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Resourceful is a newsletter about spending less, reducing stress and living within your means.
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Anyone else finding December more than a little bit stressful? I've been flagging a little under the pressure to get four weeks of work into two this month, as no-one will be around after next Friday to reply to emails (myself included, all going well). This is my first Christmas as a freelancer, working from home in an office of one, and for a while I thought it was just me struggling. I've not been sleeping all that well as I've been cramming work into each free hour I can find, taking power naps in the middle of the day to manage stress headaches where necessary. This is really unlike me, and it's sprung from putting a bit too much pressure on myself to work hard and prove myself in some way. And ultimately, a lot of the sleepless nights have been plagued with worries about money. 

It really doesn't matter how much you have stashed away in the bank, or how deep you may be into your overdraft, money worries are experienced by everyone at different points in their lives, for lots of different reasons. As a relatively new freelancer, money tends to be something I have to think about every day. I'm actually doing fine for money right now, as in, I have no real reason to worry for at least four or five months (should every single client drop me, I have a few weeks at least to make a contingency plan). But while I wish it wasn't there, the worry continues to niggle away. I wonder how much I'd have to have saved up before I am totally rid of any money worries at all? £5,000? £10,000? £50,000?

On top of all of the totally dull adult stress that December brings, Christmas can also be extremely expensive. For many of us, Christmas means (usually boozy) social gatherings + (usually boozy) work dos + (usually boozy) dinner parties ( get it) + presents, presents, presents galore. For anyone else struggling with the pressure of feeling like you have to spend bucketloads of money at this time of year, you are surely not alone. If money is adding to the already heightened levels of stress that come with the end of the year, try your very best to not let it get to you. It's hard, I know. If Christmas is already a bit of a difficult time for you (can you tell I'm more of a summer girl?), don't get sucked into the obligation to spend much this year if you can't afford to. Make presents. Make cards. Offer to cook Christmas dinner instead. (There's still time to learn how to do all of the above on YouTube, including the world's best Brussel Sprouts recipe, I swear). 

This is the last Resourceful issue of the year. If you like what it's brought to your inbox so far, please consider forwarding on to a friend or aunt or whatever. Spread them good tidings 'n' all. Most of all, have a restful and well-deserved break, and here's to a happier (and slightly calmer) 2019.

Read this.

Think offline.

A list of things that I'm grateful for this week. What are some of yours?
  • the power of silence and solitude
  • friendly gym staff
  • biscuits with raisins in
  • extra rest
  • tea bags
  • thick scarves
  • Season 2 of The Marvellous Mrs Maisel (sorry not sorry)

Money, money, money.
(Literature edition!)

I'm reading Little Women at the moment and loving ev-e-r-y page of it. It begins at Christmas time, so is a pretty apt book for this time of year, and the subject of money is constantly brought up between the four teenage sisters, who long for pianos and books (it was written in 1863, OK).

You can likely find a well-thumbed copy of this book in every charity shop, ever. Here's the opening paragraph, proving that people still felt broke-as-hell around Christmas time 150 years before Black Friday sales were a thing. 

Eat this. 

mmm-Minestrone, a recipe by Sam Dando
Serves 6-8 people
Average cost per portion: <£1
  • 1 large carrot (diced ½ cm)
  • 1 large white onion (diced ½ cm
  • 2 celery stalks (diced ½ cm
  • 1 large leek (halved lengthways and sliced into 1cm pieces)
  • 200g soup noodles (or spaghetti snapped into quarters)
  • 2 heaped tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • ~100ml extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pan)
  • Vegetable stock dissolved in 2 litres of hot water
  • Sea salt & black pepper to season
  1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. Allow oil to heat for 1 min then add the carrot, onion & celery. Cook for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally,  until the veg has softened and the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Add the leek and cook for 2-3 mins until softened, then add the tomato puree, oregano & chilli flakes and stir well to combine.
  3. Cook for another minute before adding the stock. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to low, stir well and cover with a lid, then let the soup simmer away for 20-40 mins (depending on how much time you have spare).
  4. Remove the lid and add the noodles, cooking for 4-5 mins until al dente.
  5. Take off the heat, season well with Salt-N-Pepa and serve with some crusty bread.
Now, take me somewhere fun
That's all folks! Thanks for reading this newsletter. Want to share money-saving tips or compare frugal lifestyle notes? Reply to this email - I'd love to chat. Or, if you enjoyed it, forward on to a friend. 
Resourceful is curated twice a month by Tara Lepore.
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Copyright © 2018 Tara Lepore, All rights reserved.

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