Half a world away
in Debt free diaries
54 replies 3.8K views
This is my second attempt at keeping a DFW diary. The first fell by the wayside quickly.
I've had several LBMs over the years and recently had another. Not illuminating the state of my finances as I've been keeping a relatively steady watch on them. However, when I checked back on this forum at my first diary attempt I saw that my total debt was under £13k in 2015, and it now sits at just over £31k. I can trace where that debt has come from and it wasn't major spending so that is some consolation. The majority of my debt is older and already defaulted years ago, and came as a result of living beyond my means for many years. I have been gradually paying this off over the years but was a single parent on benefits, or self employed part time, so money was always tight.
Since 2015 I graduated with an undergraduate degree in education, and started and then dropped out of a postgraduate university course which proved difficult to juggle the travel and childcare as a single parent with no family support. This left me with a £7k student finance overpayment.
I started working as a self employed childminder while I was deciding whether to go on to do teacher training, and was finally earning a reasonable amount and had improved my credit to the point where I could afford a car on finance. Many of the children I looked after relied on me to collect and drop them off so a reliable vehicle was an essential at that time. And their contracts easily paid for the £300 a month for the car. It made such a change to be able to treat my children or myself that I hadn't started saving any emergency fund, I was just spending, and then the pandemic struck and I had no work for 9 months. The car company would only let me reschedule 3 monthly payments so the car had to be surrendered and was sold at a loss at auction leaving me with a £3k debt to the car company.
Stupidly I took out the government bounceback loan of £5k as my business was under 1 year old and had no previous tax returns to get any other support. Once I was able to reopen I had lost so many parents who had changed jobs, started working from home, or become stay at home parents that I had to rethink what to do.
I still owe the majority of this money.
After my business closed I made the decision to go back to university and retrain as a radiographer and eventually a sonographer (ultrasound). It was my original plan for university but my children were much younger then and I chose to study at a closer university which offered a much more limited selection of courses. My dream has always been to move to New Zealand and work there for a couple of years or maybe even stay permanently, but it felt like something I would never get close to achieving. I turned 42 last month and my time is running out to be accepted based on the age requirements. After doing some research I have a 5-10 year plan (of sorts).
- Qualify as a radiographer
- Work for a year to get some experience of working independently
- Ultrasound training for a year
- Work for a first year as a sonographer to get experience
- Work for a second year as a sonographer to get experience
- Apply for jobs/visas in New Zealand - must have a job offer before I can apply for visas
I feel better to have a plan in place and know what I'm working towards. However, my finances are not in a situation where this plan will work out. I have estimated that I will need approx. £20k - £30k saved up to move to NZ. This needs to cover moving expenses and renting a house for the first few months until my wages even out from whatever job I get.
Of course, I also need to pay off all of my debt before I go. So I'm looking at needing £50k to £60k in 5 or 6 years. Half saved and half paid off my debts. I can't go for any kind of insolvency as it jeopardises my HCPC registration and may mean I can't start working as a radiographer until the insolvency is discharged. I'm due to graduate in July 2023. Worst case scenario I can't go to NZ, but I've paid off all my debts, improved my credit and have a deposit saved to buy my housing association house.
I know I am a spendthrift, I buy things without consideration and my biggest downfall is buying takeaways and snacks from the local shop. I loathe food shopping. So I don't do it very well. This means on days when I'm exhausted from hospital placement or work I will order takeaway or we'll get meal deals from T3sc0. Looking into my budget record over the 3 months between June and August 2022 I spent £1167 on takeaways or eating out, which is a disgusting amount of money. I find it almost impossible to hit any NSD/SFD challenge, I'll 'pop' to the shop to get some milk for breakfast and come home with sweets for everyone too. Or I'll go to the shop and get home and think 'why on Earth did I need to do that?' It's almost like a habit now. Even while writing this a part of my brain is thinking I should pop to get something for lunch
I need to change my ways or I'll still be here in 10 years bitterly moaning about my regrets and the things I missed out on when I was younger. I feel like success is half a world away, but if I succeed I may be living half a world away.
