Relaxing

I lost my step-father at the end of January. As soon as I found out about it, I knew that I needed to visit my Mum. That was the easy part of course.

Over the last two months, my Mum & I have been trying to sort through so much of their life together. It hasn’t been easy to say the least. It has been stressful, tiring, wearing, exhausting and mentally draining.

University needed to be placed on ‘pause’ and I had to depend on the support of friends back home to make sure things kept running smoothly whilst I was away.

However, I have been incredibly fortunate to have friends on this side of the world that offered to let me stay with them for about 2 weeks before returning home. The whole idea is that I let myself have a ‘holiday’ from what I’ve left behind so that I can prepare myself for the recovery that needs to take place once I get back into the UK.

The purpose of relaxing is not lost on me, but I actually think this is first time that I’ve been consciously aware of the fact that I am actually capable of it. Even after I started to ‘chill out’ I started to question what I was actually doing with my time. There was a sense that I ‘should’ be doing ‘something’, although it’s pretty clear that there’s nothing I can do from here that will fix anything that needs to be done once I get back to England.

So, I’ve been attempting to really relax, and it’s been liberating and also a little telling. There are still a lot of ‘thoughts’, I worry about this that and the other, what impact my actions and words have on the other people around me and what I’m thinking and feeling and most importantly why? In the end however, I did concede and ended up purchasing myself a Bullet Journal so that I could take some more control of my life. Perhaps it’s a step backwards, but I can say that since I bought it, and started using it to log my much smaller day-to-day chores and events I feel much better about the whole thing.

Being able to look back and see what I’ve done is useful, and to give myself smaller goals that will help settle the uneasy feeling in my head has actually worked! It’s simple stuff too, less planning months and months in advance and more accepting each day as it comes. I’ve set myself little goals, ‘have a shower first thing’ or ‘put laundry away’ or ‘mail postcards’. It’s definitely easy to forget that these seemingly ‘simple’ things were at one point or another really difficult to accomplish – but just ordering my life some how has given me a greater sense of purpose.

Weird, honestly – because I was already doing those things, but it felt increasingly like I had to open myself up to a new project or plan some huge ‘game plan’ for the future.

The truth is that I have decided on a few avenues to follow once I get back home, and there are definitely jobs that I will need to ‘get done’ when I get there. Not that I’ve written them down! I have a feeling that will happen on my return to England on the plane, maybe? It’s a long, overnight flight – but there will definitely be time to take some notes and make a few lists.

Mostly, I’m just glad that I’ve been able to take a deep breath and just ‘be’. It hasn’t been easy, and I still struggle to ignore that nagging doubt and the constant questioning but it’s all practice isn’t it?

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Yes I have a cashflow problem!

After taking a look through some of the debate videos Facebook had to offer us the other day, I came across an incredibly interesting comment made by Dominic Raab.

He suggested that people who used Food Banks might have a ‘cashflow’ problem.

Obviously, there was a lot of outrage, and I could have gone on about it on my Facebook page but I decided that seeing as I’m fortunate enough to live with a friend who charges me far less rent than she should do I am not one of those people living on the poverty line.

I DID just want to take a minute to point out that Yes. Yes we DO have a cashflow problem. You want to see the maths? Okay.

Trying to work out the costings for an ‘average’ person isn’t easy, but for arguments sake I’ve gone to Right Move, found the cheapest currently available ROOM in a house share.

So we’re looking at £217 per month. Great! Well, that’s cheap! It’s bills included too, so there’s no need to worry about that. Will the council pay that much? Let’s see. £217 for twelve months divided by 52. That’s £50 a week, and thankfully, the local government are definitely going to give you that much to cover it.

So, that’s it right?

Ah, not quite. Let’s take another look at the fees listed here…

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Hold on, hold on. What am I reading here?

Single occupancy from £85 per week

So actually you’re going to charge me £85 because I don’t have someone to share with? Here’s the sad news, guys. Suddenly we’re going to have an issue with the housing benefit, aren’t we?

What’s the Local Housing Allowance in Lincoln anyway?

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Oh.

Well, I suppose – when you include the fact that the bills are all included I suppose I probably would have to use some of the benefits I get from Job Seeker’s Allowance toward the rent!

Job Seekers get £79.10 a week, so I now have £53 to live on for the week.

I mean, that is of course assuming that I already LIVE in this house share, because if I don’t, I really don’t fancy those fees. Well. Recurring fees. Renewal of tenancy? Is this a 6 month or a 12 month contract? Does it roll? Let’s say for the sake of this post that I have a 12 month contract – I need to keep back £5 a week to be able to afford the £60 Renewal Fee.

