Catching up

It’s been months since my last blog post and I’ve been putting writing one off for several months.

Last year, I had some great plans for 2016. However, things have gone awry and most plans have been shelved. More about those later.

So, what’s happened since I last posted…

I guess the biggest news is that I’m no longer working for parkrun. Although it was a dream job at times it just didn’t work out and we parted company in early December. It was tough at first. Really tough if I’m honest (no longer working for a company I’m so passionate about and being out of work) but overall it’s been a really positive move which is something I didn’t think I’d say almost 3 months ago. The timing made things challenging. Christmas was much less enjoyable than it should have been. There were few Christmas presents to open but at least it meant less packaging to dispose of!! 😉 However, having to live off reduced monthly income (and not knowing when I’d be next paid) meant that we gave a long hard look at our outgoings and reduced them considerably.  We dropped outgoings by 1/3rd at least and continue to do so.

It’s amazing how much you can haemorrhage money each month without a moment’s thought. It becomes the ‘norm’ and you get used to it. We went through a process of questioning every outgoing and working out whether could get things cheaper. Ultimately that meant stopping paying for things and buying things we didn’t need and finding cheaper alternatives for the things we did. Those included phone line rental and calls, gas & electricity, insurances etc. There’s almost always a better deal than the one you’re on and it’s well worth shopping around regularly.

Having some idea of what we were spending money in was a big step forward. Building a monthly and yearly budget and sticking to it has been invaluable.

Another really useful thing has been Tesco Clubcard. We used to shop regularly at Tesco (Aldi is now out grocery shop of choice) and had several hundred £££s of vouchers. These were rarely used. However, we’ve now used them to pay for RAC membership, a holiday, restaurant visits, bowling and cinema trips.

I’d recommend reviewing income and outgoings on a regular basis, keeping track of everything you spend and look at how you can reduce that. Losing/leaving my job was exactly the impetus we needed to get our finances in order. What could you do to trim your outgoings if you lost your job? Could you survive for 3-6 months with a vastly reduced income?

Not only are we much better off financially but I’m working with a fairly new startup created by some ex-work colleagues that I worked with 12 or so years ago. The projects we’re working on are interesting and challenging, we’re using interesting technologies (D3, AngularJS to name a couple) and it’s fun. The team are overwhelmingly positive. Although I’m contracting (and have restarted the limited company I ran for several years), I feel very much part of the team and it’s great that my opinion (and years of tech experience) are valued. Who knows where the opportunity could lead…

As well as work, I’m investing time in learning new things. I’ve signed up to some Udemy courses and am focusing on data science and machine learning. All good stuff.

Aside from work, training – my own at least – has suffered mainly due to injury. I developed Plantar Fasciitis in the Autumn last year and decided I had to stop running in order to recover a couple of months later. I should have stopped sooner of course. I’m gradually getting back into it but am unfit and have doubts over whether I’ll manage to make it around the Eastleigh 10K later this month or Southampton Half in April. My grander plans for solo at Endure 24, 2 Oceans Ultra and Tough Mudder have all been scrapped as I’m simply not sure I could run and not end up back injured.

It’s not all bad news though. Saving money and wanted to keep reasonably fit has meant more time on the bike. I’m cycling when possible and that normally means cycling to and from Lordshill training and parkruns.
I’ve also been volunteering at parkrun and junior parkrun often. In fact, I volunteered at 19 consecutive events before having a Saturday morning off and am now less than 10 events away from having volunteered at 250 parkrun events.

The only other thing to mention is Run Leading and stepping this up. I’ve now been a Run Leader for over a year and really enjoy it. I’ll be attending the first weekend of the Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) this coming weekend and will be leading some coached sessions from next week. Really looking forward to it.

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