feeling festive… or not?

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

December has rolled around! You scroll through Instagram to see trees galore, there’s pretty lights everywhere you look and I bet your feeds are choc-a-block with festivities… but do you actually feel festive?

Do you feel that cosy warmth of the twinkly lights and tinsel and dark evenings with warm drinks? Do you feel the excitement building for the one day of the year where you spend time with loved ones and you get to spoil them with special gifts you’ve chosen and amazing comfort food? Do you feel Christmassy?

However much I want to, I’m not really feeling it yet – it might be something to do with the tooth infection I’ve been diagnosed with and the potential six months on an NHS waiting list to get it removed (fingers crossed for me please!) but Christmas is the last thing on my mind.

I’ve been to my local light switch on, I’ve planned Secret Santa with my favourite gals at uni, I’ve got plans to see my boyfriends family and the tree is up (even if I haven’t bought any decorations for it yet).

The reason I’m not feeling Christmassy is probably more personal than ‘I’m just not feeling it’ – the aforementioned tooth pain, the fact this will be my first ever Christmas without seeing my family and financial worries are probably putting a negative influence on my desire to watch festive movies and wear that one Christmas jumper I have with bells on it.

But here’s how I’m trying to put a bit of festive fairy dust in my step (but not really because getting that out of the carpet would be a nightmare).

ONE – PUT THE DECORATIONS UP!

Like all mums, my mum have a spare six foot Christmas tree under her stairs so having that has really helped make my new house feel a bit more homely. I’m all for fake trees because having the same tree come out every year is so sentimental and lovely. I see the appeal of a real tree, but the upkeep and the hassle of having to go pick one isn’t for me – and I’m saving the environment lads! Hashtag Team Fake Tree over here. Don’t @ me.

Either way, I spent a couple of hours on Sunday trying to make myself feel a bit better after calling in sick again by putting up the tree (with no decorations because I only had enough for the little tree that’s gone in our room) and some tinsel on the bannister.

It’s quite exciting because this is where my boyfriend and I can start to build our little Christmas collection – our own decorations, our own bits and bobs that come out every year and our own traditions. That warms my heart just a little bit.

TWO – MAKE PLANS TO SEE FAMILY!

Not only am I missing seeing my own family this Christmas but our ‘family Christmas’ where we do see each other is on a weekend and I now have a retail job so I can’t go which I’m genuinely gutted about. But I’ve got two mid-week trips planned – one before Christmas and one over New Year where I’m hoping to see my family but I’m just waiting on my work schedule to set it in stone.

My boyfriend’s family are lovely, but I’m a very sentimental person and my family means more to me than I can put into words (I may not be a McPherson by name, but I’m a McPherson by heart) so at 23 having my first Christmas away is definitely going to be emotional.

Having that time booked in where I know that I’ll at least see my immediate family will make this new change a lot easier!

THREE – PRESENT PLANNING

I know I’m very fortunate to be able to live in a nice house and pay rent and pay for my car and go to university in a different city, but finances are something I’m struggling with at the moment. Moving is expensive and stretching my wages to cover everything has all but ruined all the good work I put into my savings this year (but at least I did the saving so I had something to fall back on!).

I’m going to write a whole blog post about doing Christmas on a budget but making a list of everyone you want to buy presents for, setting a budget and getting as creative as possible with home crafting  makes it all feel a little more achievable.

The other thing to bear in mind that all these places posting ‘shop local’ and ‘shop small businesses’ – that’s great if you can afford it, but you’ve got to do with what fits best for your budget. I’d love to do all my shopping from Etsy and Not On The High Street and independent sellers on Instagram, but it’s infinitely more convenient for me to do one big Amazon order. Maybe next year, but for now – I’m doing what works for my bank account!

FOUR – MAKE THE MOST OF TIME WITH YOUR FAVOURITE PEOPLE

Another change I’ve had to get used to that is probably another reason I don’t feel too festive is that I’m still getting used to my boyfriend not being home all that much. He works in live broadcast, mostly at sports matches, so it means he’s away all over the country for three/four nights a week and after spending a whole year living in my mum’s house together and not really being apart overnight much at all.

