MSE News: Dump Sky and iPhones, struggling homeowners told

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Mortgages & Endowments
128 replies 15K views


  • edited 5 September 2011 at 1:03PM
    tahreytahrey Forumite
    135 Posts
    edited 5 September 2011 at 1:03PM
    Quite amazing that some people have to be told this, isn't it... but I've seen enough of them getting it wrong, so I'm not fully surprised. And I don't get why people are up in arms at the banks doing this - it's a win-win as far as they are concerned really; they get to protect their profits (get more money, guaranteed over a longer period, from customers continuing to pay interest on mortgages than repossessing and selling the properties), as well as earning brownie points by seeming to care more about their clients; and the customers themselves get a bit of free financial advice and are less at risk of bankrupcy and foreclosure, homelessness, etc.

    Personally as a "young" (29 :rotfl: ) and freshly-minted homeowner, I am doing everything I reasonably can to make sure I can afford the repayments, even on a meagre salary. Cut back my phone contract by half (200 mins/200 texts, but still got a decent HTC handset - they really are hungry for customers!), accepting quite a cut in TV/broadband/phone provision from what I'm used to "at home" (freeview + plusnet's lowest tariff - but, it still meets my needs), going to try to ride my powered & pedal bikes more than driving my car to save fuel, and will be downshifting from a 1.6 petrol Megane to something more thrifty (on fuel and insurance) quite soon... second hand, less than £2k, intended to keep at least 3 years. Holidaying in the UK rather than abroad (though after the week I had, I'm not sure if that's actually cheaper!). Building/contents and mortgage payment insurance, but no life cover. Scrimped as much as I could over the last few years to get a decent deposit together to keep the repayments down. Eating largely off the smartprice and "whoops" shelves and paying for a share of what fresh fruit/veg my now-retired mother brings home from the inner city daytime market. Etc.

    But OTOH I'm surrounded by enough contemporaries who seem to be convinced - and attempt to convince me - that I *NEED*...

    * an iPhone on a massively overblown voice/text plan (to the tune of costing £500 or more extra over a couple years...)

    * high end broadband (30mbit+ with unlimited transfer... I've yet to see anything that fully stresses my 13-ish mbit plusnet, and even my overnight streaming-TV downloads aren't passing 60gb/month...) + phone (I'm not in during the day, why do I need free calls then?) + TV (personally couldn't give a toss for Sky Movies in HD & all that, and although Virgin+ would be nice, I've got iPlayer web access, a VHS recorder and hand-me-down freeview PVR for timeshifting)

    * the latest iPod every year (still rocking a 5-ish year old 20gb generic pod and an old-but-trusty CD walkman... plus the phone... and a big enough backlog of CDs reaped from Woolies closing-down sales that I don't need to spend too much time or money on iTunes)

    * that I should probably be on my second new laptop since early 2006 (still got the one I bought then - paid attention to getting the spec right, and recently maxed out the memory & disk for about £60 all-in, so it's still just about holding its own)

    * Brand new car once in a while (really, when the £1000 "stopgap" I bought with insurance write-off money in early '09 has only just started suffering major engine problems after being largely trouble free despite regular and sustained thrashings? That's the equivalent of a £15,000 one lasting more than 30 years with only basic servicing and repairs. This after being heavily run into, as well. The £2250 one it replaced was intended to last anything up to 5, as it was a more solid make...)

    * Some kind of sportsbike instead of my 125cc sit-up-and-beg commuter... eh, I might go up to 250 in a mildly sportier style, as the occasional slog through headwinds at 55 isn't that fun and it's not so hot in the twisties... but a 600+ Ninja or similar is absolute overkill when I can already manage 70+mph (and 100+mpg) in normal weather, blat through traffic like it's not there, and park almost anywhere.

    * Top-brand helmet (with lower safety and comfort ratings than my £120 second-best one... "but it's a brand 'X', it's GOT to be good!" ... really??) and other gear... Not yet had a problem with my ebay leathers + armoured jacket (after a couple minor falls...), lidl boots etc. Though it is possible to make false savings here; the Lidl helmet I bought after dropping my first half-decent one fell apart when I was on the way to my Mod 1 test - managed to borrow one for that, then repair it enough to get home, and my high spec decent-brand gloves are proving to be worth every penny of their not-much-higher price vs budget crappy ones.

    * A road pedal cycle with slick rubberband tyres, crazy high gearing, and a "lightweight" frame that's maybe half the weight of mine (which I can lift in one hand without much issue)... oh and it costs £600+ with regular servicing required to keep it in good condition (and of course, being changed every 5 or so years) vs my £250 (and overpriced at that, but it was paid on insurance), 10-ish year old ATB/road combi beater with comfort saddle that's generally only received occasional chain/bearing oilings and new brake pads when needed. I still make a good enough speed... all I'm really missing is cleats so I can even up the load on my leg muscles...

