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Can you help me with a big life change?

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Can you help me with a big life change?

23 replies 3.1K views
SassersSassers Forumite
1.3K posts
Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic
Hi everyone.
I don't normally start a thread here (I'm on the Payment a Day board) usually but I really need your help and advice. If you can see my signature, you'll be able to see that I have paid off quite a lot of debt, and in March I will be debt free.

It’s taken me ten years to get here, and the struggle and ‘nose to the grindstone’ of it all has really affected my mental health, - especially as I know I’m coming to the end of payments and my such-a-tight grip on every penny is loosening. I know that while some of you might think it’s a great place to be in - and it is don't get me wrong - but I'm really struggling with my head and coming to terms with it all.

At one point I had a FT job and two part time jobs alongside it – and I remember walking through five miles in snow up to my calves to get there. It meant I worked seven days a week for 18 months without any time off, god it was hard. I’ve have had bailiffs in, lived off a pound a day, haven’t bought new clothes, or had a ‘big’ holiday and loads of other things I’ve done to pay that bit extra off.

Being debt free and working towards it has been goal #1 for ten years - and I'm not whining, just saying what I've done, so you know where I'm coming from. :A

I know it’s easy to say start saving and maybe have a holiday and whoop it up a little, but I genuinely don’t know how to change my mindset in order to do that! It’s like making that jump from earth to the moon by hand without a rocket. Just do it or feel the fear just isn't working.

My partner died suddenly five years ago - he went out in the morning and never came back - and I'm wondering if this has something to do something to do with it, as he was really enthusiastic and on board with the debt busting too (although the debt was all mine ). He rocked it actually and I adored him. He was the only man I know who ate a 'mandiatory/we're eating it' homemade squid in tomato sauce as a yellow whoopsie meal from Morrisons for 30p. It had the texture of a rubberball and he pretended to enjoy it unlike the our cat - and all because that 70p left over in the £1 went to the debt.

I'm wondering you think I’m scared to be debt-free because in a way I’m saying good bye to debt and him too? It seems that the `Yippee I’m debt-free’ stories elsewhere here aren’t really anything I can relate to either, and yet I love reading ‘em!! :D

Sorry to put this out there, but I am genuinely in need of a bit of advice. Especially as I know that all you MSER’s here are kind, helpful and might be able to help me!
Squid in tomato sauce is optional.
Sorry for a long post,
Thanks you
Sassers x
Current debt and mortgage: £25, 820.35 Debt/Mortgage at start: £92,598 (27/09/2010)


  • tealadytealady Forumite
    3.5K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Mortgage-free Glee! Debt-free and Proud!
    It is scary being debt free after living so frugally.
    May I suggest you put some money aside every month.
    Put half into an emergency fund and the other half in a treats fund. That way you could enjoy yourself whilst still having a safety net.
    Even after being debt free for years I still worry about paying the bills yet I have enough in savings to pay a full years bill's in advance.
    Proud to be an MSE nerd
    Judge people by their achievements, not by their mistakes
  • Accountant_KerryAccountant_Kerry Forumite
    611 posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper
    Didn't want to read and run, that is utterly awful about your partner he sounds amazing, the cat sounds like a standard cat :-)

    You dont have to change your life, perhaps this focus has helped with controlling yoru grief and you are a bit worried it might come flooding out now?
    Focus on a new goal perhaps if that will help you, monetry or otherwise xx
    About time I added a signature really 
  • sugartreesugartree Forumite
    95 posts
    Part of the Furniture
    Wow! that is quite a story and achievement.

    Well done for such hard work and my sympathy on loosing your partner, I do hope you find happiness in your new financial freedom.

    I'm not a mental health professional but if you are still dealing with the lose of your partner maybe some counselling will help. If you felt like your focus was because you promised your partner and would feel you would let them down if you failed then I can understand your conflict over the situation. Maybe, you can still do something financially orientated to feel its not leaving the memory behind. Maybe donate regularity to a cause they were close too, create a local budgeting group or mentor those struggling with debt as well. Was there a dream holiday you planned when you became debt free which you can now enjoy? Buy a pet squid? or grow your own tomatoes for the sauce?

    They will always be with you no matter what changes in life and it sounds like they'd be very proud of you right now.

    So enjoy it and do the things you would have done together.

    Hope that helps.
    Oh I do want to live in Countryside.......with the kids, pets and LOTS of books.........
    £2020 in 2020 challenge #90 - £274.37/£2020
    2020 penny challenge

  • onwards&upwardsonwards&upwards Forumite
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    Have you ever posted on the debt free wannabe board? I bet there’s a fair few posters over there who will be able to relate.
  • pinkteapotpinkteapot Forumite
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    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    I joined MSE in 2004 (different username) because I’d run up some debt after moving out of home. Thanks to these forums I was able to clear it over the next 2-3 years.

    Over ten years later, I’m now extremely luckily to be relatively comfortably off, but you know what? Not much has changed in terms of my money management. I still have pretty much the same monthly Excel file for our finances (was my - have since got married). I still account for everything. I know I’d overspend if I didn’t.

