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  • FIRST POST
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 12th Feb 17, 9:56 AM
    • 1,102Posts
    • 10,594Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed....
    • #1
    • 12th Feb 17, 9:56 AM
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed.... 12th Feb 17 at 9:56 AM
    £67,031.92. Seriously. £67,031.92. That is a SCARY number. I can't believe our debt has peaked (and it is the peak, I am determined) at this level.

    Our light bulb moment actually happened a few months back, but it's taken since then of wrangling utilities and carefully watching out income/outgoings (using You Need a Budget) to really figure out where we were overspending and how the monthly shortfall of anything from £200-£1,000+ was happening.

    We have literally nothing to show for this debt, it's just crept up over the past 8 years or so, and has always been at manageable levels, but back in October we realised we were spending more on credit cards each month than we were paying off.

    We committed that cardinal sin of taking out a consolidation loan, but alongside it we looked really carefully at our spending over the next couple of months, budgeted realistically for what we spend and have (I think) picked off all the easy 'low hanging fruit' of budget cuts and really identified why we were overspending.

    The main reason for the debt is, erm, me. Not that I'm the biggest spender (neither of us are amazing), but because I am self employed with a hugely variable income and basically worked out our budgets on the basis I would always earn my 'best' month's income. Which was, with hindsight, maybe a TINY bit deluded.

    The aim of this diary is to keep us on track with actually reducing our debt every single month, not doing it in a three steps forward, two (or four) steps back sort of way. Having sat down and put our numbers into the whatsthecost site, it appears that we are looking at 7 years and 1 month of repayments to clear the debt (and that's assuming we can get rid of the shortfall showing below). I REALLY want to reduce this term as that just seems bonkers.

    SOA below, with a couple of explanatory notes.

    Statement of Affairs and Personal Balance Sheet

    Household Information

    Number of adults in household........... 2
    Number of children in household......... 3
    Number of cars owned.................... 1

    Monthly Income Details

    Monthly income after tax................ 250 (variable, but this is the minimum I have earned in any month in the last 5 years)
    Partners monthly income after tax....... 2711.86
    Benefits................................ 192
    Other income............................ 0
    Total monthly income.................... 3153.86


    Monthly Expense Details

    Mortgage................................ 698
    Secured/HP loan repayments.............. 0
    Rent.................................... 0
    Management charge (leasehold property).. 0
    Council tax............................. 174 (including overpayment for a period when we messed up during a house move 18 months ago and didn't restart the direct debit for the new property. Will drop by a little under £50 after either March or April, can't remember which)
    Electricity............................. 52 (gas and electricity are one combined DD, I haven't checked the exact split but the total is £104)
    Gas..................................... 52
    Oil..................................... 0
    Water rates............................. 104 (also including a debt from previous property, but I think this will be included for another 6 months or so. I'm not sure what our actual usage is)
    Telephone (land line)................... 18.5 (includes internet)
    Mobile phone............................ 85 (£45 for my contract, which I use for work as well, £40 for DH)
    TV Licence.............................. 12.12
    Satellite/Cable TV...................... 0
    Internet Services....................... 0 (included in landline cost)
    Groceries etc. ......................... 520 (Includes £40 for one lot of school lunches. I am REALLY struggling to reduce this, but feel I could and should be able to!)
    Clothing................................ 100 (growing children, plus see notes below re clothes)
    Petrol/diesel........................... 225 (90% DH commuting costs)
    Road tax................................ 16.27
    Car Insurance........................... 25.22
    Car maintenance (including MOT)......... 30
    Car parking............................. 0
    Other travel............................ 50
    Childcare/nursery....................... 70 (this will disappear in April as child 3 gets free 15 hours)
    Other child related expenses............ 81.85 (music/swimming lessons x2, cubs and beavers, National Trust membership as they love visiting them)
    Medical (prescriptions, dentist etc).... 5
    Pet insurance/vet bills................. 0
    Buildings insurance..................... 27.07
    Contents insurance...................... 0
    Life assurance ......................... 16.26
    Other insurance......................... 0
    Presents (birthday, christmas etc)...... 90
    Haircuts................................ 20
    Entertainment........................... 135
    Holiday................................. 75
    Emergency fund.......................... 25
    Total monthly expenses.................. 2707.29



    Assets

    Cash.................................... 0
    House value (Gross)..................... 210000
    Shares and bonds........................ 0
    Car(s).................................. 800
    Other assets............................ 0
    Total Assets............................ 210800



    Secured & HP Debts

    Description....................Debt......Monthly.. .APR
    Mortgage...................... 173733...(698)......3.14
    Total secured & HP debts...... 173733....-.........-


    Unsecured Debts
    Description....................Debt......Monthly.. .APR
    Barclaycard....................6880.21...156...... .0
    MBNA...........................9614.71...98....... .0
    Parental loan..................20000.....0.........0 (see notes below)
    Tesco loan.....................21000.....377.......10
    Total unsecured debts..........57494.92..631.......-



