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Aims for the rest of 2017!

Sunday, 18 June 2017

We're now at June, halfway through the year, and if I'd made New Years Resolutions then now would be the time that I'd be reviewing them and wondering how the wheels managed to fall off so quickly.

I had no energy or thoughts of resolutions on 1 January as we had only bought our house a few weeks earlier, and my brain was filled with plans for bathroom refurbishment, furniture buying, and general decorating. So now seems like a good time to look back at the past six months, and look forward to the next six, and work out what I'd like to do between now and December.

Continue mortgage overpayments
Yes with the year halfway through we’re creeping ever closer to my aim to drop under £155k owed on our house before January. Last month's overpayment was a little on the small side, a week off work at the end of April meant that I didn’t has as many work expenses to claim back in the first week of May. But June’s overpayment is already looking quite healthy, so we might be on target without too much difficulty!
Next time I'm in Rome I might know Italian!

Improve my abysmal Italian
You might have seen from my Twitter feed recently that I’ve become a little bit addicted to radio.garden, a website that lets you tune in to radio stations around the world. I love it because all the green dots scattered across the world are radio stations, with small dots for single radio channels, and larger ones for a cluster of stations that you can tune in to. 

When I started using it I had fun bouncing around the world, listening to stations in France, Denmark, Russia, China, Japan and Malaysia, before finishing up with half an hour of Israeli music. But since then I’ve settled in to listening to Italian radio. I tend to bounce around a few stations based in Rome, but there’s also Radio Day, which is a station based in Frosinone, the province my great-grandfather is from. However my Italian (despite my ancestry) is extremely poor. I can count to ten, ask for a table at a restaurant, and say please and thank you (the absolutely basics when you’re on holiday). I keep finding myself listening to adverts and news sections without knowing what’s going on (although that doesn’t bother me with the adverts quite so much). 

So I’ve decided to try and improve my Italian for the next six months. I’ve signed up to DuoLingo with the aim to practise for ten minutes a day, every day. If I actually manage to maintain this for the next six months then I’ll be shocked but pleased XD

Plan for Christmas better
I know I’m not the only one who thinks about this. My birthday is exactly six weeks before Christmas, so I normally don’t worry about it until my birthday has been and gone. Last year that really didn’t work as we completed our house purchase in early December, so I had to buy a lot of last-minute gifts for family and friends as I just hadn’t had the time or energy to think about it.

This year I’m planning on being at least slightly more organised. I’d like to have a list of what I’m buying people by the end of October, and then I can buy bits and pieces in the following weeks. This is also the first year we’ve been in the house for Christmas and our first year as a married couple, so me and my husband need to work out what we want to do for the day (difficult as he doesn’t celebrate Christmas and doesn’t really see the point of it). 

Walk more
Getting in to the swing of a much longer commute, and all the problems that go with it, has taken me longer than I thought it would. After a week of lots of driving, coupled with my husband having train problems, and the need to dedicate time to the wedding and decorating the house, overall my weekends tend to involve only leaving the house to buy food. A day out over the bank holiday weekend reminded me that it's good to get out of the house for something other than essentials (work and food). I have a book of walks around Essex that I dug out and had a look, and I've now identified a few walks in the area that are three miles or more and will be good to do in the future. Now I just need to get the energy for them, and encourage husband to come with me!

Mortgage Overpayment - May 2017

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The end of the month means overpayment time for our mortgage! After April's bumper overpayment I knew that May was going to look measly in comparison, but I've really taken my eye off the ball this month, and haven't found other sources to replace the large Quidco payments that won't be coming in any more.

May's overpayment is £66.97, which although it's not as good as I would like, is still just over my target of overpaying £60 a month. I didn't have a great deal of success with eBay this month, but I did count up my 20p and copper penny jars, which gave me £12 in total.

I also got a tiny payment from Amazon for eBook sales back in March. I published two eBooks on women in history back in 2014, and every so often I get a few sales that give me a little trickle of pennies from Amazon. May's payout was £0.76, which I think mostly came from March as it was Women's History Month and there's always a little spike in activity then.

The rest of the money was made up of our basic overpayment (£30) and my expenses from April, which were paid in the middle of May.

So although it wasn't well over the odds, I'm still pleased that we're just over target, and hopefully in June I'll get back in to my money saving mojo and get a bit closer to the magical £100!

Charity Shop Haul - May 2017

Saturday, 3 June 2017

I've been a devotee of charity shops for months now, as they were my primary source of crockery for our wedding. One thing I've said to my husband is that now we've had the wedding, I'm looking forward to it consuming less of my daily life. Even thought we were only having a small wedding, the need to find as much of our crockery in charity shops as possible, meant that I was just going in and out of them to look at the bric-a-brac shelves, before moving on to the next one. I was also trying to save as much money towards it as possible, so if I wasn't buying something for the wedding, I felt that it was wasted money.

But now I can go in to a charity shop and look for things that aren't teapots and cups! I'm also enjoying the loosening of the purse strings, although not too much since we still have to buy a lot of things for the house. May was my first month of being able to buy things, and I'm quite happy with my little haul for the month!

Clothes
I got a really lovely blue long-sleeved top from a Cancer Research UK shop. The material is super soft, and it's from Marks and Spencers so it's really good quality, although thankfully this top doesn't like like it's aimed at the over-sixties XD It'll be good for either work or home, but it's a little thin so I may not get away with it in the winter unless I layer it with both a vest underneath and a tunic over the top.

I also spotted a few skirts that I liked, but if I wasn't overawed with them then I didn't buy them. I've come to regret letting one of them go though as the material was lovely and soft, and I'm sure I would have found something to wear with it if I had tried, so I think I need to be a little bolder about buying such things when I see them!

Books
I've been struggling to get through my history reads recently, and I think it's because I need to wind my brain down a little bit. Sometimes when work is busy and life is hectic, you just need some easy-read to fiction to distract you from everything else.

I'm always a bit "meh" about historical fiction, as I tend to dislike the lack of proper context, or just all-out poor use of history (you can probably guess which author in particular I'm thinking of here). Nowadays I tend to by historical fiction set in the Georgian period as it's a point of history I know very little about, and so I find very little to annoy me in books XD So "How to Marry a Marquis" seemed to fit the bill perfectly, and I then added to it with "Mrs Fytton's Country Life" and "The Runaway Princess", neither of which are historical but both of which seem to come under the heading of "easy fiction". However I have yet to read any of these, as I also bought "What Would Mary Berry Do?" by Claire Sandy, and it was so good that I read it in two and a half days!

Despite aiming to get just fiction books I couldn't help but also purchase "Princesses: The Daughters of George III" as the hardback copy was only £5 in Oxfam. I read a really good biography of George III and his family last year, and I've wanted to read more on his daughters for a while now, so I'm hoping this will prove to be an equally interesting book.

Anything Else?
I was hoping to be able to buy a DVD or two that we could save to one side for a future date night, but despite lots of searching I couldn't find any that I wanted to buy. I'm a bit picky with films, and I tend to find that the ones in charity shops are not brilliant films anyway (otherwise people would keep the DVD to watch again!) I also kept my eye out for any kitchenwares (cake tins and storage pots being the two main ones) but again, nothing really caught my eye.

But that's okay, I don't want to go mad in my first month of buying, we'll see what June brings!
 
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