Was I going to get Friday (9th) all to myself? Well sort of. I managed a little bit of a lie-in for a change though even then I was up and dressed well before eight-thirty. I had no work so I decided I would walk into town and deposit some more cash at the bank before it started to burn a hole in my purse! I had just finished breakfast when someone called to ask if I could check why their shower wasn’t working. I was free so I agreed to drive there and sort out the problem. The drive took me to another town which doesn’t have a branch outlet of my bank so I would have to wait until I could drive back home before making my deposit. The fault with the shower lay in the ceiling pull-switch which had jammed open, an unrepairable internal fault meant it would need replacing. I carry several types of switches in my van stock so I was able to effect an immediate replacement and was soon driving back to my own town. I parked the van in the same road I always park in when I have to visit the town centre but only wish to walk part-way there. The bank uses machines for making deposits so I took out the bank notes and placed them into the receptacle for the machine to count and verify them but half were rejected as being unrecognisable! They were all twenty pound notes £500 worth. I walked over to the girl at the help desk and she tried them in another machine with success. I could have done the same thing myself but at the time no other machine was available and I had thought that maybe there was an actual problem with some of the notes and perhaps they were forgeries. It wasn’t my fault was it? It would be quite possible after all for my customers pay in cash (I won’t accept cheques) and who knows where they got them from? There are forgeries at large. Anyway all was put right and the deposit was made. Now I have known this ‘girl’ for quite a few years but actually she is a middle-aged woman. We took a little time to catch up with each other’s news. She told me she was dreading the introduction of tablets for the staff to use when assisting customers. We ended up chatting about technology and the way it is beginning to take over our lives. She and I are both of the same opinion it seems for we both hate it, technology that is. I mentioned ‘the sign of the end times’ when nobody would be able to purchase anything or conduct any business unless they had on them the mark of the beast (which is metaphorically 666). In other words if we haven’t fallen in line with the ‘system’ we will be outcasts. On the other hand God says that whoever has the mark of the beast upon them will be cast out of His presence too. People may not see the future but future has its beginnings in the present. She actually informed me that it is planned that access to banking facilities will one day all be carried out on a smart phone to which I replied, ‘What if you haven’t got or don’t want a smart phone’? Get my drift? We also chatted about Christmas and the hype that surrounds it nowadays. It is surprising what you can chat about in five minutes isn’t it? I had to let her get back to her work but not until she had provided me with the bank’s contact number for their special services. I had told her that I wasn’t impressed with the bank having closed their branch in my village for it meant an inconveniently long trek into town to make deposits. On my way back through town to collect my vehicle I walked through the high street church grounds as they are open to the public and was approached by a lady running the church stall outside the church building. She wanted to know if I had ever used their cáfe to which I replied I had. She wanted to press upon me a couple of tickets for free drinks but I refused them. She then mentioned something about Christmas but I told her that although I was a Christian too I didn’t celebrate it. She was taken a little aback at that while I continued to say that nothing that was on her display, Christmas tree, decorations, wreaths etc. had anything to do with Christ, it was all heathen symbolism. She didn’t have a reply as I bade her farewell. Maybe she (a sister in Christ) will have something to think about in the weeks ahead. When I returned home I phoned the number I was given in the bank and I was able to register to have the branch of the Post Office in my village receive deposits on behalf of my bank. They will send me a book of deposit slips which I will receive in due course. It will mean I will no longer have to walk all the way into town just to put money in the bank. After lunch I received two calls for my electrical services, one I took on board but the other I rejected as it would involve too much work. The one I took on was for another of my regular customers and I would do that work on Saturday morning. I wanted to accommodate them by working on a Saturday because they had a very busy schedule ahead of them. It would be nice to see them again anyway. After their call I drove off to the electrical supplier to purchase a few items and that about summed up the day.
