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    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 12th Feb 17, 9:56 AM
    • 1,800Posts
    • 18,818Thanks
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed....
    • #1
    • 12th Feb 17, 9:56 AM
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed.... 12th Feb 17 at 9:56 AM
    £67,031.92. Seriously. £67,031.92. That is a SCARY number. I can't believe our debt has peaked (and it is the peak, I am determined) at this level.

    Our light bulb moment actually happened a few months back, but it's taken since then of wrangling utilities and carefully watching out income/outgoings (using You Need a Budget) to really figure out where we were overspending and how the monthly shortfall of anything from £200-£1,000+ was happening.

    We have literally nothing to show for this debt, it's just crept up over the past 8 years or so, and has always been at manageable levels, but back in October we realised we were spending more on credit cards each month than we were paying off.

    We committed that cardinal sin of taking out a consolidation loan, but alongside it we looked really carefully at our spending over the next couple of months, budgeted realistically for what we spend and have (I think) picked off all the easy 'low hanging fruit' of budget cuts and really identified why we were overspending.

    The main reason for the debt is, erm, me. Not that I'm the biggest spender (neither of us are amazing), but because I am self employed with a hugely variable income and basically worked out our budgets on the basis I would always earn my 'best' month's income. Which was, with hindsight, maybe a TINY bit deluded.

    The aim of this diary is to keep us on track with actually reducing our debt every single month, not doing it in a three steps forward, two (or four) steps back sort of way. Having sat down and put our numbers into the whatsthecost site, it appears that we are looking at 7 years and 1 month of repayments to clear the debt (and that's assuming we can get rid of the shortfall showing below). I REALLY want to reduce this term as that just seems bonkers.

    SOA below, with a couple of explanatory notes.

    Statement of Affairs and Personal Balance Sheet

    Household Information

    Number of adults in household........... 2
    Number of children in household......... 3
    Number of cars owned.................... 1

    Monthly Income Details

    Monthly income after tax................ 250 (variable, but this is the minimum I have earned in any month in the last 5 years)
    Partners monthly income after tax....... 2711.86
    Benefits................................ 192
    Other income............................ 0
    Total monthly income.................... 3153.86

    Monthly Expense Details

    Mortgage................................ 698
    Secured/HP loan repayments.............. 0
    Rent.................................... 0
    Management charge (leasehold property).. 0
    Council tax............................. 174 (including overpayment for a period when we messed up during a house move 18 months ago and didn't restart the direct debit for the new property. Will drop by a little under £50 after either March or April, can't remember which)
    Electricity............................. 52 (gas and electricity are one combined DD, I haven't checked the exact split but the total is £104)
    Gas..................................... 52
    Oil..................................... 0
    Water rates............................. 104 (also including a debt from previous property, but I think this will be included for another 6 months or so. I'm not sure what our actual usage is)
    Telephone (land line)................... 18.5 (includes internet)
    Mobile phone............................ 85 (£45 for my contract, which I use for work as well, £40 for DH)
    TV Licence.............................. 12.12
    Satellite/Cable TV...................... 0
    Internet Services....................... 0 (included in landline cost)
    Groceries etc. ......................... 520 (Includes £40 for one lot of school lunches. I am REALLY struggling to reduce this, but feel I could and should be able to!)
    Clothing................................ 100 (growing children, plus see notes below re clothes)
    Petrol/diesel........................... 225 (90% DH commuting costs)
    Road tax................................ 16.27
    Car Insurance........................... 25.22
    Car maintenance (including MOT)......... 30
    Car parking............................. 0
    Other travel............................ 50
    Childcare/nursery....................... 70 (this will disappear in April as child 3 gets free 15 hours)
    Other child related expenses............ 81.85 (music/swimming lessons x2, cubs and beavers, National Trust membership as they love visiting them)
    Medical (prescriptions, dentist etc).... 5
    Pet insurance/vet bills................. 0
    Buildings insurance..................... 27.07
    Contents insurance...................... 0
    Life assurance ......................... 16.26
    Other insurance......................... 0
    Presents (birthday, christmas etc)...... 90
    Haircuts................................ 20
    Entertainment........................... 135
    Holiday................................. 75
    Emergency fund.......................... 25
    Total monthly expenses.................. 2707.29


    Cash.................................... 0
    House value (Gross)..................... 210000
    Shares and bonds........................ 0
    Car(s).................................. 800
    Other assets............................ 0
    Total Assets............................ 210800

    Secured & HP Debts

    Description....................Debt......Monthly.. .APR
    Mortgage...................... 173733...(698)......3.14
    Total secured & HP debts...... 173733....-.........-

