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Your Financial Situation – Your Rules

When it comes to finances, do you ever get frustrated when you hear of suggestions, financial ideas and systems that you cannot possibly implement on your personal situation?

If this is the case then it is very possible that you are one of those people that the generic rules don’t apply to because of your personal circumstances. Every individual is unique and it all has to do with factors such as upbringing, financial education, whether you were financially well off as a child and what your overall opinion is with regards to money.

Your financial situation, follow your rules

Whatever your personal circumstances might be, if it frustrates you, then simply remember that banks and credit card companies would never be so wealthy if those very simple systems of wealth creation and savings worked for everyone.

Only last year I heard of David Ramsey, a radio personality who is rather famous in the United States for his advice on people with debt and how to get rid of it. I found him on YouTube the same way I’ve found a number of everyday people like me who share ideas and tricks and who have inspired me during my debt-free journey .

There are many everyday people out there who share frugal tips and saving tricks with the world. Many also share their debt and general financial situation. Some are money gurus, determined to persuade everyone else that making big money is so easy and why don’t we do it already. Whatever the case, these people can inspire you to change your finances and might even give you ideas for an abundant future. At the end of the day however they shouln’t make you model your financial habits after theirs when they are not aware of your unique and personal situation.

Since you already struggle financially, it’s pointless to get stressed because you cannot apply somebody else’s financial rules. Just let it go. Free yourself and don’t compare.

But because I’ve been there and I’ve done that, I know that you’ll try it anyway because you are desperate to change your situation, you want to be a winner and you’ll do anything to improve your finances. In vain you’ll compare yourself to others. Be warn. You’ll only get frustrated, angry and unhappy. When it happens, don’t worry. It’s time to let it go. Stop beating yourself up because you cannot possibly apply rules, programs and approaches that are foreign to what you already know. They weren’t made for you. They were made for others. Maybe for you too, but only when you are ready. Take your time.

Budgeting is a Loose Concept with a Loose Meaning

Budget is not a certain amount of money that you can live on per month or per year. Your needs are needs and however little your salary, it is imperative that your basic survival needs are met.

Budget is the step up after your needs. It is a sort of allowance that you must not exceed in order to make your money last longer, to survive within certain comfort during a certain period of time and to divide them in parts to fit your financial goals. For example when you need to save for various things and it is necessary to allocate a specific amount to each of them. Also toys/activities when it comes to children or presents for social dos, friends and family, etc.

In a previous article we discussed what our needs are. Lets have a brief reminder again as to what these are.

  1. Food
  2. Shelter/safety
  3. Clothes for work and weather
  4. Transport to work
  5. Health and medicine
  6. Phone (Remember that the phone can be a necessity for safety, for you and your family, and also imperative to get a job and/or to maintain it, and to communicate with family members)

 

Once your needs have been met, whatever money is now left you can put it aside for a rainy day or towards something major you’d love to purchase without having to take a loan first. Here is when the actual budgeting begins.  When you allocate your leftover monies for various saving purposes then you start entering the budgeting matrix. The purpose or goal can vary and can be things such as a house, a piece of land, a car, to start a business etc.

Budgeting can help very much with the plain survival. Once the needs have been met, we can then manage our foreseeable needs even better.  The examples given below are only a tiny fraction of what can be done. With creativity and long term habits a lot can be achieved.

Let’s say you covered your needs for this month and you are left with $400, or €400 or £400. It doesn’t matter what the currency is here, only the number itself. There is a whole lot you could do with this money. You could stock on long lasting groceries in your house, groceries that you found on sale very cheap or simply you buy in big amounts because it is costly to make frequent grocery trips. With the little money you have left over you can stock as much as your wallet can take and use over time till you run out. It can be tomato paste or sauce, it can be pasta etc. Meat could easily go under this category if it is possible for you to freeze. If you usually buy 1 kilo of meat a week for your family, but you found down prized meat that your family eats, then you can buy 10 kilos of the said meat, divide it in ten portions and freeze it. Next time you’ll be in need for meat you won’t have to buy it full prize. You will have spent less on your needs and you can save this small amount of money aside.