    Monthly Budget Summary

    Total monthly income.................... 3,153.86
    Expenses (including HP & secured debts). 2,707.29
    Available for debt repayments........... 446.57
    Monthly UNsecured debt repayments....... 631
    Amount short for making debt repayments. -184.43


    Personal Balance Sheet Summary
    Total assets (things you own)........... 210,800
    Total HP & Secured debt................. -173,733
    Total Unsecured debt.................... -57,494.92
    Net Assets.............................. -20,427.92


    Created using the SOA calculator at stoozing.
    Reproduced on Moneysavingexpert with permission, using other browser.


    Regarding the (relatively) high clothes expense, it is a combination of 3 growing children (8, 6 and 3), plus the fact that my job is in the fashion industry, and as a self employed person I need to have the right sort of 'look' in order to get work (think along the lines of a self employed personal shopper - people need to see you looking good in order to book with you).

    The parental loan was for a house deposit. The parent in question has no idea about our debts. She is not desperate for the money back and isn't charging us interest, but has asked us to save £150-200 every month into a savings account and then once we've saved a decent sum to either repay them or 'reborrow' it for work on the house (basically they want us to be able to make repayments if they suddenly need the extra income, but meanwhile are happy for us to benefit from it. I am not saving the money while our debt payments are so high - we are hoping to have paid enough off that if the parent ever needs it that we can reborrow it and pay them back). This isn't great, but realistically I think the best solutions is to treat it as the lowest priority for snowballing - once we have paid back the other debts we will throw the entire £630+ at this debt.

    So, there is a freaking enormous shortfall every month, which is somewhat depressing. Most months it is covered by the fact that I earn more than my 'bare minimum', but it is those months where it isn't covered that the debt creeps up again, and I am a total disaster for going 'oh well, we've spent on the credit card, we might as well keep going' and buying more clothes or something for the house - this is probably a significant proportion of our debt problem.

    We have managed to get rid of the balance on the one credit card we were spending on, so the remaining ones are both on 0% deals (although one expires in September). I have not cut up the remaining credit card, because we don't have an emergency fund in case of eg boiler repairs, but it has not been used for all of a month, and I hope to keep it that way.

    A DMP or similar isn't really on my horizon right now - I feel like we should be able to make the cuts to make our budgets balance, and I am optimistic that as my income goes up (when I can work more as child 3 starts school) that we will be able to make overpayments.

    My plan for now is:
    1) Try to wiggle those budget numbers around enough that we don't have a shortfall any more.
    2) Make a plan for any months where I make extra - do I use it for an emergency fund, as a fund to cover future months' shortfalls, to throw money at the debt to try to reduce minimum payments in case of future 'shortfall' months?
    3) Try to make more money. Not quite sure how this will work as I am largely limited to working around DH's working hours (I work evenings and weekends and the 5hrs childcare per week we are paying for for child 3).

    Now that's all down in black and white I am feeling a combination of relieved (to be clear on the numbers) and immensely stressed (by the semi-regular £180+ shortfall).

    Onwards and downwards (for the debt, not me)!

    edited to add: the original £67,031.92 figure was based on the total figure for the Tesco loan, which included all interest payable over the entire term of the loan. I have updated the debt figure in my signature and in all posts going forward as at 4th June 2017 to reflect that actual current debt balance rather than the balance plus interest over the lifetime of the loan. This has knocked £7,911.62 off the debt figure, but means that each monthly payment will have the interest for that month deducted from it, so it won't affect the DFD if I don't make overpayments.
    Last edited by Treadingonplaymobil; 04-06-2017 at 2:58 PM.
Page 87
    • reality_check
    • By reality_check 6th Oct 17, 10:18 AM
    • 699 Posts
    • 1,563 Thanks
    reality_check
    Your advert calander sounds lovely, but expensive and time consuming...money and time is what you don't have. Maybe this year you could do a £1 chocolate advent calander and introduce the naughty Elfs? Not sure if your kids have had them previously.

    My daughter is studying primary teaching and is on placement right now, she has a gift box for 2 winners each week where she went to the £1 shop and bought presents to put in it, I was so shocked at what she got! Loads of craft things, a foil art set, metalic water colour pencils and also a few things that I personally would describe as tat but I know when they get it they will love it at the time. Trust me I have older children and you can't get away with a frugal Christmas forever, but your kids are young enough you should embrace places like the £1 shop before they give you lists with items starting at £75 each!