    I think the massive trauma of losing your partner will be playing a big part in how you’re feeling. Maybe part of you is scared of that debt-free moment because working towards it was a joint goal and future goals will be your own...

    In practical terms, you probably know exactly how much money you’re currently putting towards debt repayment each week or month. So, the first decision is how much of that money to put into savings and how much to add to your spends so you can live a bit less frugally. If you struggle with loosening the purse strings you could start off by putting most of it into savings and just having a little extra to spend, then gradually increase it.

    Getting debt-free is like losing weight. Once it’s done, you can’t go back to living the way you were before because you’ll just end up back where you started. It’s a new phase of your life, somewhere in between the before and the during in terms of your spending (or eating). It’s an adjustment, and getting debt-free is a massive achievement, but the day to day difference afterwards maybe isn’t quite as huge as you’ve built it up to be. But life is definitely that bit easier. :)
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  • gwynlasgwynlas Forumite
    688 posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Name Dropper
    Congratulations on becoming debt free. It will be a massive change but you can make it in small steps. Decide what you would like to do in the future and make small steps towards it.
    I don't know how much per month you ae paying off debt but you could save a larger amount for bigger goals such as a holiday or future proofing your home, A smaller amount for a monthly treat such as a pub meal out and a weekly treat such as a bunch of flowers or bar of chocolate.
    Yes you miss your partner and planning the future together but remenber them with love and know how proud of you they would be,
  • edited 27 January at 5:00PM
    SassersSassers Forumite
    1.3K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Photogenic
    edited 27 January at 5:00PM
    I just want to say thank you so much for all your lovely advice. You are all so kind and I really really do appreciate it.
    There's nothing quite a virtual hug from mser's....even those dodgy emoticon ones. :-). I'm going to go away and have a bit more of a think about things you have suggested too.
    Who knows I might even be able to give the ole rubber squid a miss too in the future.
    Love to you all,
    Current debt and mortgage: £25, 820.35 Debt/Mortgage at start: £92,598 (27/09/2010)
  • unholyangelunholyangel Forumite
    16K posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    I think that perhaps you've grown used to the "norm" and the unknown is always scarier to us than the known. Understandably you may also be saddened that your partner won't be there to share it with you and be dreading it for the same reason.

    But I would like you to try and take a moment to realise what an amazing achievement this is and also how proud your partner would be that you managed to carry on after he was gone. A good way of honouring him for the positive influence & impact he had on your life.

    This part is going to sound potentially blunt/rude (isn't meant that way) but your partner is no longer here. Live life for the both of you. Because no doubt, he would want you to. This isn't an end, it's a beginning. :beer:
    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride
  • I finally paid off my debt last year (after 15 years of having it!) and i know what you mean about the transition, in some ways im still very frugal and in a way almost scared to spend money even though i have no debt and the money is now all mine.

    I'm sorry for your loss, your debt free journey was obviously something they were a part of and sadly didnt get to see the end of so i understand why its affecting you. I think your partner would be incredibly proud of you :)

    As for what now....well you can do anything. Is there anywhere you've ever wanted to travel to? Is there anything you wished you cpuld have bought before you were debt free? Or do you have future plans like saving for your own place (assuming you havent already). I suggest taking everything you learned from getting debt free, and use that to save up for something for yourself. :)
  • belfastgirl23belfastgirl23 Forumite
    8K posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper I've been Money Tipped!
    Wow you have done amazingly well, especially sticking with the plan even after losing your partner. Take a minute to pat yourself on the back!

    This is a hard one as one person’s treat is another person’s nightmare. I’m lucky enough to be reasonably well off but I also struggle with it being ok to spend cash just on me. There are a couple of things that are longstanding agreements with DH (saving for a holiday is vital for example as is having a car).

    Beyond that I’ve prioritised paying into a pension and for health and fitness activities - I pay for my gym and classes before anything else since nothing else is of value if you don’t have health (though I still struggle with paying to go for a massage even though I know it does me the world of good).

    I’m also prepared to pay for books although I try to also use the library. And I really enjoy going to a coffee shop with a good book so that’s on the indulgence list too. I’m not so fussed about eating out and only really do that if DH is super keen, it really feels like a waste of money when what we cook at home is mostly as nice.

    All of which is to say, once you’ve paid for the basics, what feels important to you? What feels of enough value to be worth spending money on? If you love clothes then give yourself a budget for clothes and more crucially SPEND IT. If you love going to see a film or eating out set a budget for that. If donating to a charity will give you an inner glow then do that. If having a nest egg is most important then set yourself a target and prioritise that. If you’ve always wanted to travel the world then fund that. There will be millions of things i haven’t thought about by the way! Some of which will be quiet satisfaction things.

    The hardest bit is figuring out your priority. But listen to inside you. What feels like it lights you up? Don’t worry about what other people think - though it might be worth asking close friends and family what they think would add value to your life. Sometimes an old friend might remind you of something you’d forgotten about yourself (I bought an old friend some art materials lately, she hadn’t drawn since she had kids and she was delighted).

    Good luck and do come back and post, I’m feeling quite invested in how you get on, you deserve some fun and I’d love to see you find it :)

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