I am terrible with money - bit embarrassed

in Debt-free wannabe
11 replies 3.2K views
Hi all, 
Apologies if this isn't the correct forum in which to post this but it seemed the most appropriate from the options. The title says it all - I'm in a bit of a mess financially and have no idea where or how to start sorting it, and I'm a bit embarrassed about it all.

Let me preface by saying that I'm relatively bright, and have a good job - I just was never taught anything about money and budgeting growing up, and when I try to research I'm utterly overwhelmed by the jargon, the different advice, and essentially how to get started; essentially my financial literacy is non-existent and I have no idea where to turn to help. I've tried using YouNeedaBudget software but even that overwhelmed me with all the moving parts in my life and I have no idea how to look at my finances and see how and where to make things better and work for me. I struggle every month, and while I am making all payments to my loan providers and rent, utilities, etc, I'm also utterly shattered as I'm having to work three jobs to be able to do this and also fulfil my child maintenance obligations.

In short, I'm on the verge of either burnout, or a breakdown, or both and I have no idea where to turn for some help. I've looked online at personal financial advisers, but these appear to me to be people who help give advice re financial products rather than what I need which is someone to look at all my finances and help me fix the mess they are. I'd love to be able to buy my own house, but I'm 42 and time to retirement is looming and I have no savings - until I get my financial position sorted I'm going to be working until I'm dead at this rate :smile:

Is there anyone out there who can point me in the direction of a professional who offers a service where they can just look at all the finances in my life and help me get out of this horrible hole in which I find myself? I've looked at Nutmet, Money Advice Service, Reddit personal advice subreddit, my work EAPs, Unbiased, but my issue isn't debt by itself per se - rather it's my entire financial world.

Thanks in advance


  • edited 31 May 2022 at 10:46AM
    SusieTSusieT Forumite
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    edited 31 May 2022 at 10:46AM
    You have come to the right place for help, there are a lot of us on here who have had to work very hard to get through debt and learn how to live within a budget, so you will get a lot of (free) help here, no point paying someone who will just tell you the same things! 

    Have a look here https://www.lemonfool.co.uk/financecalculators/soa.php and fill it in as best you can at the moment, then people can help you by thinking of things you may have forgotten to put in, and you can add things to see where you can save money or where you are have spending that may be possible to cut back. 

    At the most simple, "all" you need to do is put an amount away (normally in a seperate account as that is often easiest) so that when an annual bill comes in you have the money waiting there to pay it. So as an example, if your car insurance is £600 a year, you would transfer in £50 each month, if your holiday is £1200 you would transfe in £100  each month. Then when the car insurance is due, you transfer out the £600 (or £550 and use the £50 you would have put to it in the current month) so that it is paid. It is vital that you save towards an emercency fund, so that when the fridge needs replacing, or there is a leak in the plumbing that you do not have to reach for a credit card and you have the money sitting there waiting to pay the bill. 
    Then, you can think about saving for a deposit on your house, and also saving towards a pension - get the budgeting sorted first and everything else will fall into place.
    You "just" need to know how much you need to transfer for annual bills, how much needs to be paid for rent, electric, gas, water, council, and food/travel each month, and then what is left goes to the credit cards and loans. At first it is like trying to find your way out of a jungle, but once you get going it is a lot easier and you can see the way through
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  • JadedAngel88JadedAngel88 Forumite
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    I get what you are saying 100%.

    I too am absolutely useless with money. My only saving grace is that I make sure that all bills are paid regardless of my lack of money management.

    I have also tried ynab, had it for years, but it does nothing for me. I have tried various forms of budgeting, I think the most I've lasted for it a couple of months. Before I realise how much I've save and then go on a spending spree. 

    I'm sorry I can't offer any practical advice, this site though is incredibly useful and has helped me in lower costs for various things. 

    At the moment I'm using the cash envelope method. Putting various amounts in different pots, it seems to work OK for me but can't leave money in the bank because I'll spend it and I don't want to be carrying lots of cash on me incase I get mugged lol.