    Good luck with it all xx

    p.s I don't know if you buy a tree but for the last 2 years I have bought the Ikea tree at £25 and you get a £20 voucher to spend in store in January. Much cheaper than the farm I used to go to and spend a fortune!!!
    Last edited by reality_check; 06-10-2017 at 10:23 AM.
    Starting debt £18,675.63
    Current debt: £8,000
    • enthusiasticsaver
    • By enthusiasticsaver 6th Oct 17, 10:35 AM
    • 4,869 Posts
    • 9,192 Thanks
    enthusiasticsaver
    I would echo the Christmas comments.

    Including the Tesco loan in your remortgage is effectively turning unsecured debt into secured which is definitely a no no and I am sure you have read on this forum and know from your own experience that debt consolidation does not work.

    Even if reducing the rate makes it more affordable that is only because you are repaying it over a much longer period which makes it more expensive. Also, while you have started to try and control your over spending with the best will in the world you are still struggling to stay in budget so there is no guarantee you will not continue to build up unsecured debt again having been lulled into a false sense of security thinking you have repaid debt when you have not. You will then end up with a larger mortgage just as interest rates may rise and just as much unsecured debt which will compound your debt problems.

    I would strongly advise against this.
    3 days to go until early retirement. Debt free and mortgage free.

    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Mortgages, Banking and Budgeting boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Any views are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com. Pease remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com
    • astrantia59
    • By astrantia59 6th Oct 17, 12:06 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 13 Thanks
    astrantia59
    Long time lurker on the thread. Treading, your thread is understandably focussed on reducing your debt over time which is understandable but it does not exist in isolation. You have made changes since your LBM. Your SOA makes it clear that your unsecured debt together with your mortgage is greater than the value of your home. I know you want to do the best for your family but the reality is you are massively over committed in terms of debt.
    If for any reason your OH loses his earning capacity your entire financial situation falls apart.
    I'm sorry to sound negative I think you do need to consider this
    • The Arrowmaker
    • By The Arrowmaker 6th Oct 17, 12:45 PM
    • 8 Posts
    • 112 Thanks
    The Arrowmaker
    Lots of brilliant advice about Christmas which The Arrowmakers will be taking on board. I too find it hard to resist spending too much to make things 'perfect' at Christmas for my children but I do understand my deep-seated reasons for doing this and fortunately now I actually save for the event beforehand. We have also agreed as a family to ban presents for adults which has been a relief all round. Other families I know prefer to do a secret Santa (for a fiver). Perhaps that's something you could suggest as a fun alternative.

    A couple of other thoughts, TOPM. First, you are very good at juggling your SOA to make the numbers balance on paper, but the reality is often very different. You've not been able to save enough for Christmas, but I suspect your SOA never actually reflected how much you needed to save in order to have the Christmas you want. The first year of budgeting can be the hardest, but in 2018 you will have a year's worth of figures to work with and you may have to make some difficult decisions about what in your budget is going to have to give.

    Which brings me to my second point which are actually the words of Martin Lewis, not me: "Don't plan the perfect Christmas. That's a dangerous mindset. Instead first work out your budget, and let your financial situation rule. Then ask yourself: "What's the best Christmas I can have on the money I've got?" Remember it is just one day. Far better to have a slightly less expensive Christmas than a financially frantic New Year".

    I couldn't put it better.

    In fact, he applies the same principles for all our spending:

    He says that people ask him "How do I get the shiny new car / glamorous holiday / amazing Christmas / designer clothes I want on my paltry salary? It's thinking this way that leads people to constant overspend, because you're totally ignoring the financial reality. Instead the real question's: On my paltry salary, whatís the best lifestyle I can possibly have? You have to start letting your finances rule your lifestyle, not vice-versa."

    I'm not actually sure if you want to press the reset button. However, if you do and are simply struggling to do so, you may find inspiration from the Frugalwoods website. This family live a lovely, simple, uncluttered life in an absolutely stunning home, eating good food, doing the things they want to do, but at the same time spending very little (or at least, spending according to very clear priorities, and most importantly, within their means). You may not agree with everything they say (personally I'd draw the line at getting my DH to cut my hair). But they show that living frugally doesn't have to mean hair-shirts and tat and you might find it helpful.
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 1:08 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    So many responses! My answer isn't wildly different, but everyone raises interesting points and you've all made a huge effort to post in depth ideas, so i'll deal with them in turn...

    Hi there. I've been reading your diary from the start, and i know that you don't want to admit to family/friends that you have this level of debt, for whatever personal reasons you have.

    However, by not letting them in and keeping them in the dark, this seems to be keeping you pinned in a "keeping up appearances" circle.

    This appears to be most noticeable with your need/want to buy for so many (adults) at Christmas, as i guess this is what you've always done, regardless of if you can afford it or not.

    Personally, i would feel hurt if, say, my sister had this level of debt, and didn't tell me, and was still buying me presents etc. I'd much rather she didn't, and put the money towards the debt.

