OK So where do I start?

edited 17 October 2010 at 2:47PM in Debt-Free Wannabe
34 replies 3.9K views


  • annibeeannibee Forumite
    777 Posts
    You could also encourage your daughters and you and your mrs to sort out your old clothes - if your spending that much a month im sure you will have some! and pop em on ebay.......your eldest could use her money towards her car help he to be a bit more financially independant as well as a bit easier on your pocket. Yours and your Mrs extras can go towards some bills or whatever and your younger ones can pay for their own entertainment etc
    I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.

    Never Look Down on People unless you are helping them up

    Wins - £5 Voucher, Book, Sat Nav

  • kingfisherbluekingfisherblue Forumite
    9.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Xmas Saver!
    Apart from direct debits, I always pay cash - you really do stop and think about what you are spending.

    Also, groceries, as others have said, is incredibly high. Try for one week in the month that you don't shop - just pick up bread, milk, fresh fruit and veg. You will almost certainly have enough food in your cupboards and freezer to get through the week. I've done this when I've been a bit skint and it's a good opportunity to use up stuff that is lurking at the back of the cupboard (check 'best before' dates first). It can also show where you are buying stuff that is being wasted.
  • HappyMJHappyMJ Forumite
    21.1K Posts
    The numbers for groceries made my eyes water a bit too. We do our bulk shop at Lidl at around £80 pw but there's always the extra bits.

    The clothing ain't me - I wear just enough to not get arrested. 3 growing teenage daughters... mind you the laundry seems endless.

    Is there a scale somewhere which suggests reasonable costs. If I can impose those somehow it will help a lot.
    Yes there is a scale if you do the Debt Remedy through CCCS here --> https://debtremedy.cccs.co.uk/start.aspx then you can try different figures and the program will tell you if they are too high or too low then you can adjust them to a comfortable value for yourself. Once you have settled on a figure then tell the family to stick to them and create a new SOA for the next 3 months here ---> http://www.makesenseofcards.com/soacalc.html and post in the MSE format. Copy and paste it back here then we'll pick it to bits. A family of 5 should be no higher than £600 per month but with some meal planning and a bit of frugality, drop a brand, cutting waste, etc you can get that down to £300 easily and even £125 with some super frugality (which is very hard).
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
  • edited 17 October 2010 at 4:40PM
    Steel_2Steel_2 Forumite
    1.6K Posts
    edited 17 October 2010 at 4:40PM
    Surely you have 4 people at home, not 5. Your daughter doing the foundation degree is living in rented accommodation and shouldn't be classed on your SOA as living at home. I take it she pays her own food and living costs or are you paying for that too?

    Your daughter doing the foundation degree - she needs to look at bringing in some income to support herself possibly through a bar job or babysitting. Does she get any grants or student loans out of which her rent can be paid?

    What do you mean by your other two daughters needing education tops ups? How many of your girls live at home and how old are they? The £50 you listed as benefits - is that child benefit?

    £800 on groceries a month? That's between 4 of you yes? That needs to be reined in. Do you meal plan and shop with a list? Who does the shopping?

    Your electric is high - go round and switch off anything that has a red standby button on it or a digital clock, including the microwave and the oven if possible. Also do it on any appliances in your daughters' rooms (bar the alarm clocks). Also look at turning down your thermostat and make a plan for keeping your heating costs as low as possible, otherwise your gas is going to sky rocket over the next few months when it gets cold and you'll have massive bills to pay in February.

    You don't have any contents insurance, just buildings? You do actually need to find room in your budget for this in case your house goes up in smoke and you lose everything.

    Are you on a water meter or do you pay rates?

    You're spending a fortune on clothes - as someone else suggested start sorting through what you all have, get the stuff in good condition and which doesn't any more onto ebay. Ditto any impulse purchases you all rarely use, any kitchen gadgets used a couple of times, exercise equipment etc.

    You need to get rid of the second car unless your daughter wants to take over the costs of it (or does she already?). As for your main car, if it is new-ish and worth a lot of money I would sacrifice it and look at selling it then buying a cheaper car and using some of the surplus cash to pay off your secured loan early. Do you really need an MPV now your daughter is no longer at home? Would a standard car not suffice? Don't they fit three people in the back seat?

    Entertainment is a little high, but it depends what you have put in here?
    "carpe that diem"
  • pennypusherpennypusher Forumite
    331 Posts
    Tenth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Hi you have an incredible amount of money coming in each month, you just need to cut back. Your Gas and Electricity need to be drastically cut back, you should be able to save at least half that amount - turn your heating down and on for less time, don't use the tumble drier when the sun shines, don't leave the cooker on for ages before you use it, turn off appliances when not in use.

    You should be able to get telephone and broadband combined for a lot less than you are paying now.

    Groceries aim for £500 per month - go over to the old style board for help. Drop a brand, don't buy ready meals and cook from scratch.

    Clothes if you have been spending that much each month you should have plenty - stop spending!!!

    Can you cut down your petrol spending at all - stop unnecessary journeys or combine two things in one trip.

    You need to put something in for medical. Dentist, prescriptions etc.

    Your Life Insurance and Buildings Insurance seem high - check comparison websites to see if you can get them cheaper.

    You need to put something in for presents for Birthdays and Christmas otherwise you will have large debts after Christmas.

    Haircuts, do you only spend £40 per month for all of you?