So now I have £48 a week to live on.

Okay, but I also have a pet. Why do I have a pet? Well, to be honest I sometimes feel like I need him. There are plenty of studies that suggest that pets are great for people with mental health related problems and I know he’s been amazing for me so I’m factoring this in too.

Figaro is insured. Of course he is! What kind of irresponsible pet owner would I be if I didn’t ensure that I had something to fall back on in case he got really sick? He’s not just my pet – he’s a member of my family. It’s me & Fig now. Anyway, okay – how much are you paying for that, Ollie dearest? £10.39 a month? Well, it’s only £2.39 a week.

Yeah, but he’s also got Pet Plan. You know. I can’t really afford the cost of vaccinations and medications and health checks. That’s £14.50 a month. It’s only £3.34 a week. No big deal!!

Okay, but what does he eat? Well, he is rather partial to wet food – so I try, when I can, to but Felix when it’s on offer. Usually… I can get 44 packs for about £10. He has one pack a day, which is 22p, times by 7 is £1.54 but he also has dry food! Which is a little more expensive because the little bugger is a rescue he likes Royal Canin, but I can get it pretty cheap online and it lasts 130. So, I’ll buy a bag of 10kg which is £44.19 and it lasts 130 days which averages out at about 33p a day. Another £2.31 a week.

The cat costs me just under a tenner a week. £9.58 if we’re going to be picky.

Which means that I now have £38.42 left.

At the moment, I’m volunteering three times a week at a local community centre. Generally, I get a lift into town once a week, but other than that I get the bus twice a week. A single into town is £2.30, which means I spend £4.60 on bus fares. No, I don’t get the bus back I WALK. Miracle of miracles.

£33.82

I also pay £10 a month to the peer support group I go to.

£31.50

Yeah, I could probably live on that much. As long as I never eat take away, never want new clothes, shoes, books, dvds, or general entertainment. As long as my friends don’t mind me not buying them cards or presents for any occasion – at least I have an excuse if I forget!

Did I mention that this is as long as I’m already living in that shared house? Otherwise I have to find £400 from somewhere.

Money Making Websites

This is a page which contains referral links to all the websites I visit which help me earn a little bit of money.

Primarily I share them with others because at some point in time, visiting them has helped me feel a sense of progress and meaning. I’m a big gamer, and I enjoy collecting achievements but sometimes it is difficult to accept that it is okay to do something for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Of course, I do benefit from telling others about these sites. Almost all of them have a referral scheme, and I take efforts to be clear about anything I gain, and never post links that require an upfront payment.

 

‘Free’ Lotteries

People with time, patience and real drive to make themselves some money have come up with great ways to help others whilst helping themselves.

The most popular website that I’m aware of at the moment is FPL, or –

Free Postcode Lottery.

www.freepostcodelottery.com

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Signing up is quick and easy and checking whether you’re a winner is a doddle. There are many chances to win, and as news of the website grows, so does it’s potential.


DOB Lotto

www.doblotto.com

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This one is a birthday lottery. Just enter your date of birth for a daily chance to win £50. It’s quick and easy, and from the 1st of April, they will be introducing the chance to fill in a quick survey to win another draw on the website.


Free Birthdate Lottery

www.freebirthdatelottery.com

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Another chance to win thanks to the day you were born. Just tell them when it is, and if it’s picked you can win £5. This website is coming up with other quirky ways to win extra points and money to ‘cash out’, too. Looks very promising.


GiftHulk

www.gifthulk.com

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TThe one thing I make sure to do on this one every day is the ‘Guess the Card’. Which can generate a few points every day. (I always pick one suit!) There are other ways to earn some money – which you earn in the form of gift cards. I tend to cash out $5 Paypal vouchers.


Qmee

www.qmee.com

qmee

In the form of an internet browser add on, this one will show you results when you search for something. Whether it’s on Google, ebay, amazon etc. By clicking on the link it shows you, you can earn a few pence. The really cool thing about this one is that you can cash out at any time, right into your paypal account.


It’s money, honey.

I am definitely not in a position right now where I feel like I could even begin to consider trying to work out what my relationship with money IS, and what I’m going to do about it.

Honestly, I know it is going to take a LOT of willpower and a lot of hard work to get to a point where I feel safe around money. It burns a hole in my soul never mind my pocket.