    Could you not all (adults) agree that you'll just be buying for the kids this year....or would that "let your cat out of the bag?"
    Originally posted by Sea Shell
    The reason we buy for so many adults is because they are hugely generous with us and our DC at Christmas and throughout the year. It would be unthinkable to me to not show my gratitude in some way. There is absolutely no pressure on this front and they would happily have nothing, but I feel it's a fair way to express our gratitude to them all for everything they do and give to the DCs.

    TOPM , I read what you say about Christmas and see myself. Our family have always had new pjs at Xmas eve , we always had a chippy tea as well. My own daughter still has new pjs off me for Christmas Eve ! She does the same for her two. Christmas is my biggest spend now with the 2 DGC . However I have cut down now with friends and believe it or not they were relieved to break the present buying habit. Could you be brave enough to ask the question about maybe only buying for children and not adults ? You may be surprised by the answer .
    As you said you have already cut costs for Christmas, so I think you need to put some money away every month and try not to touch it , hard I know . This will be my first Christmas in many years that haven't gone on cc . Good luck with it all.
    Originally posted by Cumbria lass
    The aim is definitely to improve on the savings next year - we've got better and better at it this year, but it's too little too late for this Christmas. As I said before, not buying for the adults is more or less unthinkable for me - they are hugely generous (and would be regardless of whether I bought for them) and I want to show my gratitude and appreciation for them.

    In my extended family we have a 'only but for the kids' rule. It works really well.

    Christmas is the only time I really try and stick to a budget as I hate hate hate the pressure of trying to have the 'best' Christmas ever so it's like I deliberately revolt against it.

    I totally agreee with you on the 'not buying tat for stockings' rule. I've always ended up with things they haven't ever played with again!! Last year I tried to stick to a 'useful for £1' theme and it seemed to work as they used everything I bought.

    Husband and I haven't bought anything for each other for years!! Last year we filled our stockings with secondhand books and underwear!! Ha ha!!

    I'm hoping to only spend £200-£250 on Christmas this year including decorations and food!! We are planning frugal but meaningful activities and traditions instead.

    I've found changing my focus to this has helped massively!!

    Best of luck!
    Crunchy xx
    Originally posted by crunch_time
    I love the idea of 'useful for £1'! I don't think I'd manage it for a whole stocking, but it's a great place to start. Any inspiration here much appreciated.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 1:23 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    I am sure I don't need to tell you that your lifestyle is completely above and beyond what is the "norm" for most families. It is also completely above and beyond anything that you can afford, which is why you have such high debt.

    I think you need to have a good soul search about why you have such high expectations for the lifestyle that you need to provide for your family. Is it appearances, as Sea Shell has suggested or is there something more deep seated ? This spending all seems to be about you, and the very high standards you apply to quality and aesthetics, rather than anything about what your children actually need.

    The Christmas stockings are a good example ....children all around the country get tat in their Christmas stocking and love it. This doesn't conform to your standards so you spend £75 each instead - your kids would would just be as happy with £10 worth of well chosen "tat"in their stockings.

    I don't mean to be harsh but I think you need to try and understand what is driving your high expectations and spending, to be able to tackle it.

    You have made some changes to your lifestyle where you have found it acceptable to your standards - for example home baking and cooking, but you do need to go further to tackle this debt and that means you will have to change your mindset about other things.

    This is all meant with good intentions as I worry that your finances are so precarious that it could be disasterous for your family if you don't change.
    Originally posted by Busy Mee1
    I honestly don't know (or care) what is the norm for most families, I'm only concerned with my own family and what works for us. If we're going to get into 'needs' then obviously none of us need anything more than a roof over our heads and food, but in terms of priorities beyond that point, I do think there's a huge value in children learning about having good quality items and looking after them, and having a nice quality environment. I'm sure in the short term they would be happy with £10 of tat, but (a) I hate the tears and tantrums when it breaks on day 2, (b) I hate the waste of that - I'd rather spend nothing or just buy one thing if the alternative is a tenners worth of tat and (c) the DC get huge use and enjoyment out of everything in their stockings, and things like, say, crafty stuff save me buying it throughout the year.

    I don't personally feel that we have a current need to 'go further' to tackle the debt - it is reducing, and will continue to reduce, and for a first year effort in a situation as precarious as ours, that's ok with me. We could easily choose to default on the debt, pay nothing for a few months and have vastly reduced payments thereafter, but we are choosing a different path as it aligns with our longer term plans. If that stops working for some reason, we still have a perfectly viable DMP option to go for.

    I was wondering what sort of things go in the dcs stockings?
    Originally posted by Verbatim
    I have a list (unsurprisingly!). DC1's stocking, for example: 7 books (mixture of fact, fiction and activity books, and an Oxford dictionary), torch for camping, pez sweets, magic expanding flannel thing, board game, lego set, wind up toy, chocolate coins, new underwear, mug, rub off transfer set, maths set. That came to £75 (DC2'2 was £80, DC3's was £55), the biggest expenses were the books (around £35 on books, but they were carefully chosen and are still well used), the board game and the lego set.