    Unsecured Debts
    Description....................Debt......Monthly.. .APR
    Barclaycard....................6880.21...156...... .0
    MBNA...........................9614.71...98....... .0
    Parental loan..................20000.....0.........0 (see notes below)
    Tesco loan.....................21000.....377.......10
    Total unsecured debts..........57494.92..631.......-

    Monthly Budget Summary

    Total monthly income.................... 3,153.86
    Expenses (including HP & secured debts). 2,707.29
    Available for debt repayments........... 446.57
    Monthly UNsecured debt repayments....... 631
    Amount short for making debt repayments. -184.43

    Personal Balance Sheet Summary
    Total assets (things you own)........... 210,800
    Total HP & Secured debt................. -173,733
    Total Unsecured debt.................... -57,494.92
    Net Assets.............................. -20,427.92

    Created using the SOA calculator at stoozing.
    Reproduced on Moneysavingexpert with permission, using other browser.

    Regarding the (relatively) high clothes expense, it is a combination of 3 growing children (8, 6 and 3), plus the fact that my job is in the fashion industry, and as a self employed person I need to have the right sort of 'look' in order to get work (think along the lines of a self employed personal shopper - people need to see you looking good in order to book with you).

    The parental loan was for a house deposit. The parent in question has no idea about our debts. She is not desperate for the money back and isn't charging us interest, but has asked us to save £150-200 every month into a savings account and then once we've saved a decent sum to either repay them or 'reborrow' it for work on the house (basically they want us to be able to make repayments if they suddenly need the extra income, but meanwhile are happy for us to benefit from it. I am not saving the money while our debt payments are so high - we are hoping to have paid enough off that if the parent ever needs it that we can reborrow it and pay them back). This isn't great, but realistically I think the best solutions is to treat it as the lowest priority for snowballing - once we have paid back the other debts we will throw the entire £630+ at this debt.

    So, there is a freaking enormous shortfall every month, which is somewhat depressing. Most months it is covered by the fact that I earn more than my 'bare minimum', but it is those months where it isn't covered that the debt creeps up again, and I am a total disaster for going 'oh well, we've spent on the credit card, we might as well keep going' and buying more clothes or something for the house - this is probably a significant proportion of our debt problem.

    We have managed to get rid of the balance on the one credit card we were spending on, so the remaining ones are both on 0% deals (although one expires in September). I have not cut up the remaining credit card, because we don't have an emergency fund in case of eg boiler repairs, but it has not been used for all of a month, and I hope to keep it that way.

    A DMP or similar isn't really on my horizon right now - I feel like we should be able to make the cuts to make our budgets balance, and I am optimistic that as my income goes up (when I can work more as child 3 starts school) that we will be able to make overpayments.

    My plan for now is:
    1) Try to wiggle those budget numbers around enough that we don't have a shortfall any more.
    2) Make a plan for any months where I make extra - do I use it for an emergency fund, as a fund to cover future months' shortfalls, to throw money at the debt to try to reduce minimum payments in case of future 'shortfall' months?
    3) Try to make more money. Not quite sure how this will work as I am largely limited to working around DH's working hours (I work evenings and weekends and the 5hrs childcare per week we are paying for for child 3).

    Now that's all down in black and white I am feeling a combination of relieved (to be clear on the numbers) and immensely stressed (by the semi-regular £180+ shortfall).

    Onwards and downwards (for the debt, not me)!

    edited to add: the original £67,031.92 figure was based on the total figure for the Tesco loan, which included all interest payable over the entire term of the loan. I have updated the debt figure in my signature and in all posts going forward as at 4th June 2017 to reflect that actual current debt balance rather than the balance plus interest over the lifetime of the loan. This has knocked £7,911.62 off the debt figure, but means that each monthly payment will have the interest for that month deducted from it, so it won't affect the DFD if I don't make overpayments.
    Last edited by Treadingonplaymobil; 04-06-2017 at 2:58 PM.
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    • enthusiasticsaver
    • By enthusiasticsaver 10th Jan 20, 9:36 PM
    • 9,751 Posts
    • 22,871 Thanks
    Sounds like you have budgeting sorted out and have formed some great habits with the journaling and yoga. As you say it is so much easier if you only need to worry about your spends.

    You seem to have a civilised approach to the separation which must be easier for the children. Hope you find the mediation helpful.
    Early retired in December 2017

    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Mortgages and Endowments, Banking and Budgeting boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Any views are mine and not the official line of Pease remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 11th Jan 20, 7:34 AM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 18,818 Thanks
    A quiet Saturday morning while my kids lie in... (Also, I love love love having full weekends with the kids, so much more than I expected to - long time readers might remember that XH used to look after them a lot on the weekends so I could work).