It’s also a really awkward topic for me, because my relationship with it is so twisted that I’ve managed to rack up a lot of debt, both to the bank and to friends. That makes it a really sensitive subject, and as ill as I perceive myself to be, money just feels like such an important issue that it should overcome my illness and be something ‘free’ from it. This is seriously not the case, and I know it – but owing money, or feeling like I owe anyone anything is one of the most difficult places I so often find myself in.

I have completely and utterly digressed from the points I’d been intended to make with this post, but if you’ve read this far you’re in for a real treat because I’m going to share some tips with you guys. <3

The Internet is FULL of ‘get rich quick’ schemes and to be honest, sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint which ones are worth your time and effort, and which ones are better left at the other end of a ten foot barge pole.

I’m going to share some of the ways I’ve made money online, mostly because I love the idea of being able to help friends, family and other people out and also (sneakily) because in most of these cases, if you win I win. We all win. It’s a party.

Free Postcode Lottery – It’s exactly what it says on the tin. It’s open to everyone in the UK. You enter your postcode, and every day you have several chances of winning anything from £10 to the £900 that someone won earlier this week and I was insanely jealous of. :(

Lucky Phone – This one gives you two chances to win every day. Once, with your phone number, and if you don’t feel like handing over all your details, you can opt to have a lucky dip set on numbers for a smaller prize. They don’t use your details for anything though! The main draw is £10, and the lucky dip is £5. Open to UK Citizens.

Free Cat Lottery – No, you’re not going to win a cat. (That would be kind of awesome though!) This is the lottery where every day your kitty cat gets a chance at winning. All you have to do is upload a cute picture of your cat. The winner is chosen at random every day, and at the moment you can win £10 a day, and it rolls over if the winner doesn’t claim. Although it pays in £ I believe it’s open to anyone.

The Selfie Lottery – Like the cat lottery, except they want a picture of you. It’s really simple, too. These guys have a jackpot of $10 a day. It’s open to anyone who can access the website, whether you’re in the UK or the US or even Australia.

Ashleigh Money Saver’s Draw – This one is a bit different. All you have to do it sign up, and check if you’ve won every day for a chance to win £50. There are lots of other offers and things here, but be wary because I’ve seen some offers that require you to shell out money first, and that goes against the grain!

GiftHulk – At the moment, this is definitely one of my go to’s after the lotteries. The website is very self-explanatory when you get there, but if you want to read more, I would suggest having a read of a post I made a few months ago: Here.

Money, again. Always money.

I just felt such a strong compulsion to complain/whine/rant, and this is obviously the perfect place for it, and on that thread I’m thinking of something else but I’ll stick to the main point.

I have some money in my Paypal account. It’s there quite often, mostly because it’s an easy way for my Mum & Step-Dad to send me money, and to get funds from the surveys websites that offer that as a payment method.

What I am quickly hating about Paypal is their advertising. I get it. It’s your own company website, why shouldn’t you be able to advertise your products but it’s so frustrating to get logged in and see an advert for ‘credit’, and – lo and behold, a photo of a desk with an apple product on it.

It just makes my brain tick and for a moment (or more) I have that flash of thought. ‘I could just go ahead and get credit for an iPhone’.

Mum & I had a really interesting discussion about the way I feel about buying things. I told her about how frugal I can be and that I’m renowned by my friends as being one of the most frugal. I hunt down free stuff, try to get the best offers, usually know the best place to buy things and I suppose when it comes to food I’m really careful. When it comes to other things however, it’s a completely different ball game.

I was once so obsessed with buying Final Fantasy X back when it first came out, that I would go into various shops that sold it, and I’d just look at it, and be overcome with this feeling of how much I needed it, and so wanted to buy it – but at the time I had no money.

Months later, after I’d bought it, I went back into a similar chain shop and stood there, looking at the case of the game which I already owned now, and was overcome with that same desperate sensation that I needed to have it. I wanted to buy it, I wanted to hold a brand new copy in my hands right now and it felt stupid, so ridiculously stupid. I can’t put into words how it feels when I want something and it’s the same as it is for wanting the new iPhone, except I know I’m going to experience it on a regular basis.

I bought a new 3DS despite the fact that I already had one. I didn’t just do it once. I did it twice. Of course, these were different versions. I bought a red 3DS, then a 3DS XL Pikachu version, and then when I got to Australia I bought the NEW 3DS XL. In the last year, since I was made redundant and made this decision to take off, I’ve bought a DSLR camera, a BOSE mini bluetooth speaker, a 3DS XL, £100 in vouchers for the nintendo store, a laptop, and a bunch of smaller things.

