Smart Mart - Health, wealth and happiness

in Debt Free Diaries
725 replies 41.5K views
Hi there and welcome...:hello:

I've decided to start a brand new diary again and this time it will work!! The diary will start on Sunday (November 1st) as it will be exactly six months until my birthday. I need a boundary to my diary so that I have an end aim and an end date.

I am aiming to improve life in five areas (see below). At times in life, I am so very sad about things yet I enjoy reasonable health, have four lovely kids and pretty much my dream job. Money is at the root of a lot of my unhappiness so although it doesn't buy happiness, it makes life easier for sure.

Here's a bit about me...
  • I'm a single man of 41 who lives between Bristol and Bath
  • I work as a self-employed website administrator for the football team I have supported as a boy. I also do some courier work and my income gets topped up by housing benefit and working tax credit.
  • I have four children. DS1 is 18 and is working in his local Somerfield. DD1 is his sister and is 14, they're both from my marriage. DS2 and DS3 are never far apart as they are eight-year-old identical twins, living near me. That relationship failed too. They come over once during the week and every weekend from 3pm Friday till Sunday afternoon.
  • I also write three articles for every matchday programme for the football team I work for. I quite fancy myself as a sports journalist but have done nothing formally in the way of training. In the past twelve months, I have interviewed Fat Boy Slim, Ray Stubbs, Des Lynam, Greg Dyke and John Barnes.
  • The twins play for an under-nines football team. I help coach them but my principle responsibility is refereeing the games, running their website, collecting the match and training fees. It's quite good socially as some of the parents come to a weekly quiz where any prize money gets ploughed into the club. We're £200 up after eighteen months now...:T
The five areas I need to sort out are as follows...

Sensible decisions. No more "taking the wrong option" when deep down I know it's wrong. Take the correct, honest way and there can be no complaints if it goes belly-up.
Money organisation. I reckon I spent more than £1,000 this year on sweets, crisps and cakes not to mention wasting so much more on banal rubbish. This could easily have paid off five or six of my debts instead.
Aim to double business. I am self-employed with a fair bit of spare time that is under-utilised. I could easily double my turnover using that time which would make life much easier.
Reduction in weight. For my height, I should be fifteen stone. For my weight, I should be eight feet six tall. One of these is achievable in 2009...:D
Targets. I've set two already up there, more will follow around debt levels and exercise too. A top diarist on this very forum sets herself targets and they obviously work for her so here goes...

I'll post my SOA later in the week. I'm having my HB reassessed at present so have no real idea what they'll say. The diary itself will start on Sunday.

Hope to see you here, feel free to chip in when you feel like it! :D


  • Hi MART
    Thought i would take a peek, a little early,so will pop back next week.
    Magpie x
    Que sera sera-whatever will be will be
  • LOUBY28LOUBY28 Forumite
    225 Posts
    Good Luck Mart, you sound a lovely guy, keep going. x

    ps if you discover how to grow in height to get your weight ok...pls let me know x
  • benbenandmebenbenandme Forumite
    11.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Combo Breaker Photogenic
    Good luck and hope you stick with it this time Mart ;):D What are your debts looking like at the moment or does that get revealed on sunday?
    Mortgage Total: £62,273 / £75,000 Mortgage End Date: May 2040
    2021 Boiler Savin,gs: £2180 / £2856
  • moneymabelmoneymabel Forumite
    7.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    Hi Mart,
    Happy new diary! Looking forward to reading it :-)
  • Good luck and hope you stick with it this time Mart ;):D What are your debts looking like at the moment or does that get revealed on sunday?

    Thanks BB, so do I....:rolleyes:

    I reckon they're somewhere around either £4,500 or £7,000. Quite a wide disparity in the figures as the CSA messed up big time around 9-12 months ago. They said that I owed £3,000+ for almost ten years maintenance which was so untrue it was laughable. Laughable except for the fact they sent bailiffs round twice...:mad:. Luckily in the nick of time, I found someone with an ounce of common sense at the CSA who sorted everything out and said I owed them £500 instead. Two months ago, I had another statement through that said it was £3,000 again so I need to get another letter sorted to get this done once and for all.

    That is a long winded explanation as to why the debts should be £4,500 but might be £7,000.:eek:
  • AngleaAnglea Forumite
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    Good luck Mart,

    Are you breaking each of your challenges down to smaller steps? e.g. if you have a gut feeling and normally go against it, what can you do to ensure that you can achieve your goal this time?
  • Anglea wrote: »
    Good luck Mart,

    Are you breaking each of your challenges down to smaller steps? e.g. if you have a gut feeling and normally go against it, what can you do to ensure that you can achieve your goal this time?

    Hi Anglea and thanks for the message....:T

    Taking each challenge in turn...

