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  • FIRST POST
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 7th Sep 17, 2:57 PM
    • 153Posts
    • 569Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    Everything is possible if you try!
    • #1
    • 7th Sep 17, 2:57 PM
    Everything is possible if you try! 7th Sep 17 at 2:57 PM
    Hi all
    Newbie to the forum here. I'm ready to hold my hand up and say "yes, I have a debt problem". I'm also ready to do what I can to climb out of this debt-hole! (Hence the positive title!)

    So, a little bit about me - I live with my teenage daughter (who I shall refer to from here on as Kitty) and two real-life floofs who constantly demand food and attention.

    I've been dithering around in denial for months years, while slowly but surely the debt pile has accumulated. I was doing a really great job of ignoring this, until a few months ago, when I found myself doing the weekly shop on the credit card ("just to tide me over until pay day"), letting things creep up and up, and not repaying those little credit card payments which grew and grew, meaning that month on month just paying off the interest I wasn't getting anywhere.

    I took a long look at what I was spending and where. Admittedly I've been lazier than I should have been with regard to my finances, so I hadn't really bothered to shop around for energy, broadband, car insurance etc deals. I've started to rectify this, and have found cheaper car insurance, energy and broadband. I've also started my little black book for recording moneys in and out, and renewal dates for such things (and discovered that uswitch will save reminders on these too )

    I found this forum a couple of days ago, and your stories have inspired me to feel I'm not too old to get ouf of debt before I retire, and my debts, while a large looming cloud at the moment, should be manageable with some serious organisation.
    I've been having to take a lot of self-care lately, due to health reasons, but looking after finances so I'm not so anxious will be part of that.

    So, this is the beginning of my diary, and journey. Constructive comments and helpful tips are welcomed, but please be gentle with me, as I'm new to this.

    I do have a question for you all - I'm not currently on any DMP or anything. I spoke to a debt management company on the phone, and they recommended an IVA. For some reason the thought of this made me lose nearly a nights sleep and wake several times with severe anxiety chest pains! Hence, I'm trying being accountable to myself, and being open here I think will help, it seems an encouraging group.

    Current level of debt:
    Barclaycard: £15,000
    HSBC Credit Card: £3,000
    MBNA Credit Card: £2,400
    Overdraft (this gets maxed out every month without fail): £350
Page 2
    • anna_1977
    • By anna_1977 11th Sep 17, 10:05 AM
    • 597 Posts
    • 837 Thanks
    anna_1977
    I need to have that cupboard clear out. My youngest daughter is back off to Uni on Saturday to start her second year so I'm waiting for then, I can then have a good sort out and use up tins etc. Have you thought about online shopping? I do it purely for the reason that I don't impulse buy - works for me and i definitely save quite a bit.
    Good idea leaving money at home to take away the temptation.
    • 117pauline
    • By 117pauline 11th Sep 17, 12:13 PM
    • 414 Posts
    • 5,149 Thanks
    117pauline
    I love your user name by the way.

    I get the impression that this has all built up over years so I would suggest a gentle approach to improving your situation, particularly if you are not well.

    Yes, your situation isn't ideal but you know that and are ready to make changes. As an example, you have found your energy bill refund - that's a great start. I agree with your ideas about how to spend it. An emergency fund is a must.

    You can look at your budget and choose one area to really focus on for a couple of months so you can see the improvements and feel a sense of achievement.

    I personally would focus on grocery shopping and takeaways.

    I wonder if it would help if you could get a couple of meals prepped in advance of you needing them? I have good and bad days so I cook ahead. Yesterday we had a roast but I actually prepared today's meal at the same time so if I don't feel like it, there's still food on the table.

    Batch cooking?
    Great idea but again take the gentle approach.

    If you make Bolognese or something similar, make enough for two meals and freeze one. It Next time, stew, do the same and you quickly start to have a freezer supply. Yes, I am a slow cooker fan.

    Involve Kitten in your meal planning. You can both come up with a master list of meals you enjoy, including takeaway style meals.

    All this will take some time but hopefully will reduce your feelings of being overwhelmed. You will be taking steps towards a better future, hopefully where you will feel better.

    So GENTLE small steps please. Even one less takeaway a month is an improvement. £30 less on groceries, just a pound a day, is £365 over the year.

    Let me know if you would like any more ideas.

    Take care and be gentle with yourself
    Pauline
    Don't get it perfect - Get it going
    Better Than Before
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 11th Sep 17, 12:33 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    Cupboard clear out felt really good! It's now easy for me to see what I have in stock. (Will work on the freezer another day!) I did online shopping for a while, didn't really seem to make a lot of difference in £ spent though. That's not to say I shouldn't take a look. I've a feeling Aldi may be a good option. Where I am it's just across the road from Sainsbury.

