The One Without Any Spending

So I had this brilliant idea that October would be a “no spend” month, or at least a “spend less/stop impulse spending month”. So in September I sat down and wrote this:

Saturday 29th September

I mentioned before, that financially things aren’t going well right now. I am stuck in a horrible rut with my depression and anxiety right now (yep, my depression is back. Yay- lucky me!) I have been emotionally spending.

Although….

To be honest, I’ve never been the best with money. I went from living at home with no income to living by myself at university where money appeared in my account three times a year. (That’s how student loans work in the UK.) Those times would be like “Yay money again! Spend!” There wasn’t enough money to even consider saving – it was a struggle to get the money to stretch across the months. You’d stock up on everything you needed when there was money and scrimp and dig into your overdraft when there was none. I learned to be very scared of checking my bank account, of ignoring overdraft fees, and generally, nothing particularly healthy. At the same time I was anxious and binge eating and wasting money in small but frequent amounts on food to meet my endless appetite. And I compared myself to others, began to want things I couldn’t afford. Without money there wasn’t much I could do. Then came work, and an income. My bad habits had the source they needed. More food, now takeaways of junk food and more expensive binging foods, and I compared and I wanted and I bought. The other week after a particularly rough week and a rough doctors appointment I went to town and spent and I went online and I spent and I went and bought a takeaway and I spent. I wanted to make myself feel better, but in the end I returned half the stuff (that I could) and feel vaguely guilty about the rest. It’s too easy to convince yourself that you need something, rather than just wanting it. To compare yourself to the images you see on social media of women your age with their West Elm furniture and designer clothes/makeup and to want, to compare yourself to your family, your sister and cousin who have bought houses and filled them with nice things and want. (So many people my age seem so settled and so together and it leaves me feeling anxious and like I need to prove myself like them somehow.) Look, I’m not so bad. I resist massive purchases, but the relatively small bits again and again all add up. I realise belatedly that I could have some of the more expensive things I want if I could stop wasting so much money on smaller and more frequent purchases. I hate how meagre my savings are. I know that saving interest rates are a joke in this country and that’s demotivating, but it’s no excuse. I feel scared that I have no fuck off fund – if things go wrong I have nothing to fall back on. Every unexpected expense – like an upcoming car service – is enough to make me feel scared. How am I going to afford it? I have some debt. Nothing awful, but small and persistent. I just can’t seem to pay my credit card off, despite capping it at a low and reasonable value (I am at least not so stupid as to arm myself with some massive credit card when I have not yet learned how to manage the little one.) So this month I want to do two weeks without spending. During this time I will be allowed-

– £40 food allowance.
– to pay for my doctor’s appointment next Tuesday and buy my meds
– to buy petrol
– bills obviously won’t count
– if the fish need anything, that won’t count*

* As in food runs out, filter breaks and needs replacing, that kind of thing.

I am going to try and leave the credit card at home and rely on my debit card.

I want, actually want –

– A fuck off fund
– To buy new drawers for my room, a new bed and new mattress
– To be able to pay for my car repairs without any problems

I can do this – maybe?

So two weeks morphed into the whole month in my head; I started with the best intentions to ace the two weeks and then onwards! To the whole month, easy as. But then…

Monday 8th October

I was involved in a minor car crash.

And everything went to hell.

Now to-

Thursday 1st November

I have reviewed my bank account and October’s spendings are looking something like this:

– My car: aforementioned service, plus bonus! accident repairs (Also bought steering wheel lock to secure car when it was sitting on road side parking without a window….) Also petrol.

– Food: supermarket, takeaways, fast, food stalls, Starbucks, food delivery service, the works…

– Started Christmas shopping!

– Bought some makeup and cute accessories

– Bought a book. Ok, two books…Fine, three books.

– Also my Audible membership

– Bought a DVD.

– Typically, my moisturiser and cleanser chose this month to run out. So I replenished those.

– Bought a pajama tshirt with little fishes on it (it was on sale so I convinced myself it was meant to be. And I resisted buying the matching pants! )

– Therapy and doctors appointments and medication (I’m using private healthcare.)

– Rent and bills

– A couple of bus tickets.