    Mumtoomany thanks for the book recommendation, I've added it to my reading list.

    I'm hopeful that it is a civilised separation. I know the really tricky bit is to come, and the reason XH and I have agreed things relatively easily so far is that they have been temporary financial/logistical arrangements, so we've both been willing to compromise more, but hopefully the fact that we've made it this far means we'll continue to be able to work through our separation relatively amicably. We're both obsessively committed to making it as stable and OK for the DCs as possible, and I think we've achieved it so far.

    Menu planning/budgeting
    I'm doing my menu planning/online shop this morning, and I thought I'd talk through the process I use now, which seems to be working pretty well for my circumstances, and is the result of literally years of trial and error (mostly error ). Also, menu planning and food shopping has become one of my favourite activities, weirdo that I am!

    I have a peculiar situation in that XH and I currently swap in and out of the house to look after the children (we are renting a studio flat which is where the non-resident parent goes - not enough spare money for a whole house. I actually tend to stay with new chap now, but the flat is there if I ever need it). This means that I am planning, budgeting and shopping for some of XH's meals with the children too, so Iím feeding 1 adult and 3 kids 7 days a week, plus me when I am the non-resident parent too. I have to be really cler with XH about what he feeds the kids, which is tricky, but he was terrible about bringing his own food and kept raiding my cupboards so we decided together that this was the best solution to avoid arguments. More work for me, but better control over finances and coming home knowing what food will be in the house.

    Each week I start with a menu plan on a Notes document (it's a shared document with XH at the moment, so he knows what to eat when he's in the house doing childcare). I have a much bigger food budget than him, to reflect the fact that the kids eat here all the time, and he is here on the days I'm not, but I do all the menu planning, batch cooking etc for the main family house. It's not ideal as I am still 'housewife', but it works well enough until we come up with a longer term solution and have two proper households. I usually menu plan before looking in the cupboards, spending a bit of time googling frugal recipes, as well as using old favourites (I keep a pinterest board of frugal recipes, as well as a list of ideas/favourites from magazines etc at the bottom of my menu plan Notes document). I'll also make sure I include anything that got planned for the previous week but not cooked for some reason (so it might be that I made a big batch of soup from leftovers and we had that instead of a planned dinner one evening).

    I come up with seven days of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Then I go to my freezer/cupboards and see what I have. Quite often I'll find I have the ingredients for an entire meal that isn't on the plan, and I'll swap things around. And if the freezer has leftovers for a whole meal, I'll swap that into the plan as well (eg I might have made a second chicken pie when I cooked one the previous week, and froze it). If there are loads of single portion leftovers I'll also add in a freezer dive meal or two, where I'll just defrost a few portions of whatever there is, and let the children choose what they want. I don't love this, as it tends to result in a bit of 'I want what he's got', but it serves a purpose. I generally try to use those single portion leftovers for lunches etc (the kids all have food thermos flasks for packed lunches as well as lunchboxes), but sometimes they just build up too much.

    Once I have my seven days menu planned, I'll write a shopping list. There are some things which appear pretty much every week - milk, flour for bread, fruit etc - but I'll always check whether we have enough of those before adding them automatically.

    I have a food shop delivered weekly, from Morrisons. While Aldi/Lidl is fractionally cheaper, IĎve found that shopping online means I juggle my basket till it fits my budget in a way I would never do in a RL supermarket. I get a shop delivered every Monday, and usually book it and start menu planning for it the previous Wednesday, so I have a few days to play around with it and seeing what gets used up (it doesn't need to be confirmed until midnight Sunday night).

    My monthly food budget is a not-entirely-horrific £460 per month for one adult and four children all of the time, plus me when i'm non-resident, so it's basically 10 days worth of adult meals plus 7 days worth of meals for three children, aged 11, 9 and 6). I am, however, trying to come in significantly under that, because there is virtually no money in the budget for fun/extras, so this is an area where I can free up some extra money.

    First I shift £50 of the food budget into a YNAB pot for my solo food shops when I'm either at the flat or with the new chap. This pot usually barely gets touched and I generally have about £30 left over from it (this has previously been added onto the Christmas pot, but in future will go into either my family entertainment pot or into my emergency fund). I also try to have about £30 per month for bulk food shops - things like spices, chocolate for cooking, dried fruit, are so much cheaper per gram to buy in bulk online. Have a google for what you're after, and remember to take postage into account (I try to use sites with a 'free postage over x amount' and make sure I have enough to order to hit that threshold, and just make do until I can do that).

    So I actually have £76pw for food (if it's only four Mondays in a month I generally very easily end up with some leftover for the following month - before Christmas I was adding it to the Christmas pot so we could have nice treat food). I aim to keep my Morrisons delivery as close to £50 as possible so the rest is available for a top up shop, then I generally only spend £15 max of the top up shop money.