    My Son's advent calendar is (yes, at nearly 26, he still asks for it!) a pennant on a piece of wooden doweling (a thin wooden rod) with a piece of cord as the hanger (with old curtain tie-back tassels on the ends of the rod), and all the pockets are simple patches with a number on them, randomly over the pennant. I put the occasional pound coin, a note saying do a chore (tidy your bedroom is an old favourite), a promise or two (I will take you to the beach, to watch a film etc), future events, bits of sweets and a note to look somewhere for a little thing (pencil, eraser, gel pen etc). I remember putting a Harry Potter phone cover in the dishwasher one year for Christmas Eve and he was so thrilled. He still references it! - worth the effort!
    Originally posted by Suffolk lass
    Love this!
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 1:37 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    Your advert calander sounds lovely, but expensive and time consuming...money and time is what you don't have. Maybe this year you could do a £1 chocolate advent calander and introduce the naughty Elfs? Not sure if your kids have had them previously.

    My daughter is studying primary teaching and is on placement right now, she has a gift box for 2 winners each week where she went to the £1 shop and bought presents to put in it, I was so shocked at what she got! Loads of craft things, a foil art set, metalic water colour pencils and also a few things that I personally would describe as tat but I know when they get it they will love it at the time. Trust me I have older children and you can't get away with a frugal Christmas forever, but your kids are young enough you should embrace places like the £1 shop before they give you lists with items starting at £75 each!

    Good luck with it all xx

    p.s I don't know if you buy a tree but for the last 2 years I have bought the Ikea tree at £25 and you get a £20 voucher to spend in store in January. Much cheaper than the farm I used to go to and spend a fortune!!!
    Originally posted by reality_check
    The DCs are already talking about the advent calendar - I couldn't bear not to do it, it's become such a tradition, especially for eldest DC. Our nearest Ikea is over 100 miles away, unfortunately, which would probably negate the benefits! Really good idea about checking the pound shop, will add that to my list for this month.

    I would echo the Christmas comments.

    Including the Tesco loan in your remortgage is effectively turning unsecured debt into secured which is definitely a no no and I am sure you have read on this forum and know from your own experience that debt consolidation does not work.

    Even if reducing the rate makes it more affordable that is only because you are repaying it over a much longer period which makes it more expensive. Also, while you have started to try and control your over spending with the best will in the world you are still struggling to stay in budget so there is no guarantee you will not continue to build up unsecured debt again having been lulled into a false sense of security thinking you have repaid debt when you have not. You will then end up with a larger mortgage just as interest rates may rise and just as much unsecured debt which will compound your debt problems.

    I would strongly advise against this.
    Originally posted by enthusiasticsaver
    I get the theory, and if we didn't need the good credit rating I would go for a DMP over the securing of unsecured debt, but the fact is (as everyone points out), our budget has no wiggle room (and indeed, frequently fails to balance in any way), and actually if lowering our payments means we pay more overall over a longer term, that's still the best option for us. I don't think there is even the tiniest danger of building up more debt - never again, it's been horrifically stressful, and the main cause (the double whammy of me not earning and paying for childcare) has been eliminated entirely. I still have the HUGE incentive of the extension - the only reason for doing all this the hard way is to make that manageable, and building up debt again would completely scupper that, and I consider it a huge priority to give the DCs some space from each other as they enter teenage years.

    Long time lurker on the thread. Treading, your thread is understandably focussed on reducing your debt over time which is understandable but it does not exist in isolation. You have made changes since your LBM. Your SOA makes it clear that your unsecured debt together with your mortgage is greater than the value of your home. I know you want to do the best for your family but the reality is you are massively over committed in terms of debt.
    If for any reason your OH loses his earning capacity your entire financial situation falls apart.
    I'm sorry to sound negative I think you do need to consider this
    Originally posted by astrantia59
    DH and I have discussed this, and frankly the whole situation will fall apart so spectacularly if, eg DH is unable to work or do childcare so I can work in full time employment, that saving the odd extra bit isn't going to make a difference on that front for a long time to come. The 'wrong' attitude with debt repayment, but one we've made our peace with (knowing our tendency to lose the will to repay debt and spend madly when we try to over-restrict).
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • Hiddenidenity
    • By Hiddenidenity 6th Oct 17, 1:42 PM
    • 4,230 Posts
    • 26,461 Thanks
    Hiddenidenity
    Thank you for the idea on the advent calender, Going to have to make something this year. I think they'd love one.

    We all have different budgets and ways to celebrate Xmas. As long as it's right for you and it makes you all happy then stick with it. Obviously on your new budget not the old one
    • redofromstart
    • By redofromstart 6th Oct 17, 1:45 PM
    • 635 Posts
    • 3,598 Thanks
    redofromstart
    Hi TOPM, have you ever looked at 'the book people' for books for the stockings? I found it really useful when my boys were smaller.