  1. You can buy in bulk things you use regularly, mostly food. When buying in bulk it is usually cheaper. Non-foods that I can think off right now and is common for my area, is wood for the winter (stove/fire place), linen for the house, underwear, soaps, detergents and the like. Food that can be bought in bulk is flour, lentils, beans, rice etc. They can usually be bought by the sack. Oil in big containers, cheese in similar containers and so on. This way, your basic need of feeding yourself will be less costly and so the money you’ll be able to save will be more.
  2. Next month you’ll be able to save $430 (€, £), instead of only $400 because your needs will cost less because there’ll be more in your pantry. Or you could use the excess money you saved towards wants to not feel less privileged in case you are new to personal financial management, aka savings, and still suffer from the transition. There are many steps to personal finances, budgeting and savings, and it takes a strong mindset. But fear not, everyone can develop financial sense over time, all you need is a personal why and time to adjust. The financial enlightenment will follow.

Some people use budgeting in a very simple yet very productive way. They say their income is $800. Now it is January. By December they want to have $1000 saved to go for a skiing vacation. That gives them 11 months to save this money. Which means they take the amount they require to save ($1000) divided by the time they have (11 months) and end up with the amazing amount of $91 which they have to save each month in order to have acquired their desired savings by December 1st.

They don’t put restrictions as to what they are going to do with the rest of their money and how they are going to distribute it in relations to their needs or overall wants. They want to go on vacation in December and that’s all that matters. They are content to put aside this amount monthly and keep it simple.

Everybody has their own strategy. Use whatever works for you.

 

How to Save Money

There are many ways and tactics to save money, but before you chose one that suits you, you need to understanding a few simple things first.

  1. You need an income.
  2. Your living expenses need to be below your income.
  3. You need some basic understanding of numbers. (Knowledge of simple mathematics. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, percentages, decimals, etc. Lack of money and having to survive from a very young age made me good with numbers. As I had to become able to get by with what I had, numbers became my friends.)

 

When is it that you live below, within or above your income? How do you know that?

YOUR EXPENSES MUST ALWAYS BE LESS THAN YOUR INCOME.

  1. If you have a salary but there is nothing left at the end of the month, then you don’t live below your means. You live within your means.
  2. If you have a salary and also you are using credit cards to support your living, and at the end of the month you have no savings then you live above your means and also you have debt.
  3. For example. You have an income that lets say is 800. Dollars, sterling, euros. It doesn’t matter the currency. But your needs cost you 900. Then you are in debt. Because you need 100 more to survive.
  4. If you income is 800 and your needs cost you 800 then you’ll never be in debt but you won’t save anything either. But because you haven’t saved anything aside for a rainy day, when an emergency happens you won’t be able to withstand the hiccup. You’ll always be worried because you never know when your income source(s) will disappear or a health issue might turn up.
  5. If your income is 800 but your needs 700 then you can save 100.

 

How do you get your expenses to be below your income? How do you manage this?

YOU MUST CLEARLY DEFINE WHAT YOUR WANTS AND WHAT YOUR NEEDS ARE.

  1. Your needs are food, shelter/safety, transport to work, clothes for weather and work, health and medicine.
  2. You need to survive. Therefore your income MUST cover your needs. That’s why you need to understand clearly what your needs and what your wants are first.
  3. If your income doesn’t cover your needs, your basic survival needs, then you have to find ways to increase your income or become creative with your needs and find a way to make ends meet. For instance, you might be able to teach German and your electrician wants to learn German but doesn’t have the money. You teach him and he pays you in services later on. Always be creative with needs.

 

YOU NEED A BUDGET.

  1. Once you have defined what your needs and wants are, then you can start budgeting according to when your income comes in or according to another time sequence that suits you best. Like when you pay your rent/mortgage, when you pay for your school tuition or when you pay your employees.
  2. You definitely need a budget. Preferably a long term budget, a yearly one, a five year one even a lifetime one if you are ready to plan for retirement. You are the only one who can decide on the time length of your budget. It all depends on what your life goals are and your current financial situation. It might be that you need to get out of debt asap, and what is happening in the future is not exactly of importance yet. You need to survive FIRST. Surviving now is a priority. You might be expecting a baby or you might still be in the process of discovering what it is that renders you broke at the end of every month.
  3. You are the one who knows what your goals and personal emergencies are. Your personal circumstances are your own and there is no need to apologise to anyone for them as long as you are financially independent and you don’t owe others money.
  4. Some people have a monthly salary, whereas some get paid weekly, some make odd jobs and get paid on the day or three months later. If you don’t know when your next pay check is going to come in, then you need a budget even the more.

