Advice with Annelies: girlfriend’s depression

This series will answer people’s questions or worries, either that have been asked to me or I wanted to give my opinion on. Of course, these are just suggestions, and if the problem is severe, you should seek professional help or advice. This addition’s topic of Advice with Annelies: girlfriend’s depression.

Advice with Annelies: girlfriend's depression

This is a long one and there is a lot to approach, but you can read the whole question (from reddit) below.

My girlfriend is depressed because of her parents. from Advice

Oh gosh, where to start? First of all, can I just say how great you’re doing at looking out for your girlfriend and that I’m so glad she can confide in you- especially when she doesn’t seem to have anyone else. It’s often easier to keep such thoughts to yourself, but you’re clearly a massive support for her.

Advice with Annelies: girlfriend's depression

“…she was unable to graduate on time this year because of her depression, which only made her parents angrier. Now she’s being pressured to find a full-time job when she is trying to improve her mental health first.”

It’s such an awful situation when parents don’t understand the severity of a mental health illness and acting in anger or disappointment definitely doesn’t help. As with the job, however, mental health does need to come first, and in the grand scheme of things, taking a year out will not hinder her future in any way, so I think that was the right move.

Regarding the job, is this a “to keep you occupied” reason or a “you need to earn some money reason?” If it’s the former, there are lots of other things she can do to keep her busy, especially as it may mean keeping her cognitively challenged and giving her goals and aims for the day. If it is the latter, then maybe it’d be a good compromise with the parents, to try and ease into part-time first and then full time later on. Alternatively, if there is angst about going into the world of work, perhaps, to help you both, you could research different methods of earning money. Depending on your location, there are many possible ideas such as participating in surveys, mystery shopping or ebay reselling etc.

“Long story short, I feel helpless. I don’t know what to do, if there’s anything I can do, to help her in this situation. I simply want to take her away from them but can’t afford to.”

By what you said, it definitely sounds like she could have depression, but taking medication should also be taken alongside therapy if this is possible. It is unfair for you to take the burden, speaking to a professional may really help her; especially concerning coping methods for being at home etc. In terms of what you should do next, it is difficult because I don’t know how much power you have/your age/your living situation.

If you live at home, is there a way for her to stay if she pays rent (maybe you could go halves?) or could you maybe rent out a very small place together? In the ideal situation, you would perhaps move in with each other so she can get away from the environment that is potentially the cause or trigger of her depression. However, I realise that this may not be possible, and visiting may not be often if you don’t drive etc. I’ve left some ideas on how to help in the next section.

Advice with Annelies: girlfriend's depression

“Are there any suggestions of what I could do to help other than being a shoulder to cry on? Should I confront her parents or just stay out of it?”

Personally, I would try and encourage her to seek professional help. If she has difficulty trusting adults as a result of her parents’ opinions and reactions to her mental health, try and reassure her that not everyone is like this and that they could genuinely help her. Another thing that could help, is with her mental and physical wellbeing. Especially if she can spend days in bed, try and encourage her to maybe take a walk occasionally and make sure she is eating correctly etc. Not only is it important for her to maintain her physical health, but exercise can also help give her a goal for the day and keep her busy, especially if she is not working.

I would not confront her parents about it, especially if they realise that she is in bed due to depression etc. but doesn’t take it seriously. She is still at home, and if unless you’re sure of how they’d react, you don’t know if it could potentially make the home environment even more awkward or tense for her.

I really hope this has helped and I wish you all the best! Hopefully, their understanding betters soon and that circumstances change for you both for the better!

The Frugal Frenchie

I’ve finished my second year at university

I’ve finished! It’s such a relief to be done with exams and soon entering my third and final year of university, where all the “exciting” stuff happens! I was planning to do a 6-month update since my first week in second year, but I thought I might as well wait an extra month and then talking about finishing my second year at university. Enjoy!

The Frugal Frenchie

So, where to start?

From October to January I had my first two topics which were BioPsychology and Personality, Intelligence and Social Psychology (PINS). I was a little daunted by the biological subject as, if any of you know me from earlier education, I suck at science and maths (ironic I know). It’s not a matter of not understanding, it’s just I struggle to remember it and ask so many questions that I end up confusing myself or being frustrated by knowing things “half-heartedly.” PINS was a lot more orientated around my interests, how people act and why, how society can affect our judgements or what society, in general, does psychologically.

I've finished my second year at university

In January, we had two exams, both three hours each. For me, these were my first English university exams so I was rather apprehensive about what to expect. The workload was a lot less this term, but examiners are amazing at making themselves unpredictable so that was no reassurance for me! The biological exam consisted of 50% multiple choice questions (50 questions) and 50% short essay questions. I felt at times I had a complete mind blank, but it was great to not feel time pressure as it meant I could come back to them later on. I ended up getting 2% off a first – felt so close yet so far haha. The PINS exam consisted simply of three long essays. I thought the questions were great and I had no trouble in answering them, finishing 10 minutes early out of a possible three hours! I was 5% off a first in that exam.

