10 late bills and half a euro to my name

November has been financially hard. Why would it be, I wonder. Oh if it isn’t the result of my constant indiscretions.

But it’s nothing that you and I don’t know already.

As illogical as it sounds, to somehow mitigate the increasingly onerous weight of my financial obligations, I actually called several financial institutions to see if I can get a line of credit with them – but I can’t. Unless I go to an actual loan shark – and I don’t have such plans – I can’t borrow any more money.


But it also means that I have practically zero “variable” money left. And by “variable” I mean anything that’s not a bill or a payment. Groceries, fuel, cat food, hygiene products, medicine – anything you can think of that’s not a bill or a regular payment is a “variable” to me right now. So if I can cut something out of these variables, then I will cut something out of these variables.

Essentially what it will be is a no-spend challenge, except it’s less fun because I’m not trying to save money, I’m trying to survive on what money I have coming in. And I believe I’ve mentioned it somewhere, but I have a good amount coming in. This is not an income problem. I’m just an idiot. One can make a million and spend a million and a hundred thousand and still grasp at straws trying to make ends meet. And while I don’t make a million, my problem is still not a low wage or underemployment. Like I said. I’m just an idiot.

So most expenses will go. I will keep three of my entertainment subscriptions because I need something to keep me sane, and honestly, they are not the problem. Even after all my bills I have a decent chunk of money for Netflix, so to speak. The problem for me is random discretionary spending here and there, which I shall from now on refer to as “money littering”. Two coffees out a day, take-out breakfast/ lunch/ dinner, another notebook that I’m never going to get around to using, another book to add to my pile of literal thousands of books that I bought before and have yet to read. A new foundation, tenth nude lipstick, eight nail polishes and fifteen sheet masks because I’m like a kid in a candy store when I see these things. Three tops that I buy without trying them on because I liked the cut of them. Five cakes that I buy the next day, because none of the tops fit and I need to make myself feel better.

And all of that is peppered by me actually buying groceries with good intentions of cooking my next lunch, and then just letting them all literally rot on the counter or in the fridge. Because the cakes I ate left me exhausted and unhappy, so I decide to give myself a break and start the next day.

I am insane. My mind works, truly, but sometimes it works against me.

Here’s my plan.

I know it’s all common sense. And some of it won’t be. Some of it will be just me being too easy on myself again. Trust me. I’ve been on the other side of the screen as well, reading blogs of people who advise you to economise by sewing a button back on a shirt instead of buying a new shirt. This reads like that, I’m sure.

But here’s my plan.

1. Have a fun goal to save towards.

Mine is Foil Arms and Hog performing in one of the cities that’s close enough for me to consider a trip there, and also a tablet to increase the quality of my illustrations

2. Keep the non-fun goals at the forefront of my mind as well, but try not to dwell.

This is likely the hardest part, the not dwelling part. The non-fun goals are the obvious debt reduction, the washing machine, the bathroom reno, and an operation that I keep postponing, but really should just get done already.

3. …. ?

4. Profit.

(I jest. This is not a manifesting blog.)

3. Reduce the variable expenses by doing the following

a. hypermile. So no more speeding 120/hr over the bridge for me. Try to get a full tank at the start of the month and stick to that tank until the end of the month. After my car got switched over to stick shift it started getting amazing mileage, so it shouldn’t be an issue. I hardly drive except to and from work.

b. cook at home. I’m a good cook, and I have skills that allow me to just shop for cheapest ingredients and make palatable dishes from them. Being a big aficionado of simple/ poor folk/ peasant food – how classist of me – helps greatly. I’d rather have potato stew over something fancy nearly every day of the year. But should I desire something fancy, I likely have a cookbook with a recipe or I can google that recipe and make it at home. Unless the dish is especially delicate or fancy, I can cook it.

c. read the books I have. Technically speaking even the ones that I have as ‘currently reading‘ would be enough to keep me busy for half a year

d. pace myself with comics. I won’t drop them, they make me too happy, but I will have to read them much more slowly and be on the look-out for free points/ coins/ ink/ whatever

e. no more toys and extra treats/ snacks for cats! My children will get an allowance, just like I will. I’ll get them their cheese bits within that allowance.

f. shop around for cheaper foodstuffs

g. no-spend for beauty and hygiene. Obviously I will still wash my hair and shave my pits. I’ll just use the shampoos and creams I already have a-plenty instead of buying new ones

h. one coffee out per week, if that. I’ve got a nespresso machine and a dolce gusto one, I’ve got a moka pot, a french press, I can do drip, I can do dalgona. I can even do matcha almond latte, despite the ridiculous price of both matcha and almond milk. It would – OH REALLY – still be cheaper than getting a matcha almond latte in a coffee shop. The price of two coffees out is enough to cover 200g of good beans or ground coffee. Two more coffees out, and I’ve covered 3.5L milk I need to make my lattes. It’s basic maths. I know how it works, I just don’t do it.

