Drowning - What Can I Do?

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  • TheAble
    TheAble Posts: 1,586
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    edited 19 September 2023 at 8:55PM
    MrDucky said:
    Gas / Electric: What would I be looking for with this to make a saving, I don’t have any high-use appliances and most things are modern (new in the last 5 years), I mainly use the microwave and use the air fryer over the oven, lights are only on in the room I’m using, it’s a new build home so well insulated meaning gas is mainly for water.


    Gas / Electric: What seems suspect with them?


    Your usage as you've described it is minimal. I know prices have gone up a lot but this doesn't equate to £168/month. Maybe your direct debit is set too high and you've accrued a big credit? Or conversely there's a big debit on there that you're paying off? Or you could be on a poor tariff. 

    Again, switch everything off and go and take a look at your meter. Make sure the meter reference definitely matches up with the one on your bill. If all looks well then some scrutiny is required to work out where these numbers are coming from.
  • Floss
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    edited 19 September 2023 at 11:02PM
    Martico said:
    Ask yourself if you think you can possibly use 300 litres of water per day, every day
    As an example of useage, I live alone in a 2-bed house, shower most days, have occasional baths, do laundry a couple of times a week, water my garden & wash up by hand and I used an average of 142l/d on my most recent bill.
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  • Floss
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    MrDucky said:
    Floss said:
    MrDucky said:

    I don’t believe I’d qualify for a DMP and the implications of such sounds worse than my current situation.
    .....And there is no "qualification" for a DMP - to be honest, you may well be better off. It does take some nerve though, and a lot of patience.
    ...I’d rather not, I know a few people who did them and it sounded like the worse of the evils when it comes to financial decisions.
    So what will you do when that Very account is due? And when your car needs a new tyre or repair, or when the insurance, MOT & service are due?
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  • Naomim
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    A thought on the phone, do you have a work phone at all? Does it support dual sim? If so once your contract ends you could go sim only and use the work phone. 

    My work also has a clause about moonlighting but it really only means if there's a conflict of interest. My colleague works in a pub on Saturdays to earn some extra pennies and it also gives her some socialising being behind a bar! 

    I also don't think I saw anything about lunches when you're working. Do you take in lunches or buy daily?

    Finally the car. You value it at £15k. Do you need a car that expensive? I know you said you travel to sites, it's there a huge amount of mileage you are doing? I bought my 10year old car for £6.5k. (I have to have automatic for medical condition so slightly more expensive). I'd go as far as saying one of the best cars I've had. No problems,  drives smoothly etc. Can you look at possibly changing? 

    Also please don't think that dmp's are evil things. They have helped so many people that find themselves in an impossible situation. 

    It's hard work sorting your budget but you will get there. 
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  • chris_n
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    MrDucky said:
    Martico said:
    While it's a drop in the bucket (please also forgive the incoming water pun, inspired partly by the thread title) compared to the size of your debt, by all anecdotal accounts - your friend and participants on this thread - you are throwing around £300 per year down the drain. It's up to you to work out if that's from leaks from appliances or fittings in the house, a leak between the meter and your house, or if not it may be a faulty meter. The water company has no responsibility for the first ones
    stymied said:
    Is there any way the meter could be supplying more than one property? Although less likely than a leak.
    TheAble said:
    Just turn the water off and go and look at the meter already. If the numbers are ticking up then you've got a leak. You simply cannot be using over 300 litres a day as a single person. You either have a leak or you're paying for others' usage as well as your own.

    Your gas and elec numbers are suspect too..
    Water: The meter is out at the main road so I’ll check it tomorrow in the daylight before going to work (will I need any specialist tools to open the manhole?). It’s doubtful that it’s feeding multiple properties as everyone has a meter point at the main road from what I can tell and since it’s a new meter the likelihood of a fault is slim. So the leak must be inside the property somewhere (there’s nothing obvious as far as a leak inside - I’ve checked toilets and the other plumbing).

    Gas / Electric: What seems suspect with them?


    Gas / Electric (possibly water too): you say it's a new build, are you sure you are being billed for your usage and not someone else's? When new estates are built meters are often allocated to plot numbers which end up being different to the house number. First thing is to check the serial numbers on the bill are the same as the actual meters fitted. Then check to make sure bills are based on readings and not estimates, when you have done that then check when your last bill was and how much credit you have on your account. Finally look at old bills as long as they are actual not estimates 12 months apart and find out what your annual usage is, then you can maybe start a new thread on the energy section for help to make reductions.
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  • RAS
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    Let's look at what's possible. Obviously, splitting up has altered your finances and it takes time to adjust.

