Earn While You Walk

I always have various unfinished posts and ideas sitting in my Drafts folder so this is me having a bit of a clear out.

These Boots Are Made for Walkin’

I’m not a fan of strolling but I don’t mind a bit of fast or power walking.  With the gyms locked down (prior to the recent reopenings), I added walking to my exercise routine.

One loop around the estate is a 9-min fast walk and I try to do this twice a day (rain  or shine), before I start work and after I’ve logged off for the day. I’m not walking any great distances on a daily basis – it’s probably more important to me that I push my heart rate up when I’m walking.

That said, I’ve also been on a few 6-7 mile walks on trails near where I live and last month did a trail in Yorkshire.

Get Paid to Walk

At around the time I started doing more walking, I came across an Android-only app called winwalk*. The blurb states:

winwalk is a free and easy to use pedometer that will motivate you to walk more every day and will boost your activity level

The bonus is that you can get paid with egift cards/vouchers.

Scam or real? I thought I’d try it out.

So, for every 100 steps which are tracked by the app, you are awarded one coin. Coins are coverted into gift cards.

You need 20,000 coins to convert into a gift card. The app uses the arbitrary ‘healthy’ measure of 10k steps a day to cap the amount of coins you can earn from walking to just 100 coins a day.

So just from walking, assuming that you clock 10k steps every day, that would take 200 days to accumulate enough coins to redeem a voucher. Hmm…doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort, particularly as I only average around only 5k a day?

But wait, there are other ways to earn more coins, including watching video ads, downloading and playing games and answering surveys.

I’ve been doing the latter and have found it relatively easy to earn a few hundred more coins each day, on top of the 100 coin limit you can earn from walking.

Recent  surveys I’ve answered have been quite interesting, including ones on my shopping habits during lockdown, my work situation during the pandemic and my finances (all anonymous).

You even get awarded a few coins if you don’t qualify for surveys so it’s probably worth clicking as many surveys as you want to spend/waste time on. Surveys can last from 1-15 mins – usually the longer the survey, the more coins you are awarded.

So after a little over 2 months, I’d collected my 20k coins and I painlessly redeemed them for my chosen gift voucher:

Other giftcards are available, including (at the last check, as they seem to change periodically) Argos, Tesco, Currys/PC World, Primark, Nike, Sports Direct and Spotify to name a few.

This app obviously isn’t going to make you rich but if you’re going to be clocking up your steps anyway as you go about your daily life, when you take the dog out for a walk etc, why not have your steps go towards earning gift cards? All the other stuff, eg surveys are optional and require little effort even if you do choose to do them.

A couple of notes:

  • I have the app set so it’s running in the background all the time. I don’t know if it works on any other setting
  • Make sure you bank all the coins you earn so they are added to your account. The collected coins are reset at midnight so if not banked, you could lose coins you’ve earned

Conclusion

Although I’ve returned to the gym, I’ve continued to walk daily so perhaps lockdown has helped me develop more active behaviour for the long term and as such, I’ll continue with this app a while longer to collect my coins!

[*referral link – if you sign up via my link, I get some coins to go towards my next gift card]

Information Overload

I think I’ve been suffering from information overload or rather, infoxication.

From originally wanting to know everything about the pandemic and the economic and health repercussions of the virus, I’m at the point where it’s just getting overwhelming for my poor brain and sanity to cope with.

I feel that all I need to know right now are actual specifics about lockdown and how it will affect me personally (ie when and what is being relaxed, who I can meet up with and where) and from my employer, when/if I’ll be going back to the office.

That’s it.

I really don’t need or want to know any more. I used to watch the daily Coronavirus update but even that was getting a bit too much.

At some point in the future, I might be interested in reading more about what the various experts and governments around the world should have/shouldn’t have done but I’d rather read about it as a historical event which I lived through – that’s assuming I will live through this.

Maybe HBO will do a Chernobyl-like mini-series about it to dramatise all the lies and incompetence but also pay homage to the brave and the inspirational.

I’ve tried to cut back on my use of social media.

The weekly Zoom calls I have with my friends are great but also remind me how much I miss them.

