A Cup of Coffee and Two Paracetamol - Debt, Disability and Getting Organised (like the chickens)

CoffeeSonata Posts: 72
First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
edited 2 December 2023 at 4:06PM in Debt free diaries
Finding courage to start a diary and stay focused, and have some support and accountability with other people. 
I am at a point where I really need to focus on managing debt and organization of money. 

I am entirely embarrassed by the amount of debt I have (vs income anyway) and it's making monthly budgeting a juggle and tight, though just about doable.
 This is mostly as I've been ill and recovering from major surgery for most of this year. 

I had covid six times in the 12 months just before that, so financial organization and focusing on finances went out the window. I'm also self employed with my own business, which was a lot to manage this year, aside from the variable and still unpredictable income. I probably have mild/moderate long covid left, as well as a long term health condition (helped greatly  by surgery but not fixed) and a permanent disability.  
Everything combined has just been overwhelming, and led to some difficult situations with missed payments (mostly due to lack of organization, inability to move money to the right place when I was ill,  but also inability to speak to anyone on the phone). 

I have some long term debt, which I haven't managed to get on top of that has been split over 3 credit cards.
I attempted 0% balance transfers on the original debt which was on one barclaycard, but didn't manage to pay those off before the 0% expired. So I'm now paying interest. and it's on 3 cards.   
I also have a fairly small amount of new debt (£200). 

I'm hoping a diary can help me stay focused and think through a plan, and be less lonely talking about it and reading about other's progress in similar situations. 

As it stands debt is:
  • CC1: £550 (this was a business card, for a work iPad)
  • CC2: £1097
  • CC3  £2488
  • PRA  £4,600 (best not to ask how they got it - I defaulted entirely by accident when I was in hospital)
  • Next  £206
  • Business Bounce Back Loan: £1,393
Total Debt:  £10,287
Minimum Payments /Interest Rates/APR are:

  • CC1: £43  (24.9%)
  • CC2: £52    (25.9%)
  • CC3: £65  (22.4%)
  • PRA   £100 (0 % I think)  this is an agreed amount with them. I am not sure I can reduce it, it's a little fraught. 
  • Next: £16  (24.90%)
  • Bounce Back Loan £32.20 (2.2% - it will stay this way for another for another 3 years, when the full amount is due.)
Total monthly min repayments:  £308.20

I absolutely hate the fact I have so much debt, and my income is not high at all at the moment. It's also variable, and less than it was before surgery. I am slowly returning to work, and growing my income and business again, but realistically I can only do client work part time, and other work I'm much  slower and still can't manage full time overall,  so it's going to take a while to regain ground and improve income. 

On a SOA (this may be slightly different, I do use YNAB so will need to check figures) if I do almost no personal spending and after essential bills and debt minimum payments: 

I have about £93 left a month.

This takes into account some extra spending that is maybe not essential : 
  • a monthly amount for gifts/christmas
  • clothes
  • entertainment (which is kindle unlimited / apple music )
  •  £30 emergency savings/bills ahead savings. 
It's also calculated on my absolute base amount of my worse month, with no personal income from my business. 
Some months will be better, as income starts up again and grows and I can pay myself. 

I calculated SOA based on £1365 income.

 This is worst case scenario, but where I've been personally for the last couple of months. 

That does not include mortgage, essential utilities, council tax, bulk household cleaning stuff.  Those are covered by my partner's salary at the moment, and come out of that account. 

My income does need to cover our groceries/food, my car, petrol,  my phone (£60 monthly), health/disability costs (£81 monthly), gym/rehabilitation (£50 monthly), gifts/christmas, my clothes, all personal spending etc , my own saving, my pension, any national insurance due in Jan. 

It's tight. Or feels it, anyway. 

I am developing a plan that is sustainable that meets all minimum payments and the PRA amount. 
So far I am considering :


  • debt snowballing (this is probably most motivating to me, and almost all are about the same interest rate really, minus the BBL that simply needs to be paid at £32 a month until it's done. 

I'm not sure what is a realistic amount to aim for each month for paying above the minimum, or whether ust put as much as actually possible the end of each month and not worry about a target for now. I am a person that likes a target to aim for though. 

  • Reduce grocery budget as it seems high, mostly because being unwell I'm disorganized and often find I can't actually cook from scratch.  Do this by meal planning, simple meals and maybe delegating cooking at least once a week.  I have joined the grocery challenge again, and despite a slight freak out last week did make it just under budget.  Budget seems high for mostly food for 2 people, plus wet food for 2 cats  (cleaning and toilet paper mostly comes out of another budget line in bulk, but it will include any urgent picked up in supermarket along with food, cats dry food is in bulk out of another budget.) 
  • Reducing non-essential expenditure as much as possible whilst also living and not being miserable
  • Use YNAB to plan and stick to it
  • Find a sustainable way to pick up my income/ business revenue again to pay myself more, without exhausting or burning out energy/health wise.  This may take some time. 
It feels a little overwhelming at the moment. 

Reading all your diaries has helped me feel less isolated, and less ashamed. It's also helped me see it's very possible with focus and determination. 

I'm hoping with talking about it, focus and maybe some challenges I might actually kick this debt and finally be debt free instead of only just managing to maintain it all. 

Christmas and gifts are currently causing anxiety (end of Nov and Dec is also 3 x close family birthdays, and 3 x close friends birthdays). 

But I'm trying to be creative and not panic. I have managed to save some to Christmas, and it is what it is. Am resigned to making maybe only minimum payments this month. 