 

 

EXPENSES PER MONTH
Rent/Mortgage  
Utilities  
Food  
Bus/train fare/tickets  
Car gas/petrol money  
Car insurance/parking money  
Work clothes/shoes  
Weather clothes/shoes  
Child/parent/invalid care  
Soap/Deodorant/shampoo/hair clips/shaving gear/haircuts  
Healthcare

Save yourself first and know you have value, no matter what

Often we think that we have nothing left. Mostly because we have no money, because we are in debt or there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But let me tell you this.

Each and every one of us has power. A lot of power. Many of us have debt because we tried to be like everyone else. To have a roof over our heads, some education, a car to get us to work. They are all means to help us compete and remain in the rat race.

Even if you have nothing, remember this. You can still breath. You can still see. If you can type the letters to search online, you still have hands.

Today I called quits with a friend who constantly choses to see no hope. I had to choose between myself and my friend. I chose myself. I have fought a tough fight to be able to wake up hopeful in the morning and not be overwhelmed by stress. It wasn’t something that I achieved overnight. It is not considered achievement by anyone I know. Everyone is shadowed by what they are supposed to be doing or supposed to have accomplished. And if not, point the finger at somebody. Point the finger at somebody gets us nowhere. It only wastes our time and drowns us more in the sea of desperation.

Feeling good in the morning and starting your day with hope and dreams for your present and your future, is not acknowledged by society yet as an achievement, but it is. If you want to lift a friend up, or a stranger for that matter, this person needs to be willing to get out of their difficult situation. Otherwise they’ll drag you down with them. The human psyche is a very important yet very sensitive part of our existence. We need inner strength to cope. Most of us, when we see the signs of human psyche deterioration we simply ignore it and keep going. We are not taught in schools, not even at university or at work, that when soul glitches start happening its time to change things. Environment, dietary habits, the company we keep, the amount of hours we sleep and so much more.

It is difficult to cut off people from our environment. Whether we see them everyday or once in every so often when the pruning needs to happen, it needs to happen. It is harsh, it is difficult. It will leave you with a queasy stomach for a few minutes. But then, then you’ll breath. You’ll breath and you’ll think of the good things in your life and how you can improve yourself so that you can help others. Because if others destroy you little by little you cannot help them and in the end you’ll lose your very self.

It’s a painful choice you need to make but don’t feel guilty when you need to do so in order to protect yourself. No need to be upset or worked up. No need to raise your voice. It’s only an inner decision. Get a cup of tea. And save yourself. Then go ahead and help someone who truly wants to get some help.

10 Things I’ve Stopped Buying

My general life rule is to not compare myself to others. I’m more keen to share information and delve into information others share and chose that which applies to me. Everyone is different. From a different set of parents, different country, financial chances and life opportunities.

So, don’t compare. To help you in your materialistic or minimalist journey, I’ve put together a long list of things I no longer buy, or buy a lot less off, in my effort to de-clutter my life and be a minimalist.

 

Here are the first 10 of those things:

  1. MAGAZINES. In my teens I indulged a lot on comics and magazines aimed at girls where celebrities are featured. Then I was a lot into fashion magazines and soon after I discovered that film journals existed. I used to subscribe to film magazines for years but I haven’t bought a single magazine for well over five years now.
  2. DVDs. I used to watch DVDs on my laptop but when the DVD player feature stopped working I stopped buying them too. I could no longer watch my movies again and again on repeat in private and I thought it only too embarrassing to do so in a flat-share living room. When I upgraded my laptop, the CD feed was so loud that became unpleasant to watch movies from a disc. I haven’t bought a single DVD for at least four years.
  3. HOME DÉCOR. I was never one for buying house decorations. As I’m a minimalist in nature and prefer to be surrounded by objects that have actually some purpose, I haven’t bought beatifying objects for a house for at least nine years.
  4. SEASONAL DÉCOR. As in Christmas, Easter decorations etc. I haven’t bought anything for at least seven years.
  5. SWIM GEAR. The last time I bought a bikini was two years ago. I wanted to be ready in case I went to the sea at last. I used to have a bikini for over a decade but as I have downsized and moved house a number of times, and haven’t been to the beach for a very long time, I have no idea where it went.
  6. FACE CREAM. I used to be obsessed with expensive creams to slather my face in the hope to look prettier and add some invisible, unexplained substance to my existence. Then I used a cream from a known big brand and started having acne. I haven’t used a face cream for at least four years.
  7. BODY LOTION. Even when I used to purchase body lotion I never really got into the habit of diligently massaging my body with it. When I did, on and off I had various skin reactions and so over time I stopped bothering altogether. I haven’t used a body lotion for at least four years.
  8. MUSIC ONLINE or CDs. I listen to trendy music on YouTube and to feel good and relax I listen to affirmations. I haven’t purchased music for at least four years.
  9. CLEANING PRODUCTS. They are included in our rent and so is the cleaner. I haven’t bought any cleaning products for at least a year.
  10. TOILET PAPER. It is included in our rent, so I haven’t bought toilet paper for at least a year as well.