    Pauline,
    Thanks for your kind words, really sounds like you understand me almost better than I understand myself! I do tend to be hyper self critical, so being gentle with myself is something I find difficult.
    I think I need to remind myself that I've made a start, which is a positive thing to do. It may be a long journey, but it will be worth it in the end.

    You are correct that all this has built up over years. Started with a student overdraft, which converted to a loan after the graduate period ended. House moves requiring deposit lead me to increasing the loan amount/taking out a new loan. Meanwhile I was only paying off the minimum (interest) on credit card, so it wasn't getting any smaller. Last year I decided I needed to do something, so the Barclay card was originally a 0% interest to consolidate the remaining loan and credit card. It's been gradually creeping up for so long, and I've really buried my head in the sand about it.

    Before I did the SoA my feeling was that food/groceries would be the most obvious to cut spending, and it does look that way.
    Kitty and I have been adding to a little collection of recipes that we both like, and are for the most part easy, and cheap (the primary function of this is so that when she flies the nest in a couple of years she has things which she can make herself). This will come in useful when thinking about meal plans though.
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • NelliePie
    • By NelliePie 11th Sep 17, 12:42 PM
    • 91 Posts
    • 303 Thanks
    NelliePie
    Hi Tea,

    I agree with Pauline - you might feel like you want to make all changes now and have the energy/enthusiasm for a dramatic overhaul but you need to be considerate of what is sustainable. I'm not saying don't try to do what you can but work at a level that is right for you an Kitty. You've made a great start and done some of the hardest parts now you just have to keep it going - there's a long road ahead but you can do it!. There are so many helpful people on here and there's pages and pages of advice for everything financial so take it a step at a time.

    The in and out book is a great idea as long as you record everything - I find it useful to add it all up at the end of the month and see how much I've spent on shopping, eating out etc. I then pick one factor and try to beat it next month (planning/lifestyle/events etc permitting).

    I'll be subscribing to this thread so I can follow your journey and keep wishing you luck!
    NP
    When life gives you lemons, find the tequila!
    MFW: FTB June 2017 £144k. Target 128k June 2019
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 11th Sep 17, 1:49 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    Thanks Nellie!
    I will certainly take on what you said about making sustainable changes. My feeling is that if I get things started and planned now while I'm feeling good and energetic about it, then it should be easier to carry it on in some capacity when I'm not at 100%. Progress may be sporadic!
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • Nonnadiluca
    • By Nonnadiluca 11th Sep 17, 8:26 PM
    • 101 Posts
    • 841 Thanks
    Nonnadiluca
    For easy budgeting I use a free app called Spending Tracker. I have several different 'accounts' on there, joint account, personal account, shopping account, other spends account etc, but it's really easy to use. For example, for my shopping account - I put my monthly budget of £300 in as income and every time I buy anything I enter it as an expense, which means that I always know exactly what is left in the budget for the month: because it's on my phone and I always have my phone with me, I can update immediately, not have to wait until I get home and forget what I've bought. Maybe worth trying, especially as it's free.
    I agree that starting an emergency fund is a good idea, something unexpected always crops up and ends up on the credit card so you feel as if you're going backwards.
    It's been said many times before, but realising you have a problem and making a start is the most important step. Good luck!
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 12th Sep 17, 11:01 AM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    So the £1000 credit from British Gas arrived in my account today.
    I've put £500 away for christmas/birthdays/emergencies, the overdraft is cleared, and paid £100 off the Barclaycard!
    Little steps in the right direction.
    Opened a basic bank account so that I've got one pot for regular bills etc, and a set amount per month will be in second pot for general spending (groceries, fuel etc) and see how that goes.

    Nonna - I'll have a look at the spending tracker. I have looked at a couple of apps before. I've been playing with the YNAB one as it's both an app and easy to do online. I like that it links to bank accounts too.

    Little steps ... purchased fuel and did not succumb to the temptation of drinks/snacks/overpriced coffee
    Thanks for the support everyone!
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • NelliePie
    • By NelliePie 12th Sep 17, 12:42 PM
    • 91 Posts
    • 303 Thanks
    NelliePie
    Tea, That's sounds like great progress!

    I'm sure you've seen on here all of the advice about money saving by switching providers of essentials like gas, electricity, phone, mortgage if you have one, etc. You just have tow work out what's best for you.

    There are many guides on the internet for batch cooking / getting the best out of your freezer etc. Personally I'm no good at batch cooking as I tend to get bored/distracted half way through and can rarely afford a few hours dedicated cooking. Personally I tend to try to cook a double portion if I can when doing things like pasta bake or curry etc. It'll not take much more effort if you're already cooking it and they'll freeze great - that way when I don't feel like cooking I already have something homemade I can throw in the microwave.

