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  • FIRST POST
    ScrimpingandSaving
    HELP! Have cut back all I can but am still over-spending!
    • #1
    • 6th Feb 13, 9:09 PM
    HELP! Have cut back all I can but am still over-spending! 6th Feb 13 at 9:09 PM
    Every month we are having to dip into our savings to bail us out and it just can't carry on. The problem is we simply don't earn enough. I just did the Budget Brain on MSE and we go over by around 330 each month.

    Please help me see where I can make savings!

    Our joint monthly income is 2,252 incl child benefit and child tax credits (not eligible for working tax credits)
    Our total spend is 2,650.

    Mortgage is fixed until April and is 448pm
    We have no debts to pay.
    No cable TV or monthly phone subscriptions - 3 PAYG phones at around 15pm
    The most we spend is on groceries which is around 650pm for a family of four. That includes wine, beer and sundries such as household items, children's underwear and some birthday gifts.
    Gas and electricity: Co-op which was cheapest when I checked 6 months ago. I pay 35pm and we owe an extra 250 on top of that so can't switch until I pay.
    Council Tax: band B which is around 132pm
    Insurance: just buildings at 6.42pm
    Water: 350 a year
    Petrol: 250pm 2 cars, 1 diesel @ 60 miles a day and 1 petrol for kids, shopping, etc @ 100miles pw.
    Car insurance: we shop around for the best deals 44pm currently, 74pm on tax and 40pa breakdown cover for both cars. Maintenance for both cars incl MOT is 64pm.

    Savings: no pensions so I save 100pm in an online savings account and put away 20pm each for the kids.

    We don't eat out except for special occasions, no big days out, the only take-out we have is a supermarket curry every Sunday at a cost of around 7.

    We generally have one holiday a year and that costs around 800 for all of us incl spending money, travel and accommodation.

    I have promised to visit my dad in the Orkney islands this year as he's getting quite elderly now and I've not visited him yet. That will cost around 1,000 when you take into consideration the cost of petrol and 2 nights paid accommodation (one there and one back) plus the ferry.

    I am at my wits end as to what we can do. We know we can't carry on the way we are but we are already cutting back on so much. The kids don't have any clubs, they don't have school meals and their clothes are all second hand as are ours.

    Any advice greatly appreciated. I know I can stop putting away 100pm but that would be neither here nor there as I end up taking it back to top up our account anyway.
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  • angelaf
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  • ScrimpingandSaving
    Just a quick question, ref losses at school by the kids, do they have to buy what they lose out of their pocket money? It cut down my stationary (read my two DS's stationary) cost alot when suddenly their pocket money had to go on 'boring' stuff like erasers and pens etc. I take it you have looked in school for the socks/lunch box?

    Ref the trips to school, would your lowish income mean you would be entitled to help from the school with these trips?

    And now the income. I noted that virtually every post looked at ways of cutting back but not at the other side of the coin ie the bringing in more money.

    You mention that you are self employed. Are you able to claim any of the electricity/broadband costs back via the business? Also did you check with your buildings insurer and the deeds that you are ok to work from home? Sorry not really relevant I know, but it might make a difference to the premiums for the buildings insurance, if you run a business from home.

    So the business, I take it that after all costs are paid out, that you are able to take a wage from it? If yes then is there any way of getting more work, eg via linkedin, or business link type organisations? Could you earn more money in house now in a company? I am guessing that you worked from home till now because of the kids?

    For both of you their are loads of challenges on various forums on here to up your income. Some off the top of my head, are the present neutral challenge, where all presents/ xmas are funded not sources other than wages eg surveys sites, selling second hand stuff on ebay, making stuff for presents etc.

    You could potentially both do surveys on line. Your OH would probably get more than you as they need males to make the quotas.

    Then there are sites like swagbucks where you earn points which convert into vouchers.

    Over time they do build up. And then there is competition entering. Not necessarily things you will use but to try and win things you can sell.. It is a bit time consuming, and maybe if you can raise the income from your business that would be a better use of your time, but if not then these other small revenue sources might be of help.