I don’t usually need an excuse to go for a walk, I like walking but on Tuesday I had no choice, I had to visit the bank in town. The bank is a mere one and a quarter miles or so from home and it was a pleasant and sunny day, just right for a walk. When I take my walks they are usually much further but this time I had a handbag with me, something I almost never take with me when out walking so it was a case of carrying out my business and then returning straight home. I could go for a longer walk after lunch. On Monday I received a cheque in the post for the grand sum of ten pounds! An organisation I subscribe to run a monthly draw and my number came up as a winner. The prizes range much higher than that, into the thousands but alas I missed out this time. Still ten pounds can buy a decent meal in many restaurants. My winnings could have been credited to my bank directly but that would mean my bank details if stored electronically might be vulnerable so they send out cheques instead. I had to visit the bank in any case as I had a few hundred pounds in bank notes which needed depositing too. I generally receive payments from my customers in cash and I wait a few weeks until I have a substantial amount to deposit. My bank now encourages the use of their machines to carry out deposits and of course withdrawals too. Unless other business which cannot be transacted using the machines needs to be conducted there is little reason to speak to staff. First I had to deposit the cheque but the machine wouldn’t accept it even after a couple of attempts so I made the cash deposits instead. I had to call for assistance to get the cheque processed. This time I was successful but I have no idea why. Maybe the machine was afraid of the staff! Banking this way is so impersonal I feel and one day in the future I know there will be no such thing as paying a visit to the bank, all transactions will be done at a machine which doesn’t necessarily need to be in a bank! If prophecy is true there will be no such thing as cheques or folding money in the future. Perish the thought I say but that’s the way we seem to be heading. It might seem like progress to some people but I am not one of them. The walk was nice though!
…………….and easy go. This has been the story of my finances these past few months, I earned the money and it was immediately spent on my domestic projects. I am happy to report that very little of my savings has been spent which is a good thing. I haven’t completely finished spending though. On Friday morning I had one electrical job amd after lunch I continued to finish the plastering I had begun a couple of days earlier. I had been repairing the damage to the ceiling and wall in one of the rooms at the top of the house which had been caused by the ingress of rain water through the roof. I found I needed some more plaster to finish the job so E and I went to buy the extra plaster but ended up buying other things too. E had wanted some bird seed and an extra feeder to hang beneath the bird table we had bought a week ago. We decided to buy a bedside table lamp for use in the small bedroom whilst we were in the spending mood. The money I had earned at the job I did in the morning covered the cost of everything we had purchased with some to spare. They had effectively cost me nothing. When we got back home I plugged in the lamp but I couldn’t see a switch on it with which to turn it on. I switched on the wall socket switch and the lamp didn’t work. It wasn’t faulty however, I hadn’t realised it was designed that way as it came on as soon as I touched it. I didn’t know it was touch-sensitive operated unit! We had bought the lamp because of its weight and its looks, its weight so that it would be less likely to be knocked off the table! I had plans to finish the plastering on Saturday or Monday depending on whether it was dry enough to skim it over. I am not a plasterer by any stretch of the imagination but I can say I am getting better at it and the work looks professional compared to my first attempt many years ago. I am not afraid to try new things and the only way to learn is to do it! That approach has saved me thousands of pounds over the years and has made me capable of doing many things in the process. Some tasks though I leave to those more capable. Well I can’t be good at all things!
I have learned over the years that life is a constant battle with things going wrong. I am referring to material things here. We do our best to stay ahead and if we make provisions we get by. I know people who don’t bother to save much for emergencies and end up getting into debt when something they need suddenly fails. I have always been a saver. I don’t like the idea of having unexpected problems happening that cannot be resolved due to a lack of funds and that is one reason I put aside funds. Whilst I have been able to lay money aside I have done so. It is annoying though to have saved money for a specific reason and suddenly having to divert those funds or part of them when some unforseen calamity rears its head. Such is life I say. I had a busy day on Thursday and in the afternoon I went to install a couple of replacement lighting fittings in a house a few miles away. Normally quite a simple job but problems can make it less so. I had been told that one of the original fittings hadn’t worked for some time and when I checked it out I discovered there was no live supply when the switch was on. That meant removing the switch to see if there was a supply to it. There wasn’t. It had been difficult removing the switch because the fixing screws had seized up but I finally managed it. I had therefore to find out why there was no supply. The lady of the house was beginning to think that the price was going to rise but I soon discovered the problem and carried on with the work. The job had taken me longer than I had expected and it was late in the afternoon by the time I could return home. I was feeling tired. When I arrived home I operated the remote control to open the garage door and as it was by now dark I expected the internal garage light to come on as the door opened fully but it didn’t switch on. It is wired in such a way that in hours of darkness the light will automatically switch on whenever the main door is opened but not do so if it is still daylight. I thought perhaps that the limit switch had not been pressed as the top of the door reached it and indeed that was the case. The reason it hadn’t had been due to the fact that the tensioning spring on that side of the door had failed. The steel connecting cable had snapped. At first I thought it had simply come off the guide pulley but it hadn’t. It is an easy job to replace the cable but the one on the other side of the door would have to be done too. I knew at that point that my labours for the day would now all be spent on repairing the door! I called the door specialist and made arrangements for its repair. Before the door was converted to automatic operation I used to do all the mechanical repairs on it but unless it is something menial I now leave it to others.
