Saturday, 31 March 2012

I'm Debt Free

That's right, I'm debt free! :) (Excluding student debts – more on that later!)

I've been hovering around 89% debt paid off for the past couple of months now. The reason is that I've been putting away any “spare” money to pay for what I thought would be expensive dental work (I get paranoid about my teeth as I neglected them as a teen). Fortunately I didn't need any treatment at all, so I now have an extra £750 of saved cash!

The first thing I did was top up my Emergency Fund. I've now got a £500 buffer to fall back on, which is around two months rent, car and living costs for me while living at home (not including saving for annual expenses), or the cost of a particularly expensive car repair (I'm looking at you, Jools!).

I put the rest of this “spare” money into my current account. It wiped out my remaining overdraft! I am finally debt free! (Click here to read my original entry about my debt). I won't say that I'll never have debt because I'll probably want to buy a house one day, but I hope that I'll never have consumer debt again.

As I mentioned before, I still have my student debts, but these are not consumer debt, don't affect your credit rating, and are at such a low interest rate that it is better to hold onto any extra money in a savings account. I'm also not eligible to start repayments until the next tax year.

What's next for the Frugal Graduate? Time to go out and splash the cash? Well, the advice on frugal living I have received and learning to waste-not-want-not have not been wasted. I'm still growing my own veg (a tomato seedling came up today!! :D), cycling, re-using and thrifting. My new target is to save £800 to pay for a deposit, first month's rent and moving to Bristol in September.


Thursday, 29 March 2012

UK Fuel Shortage?

A proposed strike action by tanker drivers has led to mass buying of petrol and diesel at UK pumps over the past couple of days. The BBC has shown images of huge queues at garages, leading to some retailers running out of fuel. 

The UK Government gave advice to keep your car over two-thirds full, and if you'd normally put half a tank in, fill it up. I work opposite a garage, so took the opportunity to fill up after work when the pumps were quiet (there haven't been huge queues there yet, although the weekend may be bad). I have to admit, normally I only put in half a tank but this time I filled it with over a month's worth of fuel

This sort of mentality is the reason that everyone's rushing to the pumps; there is no shortage, but the high demand for fuel means that suppliers are running out anyway! No-one wants the needle to hit "EMPTY" on the way to work.

Despite this situation, I think that we frugal types are in the best situation. We know how to make fuel last longer. We keep cars clean and empty to reduce consumption, we keep speeds low and accelerate and brake slowly, and importantly we take alternative transport where possible. 

Plan your route to incorporate several chores at once and minimise car usage. We can beat both the fuel shortage AND the huge price of fuel in the first place!

P.S. Check out these before and after shots of washing Jools! Productive use of a sunny day I think!
Filthy before!
Sparkly after!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Decluttering: Sentimental Items

You've got rid of all those books you'll never read, you've halved the clothes in your wardrobe and there's finally some space in your chest of drawers.

You know that something's lurking though... In dark corners of cupboards, hidden in the attic, underneath the bed... It's all your keepsakes and sentimental items. Gifts from relatives, birthday cards, favourite children's books, occasion dresses, stuffed toys.. If you're anything like me, the list goes on and on!

Trouble is, it gets to the point where you're keeping more stuff for sentimental reasons than the useful stuff you have! Linda over at Practical Parsimony commented on a recent post that “Hoarders are very sentimental”. I don't want to be keeping, storing and moving boxes and boxes of meaningful-yet-never-see-the-light-of-day stuff!

How do you go about reducing the volume of sentimental stuff? Here are some techniques I have been/will be using!

  1. Get rid of all of the replaceable things. This knocks a lot of my children's books off the list. I was half-heartedly keeping them for future offspring, but I can save myself some space now and replace them in the future, possibly via Ebay or bookshops.
  2. Digitalise it. If you're only keeping something so that you can look at it in the future and evoke some happy memory, take a photo of the item! This could work well for wedding or prom dresses, as well as old artwork/schoolwork.
  3. Keep one favourite, donate the rest. Do you have a big box of your childhood toys? Why not pick just one favourite, take photos of the rest of them and save yourself some space. You could even display the one you picked, rather than leaving it buried in a box somewhere.
  4. Set a size limit. Decide to keep just one box of things. Fit the most important things into that box. Donate or throwaway the rest.
  5. Will you ever look at it again? Would you notice it's absence? If not, why keep it?
  6. Would you pay to keep it? People often buy a bigger house for more space. People often rent storage. Moving home is more expensive with more stuff. If your many boxes of stuff are costing you excess money, are they really worth it? If so, is there something else you could get rid of instead?
  7. Make sure you save things that are truly important to you. I know I will never part with the ~100 year old bear that my Great-great grandmother gave to my Grandma, who gave it to me. Well, I may one day give it to my granddaughter! I will never get rid of a letter from my Nana from my 18th birthday, nor the doll handmade by my Mum when I was a baby. Anything that you truly love, keep.
I think Rachel from Small Notebook hit the nail on the head when she said