It just always come down to the same old feeling, and the reasoning in my head that it’s okay because I need these things so badly. I do feel guilt over them, but I manage to overcome that guilt and try to forget about it, which is easy once the money has gone and the impact of spending that money (i.e. not having money for the rest of the month for food because of it) is gone.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep talking myself down, and out of buying these things, but with Fallout 4 coming out soon, and the idea of not having a PS4 when I get back home, and the issues I’ve been having with my iPhone 4. I think it’s going to be a constant battle.

But I NEED it.

I need help.

I’ve been looking at the apple store, and I could totally buy myself the new iPhone 6S. I totally want the iPhone 6S and there is pretty much nothing right now that can make me think otherwise.

I know I could apply for Paypal Credit, according to the Apple website – not sure whether they would accept me, but I have paypal credit on my account already. It would only cost £33.60 a month for 2 years to have an iPhone 6S. In my hands. It totally feels like something I should do too.

After all, my current iPhone is running out of battery after about an hour of vague usage, and I had my iPod stolen so I could use the 6S to store all my music. AND, I’d be able to play Fallout Shelter on it, which is clearly THE most important thing in my life.

I’m thinking about the consequences. I’ve already spoken to my Mum about it, she’s right here but the impulse to go ahead and buy the phone anyway is burning HARD. Even though she’s telling me it’s just a phone and that I don’t really need it, I cannot explain to you how much I want to buy it.

I’m thinking about how I’ve had to borrow money from a bunch of people. I’ve been sent money by my Step-Dad and borrowed money off some friends back home and I know I should feel guilty because technically that isn’t even my money but I so want this phone right now that I can’t find it in myself to feel guilty when I SHOULD be thinking of them first. I owe them money, and the £33.60 a month would go a long way to paying them back every month, never mind the debtors that I owe far more than a few hundred pounds.

It’s difficult to stop thinking about it though.

I get these impulses all the time and fighting them takes all my focus because it’s not just something that I’ve been thinking about RIGHT NOW, I think about it very often. Every time I think about listening to music, or the apps I want to be able to use to ‘make money’ when I get home, and the adverts on TV and on the internet and blah blah blah. There’s so much stuff.

I think I’ll feel bad when Fallout 4 comes out and I insist on buying that. After all, I should be contributing to the people who will be letting me stay in their house come December. I feel like such a selfish person when I think about it like that, but I’m not – I just really want these things because I need them. How do you even manage to tell yourself you don’t need something when you do?

GiftHulk; The site that’s been keeping me ‘positive’.

I thought I’d enlighten everyone on the stuff I get up to when I’m trying to earn a little money at the same time as browsing the net & playing games.

I’ve been a member of GiftHulk for a few years now, and I’ve managed to rack up enough points for more than my fair share of payouts.

One of my favourite things about GiftHulk is that I can cash out my points for PayPal credit, they’re pretty quick to process their pay outs, which is different from a lot of survey websites that I’ve been a member of, and if surveys are your thing you can get plenty of those done.

There are some really simple ways to get started. Every day, your account is credited with ‘coins’ to use in a really simple game called ‘Guess the Card’. I tend to choose go straight to ‘Guess the Suit’, as I feel I get rewarded more. Every time you guess the right suit, you get 4HC – which is local currency on GiftHulk. Sometimes you can win 100 HC if you get the Joker card, and also you can win the occasional Fountain of Youth Code. It doesn’t just entitle you to some extra HC’s, but you can share the code with up to three other people, too. I quickly found 3 other GiftHulk users to share codes with, and often wake up to news that they’ve had a code to share with me too. Finally, you can also get ‘Point Boosters’. These are great for anyone wanting to rack up the points on other parts of the website.

A newer addition is RadioLoyalty. I keep this playing in the background whilst I’m browsing, and it’s a really quick way to get the points rolling in. Every 10 minutes that you listen, you are awarded points! All you have to do is check back on the tab, and type in the CAPTCHA to get your reward.

GiftHulk also offers points for Tasks, which are really simple and supported by CrowdFlower, a company renowned through the world of online money making. Jobs come and go, but it’s worth checking back every day to see if there are any that suit you. Once you get going, it can be hard to stop.

I’ve got a mountain of knowledge to share, so I’d be happy to answer questions!

If you’re interested in signing up to GiftHulk, I have a special referral link that might just interest you. (and help me, too! =P)

https://www.gifthulk.com/invite/GA130804

Enjoy!