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  • FIRST POST
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 7th Oct 16, 4:48 PM
    • 10Posts
    • 18Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    Putting the brakes on before the crash.
    • #1
    • 7th Oct 16, 4:48 PM
    Putting the brakes on before the crash. 7th Oct 16 at 4:48 PM
    tl;dr - I've been an idiot and it's not disaster stations yet, but it will be if I don't sort myself out.

    I am slightly stunned I have to be here, really. I lived for several years on benefits and didn't have a penny; I always swore when I returned to work (I have a nasty health condition) I wouldn't get in a mess with it.

    But, yeah, I have.

    About a year ago I found a job I could do from home. I can't really work outside the house due to my autoimmune condition, so I was so excited. It's not a fortune but I could do it. I told myself it was okay to spend now: both me and DH in work, not claiming anything but my DLA, no debts. So I enjoyed it. And when people gave me credit, I felt really grown up and knew I could pay it back.

    Then we moved and obviously it was okay if we ran up debt to do it. Moving is expensive! Then my husband was made redundant, but at the exact same time (almost to the day), I got a second work-from-home job. This a lot more lucrative as it's skills based; before my AI condition flared so badly, I was a writer. This was writing, and it paid me well to do it. So we were fine; it's okay to spend in that circumstance right? We can't really socialise outdoors a lot so I let stuff like easy meals from Waitrose go: we'd spend more going off to a restaurant once a week, right?

    Then it hit me yesterday that I keep finding reasons it's okay to spend more. It's okay to invest loads in the garden in summer; can't do it in winter right? And it needs to be safe for the cats! And it's okay to go into debt to buy more furniture because my work is also my office, and I have to feel comfortable in it. And I suddenly realised that could go on forever, and suddenly, the amount wouldn't be okay anymore.

    So this is my effort to stop it before it spirals too terribly out of control. At this point in time, things are okay. I don't know enough about our spending to do a full SOA, so I'm focusing on the necessities.

    Monthly income: £2765 (including DLA)
    Mortgage and necessary outgoings (council tax etc): £680
    Medical expenses (can't do anything about these and not available on prescription; also includes my prepaid prescription card): £200
    Debt repayment: £150

    Leaving nearly £1,900 for the non-necessary things, like TV, entertainment and cat things. Just writing that has made me feel a bit sick - why do I feel like I have no money all the time? What the hell have I been doing? I'm so angry with myself right now.

    One of the reasons is I took out a cashback Am*x card, so I spend almost everything on that so I rarely have cash. I use cash to clear it every month - never paid interest, so that's something I guess and the cashback will be over £250 in December. One key thing I have to do is lower the amount that goes on that every month so I can free up more cash for debt repayment.

    So here's the debt

    CC1: £100 (this card should be closed, but my debit card keeps being highlighted for fraud and sometimes I have to default to it because I am too expletive lazy to add details of another one to my Chrome autofill. SERIOUSLY, WOMAN?) This is something stupid like 35% APR so it needs to go away. Now. There's no interest yet but I've done this before all because I'm too lazy, good lord.
    CC2: £450. Was at £900 but have been chipping away at it. It's 0% but that ends faster than any of the others.
    CC3: £2,250. 0% for another year.
    CC4: £900. 0% for another two years.
    V*ry: £100 (that's the furniture...). 0% as I will be using the pay in three months thing.

    I always overpay these and none of them are used for purchases anymore.

    Action plan:

    - Massively cut back on monthly outgoings onto the cashback card so eventually that doesn't exist. It's a fine idea and all that, but I think it's more stress than it's worth.
    - No more easy (ergo expensive) meals. This has already been successful, though it's only week two so still a novelty.
    - Clear CC1 with my next work payment. From Job 2, I get paid weekly so I should have that done next Friday. Then close it. And not just "send an online question about how to close it, forget, have my debit card declined and fall into this cycle again".
    - Take on more work where I can so long as it doesn't compromise my health. Already done for this weekend, around £130 more work taken on.
    - Stop being lazy and thinking because I have saved in one area, I can spend in another. This diary is a big part of wanting to keep myself in check with that.
    - Stop emotional spending. I am sick but I have been sick for a long time now. I need to stop "treating myself" to make up for the things I am forced to miss out on.