i. make a meal plan and grocery shop once a week. It may have to be two-three runs to different shops (see point 3.f.), but it should be done in one day

4. Record all income and all expenditure with obsessive detail

a. keep a private hand-written notebook
b. do a graph of income, outcome, and eventually savings to get an overview of a longer period
c. do public audits of various points of this list here on the blog

5. Use cash for everything but bills and regular payments that are easier to just schedule via online banking.

6. Leave card at home.

7. Only take money that I intend to spend that day with me.

8. Increase income by doing one or all of the following

a. tutoring English and Spanish
b. Tarot readings
c. photo and illustration selling via RedBubble
d. book cover designs via seller platforms
e. any paid overtime that might be thrown out at work
f. product photography for local businesses; see if I can get some portrait gigs as well

9. Keep myself busy and keep the dopamine coming with something useful

a. keep up with this blog
b. start vlogging again
c. maintain Spanish and Romanian
d. get to a comfortable level of German
e. faster progress in Korean and Japanese
f. piano practice
g. Skillshare classes for whatever sudden interest I get, e.g. woodburning
h. journal the fuck out of my days etc. I LOVE keeping notebooks
i. take walks to take photos to sell and also to bring that blood pressure and weight down.
j. write and illustrate my magnum opus

10. Get back to zero waste principles

a. take good care of the things I own
b. eradicate food waste
c. shop second-hand for anything I actually need
d. mend clothes
e. see if I can use something I already own for this or that task instead of immediately rushing out to buy

I may or may not come back to this post to edit various points, but likely I will just extrapolate on the matter in other posts.

Lists Reading

what I’m reading; Q4 2023

As I have mentioned in this post, I’ve always read more than one book at a time. My ‘sweet spot’ is around 10 books, not including daily devotionals, textbooks, and several – plenty – “text with pictures” (comics, manga, webtoons, etc.). However, sometimes I lose sight of that “sweet spot”, and end up starting 60 books at the same time. Not even exaggerating. I mean, the list below is an honest one.

My usual method of prioritisation is to knock out the ones that are closer to being done. Once the books have all about the same amount of pages left in them, I just randomly pick one, because if I concentrate too much on the choice, I go into a stupour and get no reading done at all. If I am not in the mood for a story, I’ll choose non-fiction.

I separated this list into four categories – ebooks, paper books, audiobooks, and ‘text with pictures’. Other than that there’s no rhyme or reason. I just wanted a public record of it. I think I’ll also make a similar list for the shows (which will be shorter), and moving forward I’ll post an updated list for both books and shows every quarter. This time I omitted derivative works (doujinshi; fanfiction), because there isn’t anything long that I’m reading in that department, so I usually finish them in one go. I also haven’t included any textbooks or workbooks, because obviously those would be ongoing if I’m currently studying something.

Once more: There’s absolutely no order to this madness. I read in several languages, too. The list is in English for convenience.

(Links are Amazon affiliate links. I am currently earning no commission, but I would like to get to the earning point.)

(Before we go any further: I’m an adult who reads things intended for adults. I do not provide ratings here, but proceed with caution, and verify you’re of age in your territory. Also, some subjects may be triggering. I do not provide content warnings either.)

ebooks, mostly Kindle

I have two e-readers, both old generation. Lately, though, I’ve mostly been reading on my phone, and also on my monitor at work.

  1. Your Money or Your Life; Vicki Robin
  2. Confessions of a Sociopath; M.E. Thomas
  3. Daily Magic; Judika Iles
  4. Religion and the Decline of Magic; Keith Thomas
  5. The Body in the Dales; J.R. Ellis
  6. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes; Suzanne Collins
  7. Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living; Melusine Draco
  8. Shadow of Night; Debora Harkness
  9. 2022 Witches Companion
  10. The Duke & I; Julia Quin
  11. Happier at Home; Gretchen Rubin
  12. Wintering; Katherine May
  13. The Spell Book of a Wicked Witch; Thalia Thorne
  14. Meghan and Harry; Lady Colin Campbell
  15. Hoodoo Book of Spells for Beginners; Layla Moon
  16. Green Witchcraft for the Kitchen Witch; Misty Kinsman
  17. Think and Grow Rich; Napoleon Hill
  18. Daily Joy
  19. Witchcraft for the Home; Mystic Dylan
  20. The Daily Stoic; Ryan Holid
  21. Everyday Witchcraft; Deborah Blake
  22. Everyday Food in War Time; Mary Swartz Rose
  23. Women; Charles Bukowski
  24. Hide in Plain Sight; Marta Perry
  25. The Goddess is in the Details; Deborah Blake