Like water trickling through my fingers or sugar escaping through a broken bag, money sometimes has a habit of coming my way, slipping through my grasp then disappearing out of reach down some bottomless pit. I earn it and it escapes through the hole in my pocket. I am a saver, I put money in the bank whenever I can but once in a while it is impossible. I earn it and straight away have to spend it on some unforeseen expense. I returned to work on Tuesday and had some money in my purse after having no disposable income for some time. Under normal circumstances I would treat myself to some new clothes or a bottle of perfume or other things once in a while then bank whatever remained but this time I had to spend out for a new water pump and other accessories essential for the house which actually cost me more than I’d earned. That’s not the end of it though as there are more things to buy before I can carry out the repairs. I do have spare income from my monthly pensions which would normally be banked too but even that extra cash has been spent on the house lately. Recently I spent some of my savings on cosmetic surgery for myself but I don’t do that normally. It was more by way of personal maintenance if you like. Well if the house has to be maintained then so should I! By the time I pass away everything will be just as I would like it to be but I won’t then be able to enjoy it! I could sell up and live a life of luxury, so people tell me anyway but I would be as bored as hell after a while. I think I prefer life’s little catastrophes and the expense they incur, the home projects that eat away at my savings and any spare cash I might earn for I am that type of person. Life would be so boring if everything went according to plan and nothing ever went wrong but that’s just it, things do go wrong. However much we have in this life, whether it be a lot or a little we have to leave it all behind one day and the cash we earn cannot be taken with us when we depart either. As the saying goes, there are no pockets in shrouds and even if there were mine would probably have holes in them! Do I live to work or do I work to live? I’m afraid I have to do both to a point else sit around like a couch potato all my life doing nothing and being bored in the process. If there isn’t anything to do I usually invent something anyway.
Surprise, surprise! You know, I’m not a person who is fond of surprises, especially as for me they are usually ones I don’t wish to have. Just as I am beginning to get back on track with my finances I get a surprise in the form of an extra payment I have to make or a domestic catastrophe that needs money spending on it. I have always been the sort of person who puts money aside for a ‘rainy day’, always saved spare income to fall back on when things go wrong. That trait has not only help myself but those around me too whenever the need arose. I have just spent out £5200 on cosmetic surgery, a large amount in anyone’s language but on Wednesday I received a call from the clinic informing me that I owed £375 for extra services rendered. I had received more than what I had expected could be done and naturally I was willing to pay for that but earlier in the day I was at home investigating a problem which came to light the previous evening and which was going to cost me to put it right. Some of our electrical circuits had switched off and I isolated the circuit which had tripped the supply. Unfortunately it was the one supplying the television and the power outlets used for the computers. I managed to reset everything for the remainder of the evening but whilst having a shower the following morning the power tripped again and the shower stopped working. I put on my robe and went down into the cellar to reset the tripped switch whilst isolating the offending circuit. I returned upstairs to continue with my shower. Later in the morning I got my tools and test equipment and set about finding the fault. As the power loss happened at 8 o’clock it coincided with the switch-on of the central heating system, though it was only the water heating facility in use. It isn’t cold enough for heating the radiators just yet. I therefore suspected the fault lay with the heating boiler system. The first things to check were the pumps and I discovered the one in use, the one supplying the hot water storage tank, was at fault and will need replacing. It is the same as shown in the picture above. As at the time of writing this on Wednesday evening that hasn’t been done as there is no hurry to do it. We have an immersion heater to heat the water tank and the heating of the radiators is not affected should they be needed. The main problem is removing the old pump as it is seized and locked in place. Once I can remove it the job shouldn’t take long to replace it and I will probably make the attempt on Thursday morning. Of course I have to buy a new pump. It all seems to be spend, spend, spend lately so it is fortunate that I have funds put aside to pay for it all. Even though I had taken two weeks off from my electrical work I have been busy working on changing water waste pipes though was forced to rest for a few days after my recent surgery. At the moment I haven’t yet resumed that work but have no intentions to do so until later next week. I have three electrical jobs to do on Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week which will pay for the repairs at home. Just as well as my savings have taken a hammering this year.
