29 Oct 2012

How to solve Burnout: describe, identify - resolve

Burnout has occurred. It crept up on me over a couple of months. 

It's multiple things that have added up, work, money, home (keeping house - tidying up etc), crappy weather. So I've decided to rest, recuperate (hibernate?).

Really I should be looking as this as an opportunity. Something isn't working in my life!

So describe the problem:

Working late = makes me tired
Come home late = too tired to tidy house
No cleaning = compounding mess
Massive clean up on weekends = less time to relax and catch up on rest
Less rest time = more tired
This becomes cyclical with less and less time to rest. 

So identify the actual problem(s) from this:

Working late
Too much stuff to clean in house

Now I just need to work out how to fix it.

1. Working late - we're a bit hectic at the moment, this will calm down over the next couple of weeks. Taking regular breaks will help as well.

2. Too much stuff - we're in the process of reinventing our lives as we are becoming parents. For us this means clearing out a lot of old junk (think an entire rooms worth!) and giving ourselves new wants/needs. Like millions of nappies!

Then implement. 

Easier said than done I guess. But let's see how it goes.

Pic: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burnout.jpg

21 Oct 2012

Looking for a side hustle

What a weekend it's been. The weather has been crap, mostly. So like a lot of people it has made me look inward. 

I've pretty much got my budget in order, so what next? 

Well as MMM says, it's spending and income or income and spending. So income then. I'm pretty settled in my job. Ha guess what I'm not paid enough though! So I could either work harder on cutting my costs, or get a side hustle!!

Side hustles can range from a fully blown part-time job, which works well for some, to earning a few quid filling in questionnaires.

I've done both in the past and enjoyed neither very much. Probably because I have this little thought constantly ticking along in my head that I'm worth more!! $25 doesn't seem like that much though, I was thinking more like £50. 

So what side hustles could stand up to my (probably inflated) sense of worth? Well  £50 translates to £104k a year. I think earning that much is probably a little out of my league at the moment. Unless I break it down.

So today I did some painting. No, I'm not the new Van Gogh, it was more for decoration purposes. So what's this got to do with side hustles? Well I had a look on myhammer and to paint a four bedroom flat they were quoting £1000! Shit I thought, I effectively saved that much today. Although we did only one room, so only £250, but how long did it take us? 5 hours, woohoo that's £50 an hour! Where's the champagne?

Yes, this is simplistic, it ignores the cost of the paint we bought and there was two of us doing it. 

So maybe not quite living the dream yet, but I guess it depends on your dream.

19 Oct 2012

Crazy rates

I don't have much experience in buying houses, I've bought one in my life and I didn't even get that totally right. I probably paid a little too much for it, it's not in the best location in the world and it still needs a bit of work doing to it. 

I do feel at home here though. I've lived here for almost 2 years and I thought I got a pretty decent mortgage rate when I got my 2 year fixed deal. 

But this was back before I realised all the stupid mistakes I was making with money. So I thought I'd start looking around for new mortgage rates. 

So what should I go for? With rates so low it's tempting to try and lock in a long term deal. But this strategy seems to mean I have to pay a premium in the short term to possibly protect me IF rates rise. Is this the best way to go? Then you have to ask yourself when will the base rate rise, this article says 2018!! 

So why not a tracker? It will let me take immediate advantage of the low rates, allowing me to pay more capital and knock a few years of the mortgage. Sounds good! But then I would have to pay more if rates rose.

As the above article "guesses" rates aren't going to rise dramatically (although it also shows that they have done by 6% or more in just a matter of years), so a tracker would seem to be the way to go. It allows me to take advantage of the current low rates, gain more capital and not be affected if rates rise slightly over the next few years.

The problem is I hate having that little stress bug sitting on my shoulder constantly getting me to check what the swaps rates are doing, also with my present situation of a baby on the way and a possible job change in the short term a bit of stability could be exactly what I need (although extra cash would be handy too!). 

All it really comes down to is me being a big wussypants and preferring to protect myself against the downside risk rather than take the risky short term profits.