I think at first we were grateful for the time apart to be ourselves for a bit and now I can feel myself waiting for him to get back. This is definitely something I need to work on 1) because I’m an independent woman who thrives with or without her man and 2) because it’s not going to change for however long he decides to work in this industry.

But making the most of the time that he is home by cooking together, planning activities to do together (like buying decorations for the aforementioned naked tree) and playing video games together makes everything feel a bit more like home.

If you want to see more Christmas content this week, I will be uploading a Christmas themed vlog on my YouTube channel at the weekend, so go over there and subscribe to make sure you don’t miss it!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I’m organising my uni work

2019, organisation, student

Hello!

Oh it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a chat about organisation hasn’t it?

Whilst living out of a mate’s flat and my car being in the garage, I feel a little up in the air and figuring out how I’m going to stay on top of my uni work is a little bit overwhelming at the moment but because it’s me, obviously I’ve made approximately seven lists and writing it all out will be helpful for me and hopefully for some other people too! So let’s jump right in.

1. Make a visual calendar

It’s probably as easy to buy a calendar but I’m all about resourcefulness and being able to design my own planners – I’ve made a ‘week per page’ diary like section at the back of my uni notebook and I find it much simpler to visualise when Week 7 is when I’ve got it all listed out in front of me.

I can write down when my lectures are, when my assignments are due, any formative assignments, plan when I’m going to do certain work by, self set deadlines and even put some social life stuff on there so I know which days to keep a bit clearer. This is basically a duplicate of what’s in my bullet journal but I normally only design my bullet journal spreads one week ahead so to have a whole semester works well for my visual brain.

2. Have a list of all your assignments in the order they’re due

It’s easy enough to know you’ve written an assignment down somewhere but I think it’s so important to know exactly what you’re doing (so you can ask your lecturer questions on things you’re not sure about if nothing else!) and when it’s due. From there’s it’s easier to self-set formative deadlines.

For example, if you have a 2000 word essay due, you can look at the due date, see how many weeks you have a plan ahead – say you want all your research collated four weeks before it’s due, you want to have a full first draft written two weeks before it’s due and all your appendices and references done a week in advance so you can send it to your mum and your mates to once over.

I won’t lie – I love the idea of setting these deadlines and I still end up writing most of my essays the night before they’re due. But I’m a post-grad now so I’m hoping to take the mistakes from my undergrad and learn.

Though most of the learning I’ve done so far is ‘pick a practical course so I don’t have to write essays’. It’s working out for me.

3. Don’t plan to spend a whole day doing uni work

I mean, obviously everyone is different and I know I spent a lot of my secondary school days doing all my homework on a Sunday but now, I personally find it better to do one task a day interspersed with other things I need to do or more fun tasks.

At the moment I’m having to watch a lot of pretentious high brow foreign films and read articles, but rather than spending one day at the weekend watching three films and reading four dissertations, I’d rather spread it out over the week. Making sure I plan to do other things like catch up on the Circle, write blog posts, go for a walk into town for food shopping etc makes the uni tasks feel less heavy and overall make me feel far more productive.

4. It’s all about balance, give yourself a break

No one is productive every day. Nah, I’m not having it. I don’t believe it. I’m a busy, productive, organised person but I still have days where I can’t bring myself to get out of bed or binge watch YouTube on the sofa convincing myself I can ‘do uni work at the same time’ when I know it’s not true.

Find a balance and be kind to yourself – if you’re feeling stressed, bogged down and reluctant you’re probably not going to do any good work anyway so let yourself relax and come back to it another day, or maybe even a few hours later.

Obviously, the balance is the key bit – if you’re having these days more than maybe twice a week, reaching out to your lecturers or the welfare team at your school or uni might make you feel better to have shared the problem and those people can help you put plans in place to help you make those tasks easier.