    Here goes nothing.
    Last edited by TabulaRasa; 07-10-2016 at 4:49 PM. Reason: tl;dr
Page 1
    • MrsTinks
    • By MrsTinks 7th Oct 16, 4:54 PM
    • 14,585 Posts
    • 22,067 Thanks
    MrsTinks
    • #2
    • 7th Oct 16, 4:54 PM
    • #2
    • 7th Oct 16, 4:54 PM
    I'll pen a longer reply when I get home, but just making sure your work from home isn't self employed, and if it is that you have set aside money for any potential tax bills?

    I'll do more later when not in the office lol

    but well done on seeing the problem NOW and not a few years down the line
    DFW Nerd #025
    SPC member #561
    Sept 2016 - £10811 Oct £10166 to clear Cleared Since Sept 16:£645 6% repaid Declutter 25 items in November target: 0/25 Make £10 extra a day in November: £57/£150
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 7th Oct 16, 5:32 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    • #3
    • 7th Oct 16, 5:32 PM
    • #3
    • 7th Oct 16, 5:32 PM
    Ooh I forgot to mention that, thank you! I am technically self-employed (I work through two different companies but as an independent) but even in my daftness, have been saving every time I get paid. Job 1 is paid monthly and the other is weekly; I tend to immediately bank about 30% of every payment just to be safe. That's all stacked away in an ISA that takes days to access. My monthly income figure is after I'd factored that in

    Should also mention I have £2,500 saved on top of that, which is just general savings. I am toying with the idea of using this to clear the cashback credit card (there'd still be £1,500 leftover) and start afresh with cash, but I am not sure if that would make me learn anything about controlling my spending any better. I feel so long as I am not accruing interest, I need the wake up call of lowering my spending every month. Keep flipping back and forth on that though
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 8th Oct 16, 1:21 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    • #4
    • 8th Oct 16, 1:21 AM
    • #4
    • 8th Oct 16, 1:21 AM
    Well extra shift of Job 1 done - extra £23 so that's something (I am trying to keep positive even though everything aches at the moment ) Also made a start on the extra Job 2 work so the weekend won't be too bad. Only problem is, now it's past 1am and I am still wide awake.

    Also yesterday was officially an NSD. Hoping to get the whole weekend without spending anything, will be the first time in a long time if I do that. I've so much work on I'm hoping I'm too tired for anything else.

    I am trying to come up with some goal ideas to keep me focused. TV/internet etc are all on low deals already and I switched the gas and electric about a month ago (saving £300 a year, woohoo). Will have to think of something anyway, I like goals and lists.
    • chevalier
    • By chevalier 8th Oct 16, 6:08 AM
    • 7,690 Posts
    • 17,798 Thanks
    chevalier
    • #5
    • 8th Oct 16, 6:08 AM
    • #5
    • 8th Oct 16, 6:08 AM
    Do you and you husband have a pension in place? If not then this would be another area to think about?
    chev
    I want a job that is less than an hour driving away from my house! Are you listening universe?
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 8th Oct 16, 4:28 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    • #6
    • 8th Oct 16, 4:28 PM
    • #6
    • 8th Oct 16, 4:28 PM
    Chev - I have a NEST scheme setup and currently getting whatever I throw at it when I remember. Looking at past statements it's been about £40 a month on average for the last 18 months, so I need to budget that to go higher. Husband is fine; he is a bit older than me (I'm 30) and has workplace pensions from before. He is currently doing his MA and working part-time from home, so not adding much at the moment but I think that's kind of a given when you're studying full time.

