A New Project..

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So... I've finally started a new project that I've had in the back of my mind since I arrived here in London. I've started a grocery book!
It's not so much a book as it is a spreadsheet, but still. Here's how it works:

I've got a spread sheet set up with the following categories: Date, Store, Brand, Total Cost, Cost per unit (gram, egg, etc), and if it was on sale. I've only barely started, but here's a glimpse of my 'soup' category:

As of yet its not a perfect science. For each type of food, I have a seperate page, which will eventually get very very full. But, I am looking forward to finally knowing what a 'good' price is for food.

I can never remember what a good price is when I go shopping and buy things, especially in bulk. Sometimes I worry that when stores put things on sale (eg. 2 jars of pasta sauce for a fiver), and I'm just getting ripped off since the original price could've only been 2.40 each. You know? And here I am stocking up since I think its on sale. I need to be a more educated consumer, especially when it comes to food, since my food consumption uses up about 33% of my non-rent spending. That's a lot of money to be spending irresponsably.
I'm doing a big grocery store shop tomorrow so hopefully I will get the chance to add to it a little bit more extensively. Hopefully within a month or two I will have a really good idea of what is and isn't a good deal when I go grocery shopping. Woo hoo!


Monday, January 19, 2009

Miss FB over at Fabulously Broke in the City made a good comment on my last post! She asked for some photos of London life. I had not even realized that I haven't posted any photos! Yikes! I have a blog reserved for family and friends which I post daily photos and thoughts, but since that blog posts personal information (like my address, etc), I won't link there.

However, I will offer you some of my favorite pictures from London, and, I promise many more photos to come!

(We'll start with London, I'll post some nice photos of Cambridge, St. Alban's, Dover and Paris later!)

Here is the photo I took over Trafalgar Square during Christmastime. The tree this year wasn't as impressive as some I've seen (in pictures!) in the past, but it was still lovely and festive.
This is a picture I took when I rolled over in bed one morning. This is the radiator beside my bed (it was off, so don't worry - I won't start any fires!), and I thought it looked so peaceful with the books and my tree stickers. I bought the stickers at Ikea before I left home, and although they are crappy quality (I had to put all of them up individually with sticky-tac), I like the way they look.

Here's another shot over Trafalgar Square at Christmastime. I like the way the light looked from behind Nelson's column, illuminating the fountains and all.

This it the view looking west over the Thames from the top of London Bridge (officially known as Tower Bridge... but its that big blue one that you recognize...). You can see the top of St. Paul's cathedral in the middle-ish, as well as the H.M.S. Belfast on the Thames.

Here's a rainbow that I spotted in the skies one afternoon after some rain. This is also the view over my porch.

Here's a photo I took looking up from under the London Eye one lovely blue afternoon. I've only ridden the London Eye twice, and probably won't ever do it again - it's very expensive.

Although it's a lot of fun to photograph.

There's the a-fore-mentionned bridge, as well as the Tower of London on the right side.

This is the Albert memorial. I saw this view just as I was leaving Hyde Park the other day and loved the sillloutette of the statue against the dusk.

Here's another photo I snapped walking in Hyde Park. I liked that I caught the silllouette of the bird against the sun-reflections in the water.

I snapped this photo while at Hampton Court Palace - all the little seagulls were staring at me while I stepped closer and closer to them.

This is a fountain at Hampton Court Palace.

These are the fireworks that they set off in Wimbledon Park for Guy Fawkes Day. Fortunately I also took these photos from my balcony.

And here's my postcard London shot. Red Telephone booth? Check! Big Ben? Check!
I hope you enjoyed these photos! I promise that I will start adding more photos as I go!

Mid-month check-in

Hiya everyone! It's been a couple days now since I've posted and seing as it's mid-(late) January, I thought I'd do a mini-post regarding my finances.

I'm finding my £700-a-month budget a lot more reasonable than I imagined. I don't think I'll have any problems sticking to it this month.

Here's where I am standing so far:
I've still got £20 left in my food-fund, which I will probably use up tomorrow. If I do my shopping right, that will last me no problem until the end of the month. I still have several chicken breasts and I think a couple thighs in the freezer, not including tons of bags of rice and such.

The £18.90 in Bills where I went over was a bit of a complicated situation. When the old tennants moved out, they never returned their keys. So I had keys cut for them, and then rather than pay the landlady £412 this month for rent, I paid her £412 minus the £17.90 it cost for the keys. That's why the rent category still has £20 left in it while I'm £20 in the hole for bills.

I also haven't spend any money on transportation yet this month. I actually bought a fully topped up (£90) Oyster Card on Ebay last month (for a cool £65) and have been using that card since then. It's only got about £10 on it, so I will probably have to top it up again soon. I also want to buy a 16-25 Railcard soon, which will cost me £24. I figure I will definitely get my moneys worth in the next year, plus I can get the discount from my Railcard loaded onto my Oystercard, which will save me approximately 1/3 off my off-peak daily capping. Woo hoo!

I also got the hours-owed thing from work sorted out, so I will be expecting another £75 ish on my next paycheque! Yay!

I have also sorted out another section of my budget:

Because I have several groups visiting in both May and July, I had upped my estimated budget to £1500 for those two months. This is to accomodate any travelling, accomodation while away, extra food, etc. I don't know yet if I will spend that much, but, it's nice to budget for it. So, I have added another level to my stats box. This shows me how many months I have left (including spending the extra £1500 for May and July). This is nice, because I know that even if I go crazy over those two months that I'll still make it to mid-September before running out of cash.

This is, of course, assuming I can stick to my £700 a month budget. If I up it to £800 a month, then those numbers dwindle down, leaving me with 10 months (without bonus) or 8.5 with. If I were to stick to my original budget of £1000 a month, that leaves me with just 8 months (without bonus) or 6.75 months (with bonus), which would leave me a bit stranded.

It's nice to keep these things in perspective. There are so many free things I can enjoy in the city, that I shouldn't feel the need to spend money to enjoy myself. The only time I really do spend the cash is on travel, which nowadays (with TFL upping the prices), costs me over £5 to get in and out of London for the day. Ouch.

In the meantime, I'm still working off and on for my work. They have a week in February where I'd be picking up 4 shifts - which is nice. Other than that I may not work again seriously until late July or August - depending. I'd like to continue working with them, and I hope they will want me.

Here's to a good start to 2009!