a lot when you are sick

I’ve been inspired by The Luxe Strategist’s old money diaries and, of course, Refinery29, so this is my take on it. I’ll be tracking my spending during the weekends for now, since I like reading what I’ve been doing, and I don’t think I could keep track of an entire week yet. So here’s what I, as a 20-something student/freelancer/consultant in London spend during a weekend.

Friday

7.30: I have barely slept this night because the side effects of my second jab of the vaccine is kicking in. Not only do I have a ton of work and a medical appoint, but I’ve also got plans for the evening. We’ll see if they hold up.

8.00: Cancel the medical appointment. Decide to get bare amount of work done.

Lunch: Leftover burger and home-cooked fries. Easy.

4 pm: Fever kicks in again after the paracetamol starts wearing off. I cancel my plans for the evening, and my partner and I agrees on date night the following day, where my side effects should be drastically diminished (based on what other people have reported).

Dinner: Nothing. Im exhausted, shivering, feverish, have a headache and muscle pains. Don’t wanna eat.

Total spent: $0

Saturday

8.30: I had a really good night’s sleep and feel pretty decent. But I also have work to catch up on because I’ve been dealing with side effects for two full days, so that’s what we’ll get into.

Breakfast: A waffle and some melon. I’ve run out of tea, and Im a bit of a tea-snob, so I’ll have to restock asap.

1 pm: I decide to clean my room and dress up. Im going out for sushi later, so I need a refresh. And a break from work..

Lunch: I decide to go with some more melon and toast, because Im strongly counting on getting my money’s worth of sushi later.

5.40: I go to buy tea and arrive last minute before they close – but I only need a refill, so they’re being nice about it. I still have some time before meeting up with my partner, so I stop by Apple on Regent’s street to check out their Apple Watch, which I am considering investing in. However, the store is too crowded for my liking, so I decide to go on a stroll instead while I wait. I walk into three different protests along the way but eventually arrive safely at the restaurant in SoHo.

Dinner: It is all-you-can-eat-sushi, but made to order so it comes fresh out of the kitchen. Some people think that’s a given – it is not if you grew up in a small town with one Chinese (yeah, they weren’t fussed) restaurant. It is delicious. I pay for dinner since I invited. It comes out to $72.00 for two people.

We go on a walk in central, then back home and watch an episode of Vikings.

Total spent: $72.00

Sunday

Breakfast: I wake up to tea, baked goods and fruit. I spend most of the next hours just chilling, walking around the flat to do bits and pieces.

1.00: I’m supposed to catch up on the work I missed when I was sick, but I get caught up watching Iliza Shlesinger’s new movie. No regrets.

Lunch/dinner: Im not feeling hungry or in the mood for cooking, so I go out to buy a frozen pizza. I’d never had one before I moved to this country and now I voluntarily eat them. Sigh. $2.70.

The rest of the day is spent on catching up on work and putting things for sale on eBay. It has been a very chill weekend, but I suppose that is to be expected when I got knocked out by the vaccine. It was definitely worth the temporary illness though.

Total spending this weekend: $74.70

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

Continue Reading

Writer’s block, stress, and recovery

The following post will not be about personal finance. We will be back on topic after this.

I’ve never really minded people using the term “I feel stressed”, “I am stressed”, etc. to describe a busy period in their life. I can tell the distinction between feeling stressed and having stress as an actual illness, as I’ve seen it firsthand. Over my final semester of my bachelor’s degree, I have experienced the latter, which made it difficult for me to focus on anything else than “putting out fires” constantly. Hence why it has been quieter than usual around here.

TL;DR – I had stress. Like, for real.

I’ve personally always just stuck to being a bit of a busybody. I like juggling many things, having things to do, and I have a knack for working hard and making money on the side. I’ve also learned a lot about time management since I was a teenager, who had to juggle a job, high school and a social life – and still, somehow, come out with an excellent result. I’d say I already had all the right tools for handling whatever life decided to throw at me.

But when you are no longer just feeling stressed, it doesn’t matter that you know how to write a to-do list or you wake up early, or you don’t waste time on social media. It doesn’t help you. I realised that things were getting bad when I started forgetting things. Then my temper changed – I’ve always been very calm and level-headed, but the smallest things could upset me (even if I didn’t necessarily show it to my surroundings). I constantly felt on edge, restless, thinking I had forgotten something when I had to moment to just sit and think.

The physical symptoms were even scarier. Someone was sitting on my chest, making it difficult to breathe and the constant pressure combined with sudden heartache made me scared that something else was wrong with me. I couldn’t sleep. It took me hours to find rest, and I could wake up 4-5-6 times during the night. Then I would try to sleep in, only to wake up with the feeling that I was already behind on today’s tasks. I could never catch up, and changes of plans or new tasks made me desperate.
I went to the doctor too. The physical checks were a relief, but only because they confirmed that my body was OK. There was not much to do about my stress – both because the UK’s mental health services are severely lacking, but also because, in the end, if I had to become better, it wouldn’t be through some magic formula that would suddenly give me all the time and energy to continue.