There are many more products that I’ve stopped buying or that I don’t buy as often but because they are so many, they deserve to be divided into different subcategories and then presented to you in themes. I give you ten now because I’m always curious as to what others have stopped buying and I thought it was my turn and only fair to share with the world as well.

Remember, don’t compare to what others do. I share this list in case you think of cutting down some of the above and contemplate the normality of it. It’s normal to make your own choices, especially when it comes to your finances from monies you have earned. My personal experience with minimalism, has been long, gradual and everchanging. It also goes hand in hand with frugality. The only thing I can do for you, is to share my choices and encourage you to save monies where you can and where it applies in your life and personal circumstances.

Thank you for reading, and till next time, many happy thoughts with you!

Maria

 

The Expired Foods

Here I continue with my financial journey:

If you are not a poor Londoner, let me shock you a little. Do you see these products on the photos? The breads, the apple turnovers and the cherry pie? They were all heavily discounted. Do you know why? Because the day I bought them was the last day they were allowed to be sold.

If products with an expiry date don’t get sold the shop selling them will make a massive loss.

As it happens, most food products are heavily processed and have a high quantity of preservatives. This is due to the need for transportation time and return for profit among other things. Long story short, if you are worrying about the quality of what you are eating, let me tell you this: If you are eating these kind of foods, and unless you are growing your own food you most likely do, whether you buy them on their first day of shelf life or the last, you’ll get the same amount of preservatives in your system.

Expired foods Discounted breads

This was something I didn’t know when I first moved to London. I saw people buying these expiring-on-the-day products in the supermarket and wasn’t comfortable with the idea. These people didn’t look like homeless. Sometimes I’d buy those things as well, enough to eat on that day or maybe the day after. But that was that.

Then I saw a friend who was an accountant buying ‘expired’ foods. He put them in the fridge or the freezer and ate them at a later date.

Then I saw an architect doing the same thing, and his girlfriend too. Years later I had a live-in landlord who knew a thing or two about saving money and had managed to retire with his wife at age 55. He was regularly on the hunt for such last minute discounts.

Expired foods Discounted Cherry pie

Over the months and years in London, I saw people from all walks of life and nationalities buy meat, vegetables, ready meals and so much more on the expiry day, at a fraction of the original cost, and save tons of money by doing just that. They froze the food and problem solved. I wouldn’t call it the healthiest, but it is definitely the city’s cheapest.

I remember my live in landlord even went to extra lengths and cut the butter in portions and put it in the freezer. Technically they had fresh butter for a very long time. In case you didn’t know, hotels and restaurants do just the same, with butter and other essentials. They find the cheapest of everything and find ways and tricks to present it as the best. They’ll never tell you and you’ll never know. It’s all about presentation, presentation, presentation. So why not do it yourself and profit from it?

As for me, I love saving my money when I can, but I don’t go out of my way to find discounted and about to expire food items. The other day I happened to be coming from the cinema and ventured into the supermarket hoping they would have sausage roll for a late hot snack before my walk home. There were no sausage rolls available and they were about to close when I found the breads and the apple turnovers.

As I’m honest with myself, and I know I’m going to eat something sweet at least twice a day, and if I’m stressed I’ll eat way more than just two pieces of cake daily, I thought I’d grab those great offers for the turnovers. Then a day or so later found the cherry pie. Why not? Since I’ll eat it, I might as well be kind to my pocket.

