Journey to happy skinflintedness

in Debt Free Diaries
253 replies 16.8K views
saraihsaraih Forumite
263 Posts
Seventh Anniversary
Here we go. Technically I am not in debt as such, but my outgoings have left me with about £2 before payday every month. The anxiety this causes is having an effect and I dread a random direct debit or big emergency that will spiral the whole delicate ecosystem out of control.

Looking at our income/outgoings there is no need for us to be living like this so I am starting this to hopefully motivate better spending habits from now on.


Start an emergency fund
Son's clothes for college
New bed

I have no debts or lines of credit and around £500 excess income per month. I have also been completely skint for six years paying bills off and therefore have been putting a million things off, so the idea is to BE A SKINFLINT, not open any credit and get everything as cheap as possible at optimum quality FOR CASH ONLY. Also to make as much beer money as possible to throw at a savings account.


Good - OH gets paid on Wednesday so there is £13 in the account till then. Going to leave it in there and make it the beginning of an emergency fund - you have to start somewhere!

Good - Researched a credit union to join to have as a dedicated savings account. They are open late on Thursdays so will get documentation together and get him to go after work this week and open an account.

Good - Badgered OH to phone the WTC people about an overpayment of 3500 - turns out it was a computer error, HUGE RELIEF. This is a reminder to us not to stick our heads in the sand though, when we got the notification we panicked - spent several days ignoring it until we buckled down to find out. We put ourselves through all that stress just by not facing up to it. This is how we got into a mess in the first place.

Good - Got some helpful advice on old debts from this board here. No difference made financially but it provided a clear path forward whereas before we were confused. Now we can make plans.

Good - Checked out my old accounts with beer money sites like and found all my old passwords - Amazon vouchers here I come :beer: I used to make £20 a week and I'm sure I could do this again.

Bad - Starter thing for the kitchen light arrived from Ebay but it didn't work and now I need a flourescent tube.

Bad - Realised my darling son is turning into an actual giant and has exactly two pairs of shorts and two tshirts to his name. Lucky his trainers still fit or I'd cry :D

Bad - OH needs a new bed. I've seen a new orthopedic one in a charity shop for £170 but simply don't have the money yet and it'll go by the time I do. Will keep an eye out. Will talk to him to see if he can last till we can afford a good new one.

That's it so far. Lots of good news and some blah but so far nothing tragic. Lets hope it stays that way for a bit.


  • edited 22 July 2014 at 7:35PM
    saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    edited 22 July 2014 at 7:35PM
    After a good motivating yesterday nothing much happened today. I decided to start keeping a record to the nearest pound of where all this money is going and seeing where it can be trimmed and saved while not leaving my son up poverty creek without a paddle. I grew up very poor and I don't want him to struggle and be left unstable, it only leads to bad decisions and spiralling costs.

    For 19 months we've been trying to shuffle £100 a month into his bank acct. It's killed us sometimes but we made it a priority and got it done somehow.

    He'll be starting college soon so here is his SoA:

    Bank account (0.5% on first 500) - £1900
    Pocket money £20 a month for Steam games
    Sunday job - £20 a week

    Which is a great little buffer to have and £1887 more than I have, but it is losing money in there and not really doing anything for his money management skills. He just spends his £20 a month pocket money on Steam and his wages on snacks and when it runs out it runs out. He's never touched the bank account.

    So I don't know what to do. I've only ever had a cashcard bank account and never saved anything significant enough to warrant thinking about. OH has had credit but never any savings either.

    Looking at the benefits of the credit union for OH, it seems like cheap loans are available as well as access to good deals on white goods and local businesses. So my thoughts are somewhat scrambled here:
    • Start him off with putting £500 into the credit union, and add say 5 or 10 a month to show he saves regularly. Then when he's older he can borrow I think up to double what he has? not sure. Bigger purchases could come out of here instead of touching his main savings?

    • Leave £100 in his normal Santander acct, give him his cashcard and top it up as and when he spends from it - this would let him get taxis if necessary, not leave him stuck in town when the buses aren't running, let him get food if he has to unexpectedly stay late at college, buy gig tickets once in a while and also let us keep an eye on it a little to check he isn't being irresponsible to a huge extent. Also he couldn't just rip through the whole 2 grand in a week and bring us back to square one. He isn't irresponsible but who knows what his college friends might consider a good idea to spend money on? or even who might want to borrow from him?