I needed to re-prioritise my lifestyle.

A part of my was frightened to do so, because I still believed I just had to “get used to it”. I am drawn to a very demanding career path, so I figured that if I couldn’t handle things now, at university, how would I be prepared to handle my dream job?

It was a silly thought. I think what I learned this year was that if I wanted to avoid my symptoms worsening, it was not about letting go of my dreams. More the opposite – I had to radically prioritise them. Which means letting go of things that were not directly serving that. I had found my limit. It sounds easy, but when you want to help other people and show that you can handle responsibility, it can seem like a defeat when you have to back out. But I did it. I want to free up more time for myself, my goals, and my creativity. I feel like I have worked as a machine over the last few years and almost killing everything that “sparked joy” outside of school and work (which I do enjoy very much, don’t get me wrong!). Like reading, drawing, exercising. Writing. Spontaneous adventures.

So while I know the next year will be even more difficult as I pursue the next step in my education, I will do what I can right now to set myself up for success. This means fewer projects, harder prioritisation and a laser focus on how I want my life to look like in the nearest future.

So what will I NOT prioritise?

  • Mindless social media. Sucks out time. I am not an avid user, especially not when stressed, but it would be interesting to see what happens when I also cut it out in periods with less work
  • Free work when it does not directly compensate me in one way or another (I’ve spent years doing charity work, but this turned out to be too demanding compared to the initial outline of responsibilities).
  • Shopping and keeping up with trends. I don’t need it. I have a pretty set wishlist which I am glad to pursue, but there is no reason to buy more for the year.
  • Planning, worrying, spending brain energy on things outside my control.

And what will I prioritise?

  • Creativity. Writing, reading, getting inspiration in a mindful way. Helps me focus and go into “flow”.
  • Reflection on where I want to be in the next 1-2-5 years. Keeps me focused.
  • Socialising. Mindful social media use to stay in touch with friends, making more arrangements to hang out.
  • Health and enjoyment. Exercising, eating good food, develop good routines.
  • Studying and (limited) work. Making money, and doing research in an area that I am interested in. Becoming an expert so I can just nerd a lot.

I think this should both set me up for success and hopefully create more time in my life for enjoyment and not just work-work-work. I think that if I approach this is in a mindful way and make the most out of the times during the day where I focus the most, I will get the vital stuff done in less time – thereby having more time to enjoy life and grab the opportunities that are thrown my way.

What about the blog then?

I won’t be posting for June, but I will be setting up a content calendar now, so if shit really does hit the fan, I have some backup for the sake of consistency. Personal finance is a big interest of mine, and I’ve realised that there are areas where I could really improve. This blog keeps me accountable and doubles as a creative pursuit. 🙂

If you have ever dealt with stress or have had a big reflection of the priorities in your life, feel free to leave a comment!

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 11: May

First of all – I skipped the April update. I was caught in a mix of exam stress and blog-crisis. We’re back now, hopefully more improved by now!

We have arrived in May, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable.

What happened this month?

I have just been busy with exams. I also had a bit of shopping spree – not a big one, but enough to soothe my stress (lol, at least I am aware of it now!) and to celebrate some good things happening in the family.

I’ve also taken some time to reflect on where I’ll be prioritising my energy from now on. I’ve had an incredibly stressful semester that took its toll on my body. It was a scary experience, so I now have to be ruthless on how I navigate my everyday life and not just “power through”. Therefore, I am now only sticking with stuff that I either find enjoyable, is worth the money, or is a core activity that makes a significant positive impact on my life. I’ll be talking more about that later in a post on how I plan to “summer audit” my life.

Savings

My current general savings are $16,065.

My travel and luxury savings are $890.

So I’ve done some readjustments since I’ll be embarking on a Master’s degree next semester, and I got some unexpected money. Suddenly it seemed like a reasonable task to try to save up as much as possible to diminish the need for loans. I’ll also be moving houses in a few months, so it is nice with a laser-focus on saving money and reducing my belongings. However, I also plan to travel (if the world allows it) and still buy a few quality pieces from my wishlist if they show up, so I also have a separate account for those frivolous things…

Investments

My current investments are $6,186 out of my $33,000 goal (19%)
My net worth is -$20,200

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it).

Goals for next month

I’ll be finishing up my degree (woo!) and plan out a whole Life Audit over the summer before I start on my Master’s degree. More on that later!

How is your May going, and how did April go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

New design, who dis?

I realised that I have been neglecting the blog quite a lot. I was also quite confused about where I wanted to take it – what to focus on, what should/could I write about, and so on. So while I was completely destroyed with university work (phew!), I also had a bit of leftover mental space to think it through. Now I am ready to go for it.

If you have been here before, you may have noticed that the blog has gotten a fancy new (incredibly basic) design, a little drawing of me, and some posts have been removed. I am trying to rewrite the ones that will fit my vision for the blog because I do want to make an effort. It is a good writing practice and also one of my core values – doing your best. Use half-assing for things that are, well, perhaps not going up on the internet.