I started school in the year 2000, my first year without education was in 2018 and in 2019 I’m right back at it with my MSc. I know myself pretty well and I’d like to think that I’m doing it somewhat successfully getting medium-high grades all round, but I don’t think we ever stop learning. We never finish figuring out how we learn best, how we work best, what ‘routine’ works best for us. Continuing to grow and develop can be daunting, but it’s exciting too.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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October Goals 2019!

2019, goals, student

Hello!

I swear September just didn’t happen? It’s gone before I could really settle into it and it really has been an absolute whirlwind – mostly stress and busy-ness and driving more than I could have possibly imagined driving. I didn’t achieve many of my September Goals because everything was just so manic but I’m rolling with it and using it to make my October Goals more successful! Let’s jump straight in

1. Plan time and stick to it

Having gone back to uni full time and knowing I need to get a part-time job as well as dealing with trying to rent a house and car insurance and hire cars etc, I know now more than ever that planning my time and sticking to it as much as possible is crucial to making sure I get everything done.

Whilst we’re waiting to move, it’s going to be hard and stressful because I’m so overwhelmed but I can only try my best and that’s the important bit.

2. Less frivolous spending

September was tough – preparing to move, then not moving, and having birthday money and sad spending, my bank account is in dire need of a rest.

I’ve been good at taking packed lunches to uni and trying not to spend unnecessarily but when someone suggests Wetherspoons it’s hard to resist! It’s a work in progress but October is a fresh slate and I can only learn from my mistakes!

3. Plan for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo standings for National Novel Writing Month, I’ve been doing little writing challenges all year to ‘train’ for it and to be honest I don’t feel ready at all so over October I want to plan what I’m doing, plan some backup writing and maybe some prompts for the less inspired days, make sure my account is all set up and link to the ‘planning time effectively’ goal to make sure I can actually give it a fair shot!

4. Move house!

I’ve only mentioned it about three billion times but moving has been a journey and HOPEFULLY (cross all your fingers for us!) we’ll be moving in the middle of October and I need to plan everything.

Prepare for lots of house content! Hopefully! If we actually get to move!

5. Play Overwatch on Switch but moderately

Overwatch is my favourite video game and thus far I’ve only really enjoyed playing on X Box (PC gaming just isn’t for me) but they announced earlier this year that they were releasing it on Switch and I preordered it immediately and I can’t wait for it to come out but it’s meant to be the day we move into the new house so I need to make sure I don’t get caught in a loop of avoiding all my other responsibilities to play this game. Because that’s what happened when I got Pokemon Moon and it didn’t do well for my uni work.

But similarly I also want to give myself time to chill and enjoy this game so that’s important too!

And that’s the plan for the month! A lot happened in September and I feel like I just need to strip it all back, but it might take until November before I feel really settled in our new place and can relax a bit but that’s when the assignments are really going to start piling up so we’ll see how that goes.

Any tips, tricks or words of encouragement would be much appreciated right now because I am a ball of stress!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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new beginnings | diary 8

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

September has been a whirlwind and I can’t believe it’s nearly over – it’s not gone quite to plan, the whole ‘moving’ thing hasn’t really happened at all, but there’s a lot of amazing life things that happened or are happening this month so I thought I’d collate into one nice succinct blog post.

~ turning 23 ~

No, having a birthday doesn’t feel all that different but I don’t know why it felt important – I think because there’s 9 months between my boyfriend and I it means I’ve been mentally preparing myself for being this age for so long and now it’s here it doesn’t feel real.

Mentally, I still feel like I’m 19/20 and being this far into my 20s just feels wrong – I’m dealing with stuff for my car or talking to letting agents and in my head I’m thinking ‘do they have any idea how naive I am about all this?’ and it just feels like I’m pretending. But I think that’s what adulthood is meant to feel like.

I’m all about new starts – I love a Monday, I love New Years and I think that’s why birthdays feel so significant to me. It feels like a new chapter.

~ going back to uni ~

This was always going to be a big change – having decided when I finished third year that I didn’t want to go back into education and I’d ‘make it on my own’ I then spent a year faced with rejection and heartbreak and further reinforcement of my incompetence in being ignored for literally hundreds of jobs. It was about May time when I decided to take matters into my own hands and apply for the masters I said I wanted to do at the beginning of third year to steer my career away from journalism.