the fewer things you keep, the more special they are.

Do you have a stash of sentimental items? Is it under control, or is it a vast pile of stuff like mine? How do you feel about letting go of it?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

My First Ebay Sale

I have been decluttering a lot lately and rather than just giving away items of value, I decided to see what I could get for them on Ebay. I am probably in the huge minority, but I have to admit that until this week I have never bought or sold anything on Ebay. I know, how very 20th century!

I have always been wary of Ebay. Everyone seems to use it with ease, but until recently I just wasn't motivated enough to learn what was involved and how to do it. I found the guide to Ebay selling on Money Saving Expert useful for a complete novice like myself.

If there is anyone out there (apart from me!) who has never used Ebay, basically all you need to sell something is a vague idea of how much your item is worth (check out completed listings on Ebay to see what has sold before and at what price!), a small amount of money upfront to list an item for more than 99p (although there are often free-listing weekends to encourage people to sell), and a digital camera to take photos of your item. You also have to register with Paypal to send and receive payments.

I decided to list some things that were not hugely valuable as a tester. A couple of coffee table books, some perfume I didn't like, that kind of thing.

The first thing I noticed was that you get a lot of “watchers”. These are people who are keeping an eye on the lot, but are not currently bidding. A quick Google search confirmed my assumption that they are usually either other sellers researching how much items are selling for or people who may decide to bid at the last minute (but often don't).

For an extra 6p you can add a “Buy It Now” option, to set a price for people to just buy the item for outright without bidding and waiting until the auction ends. I did this with one of my lots and it sold within three days. I based the price on what other people had sold the item for.

I'm quite excited to see how the rest of the lots pan out though. A couple have low bids on them already, but apparently the last couple of hours is where the real fun is to be had! I'm going to put any money I make into my Emergency Fund to try and beef it back up a bit!

Any experienced Ebayers out there with some tips for a newbie? :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Guilt Over Getting Rid of Gifts

What do you do with gifts you receive that just aren't your style? From ugly jumpers to boring DVDs, if you're anything like me you leave them gathering dust in the back corner of a drawer.

I have been trying to cut down the amount of stuff I own. I will be moving out semi-permanently in the autumn (I'll probably impose myself at home for Christmas dinner and birthdays every now and again!). I will probably be moving into some tiny student pad somewhere, possibly a room in a shared house, possibly a small flat. Either way, space will be an issue!

I want the next phase of my life to be clutter-free, so for the past few months I have been systematically donating a lot of stuff I never wear/use. If I bought it myself, I am ruthless! Haven't worn it in a year? GONE! Never going to read it again? BYE! Why did I EVER buy that?! DONATED!

When it comes to something I have been given, it's a whole new story. I am overly sentimental because so-and-so got me it, or I wore it when I did that, or it was such a thoughtful gift even if I've never used it! This is something I picked up from my Mother (sorry Mum, but you know it's true!). I/we worry that when we get rid of it, we will be hurting someone's feelings, or getting rid of the memory of someone or something that happened.

How can things have so much emotional hold over me? I know a lot of people have this issue. To combat it, I have been trying to use my normal approach of assessing the object's worth to be, rather than the worth of the person who gave it to me!

I like to follow William Morris' famous advice:
Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

I am sure that the person who gave it to me doesn't want me to feel burdened by guilt! If you flip it on it's head, you probably wouldn't mind someone getting rid of something you gave them that they didn't actually want.

I dunno. What do you guys think? Do you feel like a horrible person for even contemplating donating a gift, or are you a dedicated declutterer?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Happy Mother's Day - Homemade Gifts

Hello! It's Mother's Day here in the UK, although not in most of the rest of the world it seems! I hope all you mothers and grandmothers had a lovely day. :)

My mum is ace. She goes out of her way for us every day, she is always up for spending time with us, she helps us to learn new things without being patronising - she even taught me to drive, which was no mean feat!