    Cheers
    chev

    ps you are getting the correct amount of benefits aren't you? Oh and don't forget about being able to get energy grants to improve insulation which might help with the bills too.
    Originally posted by chevalier
    Hi Chev

    Thanks for taking the time to make your suggestions. We eventually found the lunchbox thanks to the fact that it had her name on it. You are right though, I will make them buy anything they lose from now on out of their own pocket money. They usually do with stationary but I have forked out for lunchboxes, flasks, etc. Perhaps if they had to replace everything they lost themselves they'd be a bit more careful. Still, I remember being that age and no matter how careful I was, things did go missing. I seem to remember surviving without pocket money and having to get a paper round too.....

    As for bringing in more money, that would be excellent. Unfortunately our wages are just over the threshold for any benefits of any kind. We get child tax credit but earn too much for working tax credit which would enable us to have subsidised school trips, free school meals, free prescriptions, etc.

    We've done the loft insulation ourselves so that's all ok.

    I work as a copywriter and I do find it really tough to get enough work in. This month I'll be around 150 short. That's just the way it goes. I have a Google+ profile, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter account and I regularly use them to try and make contacts. I also have my own website with a relevant blog - this last week I blogged about Matt Cutts and guest blogging and that was shared by a couple of people. Trouble is places like Google+ and LinkedIn are full of other copywriter all doing the same thing. There are discussions, groups and communities but all are frequented by bloggers and writers looking to get more work.

    I've applied for copywriting work but even in this day and age they expect someone to work full-time in the office and I can't do that. Also most of the jobs are in London.

    I've joined 2 agencies and they never seem to find me anything. So I keep plodding on hoping for a big break or a good contract along with thousands of other copywriters. I have been recommended on LinkedIn, I've got a good portfolio and my work is highly rated so I just don't know what I'm doing wrong. Seems there is just too much competition out there. I might be better as a limited company or I might not.

    I don't earn enough at the moment to pay tax but if I did then I could claim tax relief against electricity use, etc. At the moment though it's not relevant.

    I do sell things occasionally on ebay, but most of our stuff is pre-owned so we might make a few pounds on unwanted or kids clothes but not enough to make a huge difference.

    I will look at swagbucks and see what it's all about. I think I did register with a few surveys once but I never used to fit their criteria. Plus most of my time is spent on trying to raise my profile, get more clients, write the blog, do stuff for existing clients, etc. I find that I work full time for a part time wage, but luckily I have no overheads.

    If I earned a steady 700 a month we would be comfortably off. That's my aim.

    I don't think that wine glass is big enough either.......
    "Funny how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse, it does." - Marvin (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

    DON'T PANIC
  • theoretica
    Icecream boxes make cheap lunch boxes... it seems perfectly reasonable to me that the kids use their pocket money if they want something less basic.
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • Spendless
    My son loves disposable lunch boxes, he likes being able to dump the wrappings after he's eaten and not having to fetch home.
    I have done reading too!
  • chevalier
    I can't remember what the site was called but there was a site mentioned where you bid to write articles online? I am sorry I don't remember much more than that, but am pretty sure it was on the up your income part of the forum.

    Why would being a ltd company get you more work?
    chev
    I want a job that is Mon to Friday from 10am til 2pmare you listening universe?
    Keep Calm and Carry On!

  • ScrimpingandSaving
    I can't remember what the site was called but there was a site mentioned where you bid to write articles online? I am sorry I don't remember much more than that, but am pretty sure it was on the up your income part of the forum.

    Why would being a ltd company get you more work?
    chev
    Originally posted by chevalier
    It's called People Per Hour and inevitably those who bid the lowest seem to win. There are sometimes up to 100 bids for one job. I used to look there at least twice and day and bid on the most relevant jobs but never got anywhere with it.