    I was brought up (by a very frugal mother) that books were essential, not optional

    For me, you have made your decision of what you want to do and now it is about how you can best buy within that, so keeping an eye on Amazon for the lego sets dropping, etc and I am sure you already do that.

    On the family gifts have you looked at oatcakes? My experience of making things was that by the time I had made things pretty it actually cost more than I had expected, cellophane and ribbons and so on but then I found ikea did some really useful stuff very cheaply that I could build on. Good recipe here and you may find other ideas on that site. When I made them I used value oats, and whizzed half in the blender rather than go out and buy more stuff.
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 1:46 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    Lots of brilliant advice about Christmas which The Arrowmakers will be taking on board. I too find it hard to resist spending too much to make things 'perfect' at Christmas for my children but I do understand my deep-seated reasons for doing this and fortunately now I actually save for the event beforehand. We have also agreed as a family to ban presents for adults which has been a relief all round. Other families I know prefer to do a secret Santa (for a fiver). Perhaps that's something you could suggest as a fun alternative.

    A couple of other thoughts, TOPM. First, you are very good at juggling your SOA to make the numbers balance on paper, but the reality is often very different. You've not been able to save enough for Christmas, but I suspect your SOA never actually reflected how much you needed to save in order to have the Christmas you want. The first year of budgeting can be the hardest, but in 2018 you will have a year's worth of figures to work with and you may have to make some difficult decisions about what in your budget is going to have to give.

    Which brings me to my second point which are actually the words of Martin Lewis, not me: "Don't plan the perfect Christmas. That's a dangerous mindset. Instead first work out your budget, and let your financial situation rule. Then ask yourself: "What's the best Christmas I can have on the money I've got?" Remember it is just one day. Far better to have a slightly less expensive Christmas than a financially frantic New Year".

    I couldn't put it better.

    In fact, he applies the same principles for all our spending:

    He says that people ask him "How do I get the shiny new car / glamorous holiday / amazing Christmas / designer clothes I want on my paltry salary? It's thinking this way that leads people to constant overspend, because you're totally ignoring the financial reality. Instead the real question's: On my paltry salary, what’s the best lifestyle I can possibly have? You have to start letting your finances rule your lifestyle, not vice-versa."

    I'm not actually sure if you want to press the reset button. However, if you do and are simply struggling to do so, you may find inspiration from the Frugalwoods website. This family live a lovely, simple, uncluttered life in an absolutely stunning home, eating good food, doing the things they want to do, but at the same time spending very little (or at least, spending according to very clear priorities, and most importantly, within their means). You may not agree with everything they say (personally I'd draw the line at getting my DH to cut my hair). But they show that living frugally doesn't have to mean hair-shirts and tat and you might find it helpful.
    Originally posted by The Arrowmaker
    Having a look at the frugalwoods website, thanks for that suggestion.

    I do get it about finances dictating one's situation, although I suspect that precisely no-one on here would agree . For us it's been about balancing making faster headway towards DFD with having a life that we enjoy, and I'm not actually unhappy with how we're managing that at the moment. If the net repayment for the year is zero, I will obviously reconsider this stance!
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 1:49 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    Thank you for the idea on the advent calender, Going to have to make something this year. I think they'd love one.

    We all have different budgets and ways to celebrate Xmas. As long as it's right for you and it makes you all happy then stick with it. Obviously on your new budget not the old one
    Originally posted by Hiddenidenity
    Yeah, I think the days of £2.5k Christmases are behind us for good .

    Hi TOPM, have you ever looked at 'the book people' for books for the stockings? I found it really useful when my boys were smaller.

    I was brought up (by a very frugal mother) that books were essential, not optional

    For me, you have made your decision of what you want to do and now it is about how you can best buy within that, so keeping an eye on Amazon for the lego sets dropping, etc and I am sure you already do that.

    On the family gifts have you looked at oatcakes? My experience of making things was that by the time I had made things pretty it actually cost more than I had expected, cellophane and ribbons and so on but then I found ikea did some really useful stuff very cheaply that I could build on. Good recipe here and you may find other ideas on that site. When I made them I used value oats, and whizzed half in the blender rather than go out and buy more stuff.
    Originally posted by redofromstart
    One of the reasons I need to plan advent (and gifts for the DCs) is so that I can keep an eye out for offers etc, so the sooner I do that the better. Great idea on the oatcakes! I think I made them once before (and then probably paired them with horrendously expensive cheese in the gift hamper, thus negating the benefit!). I think my mum has used the book people, will have a look.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • ellen vannin
    • By ellen vannin 6th Oct 17, 2:04 PM
    • 184 Posts
    • 783 Thanks
    ellen vannin
    Another idea for filling Xmas stockings is Charity shops - the ones I frequent often have new or unused toys and books - much cheaper than other shops and the charity benefits as well!

