How much would you pay to keep a friend?

Turns out the age old advice is true, money can muck up friendships. It’s happened to me. In Uni I had a friend ring me in a panic. She was broke and the house she was living in had burst its pipes and she needed to borrow £50 to pay for a plumber. She explained she couldn’t got to her folks because they would be livid about her spending all her money and so she asked if I could loan it to her. She had been a friend for years, pre-Uni and so I didn’t hesitate. I’m still waiting for her to pay me back. The few times we met up after I gave her the loan she always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t pay me back. Slowly I gave up, the friendship faltered as a little bit of me resented her not paying me back. The money didn’t matter. Ok the money shouldn’t have mattered.

She got in contact about 6 months ago, out of the blue, via Facebook. She said it was a shame that we had lost contact and thought it would be fun to meet up again, could I do coffee? I told her I would love to meet again, but as the conversation progressed I found I couldn’t not raise the fact she owed me money. She was gushing about wondering why it all went wrong and I wanted to start with a clean slate so I mentioned the fact she owed me the £50. Turns out she can’t remember me even lending her the money. I mentioned the pipes, told her the thing that annoyed me was the time she was on route to meet me, called me from the cash machine and still couldn’t find it in her to withdraw even a tenner for me as a ‘I’m starting the pay you back’ gesture. She apologised, was mortified that it had been something so small that had ruined a fab friendship. So I asked when she wanted to do that coffee. I’m still waiting on her response.

So £50 to find out a friend wasn’t really a friend, in the scheme of things it doesn’t seem like a too bad rate. Technically I’ve saved on birthday cards, gifts so I’m probably financially better off.

My concern is I think it may be about to happen again.

I have music lessons once a week with a guy who I met through a mutual friend. But over the years my ‘music teacher’ became a close friend. He turned up on my door step (with chocolates) to take me out to lunch and cheer me up when the soldier I was dating was re-located to another country. He’s supported me at various events and I thought we had a solid friendship. Then, slowly I started seeing him less. I’d ask him to do something and he would be ‘busy’ but then turn up when another friend made the same invite. It became a standing joke that he only saw me when I was paying him. The problem is, to me, it wasn’t a joke. I genuinely started to feel like I didn’t matter. I introduced him to various family members who also wanted music lessons and now I feel he is more their friend then mine. I find out his news from them, he seems to be constantly on the phone to them and I feel forgotten about. He has had a bad 12 months and I know he has a lot going on, but still I feel left out.

I have raised this with him and we had a massive clear the air argument – I admitted I thought I was losing him. He told me I couldn’t lose him but also told me he hated the ex, can’t understand why I’m not over him and has asked me not to mention him (the ex) again in his presence. This completely threw me as the multiple times they met they always got on so well together and to be banned from talking about something I am struggling with sucks. So now when I see him I am ‘fine’; there’s no point telling him otherwise.

So the friendship is on the rocks and I genuinely don’t know what’s going to happen. But just for added complexness I pay him monthly for music lessons and I am worried about whether or not I am getting value for money.

Now to clarify, he is an amazing teacher. I have improved so much since I started having lessons; my complaint is not with his skill. It’s more with us having a very lax approach to payment. Basically he tells me when I owe him money and I pay. The problem is this approach means I don’t know exactly how many lessons I have in between each payment. I used to pay for X lessons but recently for his own financial reasons he has switched to monthly; but I’m unsure as to where the month starts and ends. For example he is getting just under £50 tonight but because I cancelled one and he is on holiday for another I am only having 2 lessons in the next 4 weeks. If this is £50 for 2 lessons then with my own financial worries I don’t know if I can afford this. Plus as we have a catch up chat at the start of a lesson, although I pay for half an hour there are occasions where I have walked out having gone through one song.

I don’t think he is ripping me off. When I lost my job, he cut his rates and was so brilliant about helping me continue lessons while I got back on my feet. I don’t want to bail on him now when I can afford his lessons as my ‘weekly treat’. But with money tight, I want to make sure I am getting value for money.
I know I should raise this with him, but with the friendship already on a shoe string I’m scared.

Am I too poor to have principles?

Following on from yesterdays post I had the “Am I too poor to have principles” thought whilst browsing the shelves of Aldi and Tesco the other evening. I was in desperate need of some tea time inspiration, as although I intend to become Miss Organised, planning out the weeks meals and only buying items that I need and will use, at the moment it hasn’t happened.

Although I did do well when i bought reduced Kindey for 88p and it has so far lasted me 4 meals; two lunches, two teas (N.B: If i shouldn’t be eating cooked Kidney which has been sat in the fridge for a week please don’t tell me -I am very much working on what doesn’t kill me or give me food poisoning will make me stronger and save me money!!) However I toyed with the idea of buying the Kidneys for a long while before finally putting them into my basket and before finally buying them I walked the shelves of both Tesco and Aldi for over an hour putting in and taking things out of my basket.