    Being a Ltd company might make a difference as people see me now as a freelancer, but being a company would involve having a brand and that might invoke more trust from the client? Is it worth the hassle though?
    "Funny how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse, it does." - Marvin (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

    DON'T PANIC
  • ReadingTim
    If I earned a steady 700 a month we would be comfortably off. That's my aim.
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    And that, in a nutshell, is your problem.

    Your income is insufficient to meet your outgoings, regardless of how much you reduce the outgoings. The job/occupation you have chosen has far more people wanting to work in it than it has jobs, reducing your income, as you're competing against the dreaded 'intern' who might be expected to work for free. Furthermore, you have imposed additional constraints on yourself such as not being able to work full time, or in London.

    Unfortunately, my suggestion is therefore to look for something more stable and reliable, and do the copywriting during the evenings/weekends - more of a hobby you (might) get paid for than a regular source of income. Or at least a part time job.

    Furthermore, I don't think incorporating a limited company will help - it's a expense you can't really afford, and people soon see past the "Limited" after your trading name, and realise it's still a one man band, regardless of legal status. Limited liability is only useful if the company gets into financial difficulties!

    I'm sure the fluffy pink hugs brigade will accuse me of telling you to give up on your dreams - I'm not saying that, but I do think you need to postpone them until you're in better shape financially - if you've cut all you can cut, there's nowhere else to go.

    All the best!
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    Yes well I have tried. Last year I applied for around 50 jobs that I knew I had the qualifications and experience to do. I heard back from 2 with rejections.

    I even found myself cleaning at a B&B to make ends meet and just recently have sent her an email asking if she needs any more casual work. I hope to do a little more for her after Easter.

    I know of copywriters who are very successful and get paid a lot, but they usually associated with companies. I do get regular work but it's low paid.

    So what do I do? Become a full-time cleaner? I guess the options here are pretty limited and to make it worse, hubby has just confirmed that they intend, in the future, to close down the depot he works at. It might be a year from now, it might be a couple of months but he faces redundancy once again.
    "Funny how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse, it does." - Marvin (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

    DON'T PANIC
  • Takeaway_Addict
    Yes well I have tried. Last year I applied for around 50 jobs that I knew I had the qualifications and experience to do. I heard back from 2 with rejections.

    I even found myself cleaning at a B&B to make ends meet and just recently have sent her an email asking if she needs any more casual work. I hope to do a little more for her after Easter.

    I know of copywriters who are very successful and get paid a lot, but they usually associated with companies. I do get regular work but it's low paid.

    So what do I do? Become a full-time cleaner? I guess the options here are pretty limited and to make it worse, hubby has just confirmed that they intend, in the future, to close down the depot he works at. It might be a year from now, it might be a couple of months but he faces redundancy once again.
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    If it brings the money in then yes, especially if your Husband maybe out of work for a bit.
    Don't trust a forum for advice. Get proper paid advice. Any advice given should always be checked
  • immie
    How about teaching assistant jobs in schools? Or temping/ office work
    Or home tutoring? (perhaps key stage 2/3 english?)
    Last edited by immie; 25-02-2013 at 7:38 PM.
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    The reason I am a freelance copywriter is because 4 years ago I used to work as a special needs teaching assistant in a school. When my 'charge' went onto secondary school I was surplus to requirements. The school were cutting back and so I found myself without work.

    In that year I applied for many jobs. Most of them were teaching assistant jobs and whilst I got to interview stage for a few of them, I never got any further. I couldn't understand it, I had never been short of work before in my life, I had never previously struggled to get a job. I have an English and Law degree, experience in office work, fundraising, working with children and adults with special needs and working in schools. I have excellent communication skills and had excellent references. I signed up with agencies and kept applying but discovered that sometimes there would be hundreds of applicants for one post and those who were already working in that industry often got there before me. The longer I was out of work the more difficult it was for me to find a job.

    I then answered an ad asking for a copywriter. I ended up working for a company on their website. They took me on for a trial period, paying my expenses only as they were a new company and I was gullible and fell for their promises of a great salary with a growing business. Only that never happened and whilst it was great experience, I found that I didn't really care to work for free.

