In years to come I will laugh
Well here I am 49-year-old father of three great kids and married to a wonderful wife. To everyone around me, I am a highly successful professional who has my s**t together. I am the go to person when it comes to sensibility and decision making and I spend my life coming up with the logical and pragmatic answers and deal with lots of accountability. Which is quite ironic as i am the most irresponsible person out there when it comes to my own lifestyle! I am actually pretty good at what I do professionally, I am a decent guy a caring father and husband. But there is another side – which is a massive f**k it attitude! my regular go to phrase of why not, life is too short I think some of this comes from when I was young and I was way too mature for my age.
So where does this bring me to today- well I am pretty much a 6 day a week drinker – who has become increasingly lazy and limited in what I do- I work hard, i look after my family, I walk the dog, I drink, I go to bed and I work again. Despite having a healthy salary, I have racked up unsecured debts circ 100k+.! I have been in debt all my life, never saved and always bought now to pay later. I grew up with nothing and we always had debt so I learned from a very early age how to get debt - i was sent to ask for tick from the local shop when i was 9/10 I learnt how to rob Peter to pay Paul from an early age. I lived like this as a single man, a now a married man, and a married man with kids. I have had many short lived lightbulb moments along the way (similar to the drinking when i have said that's it)- my financial lightbulb moments have tended to come at this point of the year- often after Christmas in the post new year reflections. They always bring huge levels of guilt, shame and overwhelming fear of doom- I have another irritating tendency of having no patience or ability to sit with discomfort- so when those lows come they are strong and i look for immediate solutions!! In the past i make big vows of new intentions and within days/a few weeks i am back robbing peter to pay Paul.
I don't budget- i have no idea. As I say as a child we lived on pennies- i washed cars to buy flour so we could make pancakes- so i know what its like to go without. However as an adult my spending has been quite obscene! I don't know anyone who disrespects the value of a pound more than me. In my world of budgeting some things dont count- like coal, or a bag of logs, or milk from the shop, or a chippy for my lad- because they are just the mundane stuff you have to buy! I know what my bills are and my wife takes out £x per week for spending and we will put what's left aside as a savings pot and congratulate each other- despite the fact that I have been using the bank card or credit card throughout the week- because that doesn't count! Unbelievable!
This is day 4 of my lightbulb moment and those feelings have been very raw again. I feel shame, humiliation and guilt and toy with the catastrophic thinking- what if this happens what if that happens!
Truth is i remain very lucky - i have an amazing family, unbelievable kids-- my health (for now- if i get a hold of the drinking). I have a good job, a good salary, a house and a decent pension to come. So, I can fix this- I could have fixed it 15 years ago, but i didn't, but I have a chance to fix it now and not in 15 years time- when i approach retirement.
I am now realising at 49 I no longer have the energy to ride this rollercoaster and to be the ‘last man standing’ and ducking and diving, I want a quiet time and want to have a more simpler life with security. I have always pushed the debt to tomorrow- ‘ill clear it when the mortgage ends’ ‘ill clear it with my pension lump sum’ and so on. Whilst I have a desire to clear my debt, my first desire is to learn to budget at aged 49, my next desire is to make the debt more manageable (paying less interest, and ultimately using my money better- i am currently paying 30% of my monthly contribution in interest as the 0% deals are not available just now) and finally to be debt free. I think me learning to budget, value and look after money is the most important part -as ill just end up back here unless I have a serious mindset shift and change in behaviours.
I have some big decisions to ponder: do I go on a DMP ( I might have to- but I don’t have the head space for now to manage this- will do my research and review in new year), alcohol- it has to go (I am currently on day 3 alcohol free)- it no longer serves me- never did obviously- it has become a crutch, I need to live more simply and naturally- more gardening, more exercise, more DIY, I need to get more of a balance with work- yes i will still give it 100% but i cant be all consumed by it- i have other things to focus more on.
Anyway, I should be around here for quite some time and I hope this will be a reminder to how far I have come someday.
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You only mention your wife briefly. Does she know about the level of debt and is she on board with paying it off?
