Four-year plan

When I was 39, I went through a whole mid-life crisis in the run-up to turning 40.  I’m way behind a lot of my peers in terms of owning my one home, being married, having kids etc.  Financially I have a good job now, but previous working life was sporadic, having taken time out to travel etc., and although I’ve worked solidly for the last 10-12 years, I’ve only really got 6 years worth of pension, and 2 years of that is pretty minimal.  I got over the mid-life crisis, decided I was pretty happy being 40, but it took me until I’d nearly hit 41 to realise that I needed to sort out my finances.  So I started 2017 with a lot of determination to sort myself out, and so far it’s going well.

Before I talk about my 4-year plan, it’s worth saying that what really helped me last year was realising that I was drowning in ‘stuff’, and feeling really weighed down by it all.  So I had a big clear out in March of 2016 (see Waste and Waste Part II).  It was the best thing I could have done, I felt lighter, but more importantly it made me realise that I don’t need all these material things to feel happy.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve still got a fair amount of stuff in the flat, but when i’ve got a bit more time after Easter I’m going to start getting rid of some more.

So when it came to budgeting this year, I knew that I didn’t need to account for spending on ‘stuff’ that wasn’t going to benefit my life at all.  When I first thought about clearing my debt this year, my next thought was “woo hoo, next year I’ll be quids in so can go on a mahoosive foreign holiday.”  Then of course I realised that yes, I might be debt free, but I’ve still got no savings and a pension that will barely allow me to live in retirement if I don’t start upping my contributions.  I’ll be honest, I don’t want to work until I’m 70.  Or at least it would be nice if I didn’t need to.  So, once the disappointment abated, and I realised that maybe a few more years of being cautious with money were ahead of me, I settled down to think of what I needed to do.  So I’ve come up with a 4-year plan.  I actually was intending to write a 5-year plan but I have always found it difficult to really plan ahead, and I figure if I can follow the plan for the whole 4 years I’ll be doing really well, and then I can make another plan from there.  So here it is:

4-year plan

At the moment I’m sticking everything I have to debt, but once this is cleared I can really up my pension contributions to try to make up a little bit of lost time.  I’ll be 42 by then, so the more I can contribute the better.  As I said, I’d rather not be working in 28 years if I can help it.

Next step is to save 3-6 months of an emergency fund, so that if something happens and I lose my job, I have some money to survive on until I find something else.  Ideally I’ll manage to save 6 months worth, but whatever I’ve got by the end of the year will suffice.

My car is on a 42 month lease, and at the end of the term (Jan. 2019) I could hand it back and start another lease, or I could pay £5K and own it.  Initially I was going to start again, but I don’t want to owe anyone anything anymore, so I’ll buy the car and own it outright.  Obviously if something happens to change that then I’ll hand the car back and start again, but I have options.  This would mean dipping into the emergency fund of course, but I’m okay with that, as I’d still have a fair whack left, and can add to it again if I need to.

Next step is to save a deposit for my own place, with a view to buying something the following year when I’ve got enough of a deposit, and then try to overpay the mortgage whenever possible.

So does this mean all holidays are cancelled after this year and life means doing nothing and eating dust forevermore?  No.  It just means that I save for holidays instead of credit-carding them.  Restricting my budget this year means living on less but that’s shown me that actually I can easily live on less, so I can use my salary more productively rather than giving most of it to the bank and credit card companies.

Do I wish I’d taken control of my money 20 years ago?  Of course, but I’ve had a fantastic life and done a lot of great things, so I’m just starting a little later than most people.  Taking control of my money is the best feeling, and knowing that I’ll pay everything off entirely on my own without relying on anyone else is even better.

Time for a challenge

A few weeks ago I had a good look through my finance records to track exactly how much I’d been spending month-to-month in the last two years.  Needless to say it was pretty shocking.  I could say that in the last 2 (nearly 3) months, I’ve cut my monthly spend by 1/4, because I transfer 25% less into my monthly spending account than I used to.  But when I looked back at old figures, in 2016 I was overdrawn 10 out of 12 months, by an average of £123, and in 2015 that figure was an average of £110 in the red every month!  AND of course I accumulated more debt on top of that, so you could say that I’ve reduced my monthly spend by nearly a half.  Of course I have a number of monthly outgoings that don’t vary, and I’m not talking about those.  I also have an account I stick £75 in per month and this covers all my petrol and haircuts (an odd combination I know…).