The Mediterranean bread, I was very lucky because it was delicious, full of olives, onion and sun dried tomatoes. I cut it in slices and had it just like that on its own for breakfast. As for the sourdough bread, I cut it in slices as well, and had it with sweet and savoury toppings. They last me for nearly two weeks.

Fruits for the week

April has been rather hectic. But don’t worry, I’ll be alright with my food intake. I had normal food with plenty of vegetables and plenty of fruit too. In case you are wondering about the bananas, and they look too brown and overripe to you, you are right. They are. But if you haven’t tried so far, try overripe banana with lemon. Mash one banana with a fork and mix the juice of half a lemon. I just squeeze it with my hand over the plate, I don’t bother for juicers and whatnot. Banana-lemon mash is my go to treat when I have leftover bananas.

That’s all for now. A little inside on cheap London, busy life, saving money and trying to balance crappy food habits.

Have a lovely week 😊

Pears And Links

For a smart girl like Olive Green, being in love for two years is a problem that needs to get fixed. To get Carl Spenser out of her mind, she plucks up the courage and asks him on a date. She is prepared for a no. Maybe for a yes. But never in a million years that he’d consider her anything less than his equal.Within an instant, insecurity and self-doubt begin. Sixteen-year-old Olive is not shy, she has an unusual secret.She is a Link.A Link can heal. A Link can kill. But Olive is in denial.Until eventually Carl takes notice of her and she is certain it is her determination that made him finally look her way. Her luck has turned around. She is happy and in love. Unaware that the tall, blue-eyed boy is only after one thing.The power in her blood.

Source: Pears And Links

A Week’s Meal Prep and Budgeting – Can You Do It?

Are you trying to prep meals for an entire week, especially for lunches at work, to save money and most importantly time? You manage to plan it but it doesn’t always work? In fact, it doesn’t most of the time despite you putting all this thought and effort into it? And you end up feeling guilty because you spend money buying lunch and on top of that end up binning the food at home because it’s gone off?

You are not the only one. This is just life happening. Like the unique individual that you are, you have an equally unique excuse for not achieving this modern life accomplishment as expected.

Last night you didn’t cook from scratch because you craved for that very well earned telly time by the couch. Now you have no leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch and just your luck you forgot to buy bread to make that dreadful sandwich you don’t like anyway. Guess what horror you are facing tomorrow. You are going to spend money to get lunch and very probably dinner too.

The irony is, you had planned to prepare meals and were hyped to get organized but your healthy choices mock you from the fridge and you just don’t feel it.

Fret not, I have the exact very problem. But I’ve found the solution. I’ve stopped comparing my life to that of others and life is good. My motto is Don’t Compare. Just prepare, when you feel like doing so. Just do a little each day, and know that it’s enough. One week it might work but the next it might not.

IMG_20170309_134016_685

Let me tell you how I did this past week. Today is Sunday. I started last Saturday and I prepared breakfasts, lunches and dinners for the entire week and it all went as planned.

Today however, Sunday, I was meant to prepare for this coming second week. I went as far as planning and getting groceries, but I didn’t cook or prep. Instead I had a wonderful day where I did very little of practical and sensible nature. I spent my morning reading, then went for lunch and coffee with a friend, then browsed on Portobello Road and now I’m at home debating whether I should do what has to be done for a successful week in savings or sit down with my laptop and write an article that people from all around the world might enjoy and identify with.

I had a very successful first week of budgeting, meal prepping and scheduling. Now that I am to prepare for week two, I’m not too sure. I had peanut butter sandwich and chocolate muffin for breakfast, and at the restaurant I had chicken with bread, green peas and coleslaw. My nutrition for the day is covered and my stomach is filled but as I’m sitting on my bed with my laptop on my lap, my brain says forget the prepping, just sit comfortably and write instead. Eat crisps if you want to nibble. You have bread and peanut butter and cream cheese and fruit, pepper and olives to snack healthily. It won’t hurt you to buy lunch tomorrow. You exchange good mood and fun time with money, that’s perfectly fine.

Then I realised, this is what we all want, to enjoy life. Saving is great, but not the alpha or the omega.