    I will be following this thread to see what helpful advice you get and whether it will work for me.

    Best of luck xx

  • LadyGnomeLadyGnome Forumite
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    You need to go right back to basics as Susie has said.  What comes in every month and what needs to go out or be accounted for each month.  If you don't know the answers to that spend a month tracking your spending i.e. how much do you spend on food, petrol etc.  Look at all your direct debits and standing orders for a monthly list then write down everything else you spend for a month, it's really sobering to look at all the little bits adding up to a lot.  I also save 1/12 of annual bills each month.

    Once you have worked out what is coming in and going out you can start to look for areas where you can minimise outgoings to free money that you can use for debt repayments or saving.

    I have bills accounts and savings accounts separate from my main current account.  Each month I sweep the money out of my current account when I am paid so I don't have a tempting pot of money sitting in my main bank account.  One of my main savings accounts is in another financial institution so even if I log in to see my main current account I don't see a pot of savings sitting next to it.

    Once you know what is coming in and out and have worked out what you can afford to save etc. you need to make things as simple as possible.  Know what your goals are and where the money needs to go and automate what you can e.g. if you want to put £50 in an ISA set up a direct debit.  If you know that you need to transfer £250pm into the bills account, do it on payday.  Make sure you do leave some spending money for yourself too, unless you are in really dire straits, as it makes it easier to sustain in the longer term.
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  • enthusiasticsaverenthusiasticsaver Forumite, Ambassador
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    There is no professional service to help people budget as such. Financial advisors advise on financial products rather than how to manage your money. Budgeting is a skill which should be taught by parents or schools as a life skill but sadly it usually isn’t. I could not get on with YNAB either and I have worked with money and numbers all my life. Way too complicated.

    Start with two columns in a notebook or a spreadsheet. Monthly income and monthly expenditure. An soa is a good way of making a start. Work out what should be left after paying all essential bills and this should be divided up into savings, spending or debt repayment money. You should save for annual costs like car service, Christmas, insurance etc etc. 
    I’m a Forum Ambassador and I support the Forum Team on the Debt free Wannabe, Budgeting and Banking and Savings and Investment boards. If you need any help on these boards, do let me know. Please note that Ambassadors are not moderators. Any posts you spot in breach of the Forum Rules should be reported via the report button, or by emailing [email protected] All views are my own and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.
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  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    Hi, you are certainly not alone. And I firmly believe we should all have been taught how to manage household and other finances at school, instead of some of the useless stuff we had to sit through.

    The fact that you have said this "I am making all payments to my loan providers and rent, utilities, etc, I'm also utterly shattered as I'm having to work three jobs to be able to do this and also fulfil my child maintenance obligations" as well as this - "but my issue isn't debt by itself per se - rather it's my entire financial world" makes me think that you really would benefit from speaking to someone at one of the free debt help agencies - Citizens Advice, StepChange or National Debtline BEFORE your debts really get out of hand and you make yourself ill. 

    They will listen to you, go through your household budget with you and will be able to give you the benefit of their expertise and advice. Whether or not you choose to take it is entirely up to you. They are kind, friendly, understanding and most important of all, non-judgemental. They are not in it for the money so any advice they give is with your best interests in mind. You shouldn't feel embarrassed (although I know it's hard not to).

    I turned to StepChange a few years ago when I was in a very similar position to you and I am not joking when I say that it really did change my life for the better because I was stuck in a situation where I just could not see any way out. Here's the StepChange link -


    You have nothing to lose, except maybe half an hour or so of your time. 
    From the Forum Rules : "it is up to you to investigate, check and check again before you make any decisions or take any action based on information you glean from our community. Remember, don't rely on what you are reading. Verify it and protect yourself. You are responsible for any action you consequently take. Always be friendly, kind and respectful." Bullying/harassment not tolerated.
  • Twixty3Twixty3 Forumite
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    In an ideal world your salary from your good job should cover everything, currently it does not and therefore there is a problem as you are working 3 jobs to make ends meet which is not sustainable.