So of course I’m doing well this year already, and my debt repayment is on track.  By the end of next month one of my three remaining credit cards will be paid off, leaving just the two remaining cards to clear.  Ideally I want to be debt free by December 31st, but to do that, I’ll need to find some extra cash because realistically the plan takes me to 31st January 2018.  That’s fine, an extra month doesn’t make that much difference, but I thought I’d see if I could reduce my spend even further for at least one month, and figure out if I could put anything extra to debt (bearing in mind I’m also saving a little bit to cover my next Lanza trip and for car insurance etc. that will be due in July).  If I can manage without much bother, then I should be able to save/not spend a couple of hundred here and there over the rest of the year, and I just might make the December target.

I figured one of the best ways to eek out an extra little bit of money was to attempt a zero spend month.  So what does this actually mean?

Well I’m going to keep the money going in the petrol/hair account and if I need to top up I will, bearing in mind I will need a haircut in April.  However, I’ll not go over.  All my regular bills will be paid of course, but the aim is to buy nothing else for one month.  In order to help me along my way I’ve set up some rules:

What I can buy:

  1. Food to prepare all my meals (i.e. fresh food)
  2. Toilet roll if I run out
  3. Medicine should I need it (hopefully not!)
  4. Stuff to plant in the allotment

What I’m not allowed to do:

  • Buy coffees out or snacks on the go
  • Go out for dinner
  • Buy lunch at work – I need to take all my food
  • No books or clothes or treats or anything that I don’t need.

I’ve been pretty good in general and I’ve not been spending much, but I’ve bought a couple of books lately cheap in the supermarket which I don’t need, and I’ve been doing unnecessary top-up shops and buying some toiletries that I don’t need, as I’ve got enough to do me for a good while.

One extra thing I’m going to attempt to do is use my car a lot less, especially for short local trips.  My petrol spend isn’t massive these days (it’s a quarter of what it was in my last job), but just walking around more will be good for my back which has been suffering from all the sitting I’ve been doing lately while studying.

I’ll keep a record of exactly what I spend and report back at the end of April.

Wish me luck!



All you need is….the outdoors

I’d decided to take a long weekend off work to catch up on my course work, and figure out what to write about for my final assignment, an essay due in mid-April. I’m doing the course via distance learning, so I fit it in around work and life.  I spent a couple of days catching up with the weekly work which was good, then yesterday I started trying to narrow down what to write about for my essay. Long story short, but it needs to be based on what we’re studying this term, but we can’t make it too similar to anything we’ve studied during a particular week. Of course typically I want to cover something that we looked at in Week 4. After three full days of sitting in front of the computer, my back was decidedly unhappy, I couldn’t figure out what else to write about – hours of research boiled down to a big fat zero – so I had a melt down. I emailed my tutor in a stress, then sacked it off for the night about 8:30pm and decided to watch Fast & Furious 7. I love that film and still cry at the end 😩 Anyhoo, I had today off to study, but after a restless night with an achey back I decided to sack it off for the day.

Amazingly it was a beautiful day, so I decided to drive to a nearby beach and go for a walk. I looooove beaches so much, they just make me feel great. I spent a good couple of hours wandering along the route of the local Parkrun, and enjoyed a coffee on the hoof. I was sorely tempted by some chips, but managed to restrain myself.

After I got home around 1:30pm, I had a cuppa and was contemplating logging on, but thought ‘bugger it’ and headed to the allotment.  Happily I met one of my neighbours who I’d never met before so we had a nice chat, then one of the guys from the plot on the other side appeared so we had a lovely chat too. I asked them their expert advice on what I should do with the two compost heaps I have, so now I’ve got some plans for another visit. I decided to try and clear one of the beds I hadn’t really touched, other than previously trying to pull out some brambles. I got most of it done, and hauled out another couple of huge roots. This was the first time I’d been at the allotment in just a t-shirt, and at one point it felt totally scorchio. I cannot wait to be down there in the summer 😀

My recently discovered rhubarb is also coming on at a pace, and I’m already dreaming of my first crumble (a sugar free recipe has already been found).