From January to the end of May, we had two new topics: Developmental and Clinical Psychology (DEVCLIN) and Cognition and Language (CAL). Honestly, I let out a large sigh after writing CAL. CAL was an absolute nightmare. I just couldn’t get into it as a subject. It was very detailed and, how to put it…. not very interesting. We went through things like how one goes from hearing sounds to identifying words, or different theories on how we understand sentences. Actually, in summary, it sounds interesting, but not so much when learning it! DEVCLIN was much more fascinating, I felt that that’s what you wait to learn when you start a psychology degree. We discussed how children develop mentally, what they are capable of at which age etc. In fact, I gave an example of this, explaining why young children can’t lie. The clinical side is more self-explanatory, discussing the symptoms, treatments and causes of several disorders, such as OCD, Social Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, to name a few.  I found this so interesting and it’s definitely something I’m interested in learning more about next year.

I've finished my second year at university

On the 21st and 23rd May I had my last two exams of the year! CAL, unsurprisingly was horrid, I have no idea what to expect for it and similarly have no idea of how I performed. Hopefully, I’ll surprise myself, though the questions tested my understanding of the topic, which unfortunately I felt I lacked in this case. DEVCLIN had good questions, and I felt that I could answer them with sufficient detail and that I knew enough to write a good 3 or more pages about them. I must say though that my memory for references was appalling – not sure how that influences the marking though!

I've finished my second year at university

There it is, a very brief summary of my second year at university! Best not to dwell on the exams, or the coursework that I had (I had some for every topic and 4 for statistics) and just move on and brainstorm for next year! I have to decide what I’d like to research for my dissertation, eeeek.

How To Get Started Paying Off Your Debt

This is a guest post by the amazing Francesca over at frompenniestopounds! She’s had experience with debt, and overcoming it, so I thought who would be better to give some advice on how to start paying off your debt!

The Frugal Frenchie

When you realise that you have a bit of a debt problem, it can be a bit overwhelming in knowing where to start tackling it and making a plan to get rid of it completely!

Paying the minimum payments each month is the slowest possible way of doing it, not to mention spending an absolute fortune on interest costs. Paying off your debt is one of the best feelings ever, as crossing the monthly payment amounts off your budget is so satisfying. Furthermore, without debt payments,  you are freeing yourself up for better things, such as money spent on holidays, retirement, having fun, and security for your family.

Add up all of your debt

This is the first step, but it can definitely feel like one of the scariest. Ignorance is bliss, and knowing that you will have the numbers in front of you and can’t avoid them, can be pretty overwhelming, and quite frankly, upsetting. It will all be worth it, however – once you’ve started tackling the debt you’re on your way to getting it sorted and being financial free again!

How To Get Started Paying Off Your Debt

Go into your internet banking and look at the direct debit/standing order section, as this is where the monthly debts that you pay the minimum payment for will be. Have a look at your bank statements (either online or paper versions) and check through to see if there are any other payments that you make towards loans etc that you may not have direct debits set up for. Do you pay some of your debt in cash, e.g. for kids classes?

Write down all of your debts and how much you owe in total, and how much the monthly repayments are currently. Don’t worry about what order to put them in yet as we will be tackling that in the next step.

Find out the interest rates

This is really, really important, and not something that you should skip despite the temptation. It’ll probably mean going back through all of your paperwork to find out when you took the debt out and which interest rate it was on.

Go through all of your paperwork, and if you can’t find it, make sure that you find out the interest rates and when they run out/increase. If you can’t find the paperwork then you will have to ring up the company in question and ask them.

How To Get Started Paying Off Your Debt

This is essential as you could be paying out a ton of money on something that you don’t need to be! Interest means that you will end up spending potentially thousands more than you need to, especially as interest rates aren’t fixed – so they will likely increase after a certain period of time… definitely look it up or ring the company!

Interest rates are also a good way to look at which debt to pay off first – do you pay off the debt with the highest interest first, which will probably make sense mathematically, or do you go for the smallest debt first for the psychological benefits? This is a completely personal choice, there’s no right or wrong answer; whichever is of biggest priority to you.

Once you have found your interest rates for each of your debts, it may be time to look at doing a balance transfer. Please note that this is not for everyone, and you need to be sensible about this. You need to know that you will not – under any circumstance – give in and go back to getting into more debt.
If you are 100% committed to paying off debt and know that you will not slip up, you can look at getting a 0% balance transfer. I personally did this for one of my credit cards when I was paying off debt, and it saved me loads of money in interest.