    Takes time to browse but it is an activity than can be done with children in tow.
    • mumtoomany
    • By mumtoomany 6th Oct 17, 6:06 PM
    • 145 Posts
    • 1,223 Thanks
    mumtoomany
    Also have a look at pound shops for books. Last year we got the whole set of "Harry" books, (Harry and the dinosaurs etc) for £1 each for the grandchildren. Even if you don't want to buy tat for the children to play with, consider buying wrapping paper etc from poundland, poundworld, pound stretchers; much cheaper and only gets thrown away. Or here used to light the fire. Also worth looking for Christmas paper that's not Christmasy. Just stars or stripes etc. Put it away to wrap birthady gifts for the next year. M2m.
    • mumtoomany
    • By mumtoomany 6th Oct 17, 6:08 PM
    • 145 Posts
    • 1,223 Thanks
    mumtoomany
    Another thought. In the advent calender you could make some days things to do rather than gifts. Picnic tea under the kitchen table, board game evening, make biscuits with mum, etc. Whatever works for you.
    • Chrystal
    • By Chrystal 6th Oct 17, 7:13 PM
    • 133 Posts
    • 893 Thanks
    Chrystal
    I've got to say that I admire your grit TOPM. You and DH are working together as a team (well mostly ) and have come up with the best solutions for you as a family.

    Not everyone will agree with the way you're doing things, but they aren't living your life, you are. As you say this is a long term project for you and it has to be sustainable. It's just not worth making your life miserable in order to be DF in 8 years instead of 10 years (IMO)

    If things go wonky you can re assess, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you that 2018 will be the start of something good.
    GC. Oct.17 = £261.18/ £300 = + £38.82 NSDs 20/31
    GC. Sept.17 = £354.89/£300 = - £54.39

    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 6th Oct 17, 9:04 PM
    • 1,102 Posts
    • 10,594 Thanks
    Treadingonplaymobil
    Bleurgh, have randomly come down with a cold this afternoon. Which ought to have made solo parenting this evening a total nightmare, but DH bought some reduced supermarket chinese food yesterday (which IMO was utterly revolting, but the DCs enjoyed the treat, and it was <£5 for the lot) and the DCs were all so exhausted by their week that I had the younger two in bed at 6:30 and the older one asked to go up to bed at 7:30. Win!

    ellen vannin good idea on the charity shop browsing - I might find stuff that meets my excessive standards without spending too much! Might actually schedule some time to browse the ones in town once a week or something, otherwise it will fall by the wayside.

    mumtomany the advent calendar always includes activities, it's just that I end up spending a small fortune on all the crafty stuff and also the 'little' gifts usually end up costing a fair bit added up. I've been planning it today though and actually we have a lot of stuff leftover from previous years (festive cookie cutters etc) which can be re-used, so I'm hoping it will come in a little cheaper than last year.

    Chrystal thanks for the support. I'm aware that we are going counter to received wisdom on the subject of debt busting, and it may well come back to bite us on the behind, but I'm content with the decisions we've made so far.

    I impressed myself today (warning: this is enormously unimpressive): Checked all the DCs coats and established that definitely none are required this month. Went on usual Next/John Lewis sites to order new clothes for DC3 (badly needed) and when the basket totals came to <cough> £180, I ditched the lot and ordered from Sainsbury's Tu and H&M instead. It was still £50 because she has absolutely no winter clothes and needed wellies too, but it's an improvement. Also ordered her Christmas stocking party dress (revolting twirly sparkly affair, she will love it) from H&M, so much cheaper than the much more restrained (and much less appealing, to her) John Lewis version I was eyeing up.

    Have been planning the advent calendar and have avoided planning in a single gift so far, apart from traditional Christmas Eve family lego set. I may sub some of the more wholesome (and expensive) crafty activities for gifts/craft sets if I find something cheaper in the pound shop, and I will order things like a nice Christmas colouring in poster, but it's already shaping up to be cheaper than last year's. Going to start planning the stockings next.

    To do today
    1. catch up with the ironing. Not done in any way.
    2. email the other relative re visiting when we're in London. Not done.
    3. create chores list as discussed with DH last night. Not done. This isn't shaping up well, is it?!
    4. cook sourdough. Done! I did something! Four loaves in the freezer.
    5. book hygienist appointment. Not done.
    6. plan advent calendar. Half done.
    7. plan homemade gifts. Not done. Well that was a bit of wash out!

    To do this week
    1. social media for website launch. Done.
    2. redo SOA based on DH's current salary (he is still being promised pay rise next month). Done.
    3. October YNAB prep. Done.
    4. start to plan advent calendars and Christmas presents so I can get a handle on spending. Ongoing
    5. plan working time for October. Done.
    6. check total spend for last month. This is all weird on YNAB because I moved the partnership card from a budget to a tracked account and it's sent my spending sums all screwy, so I'm not certain. Under £3,750, probably not under £3,500 is my best guess.