Paper Books

  1. Slow Boat to China; Haruki Murakami
  2. 100 Years of Solitude; Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Triptych; Karin Slaughter
  4. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry; Fredrik Backman
  5. The Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins
  6. The Secret; Rhonda Byrne
  7. Stardust; Neil Gaiman
  8. Modern Girl’s Guide to Working 9 to 5; Ada Adverse
  9. A Life on Our Planet; David Attenborough
  10. Dandelion Wine; Ray Bradbury
  11. The Door into Summer; Robert A. Heinlein
  12. Broken Homes; Ben Aaronovitch
  13. What Could Possibly Go Wrong; Jeremy Clarkson
  14. Second Chance for a First Impression – a Coco Chanel biograhy
  15. Cozy; Isabel Gillies
  16. The Kitchen Diaries; Nigel Slater
  17. The Ink Black Heart; Robert Galbraith
  18. Selected Poems; Rabindranath Tagore
  19. The Setting Sun; Osamu Dazai
  20. To Let; John Galsworthy

That’s not all of them, but others I’m just about 10-15 pages in, so I won’t count them as “currently reading” for the sake of this post.

Audiobooks & Podcasts

This is the smallest list of all – basically, not a list – because I don’t really do audiobooks. I pick a random one to accompany me when I’m cleaning or doing some menial tasks, but other than that I read with me eyes. I’m not very good at processing audible information, my mind’s too easily distracted from listening unless my hands are moving.

  1. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe; Fannie Flagg

Text with Pictures

Here, I have left a comment if the series is completed or ongoing, and for ongoing I also noted if I’m catching up to the current chapter, or if I’m just reading as new chapters are getting published. For manga, I usually read new chapters whenever they’re published as a volume. For webtoons, if I started it in early stages, then I’ll probably read it whenever a new chapter goes out. Sometimes I wait until there are several chapters published and we have at least some resolution to an overly dramatic arc – or I just want to have a longer reading session, and one episode doesn’t do it for me. If the story has been going on for a while or is completed, but it’s a recent discovery for me, it might take me a while to catch up, because I try to read legally as much as possible (sometimes it is honestly not possible because of the territory I’m in), and if I were to catch up on ALL THE STORIES, I – and most importantly, my cats – would have nothing to eat.

  1. Wild Eyes – completed; catching up
  2. Blind Play – completed; catching up
  3. Honey Trouble – ongoing; catching up
  4. The Oiran Marionette – ongoing; catching up
  5. Doppio Senso – ongoing; catching up
  6. 29 Years Old, Single, Living with the CEO – completed; catching up
  7. Mad Place – ongoing; catching up
  8. Heart Racer – ongoing; catching up
  9. Penthouse XXX – completed; catching up
  10. Pearl Boy – completed; catching up
  11. One Small Step – completed; catching up
  12. BJ Alex – completed; catching up
  13. Low Tide in Twilight – ongoing; season hiatus; caught up
  14. Shutline – ongoing; catching up
  15. The Beast Must Die – completed; catching up
  16. Love Me Not – ongoing; catching up
  17. The Ghost’s Nocturne – ongoing; catching up
  18. Smyrna and Capri – ongoing; catching up
  19. The Unquenchable Mr Kim – completed; catching up
  20. The Dangerous Convenience Store – ongoing; catching up
  21. Cover-up – completed; catching up
  22. Kill Me if You Can – ongoing; catching up
  23. Full Volume – side stories ongoing, catching up; main story completed, caught up
  24. Between the Lines – ongoing; catching up
  25. House of Desire – ongoing; catching up
  26. Painter of the Night – completed (? author teased possible fifth season <3); catching up
  27. Limited Run – ongoing; catching up
  28. The Third Perspective – completed; catching up
  29. Steel Under Silk – ongoing; catching up
  30. Speak of the Devil – ongoing; catching up
  31. Payback – ongoing; caught up
  32. Beasts of Desire – ongoing; catching up
  33. Mary Jane – ongoing; catching up
  34. Jinx – ongoing; caught up
  35. Yours to Claim – ongoing; catching up
  36. Winter Wolf – ongoing; caught up
  37. Placebo – ongoing; caught up
  38. Define the Relationship – ongoing; caught up
  39. Cry Me a River – ongoing; caught up
  40. Beware the Ides of March – ongoing; season hiatus; caught up
  41. Instant Family – ongoing; caught up
  42. Opposites Attract – ongoing; catching up
  43. Love History Caused By Willful Negligence – ongoing; caught up
  44. Yakuza in Love – completed; catching up
  45. Lifeless Man – completed; catching up
  46. No Reason – completed; catching up
  47. Carry Me to Paradise – ongoing; catching up
  48. Love On My Terms – completed; catching up
  49. Love Level Up – long hiatus; catching up
  50. Legs That Won’t Walk – ongoing; catching up
  51. Matchstick 20 – completed; catching up
  52. Business Performance – ongoing; catching up
  53. Lady K and the Sick Man – completed; catching up
  54. Under the Oak Tree – ongoing; caught up
  55. Jujutsu Kaisen – ongoing; catching up
  56. Tokyo Ghoul – completed; catching up
  57. Sailormoon – completed; reread (this is my ‘security blanket’ of a story, I often rewatch or reread it)
  58. NANA – long-ass hiatus; reread
  59. Love and Let Lie – ongoing; catching up
  60. Oh! My Assistant – completed; catching up
  61. The Duke and the Tutor – completed; catching up
  62. Under the Green Light – ongoing; catching up
  63. Tadano Renai Nanka de Kikkonai – completed (I think); catching up
  64. The Way of the House Husband – ongoing; catching up
  65. The Boy and the Wolf – ongoing; catching up
  66. Lend Me Your Lips – ongoing; catching up