    Today is brought to me by the fact my health costs have been massively underestimated I have a condition that has resulted in spinal fusion. I hate the pain meds and they don't work very well. Working with my consultant, I have a regime in place of -

    - Gelatin (£20 a pop, but does last awhile)
    - Magnesium (£10, but lasts over a month)
    - Collagen (£14)
    - B12 from Germany, which I buy. I have pretty much no B12 thanks to my AI condition and the NHS only thinks a shot is needed once a month, but I feel the symptoms of the deficiency within a week if I don't top up. It can cause permanent nerve damage so I don't feel I can mess with this. I self-inject and buy as cheap as I can, but still £10/month.
    - I spend a lot on dressings as my skin is like a butterfly wing and tears so easily. I get some through the NHS on my prepay but not enough to replace them as often as they need. By the time they're coming away at all, they're agony. I think this is about £50 a month but a massive infection that stops me working would be worse
    - Skin treatments. I make my own balms to try and stop the breakage, but I still have to buy the oils and butters for them. I have had to start using a new cream at £8 a time as my normal stuff wasn't working. I think this is about £50/month but see no conceivable way it could be cheaper.
    - Mouth wash targeted for dry mouth, £8/month.

    And today DH ventured that I need a new surface to sit on for work - and I think he's right. I get pressure sores in a blink and my current support is past its sell-by-date I feel really demoralised realising that at this point, on the brink of trying to change things. It just feels like crappy timing.

    Still. *slaps self* I am working the weekend and it's fine, I am doing well and earning. It could be worse. And I think I can eek out the existing support to last until I get paid next Friday by Job 2. Job 1 could pay at any time before the 21st, so I'll be crossing my fingers until then. Cash wise I have about £110 at the moment but I really wanted that to go to debt. Will see.
    • BeckyS
    • By BeckyS 8th Oct 16, 6:42 PM
    • 62 Posts
    • 171 Thanks
    BeckyS
    • #7
    • 8th Oct 16, 6:42 PM
    • #7
    • 8th Oct 16, 6:42 PM
    Hi TR (May I call you TR?)

    Happy new diary.

    Congrats on realising what was happening before it got out of hand. If I were you I'd use the savings to buy the new surface you need. If it will prevent pressure sores it's a necessity. Then use the rest to pay off that £100 on the high interest card and the 0% card that ends soonest. Definately close the high interest card then you'll have to replace it in chrome. :-D

    Do you know why your debit card keeps getting highlighted for fraud? That must be so annoying.

    Good luck :-)
    Becky
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 12th Oct 16, 2:11 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 16, 2:11 PM
    • #8
    • 12th Oct 16, 2:11 PM
    Firstly: thanks Becky! I did end up having to buy it, but it's better than the alternative. And TR sounds good

    Now for the bad news: I am £250 worse in debt than when I last posted. Urrrghh.

    I had an eye test that identified some issues that pointed towards a brain tumour. Terrifying. I was referred to the eye hospital, but the optician made a real thing about it being urgent and the hospital potentially taking awhile.

    So in the end, DH insisted we go to a private clinic. And my DH is the most calm man in the land, so that terrified me even more. He pointed out if it was the cats I'd spend it without blinking and I couldn't have this hanging over me, waiting for a referral to a hospital I can't access comfortably anyway.

    On the upside, the extra testing was done today and, in the consultant's words: false alarm. My retinas are horribly scarred but he believes it to be from my autoimmune condition. He reckons the swelling of the disc/nerve was more an optical illusion (ha!) and it's fine. He was really awesome and in some ways, I don't regret the decision at all.

    Except the cost It's gone on a 0% credit card but I want it gone ASAP. I am due a bigger pay this week from Job 2 - should be around £400. None of this one needs to go on bills or the A*ex so I'm thinking I still clear the £100 off CC1 and throw the rest at CC2 (which is how I paid for the clinic). And then live very frugally until next week. Maybe doable?

    Mostly I'm just glad I have this to worry about really, the thoughts I've had the last two days have been horrific.
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 12th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    • 6,383 Posts
    • 35,211 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    • #9
    • 12th Oct 16, 3:05 PM
    Oh bless you, you have had it rough, haven't you.