Currently, I'm working 1 day a week on a Saturday. I'm about to start year 3 of my radiography degree so that means lectures or placement blocks which limits my availability for working extra shifts. Of course, this is also limiting any time I can spend with my children and we're still barely scraping by financially. I'm also short on my placement hours and need to fit in extra so that I don't graduate late, but with limited childcare availability in my area I'm struggling. So far, I have thought of 2 options, each with financial implications:
- Stop working on Saturdays during placement blocks, this would allow me to do placement on the Saturday instead, but I'd lose the wages
- Continue working the Saturdays, but do extra placement in the evenings between 8pm and 11pm when my youngest is in bed. My teen can then babysit but I need to buy a car as we live in a dodgy area and the bus stop is a fair walk.
My health is taking a hit due to stress, plus I'm overweight (that's where the takeaway/sweetie money has gone), have no energy, have had to take days off placement that I can't afford to miss because I feel terrible when I get up because I don't sleep well despite medication from the GP. Phew, it's exhausting and I'm sure it's all self-inflicted. Lots of things need to change, and they need to change from now onwards.
With costs set to rise even higher I feel like I'm setting myself up for an impossible challenge. But I'm hoping that by writing in this diary regularly - maybe not daily - and making a significant effort I will see improvements, learn to save money and have a good chunk of my debts paid off.
Debt in 2015 was £13k
Debt now is £31.5k
5 year plan needs debts paid off and £30k saved
Limited to how much I can work extra shifts due to uni
Can't go for insolvency or DMP
I suck with money and need to not suck
Restarted my journey toward financial stability on 1st September 2021 - I will succeed!Total debt - £38570.75 @ 31.08.21 Current debt - £29876.97 @ 13.11.2022Paid to date: £8693.78Aim to pay off: 12% - current 12.98%DFD: December 2029 May 2029 July 2029 April 2029 March 2029
Latest MSE News and Guides
Did you know there's an MSE app?
It's free & available on iOS & AndroidMSE App
Regifting: good idea or not?
Add your two cents to the discussionMSE Forum
Energy Price Guarantee calculator
How much you'll likely pay from AprilMSE Tools
Tackling some of the smaller changes first might just help make the bigger changes easier to handle.
I agree that starting with the food and shopping habits will probably make a massive improvement for a start not only with the budget but also with your health and your energy levels.
Make a weekly list of meals for the week. It makes shopping and planning mealtimes much easier. On busy days make meals that can be put in the slow cooker so that the majority of the meal is ready when you get home (also has the benefit if using cheaper cuts of meat for slow cooking)
Batch cooking helps keep both costs down and prep time down in the longer term.
To meet your goal of £50k-£60k in 5 years you need to be putting aside or paying off between £10k-£12k each year. That's £830 to £1000 a month. Is that realistic given your current situation?
What seems to be missing on the food front here is any element of planning, & I can tell you from experience that there is a lot of money to be saved here. That old school subject back in the 1950s to 70s wasn't called 'Home Economics' for nothing! I'm not speaking in judgement here as although I may be a reformed character these days, I came to budgeting quite late in life (in my early 40s) & was a shocking fritterer of money before that.
Meal planning is going to be key here. Do this in detail & be realistic. It's pointless writing 'lentil soup' because it's cheap against 3 days if the thought of it by Day 2 has you reaching for the takeaway leaflets. Plan a week of main meals, then what you will have for lunch (taking packed lunches on work days btw, saved us a shocking £2k a year!!) & breakfast. Write your shopping list from this plan, crossing off any item you find you already have in stock. And stick to the list when you go shopping. Even yellow-stickered reduced items are just money-wasters if you don't need them or they're little snacky bits & bobs which won't make a meal. The amount you budget for groceries per month will of course depend on your overall available budget. If you have £50 a week (just as an example), it's pointless planning meals which will instantly put you over budget. Cooking from scratch & batch cooking is a good potential money saver because it provides home made ready meals in the freezer on days where you have little time or inclination to cook.
There are lots of changes to be made here, but even longstanding bad money habits can be changed for new positive ones. Cheering you on anyway.
Sir Francis Bacon 1561 - 1626 (Philosopher & statesman)
just a little tip from me - we buy as much basics as we can from @ldi and then our must have branded stuff from t£sco, instead of everything from t£sco. It’s saving my family of 3 around £15 a week. Bit of a pain doing 2 supermarket shops but the savings pay for my weekly petrol!
In order to make my 5 year plan a reality I will:
Reduce my grocery spending
Reduce my household spending
Reduce my debt and repair my credit
It is a method that worked well for us and now we are down to having just two accounts to pay each month the monthly budget is much easier to take care of.