Damn you possible regret!

18 Oct 2012


Benchmarking is a process whereby you would compare a process in a company to the same process that another company undertakes. This could be any part of the customer experience, logistics, reporting methods, etc etc. It's done to find efficiency savings and hopefully money savings!

It's a complicated process which can be undertaken by getting companies to work together (unlikely!) or by using an independent agent to assess the companies that would like to take part without any of the possibly sensitive company information being leaked to rivals.

It is assumed that both parties will benefit equally from the process. Although I always believe one company will always benefit more than the other.

So what's this got to do with me I hear you asking. Well... after reading Maria's post on how comparing one person's budget to another is dumb, I was a little shocked! I have always found looking at other people's budgets quite enthralling. You can really get a feel for someone's passions from what they spend their cash on. You can sometimes learn a thing or two, or be inspired. The last one is where I normally sit, because I go, how the heck do they spend that little on that.

It's not just budgets either, it's when I'm speaking to people. A few months ago my Dad told me about how his gas/elec bill is less than £40 a month. I was flabbergasted as mine has kept rising and rising over the months. So I pressed him for details and picked up some great tips in the process.

It's really this enquiring that brings about the results. So don't feel your being too nosy I'm sure plenty of people would love to share!

If you really want a kick up the backside why not compare yourself to Mr MoneyMustache, I exported the table to Excel and then divided all expenses by 1.6 to turn $'s - £'s I then noticed that in most cases I am pretty crap and the ones I was better than MMM were ones out of my control like the property taxes - although comparing taxes across different countries is probably silly anyway :D

For more information on benchmarking see wikipedia or check out your local library.

If you like this why not follow me on Twitter @domliveswell

15 Oct 2012


I had to laugh today, quite a few people were late into work today due to some bad traffic that had closed a road nearby. People were saying "oh dear, it took me over an hour longer to get into work today" so I asked how long in total they were in the car "oh, two hours, so I guess it wasn't that much more". 

I sort of lost my cool and started laughing at them (very not cool of me I know, I'm sure karma will kick my ass for it later!)

Don't these people realise how much of their time they're wasting? 

One person I talked to him and his wife commute over an hour each, each way! These people are incredibly intelligent people, they have both progressed in their careers to quite senior positions, what the hell do they think they're doing? 

I also love the fact that they complain about how little time they get to spend with their kids. Or how they don't seem to sleep very well and don't know why!!

I must admit before I had my epiphany, I was the same as them. Now I've realised what a huge waste it is it actually gets me a little angry that these actions are allowed to take place. 

Now I've realised don't get angry I can't force these people to do what I want, so instead I just laugh. Although I'll try not to do it right in their faces next time!

Oh well, we live and learn.

13 Oct 2012

How to save 10 days a year

I did something different today. I got stuck in traffic. It was the first time in ages, I was stuck for about an hour due to a burst water main.

As I sat there I got to thinking, this is a massive waste, not only are all these people stuck in cars unable to be productive, with all their engines running burning fuel, costing them more money, the environments being damaged, causing people to be late for meetings and getting them more and more stressed because they're late for the meeting or late home and miss seeing their kids before bedtime.

Why don't we stop it?

Why don't we all just say no to traffic jams. Why don't we say no to traffic full stop. Yes I realise people live far away from work. But I don't understand why they live far away? Why can't they just move closer so all this commuting malarkey would be at least reduced somewhat. 

I was able to cut my own commute from 45 mins each way to a 15 minute car journey. Although I have to say I am being incredibly lazy at the moment and not cycling. It would only take me 20mins cycling and save me almost a thousand pounds in petrol alone a year. But on the bright side I've saved an hour a day that I don't have to commute. Doesn't sound like a lot does it? Well... if there are 250 working days a year and I have 22 days annual leave that saves me 238 hours a year! Is that a lot it just sounds like a random statistic there. Well... It's the same as 9.92 days. I have in effect increased my holiday time per year by almost 50%!!!

So what  have I done with this extra time? Well I've spent it with loved ones, or catching up with old friends, occasionally I've worked late and still got home at the same time as I used to.