    First off, stop beating yourself up about that medical bill - there's good debt and bad debt, and this one was, from what you've said, very much in the first camp. Would I be correct in assuming that stress & anxiety could well make your other condition worse? If so, (and in fact even if not) no brainer. Accept it and move on. (And let's face it - £250 to find out that you DON'T have a brain tumour? In my world that's a price worth paying)

    Cashback CC's can be brilliant - we put spending on one, have done for a few years now, and have earned a fair amount doing so. Our Direct debit is - and has always been - set to clear the full balance monthly, and we don't spend for the sake of it - places where there is a charge to pay on a CC but not on a Debit card we'll always pay on the free option, for example. Routinely though each month MrEH's railcard, all our diesel, any shopping that doesn't come off our Tesco Clubcard plus account and odds and ends of personal spending go to the card, then when the bill becomes available I sit down, mark it all off, move the money from the relevant accounts and then shift the whole amount over to the card. If for any reason I forget, or am unable to do this, it will go automatically in any event. If you can agree on things that the card gets used for, and resist any temptation to spend "just because it's there" then keep it - if not, then possibly best to accept that the risks are too great, for now, at least. one thought - can you assess what your highest monthly spend *should* be, add say £500 for emergencies, and then ask AMEX to set the credit limit at that level? Would that help?

    Well done on your tax - I take it that you claim everything you possiblyu can back against tax? Have you remembered you can claim a nominal amount for heat/light when working at home? I think it's only a couple of £ a week but better in your pocket than theirs! It may be worth you getting specialist advice from HMRC about what you can claim additionally to the normal due to the requirements your health conditions has, also - things like that new surface, for example?

    On the subject of the health stuff, is the reason that some of your medication has to be paid for by you that it's "advised" rather than "prescribed"? Can you ask your GP for an additional prescription each month to take account of the extra dressings? I assume you've shopped about the reputable sites online for the mouthwash? It is something you can buy through TopCashBack for at least a bit of money back? Are any of the other supplements?

    Creams etc - I'm sure you probably have already tried this but I know it works for some people - ordinary unscented Aqueous Cream? Available through the NHS on prescription or can actually be bought very cheaply.
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 14th Oct 16, 11:05 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    Wow EH (if it's okay I call you that!), thank you SO much!

    - Claiming back tax for heating/lighting = did not know this was a thing. Have not actually filed yet for a full year's work (started March 2015) but am going to start on my self assessment due in January and check that out. Thank you!

    - My GP can only prescribe a certain number of dressings. We have both tried to up it, but answer came back that one per day is sufficient. It just isn't. They don't stay on for a day if they're in an area with a lot of movement. The worst problems are on my lower back and they just come off in a couple of hours because of my spinal support. I have tried EVERYTHING (products, rubbing alcohol, putting tape over them...) to make the things stay on but as I have to use a lot of lumbar support, they're done in a couple of hours If there is something I've missed then I'm all ears.

    - I use Amazon for the mouthwash and usually get something off using TCB vouchers. It does seem to be the cheapest place to buy it, when you factor in my husband's student Prime over delivery costs.

    - Aqueous cream is more expensive per gram than the self-made concoctions I rely on, I figured that out a few years back. Only if I buy the ingredients in mega bulk, but it tends to work well. Only difference now is a few more pressure sores have appeared (I really did need that support; not that it's arrived yet ) and they cause havoc. So I switched to Conotrane on the bad bits, though hopefully the new support will fix that.

    Thank you so much for your thoughts - can't say how much I appreciate it

    Today Job 2 paid, £417 (after my tax cut off) thanks to the extra work last weekend. I've taken on the same again for this weekend, too.

    £179 - CC1 cleared (was higher than I thought, pending transactions ) and am going to close it over the weekend. Smack me if I haven't by Monday!

    £50 - CC2 towards the extra for the private clinic.

    £100 - next month's bills contribution

    I am thinking of hitting the V*ry account with the rest. Think I need to keep a spending diary to keep things reined in, too. Have food till Monday at least.
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 14th Oct 16, 11:17 PM
    • 6,383 Posts
    • 35,211 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    Yep - I'm always EH on here so that's absolutely fine!

    One tip on the tax return - it can be done any time from around 20th April, usually - I always tried to crack straight on and do mine at that stage. several reasons - if I had any issues getting into the HMRC site (happened occasionally) it gave me the max time to sort things out; it's a straightforward job, but one which it's easy to put off; and finally that it's far easier and even quicker to do when everything is fresher in the mind. Pretty much found that when I logged in and just did it, most years took me no more than 30 minutes as long as I had all the information to hand - the first year was longer as you have to input EVERYTHING that first time. Yawn.