I plan to post often to stay focused and motivated. Maybe join in and post on some of the challenges. 
It just feels an entire mountain at the moment. 
I know I can do this, I'm just tired to begin with so it feels like mental energy I don't have. 

Though I really need to reduce the debt and be able to move on and not have so much available money going elsehwere/on debt. I need to be able to save and cover yearly/irregular bills fully. 

So I'm hoping with focus, organization and motivation I can make good progress and sort my life out! 
Challenges for Feb (28th Feb updated)
GC Feb: £320/£350 

Make £5 a day: £161/£145 

My Debt Free Diary: https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6490048/a-cup-of-coffee-and-two-paracetamol-debt-disability-and-getting-organised-like-the-chickens


  • peb
    peb Posts: 1,682
    Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    Welcome.  You've obviously put a lot of thought into your position.   I'm sorry you've had a cr*p time health wise.
  • Keedie
    Keedie Posts: 2,132
    First Anniversary First Post Photogenic Combo Breaker
    edited 11 December 2023 at 9:25PM
    I've subscribed to your diary so that I can be updated and cheer you on @CoffeeSonata. Starting my diary was the fundamental changing point in allowing me to see and manage my finances differently. It really helps with accountability and to not feel so alone and overwhelmed by it all and to get feedback and bounce ideas off of others.

    The Payment a Day debt free challenge has been my main motivator and it really helps me to stay focussed and get inspired by others declaring their PADs (big and small), as it all adds up.

    I've been snowballing my debts, but also being mindful of how they impact me emotionally. So even if something hasn't been the smallest debt to tackle next, but I know that clearing it will make me feel better, I've prioritised that one next.

    I think with the changes that you're making to your food budget and personal spends, you'll have a little contingency to be able to make the additional payments without feeling like it's a punishment. Actually enjoying your life (without going crazy and being irresponsible with spending) is actually more important than debt. We only get one life. And as you've had a rough time of it with your health, it's very important that you're kind to yourself on your journey. The debt will get paid with you slowly plodding along, but you need to be still standing at the end of it all. Small consistent amounts will slowly turn things in the direction that you want to go in. But also save some energy for yourself as you're still recovering and your business will increase in time as well. 

    Best of luck with it all.x
    Debt Free Diary:- The Mental Debt Struggle
    Debt Tracking Restart Take 3 from 01/05/2023 = £23,643.30 (8 creditors) So, on 01/03/2024 = £14,743.30/£23,643.30 (2 creditors) = 62.36% repaid Aiming to be Debt Free = 31/12/2025
    THE BURDEN RESTART TRACKER:- Bank of Mum 3 - school fees (£3,600/£3,800) 94.74% repaid || Barclaycard (£5,466.23/£14,166.23) 38.59% repaid
    🎉 TUI (£2,276.04/£2,276.04) 100% repaid || Bank of Mum 1 - car (£150/£150) 100% repaid || Bank of Mum 2 - family holiday (£300/£300) 100% repaid || MBNA (£875/£875) 100% repaid || Creation (£1,070/£1,070) 100% repaid || Sky Mobile (£1,006.03/£1,006.03) 100% repaid 🎉
    (Original Debt on 15/07/2016 was £33,056.76) 🙈
    2024 SAVINGS:- Emergency Fund (£100.32/£2,000) 5.02% saved || #5 50 Envelope Challenge 5/50
    2024 CHALLENGES:- #30 Debt Free by Xmas 2024 (£1,180/£6,750) 17.48% repaid ~ Q1 Target £1,180/£1,350 (87.41% repaid) || Debt Buster Overpayment Pot £0/£250 (0% debt neutral) || #9 100 Steps to Debt Free 17/100 steps || March 2024 Grocery Challenge £0/£250
  • sparks_2023
    sparks_2023 Posts: 161
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    edited 12 December 2023 at 9:21AM
    Given you already have a default perhaps consider defaulting the other credit card debts as well - once you have 1 default there is little downside to having more defaults at the same time.... and then you won't be "wasting" the 22.4%+ interest. I speak with regret that I didn't default my Capital One card with the other defaults.
    Leap Day 2024 - the day of freedom. The day my pernicious debts finally died.

    Legacy Default dates :
    Mr Lender - 31/10/2022
    Fund Ourselves - 22/12/2022
    Bamboo - 30/3/2023
    Likely Loans - 14/4/2023
  • I saw you post on the grocery budget thread and found your diary from your signature.

    I am in a similar position with a long term health condition and Long Covid. We have debt, three small children and I’m still not well enough to work and have had my application for ESA turned down. I completely understand feeling overwhelmed, it’s so hard not to be.
    Like you, I’m trying to focus on some of the MSE challenges and hoping for a better year this year than last!

    I haven’t been brave enough to do a diary yet, you sound really positive and motivated to sort things out and I’m hoping reading about others successes will help me on the way too.

    Looking forward to reading your updates 🙂
    2024 Decluttering Campaign 🏅 10/52
    #25 Make £2,024 in 2024 £126.77/£2,024
    2024 Grocery Challenge £545.84/£7,200

    2023 Decluttering Campaign 53.5/52 ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 2022 Decluttering Campaign 84/52(72) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    2021 Mission Declutter and Clean 56.5/52(85) ⭐️ 2020 Banish the clutter 45/52
    #? Make £2023 in 2023 - £331.75/£2,023 #31 Make £2022 in 2022 - £489/£2022 #96 Make £2020 in 2020 - £1,307.72/£2020
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