My main obstacle when I’m ready with my prepped meals is that I know what I’m going to eat the entire week. It should be an achievement but unfortunately my appetite rebels and I feel like eating something different. Perhaps I want to see friends in the evening over a meal in a restaurant or perhaps just a coffee, to indulge on a friendly encouraging environment. Since I’m only human it’s only natural after work to be tired from work and the commute. In my case walking. It’s only understanding to want to relax and not want to eat the same thing that is faithfully waiting for me in the fridge.

I dread the day tomorrow. I don’t know what to eat, I don’t feel like cooking, I want to snack, I better start preparing for the week. I bought bread that is not in slices, because I cannot stand another slice of toast bread. No more. I’ve had it all last week. Sliced bread is low quality bread that costs very little and lasts longer because of its low quality and unhealthy additives. Last week I wanted to have a low budget week so I opted for that kind of bread. As you can see, this week I bought a good quality one that I still have to slice.

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To leave a comment, go back to the beginning of this article below the title on the left, and click where is says LEAVE A COMMENT. Many kisses, have a brilliant week!

*For a full detail of prep, what I had and how it went, keep reading below. 

From Sunday to Saturday it went like this:

*For fruit, and to make sure I took vital vitamins in, I had every day an apple, a pear and a mandarin.

*Every day at work I had at least two cups of tea and one of coffee. With milk and sugar of course.

Sunday: For dinner I had fusilli pasta with kale and leek veg. I don’t remember what I had for lunch or breakfast!

Monday breakfast: two slices of bread, with two slices of cheese and three slices of Milano salami.

Monday lunch: fusilli past with kale and leek veg.

Monday dinner: kale and leek veg on its own.

Tuesday breakfast: two slices of bread, with two slices of cheese and three slices of Milano salami.

Tuesday lunch: fusilli pasta with radishes, orange bell pepper, loads of parsley and olives.

Tuesday dinner: bread and peanut butter. I didn’t feel like eating anything else.

Wednesday breakfast: two slices of bread, with two slices of cheese and three slices of Milano salami.

Wednesday lunch: fusilli pasta with orange bell pepper, a lot of parsley, green olives and tuna steak from tin.

Wednesday dinner: I had no appetite but I ate the fruit that I didn’t eat at work. Then I had appetite for something sweet and had a slice of bread with chocolate spread.

Thursday breakfast: I wanted something sweet for breakfast so ignored my cheese sandwich I had prepared and had a Madelaine cake and bread with chocolate spread instead.

Thursday lunch: fusilli pasta with tuna from yesterday, radishes, orange bell pepper, plenty of parsley and green olives.

Thursday dinner: Other than a small bowl of tortilla chips, I honestly don’t remember.

On Friday I was lucky. I had half of the cheese sandwich that was meant for yesterday and a Madeleine cake. Lucky for me, we went with colleagues to a pizzeria for lunch. I binned the pasta I had prepared for Friday, it had been there for more than five days and I was not going to have it for later. Game over. After work we went to a pub and I had two half pints of Coca-Cola and I was sugar overload. I had the other half of that cheese sandwich for dinner when I went home later. Bring in the comments folks. It felt so good to go home and not think about food.

Saturday breakfast: I had the last slice of the bread loaf, with peanut butter. For lunch I had a coffee and left over pizza from yesterday. I snacked on small bowl of peanuts and a small bowl of tortilla chips. Also an orange juice and a chocolate waffle.

Saturday Dinner: Three chicken thighs from the supermarket and a chocolate muffin. A mandarin.

Sunday. Chocolate muffin for breakfast. A small bowl of tortilla chips for snack, water. I have water throughout the week, I can’t be bothered mentioning it on every paragraph, I believe it goes without saying for most people. Then I went to a restaurant and we had lunch. Chicken, with green peas, coleslaw and one slice of tomato. With water, no soft drinks or alcohol. I’m not a drinker. My coffee was terrible and didn’t finish it because it didn’t have enough milk in it. My friend bought a dessert and she gave me half of it to share the calories. I forgot to mention I’m not fazed by calories. I love my food!

Thank you for reading this far, let me know how you go about preparing your meals for work or for your family, I’d love to hear how different people do different things. Till next time, enjoy your food and keep smiling!

The Beauty of YouTube

As a rule I am not one for technology and social media. Around 2008 however, all accidentally I discovered a website called YouTube. It turned out I had used it before to watch various videos but at the time I thought them to be videos docked on random sites.