In the last week I’ve felt so many almost-overwhelming emotions about whether I’m doing the right thing and whether I can actually do this but I’ve met some amazing people and I’m more driven than ever to build the career for myself that I really want. I can have a dream but it’s not going to come true by itself and I’m going to work my ass off for it.

So I’ve had my first lecture and I have homework to watch pretentious film student films and think of critical analysis, but I’m going to make this year work for me and 2020 is going to be a different story to 2019.

~ moving to Berkshire/Oxfordshire/Buckinghamshire? ~

I’ve spent the last week and a half driving between three counties pretty much everyday and not only is it a very different driving scene to where I’m from, but the whole ‘moving’ thing has been a drama.

I feel like I’ve mentioned it about three million times, but we were all set to move into a flat in Reading and then three days before the move we get an email saying the flat is not safe to be lived in and our move in date is pushed back by two weeks. Cue nearly a week living in a hotel in High Wycombe (because uni and my boyfriend’s job still started, even if we hadn’t moved) and then our incredible friend Nick said we could stay in his flat while he’s working in Japan.

And what we’ve learnt from this is that commuting from Reading is more difficult than commuting from High Wycombe and realistically living there would be much more convenient. So with less than a week till we’re potentially moving into a flat in Reading (the move in date has still not been confirmed!), we went back to viewings. The first property we viewed was a terraced house in High Wycombe and we fell in love – it’s a proper house, it has stairs and a breakfast bar and a little front garden and a shed and we’ve applied for it and hopefully we’ll be able to move in there soon.

So in terms of an ‘update’ there isn’t really an update on the moving front – we’re still living in Nick’s flat and just waiting for things to happen now, but hopefully we’ll get to move into this amazing little house and I’ll show you every step of the process on my YouTube channel! Keep an eye out if you’re interested in that – it’s linked below if you’d like to subscribe!

~ first car accident ~ 

Not the most positive of updates but it’s a first and a life thing and I’m learning a lot from it – whilst I was away in London at the weekend my boyfriend was caught in a three way collision that wasn’t at all his fault (literally, no sarcasm here, it was just collateral damage). Fortunately no one was hurt, but the back bumper of my car is looking a bit worse for wear and I’ve spent so much time on the phone with my insurance company, the intermediary company who are coordinating getting it fixed and the garage that’s actually going to do the work.

Considering I passed my driving test less than two months ago and have only owned the car for nearly three months, I didn’t think I’d have to go through all of this so soon, but I do and I think I’m actually handling it surprisingly well.

I’m the kind of person who names their car and my boyfriend refer very fondly to our little Harry (Harrison Wheels, if you watch The Flash you’ll get it) and I feel guilty about all that he’s been through. Can you imagine how much worse I’d be if I had a pet or a child?? Definitely just going to have to stick with the car for now!

~ new beginnings ~

I wouldn’t say I’m a big believer in fate or anything but I think things happen for a reason – if we moved straight into our flat we would have immediately run into commuting issues and we’d have been tied into a contract without knowing that there was somewhere more convenient to live.

If I’d got a job I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move somewhere brand new and explore a bit more of the country I live in. I wouldn’t have thought to go back to uni to refine my portfolio and what it is I want to do. I wouldn’t have learned to drive or been able to buy myself a car.

Life happens – it’s never smooth, it’s never easy, but it’s what you make it – I feel like I’ve rattled off these reasons time and time again in blog posts but it’s trying to convince myself as much as anything else. Things are going to be okay, even if I feel a little bit like I’m drowning at the moment, it will all settle down eventually. By Christmas we’ll have settled!

Change is something that daunts me, but I wouldn’t do without it – if you don’t embrace change than you’ll only grow to resent it, which just makes it all more difficult when it happens anyway.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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starting my masters!

2019, career, student

Hello!