    Find those APRs.

    Scrap Spotify and the Lotto and transfer that £20 per month to a different (emergency or budgeting) account.  Would you be able (as in not already paid for), miss one months guitar and the next months bouldering? It's only £35 but it starts to build a little cushion.

    If stuff's not selling on Facebook, try another angle even if it's a postcard in the local shop. Put everything into the emergency fund.

    Your utilities bills are probably still based on usage when you were a two person household? Try meter reading each week and think about adjusting settings. Could the heating come on later if you are going to the gym or guitar class etc? Turn it off before you go to work?

    Ask at the pub in the village or near work or where you do evening activities. Do they need a pot collector, lowest of the low, once a week? 

    Look at your food and household budget. To get best advice head over the Old Style Forum. As a single person, it's much harder to eat cheaply and interestingly.

    You have a freezer, as that makes a huge difference. Start by meal planning. Perhaps three different menus, one of which is deliberately budget, giving you a little you can skin for the emergency fund. In particular look at lunch and  snacks as they probably punctuate your day and if you are moving between sites, it's harder to just bung a home prepped soup in the microwave.

    Even so a small vat of HM soup, made thick from cheap veg, and portioned and frozen is good standby. Thaw, thin and heat.

    But... Check out when the reductions are for the supermarkets you pass on the way back from work, or near your evening activities. These can be dominated by salads but you can find cheap meat and fish and veg. Take it home and freeze, then incorporate into the next week or two's menu. If it's a tray of chicken thighs or a chunk of meat, divide into two meal portions before freezing. 

    Ideas, cook two portions, eat one and freeze the other for an evening when you are back late?  Batch cook enough for 4 if you have to buy a larger pack size, and freeze the extra portions?


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  • bcs7
    bcs7 Posts: 23
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    MrDucky said:

    Entertainment covers:-

    Guitar Practice - £20
    Bouldering - £15
    Spotify - £8
    Netflix - £5
    Date Night - £20
    Gym - £15
    Lotto - £12

    Mobile: Ends in January
    I think you can cut out quite a bit here.

    Guitar practice - Is this hiring somewhere out or paying someone to teach you? I'm pretty much self taught from books and there is so much free stuff on the internet and YouTube, you could get away with not paying anything.

    Bouldering - could this be substituted for some other outdoor activity near to where you live? You said you live in a rural area so there are probably plenty of areas you could get outside walking/running or doing other activities for free.

    Spotify - as others have said the numerous radio stations are a free option.

    Netflix - the variety on there and it only being £5 I think it's worth keeping.

    Date Night - You need to keep some of that social interaction so keep this too.

    Gym - Can you substitute this for body weight exercises/calisthenics you can do at home. Maybe pick up some cheap weights if you don't already have any. This can be combined with the outdoors exercise above.

    Lotto - agree with others, this is a bit of a luxury you can't afford right now so it needs to go.


    So you'll have saved £70 a month right there.


    Mobile
    - Agree with others about going sim only or a cheap contract. I've just come out of a 3 year contract on an iPhone which was costing me £65 a month (£40 of which was paying for the handset). As that was paid off it dropped to £25 and they recently offered me a new tariff for 2 years which is now £15 per month with a bit extra data (6GB) and unlimited calls/texts.


    You could be well over £100pm better off by January.
  • I'll try once more on the groceries side of things. First up, no - it's perfectly possible to use something like a chicken to make main meals for well under the £1.60 you've quoted! I was being incredibly generous with my portioning assuming you'd only get 5 meals for 1 from it for a start! I recently paid £9.xx for a medium sized free range bird. It did a sunday lunch with good generous portions - the full leg and thigh for MrEH and most of a br3ast* for me - then a further meal with the white meat served with couscous and veg, a risotto, and there is a portion of meat in the freezer for use in the future. All those meals are for two so the meat element per person comes to under £1.20 per portion - and that's using a FR bird which is substantially more expensive than standard. Veg is reasonably cheap, pasta and rice per portion ARE cheap. In terms of things like herbs and spices - there is a small outlay in the first instance to purchase them, but once you've bought - for example - a tub of garam masala, you are spending £1.20 in week one, but that then gives you a good flavoursome ingredient for another maybe 15 meals or more. Buying one key "flavour ingredient" a week is a great way of building up your storecupboard and increasing the repertoire of meals you can produce without heavy outlay on peripheral ingredients each time. Don't overlook things like lemon juice as great flavour additions too - if prepping couscous for example my "staple" is a really good splash of lemon juice, a good pinch of salt, and plenty of black pepper. if I've got fresh parsley or coriander I'll add a good handful of one or the other, chopped, too. Without the herbs, around 20p a portion for a tasty carbohydrate component to a meal. 