In 2008 I discovered YouTube properly. From the addiction of clicking video after video, to going for information, to searching for entertainment, to binge-watching things that are of no interest to me but for some magical reason I’m hooked on and keep watching. And keep clicking. Trying to stay away from the addiction but staying only in words and falling back into the habit.

This is not an article about how I stopped watching YouTube. There is no such thing, I’m thrilled with it and I’m not going to change it. This is an article where I’m going to tell you how I changed. I’ve just become very selective as a person and now I know how to manage my time wisely. If you are sucked into it that’s because your life needs fixing or because you are going through certain emotional needs. Or both. Don’t try to avoid it. It will only get worse if you do.

Let’s look again why I’m addicted to YouTube.

I use it for almost anything. For things I want to learn, clips from movies I love and have watched on repeat a thousand times, as if I’m on survival drip because at that moment there is nothing more important. The emotion generated from this behaviour, however pathetic, is pure indication as to what needs to be done and change in my life.

Over time, YouTube transformed into a worldwide community I am part of.

Even though my interests have changed it started as a place where I could check celebrities and movie clips. As a starving cinephile and no life of my own this is what I did, I will not hide it. Well done you if you have a clear mind and you are only purpose focused. I on the other hand sometimes still click on click-baits about the 10 things I’m Not Interested In Watching, yet I do, so please don’t judge me. Take the journey with me, you might find some of your weaknesses online to be same as mine.

If you have many years of YouTube watching under your belt, and happened to walk down the same video paths as me, you’ve been entertained, hooked, drawn, fascinated, disgusted and freaked. Most probably you’ve watched disturbing subjects that you’d be a lot happier without knowing they existed. This is what I call the Dark Site of YouTube. It’s like a ride. After years of experienced clicking, you know when it is time to stop clicking on things that do not serve you.

Now my appetite has changed. I have to be looking at beautiful things, such as happy stories, flowers and people who strive to better their lives and get creative on the way. YouTube is there to create a happy world for me thank you very much. The clicking power is in my hands. I chose my community members like I chose my friends and my neighbourhood. I still watch music video clips, music of new artists, and of course fan-videos. As my interests have shifted, my preference now gravitates towards more worthy content. For instance, affirmations’ videos have been my go-to for years now. The past few months I’ve become obsessed with minimalism, being frugal and keeping household. My personal life is following a certain curve and my video interests follow suit. Minimalism got my attention as my history of moving things and moving houses goes back decades and only last week I finally closed down a storage unit I had for 15 months.

YouTube is also the go to place for everything I’d like to learn. My visual encyclopaedia. Especially for Microsoft Office and things I need for work. A booty where I don’t have to be a pirate and lose an eye or a leg, nor hurt anyone for the treasure.

It is my corner for opinions. Whenever I’m watching a video I tend to first read the comments. Clever, silly, loving, hurtful. It is the place for reviews. Lifestyles. Points of views. How people around the globe think differently. And most surprisingly, how similar they think. The realization that people with the same way of thinking are out there, even though are not in the house next door, feels good.

For instance, I now am happy because I’ve found other people who think it OK to not have all the materialistic possessions in the world. I call them the community of minimalism. Now I know it is OK not to read every book in the world and even not finish one I started if it doesn’t take my fancy. I can let go and give it away because of the Book Tube community. From the YouTube communities I take only that which I can implement in my life and discard the rest. There is no need to stress for not fitting entirely my opinions to somebody else’s. I don’t compare myself to others. There is no pressure.

Because life is good and I’m surrounded by lovely people and there is hope every morning I wake up.

This article is not sponsored and doesn’t promote anything or anyone. It’s all about me and maybe, very possibly, about you too!

***Please leave a comment!!! You can do so by going to the very top of this post, to the left of the title, 3rd subject on the list. Do it! Let me know what you think!

Why I cut and dye my own hair

I cut and colour my own hair for three reasons. To save money, to save time and to save myself the hair related anguish I’ve had over the years.

Over my adult life I’ve had a mixed selection of hair salon experiences. I’ve had the skilled, lovely and friendly kind of hairdressers that took care of my hair for a sensible amount of money. With time, life took us to different places. I moved, they moved. I’ll miss them forever as for me hairdressing goes hand in hand with people you have a good chat with and are part of your social circle.