After the accident my anxiety spiralled and I got into a weird headspace. I just kinda lost track of this thing, and there was also an element of it just seeming so pointless to scrimp and save over minor things like food when I was facing paying my insurance excess to repair my car, on top of its service, plus all my bills, my rent and medical costs. I felt and still feel rather overwhelmed by it all. Life is expensive and it’s very hard to begin forming good habits and saving when you are scrambling to cover necessary payments and unexpected little surprises like car crashes…

On the plus side, I have been restraining myself in some ways this month. I have done much less online shopping than normal – I only spent a little on clothes and makeup, compared to previous months, so I feel pleased with that. I forced myself to think through my purchases more, and I said no to myself more. The food situation is pretty bad – I need to stop being lazy and start cooking more and relying less on takeaways and fast food. (I refuse to give up my weekly Starbucks though; we all need something to look forward to.) (Let’s not discuss the binge eating.) I am also pleased that my Amazon usage was quite low this month, apart from the books. I failed to set aside my credit card which is annoying.

So some wins, some losses. I’d like to try again this month. I want to be less ambitious this month though. I think I should focus on continuing to say no to my impulsive online shopping, attempt to limit the amount I spend on food (perhaps this should be a no takeaway month?) and also be careful when Christmas shopping that I don’t start slipping too many things for myself into my basket! I want to keep my clothes/makeup and Amazon purchases low again. I am still reasonably determined to figure this out.

The one with all the plants

I have a lot of plants. Arguably, too much. They are in every room in my house, apart from my landing which has no window. It started when I was 18 when my best friend gave me a hen and chick for my dorm room at university, and my dad followed suit by giving me a small schefflera cutting and a miniature cactus. I was not particularly good with plants when I received them, but I was determined to keep them alive…how embarrassing to tell someone that you killed their present right? So I learned how to look after them, watered them religiously, and re-potted as necessary. 8 years later, the schefflera cutting has turned into a tree which is taking over my living room, the hen and chick is going strong and has given many babies which I have in my flat, at my parents’ house, and I even gave one to my sister. The cactus I nearly killed when repotting it – half of it rotted away because I damaged the root and didn’t give it enough time to heal before watering – but I managed to salvage a scrap of it and plant it and it grew. Phew. And these three have been joined by many, many others. I like the color they infuse into the place, and I like having something alive in my space. (And I admit, I do have an emotional attachment to my eldest, my original trio, whom I kept alive even when I was struggling to keep myself alive. They make me feel weirdly proud, like look what I raised through my sadness and anxiety) (that’s probably weird…)

At the moment they may be a little *too* alive. I’ve been plagued by pests since moving into my new flat and particularly this summer. I never struggled at my previous residences and I don’t know what’s changed. Something came through the window, a dodgy batch of compost, simply the fact that my flat is so warm and sunny? My plants grow fantastically in these conditions, but I guess it follows that so will pests. I’ve struggled with tiny flies on my schefflera for a while now – they have never caused damage though, nor grown to ridiculous numbers, I rinse off my schefflera regularly with neem which seems to help keep it under control. And I could catch the flies and throw them into my Betta tanks and so convince myself I dunno, was growing my own fish food or something. A positive spin. I took some schefflera cuttings though and their soil is much more infested with the flies and I think it’s preventing them growing :( and this summer I have two more unwanted guests… two of my other plants have tiny little mites on them. And the other day I was putting on my facial moisturiser when I looked over to a nearby plant – this is in my bedroom – and saw worms crawling in the soil. D: After ten minutes of panicking I simply picked up the plant, took it outside and deposited it on the porch outside my door, where it will stay until it dies, because worms. Worms. 3cm long each. And who knows how long they’ve been there in my bedroom? It’s all very gross. I typically dislike fake plants but I can kinda understand it now. I was reading about the worms and there were instructions on how to get rid of them by picking them up and…no. I bought some houseplant insecticide and I’ve sprayed the mites. I don’t like using insecticide indoors, especially with fish tanks, but I feel I’ve reached that point. I’ve been spraying them with a soapy solution for weeks now and it’s not working and I just cannot anymore.

I need to stop buying plants and focus on the welfare of the ones I’ve got. It should not have taken me so long as it did to pick up on the mites and the worms – I should have caught on to it before it got that bad.

