Balancing the Books and My Life….

Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
With the increase in the cost of living, I really need to take my head out of the sand and start focussing on driving my debts and living costs down. Up to now I’ve been ambling along living payday to payday but I really need to start taking action and paying off my debts once and for all. 

For background, we’re a family of 3, healthy income and a modest mortgage. On paper all should be fine and dandy, but we seem trapped in this payday to payday cycle whilst we pay off our previous errors. 

Previous errors amount to in the region of 10k- no massive splurges, just a case of not having an emergency fund to cover mat leave, vet bills, car repair bills, replacement of broken appliances etc. Time to face the music for the final time……



  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    So it’d probably be useful for me to include a breakdown of the debts so I can make a plan as to what to tackle first. Fortunately all bar a small amount on one card is interest free. So here we go……

    cc1 £6047.28
    cc2 £3537.72
    OD £1200
    Very £488.99

    Total = £11273.99

    Priority 1 = Very, shortest 0% term left and smallest balance. Fingers crossed for a quick win…..
  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Busy couple of days, but today is my non working day, so time to try and make some progress! 

    Managed to make £50 in fb sales since the beginning of the week. Unfortunately this will be needed to tide us over until payday rather than being thrown at paying off debts. I’m so bad at budgeting. If anyone has any top tips please let me know! I’m hoping to get more listed today. 

    The other journey I’m embarking on at the minute is weight loss. I’m 6lb down so far but have about 3 stone to go. After losing it all via SW a few years back, I did rejoin but my heart wasn’t in it and I found it was a waste of time and money for me. I’ve since used that money to join my local gym (yes I realise this probably isn’t the wisest move at the moment given my finances). The bonus in this is that I can take my DS swimming for free as well as access to all the facilities. I’m not tied in to a contract with it, but I’ve figured whilst I’m using the gym and pool enough to warrant the membership I’ll keep paying it. 

    I’m going to start a spending diary today, to track where our money goes and to highlight areas we can cut back in. It’s going to be a massive wake up call! 

    Right I best crack on and see to the animals before the rest of the house wake up! Have a good day x 
  • Bizzywizard
    Bizzywizard Forumite Posts: 215
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Posts Name Dropper

    Just a few suggestions that helped me clear my circa 20k debit.

    I changed my coucil tax DD to 12 months instead of 10 months, so I near enough have the same outgoings each month, This helps with budgeting.

    I switched bank accounts to Nationwide Flexdirct with an interest free overdraft FOR ONE YEAR ONLY, Then the apr goes crazy, So I cleared this in a year, But the o% OD helped get my finance sorted. The other two are RBS.

    We also switched 3 bank accounts in total so had aroung £125 for each switch, this money went straight off the credit cards,

    We did loads of ebaying, marketplace didn't work for us very well.

    No Netflix, spotify amazon etc (we have only recently had this,now we are clear of debit).We did no booze to, we are not big drinkers, but still made a £20 dent each month.

    I hid the credit cards away, so we could not use them (Hubby that is). He had a very bad addition to Coffee and Cake £80 a month we worked out, that has now stopped!

    I also have 1 bank account for all the bills, so the same money goes in and out with NO OVERDRAFT.

    The other 2 bank accounts have 2 small DD in them, so we could have the switch account and bonus money. Our salarys go into one each, leave the amount for the DD's and a few pounds over, then the rest goes over to the bill bank account a few days later, then onto savings account with the same bank. None of our accounts have overdraft as the apr is awful.

    I opened a 'Help to save' account which is the Goverment one, if you have tax credit, working tax credit etc, the £50 HTS is great and can give you extra money in the end from the Government, but you have to keep it there, See Martins main page on this. It is also closing in September 2023. Glad I have done this.Its now made me save even more with santander and RBS, but this is only a few years after being debit free.

    I have an excel spread sheet which shows all the Direct debits dates and standing orders and dates, so I never go overdrawn and have no OD facilty on purpose. The overdraft is what was killing us each month with HSBC.....I will never go back to them.

    I found the first month of doing the above really hard work, but it has paid off. We worked on it over a few nights. I now deal with the money, where I used to leave it to him as it wasn't working.

    I now check all accounts each day....its OCD banking all the way

    Hope this helps in a small way.


  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Thanks Bizzy, there’s certainly a few ideas I need to take on board. Been meaning to cancel my audible subscription as I get audio books through my library and have got credits sat there unused. The OD is something else I definitely need to tackle. I have by spread sheet set up but use it more as a tracker and to juggle things around when money’s tight rather than a budget to live and die by - I think this is a big part of the issue.

    On track with exercise for the week 2x yoga, 1 x Pilates, 2 x gym sessions, 1k swam and 9 miles ran - fingers crossed it starts showing on the scales. 

    In MSE news, I’ve switched breakdown cover from RAC to Greenflag. RAC had put our payments up again to a whopping £300 - Greenflag were £120 for the same cover! It’s one those things that has crept up over time and I’ve never really questioned, but this last leap was a genuine pee take! 

    I’m also up to £7.50 in Amazon vouchers for the month via 2 apps. One is a receipt snapper app and the other is via work which rewards you for steps, cycling, minutes mediated etc.  I’m aiming for £10 per month to help towards Christmas. Not bad for minimal effort.