So today was fabulous, and I’m glad I chose to spent a lot of it ourside. Even though I felt like I’d had a meltdown last night, the difference is I didn’t reach for the shit food to compensate, as I would have done in the past. It didn’t even occur to me. Also as frustrated as I was, I feel really clear headed today, and I know I’ll get the essay sussed and get the plan in next Monday. I know I keep banging on about it, but I’m constantly amazed at the difference that no sugar and low carb eating is making to me, especially mentally/emotionally. Yeah stuff can still be stressful, but it bothers me for a lot less time, and mentally I feel a bit sharper such that already I can see a way out of the hole I felt I was in yesterday.

That said, this week I didn’t lose weight and in fact went up 2 lbs. I’ve been tracking what I eat but I’ve also not really been paying attention to whether I’m hungry or not and scarffing down nuts like there’s no tomorrow (damn you salted pecans!). So back to just eating when I’m hungry this week, and I’m sure I’ll get shot of those 2 lbs pretty quickly. Oh and I did have a sneaky Chinese takeout on Friday, so that won’t have helped!  It was bloody good though 😀

New goals

I’m not sure how many posts I’ve written setting out a ream of goals that have fallen by the wayside.  Lots probably.  Anyway, this year, while my running goals have now fallen by the wayside, I’m doing well on the financial side of things, and starting to really feel the benefits of the low carb high fat (LCHF) way of eating and lack of sugar.  Importantly i’m back at the gym and loving it.  At the moment the programme i’m following just has two sessions a week, but on the 27th March I’ll be starting a new 6-week programme that will take me to the gym three times a week.  I feel I need it actually as twice a week is fine but already feeling like it’s not enough.  I do need to remember though that i’m only really back at the gym after a long (too long) hiatus, and building back up.  Also whilst i’m adapting to a LCHF lifestyle, I can expect my training to suffer a bit initially.

However, despite all that, I feel that I want to set myself some strength training goals.  I can’t tell you how much I love lifting weights, even just on a small-scale.  I’m not doing any Olympics lifts at the moment, but actually I’m just interested in building strength at the moment, so I’m good with that.  I’ve only been back at the gym for 4 weeks, so i’m kind of right back to the start in terms of my strength journey.  So, as a bit of a benchmark against which I can measure progress, here are my current stats:

March 2017
Bodyweight: 104kg (it was 115kg last May, fook!!)
Bench press: 30kg (8 reps)
Back Squat: 45kg (4 reps)
Deadlift: 55kg (8 reps)
Press-ups: 0 (can’t do a full body press-up yet)
Pull-up: 0 (YOU try lifting 104kg! 😉 )

I’ve not tried to do any 1-rep max testing lately, but that’s what I’ve been pushing/pulling etc. in the gym in the last week.  Happily my weight is coming down slowly but surely, and there will inevitably be some plateaus along the way, but overall it should drop.  Therefore I’ve set some goals in a couple of different ways:

Goals for next 6-12 months
Bodyweight: 88 – 72kg
Bench Press: a) 50kg  b) 0.75 x bodyweight (BW)  c) 1 x BW
Back Squat: a) 75kg  b) 1 x BW  c) 1.5 x BW
Deadlift: a) 100kg  b) 1 x BW c) 1.5 x BW
Press-ups: 10 in a row
Pull-ups: a) 1!  b) 5 in a row c) 10 in a row

So there you have it.  It may be that some of those will take longer than 12 months (e.g. some of the c) goals!) – I’ll be able to reassess as I go as to what’s realistic.  For the deadlift, the BW lift might come first if I lose >4kg before I’m lifting anywhere near 100kg, but we’ll see.

At the moment I’m just working my way through old training programmes that my personal trainer wrote for me, and once I’ve finished those (in about 16 weeks or so) then I’ll resume the personal training and take it from there.

Alongside this I need to introduce regular stretching and mobility work, as I’ll soon come a cropper if I don’t look after that side of things.

I’ll report back on progress, and I’m happy to say this is definitely the most excited I’ve been about a goal in a long time, so I think I’ve actually found the right goal for me.  Woo hoooo!


February round up

So another month nearly gone. As ever it feels as though the year is speeding along with increasing rapidity. For once though, I’m pleased to say I feel as though I’m making progress. Debt repayments are going to plan, and I even managed to sneak in another £90 payment over and above my planned amount. As of today I’ve managed 31 days without sugar, and in the last couple of weeks I’ve lost 6lbs, so the low carb high fat (LCHF) is working. Miraculously I also managed a week of PMT without a) even noticing, other than being a lot hungrier than expected, and b) zero sugar and low carb intake. Something must be working and long may it continue. 