I feel like lately I’m doing a lot of random and useless shopping. Nonsensical things – makeup, clothes, PLANTS. I keep finding things to buy and bring into my house even though I don’t need them. It makes sense ultimately – I’m stressed, and unhappy, and shopping and new things makes me happy. I like having new and interesting plants, I like having the latest pretty highlighter or foundation that YouTube has raved about, a new cute outfit. Lately, it’s like I’ve lost the ability to say no to myself or to respect my bank account which ouch. And maybe I shouldn’t admit that here, I know. I’m sorry, I’m bad with money and I don’t have a budget. I fail as a blogger. But nonetheless I’ve never been terrible with money – I keep my bills paid and debt low. But yeah. I don’t have the capacity to really deal with it now- see being stressed and unhappy -but it’s on my mind.

At the very least, I need to stop buying more plants.

I should give some more love to the ones I already have I think. :)

My sister’s cat

It’s coming up to the one year anniversary since my cat died. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m still really sad about it. I went home this weekend and I brought some roses with me to place on her grave. I thought maybe it would provide some comfort. But it didn’t. I still ache. I still can’t accept it. I look at her grave and it just doesn’t make sense.

My parents are looking after my sister’s cat right now. So she was there when I was. My father kept calling my sister’s cat by our old cats name and it’s hard to say anything when he does it, because it’s awkward, and it’s sad.

My sister’s cat is a delight. She was a little wary of me on Saturday, but then on Sunday she crawled into my lap and passed out there. Several hours passed and my legs went numb but it was perfect, to feel her warmth and her weight. I kept following her around all weekend, pestering her to allow me to cuddle her and pet her, because I miss it. I miss my cat. I miss having a cat.

For a time the neighbours cat was here, but he did move away. And I know it’s for the best, he was getting too clingy, but I do miss his presence. He was a good substitute. It was good to have his company, his warmth.

I tell myself she was just a cat, but it doesn’t quite work.

I’ve felt lonely since she died.

I started out with two shrimps, attempted to have four shrimps, failed, and somehow decided to buy more shrimps. All in all I have now bought 6 shrimps, and yet just like my last post, I still only have one. For a time, I definitely had two. I saw my red one around and sometimes I saw one of the latest two I’d bought, a small yellow cherry type. I’d bought a pair of yellow ones as I thought they’d blend in better, therefore reducing chances of getting eaten. And one of the pair disappeared, but there was one left that I could spot now and again. It seemed utterly fine. On Tuesday night it was swimming around and it came to the front of the tank for the very first time, allowing me to take some pictures of it.

On Wednesday morning I looked into the tank and it was dead. It didn’t seem like it had been attacked, there was no sign of damage, no sign of disease. It was just….dead. I was hurt and confused. How could it just die like that, overnight? It was ok. And then it was dead.

I’d had a danio death just on Monday so this was a bit of a blow. But I know my tank is clean and stable so I’m mostly confused. The shrimp seemed too young to pass of old age. I think I need to test the water for copper? That could be a reason. (But the other one is fine so you’d think they’d both be in trouble if there was something anti shrimp in the water… ) The only other thing could be stress from the water change I carried out on Tuesday, but I didn’t cause a massive flux in tank temperature. I did gravel clean, maybe it was too disruptive?

I thought shrimp were meant to be easy. But I’ve definitely lost two, probably lost another, and I’m missing another two.

The real question is – how is that one red shrimp thriving still when all its mates have died? I look at it and I’m amazed at it’s resilience. It swims about the tank amongst the fish without fear (perhaps trying to blend in to prevent attack?) And it’s big and healthy…

These creatures baffle me. I need to resist buying more…it’s just expensive fish food by this point (I left the yellow shrimp in the tank on Wednesday just in case I was wrong but of course all that happened was my fish ate it. Partially. So I had to take out the remains…. )

Checked on my fish tanks this morning to find that my Betta fish had built a huge bubble nest. Overnight. It certainly wasn’t there last night….But look at it now! He has sort of built these nests in his old tank but never at this scale- it was usually nothing more than a small clump of bubbles. Look at this thing though! I’m a little taken aback by the size of this, and the timescale of it (overnight!!). I’m taking this as a sign he really likes his new tank.

(Technically this is a breeding behaviour ingrained into the fish. They build these nests to keep the eggs in and keep said eggs oxygenated – yes, the males look after the eggs. According to some websites, Bettas will build these even in sub par conditions as it is such an instinctive behaviour. But then other websites say they’ll only build them if comfortable and happy. So who knows, really…the internet is a confusing place for research. I should probably buy a book or go the library…easier to Google though! 😅 )