    I also still think you're forgetting that while you're saying "£1.60 per meal" you are forgetting that breakfast can certainly cost well below that figure, and lunch too with careful planning and shopping. Eating prepared foods which meet your description is always going to be far more expensive than cooking from scratch - it's something that the majority of us do from time to time, but when it becomes our main source of food that is a problem on several levels. when looking at a budget for food, it's misleading to look at a "per meal" cost as an average over the day as meals just don't work out that evenly in the real world.  

    As I said before - I'm spending around £225 a month and that includes buying things like the FR chicken I mentioned. Red meat almost always comes from the farmers market - so again it will work out more expensive than if you buy in the supermarket. My shopping budget also covers some toiletries, and general household medications as well as cleaning materials - and for two people as well of course. Others have already said that they make their money stretch even further - it can be done, but it definitely requires a mindset of "let's see how we can do this" rather than "I can't do this because..."

    If you WANT to free up money to cover areas - then your grocery budget is one area that you certainly can make savings, some extremely easily, and more with a bit of listening, learning, and trial and error. 

    *encrypted to avoid risk of forum censoring!

    Your lack of money left "right now" hasn't eluded anyone that I've spotted. What people are trying to encourage you to do is to start to consider where you can "free up" money to pay your obligations elsewhere. You need to start viewing things like the running costs for your car in the same way that you view your rent, your utility bills etc. What happens if it comes to renewal time for your insurance for example and the state of your credit file at the time is such that you simply can't use credit for it? These expenses need to start forming part of a budget - and that means changing other things in the budget to make sure that they are covered. Although it would be more expensive, you could switch to paying your car insurance monthly from renewal - but that would still need X amount of money per month freed up to cover it, and would then make it harder to save for purchasing outright the next year... MrDucky said:
    As an aside - you need to stop thinking about the things you "can't" do, and instead start working out how you can make the budgeting that needs to happen work. That does indeed mean making savings - but there are certainly savings there to make if you want to get yourself back on track. 
    I totally agree with what you have said.

    Almost everything suggested has been greeted with '  I can't do that because.....................'

    Like I have said this needs a total change in attitude from the OP.

    I see what you are both saying, but so far we have cut out my entire life outside of work to balance out the “missing” funds to run the car, so now I’m still drowning // treading water each month (like before), I just now get to do it while spending my time alone at home with no Entertainment since I’ve cut it all out. This seems less like a solution and more like condemning myself to purgatory while I continue in the same situation I already was in… surely you can both see that?

    Why are you looking to cut out your entire life outside of work to nothing? I seem to recall I suggested making a reduction to your entertainment budget - alongside a reduction (perfectly achievable) to your grocery budget, sorting out the high water costs and giving consideration to whether your gas/electric bills could be cut a little. It ought to be possible to achieve a total of £50 saved over the first two categories, and with a bit more work potentially another £20 or more from the latter two - that's the car costs covered right there. 

    I agree with the poster who commented that your stated energy use doesn't tally up with that direct debit too. Do you have smart meters? When did you last check that the readings are a) being sent, and b) are being used correctly for billing by your energy supplier?  If you do have smart meters and still have your In Home Display then what is your general sort of background load for electricity? It may be that you have something using a high phantom load that needs tackling.  Same question on the water - smart meter? or regular analogue one? You mention a meter reading having been taken recently - but then ask people how you get to the meter, so it's not clear whether you have been checking the readings or not? On all three meters, check that the meter numbers tie up with what is shown on your bill too - just in case you are being billed for someone elses use. Turning the water completely off when you're not using it for a while and checking the meter at both sides of that is a also a decent shout.