things to do for free

A follow-up on previous post, I came up with a list of things I can do for free, or near-free, whenever I find myself in a financial pickle. I just wish I have the sense to return to it when needed.

  • Read the books I own.
  • Write in my journal.
  • Work on the blog.
  • Clean the house.
  • Deep clean the house.
  • Plan outfits.
  • … or just play dress-up.
  • Cook.
  • Play with cats.
  • Take walks up and down streets that don’t have many shops, leave wallet at home.
  • Play piano using free music sheets – find the ones from my olden days of music school, use office printer to print out the ones I find online.
  • Draw.
  • Exercise.
  • Play with makeup.
  • Learn languages.
  • Improve skills in the languages I already know.
  • Talk to brother.
  • Get back to running. (This one requires an investment – decent running shoes.)
  • Unfortunately driving isn’t free what’s with the rising fuel prices, but it’s still cheaper than a lot of other shit, so – drive.
  • Write book reviews.
  • Watch movies and tv shows with all the subscriptions that I’m paying for.
  • Do no-spend challenges.
  • Write recipes using pantry foods.
  • Ride public transport in off-peak hours, choose a random stop to get off on, explore the nearest three blocks.
  • Take DSLR out to play.
  • Write beauty reviews for [redacted].
  • Take good pictures of beauty products too.
  • Write up the history of my travels.
  • Resurrect [redacted].
  • Volunteer? (Question mark, because there are not many options here, but I’ll be on the lookout.)
  • Study Tarot.
  • Practise witchcraft.
  • Work on grimoire and book of shadows.
  • Study psychology.
  • An elaborate skincare routine using all the products I bought.
  • An elaborate hygiene routine.
  • Take baths (water is “free”, as in I pay a set amount per month, regardless of how much I use, so the only limit here is my conscience).
  • Assemble all the puzzles and Lego that I have that are still waiting for attention.
  • If I go for drives, do ‘drive with me’ videos. I need to get a car mount for that again, though. But that’s the only investment, so to speak.
  • Study art history.
  • Go on dates and freeload off of people.

(Well that escalated quickly.)

(Actually that one won’t work, unless I do plan to sleep with the person. That would make the relationship transactional, and everyone could go on their merry way at any given moment.)

Let’s continue.

  • Clean up and take good care of the graves of my ancestors. I have… eight to take care of.
  • Organise – like, seriously, retentively – my library.
  • Go to church, both orthodox and catholic. Service/ mass relax me.
  • Film vlogs.
  • Listen to music.
  • Go to museums and art galleries again and again. This is not free, but as far as entertainment in the city goes, this is the cheapest.
  • Indulge in piracy.
  • Go to the library.
  • Bribe what’s left of my friend circle with homemade baked goods and go on home-brewed coffee dates in the park.

Shit, Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Violin rips my heart out.

  • Study ikonography.
  • Learn tiktok dances.
  • Practise asanas.
  • Read the bible.
  • Bum about in SkillShare and do a metric tonne of courses on subjects that look vaguely interesting/ useful.
  • Do all the exercise videos stored on my computer until I can complete them start to finish without hyperventilating.
  • Work on my car – clean, organise, read about it, etc.
  • Learn software I pay for – i.e. Adobe.
  • Organise decades of photos, both digital and printed.
  • Origami.
  • Paint with supplies I have on hand.
  • Run my photos through Spiral Betty and pencil them in.
  • Sleep.