    I'll book the shop and load everything in from my shopping list, and if it's coming in over £60-ish I'll have a really ruthless look through it and look again at my menu plan to see what I can shuffle around to make it cheaper - either more freezer meals, or some really cheap dinners like black bean chilli, homemade bean burgers, dal and rice etc. Sometimes it just needs to be more, if we need laundry powder, washing up liquid, a load of fruit etc all in one week, but generally I manage it.

    Because we bought quite a lot of extra food in the run up to Christmas with the extra money I'd put into the Christmas budget pot (both treat stuff and just meals which ended up with frozen leftovers), the freezer is currently pretty full, so I'm able to be ruthlessly frugal in January and I'm hoping to have £100 or so leftover from my food budget this month for some nice bits to improve my living space - I'll talk about the slightly grim living space another day, but suffice to say XH and I separated in the midst of the extension being built.

    Having a decent sized chest freezer is one of the most important parts of my budgeting - I put all leftovers straight in the freezer, avoids the pressure of needing to use them next day (especially as XH is unreliable at using them). Even leftover porridge gets frozen and used next time I'm making it. It also means if we visit relatives and there's a big meal, if we're offered leftovers we can take it etc (family know how tight the budget is, and there seems to be much more acceptance/positivity over it now we're a separated couple than there ever was when XH and I were together).

    Next week's menu plan
    Breakfast - porridge with sugar/honey, raisins and cream
    Lunch - sausage rolls (batch cooked, in freezer)
    Dinner - fish fingers (leftover nut roast in freezer for grown ups), homemade chips to use up leftover potatoes, frozen peas

    Breakfast - french toast with stale sourdough
    Lunch - aubergine and chorizo stew
    Dinner - sweet potato and coconut soup with brown rice and lentils, plus homemade sourdough

    Breakfast - porridge with sugar/honey, raisins and cream
    Lunch - ham rolls (I cooked, sliced and froze a ham that was on offer over Christmas)
    Dinner - Cauliflower/tofu korma with rice and homemade chapati

    Breakfast - pikelets (crumpets without a crumpet ring!) using discarded sourdough starter, stewed fruit (mostly from freezer, I have tons in there from my mum's fruit trees last autumn).
    Lunch - leftover soup/chilli from freezer, in thermos flasks for children, bone broth soup for adults
    Dinner - whole baked fish/potato recipe from Delicious magazine (chosen by DC1, I am getting them to rotate helping me menu plan and cook each Thursday's meal).

    Breakfast - porridge
    Lunch - sausage rolls
    Dinner - freezer dive

    Breakfast - pancakes/waffles/something treaty, with stewed fruit
    Lunch - leftover soup in freezer, sourdough
    Dinner - Pizza (dough and ham in freezer, tinned pineapple in cupboards, use up any leftover onions/peppers etc), ice cream for pudding

    Breakfast - porridge
    Lunch - leftover pizza/cheese on toast/quick cheesy pasta meal
    Dinner - bacon and cabbage pasta (bacon in freezer)

    - flapjacks
    - gingerbread
    - fresh fruit
    - sweet potato pancakes with golden syrup
    - tinned fruit and yoghurt

    To make:
    - Batch cook something for next week's lunches (mini pizzas/wraps/something else?!)
    - Bake 4 loaves of sourdough (freeze 3)
    - Bake soft bread rolls for lunches (freeze and use as needed)
    - Bake flapjacks for school lunchboxes (freeze and use as needed)
    - Use leftover gingerbread dough in freezer to make biscuits

    Any questions, do let me know!
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017: £38,608 unsecured debt/£20,000 parental loan/£173,282 mortgage = £231,890
    debt on 1st Sept 2018: £12,221.27 unsecured debt/£19,940 parental loan/£191,003.72 mortgage = £223,165
    • Honeysucklelou2
    • By Honeysucklelou2 11th Jan 20, 7:55 AM
    • 2,283 Posts
    • 12,157 Thanks
    Very impressive TOPM . I menu plan but feel I'm rotating the same few meals. DD1 has picked up a few recipes from her fellow students so cooks those when she is home, which has widened our menu plan a little! Do you ever cook loaf cakes? I find banana bread is popular, easy to slice for packed lunches and freezes well.
    paydbx2020 #93 £120.00/£10,025 . 1 debt 100 days 34. £0/£995
    EF £40. SPC 141