    With my experience now in copywriting however I was able to take on work as a freelancer and that kept me going whilst I sought other work. I again started applying for jobs, picking only those I had experience in and that I was qualified to do. I remember one such job for the National Trust. The vacancy was to write content for their website from their distribution office which was just down the road from me. I spent hours crafting that application form, putting in all my experience including what I was doing at the moment along with examples of my work and a reference from the company who I had been writing for. I never even got a reply.

    This became common. Applications were sent and not even acknowledged. I answered an ad for a cleaner at a local B&B and started working there for minimum pay 4 days a week. Then the copywriting business took off a little and I built up regular clients which I still hold today. That coincided with the B&B slowing down so I was able to cut my days there and focus on my business.

    The B&B now has 3 other cleaners and I am due to start after Easter working one day a week plus filling in for sick and holiday leave.

    I know that posters will perhaps feel frustrated with me as they think I'm not taking any advice on board and seem to have an excuse for everything, but trust me when I say that there really is no work out there. I guess living where we are doesn't help as we're not conveniently located near any cities, but I really don't know what you have to do to get a job round here. Perhaps it's who you know rather than what you know?

    And I'm not too proud to look for public sector jobs, but one look at my CV and they are put off immediately as don't want to employ someone who's only filling in a temporary stop-gap. That was one of the concerns the B&B lady had. She wanted someone reliable and not someone who would be off the first chance they got. So my qualifications and experience work against me there.

    I am still on the lookout for jobs. If there is a copywriter position advertised I usually contact that company anyway and ask if they would consider taking me on for a trial period working from home the majority of the time. I am willing to travel every so often even as far as London if they also consider a little flexibility. Unfortunately why should they take the risk when they have 100 applicants in London applying? Still it's worth asking and I often do. I have also sent my CV to many large local companies and I follow this up with a phone call.

    I'm prolific on social media and am out there trying to network and make contacts. I know some of you might now wonder if I am any good since I seem to have trouble getting work, but I do have recommendations, I am generally regarded highly by clients who do come back to use my services again. I have no reason to think that my work isn't top quality. I know about SEO, I keep on top of changes made in that area, I know all the tricks of the trade and I write to grab readers' attention. I guess if we weren't in a recession then who knows? I might be running a successful business but the hard facts are that we are and right companies will go for the cheapest option every time. I can't compete with agencies who offer cut price yet low quality articles from students and part-timers. I hope that the way Google is going, high quality content will eventually rule the day as there is no easy quick fix to improve website rankings. It's worth spending a bit of money on to get it right.

    But yes, when the day comes and my husband is made redundant, if the business is still slow then I will have to quit and work full-time in a supermarket or B&B or something. At least then I don't have to worry about the kids as he'll be able to see to them.

    In the meantime my budgeting goes on. I've managed to make that shopping last an entire week and a day tomorrow. I've cancelled my AVG subscription. I've cancelled the one school meal a week. I'm walking everywhere to save on petrol. I'm watering down the fruit juice. I'm shopping at Aldi and getting cut price meat from Asda. I'm doing a meal planner and a shopping list. I've listed a few things on ebay. I'm cooking in bulk. It all helps and I'm very grateful for the advice and support.

    And if you ever hear of anyone needing a copywriter, well you know where I am!
    "Funny how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse, it does." - Marvin (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

    DON'T PANIC
  • Spendless
    I know exactly what you are saying re work. I'm in pretty much the same position after losing my job a year ago when my employer lost their contract. It took me 6 months of not hearing from application after application (I got thru once to a pre-interview) before an agency rang me and I do holiday and absence cover for a distribution firm in admin. This suits both of us, they train me to do their jobs which keeps me 'hands in' and they get a temp who can hit the ground running. The only other jobs here (a deprived town in the North) are ones with hours that you can't get childcare for and with a husband who works away with no set pattern and kids too young to leave at evening/night/early morning I am stuck in the situation. Hopefully your occassional cleaning job might lead to something or perhaps in the way of contacts for you. Fingers crossed for your hubby's job too.
    I have done reading too!
  • bess1234
    Yup me too. The good news is with your new budget, when it gets worse you will have prepared for it, and I suspect you will be underspending and building savings. You sound like its getting you down. Try to find some positives, as its gonna be a long journey and there are plenty of good things about a simple life.
    Take care
  • Verbatim

    Do you like my avatar by the way?
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    I've just looked at it properly. I thought it was a penguin before!

