My spending today was all about necessity. My new phone was dead as dead can be, and although I tried to charge it for hours last night with the computer, it was still dead this morning.
I took my class to the Imperial War Museum today for a little lesson on WWI. My doctoral research was done there years ago, so it was sort of like coming home. After class I bought a wall plug with a USB slot as I'd read it charges about five times faster. And indeed, in an hour, my phone was up and working.
I got a free cup of coffee from a lovely lady in front of Le Pain Quotidien on Tottenham Court Road and headed home to work. Normally I'd go to the galleries or museums on these short days, but the wind has been awful, and I have a lot of prep for my new class. Horrible gales and slanty rain tonight; I'm happy to be inside.
But now that I have the photos going, how about one from the sunny day of our Parliament tour?
Viewing the 'No Spend Days' Category
My spending today was all about necessity. My new phone was dead as dead can be, and although I tried to charge it for hours last night with the computer, it was still dead this morning.
That would be me falling off the NS wagon with a loud clunk. I knew Bath would pose some temptations, and I knew exactly what they would be, Three years ago I bought my favorite ankle boots at a shoe store; they're hands down the cutest most comfortable boots ever. And Bath is full of lovely shops as it's such a luxury area. I guess, in retrospect, it wasn't all that bad. The day trip was paid for, the baths were fabulous even though it was sixth time through them, I had planned for 11GBP for lunch and spent 9 and ended up taking half my lunch home for dinner. But the clunk was the boots.
They're so cute, less than half price, super soft and so comfortable. They were 65GBP which is about $95. Today I've got the rugby match which will require topping my Oyster transport card. After rugby I'm going to stay in and work and have plenty of groceries for the weekend--although I could use some muesli and fruit. Who knows? Maybe I can shave expenditures down the next few weeks to make up for it. But I love them.
And man, am I tired. I don't teach Thursdays, but needed to check out the show at the Victoria and Albert before I take students over. Then I had to go with students to the Museum of London. I enjoy the Museum of London, but this must be my sixth or seventh trip there. Some of my colleagues opted out as this is a field trip for their British Life and Culture class, but I feel strongly student take the cue from us, and it's helpful to have me there.
So two huge museums today with no stops for coffee or sweets despite my almost caving to temptation several times. I came home with over 22,000 steps on my Fitbit, sore feet, and an aching back. But spaghetti, salad, and a large coffee later, I feel somewhat better. And glad of the no spending--and I really enjoyed the Julia Margaret Cameron show at the V and A.
Tomorrow we're off to Bath. I do need to buy a birthday present for a friend and lunch too.
Some solid planning helped my NS Day. I met students in a coffee shop first thing, but had made a travel cup of coffee and a thermos. They ate snacks and drank coffee; I had oatmeal before I left and coffee from my travel mug. The shop doesn't care as all the students were drinking and eating.
I had three classes and managed to eat my ham sandwich, crisps, and clementine between the first and second. The coffee in the thermos helped propel me into the final class. And I was proud of students who packed their lunches.
Things are pretty dire at my home university--another reason to save where I can.
Yesterday's spending =0!
I taught all morning, came home for lunch, and then went for the faculty wine evening. Plenty of good food and plenty of wine, so I spent nothing.
Today was a bit different: I spent 6GBP on two candles and a travel mug for coffee. I hadn't planned on eating lunch at school, but had a 2:30 meeting, and I hadn't packed a lunch. I bought a roasted vegetable salad, but got a free coffee for 2.36GBP. I needed a connector cable for my laptop, and the computer store sold me something for (eeek!) 50GBP. I about freaked out. I went back to school, conferred with more people, and returned it, bought a different one on ebay for under 4GBP. Phewww.