It’s been a long few weeks leading up to this and I still feel a little like it’s not real because I’m not in the new flat yet, but I’ve officially enrolled and I’m officially a student at Oxford Brookes University! Here begins my journey as an MSc Digital Media Production student.

I’ve already tried so many new things – I’ve driven on my own on the motorway for the first time, I’ve figured out how the park and ride system works in Oxford, I’m learning about buses and I’m trying to navigate my way around the campus. It’s a lot to take in and I feel like I haven’t really engaged with half of it.

It’s only been a couple of days – Monday I was just scoping out the route and getting to know things, Tuesday was my first proper course induction, but there’s still sports and freshers fair,  module induction and then the real thing begins!

It’s all very overwhelming and I don’t quite feel like I’m really a student again, I need a bit more information before I can truly process and plan what I want from the end of this course, but I’m excited.

I’m excited to get back into learning, planning my time at uni and having something to work towards and get stuck into. I’m not so excited about having to budget super tightly and figuring out getting a part time job and eventually moving into our flat, but I’m generally trying to balance feeling excited with being mildly terrified and focusing on keeping ‘excited’ on top.

At the end of the day, I’m still trying to convince myself that going back to uni instead of being able to get a career relevant job as a failure or second choice – I’ve been talking about doing a masters since I was in second year of my undergrad because the long term plan was to always develop and make it so journalism wasn’t my highest qualification, but if I’m being honest – if I’d been able to get a job I probably wouldn’t be here.

But if I keep treating myself like a failure for being here at all, it’s going to be a really tough year. I’m bettering myself, furthering my education, refining my skillset and career field. I’ve got time to secure relevant industry work experience and I can push myself in ways I’ve not been able to from my home in South Lincolnshire.

There are lots of positives – I’ve got lots of skills and positive traits, I just need to work on believing them and believing that I’m worth anything at all.

This year is going to be hard and there are going to be challenges along the way, but I’m really excited to be a student again and can’t wait to learn all about digital media production.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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September Goals

2019, goals, lifestyle, student

Hello!

I spent all of July wishing for August, then August flew by quicker than I could follow and now my favourite month of the year has come round. September – the month of the last dregs of summer blending into the beginning of Autumn, lots of birthdays and back to school season (I’m a nerd, it excites me).

My September has lots of fresh starts – turning 23, moving to a brand new city and starting studying at a new university. Lots of ‘new’ but whilst trying not to think about how daunting all of that is, here are the mini goals I will be focusing on this month:

  • Get a part-time job in Reading – for one, moving house is really expensive, for two, post graduate loans barely cover anything and for three, my partner isn’t going to be around a lot of the time and I don’t have any friends in Reading so I want something to fill the time, pay the bills and make some friends! I’ve applied for a job I actually kind of subtly really want but what I’ve learnt from a year of applying for jobs is not to put all your eggs in one basket! When I know more about my university course and my timetable I can throw myself head first into looking at working and (hopefully) by the end of the month I’ll have something lined up.
  • Stay on top of my finances amongst all the moving costs – did I mention that moving is really expensive? Not only am I now paying for my personal bills and insurance for two new drivers, I’m paying for utilities and WiFi and a TV license and all those things! Obviously I’m not complaining, it’s just adult life, but as we move things are going to be tight tight tight so I need to stay on top of my budgeting!
  • Finish PG Cert course, start MSc Digital Media Production – this one isn’t so much of a goal to strive for as a marker point to get to – I’m going to finish my post graduate certificate and I’m going to start my masters, but it’s about not losing momentum at the end of one qualification and making sure I’m prepared to start the other. There is literally one week of crossover but in a busy month where I’m also moving about 150 miles (ish) away, staying on top of my education is another important thing!
  • Focus on content – making four regular posts on time every week – my YouTube content in particular is massively slacking at the moment. I feel like I have nothing to film for my weekly vlogs, I’m working so hard in the office I don’t have time to film or edit other videos, blogging is something that comes very naturally to me and is less time consuming than YouTube (at least for me at this very casual level) but it’s important to me to maintain the two, especially where this month is going to be very busy. Time management is key!
  • Do something for self care every single week – and in a much less ‘productivity focused’ manor, things like taking my make-up off and brushing my teeth are the first things to fall off when I’m stressed or my mental health dips. My mum and I call my stress ‘subconscious stress’ because I feel okay about things but I feel a lot of physical symptoms of stress, so I want to make an effort to have time to look after myself – I bought a Lush face mask while I was in Reading and I want to use it! I want to look after my skin! I need to have a home routine and not rely so heavily on external routines and self-care is something I need to prioritise so much.