    * Desktop computer to go with the laptop (I have a tatty but perfectly working external monitor from my last one, along with its keyboard/mouse thru a USB adaptor, and a cheap external DVD writer that's run for 5 years now... I don't see the need to have a big box on the floor too, sucking up a couple hundred watts continuous just to websurf?)

    * Up to the minute games console... OK so that's a couple hundred spent on the console (itself a power-hog), and fifty quid a pop on all the cutting edge games, and an online account subscription at a tenner a month or so, and then all the time lost out of my life playing said games in organised duels against people I'll never meet. Sorry, I think I'll just hop on facebook and ask if anyone wants to go down the pub, or nip round for homemade pizza, a can of tesco lager and an old movie. Or perhaps a literal head-to-head blast on a good ol' PS2 game like Timesplitters or GT4 or something.

    * 3D TV (+ 3D blu ray player + 3D titles + enough sets of glasses for everyone who comes round, or in other words, at least 6, probably 8 for safety). Nuff said.

    * Finest-type food... I can make a pretty passable impression of it all by myself from cheaper ingredients.

    * Halogen downlighters, spotlights and other such over-illumination ... UGGH. The place I've moved into is rotten with it, and the worst part of it all is that though one part of the room is searingly bright (all with incandescents via dimmer switches), it doesn't even light it all evenly. I've replaced as much as I can with lower wattage and/or higher efficiency bulbs, inc LEDs/CFLs in the fittings and lamps that aren't dimmed. I can still see well enough to do the ironing, dishes and paperwork by, at night. That's good enough. I don't buy the whole "I can't see what I'm doing if I use a fluorescent". Get a higher wattage or better quality one then, rather than some 9w poundshop thing expecting it'll do the same job as a 100w tungsten... a 20w medium-white tone of a decent brand will come on almost instantly and have the same brightness and quality of light after another 10-15 seconds.
    Still gotta change the fittings though to make it work better... I figure for that spending, I can then use even more efficient bulbs and pay it off.

    * Not to mention all the potentially wasted money on high fashion and cliquey styles. I might not be able to do it for too much longer without looking ridiculous, but I'm going to hang on to "blue jeans + old band T-shirts" for now, thanks, with the occasional foray into chinos + short sleeve button-up shirt when necessary.

    * Redecorating, changing furniture/bedsheets and that... Uh, the decoration is basic but inoffensive and undamaged, the furniture works, the sheets are clean and agreeable... to be honest I have bigger fish to fry than spending a weekend or three in Dunelm Mill and all those. It was bad enough trying to find a replacement shower rail that didn't cost £50 and a net curtain for the front door.

    It is quite astonishing what you can convince yourself you need, really. I also thought I'd absolutely need to get a good stereo system plumbed together (including buying new parts) once I was in, but so far, more than a month down the line, I've still only got a couple of basic speakers, an old amp and turntable, and an ancient DVD player in place (for movies and CDs)... and it's doing the business. I may just leave it as-is. More money to satisfy my other two remaining vices (beer and petrol!)

    Amongst the above I know people who earn probably 50% more than me, but always seem short of cash... have bought a place that's maybe 10-20% more expensive but have much higher repayments because they never got a big deposit together etc... but somehow have lots of high spec kitchen and bathroom gear, an owned-from-new car, pricey bicycle, top end TV package etc. Maybe that's what's important to them, but it doesn't seem so comfortable. Then there's the other one who insists I'm an idiot for not having the iPhone + monster tariff... but has had to move in with his GF because he can't quite cover the rent solo. Even amongst my own family I can point to people who are effectively skint most the time you talk to them, but when you go round you're still struck by the big screen TV, Sky-plus box, fairly new car that they're still paying for on finance, new-ish laptop (but rubbish spec, so replaced every 18 months when it becomes unusable)... others who go on quite lavish holidays twice or more a year but can barely afford to eat the rest of the time... etc.
    (the latter one, maybe more a matter of well informed personal choice? - as in, they're sacrificing a small amount of everyday comfort most the year to have those nice experiences (what's life's all about?) every now & then)

    They'd be a whole lot richer, live more comfortably overall, have a bit more cash to spend on decent breaks, or nights out instead of moping at home, be able to pay the mortgage off sooner if they tried a little downshifting, but whilst the illusion of need is still there, it's hard to shift... unless someone shows you that it is possible, and explains how, well now... you ACTUALLY NEED to make these cutbacks, or you lose your home. What good is the 47" HD TV if you're out on the street? It's a pretty expensive umbrella.