    # savings# £5 . Oven. £3/ £403 Health EF 0/£250
    • Verbatim
    • By Verbatim 11th Jan 20, 8:06 AM
    • 4,704 Posts
    • 14,552 Thanks
    Hi Topm,
    It's so lovely to 'see' you again, albeit in different circumstances. I hope that your ongoing separation continues to be amicable. You sound very focused and calm. I feel that before you sometimes appeared desperate to get through your overloaded to do lists combined with impossible juggling of goals, money and home life.
    I'm so glad that your business is working out well and sad that your marriage hasn't.
    What is the plan with the, (now extended?) house?
    Also could you explain the colour coding on the menu plan.
    Best wishes again,
    CCs @0% £24k Dec 05 £19,621.41 Au £13400 S 12600 Oct £11,981 £9481 £7500 Nov £7250 D £7100 Jan 6950 F £5800 Mar£5400 May £4830 June £4660 July £4460 Aug £3200, S £900, £0 18/9/07 DFW Nerd 042
    • Sea Shell
    • By Sea Shell 11th Jan 20, 8:14 AM
    • 3,165 Posts
    • 6,350 Thanks
    Sea Shell
    Youíre back!!!

    Sorry to hear about your break-up, that must be hard, especially with 3 children. Glad to hear that itís all being dealt with amicably and that youíre in a better head space now. Sounds like your business is taking off too.

    As youíve said this isnít now about busting the debt, then maybe a new thread IS the way to go. As youíve found, this board can be all about the numbers!!! Old style board will be good for meal planning, batch cooking and other tips, in that area. Definitely not my area of expertise!!

    You mention that there is still a lot of debt, and I understand thatís not your focus at the moment, until you know exactly how your financial settlements will pan out, then thatís all a bit up in the air.

    Maybe once you have a clear financial path ahead, that will be the time to post a new SOA, if you feel you need help tweaking it around the edges.

    Welcome back.
    " That pound I saved yesterday, is a pound I don't have to earn tomorrow " JOB DONE!!
    This should now read "It's time to start digging up those Squirrelled Nuts"!!!
    • Silver Queen
    • By Silver Queen 11th Jan 20, 9:05 AM
    • 796 Posts
    • 3,428 Thanks
    Silver Queen
    Wow, it seems you really have a handle on things! Those recipes sound wonderful but very labour intensive. Are you still working on your businesses as much as you were? How do you find the time in your day to do all this?

    Are your finances with XH still largely joint or do you divvy it all up on payday etc?
    Debt Totals July 2019::
    £350 Natwest Credit Card / ]Now £0 (paid off and closed 04/2017) £15,500 postgrad loan from parents/ Now £7,000 £5,000 sister loan/ Now £0£500 train ticket loan from parents / Now £0 (paid off 16/02/18)£2,000 Overdraft Now £0 (paid off 09/03/18) £1,967.83 Barclays 0% card Now £0
    Total £7,000
    • enthusiasticsaver
    • By enthusiasticsaver 11th Jan 20, 9:20 AM
    • 9,751 Posts
    • 22,871 Thanks
    Impressive post TOPM and it sounds like you have menu planning down to a fine art. It looks like a varied and healthy diet and as you say you are still catering for the whole family including XH so £76 a week doesn't sound too bad. I have never made sour dough but may give it a try.

    As you say it sounds like this thread is about making your budget work to fit your new circumstances but I think it still fits in here on DFW because presumably you still have debt and you or XH have to manage that until your finances are sorted. There is always a blurring between finances after a separation. My sister split from her husband a few years ago but because they can't sell the family home their finances are still merged. It can take time as I am sure Honeysuckle could tell you. Have a nice weekend.

    How far along with the renovations did you get?
    Early retired in December 2017

    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Mortgages and Endowments, Banking and Budgeting boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Any views are mine and not the official line of Pease remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to
    • Kantankrus Mare
    • By Kantankrus Mare 11th Jan 20, 4:57 PM
    • 5,735 Posts
    • 15,338 Thanks
    Kantankrus Mare
    Great to see you back TOPM ......If anyone can get this all can.

    Ive missed your updates especially the recipes and the yoga side of things. So sorry to hear about things not working out with your husband but sounds like you are in a good place.

    Good luck for the future.
    Walk 2000 miles in 2017....1780.35 miles
    Walk 2018 miles in 2018...1939.71 miles
    Walk 2019 miles in 2019.....2,038.97 miles
    Walk 2020 miles in 2020......32.16 miles
    Make £2020 in 2020.......£167.80
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 12th Jan 20, 5:12 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 18,818 Thanks
    Just finished doing the online food shop for next week and have it down to £40.91 (minimum spend is £40), and I had a fiver of Morrisons vouchers, so actually only £35.91 spent. Although that doesnít include the fish for Thursday or the chorizo stew ingredients as Iíll need to make that before the shop comes on Tuesday, so Iíll probably spend £15 on both of those, and might need a fruit and veg top up for the weekend. It does include 3x 4pts of milk, pasta and flour for sourdough though, and I always feel if I have bread, pasta, milk and store cupboard stuff then I can manage a bit of a crisis!