This all sounds very dull you might think but what if you had this much extra free time? You could volunteer, start a new part-time business, read to your kids, cook dinner with your significant other, just take some time to de-stress after work and chill the hell out. Hey you could start your own microbrewery (something I'm thinking of doing).

The possibilities are almost endless. So why not rethink where you live. 

11 Oct 2012


I've always struggled with motivation. I always blamed it on being plain lazy. I'm still pretty lazy now, but I have got better.

One of the things I've found that helps me out of the rut is picturing the end. Whether it be the finished masterpiece or the pay rise that will (hopefully) await me.

As you can tell from the rest of my blog I try to save as much as possible. As I'm just starting out I don't have a lot of savings. I thought the best place to start saving was in a tax sheltered ISA. This type of savings account allows all interest or capital gains to come to me tax free. 

Great! I thought so I looked around for the best rates and what did I see? Bum all! 3% was the best I could get without tying myself in for 3-4 years. As I will probably need to tap this cash in the next 12-18 months I had to put this limit in place.

So as you can probably tell I'm not earning a lot of interest. This has caused me some concern, is it really worth saving all this money if I hardly earn any interest? 

Then I had an epiphany today. I got my water bill! Hardly the most exciting news ever. But   when I saw the amount I thought OUCH! Is that just for water? Then I looked a little closer, it was for 4 months of water usage, so it then didn't seem too bad.

Then I had another thought, even my small ISA balance with it's paltry savings rate has allowed me to earn as much interest as this entire water bill!

Then I thought, someday I'll have enough saved up to earn enough interest to pay all my bills!! 

So now all I want to do is save as much as humanly possible to get to this end point as quickly as possible!!! 

Any tips on how to do this would be brilliant!

9 Oct 2012

Holiday - good times

So you may have seen my recent post about I completely busted my budget on holiday. Well here's the other side to that. The great fun things you can get out of life. 

We visited some amazing places. 

It really goes to show the massive amount of places we have in Britain right on our doorstep. Which are incredibly cheap to visit, none of the above cost more than £5.50 to visit. This sometimes included a guided tour, but mostly we just muddled our way through or spoke to the staff about the history of the buildings. 

I really should have spent more time researching before we went. Oh well. Now I think it's time to start planning my next holiday :D

7 Oct 2012

Holiday - bad news

Well don't I feel relaxed! 

Sorry I don't want to rub it in too much, but I've just come back from holiday. Shall we start with the bad news? 

I somehow managed to go almost 3x over my budget I set out for the holiday!! Crapping hell, what did I do wrong?

Well, everything! 

First my budget was unrealistic - I hadn't thought about what we were going to be doing, or eating. 

Second - I had holiday brain, I did what I've been trying to not do over the past 3 years, just spend without thinking. Most things went through my debit card so when I look at my bank statement it sits there taunting me!

Third - I was unaware. If I had realised what was happening halfway through the week I could have done something about it.

Fourth - I didn't plan anything, we just winged the whole holiday. If we'd set more of a schedule we wouldn't have been caught in the rain so much or stuck for dinner plans in a place where everything closes at 4pm!

So what conclusion have I come to about this? What life changing thing have I derived from this time of hedonism? Well... to be honest... nothing.

At first when I checked my bank I thought someone had fraudulently accessed my account, but after going through it with a fine tooth comb I realised this was just me. Then I got angry, at myself firstly, then at my partner - in the form of a bad mood for half a day (sulky pants!). When we talked it through I realised something.

I had a great time!! It was brilliant, so nice to be away from work for a week, so nice to break the routine, I indulged a little too much maybe but it's not like I threw all my money in a drain. I exchanged it for some good times and some great memories that will stay with me for a long time. Hey I got to see a freaking lighthouse in real life (never done that before!).

Would I do it again? Sure, I'd probably plan it a little better though - maybe having a few less meals out, as to be honest I can't really remember half the things we ate, the things I'd really concentrate on are the good times. 

All in all it was a great experience.