    That's it I'm getting an optician's appointment.
    CCs @0% 24k Dec 05 19,621.41 Au 13400 S 12600 Oct 11,981 9481 7500 Nov 7250 D 7100 Jan 6950 F 5800 Mar5400 May 4830 June 4660 July 4460 Aug 3200, S 900, 0 18/9/07 DFW Nerd 042
    • suki1964
    • By suki1964 26th Feb 13, 6:22 PM
    • 7,238 Posts
    • 13,200 Thanks
    suki1964
    The work situation will always be a nightmare in these difficult times. ESP for someone who obviously is well educated, a lot of employers will not entertain you for what may be seen as a menial position

    However, don't pass any thing by. After a lifetime of admin for the nhs I'm now a cook for a very busy pub, not ping ping but real short order cooking.

    That was something I fell into from helping out behind the bar for a party, then it was can you do this weekend and so it went on. Started the kitchen when the drinkers became less less shifts required on the bar

    Don't ever rule anything out. There's always something out there. As others have suggested tutoring may be something you can do.

    The coming year is going to be challenging but you are already started. On the changes. There will be many more ahead but you are not daft or scared of hard work so will manage it. And you do have time to get there which so many don't have the luxury off
    if you lend someone 20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it

    NOT BUYING IT!!

    Norn iron no 314
  • ScrimpingandSaving
    Just a quick update:

    I've been in touch with the B&B and am doing some work tomorrow and some next week which should give me a little extra. That's welcome as my pay this month was just 350.

    I have applied for another job but got a rejection email today, however I will keep looking.

    I've signed up to pay the water bill in 10 monthly instalments and we are paying our council tax bill over 12 months as from April.

    The shopping is going well although I'm struggling to keep to my 60pw limit I must admit. Still it's lasting 8 days.

    We've cut right back on heating. We never had it on at night anyway and now we're just putting it on for an hour and a half in the mornings and just for an hour every other evening for bathnight. Other times we light the fire.

    I'm also becoming more inventive with packed lunches so that nothing goes to waste. And....wait for it....we're getting some chickens! A friend has promised us a henhouse and we can get young hens for around a fiver each so we can start keeping hens in the Spring and this will save us buying eggs. Plus we can start selling any excess eggs to neighbours (am planning to put an honesty box outside).

    So still a long way to go but we are slowly getting there and I hope that our outgoings by the end of March are significantly reduced.
    "Funny how just when you think life can't possibly get any worse, it does." - Marvin (Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy)

    DON'T PANIC
  • BitterAndTwisted
    About the grocery bill: have you had a read of the http://www.cheap-family-recipes.org.uk/ website?
  • maman
    Delighted for you that you've got a bit more work and so a bit more money coming in.

    I think 60 for 4 of you is pretty good going and as you're making it last days, you'll be having a 'free' week when you get back to Monday again!

    Good luck with your chickens. I think there's a thread somewhere about that.
    • Bedsit Bob
    • By Bedsit Bob 1st Mar 13, 7:26 AM
    • 7,575 Posts
    • 40,182 Thanks
    Bedsit Bob
    A friend has promised us a henhouse and we can get young hens for around a fiver each so we can start keeping hens in the Spring and this will save us buying eggs.
    Originally posted by ScrimpingandSaving
    And you can always breed them for the table.
    I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do.

    ISA Deposits: 600

    Amount I have so far denied the BBC - 870
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