    In essence a budget is living on the salary you take home.  Things would be a little easier without the loan (loans?) payments, right?,  so to that end they ARE a problem. A budget that could help clear these earlier would therefore be good.

    It may benefit you to do several budgets.

    1. good salary (monthly take home pay)  - all outgoings
    2. good job plus second job salaries (monthly) - all outgoings
    3. all jobs (monthly) - outgoings

    This way you would see what is needed to manage on the one job salary only which would give you a better balance. 

    Most of us, a lot of the time, try to reduce outgoings where we can, cutting tv/broadband packages, sim only mobile deals, magazine subscriptions, netflix and so on to live within our salaries. This is where the debt free dairies etc are super helpful.  Amazing results have been had by many posters from their  sheer determination to be debt free, they are awesome. 

    Personal spends are often where good savings can be made, do you buy a lot of takeaways, sandwiches for lunch etc? the cost of these do add up to silly amounts over time.  Savings can be made there. 

    A few tweaks like this could mean you could give up the third job to start with?

    Hopefully you pay into a pension that your employer also contributes to as that is something you could contribute more to in the future once you have your finances on track.  

    A good budget should cover,  bills,  groceries, motoring/travel  costs, household stuff, clothes  etc.  and personal spends and some money for savings ( good, especially if you would like to buy a house ).

    If there is nothing left to save the second job could be savings/loan overpayments and that would be better than having a second job to live.  A second job that helps you aim towards eventually living on the one salary would be much more beneficial to you long term rather than be something you permanently have to do. 

    Your child maintenance should also become  more affordable within your budget without the loan payments but if it is not and it is an agreed amount with your ex it could be revised, perhaps temporarily,  or you go via the CMS if no agreement is reached. If it is already via CMS it is simply just factored in as one of your monthly outgoings.

  • TripleHTripleH Forumite
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    I'm another for saying basic bookkeeping should be taught in schools to all.
    I would say look at what you spent over 2 months and also assess if you didn't actually need to buy certain things.
    For example you bought several tops because they were on sale but they are sat in a drawer at home with the labels on because you have a perfectly good top you wear.
    You need to change your mindset to buying what you 'need' rather than what you 'want'.
    May you find your sister soon Helli.
    Sleep well.
  • edited 4 June 2022 at 10:29AM
    MaskfaceMaskface Forumite
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    edited 4 June 2022 at 10:29AM
    It does make you wonder why they don't teach you about managing money at school but then there's a whole industry built upon penalising and in some cases criminalising people who fail to manage money well, so perhaps there's a reason we aren't taught about the pitfalls of making mistakes with debt.
  • Mimi_Arc_en_cielMimi_Arc_en_ciel Forumite
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    I was pretty rubbish with money! I still have debts but i am paying them off and living comfortably. 

    I have an excel form that i update weekly - it helps me plan ahead and i can see what i have for the month. Happy to send you a blank version if you would like (Its pretty straight forward!) 

    What i also do is budget for EVERYTHING. So i save for christmas and birthdays every month etc. 

    I also have multiple bank accounts for different reasons. for example: 

    Santander: Bill money goes in, bills come out. I do not touch this money at all 
    Nationwide: Shopping money! Set amount goes in each month which i use for groceries and only groceries. Anything left at end of month i use to "treat" my family (Could be a luxury tub of ice cream in the final shop or something) 
    First Direct: MY money. This is what i use to spend on me 
    Then i have a savings account which i dont touch. 

    It really does help to have multiple accounts. If you have a poor credit rating, you can use Monzo/revoult and they can have different "pots" of money

    Ultimately. Budgeting is self discipline. Be mindful though, it will turn you into a scrooge LOL I am terrible with spending money now (not necessarily a bad thing i guess)!
  • Mimi_Arc_en_cielMimi_Arc_en_ciel Forumite
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    Oh also - fill in an SOA and post on here - you would be surprised at where you can save money! 
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