    I have a really pleasing looking week ahead - one of my focuses for this year is keeping my calendar ^really^ empty, so I donít delude myself about having five days to work when Iíve arranged to see a friend one day, run errands another etc, and end up cramming too much into too little time. The only fixed commitment I have is meeting XHís new partner for coffee (first meeting, really looking forward to it), and a sports lesson on Tuesday evening when XH has the kids (the sport is new chapís obsession, and something Iíve always wanted to try, so he gave me lessons as a present).

    Other than that my priorities are packing a couple of orders for the new business, contracted copy writing work, and a proposal for more copy writing which the people I work for at the moment have asked me to put together to solve a problem they have.

    Honeysucklelou2 I do sometimes cook loaf cakes, but for added fun to my whole budget challenge, my oven is barely functional these days (we have the old, knackered kitchen bodged into the new extension space, and are making do until we figure out what weíre doing with the house). That means that cake baking at my house is out, although I do bake at the new chapís.

    Verbatim thank you, I feel really focused and calm much of the time, although I have moments of huge anxiety about big picture stuff like maintenance, childcare arrangements, and the new chap meeting the DCs. The house situation still up in the air, although mediation started last week (and I think will go on for 6 weeks or so), so hopefully weíll have a clearer picture then. XH would like to keep the house (and I would like him to, since I realistically can't) but I just canít see how we can afford two lots of living costs without selling the house to pay off the majority of the debt.

    Oh and the menu plan isnít colour coded - do you mean the coloured text? Those are recipe links.

    Sea Shell yes, itís impossible for the debt to be my focus because I have NO IDEA how much debt I will walk away with (it will almost certainly be some, but I really don't know what's going to be reasonable, and I guess it will depend whether XH keeps the house or not). I will probably do an SOA when things are clearer, but my financial focus for now is:
    1. Be as frugal as possible where it doesnít destroy our quality of life (eg by embracing the menu planning challenge and experimenting with free weekend activities, not by cutting out the DCsí clubs), in order to develop a larger salary buffer/emergency fund - this can then be used to pay debt, fund a rental deposit, pay for house improvements if we need to sell - whatever seems appropriate, but whatever I do, more money means more options.
    2. Earn more, as far as practical. Iím about to take the leap (and this is a very tiny leap) of one day a week after school club for two of the DC (eldest can bring himself home), and Iím hoping this will gradually increase as my business grows so I have more full days to work - I anticipate the DCs being in after school care 2-3 days a week (unless XH can have care of them more than expected) by Easter, which will give me at least a couple of full length working days each week.

    Silver Queen time is, as ever, my biggest challenge! I have realised that if I really throw myself at it, I can manage the increased labour of those budget recipes in one school day per fortnight, plus usually a bit of cooking on Ďmyí weekend with the DCs. And although that's one five hour day a week when I'm not working, the immediate short term benefit of being able to knock perhaps £100-150 per month off my potential food bill makes that worthwhile, for now. Might change in the future, of course. My biggest efficiency with food is double/triple cooking, so almost any meal that can be doubled, is (eg 2-3 fish pies at a time and freeze, double batch of chilli etc). Iím also a fairly experienced cook, so Iím pretty speedy. The double cooking also means that, although I look at the calendar during every menu planning session, if I miss something which means weíll be out during the evening, thereís always something we can defrost and heat in the oven if I wonít have time to cook.

    To free up more time, I have also started getting the DCs more involved in chores, which is saving me more time than I expected it would, even though they are very new to it. Hoping to increase that over the coming months, and also hoping it will help them feel more bonded as a team helping to run the house, and more responsibility for its smooth running.

    Honestly I also donít often sleep enough, and that does net me an hour or two more each day - I always (well, 9/10 days) get six hours a night (11pm-5am), and I tend to catch up on my couple of nights a week away from the kids, when Iíll get 7-9 hours as I donít need to be finished with yoga by 7am. Iím sometimes tired, but not alarmingly so (and no more than many working parents of three, Iím sure!), but it feels worthwhile right now because my priorities are so clear and the rewards so visible.

    Iím working maybe a fraction less on my business, but ridiculously being a single parent makes it easier in a way - I have 2.5 full days (weekend) off from childcare a fortnight, which I can work long hours in, as well as a long day during the week when XH has them. Also, Universal Credit, for all its flaws, does top my income up if I have a lean month. However my profit is steadily increasing. It was down to zero in January last year as new business expenses matched income, and Iím making around £500 profit a month now, with every expectation it will grow at least 100% this year. I would like to be working a little more, but that should come naturally as I am able to add money to the pot for more childcare.