September is going to be a challenging month – financially, it’s so tight and it’s going to be super busy, but it’s also got numerous birthdays, a brand new city to explore and a whole new chapter to begin! I’m genuinely so excited and can’t wait to document it all.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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I’m moving! | life update | diary 7

2019, lifestyle, student

Hello!

Time for a little life update / little insight into what I get up to day to day at the moment I think!

August has been manic – in July I was accepted by Oxford Brookes University to study MSc Digital Media production, so I knew I’d be moving back to uni and I spent a lot of time wishing it was August to get the ball rolling.

Then my boyfriend passed his driving test, then I passed my driving test, then we arranged a few property viewings in the Oxford/Reading area and then we attended four viewings and by the evening of the second day we’d put a deposit down on a river-facing ground floor flat that we’ve fallen in love with?

So the August I’d been yearning for has literally flown passed – I can’t believe it’s nearly September, we’re moving in like three weeks and I feel over-prepared and in no way prepared at the same time.

My life at the moment is generally working 9-10 hour days in my mum’s office to save for things like hoovers and bed frames and other necessities for an unfurnished flat (I’m so glad I bought sofa’s on gumtree when I was at uni) and then making lots of lists of things I still need to pack, household bills I need to look into and listing all the places I need to change my address.

Really I’m in my element – it’s something I can take responsibility and ownership for and I get to make lots and lots of lists. I’m excited, but it is a little bit daunting too, especially financially – I’ve lived with my mum for a year and part of me feels like I won’t adjust to adult life again, along with the fact my boyfriend is about to start his new job and I think I’m going to be alone most of the time, it does feel a little scary… but I’m trying to focus on the exciting!

I’m going to make a video all about the steps between paying the deposit and picking up the keys nearer the time but it’s all moving very quickly – there’s no free weekends between now and moving and there’s a lot to fit in, but I think I’m on top of it and I think I’ll have enough money to buy essentials (I hope).

Having a birthday literally three days before we move is probably going to come in handy too!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I manage my finances without a budget

2019, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

Figuring out my finances is something I’ve had to watch very closely this month – with buying a car on finance and the end of last month and spending my wages before I got them, this month has been and will be very, very tight but in the months leading up to buying my car and this month of tight budgeting I’m so proud of how well I’ve managed them that I’ve decided to share!

I’m someone who feels inclined to spend money when they’re sad so being able to tackle that and being at a point where I know I can save reliably and buy myself a car without dipping into my savings is a big step for me.

And the biggest thing for me is not having a set budget – I’ve tried apps like Yolt and Cleo and I just found they weren’t flexible enough for real life. Saying ‘I’m only going to spend £X this month’ doesn’t allow for spontaneous plans – paying for trains for a job interview,  having to pay for more bus tickets than expected or even going for a last minute coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time can effect your budget and I just found that it didn’t work for me. So this is more about tracking your finances and making sure you can hit all your goals – whether that’s saving a certain amount, not spending over a certain amount (I guess that’s having a budget) or just making sure you can pay all your bills, these are my tips and tricks for flexible financing.

*obviously I’m not an expert and I’m not claiming to be, just sharing tips from someone who using half her savings to live last year and now has bought herself a car on finance*

1. Have somewhere to track your finances

I only mention my bullet journal in basically every blog post I write but for me I have a spread in my journal for my finances each month. On the left I have notes which I will expand on and on the right page is where I write down everything I’m spending as it comes out of my bank account. I don’t track cash spending because either I will have drawn that cash from my bank which I track or it’s cash that I’ve been given for whatever reason so it doesn’t effect my bank account. I tried tracking as I spent but then it got confusing with keeping receipts and it’s better for the environment if not so now I just track my spending as it comes out of my bank account.