Today I was at work so couldn't enjoy the sunshine with Mum and my sister, although we did all go to my Nana's when I got home. Luckily I had been working on her Mother's Day gifts for a couple of weeks now, so the only thing I had to do today was cut some daffodils from the garden and wrap them in a bouquet. :)

The first gift I made for Mother's Day was a scented heart to put in her wardrobe. The Boyfriend and I both made one, which gave me the hidden benefit of (re)teaching him to sew. It was a simple gift to make; cut out two heart shapes, sew them together inside out leaving a small gap for stuffing, then turn it right side out, stuff and put a few drops of oil in before you stitch it shut.

I also made a more personal gift. Whenever my Mum and I have a day off together we usually end up going for a hike somewhere, usually either around the coast or on Bodmin Moor. I decided to be a little creative and paint a map of Cornwall onto a shell, which is a little bit bigger than the size of your palm. I put a yellow dot on some of the places we've been in the past couple of years (and marked the Moor with a darker green). I used acrylic paint because it's easy to mix and to use. :)

I'm not naturally a painter, so I have to put a lot of effort in to make something resemble what it should, but I think that even if it's not perfect painted shells look really cool. :)

There's also a muddy boot footprint. We I usually come back filthy!

Happy Mother's Day. :)

Friday, 16 March 2012

Get Organised and Make Some Money!

I am terrible for procrastination. Sometimes a simple To-Do list is a very effective method for me, because I like to challenge myself to cross something off. It helps me to get organised and get important things done.

The past couple of days, I have crossed a few things off that will be either saving me money or making me money in the near future! Some things also have the double bonus of decluttering, something I REALLY need to do now that I know I am moving to Bristol in October!

My Get-Organised To Do List!
  • Sort out tax code (In Progress) – I have been on the wrong tax code at my job since I started in October! I've been paying £100 extra in tax each month. Yes I can claim it back after April, but I wanted it sorting! I got my P45 from the Chinese last week, so it should be getting fixed this month. (Just in time for my refund!)
  • Sell old CDs (Done) – Sometimes you wonder why you ever bought something! I made £5.48 by selling some unwanted CDs online. I probably should sell before moving.
  • Count and deposit change (Done) – Whenever I find 1p, 2p or 5p coins rolling around in my bag at the end of the day, I shove them in my cute floral piggy banks. Back in September I had a respectable £27 in small change, but I've somehow built up another £11 over the past six months!
  • Get train ticket refund (In progress) – The University of Bristol offered to refund my £44 train fare to visit them, which was jolly decent of them if you ask me! I am also in the process of claiming a refund on a ticket that did not get used, which should be another nice chunk coming back into my pocket.
  • Sell old textbooks (In progress) – I have now sold two textbooks, for a return of about £15 after posting fees. I did look into selling them back to AbeBooks as some of you suggested in the comments, however they were only going to give me £1.70 per book because they were older editions. You also have to have £25 worth of books to sell before you can send them all off. It certainly seems a cheap place to BUY used textbooks though, if anyone needs one.
  • Sell/donate other books (In progress) – I have listed a few semi-valuable books on Amazon. The rest I will donate to charity, via my Nana who organises a lot of fund-raising events.
  • Sell old child's keyboard – Anyone know of a good way to sell large-ish electrical items? I don't really want to post it as it will be a RIGHT faff!
  • Sort out what I can't take with me and donate it.

Any money I get will be going straight into my Emergency Fund to replenish the hits it has been taking in the past few weeks, what with Jools breaking down FOUR TIMES and spending so much on finding a PhD.

Other things I need to do ASAP:
  • Finish Mother's Day gift
  • Make a friend's birthday present

     Have you been putting off anything time-consuming that will save you money? Just do it! You'll feel smug for the rest of the day! :)

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Are YOU at Risk of Bank Set-Off?

I was shocked to learn that banks have a legal right to take your savings to repay your debt. Here's why and how you can avoid it.

Bank Setting Off
Your bank is legally entitled to take money from your current accounts/savings accounts and use it to repay any debt you have with them, for example credit cards and loans. This is known as “setting off”. Banks will normally not exercise this right unless you start missing payments, but it is worth bearing in mind. They can only do this if both your savings and debts are held by the same bank.