    When life gives you lemons, find the tequila!
    MFW: FTB June 2017 £144k. Target 128k June 2019
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 12th Sep 17, 1:19 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    I've switched all the utilities, phone/internet and car insurance. Really pays to not be lazy about these things doesn't it! With the car insurance I managed to half what I was paying

    My "batch cooking" tends to be more along the lines of cooking extra and putting some away for another day. Sunday's chilli also did yesterdays dinner, and Kitty is having the remainder for lunch today.I can forsee some massive stews and casseroles coming for the next few months!
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • Narola1976
    • By Narola1976 12th Sep 17, 1:57 PM
    • 97 Posts
    • 276 Thanks
    Narola1976
    Hi...welcome and well done ...you've made a good start. I swear by YNAB...it's not just a great piece of software but I have learned so much about budgeting. Really give it a go...watch the videos to understand the principles. It has revolutionized my understanding of budgeting
    HSBC CC £7150.15 - £6524.68 ~~~ Barclay Card £7894.74 £7846.32 ~~~ MBNA 1 £10382.67 - £10272.67 ~~~ MBNA 2 £7214.28 - £7062.94 ~~~Argos £202.05 - £100.05 ~~~ HSBC Loan £399.27 - £0 ~~~ Hitachi Loan £24.12 - £0 ~~~ Car Loan £14745.60 - £14008.32
    TOTAL £48012.88 - £45814.98 (Paid £2197.90 so far)
    • NelliePie
    • By NelliePie 12th Sep 17, 2:44 PM
    • 91 Posts
    • 303 Thanks
    NelliePie
    I've switched all the utilities, phone/internet and car insurance. Really pays to not be lazy about these things doesn't it! With the car insurance I managed to half what I was paying

    My "batch cooking" tends to be more along the lines of cooking extra and putting some away for another day. Sunday's chilli also did yesterdays dinner, and Kitty is having the remainder for lunch today.I can forsee some massive stews and casseroles coming for the next few months!
    Originally posted by Tea&Kittens

    Autumn/winter is great for left overs - stews, casseroles, even roast dinners etc keep well enough in the freezer. And it's so nice to come home to something simple and hot!
    When life gives you lemons, find the tequila!
    MFW: FTB June 2017 £144k. Target 128k June 2019
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 12th Sep 17, 3:02 PM
    • 8,195 Posts
    • 42,582 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    Hey Tea & Kittens - thought I'd pay you a return visit! *waves*

    Looks like you're starting to get everything together - that must have been a great surprise when you found out how much your energy account was in credit by! Brilliant stuff! I agree with you that sorting out an emergency fund is probably a good plan for the balance of that refunded money - make sure it's not TOO accessible though!

    Batch cooking can take many forms - some people do a purposeful day when they cook loads of stuff - others find that it works better to cook extra portions of favourite meals and freeze those. There's no wrong or right way, it's about finding what works best for you. I tend to mix and match between the two - we have a massive slow cooker so during the winter I'll use that for stews, curries, bolognese etc in particular. I also do mutliples of things like layered veg bakes, and if I'm cooking a cheese sauce for example I'll always cook double or treble what I need and portion/freeze the balance. Having stuff i the freezer that can just be pinged to defrost/heat is such a bonus though and can definitely keep food spends down!

    Remember you need to start budgeting now for things like car expenses too - I see you have your car tax on your SOA as paid monthly - is it or have you just written it this way for ease? At 3250 a year that's quite a lump to potentially take you by surprise though - and it's also one of those things where paying monthly is a false economy if you have a choice about it as they charge extra to do so I think? (In fact I've just looked - there is an extra charge on the 6 monthly payment option as well now so you really need to set aside the money to be able to make a single annual payment . We use a savings account specifically for car expenses and put a set amount in there each month to cover tax, insurance, maintenance, MoT and a degree of depreciation for things like tyres too.

    One notable thing I did pick up from the SOA - no contents insurance?

    I'm going to be the dissenter to pour the bucket of cold water over YNAB I'm afraid. It's not that it's not good, or that it doesn't work - but learn to budget using pen, paper and bank accounts first before using an app - you'll have a much better understanding of the "ground rules" that way. As and when you do move on to using an App look for a free one - at least while you're in debt!
    Last edited by EssexHebridean; 12-09-2017 at 3:05 PM.
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    Sainsbugs 0% card: 22/12/16 £1229.00/£544.67 (17/10/17)
    SOA Calculator for DFW newbies: Stoozing.com SOA Calculator
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 12th Sep 17, 3:33 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    Hi EssexHebridean!

    I have an existing Cash ISA (which was languishing with about 63p in it) which I've used to deposit the emergency funds into. There's no card with that account, so I can't spend it willy nilly, but I can transfer if needed for an emergency. So, yes accessible, but away from the main account is good.