    Right better go and brave the Aldi food shop - wish me luck 🤣
  • joedenise
    joedenise Forumite Posts: 16,131
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Do you meal plan @Lykke?  It can help you save money as well as not wasting food.  Have you looked at Olio and Too Good to Go, both of which could get you free or cheap food?  Worth a look if there it is in your area or you are near shops which use TGTG.  

    Food is usually an area where costs can be cut quite easily.  Takeaways cost a fortune if you have those!  I like to make Fakeaways and do lots of batch cooking which is another way of reducing costs.

    It certainly seems like you get good value from your gym membership so I definitely wouldn't cut that back.  If you stop using it as much then it is something else you could cut back on.

    Good luck.

  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Thanks for stopping by joedenise. I do try and meal plan but don’t always shop to my plan which I guess defeats the whole object! ( I’m realising now how ridiculous this is as I type it 🤦‍♀️). Food is definitely an area where we need to cut down. We were spending £120 a week for the 3 of us, over the last 3 weeks I’ve got this down to £90 by doing the bulk at Aldi. This does include 3 meals a day each, plus cleaning / laundry stuff and toiletries. We are pretty good with take aways and eating out and average 1 a month. I was horrified when out last chippy tea came to £18 for the 3 of us - OH fish was £7.50 and regular chips were over £2 a bag. We used to get change from £10 🤣.

    Been a quiet-ish weekend. I did my local Parkrun on Saturday and did the Aldi shop. Took DS to junior parkrun on Sunday, batch cooked chilli in the slow cooker (5 portions from 1 bag of veggie mince), did 4 loads of washing (all dried outside 😊), played football with DS and generally pottered around the house. Have to say I’m shattered this morning though! 

    Plan for this week….
    1. Post fb sale 
    2. list more items on fb / ebay
    3. get out in garden and give it a bit of TLC 
    4. Stocktake of freezer and cupboards
    5. pull together a plan of cheap / free activities for half term
    6. 2 x gym, 1 x swim, 1 x Pilates, 2 x yoga and 10 miles run across the week 
  • bigbeff
    bigbeff Forumite Posts: 1,116
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    Hi! Just wanted to say welcome to the world of money obsession! You look like you have a really good plan and I’m well impressed with your gym and fitness goings. I’m still trying to fit in something twice a week but walking more which is a start :)

    Good luck - I look forward to following your progress.
    Debt busting 2022 Total £15842.68 £0 (100% paid since 1/1/22)
  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Hi bigbeff! Thank you for your words of encouragement 😊

    Can’t believe the rate at which prices are going up at at the minute. Some of the bits I get from Aldi have gone up 20p or more in the space of 2 weeks. The dog food has going up over £3 for a tray of 24 - they’ve got me over a barrel with this one as it’s the only one I found that suits my old boys sensitive tum. Fortunately it’s still ‘mid range’ in the vast choice on offer (most of which he’s tried and turned his nose up at 🤣).

    Found out about our workplace discount scheme today. It operates more like a cash back site but it gives you cash back for purchasing supermarket gift cards which can also be used for purchasing petrol! This will mean going forward I can get 5% cash back on fuel and most of my food shopping. I just need to get in the habit of putting money on the card before shopping. There’s loads of other shops available including boots, love to shop, M&S and Clark’s so will be useful for school uniform and Xmas shopping. 

    Right I think I’m off to bed now - I’m shattered! 
  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper
    Cannot believe the news we’re waking up to this morning. Absolutely heartbreaking- how on earth was this allowed to happen. Will never understand America and it’s gun laws.

    Lots of jobs to get done today and a trip to the gym followed by running club later.

    Sat down and went through my spreadsheet to update all the sneaky increases in dd over the last few months. They’re adding up to an extra £23 a month and then we have the gas and electricity coming off fixed rate at the end of July - I’m bracing myself for that one! 
  • Lykke
    Lykke Forumite Posts: 42
    10 Posts First Anniversary Name Dropper

    Just sat down with a cuppa so thought I’d check in.

    Just got back from the gym - didn’t get to go yesterday as got bogged own in housework, but have done my Pilates class and one gym session. Have also run 6 miles so far this week -need to keep the momentum going heading into the weekend.

    Test drove my works discount scheme yesterday. Needed fuel so purchased a Morrison’s e voucher. They accepted it no problem and the cash back is already payable in my account. It can either be withdrawn to my account or used to purchase future vouchers / cards. I can see I’ll be using it a fair bit- every little helps. I’m also up to £10 Amazon vouchers for the month via my apps😊.

    fb sale of £23 needs posting this afternoon, so will do that when I go to collect DS from school. Will get a few more bits listed this afternoon as I’ve got a bit of a pile building up! 

    I’m currently listening to ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Vicki Robin. I must say it’s opened my eyes to my spending habits a wee bit. The general jist is that she encourages you to look at the money you earn as an exchange for your life / time. It then gets you to strip back the costs you incur purely from going to wok, e.g running a second car, buying your work wardrobe, lunches and coffee at work, the requirement to take on paid help or child care and the things you do purely to de stress from work like a bottle of wine on. Friday night. You then take away such costs from your income to enable you to calculate your true hourly wage. This helps get you into the mindset of seeing purchases as an exchange of your time for example a dress may take you 3 hours to earn the money to purchase it. All very simple concepts but hopefully it will help me rein in mindless spending. I’ve got two credits on audible so would welcome suggestions of any other personal finance books that are worth a listen.
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