    • Put the rest in an ISA for him. 4% or even 3% would be so much better and we aren't planning for him to really need it for a while. We'll be buying him driving lessons and a license separately. Put the £100 a month in here.

    I don't know. Is this even reasonable? It's a good problem to have but I want to do well by him and in the grand scheme of things I wish I'd started sooner. It isn't going to buy him a house but it might pay a few parking fines before he suddenly owes thousands and the bailliffs are knocking on :p

    Anyhow. My £13 starter for the emergency fund is still there. This is the most we've had in before payday in years - I'm rich! :rotfl:
  • saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    Payday today and this was supposed to be the first month in about six years that there would be spare cash after essentials. Hah! it might be depressing if it wasn't so obvious that this wouldn't happen.

    OH gets his taxis to and from work mostly paid for by a scheme called Access to Work, it was the only way he was able to return to work after being off sick for five years. There's no way he can manage on two buses and a train for a two hour journey since they moved offices to the other side of town.

    Well the taxis are expensive and AtW pay so late that we have to pay out in advance, three weeks worth of money. This money gets refunded eventually but they've slowly slipped behind so much that to be safe we need to buffer it to four weeks in advance. Now I do know they'll refund us eventually but to me they'll catch up finally when he stops working, so it is £250 down the drain until he gets so ill he can't work any more. Sometimes they do almost catch up but we have to leave it alone for when they slow down again.

    The obvious solution would be if a taxi firm would bill Access to Work directly, but then they have to pay VAT and there isn't a single firm that will do this for us.

    Oh well. Onwards and downwards :)

    Good - counted change in the penny jar, £4.14. This sounds bad but we gave up taking cash out a while ago so it is more than I was expecting.

    Good - checked nectar points, have just under £28 on it. That will do towards a christmas shop.

    Good - checked Neilson points - almost enough for two more volcanic orange Le Creuset mugs. Then I'll have a full set of six and maybe I can sell them on Ebay.

    Good - earned 250 swagbucks just by tootling around the site a bit doing random tasks and answering a Virgin media survey. I need to get reacquainted with the beer money sites to optimise payouts.

    Good - set up online banking for a Halifax account that I haven't used in 14 years, just waiting for a code in the post to check if there's anything in there.

    Good - Son decided to walk down to the college to do his welcome assessment, and I remembered to make him a packed lunch. No money spent on that today.

    Blah - OH's prepaid prescription card hasn't come through and he has a prescription to pick up today so we have to pay for it and apply for a refund.

    Blah - A power supply unit we bought last week was dead on arrival, so we sent it back for a refund - now we need to buy another but a) we need it before the refund will arrive and b) OH has decided it was a rubbish brand and wants a better one for more than we paid for this. Not complaining, just brilliant timing on the computer's part :(

    Blah - After so long being skint I haven't got anything decent left to sell on Ebay. Trying to think, if I sold 20 books for 50p each, that's a tenner. None of them are in great condition as I buy them from charity shops and car boots to begin with. My phone is four years old and tatty - no-one with half a mind would buy my stuff :rotfl:

    Bad - despite whining about no money I bought an xbox game on Ebay for £6 for the son and heir. Eh, he asked a while ago and I finally found it for super cheap. I find it really hard to see him go without when he hardly asks for anything.

    I really really need to make some extra money this month. Son will be starting college in September and has no sodding clothes for it, plus the bus pass is yearly or else pay almost double for monthly. I don't know if this diary is going to help or depress me :D

    Right, I'm off to strip the silicon from round the shower and toilet and redo it. Looks gross at the minute and I'm always cheered up when I can cross something off the list.
  • saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    Well it looks like I'll scrape through this month by the skin of my teeth as usual - put all the paperwork through for swapping bank accounts for a free £100 and got a check for £79 from reclaiming card protection services from years ago this morning.

    OH bought a PSU for £68 with free shipping, so with the refund from the broken PSU that's £36. That leaves £143 minus a tenner travel to town and back for the shopping.

    River Island has a half price sale on, so son's clothes for college can be comfortably managed on that amount. He's growing so fast that he only needs a couple of pairs of jeans (£20 each) and some t-shirts and a hoodie or two of some sort. £133 is plenty.