So what is the focus of this blog?

My goal is to de-mystify how young people handle money. Show a peek behind the curtain. I am only figuring things out, slowly figuring out the career direction I want to take, finding my core values and priorities for where I want to put my money. Like everyone else. But here, I can be upfront about the challenges, my best tips and resources, and hopefully contribute with something useful in the personal finance blogosphere. We’ll be talking about:

  • Spending money in the big city as a young person (without the zen of those cool finance bloggers, unfortunately)
  • Saving money for investing, travelling, and luxuries – and how it CAN be done on a smaller income.
  • Earning money while juggling your studies, main job, volunteering, and all that jazz.
  • And all the other things that constitute life as a young student in London!

I see myself as a person who can Get Shit Done and knows how to work hard. It is a constant practice, and for many years, I had nothing to show for it (perhaps except some very expensive designer bags, which I still love). This blog also helps to keep me accountable and see how I progress from a small finance fish to a big, uh… money shark?

In any case, I am sure it will be a fun process! Maybe you’ll be horrified, maybe you’ll pick up some good tips – I am also just figuring out my life as I go along. At least now I have a place to write it all down, and hopefully start a good conversation.

Stay tuned for more posts – I’ve set up a real fancy content schedule now, so you can except regular entries. You can also follow the blog on BlogLovin (if anyone still uses that?).

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 10: March

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ian-dooley-dj7bwa-gwks-unsplash.jpg

I can’t believe I’ve almost done this for a year! We have arrived in March, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable. I am still keeping up, even if life is a bit overwhelming at the moment!

What happened this month?

I was very happy to learn that I have been accepted into a really good Master’s programme, so it has been a great month so far. Other than that, I am still just grinding away. I have also signed up for All Star Money, which looks super interesting and the articles they pick out seem quite inspiring. So maybe I’ll attempt to rack my efforts up here some more and hope for a good opportunity to show up, haha.
Otherwise, I just had my 2-year anniversary at the world’s best student job, aka my consulting position. I got a raise, which is not bad, and I’ve been handed some extra work on a more regular basis (although that is not related to the raise). So I take that as good signs, because I do prefer to divide my energy between my studies and that job.

Savings

My general/apartment savings are currently $7,600.
So my computer had to be repaired, which means I had to dip into my savings. I am not trying to worry too much – after all, this is what my savings are for and I am grateful for having this kind of cushion. Therefore, I am just continuing with work and spending as minimally as possible. This is turning out to be easier than I expected – when you are worn out and overworked, I often find that I spend less – because I am too exhausted and don’t have time for online shopping. So as long as we avoid emotional spending to cope with the stress, it should be OK on that front (while looking out for my mental health).

Investments

My current investments are $5,500 out of my $33,000 goal.
My net worth is $-30,500.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100. (when I last calculated it)

Books I’ve read and texts I’ve written

Mainly just academic stuff, and then some money articles from the website I mentioned above!

Goals for next month

I am going to get back into the minimalism challenge. I ended up stuck after 2 weeks, but I’ll get my head into it again. Then I also hope to have written a big chunk off my uni work, and have launched my website.

How is your March going, and how did February go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading

FIRE Update 9: February

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ian-dooley-dj7bwa-gwks-unsplash.jpg

We have arrived in February, and that means that the paycheck has rolled in, the investments are transferring and I have to look through my finances anyway. It is the perfect time to review my journey and just keep myself accountable. I am still keeping up, even if life is a bit overwhelming at the moment!

What happened this month?

Busy as always. I have finished most of my applications by now, but I still have, well, a whole thesis to write and stay on top of work and uni. It feels like pouring in a lot of hours without a lot of tangible output just yet. But we are staying on track.

Savings

My general/apartment savings are currently $8,000.
I am very close to reaching my savings goal, and I had initially changed it to $8,250, but I might just go for $9,000. The extra padding is to ensure that I have enough for moving apartments, studying (even if something happened with my finances), and still have leftover money to put down a deposit after my studies. But once that has been solved, I am going to go all-in on investments and a bit of debt repayment. I am also adding to a travel fund, which is obviously not gonna get used any time soon, but once the pandemic is over, I think I’ll be happy to have funds that are allocated to have fun, lol. Especially between my degrees.

Investments

My current investments are $5,380 out of my $33,000 goal.
My net worth is $-29,400. You may have noticed there is a sharp decline in my negative net worth, which is mainly because I put in extra money on my savings and recalculated my student loans.

Debt repayment

My current tuition fee debt is $52,100.

Books I’ve read and texts I’ve written

I am currently reading “Superhero nutrition”, but I am in the process of setting up a website for my articles and everything.

Goals for next month

I have started a minimalism challenge with my friend. I have to declutter 1 item a day, and send her a picture of it, which keeps me accountable. I’ll save all the pictures for a collage. 1 a day seems reasonable, and if I keep it up, I’ll be in a much better place once I am actually moving out. I refuse to carry around stuff I will never get to use.

How is your February going, and how did January go? Do you have any goals?

Continue Reading