    Sensible decisions - can't break this down really except to say that I'll make daft decisions over the six month period for sure, mainly due to apathy, tiredness or laziness, the three things that plague me. All I can honestly do is keep stupid decisions to a minimum...:rolleyes:

    Money organisation - this challenge I've already started really. I cut my Sky subscription down from £76 a month to £42 a month last week - I had Sky Sports 1 and 2 which was nice to have but completely unnecessary. I also went to paper-free billing and direct debit payment too. That £42 gets me the best broadband, the second best TV package and the best phone package, quite good value. The rest will follow one bit at a time.

    Aim to double business - I currently earn around £600 a month from the website job and the papers so to get this to £1,200 will take some doing, all the while fitting it in with my childcare responsibilities. I've always been there for my twins meaning that I have them from school run till 8pm on Wednesday and school run Friday till 5pm on Sundays. Any work that can't be done while I have them isn't done at all. I need to find more home working opportunities; article writing, transcription, data entry etc etc.

    Reduction of weight - this is the easiest to break down. I'd like to be 15 stone by my birthday which will be tricky as I reckon I'm about 21 stone now. This means losing 6 stone in 6 months which sounds almost impossible but three pounds a week is achievable. As a male who is very overweight ( despite being 6'4" tall ), I can lose half a stone in the first week easily and keep up the average from then on with good luck and hard work. I think it's a case of breaking this challenge into either 26 smaller challenges or 13 medium size ones and get each done in turn.

    Targets - this isn't really a challenge, more a case of getting organised and having a structure in order to get the other four challenges to succeed. For example, the weight loss challenge can be broken down so that each week, I know where I should be by the end of the week weight-wise. The money organisation challenge could be maybe split in three and for me to make sure my income increases by £200 every two months....

    Phew, that was more than I intended to write, sorry for waffling. It may seem a bit overpwering to some but I need the structure and rigidity of it all otherwise it will go the same way as before... nowhere!!
  • I think I might have made my first "sensible" decision tonight although it may well cost me money....:confused:

    Part of my website job is to write match reports on the game. I've done it straight off a radio commentary before and once got someone to cover for me, both of which the club were happy with.

    I have my two youngest round every weekend and they love their football. I'm very conscious that any ground more than three hours from home is a drag for them in the car especially in the dark. I bought an in-car DVD last year and they watch that when we go anywhere of any distance.

    My team is in Leeds tomorrow and I wasn't 100% sure I'd have the money to go until nearly 6pm tonight. Leeds is 3 hours 40 minutes from here and it's unfair to drag the children there and back in a day. If we went up at 6pm tonight, we'd have got there around 10pm allowing for stops and had another 3 hours 40 minutes back tomorrow too.:rolleyes:

    I booked a hotel tonight and immediately felt bad about dragging them up there. You know when kids don't really want to do something but I pressed on. I felt so bad ( as this was the wrong option) that I cancelled the hotel (may lose my money) and I'll do it by commentary instead.

    Long winded post, sorry, but I proved to myself tonight that I CAN make the right decision. Maybe the hotel won't give me a refund but I have two happy kids next to me and tomorrow will still cost me around £100 less than it would have done. If I get my money back, I'm £150 up. I have a good plan for what to do with what I've saved which will benefit me in the long term and I just know I've made the right choice.

    Instead tomorrow we're going for a round of golf and they're going trick-or-treating with their mum. They wanted to go anyway but it would have been impossible had we gone to Leeds.
  • AngleaAnglea Forumite
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    Hi Mart,

    I'm glad you've written a lot in your answer to me as I think it's helping me too, I've been doing challenges for a number of years and always find it easy to give up or do the bare minimum. So I think using your methods of a more detailed plan will help.

    Well done on your decision about cancelling the hotel. It's one of those that could have gone either way. It could have worked out ok but you don't need me to tell you all the things that could have gone wrong with such a long journey, children and potential traffic, illness etc.

    Are you a strong enough person that can achieve goals without needing anyone to be accountable to? I have found it very difficult to succeed as I'm doing it for myself, so it's easier to slip up.

    So I hope you have a strategy in place to combat this if you are anything like me.

    I noticed you live near Bristol. I live the other side, going towards Weston.

    Good Luck next week with your goals.
  • I'm not sure that I am strong enough. I guess if I was then I wouldn't need to do an online blog where other people can give advice, support and help to me....:rolleyes:

    The fact that the team lost 4-0 today helps me a bit. Of course I'd rather that they'd won but the fact they lost meant that the journey home would have been a downbeat one. I sit here now knowing that the money I've saved will be better used. I took the boys for a round of golf at the pitch and putt this morning, we had a McDonalds for dinner ( sorry, it's a rare treat) and I've done some shopping tonight. I've still got around £75 left out of that money....:T

    Didn't realise you were local although I'm totally the other side to you, between Bristol and Bath....:D
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