    The card protection payment was very welcome but obviously I can't do this every month. Things need to settle down and I need to sort out savings, or the stress is going to affect my health.

    OH doesn't have anything to do with money any more, he hasn't since it all went pearshaped more than six years ago. I took it over because he was suicidal and have never bothered him with it since. I just tell him if there's money or not to buy what he wants.

    It is hard to say no to him because he works 40hrs a week despite being disabled and needing help dressing etc., for not a huge amount of take home pay. It does feel like a burden sometimes because there's nobody I can talk to about money at all.

    On the other hand, I re-siliconed the bathroom no problem and it looks spotless again. We live in a council house in a bad area but I'm quite houseproud and this is one of the best maintained hovels around :rotfl: always fixing stuff up and painting things. Luckily the silicon was unopened in the shed, so no money needed.

    This afternoon he's going to the credit union after work, so I've been scrambling to find ID and passport photos. Then I'll potter about weeding the container plants outside and checking the potato patch. Trying to be less anxious.
  • Hi Sarah, you are doing really well and should give yourself a pat on the back, particularly how you have saved for your son. You ask if your diary will help or depress you - one things for sure it will focus you and I think that can only be helpful. Keep going!
  • saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    Thanks so much :) yes I'm trying to stop being 'summat'll turn up' and more focused on helping it turn up.

    This has gone on for so long that it feels like a bit of a grind sometimes, but truth be told I enjoy being a skinflint when it isn't so seat of my pants. I really appreciate the encouragement :beer:
  • edited 25 July 2014 at 10:08AM
    saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    edited 25 July 2014 at 10:08AM
    Yesterday evening was stressful, today has been great so far. I wish it would all even out but no such luck so far.

    Last night I had to phone Santander because apparently my son's old phone number is his OTP number for security and it brought back very clearly why I never want to deal with a bank or creditor again. The customer service agent was so condescending and completely unhelpful.

    I get that it was our mistake not to put his new number on there, and our mistake not to have it to hand when we rung. I get that they can't help, don't want to help and couldn't care less. I might not if I worked in a call centre. If this is what they're like when we want to buy a product (ISA) from them though...

    Nope. I'll never have personal dealings with them as a borrower again. My non-rich life is non-rich but it doesn't involve being spoken to like a defective muppet much these days either.

    Anyway the upshot is that the agent flagged his account even though he passed security questions on it, so now we have to go into a branch to change the OTP. He will have to have photo ID - my son doesn't have photo ID, he's 16. They don't care. Funny, they opened his account no problems without photo ID.

    But I have no money to get him a passport. Won't have for a couple of months. He's too young for a drivers license. So no ISA for at least three or four months.

    Deep breath. Onwards and downwards, my friends :)

    Good - Last week we got a notification that HMRC overpaid OH by 3500. When he called about it, it turned out the computer didn't like his increased working hours being backdated so far and we dont owe anything. This morning there in the bank was a few weeks worth of the 40 hour a week supplement, the furthest they can backdate it. £107, NOT BAD!

    Bad - This means we've missed out on over a years worth of this supplement because we didn't know it existed. OH just told them he was on graduated return to work and that was that, they never told us to inform them and we never looked it up until this year's renewal said he worked 24 hrs so we called to correct it.

    No point crying over lost money though, this is my year to get the hang of things and I've made a lot of mistakes so far. None of it has killed anybody.

    Good - OH managed to open a credit union account. This is just for savings. It comes with a lot less easy access than his bank accounts and we'd have to think about whether to dip in or not. Will set it up for £10 a month standing order and can transfer more if I have any.

    Good - That £107 and the other £13 leftover last month is ringfenced as SAVINGS which is the first time in many years that we've intentionally said that about an amount of money. I could spend it on a passport for the son but I am determined not to be paycheck to paycheck in the very near future. It has been too long and too stressful. Honestly there's a lot of things I'd like to spend it on - about a grands worth of things actually :rotfl:

    Good - Yesterday was accidentally a No Spend Day because OH couldn't find the right flourescent tube in Wilkinsons :D There's a Sunday market we go to and if we can't find one there then I'll have to suck it up and order one online with shipping costs. No kitchen light for a week now - good job it's summer!

    Amusing - the old Halifax accounts turned out to have exactly £1.39 and 1p in them :rotfl: I must have raided them before.