    Entertainment - you could cut this down. Try looking on the website for cheap ideas for entertainment.

    Emergency fund - you haven't put any cash down in your assets so presumably you haven't got one yet?

    I think with careful planning you could quite easily save £400 per month. You will need to make sure your wife and children are all playing their part in saving money. You could put it to them that there will be more money available for their studies when they need it.

    Good luck, you can do it, you just need to make a plan and stick to it.
  • edited 17 October 2010 at 8:06PM
    Jack_BannermanJack_Bannerman Forumite
    7 Posts
    edited 17 October 2010 at 8:06PM
    Thank you once again for your replies.

    I've looked through 7 months of the last year's statements and the figures have been revised a little :
    Groceries now £912 a month.
    Clothes £156 but as the groceries were at Tesco/Asda then there are some clothes in there.
    Petrol came to £150
    Home bits came to £172
    Treats/pressies/bits I couldn't identify came to £576
    Pets £108 (someone shot the cat - still has a pellet in him next to his heart)

    Still pretty bad...and feeling very sick if we've blown it on food in particular. That will get the very first attention. We do cook though we use jars of sources and Aunt Bessie's Yorkshire puds and the odd frozen pizza. I'm curious to see what we are doing so wrong and will be loking at the frugal menus.

    I feel like one of those people on a debt reform TV show where they don't have a clue what is going on. I honestly thought I did and what we were doing was normal.

    I must appologise that I have screwed up so badly I just hope I've not offended you too much. We're really a very ordinary family, we both work at what we like doing, the girls are turning out OK despite their state education and all three have great artistic talents but it looks like we've stupidly mucked it up for them by being oblivious to what we were doing with the money.

    A few other bits - house contents is part of the insurance, not on a water meter but we shower a lot, eldest daughter - we're paying her accomodation so it's like she's here. Haircuts - mine's about £6 when it's gone Freddie Boswell style every 3 months or so but it's more for the ladies.

    Tomorrow I have to pull the final rabbit out of the hat so we can meet our commitments for the next 2 weeks until payday and we need a serious family discussion about all this.

    Thanks once again. I'll keep you posted.

  • pennypusherpennypusher Forumite
    331 Posts
    Tenth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Well done you, you are making rapid progress in identifying where your money is going. Perhaps a spending diary might help. You could try shopping online for your groceries - that would enable you to keep a closer check on your grocery spending or you could try meal planning and work out what food you need for the week ahead and write a shopping list and stick to it. Or you could just take cash to the supermarket to stop you overspending.
  • bargainbettybargainbetty Forumite
    3.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic Name Dropper
    Hello JB,

    Can I add a practical suggestion? You and the missus could do a full cupboard inventory - The bathroom cupboard, kitchen (both under the sink, freezer and pantry). Make a list of everything you have, and remember not to buy it. Have your kids do it to, for toiletries etc.

    This may sound stupid, but when I lost my job in 2008, I did this. I found I had, by force of habit throwing things in the trolley, acculmated seven bottles of bleach, enough kitchen cleaner for six months, enough pasta and rice to make over 20 meal bases and I have yet to buy any more skin creams, since I had enough to re-stock Boots.

    Use up what you have. You'll find out you have a fortune sitting on the shelves, and you will rediscover the weirdest things. It is also a really good opportunity to clear out all the unworn clothes, books, DVDs etc, and get them up on ebay - recover your money that way too.

    Best of luck
    Some days, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps....
    LB moment - March 2006. DFD - 1 June 2012!!! DEBT FREE!

  • sofababesofababe Forumite
    1.4K Posts
    With reference to your grocery bill.....meal planning I think is key. Do you all eat the same meal each night, together? It might sound like a daft question but some people don't and end up spending much more than necessary on ready meals when they all eat separately. Make a meal plan, monthly or weekly, and write a shopping list for those things (do the cupboard inventory first) then add on the other bits like loo roll, washing powder etc. I find it easier to shop online, that way there's no chucking stuff in the trolley just cos its new or on offer. I also use sauces in jars and the odd frozen pizza, and Aunt Bessies yorkies but mostly I cook from scratch where I can. Batch cooking mince for bolognese/lasagne, and another for shepherds pie. Portion it into tupperware and freeze.
    I find it easier to print out the meal plan and pin it on the kitchen board. My son knows what we're having each day and doesn't go rooting thru the freezer or fridge for snacks. I've saved loads of money since I've been shopping this way and we eat better than ever too!!:j

    Oh, and please don't feel that you've let anyone down. you definitely haven't. It sounds like your daughters don't want for anything and you have a good enough income that with a few tweeks you can have this blip sorted in a matter of months:)
  • MFWannabeMFWannabe Forumite
    1.4K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    Crikey your last 7 months statements have eye watering amounts on there!! Have you shown your wife these and your soa?
    I think you need to asap and to have your family discussion now; not in 2 weeks time. Be prepared and set a budget in place before your next payday. You have a good income and could have a nice comfortable life if you rein things in a bit.
    With reference to food shopping as Pennypusher suggested you should do it online then you will be able to keep a tally of how much you're spending as you go along and none of you will have the distractions of going into the shop; like they are at the moment with clothes and house bits and other bits that you can't account for.
    Set each daughter a budget for clothes, for example £50 each per month. Seriously think about getting rid of the 2nd car; how often does it get used?
    With reference to your pension; i would probably cut this to £100 per month for now until you have paid debts.
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