The fact that I am living on kidneys for the week should highlight you to the fact I am not a vegetarian. I respect people that are, although I do sometimes get on my little soap box about why some veggies I won’t cook meat for a meat eater when they come for dinner yet I have to cook a separate veggie dish, but that’s for another post. However, I do love animals and I firmly think that ANY animal that gives its life should be treated with the utmost respect and compassion, and the end should be as quick, low stress and painless as physically possible! I do not agree with driving cattle across the country to kill, I do not agree with sow crates or battery hens or anything that causes pain and suffering. All animals are more knowledgeable, caring, compassionate, understanding and generally kick ass than we give them credit for. Have you ever looked into the eyes of a cow, sheep, chicken, pig? Try doing that an then tell me these are just dumb animals – they have souls.

Therefore I aim to only every buy cruelty free, free range products. I will never knowingly give any money to a company for a product that is in any way tied to cruelty.

But going around the stores they make it as difficult as possible for you to find out where the meat has come from and what kind of life it had pre-fridge (or maybe it is just me?) So many products didn’t say anything about whether or not the meat was free range and I don’t know what happened to the brilliant free-range budget products that Tesco used to produced as I couldn’t find them for love nor money! Not being sure of the origins I put them back and wrote off meat for the week.

I headed to the tin isle and decided to look at the tuna. Same problem. Most of those tins didn’t advise ‘line-caught’ and those that did were significantly more expensive that the other tins.

When I get more settled, and stop DIYing on the weekends I will start taking advantage of my local green grocer and even source out a good butcher. I have used the green grocer before and not only are the staff friendly, but their produce seems to last longer than the store bought crap, meaning I throw less away. I think all the produce is local which pleases me and it has a proper caring about it’s customer feel. I have on occasion had to resort to buying their last less then perfect carrot or a tiny onion and because the quality is not as high as they would like I have been given the item free of charge – I didn’t ask they just said “we can’t charge you for that and put it into the bag!”. I don’t know about you, but knowing they care means a lot to me as a consumer and gives me confidence that they care about where they produce comes from.

Likewise I feel using a butcher who can trace the history of the piece of meat in front of me means that the quality of lives those animals have had before giving their lives will be of a higher quality, even if all the meat doesn’t carry the ‘free-range’ logo.

I am very aware that I could probably get my meat, fruit and veg cheaper if I bought it all from a big supermarket chain. But I can’t bring myself to do that. There will be occasions when I purchase supermarket meat – in a ready meal for example or when I’m broke and Kidneys are 88p. But I am a firm believer in quality over quantity and I would rather eat a little high welfare something than a whole load cheap crap.

However, branching out alone. Lo0king at the costs of my mortgage, bills, petrol, groceries, tv licences, council tax, water rates…..the list goes on. I am worried about being able to afford my principles.

Budgeting – argh!

I know it is very un-English to discuss money, but my blog, my rules, so here goes.

When I took my new job, after the bullying, I took an enormous pay cut and I’m still not financially as well off as I would like. I suppose I am not alone in thinking I should be paid more money for the job I do. But I may surprise you to admit that I actually don’t think my wage is that bad, more I think other people are earning stupid amounts of money for the roles they have and I worry that the cost of living is just to high.

Before it was never much of a problem I have always lived within my means and latterly I have had the support of the ex. He was brilliant in helping me manage my money. I contributed to the household bills and such like, paid rent, bought food; but he only ever asked for a contribution which he knew I could afford. I didn’t sponge off him but in the back of my mind I knew that between us we could cover all our monthly out goings and both put a little into our savings. I knew that if money ever became tight I could ask him to ‘cover me’ and I would pay him back later.

However he has gone and with it I feel I have lost some of that support network. I am not completely alone, I have my parents and I know they would never see me loose the house or go hungry. Hell I’m certain they would give up their house before they let me loose mine. But I don’t want to take money off my parents (plus I am currently indebted to them for more than I would like as they helped with renovation costs!) Suddenly it is up to me to live within a budget, go without things I can’t afford.

I’ll be honest this scares me. I like to think I’m not flash or spoilt – I’d rather spend the day walking with the dogs then spending money shopping. But as I consider stepping out into the dating pool once again I am going to need money. I would like to think on a first date the guy would offer to pay, but I want to be able to cover my share of the tip if needed, and if the date goes well I would like to think I would be able to offer to buy him a drink as a thank you for paying, and as a way to extend the night. The same goes with seeing friends. I know staying in with a bottle of wine doesn’t cost much, but when we are all saving you’ve got the cost of petrol, a bottle of wine, maybe some chocolate…..It all adds up!

Last night I want shopping. I went into Lidl and then Tesco. I stood for ages adding things up, looking for the best deals, taking things off the shelves then putting them back, and yet I spent nearly £70. I knew part of this shop was to stock the cupboards and so my basket contained some staples which I will not have to buy again for a while, like salt, pepper, mixed herbs, oil etc but still that is an awful lot of my food budget blown already. Add to that I then had to fill my car with petrol, another £50 and I am panicked. That’s over £100 in less than 2 hours.

I have bills coming in soon. I have to eat for the rest of the month. I still need to buy key items for the house – fridge freeze, sink, dishwasher (that one’s right at the bottom of the list, more of a nice to have!) I am worried that I’m not going to be able to afford to do this.

I’ve toyed with taking a second job. But by the time taxes are taken, and I am shattered is there any point? Plus when would a second job give me time to see friends, family and BD and Mity?

I was hoping I would be getting a nice pay rise and that I this would mean things would be tight but manageable. That didn’t happen. I’m scared.