    Worst of it is probably the guy who was so enamoured of scuba diving and otherwise living large that he ended up with an interest-only mortgage, in this late 30s - on an enormous house - because that itself took up all the remaining money from his pay. Haven't heard much of him since... I do hope he found a way of paying off the capital... and kept his job too... :(

    NB, this isnt to say all the above is bad, evil, etc or that you can do without all luxuries, gadgets and enjoyment. I do indulge myself in various ways from time to time, when I can (heck, I'd have saved a further £80/year or more off my bill if I'd kept the same - horrible - handset as before). But I'm not going to make the mistake of thinking all of it is necessary, will make sure I'm comfortably covering the normal monthly outgoings (inc a little into savings) before taking on any new ones, and seeing that there's enough free to clear the lot AND the one-time payment before buying any big new non-emergency item. (Car repairs, fridge etc, I'll dip into savings or pay on credit, as theyre lightning strikes...)

    Nothing spoils the sweet taste of a new toy than the bitter recriminations of going into arrears because of it.
  • edited 6 September 2011 at 8:57AM
    adyj73adyj73 Forumite
    166 Posts
    edited 6 September 2011 at 8:57AM
    tgroom57 wrote: »
    It is quite normal for these calls to also insist you get rid of any family pets, -dogs and cats- to save money as these are also seen as non-essential.

    I wish that banker's bonuses were similarly non-essential.

    I actually find this line of questioning about pets offensive. I was forced into an IVA when my wife upped and left halving the household income. I was still left with all the fixed costs and following a nervous breakdown and 12 months plus of severe depression I can confirm the only thing that kept me alive was my two dogs.

    Anyone suggesting I should get rid of my dogs would be suggesting I affect my mental health and possibly my life just so a bank can squeeze an extra few quid out of my IVA

    It's Sick - but it seems this forum would rather have seven pages about a bloody iphone!!!
  • wouldbeqaulitymoneysaverwouldbeqaulitymoneysaver Forumite
    6.2K Posts
    There are lots of behaviours that divert attention fropm attending to vital matters from eating to finance.
    #TY[/B] Would be Qaulity MSE Challenge Queen.
    Reading whatever books I want to the rescue!:money::beer[/B
    WannabeBarrister, WannabeWife, Wannabe Campaign Girl Wannabe MSE Girl #wannnabeALLmyFamilygirl
  • wouldbeqaulitymoneysaverwouldbeqaulitymoneysaver Forumite
    6.2K Posts
    I agree pets are essential. It is mollycoddling patronising Nanny state you should give up iphone and or pets, cos the way you run your financial affairs is YOUR business alone and not the Governments. I wonder if they clamp down on big businesses screwing us mightily for their sins or is joe public soley responsible for this worlds problems?
    #TY[/B] Would be Qaulity MSE Challenge Queen.
    Reading whatever books I want to the rescue!:money::beer[/B
    WannabeBarrister, WannabeWife, Wannabe Campaign Girl Wannabe MSE Girl #wannnabeALLmyFamilygirl
  • wouldbeqaulitymoneysaverwouldbeqaulitymoneysaver Forumite
    6.2K Posts
    I agree. It's none of their business but we all could do with a thorough financial education and just know when to spend out on stuff and avoid False Economies and how to downshift/cutback.
    #TY[/B] Would be Qaulity MSE Challenge Queen.
    Reading whatever books I want to the rescue!:money::beer[/B
    WannabeBarrister, WannabeWife, Wannabe Campaign Girl Wannabe MSE Girl #wannnabeALLmyFamilygirl
  • fracturedsunfracturedsun Forumite
    807 Posts
    Ninth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    My brother was recently made redundant (he has 3 kids & is currently trying to find a job that pays enough to escape the benefit trap). He still has (as a household) sky, 2 iphones and various other modern trappings. He's cut down by taking the car off the road instead...

    Not the choice I would make but everyone has different priorities I guess.
  • ostridgeostridge Forumite
    12 Posts
    Ninth Anniversary Combo Breaker
    MoneySaving Newbie
    poggs wrote: »
    I've a mortgage with .... and have received 2 phone calls over the past 2 months doing a 'survey' asking how I think I would cope if my mortgage went up £300 a month next week etc.

    Now I'm guessing it was a fishing expedition to decide what to do about me.

    That's nice, but are you absolutely sure was it really your bank that called. :exclamati I would NEVER accept an incoming call as being from my bank / credit card company; except if they are asking about suspected fraud - requiring a yes/no/answer. Always better to look them up and ring them back to verify - if all OK. :T
  • tahrey wrote: »
    Quite amazing that some people have to be told this, isn't it... but I've seen enough of them getting it wrong, so I'm not fully surprised. And I don't get why people are up in arms at the banks doing this

    I'm not really surprised that people actually need to be told that if money is tight, probably not a good idea to have pricey monthly outgoings like payTV or expensive mobile contracts. Nor, unfortunately, is the backlash particularly surprising. People just have an absolutely massive sense of entitlement, even those claiming social security. You only have to visit a third world country and see how about 80% of the planet has to live to realise that most in the UK are living in cloud cuckoo land in terms of what they expect as a basic standard of living.

    However, a bit rich for the the likes of the banks to be saying it given the fact that most of them are insolvent and should be bust - if not for massive support from the state.
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