Either way, I recommend writing it all down! Whether it’s a note on your phone, a notebook that you have specifically for finances or in a bullet journal like me, write it down!

Normally it’s neater than this, but having somewhere to really know how much I’m spending it important to me

2. Plan your month

I like to break it down with my income at the top of the left hand page, then a list of all my bills and when I’d expect them to come out (then I can tick them off and it’s very satisfying) and then a list of any costs I know I’m going to incur.

So this month I had to pay for a tattoo (because car and tattoo timing ended up being awful), two driving lessons, my savings challenge and bus fares and having it all written out makes it much easier to track.

My savings challenge, for anyone that’s interested, came from Facebook last year – you save a pound more every week for a whole year (so £1, then £2, then £3 etc) so it was really easy in January but now I’m saving just under £150 a month and by the end of the year it’ll be a lot per month but I’ll have over £1300 saved in a year which I’m so proud of and I haven’t done it yet, but it’s important to me and I want to complete it!

So knowing what my month is going to look like is really helpful – taking my bills and planned payments into account means I know how much money I have to play with and depending on how much I want to save and what it is I want to spend my money on I can figure out my spending from there.

3. Focus on what you need and not what you want

It’s so easy when you get an email about 20% off on ASOS or you fancy some Bourneville Buttons to just go and buy them, but if you really want to make the most of your finances you have to think about what you really want from them.

If a treat every now and then is in your budget then go for it, if you’ve had your eye on a jacket that really fills a gap in your wardrobe then go for it, but if you really need to save and you’re looking at buying a new notebook for the sake of it then you really need to think about if it can wait.

Another thing I find helps with this is having a post it note or section in your journal towards a ‘big spend’ – if there’s something that you want or need to spend slightly more money on. I have a big spend post it note that I transfer to each monthly finance spread with each month and what I would like to be my ‘big spend’ if I can afford it. It’s meant that because I could plan it out, I bought myself a Nintendo Switch in May, a new car in June and I’m hoping to be able to get prescription sunglasses and pay the deposit on a rented property in August. It really is achievable if you set your mind to it!

It’s a difficult skill to master discipline and nobody’s perfect, but trying your best is the best you can do.

So there’s my top advice for helping manage your finances in a more realistic way than most of the apps will let you. I personally find them all too fiddly and they never track my bills right, but maybe I’ve just not put the time into them.

I think I’ll always be a pen and paper gal myself, but I hope this helps in some way!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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planning for moving

2019, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

It’s only been a week since I found out I’ve been accepted onto a masters course at Oxford Brooke’s and I’ve already gone head first into planning to move because I’ve only got 2 months to figure it all out! Renting is all quite a quick progress so I don’t know when I’m actually going to find a property with the right time span

But regardless of the fact I don’t have anywhere to live yet, there’s lots of things I’m planning to do different than when I lived alone as an undergrad student so I thought I’d make a list for two reasons – 1) I love planning and thinking all these things through and 2) it holds me accountable so when I do move, I stick with the plan!

1. Having a cleaning/laundry day every week

I’ll be honest, I’m not very good at cleaning where I live – it’s something I never got round to teaching myself when I moved out but in the era of Mrs Hinch it’s not hard to learn! I just know what I’m like so setting a day aside to do the bathroom, the kitchen, hoover everything, do all our laundry will make sure I definitely do it and I think it’ll be a nice relief from uni work. Get some music on the Alexa, comfies on, sounds like a pretty good day actually!

2. Making proper meal plans

Doing one bulk shop at the beginning of the month then using stuff out the freezer to make it last (especially because I’ll probably be cooking for one most nights when my boyfriend’s away working!). Something I really want to focus on is making an effort not to buy as much food on the go – the occasional McDonalds as a treat is okay but popping into Tescos or Costa every day is expensive and not that healthy, so it’ll be good for my healthy eating and for my bank account to plan ahead!