I’ve not attempted running yet, and as a result I’ve changed my plans (again) and found a lovely Pirate pal to take over my place in the Outlaw triathlon relay team. It’s disappointing, but it’s the right move. I’ll get back to running soon, and do some shorter events, but happily I’ve been back to the gym the past three weeks and I’ve re-started a training programme to build my strength back up. I really love it, and it’s helping my back already, so it was the right move to make.  Not maintaining the gym work was what screwed me in the first place, and honestly it’s my favourite activity/sport so I really should have just focused on it all along. 

March is just more of the same: keep plugging away at the debt, save money to cover the next Lanza trip, continue eating and training as I have been and that should help with the next 6 weeks of studying that are looming. I’ve slacked off the last couple of weeks a bit – mentally I just needed to dial it back a bit, I felt a bit knackered – but it’s full steam ahead from this week until Easter. 

Busy busy but that’s the way I like it, especially when I’m finally ‘doing’ instead of just ‘talking about doing.’

Happy days. 

28 days later


I’ve finally managed to reach 28 days sugar-free.  I’ll be honest and say that I wasn’t sure I’d get here, but here I am and I feel very happy about it.  I was expecting cravings to reach epic proportions, but amazingly they’ve been okay.  I keep waiting for that wave to hit, but it hasn’t yet, and every day they don’t appear, it will make it that little bit more easy to resist if they do.

I’ve started to lose weight again after going up and down by about 7 lbs for months and months.  Along side the no sugar lifestyle I’ve reduced my carbs to around 50g per day.  Most of the carbs I do eat come from nuts, dairy and veggies. I wish that I could have bottled how I was feeling before starting this.  I wasn’t ill or in dire straits, but I just wasn’t feeling 100%.  I was getting more headaches, and I’ve never been one to suffer from them very much at all.  My skin was itchy on-and-off, my joints ached a little bit, and often I just felt full and heavy.  As if the food I was eating had been distributed through my body because all of me just felt laden and overburdened somehow.  My sleep was okay but I woke up a lot and often I didn’t feel as though I was getting a really good night’s sleep.  Lately, however, especially in the last week, I’ve been sleeping really well, I feel lighter in general, my skin is a bit better and I don’t have the as much brain fog as I felt I was getting.  I feel like I’m doing my body good, for once in my puff.

To help me along the way I’m tracking everything I eat, as it just keeps me on the straight and narrow.  I use My Fitness Pal, and I paid for the upgrade (towards the end of last year) so I can customise it a bit more to suit what I want to eat.  I don’t actually get obsessive about it, rather I decide what I want to eat for the day, plug it all in and see what it comes out with.  It’s working well because I’m pretty much achieving the macro ratios I want without actually planning it.  Most importantly for me, I eat to hunger.  So if I’m hungry I eat.  I stop when I’m full, and at the moment if I get hungry soon after I eat some more.  If I’m not hungry for a few hours after my last meal/snack, I don’t eat.  It works out to breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack if I need it.  I’m eating around 1800-2000 calories a day, and macro wise it’s about 11% carbs, protein 19% and fat 70%.  Most of the fat is already in the food I eat (i.e. meat/fish/avocado/nuts etc.) rather than it all being added cream or butter.  So far so good.  I’ll just keep doing what i’m doing and if stops working or I feel crap etc., I’ll make some changes.

One thing I’m not going to do though is reintroduce sugar.  I’m not going back.  It isn’t going to be easy, but after giving it a lot of thought these past 28 days, I’ve realised the most difficult thing isn’t whether a craving will get the better of me, but rather whether other people can really understand why I’m doing this, and be okay with it.  The reason I say that is if I don’t ever eat sugar again, well that makes me a real pain in the ass to have for dinner.  Also it might make me seem really rude, which is the last thing I’d want.  If it’s someone’s birthday (or mine), or a celebration or someone has been kind enough to bake a cake or some biscuits because I’m visiting, and then I say “oh i’m really sorry I don’t eat sugar anymore,” it makes me seem like a faddish arsehole.  Okay, so I would tell someone first that I don’t eat sugar so no need to make me anything with it in, but food is love and kindness, and it’s easy to think “ah she can just have a wee bit.”  I just can’t though.  I know it’ll set me off.  If I only ever had to worry about myself, I would be fine.  But it’s the thought of social situations and dealing with those without appearing like a twat and offending anyone that I’m not looking forward to.  I’ll just need to manage it, but that’s my main worry.