More meetings then off to the grocery store. For 28 GBP I bought easy things to prep. That's important as I have limited kitchen space and not a lot of pots and pans or time. I need no-fuss healthy meals that I can make when I come home late after a full day of teaching and field trips. And I need fast and easy packable lunches. Here's what I got to add to my veggies and fruit at home. Coffee, new potatoes, breaded cod, hamburger patties, meatballs, mustard, milk, beetroot for salad,6 large rolls for sandwiches, two packages tortellini, ketchup, two packages of biscuits (cookies) for class treats, tomatoes, spinach, onions, lettuce, 6 pack of crisps, ham for lunches. I think I have more than enough for the week--especially since I have butter, oil, eggs, and fruit and some veggies and oatmeal. With all my cords, candles, and the mug, I'm at 39GBP. That should be 11 GBP left for lunch in Bath on Friday. Hoping for a no-spend tomorrow!
I've been in London just over a week now;mostly things have gone very well. A student lost her passport and other minor calamities too, but all is well and I've been in the classroom for a week. DH and DD came over for his dad's birthday and left yesterday. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. They stayed in five places in six nights, and the hotel stays and meals out have added up as has the transportation.
They flew Aer Lingus to London via Dublin while I flew with students. We ended up in a London hotel the first night as my flat had tenants, then we were off to his hometown for the birthday. The coach fares were half the price of the train fares, but the ferry was pricey. And DH has a habit of treating his whole family to meals as a gesture of his affection, which I would not, but I figure that's not my business. His dad has moved to a care facility, so we thought we could stay at his house, but because the family was there from all corners of Europe, we stayed in a hotel two nights, had the party and various celebrations, then I returned to London while they stayed with DH's brother.
They came back to London midweek, and we toured Parliament with the students, had various meals with friends, and went to the George, a pub in Southwark because we'd read a book (Shakespeare's Local) on it over the summer, and I'd had fun times with colleagues before at the same pub. So, although we ate in a couple of nights, it's gotten bit expensive. This leads to my budget decisions. I'm trying to sort out how much an ordinary weekly expenditure would be for me. Meals out are very expensive as there's that nasty 20% VAT, so I've bought food for breakfasts and some lunch supplies, and have leftovers. We had a lovely proper tea at the British Museum with students, and I ended up taking mini quiches and some scones home--all of which are in my freezer now. So I'm thinking with most meals in, I can probably get by with 50 GBP a week. Although I can hear Scotish Girl laughing at my indulgent budget, I' hoping to fit theatre tickets and all meals out of that.
I have a few more things to buy: another pillow, a wall poster, computer cable, and some sofa pillows, The flat is lovely, but it's all black and white, and I need some color. It's eleven more weeks after all! This week has a day trip to Bath which is paid for, but I'll need to buy lunch that day. And it's too busy for the theatre this week, so if I can find some nice cheap seats either at Leicester Square or day tickets at the National, I'll spring for that next week.
I've also had to buy a phone as our UK old phone is pretty knackered and we find we need two. In previous years the university and our partners here have lent us phones, but that's not happened. I spent 65 GBP (about 90$) on a cheap pay as you go smart phone. It has some frugal apps, so I'll be trying those, especially the special offers on free coffee and 1 pd Monday lunches. Today I came home for lunch after classes, but am headed out tonight for faculty wine evening--my favorite night at a fancy wine bar with free nibbles for dinner. It looks like a no-spend day in London. How's that for a good start? I'll post photos on Thursday when things settle down. Happy February to all of you!
I've been trying to balance minimal household chores, cooking, and family time with the mountain of grading that is staring at me. Despite some frustrations, it's going pretty well.
We spent some time over the holiday discussing whether we could afford French camp for DD again this year. Those numbers and our weakening water heater has brought on another round of belt tightening. Oh, and there's the plane tickets to the UK for my father-in law's 90th. I've reset the frugal daily spending, making an impromptu dinner at home after Saturday's post-holiday driving, parked in the free zone enabling a long walk to class today, and brought my own coffee. If I can make that work for the next few weeks, we'll call the water heater fund started. Maybe Swagbucks can kick in $100.
It's all about the balance.
Nothing like being stuck at home to curtail spending. I felt good enough yesterday to make some vegetable soup, and my DH spent hours trying to figure out why his car wouldn't start. After all his fussing yesterday, I called AAA this morning, they jumped it at no cost.
I've also managed to photograph and sell a couple items on FB, Add $11 to my totals.