    I have indeed been paying car tax monthly, though it is on my list of things to save for so that I can pay off all at once. I have now set up a separate account so that bills and things like car maintenance will be separate from what I have for day to day use for groceries etc.

    I've had a good sort of the cupboards, so once I've done the same with the freezer (I've got the feeling that there are some tubs of stuff which are overdue to be liberated from their icy sojourn) I'll have more room and be able to identify what I have more clearly.

    Contents insurance - I did have, not sure what happened to that, will have to look into it.

    I understand what you're saying about YNAB. I have a little book to write everything down in. I'll be entering everything both manually and in YNAB while I get more of a feel for what I'm doing.
    It's a little overwhelming realising how easily I've just frittered away money on random things for so long! I've deleted the kickstarter app from my phone to take away the temptation from backing interesting projects, so that should help a little too!
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 12th Sep 17, 3:57 PM
    • 8,195 Posts
    • 42,582 Thanks
    EssexHebridean
    Haha - deleting tempting apps from phones or tablets can really help to keep spendiness under control - I don't have the eBay app on mine for that very reason!
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    Sainsbugs 0% card: 22/12/16 £1229.00/£544.67 (17/10/17)
    SOA Calculator for DFW newbies: Stoozing.com SOA Calculator
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 12th Sep 17, 4:24 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    Somehow (quite fortunately!) I've never succumbed to being much of an ebay spender! This is probably for the best. It's boardgames which are my big weakness for spending.
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • missmental123
    • By missmental123 12th Sep 17, 4:44 PM
    • 50 Posts
    • 145 Thanks
    missmental123
    Spending app
    For easy budgeting I use a free app called Spending Tracker. I have several different 'accounts' on there, joint account, personal account, shopping account, other spends account etc, but it's really easy to use. For example, for my shopping account - I put my monthly budget of £300 in as income and every time I buy anything I enter it as an expense, which means that I always know exactly what is left in the budget for the month: because it's on my phone and I always have my phone with me, I can update immediately, not have to wait until I get home and forget what I've bought. Maybe worth trying, especially as it's free.
    I agree that starting an emergency fund is a good idea, something unexpected always crops up and ends up on the credit card so you feel as if you're going backwards.
    It's been said many times before, but realising you have a problem and making a start is the most important step. Good luck!
    Originally posted by Nonnadiluca
    Hi ,
    I saw your recommendation this spending app, I immediately downloaded it and have not looked back since! It's so easy to use and it's really helping me see how much I actually spend on the different categories.
    Many thanks !.
    Total: Debt July '17 -£23,806.33 - now
    -£20,250 (14.9 % paid)
    • missmental123
    • By missmental123 12th Sep 17, 4:48 PM
    • 50 Posts
    • 145 Thanks
    missmental123
    Hello Tea & Kittens,
    I have been reading your lovely diary, I'm a newbie too with similar amount of debt as you. Hopefully we will both be debt free very soon!
    Good luck, I have subscribed and will pop by to say hi when I can.
    Total: Debt July '17 -£23,806.33 - now
    -£20,250 (14.9 % paid)
    • Nicnak
    • By Nicnak 12th Sep 17, 8:03 PM
    • 376 Posts
    • 1,515 Thanks
    Nicnak
    Hi,

    Thought I would come and read. Seems we are in a similar position, and have spent the past few years burying our heads.

    Here with you!
    • Tea&Kittens
    • By Tea&Kittens 12th Sep 17, 8:47 PM
    • 153 Posts
    • 569 Thanks
    Tea&Kittens
    I've downloaded the Spending tracker app to have a play with. I figure if I try enough things something might work!
    Lovely to have this supportive community!

    (Nearly caved this evening, got home and felt rubbish. Nearly succumbed to buying an "easy tea". Made a chickeny pasta thing, there enough of it to be lunch on Thursday too).
    October: NSDs 6 / 17 NSDs in a row: 1 / 5
    I started my debtfree journey on 07 September 2017: Total: £20,521 £19847
    Barclaycard: £14659 £14435 Oct 2017 HSBC Credit Card : £3112 £3012 Oct 2017
    Overdraft: 350 £0 Oct2017 MBNA : 2400
    A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. I'm on my way!
    • blue_eyed_girl123
    • By blue_eyed_girl123 12th Sep 17, 9:06 PM
    • 50 Posts
    • 100 Thanks
    blue_eyed_girl123
    Hello Tea & Kittens ,

    I would definitely recommend separating out accounts, I find it really helpful and I know how much needs to go in each one and how much is leftover.

    That way bank balance isn't just one figure and bills are paid with actual money.

    Also, clear your overdraft and remove it, if you don't have it, you can't use it.

    Good luck on your journey .
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