    Finances with XH are joint in the sense that we figured out our separated budgets together, as money is so tight that we had to (ie work out what we could, as a family, save for DCsí birthdays etc), but beyond that point we take no role in each otherís budgets - he pays me a maintenance sum each month and we both have our own YNAB accounts.

    Enthusiasticsaver I expect XH's and my own finances will be heavily linked for at least the rest of this year, longer if we canít sell the house, but I hope to have a firm agreement about how things will be divided up, so we can both plan our futures as far as possible, within the next 3 months.

    Renovations wise, we did Ďphase 1í (ground floor extension) - it's completely watertight, insulated, plastered etc. We donít have a proper floor down, just fibreboard, and we have our old kitchen fitted into the space rather than a new one, but it's a fully functional living space. And the new bathroom isnít finished either. BUT we do have all the stuff for both bathrooms (suites, shower trays/screens, and tiles), all the floor tiles for the ground floor (but not the planned wood which would cover 80% of the downstairs), windows etc, all stacked and waiting in the new bathroom. So most of the remaining cost would be labour/cheap kitchen/cheap floor to get it saleable/for one of us to live in it.

    Kantankrus Mare thank you for the kind words. Iím looking forward to sharing more recipes. And Iím still practicing yoga 5-6 days a week - that and journaling are the two things which make the single biggest difference to my mindset and therefore my whole day. Swiftly followed by how realistic I keep my to do list for the day.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017: £38,608 unsecured debt/£20,000 parental loan/£173,282 mortgage = £231,890
    debt on 1st Sept 2018: £12,221.27 unsecured debt/£19,940 parental loan/£191,003.72 mortgage = £223,165
    • Isitdoable
    • By Isitdoable 12th Jan 20, 7:12 PM
    • 15 Posts
    • 52 Thanks
    Wow, I'm really impressed with your menu planning! I am new to all of this - one of my big areas for improvement is the food budget and meal planning, and I've been quite stuck with how to even start. This has given me a bit of inspiration!
    I'm assuming your children are of an age where they are not waking you up in the night? I think I can just about get by on 5 hours if needs be, but its the broken sleep that is an absolute killer, and when you have money worries and that stops you dropping back off again, its amazing how quickly your sleep dwindles!
    • Sea Shell
    • By Sea Shell 13th Jan 20, 8:19 AM
    • 3,165 Posts
    • 6,350 Thanks
    Sea Shell
    Just one comment regarding meeting XH new partner. Just be careful and don't let your guard down too much. You don't know this person, and you have no idea how much she might "get in your XH's ear" about how things progress from here.
    " That pound I saved yesterday, is a pound I don't have to earn tomorrow " JOB DONE!!
    This should now read "It's time to start digging up those Squirrelled Nuts"!!!
    • Silver Queen
    • By Silver Queen 13th Jan 20, 10:14 AM
    • 796 Posts
    • 3,428 Thanks
    Silver Queen
    The aubergine and chorizo stew sounds really interesting. Do you have a recipe you could share when you get a minute?

    Interesting to hear how your finances are being split. It sounds like a large amount of your guilt about not contributing enough to the budget etc was actually pretty misplaced, given that you really have things under control now.

    You actually inspired me to take up yoga last year, and it's something that I really love now. I really notice the difference in my mindset and body (re: aches and tense bits) when I don't practise for a week or two. So, thank you for that
    Debt Totals July 2019::
    £350 Natwest Credit Card / ]Now £0 (paid off and closed 04/2017) £15,500 postgrad loan from parents/ Now £7,000 £5,000 sister loan/ Now £0£500 train ticket loan from parents / Now £0 (paid off 16/02/18)£2,000 Overdraft Now £0 (paid off 09/03/18) £1,967.83 Barclays 0% card Now £0
    Total £7,000
    • db2016
    • By db2016 14th Jan 20, 4:26 PM
    • 229 Posts
    • 510 Thanks
    welcome back,

    just make sure any new places don't have a £50 or whatever it was washing up bowl!
    • Verbatim
    • By Verbatim 15th Jan 20, 12:20 AM
    • 4,704 Posts
    • 14,552 Thanks
    Thanks TOPM
    Of course, links. Doh. The simplest explanation ofter eludes me.
    CCs @0% £24k Dec 05 £19,621.41 Au £13400 S 12600 Oct £11,981 £9481 £7500 Nov £7250 D £7100 Jan 6950 F £5800 Mar£5400 May £4830 June £4660 July £4460 Aug £3200, S £900, £0 18/9/07 DFW Nerd 042
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 15th Jan 20, 1:27 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 18,818 Thanks
    Hello everyone! Thought I'd pop in for a midweek update.