3. Move in parts – not all at once

I have a lot of stuff – ornaments, books, personal stuff and I’m definitely not going to be able to move it all in one go. Being in the Oxford area (rather than in Southampton where I was for uni!) and being able to drive (hopefully) between there and home means I can go pick up more of my stuff whenever I want, rather than having to lug it all on trains. My plan is to take the bare minimum and then as we unpack and figure out storage we can take more belongings or buy new things (I’m hoping for a new TV at some point!). Doing it more gradually will just be easier for everyone, luckily my mum’s happy for us to leave stuff at home!

In terms of actually starting uni – I’ve got my conditional offer, I’ve sent off my references and proof of my degree and applied for student finance. Once my boyfriend and I have taken our next driving tests (lol) we’ll figure out more in terms of logistics and then my mum reckons renting property is a quick process so we’re not really going to start looking until nearer September and then it’s all packing and actually moving, which is stressful enough!

I’m excited though – this is the most progress I’ve made in the year since I graduated (which is exactly a year ago tomorrow, 10th July!). I’m so ready to live independently and go back to uni and hopefully make a start on the rest of my life. Any advice is more than welcome!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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July Goals

2019, fitness, goals, lifestyle, student, writing

Hello!

It’s that time again! We’re officially over halfway through 2019 and I’m not entirely sure how it’s gone that fast actually. It’ll be Christmas before we know it!

But with a new month, it means new goals! My June goals actually went relatively well – I made good progress on lots of things and I’m going to maintain that this month. So here are my achievable personal goals for July!

  1. Practice driving petrol – may sound dumb, but long story short I upgraded my car! I’ve been driving diesel since I started learning last September and this is the first time I’ve ever driven petrol and boy-o it’s different and difficult to get used to. I say ‘difficult’ – it’s only been two days and when it’s flat I’m mostly okay but I want to get lots of practice in so that when I pass my driving test (eventually) I’ll be ready to zip off here there and everywhere in my gorgeous new car! Aptly named H.R.Wheels by my creative boyfriend, plus points to anyone who watches the Flash and gets that reason.
  2. Confirm my place at uni and research where to move – literally yesterday as I was brainstorming what I wanted my goals for this month to be, I got a conditional offer email from Oxford Brookes University to study MSc Digital Media Production and I’m simultaneously nervous and excited. But what goes with that is moving – finding somewhere to live around Oxford (because I definitely can’t afford Oxford) and figuring out the finances of it all! July is a month of figuring out.
  3. Write 35,000 words – I’ve been setting myself lots of monthly writing challenges to train up for 50,000 words NaNoWriMo in November and this month is Camp NaNoWriMo. It’s just to maintain my habit for writing every day and making time for creative hobbies around work and other commitments!
  4. Run 3x a week and stop snacking – a little development on my goals for last months. In this last week is when I fell off my couch to 5k bandwagon and I needed a bit of motivation, so this morning I did the run from week 1 and I’m going to do a condensed version of the first 4 weeks, then build up on week 5 and 6 again because that’s where I started to struggle. It’s going to take me considerably longer than 9 weeks but I’m going to get there! This is the most committed to exercise I’ve been since I was dancing four times a week at school. And I need to get a hold of my eating habits again – it’s getting out of hand so step 1 for me is cutting out snacking. It’ll be tough but I want to feel better again so I’ve got to work for it!
  5. Make sure I can pay all my bills – having bought a car at the very end of June, July is going to be incredibly tight (because I may or may not have spent the majority of my wages before I got paid… haha?). It’s manageable as long as I don’t waste money on things I don’t need and am really careful with what I do spend. I’m not worried about it but I need to focus and having it as part of my monthly goals helps keep me on track!

A couple of days ago, I noticed in myself that I was feeling a bit spaced out – that I was stopping doing things that are good for me and feeling a total lack of motivation for everything but writing this post has really perked me up! If you feel a bit lost I thoroughly recommend setting a short list of achievable goals, it makes it so much easier to be productive!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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