New rules from the Financial Services Authority mean that banks have to leave you enough for you to be able to pay priority debts and cover essential living expenses. They also have to try and contact you to discuss your options before taking your money.

The Solution is Simple
Transfer your saved money to a different bank. Remember that many banks are actually part of large groups, and may have the right to set off from an account held at another bank in that group.

If You Are Really Struggling
If you are really having trouble keeping up with debt repayments, you might want to consider using your savings to pay off some of the balance. It's not a pleasant thought but it is a lifeline that you could use in a time of need. Don't forget that the small amount of interest you earn on savings is by far outweighed by the interest charged on most debt.

Monday, 12 March 2012

A Little Way to Get More Out of Life

Saving for Travel recently posted about wanting to get more out of life, breaking bad habits and forming new,  better ones. Whilst I think she's already awesomely inspirational, I believe most people would wish to stop procrastinating and get more out of each day.

I have a little trick I've been doing lately to get more out of life; LABEL each day.

At the end of the day, you have to write a one sentence tagline of the most important or interesting part of the day. It can be as big or as small as you like. For example, the other day was "The Day I Officially Accepted My PhD Position", but the day before was "The Day I Sowed My Vegetable Seeds".

The beauty of this technique is that it forces you to do something, anything, productive with your day. If you feel like you haven't really acheived anything today, then tonight you might look back and feel that the day has been wasted. When you know that you will be labelling your day by something you did, it inspires you to do something!

Up until now I haven't been writing them down, but I think it would be a good way to keep a record of your life. I am too forgetful to keep a diary, so this would be a quick and easy way to keep memories for the future.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

It's Official: I Have A PhD Studentship!


I did it! After many months of hunting, personal statement writing and being interviewed, I was offered a PhD studentship one of the top universities in the UK! I accepted. From October I will be researching plant genetics at the University of Bristol, with lots of practical experience and opportunities for work to be published. It is a four year position, with training and industrial placements for the first year alongside the research. The University of Bristol is ranked 7th for biological research in the UK!

I'm so glad that the application/interview process is over. Personal statements are evil, as are interviews, although I have to say that my interview in Bristol was very friendly and I was set at ease by the project supervisors.

The PhD studentship is fully funded by the BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council), one of 59 funded places in the area of Global Food Security in the UK. This means that my tuition fees will be paid and I will receive a tax-free annual stipend of around £13590.

Back in January I wrote about the hidden costs of finding a degree. These included things like admin fees for applying, interview costs for clothes, travelling and accommodation to visit universities, and living costs whilst you are up there. My total costs were:
  • Travel: £230.05 on train fares, including £28 for a year's rail card that gets you 30% off train ticket prices. (The University of Bristol has offered to refund my travel expenses, so I should be getting £44 of this back at some point!)
  • Admin fees: £50
  • Accommodation: FREE! Luckily I had friends/relatives in the towns that I visited.
  • Interview clothes: FREE! I wore the outfit I wore on my graduation day. It is a smart black dress with white flowers, with a black cardigan.
  • Living costs: £33.13 on food whilst travelling. I also took my hosts a gift to say thank you, but this was bought using money specially saved for gifts.

Total cost of finding my PhD: £313.18!

To be honest, it was worth it to visit universities, speak to experts in my field (I mean, I have referenced these people during my undergraduate years! It was daunting putting faces to names you've read a hundred times!), be interviewed and ensure that I was finding the right place to spend the next four years of my life!

I'm so excited! :D

Friday, 9 March 2012

Sowing the Seeds!

Phase one of growing your own (digging the plot) already having been achieved, I moved merrily into phase two; planting stuff! :D

Planting stuff is the fun bit of growing veggies. It's full of hope and distinctly lacking in caterpillars and mosaic viruses. It might be second to harvesting and eating your crops, but there are a lot of unknowns between then and now!

At our local garden centre, we topped up our seed collection with 89p packets of swedes (plant in May), cabbage, sweet peppers and spinach beet. We also got some onion sets for 90p for ~100! Looooads of potential veggies for £4.46!

Back at home, we whipped out the John Innes and started filling up seed trays. (Side note: I love the John Innes song by Can You Dig It?, a comic duo who write songs about growing your own!)

