Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Giving blood and avoiding Nestlé

I was going to post about giving blood and then noticed that Hedgewizard has also just done that. He also mentions Nestlé and the boycott thereof in the same post so I thought I might as well do that too. (Me, a big copycat*? Never!)

Anyway, back to my own life. Where was I? Oh yes, giving blood. Very important to do it if you can I think. I didn't donate for years because I thought I wasn't eligible due to jaundice but then I found out (cannot remember how anymore) that I didn't actually have jaundice but rather a jaundice-like reaction to some medication during my one stay in hospital not long after my 18th birthday. There's a difference between the two and apparently it's the jaundice you get because of a virus which makes you ineligible to donate. Or something like that. If you're not sure, it's worth it to ask your doctor or your local blood donor clinic.

I'm always amazed at the number of people who don't donate. Maybe it's because my oldest sister started to donate when I was still quite young and so it seemed just like a normal thing to do. Like the way it always seemed normal to me to learn languages because both my parents spoke Spanish (they took lessons when I was a very young so although I vaguely remember them going to lessons I don't really remember them not being able to speak it). I'm doing a first aid course in work at the moment and last week the doctor who was in to give the lecture asked how many of us donate - out of 30 people only 4 do. There are so many reasons for people to be excluded I think it's important that everyone who can, does. I have very deep veins but the doc the last time I donated was great and I didn't even have a hint of a bruise. And they've stopped making me take iron tablets for a week after donating now since my iron count is always very high. They were always the only part of the process I didn't like. Well, I also hate needles. And blood. But I'm fine so long as I look at something other than my arm while it's happening.

As for Nestlé, I half-heartedly boycotted them as a teenager. Wasn't quite sure why but someone had told me they were "bad" and I was a very unquestioning kind of a teenager. Could never quite manage to give up Smarties though. They were my favourite sweets and I had the Smarties shades, the coin purse, the Smarties Disco Party record...(by the way, has anyone else read the essay on the strange coincidence of blue smarties appearing around the same time the Smurfs disappeared?). I'm more conscientious now but as they're such a huge company they make a range of products and it's hard to know sometimes who actually made what you're buying. Hedgewizard discovered that they also make cereal for several supermarket own-brands, have a look at the link on his post for more information. I agree with him that it's definitely much easier to boycott any particular company once you stop buying so many processed foods.

This has all reminded me of another huge global conglomerate type company. Dove has what seems like a very worthwhile campaign for real beauty. Unfortunately they are part of the Unilever group which also brings you things like Lynx - see here for a blog post on this issue. But enough about corporates. Who cares if L'Oreal owns The Body Shop! Who cares that Cadbury's bought Green & Blacks! Well, I do, but it's lunchtime and I need to eat.

In home news I have more or less finished my room and it's a great feeling to have some space back. There will be further sorting of different things but everything is in it's place now and so I can take my time with each box as I come to it. I have a pile of stuff to freecycle and all the books (80+) lined up in the hall for my brother to go through tonight and reclaim any that might belong to him before they're off to the second-hand book shop.

I'm leaving a note here to remind myself to post about Fallon & Byrne and my very disappointing experiences with them another day.

*Hedgie, if you read this I hope you're appropriately flattered not only by my usage of your wonderful foot-noting style but also my cat reference, in keeping with the whole cat thing you have going on at the moment! :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Going to be broke for December

Considering I don't often buy anything (well, not anything tangible at any rate) I sometimes manage to go through a huge amount of money. Not having much of the stuff in the first place, this can lead to difficulties. Looking back through my budget/spending for the last few months I can see that for some reason which now escapes me, I didn't pay off my credit card in July. I have a card with a €500 limit (actually €1,000 but tell myself it's €500 and it usually works or did), which I use to buy certain things during the month (petrol, bus tickets and anything online) and then pay off immmediately. Not sure why I didn't do that in July and, as these things go, and as I already know they go goddammit, I've paid a few hundred every month since but then still used the card until hey presto, there's €800 back on it. This is how I got myself into trouble a few years ago and I cannot let it go on any longer. I have been continuing to clear out my room (and hence my life), it is taking much longer than I thought it would but is nearly finished and I need to make sure I don't lose track of too much while focussing on that.

It's payday next week and I've decided to just pay the full credit card off then. Together with paying rent, loan and putting money aside for bills this will mean that from 1 December I'll be on a very tight budget of about €50 for the rest of the month. I will be away for the first week and already have Swiss francs which will cover most of my expenses while over there. Am staying with my sister in France (only real expense is train ticket to/from Geneva) and will not need any money for food or accomodation. That'll be week one over and done with. I do have three lunches/dinners which I'm supposed to go to over the Christmas period and I'll decide on each one as it comes up. Attending them means using my overdraft facility, something I don't like to do. I may be able to get some overtime at the weekend for one of the partners here who always gives a small amount of cash as a thank you which would solve that problem. I'll try and get a Tupperware order or two as well, which would also generate a bit of cash. I also still haven't brought my books to the second-hand bookshop yet to sell so will try and get that done and use the proceeds to buy one or two small books or similar to bring over to the kids in France (you get a higher value for what you sell if you take a voucher for the shop rather than cash - will see how big the difference is before deciding for definite).

It's going to be difficult but I have no-one but myself to blame and I think I need to do it this way rather than tell myself I'll pay half now and half in January, which will then become February etc. etc. It's time the cupboards had a clear-out anyway and if plain pasta and rice doesn't seem too appetising, it's amazing what you can come up with when you've no choice. It'll be made slightly easier by the fact that we usually get paid a week before Christmas. Given the way Christmas is falling this year, we may not get paid till 21st but that still means only two weeks of absolutely broke and then six weeks of living on one month's salary, which should be possible.

I really need to do this as I will need to save money for moving to Germany and want to do that sooner rather than later. My boss usually gives me a present in the form of vouchers or cash at Christmas and while there are a couple of things I do need (new shoes for work are top of that list), I want to try and keep most of anything I do get for my Germany fund.

From 1 December I also plan to keep a diary of consumer spending for one year. I will not be including food spending in this diary but am curious as to how often I really do go out and buy "stuff". I also just remembered that someone owes me €50 for some translation/editing help I gave them with a paper a while back. Will follow up on that and if I can get it, hey presto, my December budget just doubled!