Hello! I can’t believe that we are already at the end of another month, and that it’s time for my Challenge Clare Update for February. The first two months of the year seem to have flown by for me!
To be honest with you February has been a bit of a slow month progress wise, as far as my 5 challenges are concerned. I think it’s because generally speaking I find February quite tough. It’s cold, miserable, it’s still getting dark early and you’re starting to get a bit desperate for just a little bit of sun…
As a teacher February is also hump month. The month that marks the middle of the school year and the start of exam preparation. The term up until Christmas is the longest in the school year. Then the Christmas break, if you have a family doesn’t really feel like a break. You’re too busy rushing around getting ready for Christmas and trying to catch up with all the jobs you were too busy to do during term time.
It’s near impossible to get any prep done over Christmas, so it feels like you’re constantly chasing your tail when you go back to work, until you hit half term in mid February and catch up a bit. Which leaves you feeling a little bit meh!
So sorry if the update isn’t particularly inspiring! But, I give you my Challenge Clare update for February!
Challenge 1 – Fit by 40
Initially, it didn’t really feel like I’d achieved a lot with this one this month. I think because there has been no movement on the scales. But is that really the only indicator of success? Well actually no!
This month I’ve been trying really hard to develop healthier habits.
I’ve been using my Fitbit more consistently, and getting out walking with the dog a lot more.
I’ve started aiming to drink 2 litres every day and that’s going quite well. I can definitely notice a marked improvement in how ‘alert’ I feel, which is a plus.
I’ve been tracking what I’m eating using myfitness pal (although this hasn’t been consistent)
But I know that I really need to up my game if I’m going to see some more significant progress.
Which is where working with ‘Reinvent’ comes in. It’s a supported, online nutrition programme, created by local nutritional therapist Rosie Letts. I am going to be following the programme for the next year as part of my plan to get fit by 40! You can read all about me getting started here.
Fit by 40 Goals for March
I think that I need some definite habit goals to keep me on track. So the habits I would like to start to build into my daily life are:
- Follow the Reinvent programme
- Meal plan
- 2 litres of water a day
- Daily vitamins
- 10,000 steps a day
- Some kind of additional daily work out
- Meditation/Mindfulness/Diary Writing
Challenge 2 – Empty Nest Survivor
This month surviving my empty nest has all been about getting out and enjoying myself, along with starting to make plans for more fun times throughout the year!
Up first was a trip to Bristol Old Vic to see Mark Thomas, a political activist/comedian, who myself and Mr Challenge love. I booked the tickets on a whim one evening a few months ago, and I’m so glad I did. We’re always talking about seeing more shows, comedy, going to gigs but never seem to get around to it, because we dither over booking stuff. To be honest you just need to f**king do it! We are so out of the habit, we’ve got to start getting used to the fact that we don’t need babysitters anymore!
Up next was a few days away with the dog, not far from home in Brecon. It was lovely to get away for a few days just the two of us, which is something that rarely happens, but something we’re planning to do a lot more often. When we met nearly 13 years ago, we both had children, so we rarely went away, like literally the odd weekend here and there. The recent grown up holidays that we have had have been with friends, so it made quite a change to just go away on our own, and it was a relief to find that we actually still enjoyed spending time together!
Oh and we racked off our cider all 400 litres of it!!
Finally, we have decided to go for a bit of Greek Island hopping for our summer holiday this summer. So, I booked our flights using wizz air (£100 return each – what a bargain!!) and have started to look for accommodation. More of that in a later post!
Blogging has taken a bit of a back seat this month in some ways, and I think that what I need to do is refocus and start creating a long term plan for the blog, in terms of direction, researching, planning and writing posts.
This month I’ve been trying to get into twitter and Instagram to support the blog, but I think that really, I just need to focus on actually writing and limiting myself to focusing on one aspect at a time, because there is so much information and social media groups that it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed, and I think that’s where I am at the moment.
Empty Nest Survivor Goals for March
Finish planning and booking Greek Island hopping
1 ‘proper’ night out
Get up to Yorkshire to visit my brother and sisters
Get down to Sussex to visit friends/family
Create a Blog Plan
Challenge 3 – World by Train
This has really taken a back seat. Originally the plan was to try and travel to Greece by train this summer, but we just don’t have time, plus the bargain flights were too good a price to pass up.
However, Eurostar have just announced that they are going to be running a service to Amsterdam from St Pancreas which, obviously has planted a seed in my mind!! The nightmare is that I’m not sure it counts towards my challenge as we’ve done it before! Oh well!
World by Train March Goals
None really ☹
Challenge 4 – Mortgage Free by 50
This has been a bit of a busy month for this challenge. Not in terms of money making or money saving, more about starting the process of getting ready to remortgage. We’ve been speaking to a couple of advisors and have a couple more appointments set up, but it’s looking like there are two massive positives in our favour at getting rid of our mortgage a little bit quicker.
- Our house has gone up in value, improving our LTV (Loan to Value) ratio, which means we can access better mortgage rates.
- As we can access better rates, it looks like we are going to halve the amount of interest we are currently paying on our mortgage.
This means that we will be able to reduce our mortgage term from 23 years to 18 years when we come to remortgage in September shaving 5 years off the term, which is really exciting 😊
I’ve also really started to think about how to get myself organised in terms of money making and money saving endeavours. I’ve decided that I want some definite goals for March
We spend (waste) a lot of money on our food shopping and eating out. I would really like to get this cost down so that I can put that money towards my credit card debt. As I am starting to overhaul my eating habits, I have decided that this is also prime time to start meal planning and doing my food shopping online to prevent impulse buys! So that’s my first money saving plan for March!
I also think it would be a good idea to have some no spend days. I’d like to aim for 50% of March to be no spend days. Plus, I really don’t need to be spending any money on clothes, make up or any other treats, especially if I want to have more money for our summer holiday…
Mortgage Free by 50 Goals for March
- Organise all paperwork for remortgaging
- Research current mortgage deals
- 50% no spend days
- No new toiletries or make up
- No new clothes
- Review all utilities
- Find 5 ways of making money in March. Aim is to earn £200 for my holiday fund.
Challenge 5 – DIY Queen
This month was going to be a quiet (ish) month. We decided to replace the sink the bathroom, because it wasn’t working properly. It was one of those circular basins on a table that the previous owners had cemented to the floor. So, to remove it the slate tiles had to come up.
Quick easy job we thought…. No.
When the tiles came up we discovered two small damp patches on the corner edges of the shower, about 50p sized. Mr Challenge had a little feel… And his finger went through the floor. Yay!
So out the shower came. We could see that the leak had been going up the back of the shower, so we decided to take off a couple of tiles to investigate further…
The stud wall literally disintegrated as the tiles came off. We have had to strip everything back to see the extent of the problem. We are yet to take the floorboards up.
I’ve lost count of the bags of rubble that have gone to the tip…
So, this month, new sink and lino has turned into remodelling the bathroom. I guess on the upside it’ll be lush once it’s done!!
The only nightmare is that it puts the spare room and my office out of action which is a pain because I work from home, and I’m finding not having a base really annoying…
DIY Queen Goals for March
Make progress with the bathroom. Get it dried out and quotes completed for the repair work.
Research costs for replacing the bathroom
Convert smallest bedroom into my office. (Maybe paint it first…)