Starting out

So - I’ve been floating along for a while now, and have started to get into a debt spiral. Thankfully I have a reasonably big shovel with which to attack it, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to wipe out the £16.5k that I owe in the next 10 months.

I’ve finally confessed to my partner, and she’s been absolutely brilliant with me - she’s had a few !!!!!! moments with me, and I’ve given her copies of my statements etc so she can get a feel for the kind of spender that I am. I had hidden a fair amount from her (we’re not living together at the moment), but we went on holiday this last week which brought to the surface a lot of the things I’ve been trying to hide and forced me to confront what I’ve done and start to understand what it is I need to do.

My biggest problem is behavioural - I need to try and shift my mindset into a Money Saving Expert mindset. It feels like I need financial coaching/counselling - I didn’t really get any understanding of money growing up, and I’ve never been good with managing my personal finances. I’ve read the debt help guide from MSE, but it looks geared towards serious debt problems (e.g. the Debt Crisis definition) whereas I’m looking to try and develop a better mindset towards money.

I really want to be debt free, and I want to make better choices in future.

I appreciate this all sounds a bit vague, so apologies - I’m trying to find the words for what it is I’m trying to say and not doing a very good job of it.


  • datlex
    datlex Posts: 2,237
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    Good luck you can do it :smiley:
    Paid off the last of my unsecured debts in 2016. Then saved up and bought a property. Current aim is to pay off my mortgage as early as possible. Currently over paying every month. Mortgage due to be paid off in 2036 hoping to get it paid off much earlier. Set up my own bespoke spreadsheet to manage my money.
  • enthusiasticsaver
    enthusiasticsaver Posts: 15,297
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    You have made a good start in coming clean to your partner and realising you have to change your behaviour around money.  

    I would suggest you do a budget (there  is a link to an soa in my signature).  This will show you how much you can realistically afford to throw at the debt.  Do not forget to budget for things like Christmas, car expenses etc etc. 

    I presume you have a good income and this is what you mean by a big shovel.  That will help.  Is the debt on 0%? 

    The best advice I can give you on changing spending behaviour is to spend mindfully.  Do  a weekly budget, plan for shopping days and no spend days and maybe tighten up how often you eat out, get takeaways or go on shopping trips. Set a limit for fun spends and put  some money in savings every month for emergencies, christmas, holidays 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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  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,265
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    You might find it useful to talk to someone face to face.  Community Money Adivsers do budget advice and will help with things that might be tidied up.  Frankly a CMA will probably be delighted to talk to someone without a serious issue and just wants to avoid future problems.  
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • beanielou
    beanielou Posts: 89,292
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    You are in the right place to get lots of help & support.
    Keep posting  :)
    I am a Forum Ambassador and I support the Forum Team on Mortgage Free Wannabe & Local Money Saving Scotland & Disability Money Matters. If you need any help on those boards, do let me know.Please note that Ambassadors are not moderators. Any post 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 & not the official line of Money Saving Expert.

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  • Rob5342
    Rob5342 Posts: 1,341
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    How do you manage your monthly budget at the moment? I got into a mess with credit cards and when I started tackoing them I found it useful to have a seperate current account for my weekly spending that I transferred money into each week. It looked after itself as I could just check that app to see what I had left that week, and seeing a small balance halve when I'd been shopping and more of a psychological effect than seeing a big big balance drop by a bit if I'd used my main account. With modern banks like Starling and Monzo you can put money into pots which is much easier than having a seperate account (I use Monzo).

    Telling your partner is a big step and one that can really help turn things around.
  • Indout96
    Indout96 Posts: 2,338
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    edited 17 October 2023 at 10:38AM
    Have a look at Dave Ramsey. His podcasts can be very encouraging, its not the normal Martin Lewis way but makes a lot more sense for knocking off smaller debt such as yours. see below about how it works and read down to the "ignore interest rate" part.  
    Good luck
    Totally Debt Free & Mortgage Free Semi retired and happy
  • Several podcasts & YouTube I watch and listen too are as other post suggested Dave Ramsey and his team, Ramit Sethi, Gabe Bult I find interesting.  One book I read was The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel. They all have good things to say and take from them all what you want.

    Good luck with it all. 

  • ukhack
    ukhack Posts: 8
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    Thanks everyone - I've downloaded the budget spreadsheet from MSE and have gone through it with my partner. I've put down what I think is a realistic budget, and we're going to try and track it together on a weekly or fortnightly basis. At the current rate, we think it'll take about 12 months for me to become completely debt free
  • EssexHebridean
    EssexHebridean Posts: 20,811
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    The budget spreadsheet is a good starting point. Use it as just that though - a starting point - and don't expect to have got everything right first time. it will take time to fine tune your budget and it will need regular re-evaluation to ensure that everything is still correct and still working for you.

    the headline figure for you at this point in time is actually the one that tells you how much you should have left over each month - do you have that amount? If not, then that indicates that you have either forgotten stuff on the budget (often things like big annual spends are a factor - so things like budgeting for spending on holidays, or an insurance policy), or that there is a "leak" somewhere - sometimes long standing subscriptions that just run on without ever being remembered. That is why as a starting point we would also suggest that you check back on ideally a years worth of current account and card statements.

    If you do have a healthy surplus and good income, one thing to be conscious of is whether you currently pay things monthly that it would save you money to pay upfront for the year, and then budget the relevant amount each month from your income to set aside ready to pay the following year. insurances again often fall into this category - and things like road tax for your car too - far more expensive paid in any other way than annually. Also TV License assuming you require one is an oddball in this department - paid by monthly D costs the same as paid annually up front, but paying quarterly is subject to a premium, so that's worth checking. 

    Right now I would also suggest that a key point for you is to think through what you plan to spend at Christmas and ensure that you have sufficient saved or available from upcoming income after all other commitments have been met. if not, now is the time to start scaling down your plans, or working out how some extra income could be got together.
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  • ukhack
    ukhack Posts: 8
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    Just wanted to chip back in to give you all an update on my progress. My partner and I have been on a journey since my first post, and I've made some real changes to things to help get me into a really good position.

    First and foremost, my outstanding debt has reduced from £16k to just under £8k - this has been achieved by some real cutbacks on my side, and also by my selling off more than a few things that I owned.

    We've also taken the decision that I will move in with her at the end of January, which will unlock additional funds to be able to clear the debt down - so much so that I should be able to clear the remaining £8k by the end of April at the latest, alongside selling other collectibles that I own.

    I am being much more careful about my budgeting - being more intentional with what I'm buying rather than just a few quid here and there on different things.

    From feeling quite overwhelmed, I now feel really in control of what's going on and am motivated to go even further.
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