DD is off to a family camp this weekend with some friends. That'll give everybody a chance to catch up on sleep and relax a bit more. It's $100 but includes five meals and lots of activities. And more fun for her than schlumping around the house with sick mom and harried dad.
I spent the morning getting the kidlet ready, going for a walk, and working on school stuff. The walk was lovely although it's been a bit sticky here. That and a load of laundry rounded off the morning.
With DH in England, I didn't want to leave DD alone all evening while I taught, so she spent the evening with a friend. Conveniently the friend's husband teaches where I do, so we drove together this afternoon. I saved a babysitter; he saved gas, and we had a fun time gabbing.
When I got home I realized I hadn't spent a dime. Isn't that lovely? I'm always tempted by the vending machines, tempted by ebay, tempted by fast food after four+ hours of teaching, but I seem to have gotten past all those lately.
I spent a long time today sorting through papers and getting unnecessary papers ready for the shredding fest on Saturday. Sorting papers always makes me evaluate our spending and saving, so I think there will be some changes in our accounts coming up.
Another splendid day with no spending--but with some small FB sales which I'll add to our totals.
Less clutter=more clarity
We had (gasp) sleety snow here this afternoon, and it was a perfect day to stay in and clean. Not that I'm sure there ever is a perfect day to clean, but it had to be done.
I spent most of the day cleaning the guest room--and vowing to not buy a single gift for anyone until I work my way through my giant bag of gifts. I have far too much stuff. I tend to buy things on vacation or weekends away and forget about it, meaning to give it as birthday and Christmas gifts, then buy more. But I've put it all in one place, and virtually every gift for the next year is coming out of that bag.
I've also made a huge bag of things to sell---mostly books and odds and ends. And speaking of selling and decluttering, I offered up a box of Christmas crafts, and some of my mom's older Christmas stuff on FB, and sold it all to a woman who is " sick crazy about Christmas." I was very happy to get a grocery size bag out of my house. I also sold some books--and all of this has been picked up, so I easily made my goal of getting rid of ten things. It's not a lot of money, but I'm happy to have it and not have all that stuff. I didn't spend a dime, and actually made some money. Not a day full of rip-roaring fun, but very satisfying. If I could tackle a room a day--or at least a couple of them a week I'd be richer and less encumbered. It's worth a shot.
Trying to keep up with which London neighborhood is currently cool is too much for my middle-aged self, but someone told me all the junk from Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane has now moved to Walthamstowe. So I dutifully went there yesterday, and it indeed was full of junk. It is apparently the longest market in the UK, but triumphantly, though I sampled many things, I walked away with nothing.
Then on to hipster haven at Spitalfields which also left me yawning. I did ooh at Shad Thames shops, then on to more high-end shopping. I haven't been to Fortnum and Mason in years--but it was so incredibly crowded in there, I gave up after 15 minutes. Salt beef seems to have swept the country in the last few years so I stuck my head into the salt beef bagel places in the East End and again at Selfridges--sampled some, sampled Truman beer, Italian orange Easter cake, and very high- test chocolate. I have to say, it was all a feast for eyes, but my only purchases were the Evelyn Waugh novel I'm teaching next week (free with my Waterstone's card!) and a coffee (free with my Costa points. ) I even got 1p back from Waterstone's so was entertained, fed, and happy while making 1p.
Off to Marylebone Market now....
My first class went on a long walk today through all the Bloomsbury squares. Now we've been here for six weeks; a person would think they might have discovered them before? They're a two-minute walk away. But it was fun to show them where Virginia Woolf lived, and Yeats, and Dickens, and a host of others.
My other class also went well, and I had been a bit grumbly about students who have been a little lax. Yet when I left, my most trying student said, "Don't leave. We like your classes best." I went home with a big smile on my face.
I spent nothing until I went grocery shopping this evening, when I spent 20 GBP. I had a voucher for double loyalty points, so stocked up on things I'll need soon like more coffee, bottled water for upcoming trips, and laundry soap. I'm a bit pleased as I've managed to wean myself off half and half in my coffee and switch to whole milk. Perhaps I'll get it down to 2 percent someday, but think I must be saving some fat and calories.