Credit Card 2 - £13,481.47 £13,150
Total debt - £19,731.46 £18,242.94
Emergency fund £730
First step from here is working out a true account of where your money goes: throw the past 3 months spending into Excel and categorise it. Consider what's there / reflect on it. Try not to turn it into a reason to beat yourself up though, I did for a long time seeing my spending in black and white helped in one respect but equally drove some self destructive behaviour on my part. Don't let it get to that - you can't change what's been and gone but you can choose how you deal with the present and plan for the future.
I've been there with the six figures on credit cards myself a few years back unfortunately I didn't really look at my life then just wound up with another round of similar !!!!!! after refinancing property I own. It took me building up more personal debt and a national lockdown for me to start properly looking at my life for the !!!!!! destructive mess it was, not easy and been a !!!!!! bumpy ride I can tell you that much but believe me if I can do this anyone can and I'm making progress now. I'm saying this as I would like to say I can perhaps offer some hope; I can honestly say life has not been better than in the past 6 months for me generally, ups and downs like anyone else but controlling the self destructive behaviours and building on the more positive things in life.
With regard to cutting down drinking; well done for your 3 days AF, not easy during December at all. There's a lot of support on the giving up / cutting down alcohol thread if you would like to join.
"Make Everyday Count"
alt80: Thanks buddy - always comfort in hearing of others who have been in a similar situation and dealt with it. I feel surprisingly good ! I have moments of feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the number, and it is one of the largest I have seen around here which adds to the feeling of f**k what have i done and what if this happens etc! However, I am manging this and the rational thoughts can get through- I have the means to tackle this, I have the resources, I have options and whilst I am not drinking I am in a much better place to deal with it and to make better decisions. My wife said the same about it being tough not to drink at christmas- time will tell- but when you drink every night whatever the season it seems a normal time of the year for me drink wise- its just that others are overindulging now- ive been doing that all year . My longest spell not drinking this year was 13 days in one month- November. So that will be nice to achieve.
Doris17, thank you- that is kind!
Went to the gym last night at 9.30 rather than sit down to my dinner (we always eat late), after a dialogue with my wife saying 'that would mean i wouldn't be eating to nearer 11' she reminded me that this is what i would do if i was drinking (said with kindness). Anyway loads of people in the gym at 10pm- whole new world! Another bonus- I have lost 2 kilos in 3 days!! (all fluid no doubt). I know my emotions a still remain quite fragile so trying to stay in the moment.
We had a leak under the floor in our kitchen a month ago- tiles up, leak fixed, and floor replaced- dryers here for the past 4 weeks- nightmare with dust everywhere!! Situation got worse with two 'new leaks' found and the insurance company saying its a new problem so new claim- with another excess unless i fix privately with my own plumber. I feel remarkably ok about this- thinking this s**t will happen. It has been a blow to my wife understandably, who is worried what it will mean- hopefully my building mate will be able to sort us.
My oldest son comes home today from travelling so that will be great to see him.
It's hard to admit that there is a problem and even harder to maintain the determination to tackle it so big congrats on both counts!
I know that when I'm flagging on motivation I just remind myself that every day I don't spend on things that aren't necessary, I'm a day closer to being debt free.
Another thing that helped when I was paying off my mortgage were 'tilly tidies' - basically if I had a few pence/pounds left in my bank (always overestimated my bills in the budget) I'd pay the money to the mortgage- although you probably can't do the same with your debts, it may be worth having an instant access savings account for those - you can then pay it to the debt along with your normal payment- it's motivating to think that you're a little less indebted frequently 😉
Good luck with your journey!!
Debt neutral fund: £11.27/£1000
Weight loss challenge 1st quarter starting weight: 9st 9lbs
GC - Annual Target: £3000 - Running total:£279.31/£3000
Jan: £100; Feb: £108.31; Mar: £71; Apr: £0; May: £0; Jun: £0; Jul: £0; Aug: £0; Sep: £0; Oct: £0; Nov: £0; Dec: £0
Bulk Buy spends: £0/£600
Make 2023 in 2023 - Challenger #2: £312.09/£2023
Sealed Pot Challenge 2023 - Challenger #3: £35.46/£250
Keep posting daily or even multiple times a day if it helps.