I’ve realised in the past that because I’ve failed sooooo many times when it comes to food, I always couch my plans with the words ‘try’, ‘attempt’, or ‘I hope to…but I might not’ and essentially give myself a get out before I’ve even started.  In fact I may (ha!) have even used some of those words above, I can’t be arsed to read back and check, but it’s a hard habit to break…  As I’ve realised with my financial management plans though, you need to be relentless towards your goal, so I need to apply the same intent to this.  I know I’ll be missing out to a degree, but that’s the price I’m willing to pay, because my health is important to me, and I’m finally in a place to sort it out.  Who knows what might happen – none of us have any guarantees, and we sure as hell are not getting out alive – but for as long as I’m still here I know I want to make the most of it, and being healthy is the key.  So for me, the biggest element of that is saying adios to sugar.  For me, a few missed cakes is a price worth paying.

Have a fabulous weekend people 🙂



A couple of posts ago I talked about how ridding myself of debt has become my number one priority for this year.  I received a number of comments and messages about it, along with lots of helpful suggestions for saving money.  So I thought it might be helpful to list the top ten things that I have done / am doing this year to get shot of the debt once and for all.  These are in no particular order, except for number one, which is the real cornerstone of sorting your shit out.

1. Create a budget (and stick to it)

I’ll be honest and say that I convinced myself for years that I was doing this, but actually all I was doing was tracking where all my money went.  When I ran out and started spending on a credit card or using up my overdraft, that was tracked to within an inch of its life, but clearly it wasn’t working; my debt increased.  I will say though that it set me up well for turning it into an actual budget.  My salary doesn’t vary much from money to month, so I know how much I have coming in.  I have the same general outgoings (i.e. bills to pay) each month too so that’s good.  The key thing for me was to go through each month and write down all the random/one-off expenses that occurred each month.  Water bills, car insurance, road tax, birthdays, holidays, eye tests, contact lens purchases etc. etc.  We all have that list of “oh shit I forgot about x bill” moment, so I’ve tried to preempt it.

The upshot is I know have a budget written out for each month of the year.  If something else comes in that wasn’t expected (which will happen), I can re-jig things to fit it in.  Sometimes of course it can be a bigger expense than your monthly budget which brings me neatly on to point 2…

2. Save £1000 as an emergency fund

I’m not sure how I found out about Dave Ramsey, but he’s a well-known American financial guru type, who helps people get out of debt and get rich.  Now he has various books and courses you can take, but there’s lots of free information available on his website.  So I’ve been perusing that and came across his seven baby steps which is essentially what I’m following.  In fact this point comes straight from him.  My initial thought was to hammer my debt and pay as much as possible to my loan (now gone, hurrah!) and 3 credit cards (still here, boo), but he advises saving $1000 as an emergency so you won’t need to add to debt when something unexpected arises.  So far this year I have £0 in my emergency fund….but I paid my course fees in January and my holiday in February so essentially I used my emergency budget instead of putting anything on credit card.  So the next couple of months are focussed on saving that money.  I’m not going to go through the other steps at the moment, but they’re worth a look.  Dave does some epic rants on his You Tube channel so they’re worth a watch!

3. Say No

I’ve mentioned this a few times lately, but one of the big issues with steps 1 & 2 is that I don’t have much spare cash for unplanned events.  Hence I’ve had to say no to a few future events.  It sucks big time, and I don’t want to let anyone down, or make them think that I don’t appreciate their invitations at all, but I need to pick my events.  It will be worth it in the end.