I have a huge pile of grading since last night was theatre night. "Once," the musical we saw was very good, and my colleague bought me a drink which you could have on the stage! Very fun.
Since I doubt I will be back in London with this much time in front of me for years, I spent much of Friday rambling in Hampstead Heath. It was sunny and glorious. There was even some hardy soul swimming in one of the ponds.
I bought a couple of cheap travel guides in the Oxfam shop, walked all the way down to Swiss Cottage tube station, then did some grocery shopping. I fell seriously short of my goal of funding three weeks shopping with my Nectar (loyalty card) points. But I did have enough for a single week's shopping, which I will cash in on soon.
After endless hours comparing travel sites and deciding against Ryanair flights, I've pushed back my Sweden jaunt for a couple weeks. I can get a decent timed flight on a decent airline, two nights in a downtown Stockholm hotel with airport transfers for under $400. The hotel includes breakfast. I've been a little worried about Swedish prices, but have been doing some serious reading on where to eat well and cheap(ish). I grew up with a Swedish grandmother and really feel drawn there. I'm very excited.
And the next month is full of many other joys--I'm trying to pence pinch a bit to help justify all these joys. I brought my own coffee today which is a rarity in London. Although travel mugs are for sale, you never see someone transporting coffee. And decent coffee is over $3 with even the university machine-made swill at $2. The fancy-pants grocery offers free coffee with their loyalty card so in the four-hour gap between my second and third class, I went over there for a cup. This coupled with my packed lunch maybe saved me 8-10 GBP today. Well, maybe as I usually bring my own lunch.
Tomorrow my office buddy is taking me out to lunch as I took her to dinner in November when she came to talk to our students. I also have a free theatre ticket to "Once,"so that should be fab. Another day in paradise.
I almost had a no-spend day yesterday, but there's something about a 4 1/2-hour class that demands coffee. It's horrible 50-cent coffee, but it's just the ticket around 8 p.m.
I'm going in tomorrow night to tutor for a cool $100, and this new literature class is excellent. They're a chatty bunch, seem to be doing their work, and it's been a pleasant time so far.
In the continuing periodontal saga, it looks like I'll pay half, or about $1600. I may get a new bathroom yet, depending on other spending including the recent demise of the lawnmower.
I still need to list a few things on ebay, but one of my items has a bid.
I got paid for my adjunct class yesterday and read a few more capstone projects.
We too had the bad Midwest storms Monday night. As I was teaching the first session of my new class, our lights flickered several times then went out. We're in an interior classroom, and it was pitch black. Within 15 minutes we got the word that it would likely be hours before power was restored, and our administrator sent us home.
Today I met with our Study Abroad office about next year's London program. Based on the increasing costs there, they're planning on increasing my stipend. It will raise student costs a bit, but the higher rents and strong pound really eat into the stipend.
Looking forward to having my DH home for the holiday weekend. I believe today was a no-spend day too!
On Sunday I bought a few things for DD's upcoming birthday celebration and was significantly overcharged at both Walgreen's and Michael's. I caught the Walgreen's error before we left the store, but ended up returning to Michael's to collect the $15 they overcharged. A further reminder to myself to check those receipts all the time.
I'm happily snuggled up here on my Friday off, but will go out and about later if the rain holds off. But things are not so hot (both literally and metaphorically) back at home.
DH's contract was extended, then amidst all sorts of flurries and apologies, was not. So his last day is February 7. He does have an interview this morning, so we're hopeful. That job would be at his current company's downtown location rather than the suburban one which, because of the shorter commute, would be much nicer. I'm a little worried, especially since I'm on 3/4 pay while here. But we have no debt, so only our regular expenses, but still.
There isn't much I can do from here (or there, actually), so I'm just holding down expenses, teaching my classes here and my online class, enjoying all the lovely free things I can do.
When DH's boss went into a meeting today, he asked if he could have a copy of DH's CV to circulate as they still suspect they'll run out of work for him. Sure enough, someone said they could perhaps use him until the end of the year. That would give us a bit more room, and perhaps another longer-term contract will come up between now and then. So, we're a bit more hopeful.
