Monthly Archives: April 2010

Lessons learned from living alone

Okay, so the title is a little misleading, seeing as I’ve never lived alone. T’s been away for a few days, giving me a taste of what it would be like to live completely on my own. I can see how it would get a bit lonely, but at the same time, the peace and quiet is nice!

- I’ve eaten the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, with the leftovers for lunch two days in a row. Clearly, having the other half around means going through food ridiculously fast, but it also means variety. Cooking for one…meh. I flatted for a year before moving in with T, and can’t count the number of times a packet of pasta, a can of sauce and some mince would last me three nights.

– Coincidentally, the last few days at work have also been rather busy. I can see how I might become a total workaholic if I were single.

– I’d probably sleep in my cuddly pink robe on cold nights, and wake up sprawled sideways across the bed.

– I would probably also appreciate the noise from our LL’s family more – reassuring signs of life and all. They have young children who often sound like they’re jumping on the floor right above our heads.

– Finally, the house would most definitely be tidier. I don’t leave my dirty socks lying all over the floor, and I make way less mess in the kitchen!

Extra income!

To date this year I’ve netted an extra $806.57 aside from my day job.

January
$88.10 (Mystery shops – plus free food, lotto tickets)

February
$87.91 (Plus free food, lotto tickets, beauty products)
$70 focus group
$355 side job

March:
$135.56 (Plus a free $70 cardigan from Max - a much needed wardrobe staple and the best quality cardi I’ve ever owned)
$70 tutoring

A month ago I signed up to findatutor.co.nz and, surprisingly, have had three jobs come up already. I don’t have the time or inclination to tutor, but I do enjoy proofing and editing, so I thought I’d put feelers out and see if there was a demand…students wanting their essays polished, etc. I can mostly do it from home, which is exactly what I’m looking for.

I might even set a “reach” goal of making an additional $4000 by the end of the year!

Adobe Creative: Should I or shouldn’t I?

I’ve been offered a chance to trade some writing for training on the Adobe suite.

The question is, would it be worth it?

In terms of value for money, those courses don’t come cheap. And those skills could be  valuable later on.

Images: Adobe.com

BUT, the odds of me needing them anytime soon are slim, and if I don’t keep it up, I’d probably forget everything I learned. (I don’t have the software at home) And if I did need to learn it in the future, I could probably teach myself in my own time.

I’ve used Photoshop, InDesign and Dreamweaver before. Photoshop, I use on a daily basis for work, and have a good grasp of the basics. (I was completely lost when we got to the more advanced stuff in class a couple of years ago, like masks.) I also created a rudimentary website with Dreamweaver and designed pages in InDesign at university. (I’m pretty unlikely to ever need Flash or Illustrator).

Brushing up on InDesign would be vital if I ever moved into print subediting. Dreamweaver would be more for fun, because although I work in online, I’m in editorial, not design.

Right now, I’m leaning towards saying thank you for the offer and taking a rain check for the moment.

What do you think?

March roundup

So, lots of spending going on…

2 % - Clothes & Grooming 3 % - Debt Repayments 6 % - Dining & Bars 2 % - Entertainment 1 % - Fees & Interest Paid 13 % - Food & Groceries 0 % - Gifts & Donations 13 % - Home Expenses 1 % - Medical 23 % - Rent / Mortgage 4 % - Savings 7 % - Tax 4 % - Trent fun 4 % - Trent lunch 3 % - Utilities & Services 16 % - Vehicle & Transport 0 % - Work expenses
Clothes & Grooming 2% $113
Debt Repayments 3% $144
Dining & Bars 6% $318
Entertainment 2% $79
Food & Groceries 13% $693
Gifts & Donations 0% $25
Home Expenses 13% $657
Medical 1% $44
Rent / Mortgage 23% $1,180
Tax 7% $352
Trent fun 4% $184
Trent lunch 4% $208
Utilities & Services 3% $135
Vehicle & Transport 16% $861
Work expenses 0% $17

Vehicle: We paid for three months of registration, plus new tyres and T did a service on the car. It’s due for a warrant this month, and there’s a couple of other things we’d like to fix up on it. Plus, it was chewing gas for a few weeks there :@ but changing the tyres seems to have sorted that out.

Food and groceries: That’s five weeks of groceries rather than four, but it’s still a little high. Oh well, not much to do there really, except make sure we get everything we need to avoid mid-week runs to the supermarket. Incidentally, it turns out buying three 2L milk bottles is cheaper than buying two 3L ones. Plus, they fit better in the fridge, and make it easier for T to pace his insane milk consumption. Win, win and win.