    Now - on a less tedious note than all things tax related...! WELL DONE on clearing CC1! Brilliant work - must feel good to get one gone!
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    • NeverUnderestimate
    • By NeverUnderestimate 15th Oct 16, 8:43 AM
    • 106 Posts
    • 167 Thanks
    NeverUnderestimate
    Hi,

    In regards to your dressings which type do you use? And also do you use any barrier creams to help protect skin? They're are also some brilliant pressure relieving cushions available that help, if you haven't already got one.

    I think in regards to your health you got to do what you have to do.

    Good luck with the saving x
    Never underestimate the ability of what you can achieve.
    current debt
    £534.00/£12395.87
    since September 2016.
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 15th Oct 16, 12:56 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    @NeverUnderestimate I use a mix of Allevyn and hydracolloid dressings when there's an active open wound. I pack them out for protection with cotton wool. I use a spray that's meant to help keep them adhered (which doesn't really so maybe I should give a go without). Open wounds get Inadine too, if it's closed over but still sore then just cotton wool for a bit of extra padding. At the moment I also put kinesiology tape over the top to try and get a bit more security out of them. The balms I make are the most effective barriers I have found; I've tried a lot but they seem to work nicely. They're nothing complicated (beeswax, shea butter, lanolin, some oils).

    I won't feel like I have really paid off CC1 until I get it closed, given my recent problems defaulting to it Working for a few hours now and will then call them.

    Also realised, in the midst of everything last week, I forgot I need new glasses. My prescription is so annoying: not enough to qualify for extra NHS help, but too strong for basic glasses online as the combined sphere + cylinder is -8.25. I've already had Glasses Direct reject the prescription, which sucks as they have an offer that would have given me two pairs for £52. I can get them delivered with blank prescriptions and have them reglazed, so I'm going to check if that's cost effective. I've checked other sites but the cost rockets as they say they can't do them without thinning the lenses
    • TabulaRasa
    • By TabulaRasa 15th Oct 16, 4:29 PM
    • 10 Posts
    • 18 Thanks
    TabulaRasa
    Right, spending diary as that's my major area of concern!

    Today:

    - £57 on two pairs of glasses, including voucher code. They are blank lenses so I will need to get them reglazed, but with husband's NUS discount should be able to get this done relatively inexpensively.
    - £3.99 on ear buds on eBay for husband as he has lost his. Luckily he doesn't want anything beyond the basics.
    - 99p on a tally counter from eBay. I use them for work to keep myself on track, and my current one has got all jammed up for some reason and is miscounting. I did try using a free app (I actually have about six installed ) but it leads to the phone needing to be charged more so is perhaps not so wise on electricity? Though to be honest, I just prefer the physical feel of one, the click is so satisfying
    - £16.80 on Amazon. This should only have been £7 for my eye drops (gotta love Sjogren's Syndrome) but I noticed the collagen I use has gone down by £6 since last week. It's getting more expensive as it's a USA import so seemed better to grab while it's at a low price.

    I guess the headphones and the tally counter are not essentials but husband asks for virtually nothing, so I'd feel a monster for saying no. Plus it's his money too We have totally blended finances and I think this is the first time in literally months he's requested something specific.

    I paid on the A*ex but immediately transferred the cash I had onto the card to cover it. Maybe this is the way to go in future.
    Last edited by TabulaRasa; 15-10-2016 at 4:29 PM. Reason: Dodgy apostrophe
    • NeverUnderestimate
    • By NeverUnderestimate 15th Oct 16, 5:33 PM
    • 106 Posts
    • 167 Thanks
    NeverUnderestimate
    Have you ever tried the hydrofilm or clear film dressings? They are very sticky and pretty waterproof
    Never underestimate the ability of what you can achieve.
    current debt
    £534.00/£12395.87
    since September 2016.
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 15th Oct 16, 8:44 PM
    • 6,383 Posts
    • 35,211 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    I'd not twigged it was Sjogrens you had - my Mum-in-Law has it, which of course means that MrEH also has to be monitored for it too. So far thank goodness he's testing clear for it, which is good.

    Well done on starting the spending diary!
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
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