How To Get Started Paying Off Your Debt

However, doing a 0% balance transfer means taking out a new line of credit – which not everyone will be eligible for. A good resource for this is Money Saving Expert, where they will be able to tell you if you are likely to be accepted or not, and the best ones that are out there.

Even though a 0% balance transfer sounds amazing, don’t forget that it’s like most debt – the interest rate can change. There are usually set dates when the 0% interest rate will vanish and the interest rate will go up again. This is something to bear in mind if you do decide to go down this route – will you pay it off before the 0% runs out?

Create a budget

Budgets are one of the most efficient ways of making sure that your money is working as best for you as it possibly can. After all, no-one wants to spend their money on pointless stuff, do they? If you could spend less money on your electricity bill and then have that extra money for a night out or something fun (even paying off debt, I promise you that it does turn into a bit of a game!), you would, wouldn’t you?

When it comes to making your budget, start with all of your incoming money – salary (after tax), benefits, child maintenance etc.  This can be a bit more complicated if you don’t get the same amount every month coming in but don’t worry, just put down the average or minimum amount that you will definitely be receiving.

How To Get Started Paying Off Your Debt

The next step is the one that most people find the trickiest, because if you don’t already have a budget or aren’t keeping track of it, you may not have a clue how much is going out of your account each month. I’m talking about adding up all of your expenses. Go through your bank statements (either on your internet banking or paper statements), and add up everything – this will enable you to get the best picture of the money that is going out of your account each month. If you guess on the variable expenses e.g. groceries, you could leave yourself short.

Your internet banking should also have a section that lists all of your direct debits and standing orders and the dates that they come out, but don’t forget any expenses that you pay for annually such as car insurance.

My favourite way of budgeting is the zero-sum method – which is where all of your money is allocated. So for example, say you have your income at £1000 per month and your expenses at £800 (in an ideal world mine would be this low!), this would leave you with £200. The temptation to spend this £200 on whatever takes your fancy is too strong, so instead of leaving yourself that money floating around, you allocate it – for example £100 into your savings, £100 towards your Christmas fund.

Reduce Your Expenses

Now that you’ve got all of your expenses listed, you can see exactly how much is going out of your account. But what if you could have less money going out each month? You can do this by cutting out things – such as cancelling gym memberships, cinema passes, TV packages etc, and you can also do this by switching providers on what you currently have e.g. TV, internet, electricity etc.

It is quite overwhelming to try and reduce all of your expenses at once, so perhaps pick one to focus on at first and see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere.

Earn Extra Income

Now that you’ve got your expenses as low as you possibly can, the fastest way to then get rid of your debt is to increase the money that is coming in. A great thing to do is aim to have one or more income streams dedicated solely to paying off your debt – that way you don’t have to reduce your expenses any more and feel too deprived.

Ways that you could earn extra income could be:

  • Matched betting
  • Mystery shopping
  • Answering surveys
  • Dog boarding/pet sitting
  • House sitting
  • Blogging
  • Freelance writing
  • Entering competitions
  • Selling your stuff on eBay, Gumtree, Facebook marketplace, car boot sales etc
  • Re-selling (where you buy stuff cheap and sell on for higher prices for a profit)

Are you on a debt payoff journey? Are there any tips that you could add to the above?

Tips for passing your driving theory first time

Having been a week since I passed my actual driving test, this is being written a bit late! Nevertheless, for those currently learning, I thought I would give you some tips for passing your driving theory first time. Hope it’s useful!

The Frugal Frenchie

Tips for passing your driving theory first time

1) Get some experience

I know that in some countries, you’re not allowed to start driving lessons until you pass your theory, however, I found it ever so helpful to have some lessons first. Not only does it help you familiarise with road signs naturally rather than from a book, but it allows you to develop a sense of awareness to help you with your hazard test.

2) Download an app- and practice

There are many apps out there that can help you with your theory. I was personally recommended a more official DVLA one that costs £5, however being the cheapskate I am, I opted for a free one. You can get apps that are specialised in some topics over others, such as just signs/ general questions/ Highway code etc.

This is the one I used. Personally I downloaded several at first to find my favourites, but by all means, have a look around yourself. I found this one helpful as it had several easy tests and then you could go to a higher level if you wanted.

3) Observe and ask

I am now 20, turning 21 this year, however, most of my friends passed their driving test around 17-18. I had no idea that it’d be so long until I started to learn, so in preparation, I would always ask questions about “how do you know…” “what does this mean…” etc.

I think it actually helped my theory, especially as, were it not for driving with my boyfriend in the New Forest, I wouldn’t have remembered the country signs so well!