    Good - my old survey account had £6 in it and you can cash out at £10 so I spent a while last night getting it there. I'm not spending these Amazon vouchers until there's enough for something we really need. Also another 250 in swagbuck tasks and surveys. 250 a day takes a reasonably short time and seems doable.

    So not bad all round and maybe it was useful to have Santander treat me like an idiot last night - with a brand new squeaky clean credit history I might have been tempted to get a credit card or borrow from them or something. I might have dodged a serious bullet there! :beer:

    The potato patch was doing lovely yesterday. With the price of food what it is I'd like to try more of this. I was looking up onions and they seem easy enough to grow - my garden is pretty big at the back and I can't see the point in wasting it. Going to weed out the front today and check leftover paper and paint in the shed, the cat has scratched a big patch near the door again.
  • saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    Today has been good for money so far :j

    This morning I asked OH to take son & heir to try on clothes in River Island and pick some styles he likes. The sale is only online but you never know about different sizings and he's shot up again lately. So he found some jeans styles that he liked and tried on a few tshirts because he doesn't like them too baggy.

    Online River Island shop is done and dusted now and some of it was 1/3 the normal price! Jeans were half price as well and free shipping to boot.

    Anyway they were going past Santander and kiddo decides to go in and ask if he really needs a passport - nope. Just go and get a mini statement from the ATM and they'll switch his mobile number right now.

    After the helpline telling me it couldn't possibly be done in the most condescending way possible. At least it is done now and without the extra costs. He will need a passport this year but not right now.

    Good - clothes for college all sorted and I can get more as and when.

    Good -OTP and bank stuff sorted out.

    Good - sent of the standing order form for the credit union, OH's travel expense form for the week and a form to join the patient forum at the hospital OH attends.

    Blah - Unless I'm with him, OH can't go out without spending money and he bought them brunch in town for £15. I'm the skinflint and he's happily oblivious to the juggling that goes on every day to keep on top of things. This will either come out of the grocery shop or my brand spanking new emergency fund - that lasted well! :rotfl:

    They get on very well together and enjoy each others company so I'm not going to spoil it by being mardy about the money.

    Blah - Speaking of OH and his happy delusions of unbrokeness, he mentioned last night that we should go on a 'little break' to Scotland. I just nodded and said it sounded nice. He'll have forgotten all about it by next week ;)

    Bad - The college clothes spree was partly paid for with money I don't have yet - the £100 bank swap bonus. Argh. Spending money I haven't CONCRETELY and ACTUALLY got in my grubby little hands raises my anxiety through the roof. I can cover it with the emergency funds in a pinch but it's actually bill money from later in the month right now.

    Blah - I'll get through this month but only because of a) swapping bonus (£100) b) unexpected CPP refund (£79) and c) unexpected Tax Credit refund (£107). Can't happen again.

    Good - Despite my whinings and anxiety, this is the best off we've been in years. I need to spend more time being grateful that we don't owe anyone a penny. Stoney broke still feels unstable but it is nothing like how stoney broke and hounded by creditors felt.

    I patched up the cat scratches in the hall yesterday, so it might be another month or so before he ruins it again :p I'm running out of paint but it's only cheapo magnolia and I can find that anywhere next time I have a spare tenner.

    Going to do an Asda order now, then potter about with some housework. Have to try and keep up with my swagbucks target later.
  • parsnipheadparsniphead Forumite
    2.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
    A really inspiring diary saraih. Keep up the good work.

    It sounds like you have a good lad there.
    I like the list of goods which are better to reflect on than the negatives.
    1 debt v's 100 days chapter 34: T3sco bank CC £250/£525.24 47.59%

  • Well done on sorting out Sant**der. When I wanted to close my account with them a few years ago the branch told me I had to do it on the phone and the call centre said I had to do it in the branch! In the end I sat in the branch while they closed it with the call centre.

    I'm enjoying your diary. Keep reminding yourself that you are keeping your financial head above water even though it might feel like you are only just managing it!
  • saraihsaraih Forumite
    263 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary
    Thanks so much Parsniphead! Yes he's a good lad, getting to be mature about some things. He only earns £20 a week so it's quite funny to see how very carefully he spends it :D

    Thanks for the encouragement :j
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