4. Use up what you’ve got

Now as with the tips above, I know I’m not exactly coming up with anything new, and millions of people do this as a rule anyway, but I think even though we all know we should use stuff up before replacing it, the fact millions are in debt makes me think we’ve forgotten.  Part of this for me really stems from my desire to reduce waste, and to minimise the stuff I’ve got.  When I had a big clear out last year, it really made me appreciate how many duplicates of things I had, and all of that translates into wasted money.  So i’ve been going through my freezer and cupboards and using stuff up before replacing it.  I had gotten into a really bad habit of buying a load of fresh but random stuff in a weekly shop, then opening the fridge and wondering what to make as all the ingredients seemed a bit disparate, so then I’d head to the shop to buy something to shove in the oven (and of course would buy cake or chocolate to go with it).  No more!  I recently had the most random vegetable curry ever which included brussel sprouts, cabbage and various other bits and bobs and it was delicious.  Now I see it as a bit of a challenge, and my waste has reduced drastically.  I think I empty my kitchen bin once every three weeks or so.

This also applies to other household stuff.  I had another mini-sort out recently, and realised I probably have enough toiletries to stock a small hotel.  So I won’t need to buy various lotions and potions for months.  I’m not even a typical girl in this respect that has a thousand products that are used daily.  Shampoo, shower gel, moisturiser and 2 hair products (my hair is very fine) is about the sum total of a normal day, along with hand soap oh and hand cream.  Also I always make sure that I get every last drop out of something, especially because a lot of these products are expensive.  I squeezed my hand cream to death until nothing else would come out, then cut it open and got the rest out and put it into a wee pot.  It was a 50ml bottle, and there’s about 1/5 left!


5. Plan meals in advance

This links in with 4, and makes a huge difference.  I have a notepad designed for the task, so plan everything out on a Sunday night.  Invariably I’ll swap stuff around, but I know what I have for the week, and I use it all without having to stare into a fridge hoping inspiration will hit.

6. Get rid of the excess

As I said above, getting rid of a lot of clutter really helped last year, but there is still a lot more I can shift.  A lot of what I didn’t get rid of last year, however, is potentially sellable, so next on my list is to start selling stuff and make a bit of cash.

7. Check existing outgoings and make changes

I’ve always been well aware of what is coming out of my bank account, so I’m not paying for anything I’ve stopped using but forgotten about.  However, last year by changing my energy and broadband providers and by stopping a subscription to a professional institute that I’m currently getting no benefit from (I can re-join when i’m ready to apply for Chartership), i’ve saved myself £346 this year.  So check your bills – there are always savings to be made.

8. Use the library

Anyone that knows me knows I love books, but when I cleared lots out last year, I realised I could let go of my attachment of having to own all the books, and I started using the library again.  I’ve saved a mountain of money in the last few months, and I’m happy to be supporting my local library, as so many are under threat of closure these days, which is a total travesty.

9. Being mindful of little spends

It’s so easy to nip down to the canteen at work for a medium Americano and hey I’ll have some cake with that too please, and before you know it you’ve spent £30 a week and you’re also getting fatter.  What bothers me is the waste of the coffee cups too.  They’re supposedly recyclable, but recent news articles said maybe a 1/3 or such cups are actually recycled?  So at work I use a refillable cup if I do go downstairs, but more often than not I make my own coffee (tastes a damn site better) and of course now I’ve stopped the sugar the cakes have gone too.  Win-win!

10. Focus on your goal relentlessly

I’m happy to admit I’m now utterly obsessional about my money and where it goes, but this is why it’s working.  It’s like anything, if you want something you need to focus all your energy on it to achieve it.  So that’s what i’m doing.  I bore myself with my money chat (and Christ it’s only February), but again, it’ll be worth it in the end 🙂

Happy money-management people!



Counting the pennies


One of my biggest goals this year is to pay off all my debt.  The debt I carry around, and have done for about the last 6-7 years, has gone up and down a lot, but reached its highest amount last August.  I started to accrue debt when I was working in my previous job, and latterly had a 120 mile daily commute that ate into my wages, and I also wasn’t living within my salary.  Ultimately I was living a lifestyle that I couldn’t afford, as if I was on about £10K more a year than I really was.  When I got my current job, it meant moving to an unfurnished flat, so a few grand was tacked on to account for the cost of moving and to buy furniture for the flat.  I’ve also been studying again, which costs money, but truthfully a fair bit of the debt was just continuing to live a lifestyle where I didn’t really think about the financial consequences, and flashed the credit card about when my monthly salary had run out, but I still wanted to go on holiday or have a night out.

Last April I remember waking up feeling more stressed than I’ve ever felt in my life.  If it wasn’t a panic attack then bugger me I never want to actually go through one, because if it feels worse than I felt that morning, well… no thanks.  I started to plan a way out of the mess i’d created, but clearly I didn’t manage very well as the debt continued to rise.