Clothing: T bought a new pair of shoes.

Entertainment: About half of this was our night out to see Alice in Wonderland 3D.

Dining: Erm, yeah, lots of eating out. Brunches, lunches, socialising with friends (all worth it, though) plus some fast food fails. Let’s aim to get this down to $200 – the lowest we’ve ever managed – next month.

Spending money: T had some flush weeks (he usually gets $40 a week), although it looks like he had more on two occasions.

Tax: My “overdue” tax.

Home expenses: two weeks bond, obviously, plus moving expenses other bits and pieces we needed to get now we’re back living on our own.

Utilities: low, as our final phone/internet bill turned out as a credit, and our final power bill will come out of our bond at the old place. Plus, I still had plenty of cell phone credit from that focus group in February. This would have been even lower, but we now officially have Sky TV.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

Anyone ever get repeat requests to borrow money from family members? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.

I used to lend a member of T’s family money quite regularly. Small amounts – I’m talking $20 at a time. She always repaid it within the week; it just got annoying after a while. You know how once you’ve set a precedent, it’s hard to stop?

Anyway, it did stop, to my surprise (and fairly painlessly, too). Until recently. It all comes through T, though, who then relays it on to me. Mostly. In the past week or two I’ve called him up to ask about random cash withdrawals, which turn out to be for her. GAH.

It’s easy to be a bit blase  – after all, my overdraft facility isn’t costing me anything right now. (And after all, they’re more than generous with what they have: we’ve borrowed their snorkelling gear, tools, and currently have their gas BBQ at our place – I’m not sure if that’s permanent, or if they’ll want it back once they move.) But that’s not going to be forever, and like I’ve told T, we need to get out of the habit of falling back on it, especially for non-necessities. And while his income’s not regular and he still has a CC balance to pay off…he just has to keep saying no, no matter how hard it is.

March goals

How did I do last month?

Save 20 per cent of my income. Done, even beyond 20 percent. Unfortunately, it’s going to be wiped out by that tax payment, humongoid phone bill, and a bond (at least that’s refundable) for the power company. And by wiped out, I mean to the tune of almost two months’ solid saving. Booo. I’d like to hit $10k at the end of the year, so will have to get cranking on bringing more in.

Try one new (to me) dinner recipe each week. Well, BF has been taking charge of dinners as he gets home before me, but he’s a whiz at knocking together strange yet delicious concoctions. Menu planning is sort of happening…we’re making a conscious effort to go into the supermarket with a rough outline, at least.

Run once a week. Again, I missed one week in the aftermath of the move, but made up for it with an extra long one the week after! Plus, we now live next to a huge park with field, basketball court and tennis court. T and I have been walking over to play our version of tennis (simply getting the ball over the net counts as a win) in the evenings.

Make an upwards career move. Did some freelancing work which may or may not lead to future opportunities. Either way, it was great for experience. In terms of the day-to-day, my new duties are all going well and I feel like I’m really getting into the groove of it.

Donate to charity. Grr, don’t think I’ve done this since last month…the past few weeks have been so hectic. Must make up for that next month.

I’m also sloooowly trying to get through my list of books to read (you’ll find it at the bottom of the booklist page). Most recently, I finished In My Father’s Den.

Other books I’ve read this month and really enjoyed:

Kindred
Octavia Butler
Picture this: you’re a “modern” black woman who suddenly finds herself waking up in the heyday of slavery in the American South. The premise is a bit stretched (I mean, come on, this woman suddenly starts getting sent back in time each time her ancestor’s life is in danger?) but the story itself is vivid and jarring – a powerful reminder that although slavery is behind us, it wasn’t all that long ago.

Kane and Abel
Jeffrey Archer
Again, a really unlikely plot sees two starkly different men’s lives interweave as they try to best each other. Born on the same day on opposite sides of the world – one in war-stricken poverty and one in the lap of WASP luxury – fate ensures their paths are irreversibly entwined on the journey to build their individual fortune and legacy. Written 30 years ago and set more than a century ago, it reflects the views and conventions of the time, but still a flaming good read.

Under the Rose
Diane Peterfreund
Sequel to Secret Society Girl (which I haven’t actually read). A tale of a secret societies among elite universities where members meet in underground tombs, call each other by code names, make friends with the other rich, well connected “knights”, go through hazing and…well…everything else pretty much sounds like what a frat/sorority is, from what I know. Except that they’re highly secret and nobody ever reveals that they belong to one. Seriously, are these for real? Because from the author blurb, it kind of sounds like they are. And I don’t know if that’s more scary or amusing.