4) Watch some youtube videos

Personally, I am a visual learner. I remember things by how they looked on the page or by symbols or videos etc.

It’s impossible to practice for a hazard perception test or to know what to expect, however, the DVLA posted an example online, and there are a few driving instructors who post tips and tricks too.

5) Keep calm and use your common sense

If you’ve prepared, then you know what to expect and what to look out for. For the hazard perception test, keep your wits about you, use your common sense for the signs (sometimes we overthink in tests!) and just keep calm.

It’ll be over soon! Good luck!

My new job opportunity

A few months ago, not even a year ago, I started my job as a customer service representative at Primark. Now, I am writing this post, because a new job opportunity has arisen, which I have decided to grab with both hands, despite being happy where I was.

Today, the 29th April, was my first shift as the new official HR assistant of my local Primark branch! I’ve had two shifts of training so far, however, today was the first day I was alone and running the HR office, scary times!

My new job opportunity

In my local store, there is only one person in HR: me. It’s a big change from busy, sociable customer services, where I would talk to my colleagues and serve sometimes 100 people on a busy shift. Now, I’m alone and in an office, sorting through paperwork, checking costing, counsellings and filing, to name a few.

The job offer was very unexpected. In fact, there wasn’t even an official vacancy when I was proposed the job. It came as a result of a supervisor interview a few weeks before. Unfortunately, I didn’t get that position, but they did seem to get the impression that I had qualities needed in HR so they thought it’d be worth asking.

My new job opportunity

I was unsure whether to take it at first. My contract is now 14 hours instead of 8 (but baring in mind I’m a full-time university student that did seem daunting), I’m alone in an office most of the time, I have a lot more responsibilities, I still have to wear a uniform and I don’t get paid more. Considering I couldn’t be happier with customer services, I was sure I was going to refuse.

Asking around though, everybody seemed super enthusiastic about it, which actually quite surprised me. I didn’t think it was anything exciting, in fact, I considered it a worse deal than customer services knowing how much we had to work, however people were telling me that to be working in HR at the age of 20, sounds really good.

My new job opportunity

I did decide to go in the end, because I’m hoping that it’ll teach me new skills and open up the door to bigger opportunities in the future. At first, I didn’t see how it’d benefit me, but it’s a bit like revision when you’re young. You don’t do it for the short-term benefits, but you do it because you’ll need good grades to go into higher education and get a better job etc.

So, here’s to an exciting new time and hopefully the key to unlocking a better future! Have you ever been in a similar situation, unsure of what to do? How did you make your decision? Let me know in the comments!

The Frugal Frenchie

Advice with Annelies: catfish

This series will answer people’s questions or worries, either that have been asked to me or I wanted to give my opinion on. Of course, these are just suggestion, and if the problem is severe, you should seek professional help or advice. This addition’s topic of Advice with Annelies: catfish.

I’ve experienced two catfishes now. I am slowly losing faith in the male kind. I just can’t take it anymore, far too many f**kboys, mind games and catfishers for me”

Sounds like you’ve received the bad end of the stick in regards to men, which, admittedly sucks.

Advice with Annelies: catfish Having personally binged the series “Catfish” many times, I realise how bad it can leave the victim feeling so I hope that after having discovered those two bastards, you can grow and successfully move on with your life. They’re not worth your time or thoughts! I hope that the following advice is useful for you.

“I am slowly losing faith in the male kind.”

Don’t let this be the case! This is a very very small proportion of the available single men out there, so don’t let this leave a sour taste in your mouth. There are many things you can do from here, one being maybe avoid dating apps for a while, just allow you to “detox” a little and go back to it after with a fresh mindset.

If it does start affecting you mentally or your self-esteem, don’t hesitate to talk to someone about it or rant to people close to you to get it out of your system. Remember that the people who have to pretend to be someone else, probably aren’t too confident or fond of themselves either, so don’t let this impact your perspective or opinion of men in general. They’re not all bad, and you will find somebody out there for you!

Advice with Annelies: catfish

“Far too many f**kboys, mind games and catfishers for me”

Another thing you could do is try and find a new way to meet guys. Perhaps joining an association or club somewhere where you could meet somebody with similar interests? Or maybe taking a risk and trusting your friend’s judgement to set up a blind date for you?

In terms of the catfishers, a good way of finding out whether somebody is catfishing you is to ask to do a video chat. If they continually make up excuses then you’re right to have suspicions. Having spoken with you, something you did very cleverly, which I would recommend to others, is to do a reverse image search, which is where you take an image that the person supposedly took of themselves, and see if it comes up with any matches elsewhere on google.

I really hope that your future experiences online are more positive and that you don’t ever get catfished again, you deserve better. Do keep in touch!

The Frugal Frenchie