However, I finally managed to get my shit together after August, and since then I’ve paid off over £3500, half of that was paid this year alone, whilst also managing to pay the final 1/3 of my final course (with cash).  I realised I just don’t want to go on living a life with this financial rope around my neck, and whilst the rope continues to get tighter.  So I made a budget, a pretty tight one, and I’ve stuck to it so far.  I even made a plan to cover the holiday I had last week, and spent about £50 less than planned so I’m already quids in.  My budget for the next couple of months includes saving for my return trip to Lanza in the summer, so that not one penny of it will go on the credit card.  This month I’ve paid off a loan, leaving just three credit cards to go.

The best thing about finally taking control is the freedom it has given me.  It really feels like a weight off my shoulders, and as a result my holiday last week was soooo relaxed, and I had a fabulous time with my lovely pals.  I knew I could afford it and wouldn’t be paying it off for months to come (as I usually end up doing).  By the time the next holiday rolls around I’ll have the money for that available, as well as having a few hundred pounds saved to cover any emergency expenses that arise over the year (again, to stop me need to put anything on a credit card).

Once the credit cards are paid off, they’ll be cut up.  I’m not getting caught up in this debt cycle again.

According to my plan, I’ll have everything paid off by mid-February 2018, but if I’m honest I really want to get shot of it all by 31st December 2017.  So I’ll need to get creative to find that extra cash to make bigger payments, but I reckon I can do it.  I’m kind of relishing the challenge.  As I’ve said before, it has meant using the word ‘no’ for once, and having to turn down some holidays or plans with friends, but it’ll be worth it in the end.


Looking forward


Well, here we are.  Only a few hours until we can bid good riddance to a year which a lot of us might consider the worst in a few years.  So many deaths, political upheaval, just one thing after another.  Although when you step back and have a look, and really take everything into consideration, was it really that bad?  Well, it depends who you are and what you’re doing I guess.  As a white woman living in the UK with a roof over my head, a good job and thankfully a fabulous family and an amazing bunch of friends, I consider myself very, very, very lucky.  We live in an age now where all the baby boomers are getting into middle/early old age and the lifestyles a lot of them led are possibly leading to an untimely death.  The last recession was eight (8!) years ago, and yet austerity is still big on the political agenda; the poor get poorer, services are getting slashed, people are royally fucked off and many fear that either they don’t have a voice, or maybe more crucially that no-one is listening.  So upon reflection, is the Brexit vote really a surprise?  Or Trump?  When historians look back in 20, 30 years time they’ll easily be able to chart the path that we’ve all been walking down for some time; I think we’re just too close to it to really see what’s been happening, or to be able to fully appreciate the consequences of our actions.

So while 2016 does feel a bit critical, we have a choice now.  We can let everything run on and accelerate in a direction we don’t like, or we can make choices to change things for the better.  Individually it might seem as though we can’t make a difference but that’s rubbish.  If we all do something good it can add up to a lot of wonderful.  Listening more, being more accepting and less judgemental, thinking about the choices we make and the impact it could have on our lives, our finances, our environment.  Standing up for others, standing up against oppression and hatred; I think we’ll need to do that more than ever over the next decade.  There is a lot of positivity out there in the world, and as humans we have such a capacity for goodness.  For those of us lucky enough not to suffer from mental illness or distress, I really believe that happiness is absolutely a choice.  We can choose the direction our life takes, and we can learn to be confident and resilient, so when an unexpected storm comes in that we have no control over, we can weather it better.  And we can all do a little bit more to help those that can’t weather that storm so easily, for whatever reason.  At some point in our lives we will all need a little help, so pay it forward in the hope it’ll come back to you when you need it one day.

Who knows what 2017 will bring politically, but I for one am looking forward to it.  This year I started to simplify my life to a degree, and started the task of getting rid of a lot of ‘stuff’.  I’ll keep doing that as I’ve realised that what makes me happy is not stuff but the people in my life, the memories I make with them and a realisation that the world is my oyster.  Well, i’ve always thought the world was my oyster, but it’s easy to forget in a way.  We really can do anything we put our minds too, obstacles can be tackled and overcome or hopefully just moved around.  So to all my wonderful friends and family, thanks so much for your love and support this year, and here is to a fabulous 2017.