    To do this month
    1. keep the total spend for the month below £3,500.
    2. work a sensible number of hours, even if it means slower progress on the work and debt front. September was rubbish. This is going well so far.
    3. make any homemade Christmas gifts.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017/DFD: £58,608.13/1st Dec 2026
    debt on 2nd Aug 17/DFD: £55,011.96/1st May 2025
    • Hiddenidenity
    • By Hiddenidenity 6th Oct 17, 9:59 PM
    • 4,230 Posts
    • 26,461 Thanks
    Hiddenidenity
    The works online is fab for crafty things and smaller books. I got 10 Xmas books for under £9 today perfect for the smaller ones (sorry I can't remember how old your littles are) but even my 8 year old will read them no doubt.

    I'm so glad you said about Sainsbury and H&M I didn't even realise sainsburys did clothing online! My DD has absolutely nothing left that fits her and is desperate I keep watching on Ebay but haven't found anything cheap enough yet so will check H&M and Sainsburys next month. We are managing with uniform and PJS

    I think you're doing amazing x
    • Honeysucklelou2
    • By Honeysucklelou2 7th Oct 17, 12:22 AM
    • 519 Posts
    • 1,925 Thanks
    Honeysucklelou2
    I appreciate that you are balancing debt busting with living a lifestyle you are happy with but would still urge caution re putting the Christmas spending on a cc. I write as one who has done that in the past and still been paying for it to Easter of the next year and beyond.


    Well done on that Sainsbury Tu /H and M shop.
    paydbx #90 £475/£10,000.
    Loan £17k - paid off in Aug 2017. Home improvement loans £3342 March 2017. £3206 in Oct 17
    • Cherryfudge
    • By Cherryfudge 7th Oct 17, 12:43 AM
    • 964 Posts
    • 4,334 Thanks
    Cherryfudge
    I'd like to second all recommendations for pound shops and The Works for stocking fillers! Other options might be:
    print out colouring sheets from the Internet (rolled up nicely and secured with an elastic band or wool),
    Make jam jar 'cooking kits' with the dry ingredients for biscuits nicely layered inside. Bigger versions of these are also nice gifts for adults.
    Start them knitting with those little balls of 'craft wool' that are very garish but make snazzy dolls' scarves.
    Make kits for DIY peg dolls or wooden spoon dolls. (Use actual pegs /spoons, of course - and real fabric scraps, odds & ends of wool etc. 'like they did in the old days').
    Home made play dough or edible slime.
    Washing line skipping ropes - another item from a pound shop that used to keep kids busy and healthy too!

    These are all on the cheap side and encourage creativity as well as being a bit of heritage.

    Looking through your list, I noticed you buy board games, which is what I liked to do for my children but as they got older, it got harder to buy good ones that weren't exorbitant and which someone in the family didn't already have. They can be really costly so perhaps for this year they could have card games (shop around because some are a lot cheaper than others), marbles, jack straws, solitaire etc.

    Another thing that went down very well was a little book of vouchers to 'cash in' - get out of a chore, have Mum you read a story, go on a scavenger hunt, chose what we're having for tea, etc.

    You are working incredibly hard on everything - I hope it's a wonderful Christmas!
    • crunch_time
    • By crunch_time 7th Oct 17, 6:55 AM
    • 1,050 Posts
    • 3,094 Thanks
    crunch_time
    Topm - the ‘useful for £1’ list includes a lot of the things already mentioned above! I also include glue sticks and felt pens, pants and socks, colouring books rolled up, flannels, art supplies, secondhand books from charity shops. The bigger the object for £1 the better as it bulls put the stocking. Last year I tried £10 per child but it wasn’t enough so I did £20 of £1 items and it worked. Did the same thing for husband and I so only spent £80 on stockings in total. I found if you set a rule like this it makes it easier to stick to a budget. I have also bought some nice card and written vouchers on them like ‘stay up late’ etc. Last yeari included a voucher for Lego land which was awesome and also meant I could save for it after Christmas!!

    I also only spend £10 each on my nieces and nephews - there are four of them.

    This year we are planning on getting new bikes for our two but are buying second hand ones and then a few others. We are also going to make Christmas Day about things we don’t normally do but are fun so it becomes more about the day than the presents.

    I hate the consumeristness Of Christmas and always have done. My mum and dad stressed loads over Christmas presents and the perfect roast rather than it’s meaning and I’m determined I’m not going to do the same.

    Xx
    LBM June 2014. Original debt £23,555 vs Now £0 Paid off in April 2017.
    NEW DEBT (1-1-18) : £7608 Now: £7608 Paid off £0 Long term savings £3440
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