But we traced out yet another austerity budget and found that we can live, very carefully, on what I make. And that without my adjunct job at night. We couldn't do it long term, as there's no room for car repairs, house repairs, or much of anything besides property taxes, utilities, food, and other necessities. But it is doable in the short term.
As I was cleaning up the fall garden today, I found some of last spring's spinach and radish seeds. It may be late for them, but I put a row of each in and some lettuce. It's a long shot, but the seeds were just sitting there. Why not, eh?
My summer school term is over, and I've made it through the eight weeks of tutoring a bit richer. But being away from home two nights a week doesn't sit right with any of us. DH is weary of it, and DD misses me, so I've turned down tutoring next term, but will begin a new class on Monday night.
The happy dance is slightly smaller because I discovered a completely plagiarized paper amongst my students' work. Not a chance of it being an overlooked failure to cite, but man, sometimes they are really dumb. After eight weeks of listening to this guy talk, did he really think I'd believe he wrote sentences with vocabulary so far above his usual spoken range including words like "exigency" and phrases like "gross inequities"? So I'm irritated and he will fail.
My happier news? Two days on the treadmill and I've rediscovered how happy exercise makes me. Not a penny spent today either.
I have loads of small things to take care of this week; many to save or make money.
Today I got the redemption from My Points for an Amazon gift card so have credited that to our account. A nice little $25 for not much work. I also canceled one of DD's little-used online memberships, saving $6/month.
I have Target returns and adjustments to do tomorrow, checks to deposit, adjustments to check up on, and that bank account to open. I hope to get them all done tomorrow.
I'm tutoring again tonight. It's gone ok, and I only have three more evenings of it after tonight. It's a bit of a hassle with DH needing to come home early, but we're doing it.
Tomorrow I'm starting an all-out assault on Study Abroad marketing. Wish me luck!
Not a stellar day, by any stretch. But a cheap one. DH very busy at work and worked at home till after 11. My evening class has dwindled to three tonight, none of them talkers. DD had a great day at camp.
I did again take coffee to my class shaving a big 75cents off my spending. The vending machine coffee is awful anyway.
Only sizeable financial news is very good news. The Study Abroad organization has cut me a check to cover last year's airfare. Now that is GOOD news. I read some capstone projects that will net me over $100. i guess the day wasn't so bad after all!
Not a bad day, just slow going. Lots of rushing around to try to get the dog to the groomer, get the stupid U-verse box to stop screeching, plan for class, touch up my hair--boring errands etc.
Our state fair is happening directly across the street from my evening class, so the college blocked the parking lot. I wasn't sure I could squeeze my car through, so I moved the barricade perhaps two inches--and the security guy came out of his car--lurking in the air conditioning with the motor running--and started yelling at me. I showed him my parking pass. but he started in on me claiming I had plenty of room and if I'd been careful, I wouldn't have to move the barricade. I got really angry and started yelling back at him. Not my finest moment. I offered to move the barricade back, and we got into it again. "Stupid women drivers...Don't you touch that barricade; it's my job. " I was one second away from some very unpleasant language--but instead let loose with "Well,good for you." Only the thought students might be watching saved him from a torrent of further abuse.
But the class calmed me down--and we spent a lovely four hours on Zora Neale Hurston and my favorite James Baldwin story. I was half tempted to report him but figure tempers have been frayed with the heat and other things.
So, that was that. No spending today, but bad diet choices. There's always tomorrow.
I'm spending too much of today grading my online class and giving them feedback on their upcoming reports. Last night between 11-3, I got e-mails from five students. It seems odd to me that they're up late e-mailing me, but maybe it's because there WAS no e-mail when I was 21?
No spending other than church today. DD and I decluttered over a dozen of her books, sharing some with her choir director. I've also got a bag of outgrown clothes to offer to freecycle.
Last night also saw me grading four capstone projects, all of which actually passed. This after we busted three for plagiarism earlier in the week.
I've taken on another (yuck, that's four) project advisor job for another local college. It's a short-term gig while their regular person is away. And it doesn't start until May. I guess the window expense is still eating at me....