    As for the possibility of a DMP - I'm unsure why you'd have heard anything suggesting that these are a bad thing. Perhaps you can detail what your concerns are - what you've been told are the problems with a DMP - and it would be surprising if people here wouldn't be able to set your mind at rest. 
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  • Singlespeeder
    Singlespeeder Posts: 267
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    edited 21 September 2023 at 7:05AM
    I've read the whole thread. Makes for interesting reading.
    Water use is genuinely eye-watering !  ;)
    Unless you are actually a fish / mer-person I think it'd be nigh on impossible for you to use anywhere near 319L of water A DAY. If a kettle is 2-3L and would make 4 or 5 cups of tea ..... a human should drink 3 to 4 L a day.
    I can shower in under 4 mins. A shower uses approximately 9L a minute. So call it 40L.
    Washing up by hand .... 20L max?
    "Based on our analysis of 20 of the most popular washing machines, the average model uses 46.2835 litres of water per cycle. The average cost of water per litre in the UK is about £0.0019338 per litre.
    This means that the average washing machine uses £0.0019338 x 46.2835 = £0.09 of water per cycle.
    If you use your washing machine 220 times a year, it would cost you £19.80 in water costs."
    That's over 4 washes a week which a single person shouldn't need but if we said 2 washes / 100L a week so an average of 15L a day.

    If you have a shower daily, and drink what you should, wash up & wash clothes. you should on average use under 80L a day and that could be drastically reduced if necessary. So your 320L is precisely 4 times what an average single person is likely to use. Can you hand on heart say you use 4 times more than I've suggested? If not, you're paying for someone else's water and I'd be getting the water board out to investigate. 

    Gas & Electric. I live in a fairly large 4 bedroom house. It's old and not the most thermally efficient.
    There's 2 of us living here and I work from home so am here 24/7.
    We're tight, I'll admit it. I think frugal is the correct term. We're with Octopus for both. And we provide the meter reading on the 31st of each month and pay for what we've used. 
    I keep a spreadsheet of all the meter reading and have got it to be pretty accurate with calculating what we've used.
    Our electric for the last couple of  months is as below
    May   157KWh  @ 31p a unit so with the extortionate 55p Standing Charge and Vat comes to £70.41
    June  117KWh - £56.46
    July   120KWh - £58.04
    Aug   119KWh - £53.97

    Gas is way lower as it's been summer at about £15 a month all in
     so we're looking at about £70 a month for both which goes up to nearer £200 for the 2 coldest months.
    So your £168 a month for a modern well insulated new build seems excessive to a tightwad like me.
    And you're not at home in the day !
    Bar work as previously mentioned is also a social outlet / experience... if you've no experience, could you maybe go to your local in the village (assuming there is one) and offer to do a free shift in exchange for the experience? You can then go elsewhere and say you've got experience....
    Totally agree with all the comments on food. Try eating vegetarian a few meals a week, it's much cheaper.
    I came here a few years ago, fresh out of a costly break up with nothing but £48k of debt, so I do have experience of this. It's the budgeting and planning that'll get you out of your mess. It'll get easier after January when the phone contract ends. Until then it'll be modest changes, but as you've binned the Gym, Spotify, window cleaner & Lotto you're already £47 a month better off. As other suggested, maybe alternate guitar & bouldering  that's another £15/£20 . Sort your definitely faulty water and you're near £100 a month. Tackle the energy bills & phone and that's upto £150. Get 2 bar shifts , that could easily be £400 - £500.
    No one is saying you need to be a hermit, quite the opposite.
    Small tweaks and some effort and some phone calls and there's a relatively painless way through this.

    Now sort that water out !!

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  • This is a moneysavingexpert forum so a few would have you sat at home in the dark from 5pm until 9am the next day, eating plain rice and washing in rain water. That’s not wrong of them to suggest, because they’re helping you acheive what you want to do - save money to repay your debts. But it can also unrealistic for some people to achieve due to the risk to their mental health. Some may get a buzz out of saving 50p a day, others will end up off work unwell.

    I think you’re right to leave some spend for social and entertainment purposes based on what you’ve said. But there are savings to be made as I think you now know (gym, lotto etc.) you may also find some of these savings have additional unintended savings through things like less petrol spend by less miles driving to/from gym or other activities.

    Water definitely looks wrong. Prioritise sorting that out. Again I agree with others the gas and electric is high.

    You definitely do need to build some savings for car costs, emergencies etc. I would initially do this as you state you can afford all bills and debt repayments at the moment. Once you’ve built some savings sufficient to cover your costs with a bit leftover, I would target the credit card(s) with the highest interest.

    There is no quick win or easy answer for you here. Based on your income, outcome and debts, it’ll be a long slog to repay it all. The only way to speed this up would be a second job.

    Hope that’s helpful. I think you’ve got some good advice here so far but ultimately will need to come to terms with the length of time this will take.
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