I still check out Twitter for my business/investing news and although I haven’t unfollowed or blocked anyone, I’ve muted a LOT of people who were just spouting negativity. I know things will get worse,  I just don’t want to be bombarded with this fact every day in a hundred different ways.

Give me more stories about Captain Tom Moore.

I’m still reading other FIRE blogs as many are continuing with their goals and there’s still a sense of positivity, whether they’re volunteering or even when there’s been redundancy.

I’m sooooo glad that the German football league has started as my feed will now have a trickle of positive but irrelevant tweets.

I’m really craving reading something that I’m interested in but which has nothing to do with whether people are going to die or that the country will go down in flames during the worst recession in history.

I also recently developed the terrible habit of checking my phone excessively while I’m watching tv, in between reading chapters of my book and worse, it’s really distracting me while I’m working.

I came across the Forest app (free for Android) which supposedly helps you focus on tasks at hand.

Basically, you set a time for however long you want to concentrate (and not be distracted by your phone) and if you succeed, you grow a tree for your virtual forest.

If you fail (by giving up), you end up with a withered tree and you don’t want that messing up your nice little forest, do you?

My forest after a week

Yes, it’s a little gimmicky but I’ve found that it has helped me somewhat with my concentration.

Anyway, there’s a better review of the app at The Money Mountain, where I first read of the app.

How is everyone else doing and does anyone else use apps to help with their concentration/focus?

Hope you’re all enjoying the bank holiday.

Thought Experiment #10 – COVID-19 Edition

It’s been a while since I did one of SavingNinja’s famous thought experiments and here’s his latest one:

“Unprecedented events create new experiences. What fun, misadventure, or positive discoveries have you encountered while locked down?” 

Usually I don’t take part because I don’t have the time, but I can’t really use that excuse on this occasion!

So here goes with a few things which come to mind after 4 weeks of official lockdown:

1 – Discoveries

The week when the bottom literally fell out of the stock market’s backside, I discovered that the massive drop in my investments did not give me any sleepless nights.

Here is how I slept that week (from my Fitbit):

I’d always wondered how I would feel during a stock market crash and now I know, although admittedly, it would probably have been a very different story had I relied upon my investments for income.

2 – Fun 

Although there’s a lot more time for me to read, instead of doing so, I’ve decided to have some fun and have re-taken up another passion of mine, that of video gaming.

Still conscious of cost, I looked for a good free game to play and have settled on Guild Wars 2, a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) which is my favourite game genre.

I think I’m likely to be playing this game for a long while and find it really relaxing levelling up my character.

It’s also been fun having virtual meet ups with family located on the other side of the world and also virtual nights in with friends.

The other night, I also attended the first virtual Manchester FIRE Meet Up (via Zoom) – over 20 of us logged in for a good chat, debate and discussion. Post lock-down, I can see these virtual meet ups still taking place.

3 – Misadventures

Not driving my car for over 2 weeks meant that when I did try to drive it, the battery had gone flat. One of the neighbours has offered to jump start it so I’ll hopfeully get it sorted this weekend.

Also, my oven typically stopped working just as its 5-year parts guarantee expired, so not sure when I can get that sorted. My friend’s husband has offered to take a look  (while practising social distancing) but I don’t know yet how much the parts will cost. In the meantime, we still have use of the hob and also the microwave.

Pre-lockdown, my diet was fairly low on carbs but our groceries recently have noticeably include a lot of carb-laden comfort food, eg bread, cake and biscuits. The good news is that I haven’t piled on the pounds (much!) so I’ll allow myself to enjoy these sinful treats while we must hunker down in our abodes.

4 – Routine

Being stuck at home, I feel that it’s important for me to keep my weekdays separate from the weekends as I don’t want them merging into each other – otherwise, what else is there to look forward to!? This is something I intend to maintain when I retire.

As such, I have continued to keep to the following routine:

  • Wake up to my work alarm every day during the week (a little later than my previous work alarm as I don’t need to commute), shower and get dressed.
  • Go for a quick 10 minute walk (replicating the walk I used to take from the tram stop to the office).
  • Log onto work laptop at the usual time, stop for a dedicated lunch break and log off the laptop at the usual time.
  • Rinse and repeat Monday to Friday.
  • Alcoholic drinks only allowed at the weekend, as well as lie-ins!