As those of you who "do" Swagbucks probably know, they have a special March Madness promo, so I worked Swagbucks a little harder today. My last search yielded (wow) 57 Swagbucks. That meant I met my goal, got the bonus, and I did a happy little Swagjig.
That was very fun! And my day of grading and cleaning meant it was also a no-spend, eat up leftover day.
Spring has indeed sprung!
Grrr. I'm growling at the school lunch folks at DD's school. Last week I sent a check for $50 for lunches with her, but kept getting low-balance notifications. I scoured her bag suspecting she might've forgotten it, but she insisted it was turned in. Yesterday she was send home with a note that said there would be no more lunches for her unless I deposited funds. It was after hours, so no reply at the food service office, and I had to do a $20 fund top-up on line--complete with an annoying $1.95 fee. I followed that up with an e-mail to the food service office, but no reply yet. Where's my check?!
As scheduled, DH and I sat down and had a budget meeting tonight. He's a bit prickly about it and has never been much interested in our finances. I think the poor thing is just emotionally exhausted and a bit disheartened by the whole thing.
We found that if we dramatically slash our retirement contributions, we could indeed live on my regular university salary. It won't be pretty, but it can be done. So that's the plan. We bank his unemployment, look for a new job with lots of energy and also bank my night class money to build our cash reserves further.
I have to say, it really hurt me to log in to the retirement accounts and curtail them to that extent. Although I know it's right, it just feels so wrong.
We're doing the opposite of freezer cooking; we're doing freezer eating. I found two of last summer's lingering bratwurst (Milwaukee life) and a frozen carton of chicken broth in the freezer. It turned into an amazingly good soup from a blog called "Eatin on the Cheap." I tweaked the recipe a bit, but who knew two brats, three potatoes, an onion, two carrots and some chicken broth could be as good as it was. I wish I had more!
Remember that $700 that the state overcharged me last month? Yeah, you probably do since I've been harping on it since then. Here's my odd update. Tuesday I scrutinized my paycheck, and wonder of wonders, they did refund the overcharge. Curiously, it seemed like I received even more money than I anticipated. Why? Because they forgot to take ANYTHING out for health insurance this month. Unbelievable.
I e-mailed payroll swiftly, and they confirmed it. They'll double deduct next month. Or something else that I can't even begin to imagine.
I'm still ages behind in grading and need to devote every spare minute to it for the next week or until I get caught up. I had three students not show up for an important exam today, and I'm debating whether to cut them slack. We had the hellfire and damnation talk in my writing class because of their horrible proofreading. One student today ended a letter by apologizing for any "incontinence" this may have caused a client. And he insisted his document was ready to be mailed. I think I scared them all; another student asked if I needed coffee or perhaps something stronger.
No money spent--no time for even coffee today.
I've spent all day getting my first couple of weeks of classes squared away. I'm about halfway done, and it occurs to me that the website prep takes at least as much time as the pre-electronic versions of most of my materials. But I guess it's cheaper and more environmentally sound not to make all those copies.
The university bookstore has neglected to order books for one of my classes, although they received my order last April. Besides being very expensive, the manager is very smarmy, and I always send my students elsewhere to buy or rent their books. This will cause some confusion in the first week, but I see that Amazon is offering free shipping on texts.
Another no-spend day since I spent it at home in shorts in front of the PC.
Happy Labor Day Weekend (yes, Rick Perry, there is such a thing as the Labor movement and Labor Day)!
Cheap day here because I'm so darn busy at school. The last six weeks of the semester are always frantic. The only money spent today was for DD's piano lessons. Her teacher didn't want to charge us because she canceled last time for illness. She's a SAHM and her husband is the church music director. Of course, I paid her!
There may be big news brewing at the university--I'll keep y'all posted.
Hope to return to sanity by the end of the week!
I've spent the entire day grading--except for making some enchiladas. I feel like the most boring person in the world today, but at least I've been productive.
I spent nothing, shopped for nothing, indeed never left the house--just me and my student papers until DD came home from school.
Tomorrow! Taxes! Who can stand the thrill of it all?
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