On the other hand, a ton of bad experiences in three different countries taught me to think differently. From being charged more than what was stated on the price menu, to having things done to my hair that I did not ask for, have made me very hesitant to venture into an establishment that might literally charge me a lot more than what I bargained for.

But let me be practical and explain. I live in London. There are places where I could have my hair cut for £10 but I’ll have to use the public transport to get there. That means at least £4.80 on top of the £10 haircut price. If you add to that the two hours needed for commuting back and forth, plus waiting time at the salon, plus the actual cutting, it’s better to stay at home and do the job myself.

why-i-cut-and-colour-my-own-hair

As I have long and thick hair, it also means that it takes at least eight minutes to dry them fully with a hairdryer, time hairdressers do not waste on me for a tenner. So cutting my own hair makes perfect sense.

Doing it yourself is not difficult. What it requires however, is a certain amount of confidence, courage and appetite for I-don’t-care-anymore-what-it-looks-like-and-what-others-think when I’m done.

This moulding of courage started when I was a child. My mum was cutting my hair and I was never conscious about what I looked like. The thing was, I thought that your mother cutting your hair was something that happened only to poor people. We were poor and everybody knew we were poor. I had this nagging insecurity that everyone had to know that I had been to the hairdresser and to which one at that, like the other kids would specify.

Together with so many other things my mum was keeping household, I was ashamed of her cutting my hair. It was, OMG! People know I’m poor! It’s the end of the world! Of course it was stupid of me, because it doesn’t matter what others think. But during that time, the need of belonging and status was so strong that I could not see the obvious.

Then in my early teens I cut it once myself and it looked good. Only there was something extremely addictive with those scissors and the following week I took it to the next level and it looked awful. I told my mother to fix it and make it nice. Poor woman didn’t know how to cut hair nicely so she literally chopped all of my hair off at irregular lines and I looked horrible. It didn’t dawn on me that my understanding with scissors was better to that of hers. Nor I understood what symmetry was, or even the necessity of a mirror. I had only bothered to use a window reflection.

Going to a professional to fix the horror was out of the question. Here we didn’t have money for food let alone a haircut. The problem was it was summer but the schools were still not out and I looked like a joke.

What I’m trying to say is whatever I decide to do now with my hair will never be as bad as back then. And I am no longer afraid to be hair-embarrassed.

Of course, after that horrendous experience, my hair grew back thick, strong and fearless. As an adult, the hair salon visits that followed over the years weren’t always successful. On no less than three occasions I swore to stay away from hairdressers.

Then in 2010, I watched a tutorial online and cut my hair in a straight line. I did it slowly and it looked fine. A few months later went back to a hair salon. It was fine. Then, just my luck, I had again a few professional hair hiccups. Finally, January 2015, was the last straw. Now I’m thinking, why ever go to a hairdresser’s again?

As for that silly notion that going to the hairdresser’s means I’m a worthy member of society it’s gone since long . I’m as much as valuable as before, only now I’m money and time wise. And I know what suits my head best.

In the future, if I make friends with a hairdresser again, I might go to have my hair cut. For the time being I’m treating my hair, my wallet and my sanity with kindness.

TIME SAVED on hair in 2016:

I’ve cut my hair only twice because I was lazy, and coloured my hair only twice because I contemplated to stop colouring my hair altogether. In total, 4 separate occasions.

That is 4 x 3 hours = 12 hours of my life. Plus the hours I would have worked to pay for the said services. (Commuting, waiting, having the job done. The shower goes towards my biweekly washing-hair time routine. I’d have spent more than 3.5hours for a professional cut. Minus the 0.5 hour it takes me to brush and cut my own hair and store away the scissors, that is 3 hours per occasion)

MONEY SAVED on hair in 2016:

2 X £14.80 = £29.60 (if I were lucky to go to the cheapest salon in London)

2 x €20 = €40 (if I were lucky to have the cheapest colouring service in Greece) That is £33.85 or $42.27 minus what I’ve spent £21 (2xbottles of dye in the total of £9 + 1xbottle of organic dye at £12 = £21

It means I saved £12.85 (£33.85-£21=£12.85), or €15.20 (€40-€24.80=€15.20) or $21.06 ($42.27-$21.21=$21.06)

My time is precious and I love life. Life is beautiful.