We sowed cabbages and leeks in one tray. You can plant them directly in your plot but Dad said he likes to keep an eye on them til they're a bit bigger.

In true frugal spirit, the plant labels are made of a cut up margarine tub. :)

In the other tray, Dad planted his beloved hot chilli plants. (Whilst complaining that the seeds were burning his hands!) These have to be germinated in a heated propagator. There are SEVEN varieties in here, plus one line of sweet peppers. He is so excited because he ordered four new "really cool" varieties online, including Fairy Lights and Stumpy! They have some fun names!

As well as the trays, I got stuck into my vegetable patch by planting a couple of rows of onion sets. You plant them so that the tip is just poking out enough to grow a shoot. Apparently pigeons and blackbirds like to pull them up, so if they start getting mutilated we will string cotton above them to stop them being able to land.

Anyone else been making use of the sunny March weather? Let's get chitting some potatoes! :D

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Will Going to University Get You A Good Job?

Official government numbers from the Office of National Statistics say that 20% of people who graduated in 2010 were still unemployed in 2011. With those odds, is it better to stick at the job you have at home, or branch out into the unknown?

The Boyfriend recently said that after graduating most of our friends have gone straight back to the same jobs they had before university. (This from the guy that is now an architectural assistant about to go and do a masters, neither of which is possible without a Bachelors degree!) It got me thinking about what people are actually doing with their degrees though!

The Pros of NOT Going to University
A lot of my friends say they felt pressured into going straight to University. If you don't know what you want to do, then NOT going to Uni gives you time to decide what you want out of life. Stay motivated though, use your time wisely and learn about various careers you might be interested in.

If you know what you want to do and it doesn't require a degree, you can start at the bottom and work your way up. You will be more respected within the company than a new graduate that went straight in at manager level. You will also have a few more years experience! My friend went to University, but worked the holidays at a fun park he is now the manager of back at home. He said he will never need the specialist knowledge he gained at University, which was for him a waste of time and money.

If you know you want a very practical career, consider an apprenticeship. These can be VERY poorly paid (£2.60 an hour is the minimum wage, which is absolutely unacceptable if you ask me!), but if you find a good one you will be paid a fair salary AND be guaranteed a good job at the end. A friend trained as an engineer for the London Underground and is now contractually guaranteed a high paying job with Transport For London.

The Pros of Getting a Degree
A degree is often a requirement for a more complex, specialised job. In my chosen career of research, not only do you need a Bachelors degree, but a PhD is vital too! Research the job requirements for what you want to do, then target your learning towards it.

In a bad economy, no job is 100% secure. A degree is something that you can fall back on if your chosen sector falls under completely. It shows you have transferable skills and motivation.

One of the major pro points of going to Uni aside from education is personal development. You mature so much working and studying away from home. For most students, it is the first time you've been away from home and you learn how to function as an adult whilst still being partially protected from mistakes. I think it is a hugely important part of university and employers will know that you are a more rounded individual.

If you decide University is for you...
Find a course that offers a Sandwich Year, which is a year in industry as part of your degree. This will give you the best possible edge when applying for jobs, because you will already have experience. There's no reason not to do this; even if you decide you don't enjoy your chosen career, you will avoid making this wrong decision in the future.

The Bottom Line
I think the absolute most important thing is to decide what you want to do. If you have a vague idea (like I knew I wanted to do something in Biology), what jobs would be open to you? Will you need a degree for that? If yes, then go to University, study a broad field and specialise later when you decide.

If you are not SURE that you want to go to University, will you be motivated enough to continue? If you drop out, you will still have a huge mound of debt to pay off and nothing to show for it. Student loan repayments will cost you 9% of whatever you earn over £21,000 if you start this year, so make sure you gain something from the experience!

If you don't have a clue what you want to do, take a year or two to decide. Take a few courses in things you might be interested in, volunteer in a field you think you might enjoy (for example, if you're interested in becoming a teacher, volunteer with a youth group), ask people about their experiences. There's no harm in waiting until you know what you want, and the extra couple of years of maturity and experience will give you an advantage over others if you do decide to go to Uni!

Monday, 5 March 2012

Homemade gifts: A Tote Bag

I am feeling quite chuffed with myself! I made my sister a tote bag out of some material my Nana gave to me and some that I had left from textiles at school!

