Blog Update

(Me on the bike leg of the North Bristol Triathlon in 2012)

As we're approaching the end of another week, which includes the end of lent, and the end of my annual leave I thought it would be most appropriate to reflect on the last 7 days as a whole. 

Lent is over Today

On 5th March 2014, I decided to challenge myself and go through lent without using a car. I updated everyone recently on the post life without car - update. Now that Lent is over, what I can I take away from my experience? Was it worth it? Will I just jump right back into a car?

Lent was a good test. It involved me reviewing how I 'get about' without use of a car, which prior to lent, I was very dependent on. I opted for walking as my alternative. I have a bike, but I didn't want to get sweaty before arriving for a day at the office and I didn't want to take a change of clothes to work. I felt walked to work would be an easier transition for me to make. As I mentioned on previous posts, I walked to work throughout lent and really enjoyed it! 

I particularly liked how it started my day at the office. My body was moving for 35 minutes. By the time I got to work I was warm, awake and ready to go. I started to notice my colleagues coming in yawning, and a being a bit moody (especially on a Monday), but I felt quite the opposite. I received quite a few sympathy comments like "I really felt sorry driving past you to work today, it doesn't look that nice out there to be walking". The reality of 'not being nice' was 6-8 degrees, the sun was trying to break through the mist. It was chilly on your face, but glorious! When you're wearing appropriate clothing and walking uphill you aren't thinking of the cold at all I have to say. I was probably warmer than those people in a car. I felt the same way as them to be honest. I felt sorry for the commuters spending money on travelling to work in a car, when they were missing out on starting the day perfectly, and saving money at the same time. 

People would also ask where I'm walking from, when I told them where I live, I would say "You're walking all the way from there??!!", "Yes I am, it's only 2.5 miles or so. It's takes around 35 mins and I love it". They would tend to look at me as though I'm strange.....OK they were right, but not for those reasons! The 35 min walk home was an opportunity to contemplate my day. What happened, what was I pleased with, what I could do better tomorrow. By the time I got home, I felt much better than I did before walking home. The 35 mins gave me the full opportunity to unwind after work. 

The only downside I found with walking to work was the time (sometimes). This is mainly on the walk home too, I never minded the walk to work. If I finished late from work and I was hungry, it didn't always fill me with joy thinking I had to walk home and then cook dinner before eating. I felt the same if I had plans in the evening. Walking home from work did limit the amount of time I could spend in the evening. I only felt this way a couple of times during the 40 days, so it wasn't too bad. 

I ended up selling half of my car to my fiance, and saving money on fuel for March/April, so financially it was a great success for me. I'm now a joint owner of a car, so my bills have been cut in half, and I have a lump sum of money to invest with. I'm delighted with this outcome!

I don't plan on jumping back into a car. I want to continue commuting without using it, and once Miss FFBF sells her car, I won't have a choice anyway. I'm looking forward to enjoying my life without car commuting. I'll keep you all posted on how this turns out this year for me. 

Life without Sky TV

During the period of Lent, we decided to ditch Sky TV and try and focus on more productive ways to spend our time (and money). I'm really pleased with the savings we're making from not having Sky TV, but I think I'm most pleased with the way it's made us look at how we spend our free time, especially in the evenings. This decision has been much harder than living without a car for us. During the day (over a weekend or during annual leave) it's been easy, we've started gardening again, we've been to new locations, we've been out on walks and bike rides. It's been thoroughly enjoyable and I think it will continue to be. 
However, to come clean, we've both found it difficult in the evenings. We've found ourselves watching terrestrial TV searching for interesting programs only to shake ourselves out of it and turn the TV off completely. We've tried playing cards. This was brilliant the first night, but the second, third and forth time weren't quite as enjoyable and we've got a bit bored of it now already. We've sat in the conservatory and just talked. This has been nice, but we both get a bit itchy to do something after 30 mins or so. 
We had a great chat last night about this subject, and it was nice to know we both felt the same. We find it difficult as we both have different interests. We took some time to talk about what we each wanted to do with the free time to help understand what the other person wants. We found a happy medium of being outside when possible, 'doing' something (she likes to try new things, I like to master things), socialising with neighbors (we have a great group of neighbors but we just don't spend time with each other outside of the annual Christmas drinks party), and reading (sat close to each other, but reading things that interest us separately).

We decided we are going to knock on our neighbors doors and let them know we want to hang out with them more, and if they were interested to let us know. We can play cards together, maybe plays games they have, but ultimately just hang out and have some fun. I'll let you know how we get on!

We don't have any board games/outdoor games apart from a football, so we're going to keep an eye out in charity shops for any cheap options. We're going to talk to the neighbors about what they have and what we could potentially borrow as well. 

We're both going to spend some more time reviewing how we can make the most of our free time together in the evening. We both see it as a bit of fun which is important, and I think we're very lucky to have such a cool 'problem' that a lot of people wish they had.
Just to clarify our situation further, when either of us are alone in the house, we're fine! We just do what we want. Our area for improvement is how we spend our time together in the evening or when the weather isn't great. 

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to share!

Getting back on the bike

I was reading Mr Money Mustache's blog this week, and although I'm a bit of a later comer to his blog, I am a big fan of his! 

I read an article he did for Forbes on how he retired at 30. Here it is if you're interested - Retire at 30 - He gives his top 12 money tips on how you can retire early as well. There's some great advice here, some of which I'm already doing, but there were some points that I had never even considered. Here are the one's that stood out to me personally:

Now inspired, I asked if Miss FFBF wanted to go for a bike ride yesterday, and she thought it was a great idea. We went for it, and it was a cracking day out. We haven't been on a bike ride together for about 6 months. We both enjoy going to new locations that we haven't been to before in our free time. We used to do this by using the car. I'm sure we'll still do this by car, but we want to try cycling to new locations for the time being, as there is so much around us we haven't seen, and we got so much from it yesterday. 

As Miss FFBF was working this morning, I thought it might be worth trying out the library today. I was going to walk in but I thought it might be worth biking in as it's a lovely day and I enjoyed it so much yesterday. The journey into town took about 10 mins, rather than 35 mins. I was more out of breath than I would be by walking, but I wasn't sweaty. I've got to try this going to work, as I think I could be onto something here! I get a better workout, I get places faster, I don't feel sewaty, and a bike is a lot more exhilarating than walking.

At the library, I have to say I was slightly disappointed by the selection of books that I'm interested in. For example, there wasn't one book on Investing in the entire library. You couldn't move for fiction and children's books, but I kept on looking and came across a handful of interesting books. I selected 2 books to take home with me - 'The Money-less Man -  a year of freeconomic living' by Mark Boyle and 'Practical Self Sufficiency' by Dick and James Strawbridge. I have 3 weeks to read them and I can take up to 12 books at a time if I wish. The Librarian also told me that I can check their online stock at all Herefordshire Libraries and they can order any book in free! This was awesome news as the amount of books I was now exposed to just went up 1000%+. I will be sure to browse the stock once I've worked through these two.

I've had a fantastic time this week on many levels. I just wanted to share a couple of the keys points that came up for me. I haven't even mentioned that I bought shares in BAE Systems plc and that I'm planning on buying 2 more in April, but that can wait for another time. 
I'm looking forward to learning some new skills, riding my bike, having fun with Miss FFBF and making the most of the local library. I hope you've all enjoyed this week as much as me. Have a great weekend!