I worked incredibly hard on Monday and having no further work scheduled I thought I would take the opportunity to get to the bank to deposit some cash. I tend to let the cash build up before making a deposit as the bank I save with has only one branch which is in town. I can and have done in the past, deposited money in another bank I use, which provides my main current account and which is closer to home in the village nearby. If I deposit cash there I can then transfer it to the other bank using my Internet account but this time I thought I would take the extra time to visit the branch in town in person enabling me to do a spot of shopping at the same time. I took care of my banking and then started my shopping and during that time I received a call from an old guy asking it I could do two small electrical jobs for him and his wife. They live in an apartment block not far from where I live. I explained that I was out shopping but that I would call in later. He then asked, ‘To look at the job’? ‘No’ I replied, ‘To do it for you’! He was taken aback but was so pleased that I was going to do the work immediately. I arrived about an hour or so later and did the work. Whilst there the couple made me sit down for a coffee and we chatted a little. They were keen to know a little of my history as an electrician and I told them something about my work experiences. Perhaps I shouldn’t have let too much information out of the bag for I learned later that they were the parents of someone I once knew in a place I where I once worked. In fact I knew him fairly well but that was over seventeen years ago, long before my transition to womanhood. I didn’t let on that I knew him. I never speak about my transition under normal circumstances for there is no reason to do that. No doubt their son, if told, will be wondering who I am, this person they are talking about. I discovered that he no longer works as an engineer except in an advisory capacity when assessing work for others and that he lives in the next township eight miles away. So I finished the work and the money received more than covered my shopping spree. At the moment of writing this around lunchtime I am undecided as to whether to do a little work in the cellar at home or not. The work entails wiring and installing a couple of extra power points for the new freezers. I may leave it until later.
I have been spending a lot of money lately on and for the projects we have at home and there’s still more I’ll need to spend in the coming weeks or even sooner. Most of this money is coming from the same account where I save for business expenditure mainly but not exclusively for my transport needs, that is keeping my van on the road. It is one of three accounts I have at one of the banks I use. I have accounts elsewhere too but they are used for other specific expenses. I have always been a person who saves for a rainy day as they say and do not spend for the sake of it but only as I need. I know people who spend their cash as soon as they get it and some even before they get it! Of course I have always worked for my money but I have also been fortunate in always having employment. On Tuesday E and I dined out again but before then I had some work to do out-of-town and whilst I was there I received a phone call from our eldest son who asked if I could lend him some money (£350) so he could pay for maintenance of his car. He promises to pay me back at the end of January when he receives payment himself. Well my regular readers may remember the times I’ve mentioned in my posts about helping my children financially and I’ve always been obliging. I was this time too. I told him to call to our house before E and I were to go out to lunch. About a half hour after I had returned home he arrived with his wife and our lovely little granddaughter who will be two years old on New Years‘ Eve. They couldn’t stay long and we were going out anyway. E dropped me off at the bank before we headed off to the restaurant. On the way home later E drove us to the timber yard and we bought the necessary floor timbers to enable us to continue with the bathroom project and asked if they would deliver it on Thursday morning as both of us would be out for most of the day on Wednesday. It looks as though it will be Thursday afternoon or Friday before more work can be done. On a positive note I have been getting more requests for work which is good for the cash but not so good for my free time. Well I suppose I can’t have it both ways can I?