Happy New Year 🙂

Pea xx

A reason, a season, a lifetime


Last Tuesday I set off on a jet plane to the Balearics, to watch a group of friends take on the beast that is Ironman Mallorca.  As a supporter I was going to write a ‘race report’ so to speak, but to be perfectly honest, a wonderful friend of mine, who is far more eloquent than me has already written an amazing account of what it meant to support the race.  I’m  sharing it here so you can go and read it, and then you’ll understand just what it means to undertake an iron distance triathlon, and what it means to be part of the Pirate Ship of Fools, the unofficial tri club I’ve talked about before.  Take the time to read it.  Then, if you can be arsed, come back and finish this, ha!

Ultimately the essence of what Nicky captures in her report, to me, is all about friendship. I’ve written a few times about how important friends are in life, and again this last week has sought to emphasise how important the people in my life are.  It brought to mind a passage that I was given by a friend when I lived in Australia for a year in 2003.  I’ve reproduced it here, and since it’s anonymous, I can’t credit anyone, but thanks to Debbie for bringing it to my attention all these years ago!


We all know someone who fits into each category, some that maybe span more than one, as life unfolds.  When I was travelling years ago, and even when I was living in Australia, there were many people who came in to my life for a season.  We shared an adventure together, some firsts, some lasts and lots in between.  Some of these friendships changed my life and I’m lucky to still count them as a significant part of my life, but for those that drifted off, there’s no sadness there, just a lot of fond memories and a bunch of photos, some more dodgy than others.  All I can say is thank fuck there was no social media back then!!

Of course as life ebbs and flows, so too do the relationships we have with one another.  Over the years I’ve often thought of the passage above, especially when people come in to your life but for one reason or another don’t stay as long as you’d hope.  I know myself, I find those the hardest to deal with.  It’s easy to want to hang on to the past and keep everything the same, especially when something makes you happy.  But… changes.  Some relationships or friendships just aren’t meant to last.  It’s cheesy as hell but they do teach us a lesson, even if we’re doing our best to try not to learn it.  Until thinking about writing this post, I’d not actually read the passage for some time, despite thinking of it often.

“What we must realise is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done”.

While it feels like it has a slightly religious edge to it, which personally isn’t for me, I can’t disagree.  I think that when someone’s part in your life is over, being able to recognise what they brought to your life, good and bad, is the only way to help you move on.  Happily the people who fit into this category are in the minority.  I think we all have a tendency to hold on too long to things we’re scared to let go of, but no-one can move forward in life when they’re tethered to the past.

So all that remains are those that come in for a lifetime, or at least to teach you lessons that you can use for the rest of your days.  It’s often said that racing an IM can make you feel as though you’re experiencing a lifetime of emotions in a day, and having started one myself which I failed to finish, I can understand that.  What’s really great about the pirates is that in amongst all the piss taking, incessant slagging & inevitable boozing, everyone pulls together to support each other, no matter what.  This year I’ve been lucky to go on two pirate holidays, supporting my friends undertaking their IM challenges (quite honestly I’ve realised that actually doing them is too much like hard work and at least in supporting I get to drink cocktails while shouting abuse encouragement at them.  Perfect).  From a  random group of quite disparate people, friendships have grown over the years, and as individuals we’ve all experienced a wealth of life experiences, from marriages & divorces, births & deaths, and everywhere in between, all the highs and lows of a typical life.  One thing that I think I can say connects us all is a desire to achieve more, to strive to do our best, and to support each other in reaching these goals.  There is nothing more inspirational than watching people battling it out on the course, and I defy anyone watching not to feel the hairs on the back of their neck go up, or their eyes to well up when  they see the suffering and determination on the faces running past.  I think I cried at least about 4 times last Saturday, haha!!  Even if you have no interest in triathlon, it makes you want to do better, to aim higher and gives you a belief that maybe, just maybe the impossible is actually possible.  Surely there’s no greater feeling?  That excitement that actually, with enough determination and hard work, we can realise our dreams.  The best part of any relationship is when you can work together, to support each other to achieve something.  The pirates do this in spades, and I’m so happy to be even just a little part of that.

So tomorrow it is October; only a quarter of the year remains.  Plenty of time to get to work on achieving these dreams, especially if we help each other along the way.  Sounds like a good plan to me 🙂