And thus I reckon I have maintained my own sanity and a sense of normality.

5. Positivity

You will have gathered that I have remained pretty positive during lockdown but of course I’m not entirely happy.

I miss hugging my friends, I miss eating/drinking out, I miss the office and commute (yes really!!) and I am really missing sport on tv.

I’d say the routine I’ve kept to has helped loads with me staying positive, but also, I think this ties in with ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’: I still Have a job, I Have a garden and I Have Not got children. These 3 things I feel have contributed to my positivity, although as I’ve mentioned, my lifestyle has adapted well to lockdown.

I’ve switched off from a lot of social media and ‘news’ – all I do is keep basic tabs on what’s happening with the virus in this country and I don’t bother looking anything else.

I feel sorry for people who are suffering (mentally, financially or physically) but there’s only so much I can worry about so I reserve my concern predominantly for my family and friends. The government will do (or not do) whatever it will do (or not do) without me having to stress about it too.

Yesterday, one of my closest friends messaged me saying she has the virus symptoms – here’s hoping she doesn’t suffer too much and that she makes a fast recovery.

As I write this, I realise that if the government were to announce a further extension to this current lockdown, I think I will just shrug my shoulders and get on with it.

Other bloggers with their personal takes on this Thought Experiment include:

Mrs SavingNinja

PathtoLife2

Indeedably

Money for the Modern Girl 

Total Balance

Anyone else got any thoughts to share?

Our Hopes And Expectations

“Be careful what you wish for” goes the saying.

For the last few years, I’ve been wishing that the stock markets would crash so that I could take advantage and invest in lower priced stocks during my accumulation phase.

What’s happened isn’t quite what I had in mind.

In fact, I can’t really say what it was that I had in mind – just not this!

I wasn’t an investor during the financial crisis of 2008, I’m no grizzled investor who’s been round the block, so this is all new to me.

So the time is now. Or is it? As mentioned in my last post, I’ve made the decision to just stick with my plan, which is to not sell and to continue investing on a monthly basis, in accordance with my asset allocations.

Tempting though it is, I’m not going to dip into my emergency cash reserves to invest, especially as I have big dental costs this year, never mind the other (as yet) unknown expenses likely to occur.

Whatever I invest in now is effectively on sale, whether the price is rock bottom (it probably isn’t) or not.

Black Holes and Revelations

I was going to avoid looking at my portfolio until when I did my usual month end update but curiosity got the better of me. I ended up having a bit of a peek and now I wish I hadn’t!

It was a couple of days ago and I’ve lost at least a year of gains, around 22% or £34k. The markets have dropped more since, so I fully expect to be reporting a further decrease in my Future Fund at the end of the month – YIKES! 🙁

This could massively set me back in my FIRE plans, although there’s the hope that if the markets recover back to their dizzy heights in a rapid fashion, I might get back on track. Not really going to hold my breath though.

We could be in a depressed state of recession for a while. The global economy will probably get worse before it gets better and who knows how long it will take to recover, if at all.

There could well be an impact on my job – will the company need to lay off people?

I could end up getting ill, or rather, I probably will get ill (as part of the herd immunity strategy our government has adopted) – let’s hope I don’t suffer too much and can recover.

I need to brace myself in case there are shocks around the corner but until I know what is actually going to happen, I will carry on as normal.

Starlight

For something less gloomy, how’s about a bit of FIRE dating?

This beta dating website for single FIRE folks was brought to my attention via Money for the Modern Girl .

I have a feeling that there are going to be mostly young folks on here and not many in my age group, but if past relationships are anything to go by, that shouldn’t be too much of an issue! 😉

Beyond filling in bits of my profile, I’ve not really spent any time on this, so not had a good look around yet properly or connected with anyone.

However, with no sport, no or limited matched betting and no real social outings,  I have no excuse for lack of time, haha!

Hope everyone is keeping themselves and their loved ones safe, keeping calm and washing their hands.

Next post will be my month end figures – it’ll be a bloodbath!