After a rather busy week I planned to have a good lie in bed on Saturday morning then get up say around 9.30 to exercise on my treadmill. During the week I had been watching the trilogy Lord of the Rings (yet again, I love the story) broadcast on three consecutive evenings, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 9pm. I don’t know how I managed to keep my eyes open on Friday as the film finished at almost 1 o’clock in the morning but as it was Saturday the following day I knew I could rest that extra time in bed. I slept solidly until 6am when I had to visit the toilet and still tired, went back to bed. I was awakened rather abruptly at 8am by my mobile phone. A lady I have worked for a couple of times wanted to know if I could repair her smoke alarm units some time in the coming week! Her brother had died on Wednesday and she didn’t have the time of his funeral so couldn’t say which day she would be at home. She explained that one of the smoke alarm units was ‘hanging from the ceiling ‘. Evidently she had pulled it off its fixings whilst removing the battery. I must explain something here for those who are not familiar with smoke alarms. Some of them are stand-alone, battery-operated (as the one shown above) but some also have a mains electricity supply and are often linked together to other units in the building. She has that latter type installed. She hadn’t pulled out the mains wiring so the unit was quite safe for the time being. She seemed more interested in the aesthetics, not wanting to see the thing hanging from the ceiling!. When I answered the call she said she hoped she hadn’t disturbed me or woke me up! It was 8 o’clock in the morning on a weekend and especially in this case, an Easter weekend! What did she think I would be doing so early in the morning? I told her that she had woke me up, which is perfectly true. The job wasn’t urgent so she should have phoned at a more respectable hour. I asked her to call me on Monday evening or Tuesday by which time she hopefully could tell me when it would be convenient to call, if at all. Incidentally she lives about eight miles away from me. The cheek of some people! I returned to my sleep-in and actually didn’t wake again until 11.30! I will be checking her smoke alarms today (Wednesday). I seemed to recall a faint tap-tap-tap on my bedroom door sometime before I finally woke and E told me that it must have been our youngest son. When I finally got up I dressed for the promised exercise and went downstairs. I asked if she knew what he had wanted but she said she didn’t know. I got on with my exercise and just as I had finished my mobile phone rang. It was my son. It appears that his car had a problem and he had limped home to his apartment. He had arranged to have it repaired and E collected him from the garage and took him back home, visiting our house along the way. He said he didn’t know what to do, meaning he didn’t have the cash to get it repaired. Evidently it was going to cost in the region of £500 to £600, not the sort of money he has available. I mentioned in earlier posts about his financial predicament and how he is at present struggling a bit. Later in the year things will improve for him but in the meantime he has to rely on my help from time to time. I assured him that I would foot the bill. Hopefully his car will be ready to drive again on Thursday. He will either have to hire a car for a couple of days in the meantime else make other arrangements at work. Over the years I have always put cash away for a rainy day, a habit some people struggle with but even small amounts soon build up to a substantial amount with time. Lately though, money I have been able to save seems to slip through my fingers instead of getting deposited in the bank. Oh well, that’s life isn’t it?
Since writing this post a few days ago my son tells me that he has made other arrangements with a friend of his who is a vehicle mechanic. His friend has offered to fix the problem for a much cheaper price, in fact probably £50. I am relieved at hearing that, I could do without throwing money away. It just goes to prove that garages will gladly take your money if you are daft enough to let them.
I was always encouraged by my parents to ‘put something aside for a rainy day’. From the day I received my first wage packet I always put some of it in the bank. There were times I couldn’t do that but by and large I managed to save something whenever I got paid. As a child I would count my pocket-money and try to save one or two coins but found the temptation of another packet of sweets (candies) irresistible. I guess that was ok for a youngster but as I got older my need to save was important if I wanted something special, a bicycle, a telescope or a pair of binoculars, a book, so I made a more concerted effort. As I became older my aspirations broadened and I had to put cash aside until I had enough to get the things I desired. It was only when I bought my first car that I had to take out a loan to finance it and for my next couple of vehicles too. Later I was able to pay in full by cash whenever I bought a car. All this I could do because I put a little aside each week, then each month when I became salaried and when I became self-employed it became a necessity to save but it came naturally for I had been doing it all my working life. A leaking tap (faucet) fills a swimming pool given time and it isn’t missed. I tried to instil this principle into my children and they both realise the wisdom of it. My youngest son is finding it difficult to save anything at the moment but come summer he hopes his finances will make it possible to finally have a decent bank-balance. This is the reason I help him out now and then so it is just as well that I continue to save as I earn. His elder brother can save and is doing so. He and his wife are saving for a house after selling their first one at a small loss just to get out of the town where they lived. They now have to start over again. Of course a little here and a little there can be a negative experience too if we allow unnecessary expenditure to rule our lives but in our country’s present financial state it helps if we can spend a little, even if it is something of a luxury just to keep the economy running. I see many shops closing down around the town, only last week I visited a computer store just to find it closed down. The retail business is struggling and can only survive if they get customers through their doors, even a few here and there will make that difference. How does the saying go? ‘Money is made round to go round’.