The bag is made in the pattern of St. Piran's flag. St. Piran is the patron saint of Cornwall, and today (5th March) is St. Piran's day! Dydh Sen Pyran lowen! <-- I bet you didn't know I had a Grade 1 Cornish language qualification! :D Go forth and eat a pasty, but not that Ginsters muck! BLEH! 

Top pasty tip: the best pasties north of Plymouth are from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. I was so excited to see a sign celebrating St. Piran's Day in their window when I lived in London. I ran in and started rabbiting at the cashier, but he didn't have a clue what I was on about. :(

Anyway, tote bags are simple to make. If you have durable material, you could make a single-thickness bag. I lined this bag because my sister tends to abuse bags, cramming them full of stuff!

I didn't have a pattern, so I kinda made up how to make it by examining other bags we own! The best part about it is that I made a pocket to hold a phone/wallet! :) It is high enough inside the bag to be reachable but not enough to let the items fall out or be pinched easily.
I am still learning how to sew so this simple project was educational yet achievable for me! I am ignoring any imperfections! The perfect is the enemy of the good!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Good News For Hikers!

If you are in need of new hiking boots, you're in luck! In my Free Exercise post I mentioned that Lidl occasionally have good quality hiking boots for a fraction of the normal price you'd pay. This week, Lidl have trekking shoes for £12.99! Here's the link if you want a look. (No, Lidl aren't paying me to say this, I just think it's a good deal.) :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Resolutions Recap

Every now and then I set myself a set of goals. If I don't revisit them, I forget them quite quickly! Here's how I'm getting on with various tasks I've set myself on this blog.

New Year's Resolutions
  1. 100 No Spend days – At the end of February, I have had 27 No Spend days out of a possible 60 days of the year so far. I thought that was pretty good, but people like Saving For Travel are putting me to shame with nearly every day being No Spend! I wondered whether this challenge would encourage me to spend more on days that I'd already spent, but so far I don't think that is the case.
  2. Record every penny saved and earned – I really enjoy doing this! It's a great way to stay in control of your wallet. At the end of each month I can tally up how much I spent on what and possibly manipulate the next month's budget accordingly.

  3.  Reducing waste and helping the planet – I wrote a post of how to help the planet for free with a variety of ways to reduce waste and live green. This year I have dug over the vegetabe patch ready for planting next year, cycled more (although it's usually not possible for me to cycle to work, because I don't feel safe cycling at 4am down dark country lanes!), made gifts from free materials, donated to Freecycle, made cloth shopping bags and did some much-needed car maintenance.
  4. Find a PhD – This is going very well. I've met a lot of important scientists in my field and my applications have had some very positive feedback. I should be hearing back from Universities towards the end of March.
  5. Spend more time with friends – I've been trying to say yes more to opportunities that arise.
  6. Weight loss – I didn't actually get on the scales until last week, but I don't think I would've lost any weight before then anyway. I am now throwing myself back in to healthy eating and continuing hiking and cycling, the two forms of (free!) exercise I most enjoy.

Eat British
Following the Eat British challenge, we have been eating more locally. We always buy Hovis now (usually on offer), which uses entirely British wheat. All our cheese, eggs, milk, meat etc. is generally British anyway. We've also been eating a lot more seasonal root vegetables. When it's time to harvest our vegetables later in the year we'll have even more local produce! :D

Towards the end of last year I set a few priorities. Some have already been covered above, but these haven't:
  1. Repay my debt and build some savings for next year – The only debt I have now is a small 0% interest overdraft, which is slowly being whittled away at. More importantly, I have an emergency fund as well as savings for car repairs and road tax (currently drained by Jools' naughtiness), gifts and the dentist! My net worth increasing slowly but surely.
  2. Visit my Nana more often – I see my Nana a lot more now, which is ace because she is an amazing lady. She does all sorts of charity work, is a fantastic friend to LOTS of people, always has a great story to tell and was described by a local newspaper as keeping ”everyone in stitches” and the life of the party!
  3. Get rid of clutter – I've sold two textbooks on Amazon, which made me £20 after the expensive postage costs! I've also donated a lot of old stuff and am working on getting more out of the way! (I can't take it all back up to Uni!)

These goals are really motivating me to use my time wisely this year. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have a bit more free time now that I just have the one job so it is important that I make the most of it. 

How are your New Year's resolutions going, if you made any? Got any challenges going on at the minute?