    I've adjusted this week's menu plan a little - I have loads of leftovers from my solo meal last night, so I'm going to take that home with me and do a bit of a freezer dive for the DCs. If there's enough in the freezer for XH and the kids to also eat leftovers on Friday (rather than switching tonight's meal to Friday) then I'm going to try freezing the tofu I have for tonight's meal, as apparently it changes the texture completely (for the better) and I'm kind of intrigued! Also means I can have it next week, rather than leaving it for XH to cook when he'll be rushed with Friday clubs etc. I'm already kind of looking forward to doing next week's menu plan and seeing if I can meet my underspending challenge for the month - I'll need to do the rest of the month on a shade over £100 in order to do it. Fingers crossed!

    I had a bit of a baking day in between bits of paperwork yesterday, and achieved:
    - Many portions (maybe 5? 6?) aubergine chorizo stew in the freezer for lunches (recipe below)
    - four loaves of sourdough
    - a couple of dozen bread rolls to freeze for lunches (I have a load of cooked ham in the freezer so this will do for the planned 'batch cook for lunches' from the menu plan for now).
    - a batch of flapjacks for school snacks.
    - a batch of granola bars for snacks/breakfasts on busy days.
    - Made a hugely indulgent chocolate ginger cake with leftover ingredients from Christmas. Looking forward to the DCs enjoying it later.

    Aubergine and chorizo stew recipe
    3tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, diced
    120g mushrooms, sliced
    1 aubergine, diced
    1 tsp mixed herbs
    100g chorizo ring, diced
    2 garlic cloves, sliced
    400g tin chopped tomatoes (if I double the recipe I generally use three tins rather than two)
    1 red pepper

    Sweat the onion in the oil for a few minutes, then add mushrooms, aubergine, herbs and chorizo. Cook for another 5 mins or so. Add garlic, fry briefly then add tinned tomatoes. Cook for a good 40 mins on a gentle simmer.

    Because there aren't many ingredients, the flavour is pretty simple - it's best made the day before and left to sit overnight, as it all develops and becomes much more interesting. I usually make double or even quadruple the quantity, as chorizos tend to come in 200g size *(I just get the bog standard chorizo ring they sell in Morrisons).

    What else is going on? Not much really. I seriously dialled back my To Do list this week, and it's really nice. I'm feeling pretty on top of things! I need to get my tax return done, then I can really start to look at my plans and goals for 2020 in earnest. It's going to be really hard to make concrete plans until I know what the deal is going to be with XH, but I can still set a direction to travel in in terms of my life and my business, and the more I can move in that direction, the less vulnerable I'll be to whatever ends up being agreed with XH.

    Silver Queen thank you! I'm so glad you're enjoying yoga. And yes, I think I had a lot of misplaced guilt around our finances. I've really realised how much XH totally abdicated any responsibility, while still spending without guilt. I feel like I've grown up and learned so much about myself, about my finances, about life in the last year or so.

    Sea Shell good point, thanks for making it. She seems nice, but you're right to point out that she's very much going to be on XH's side, not mine, which is how it should be.

    Isitdoable my DCs are theoretically old enough not to wake in the night, but DC1 is frequently up till 11:30pm because he struggles to drop off, DC2 is up from 6 and DC3 frequently wakes (albeit very briefly) in the night. So although it's nothing like the early days, making sure I get enough sleep can still be a bit of a challenge!

    Right, need to go and pack up my stuff to move back from new chap's to my house (this is one of the most draining aspects of the whole separation, I loathe packing up my life every couple of days, and can't afford duplicates of anything, so I'm really feeling very homeless). It's made me determined to make sure the DCs feel as grounded and rooted as possible in both their homes, with multiples of anything humanly possible, so they don't feel like they're packing up their lives every few days).
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017: £38,608 unsecured debt/£20,000 parental loan/£173,282 mortgage = £231,890
    debt on 1st Sept 2018: £12,221.27 unsecured debt/£19,940 parental loan/£191,003.72 mortgage = £223,165
    • lucielle
    • By lucielle 15th Jan 20, 2:00 PM
    • 8,267 Posts
    • 35,668 Thanks
    I spent most of last week reading your diary. I was conscious as I got closer to the end that there weren't enough pages for the coming year, so really glad you're posting again.

    Good luck with your business and hope the divorce goes through smoothly.

    Total Debt Dec 07 £59875.83 Overdrafts £2900,New Debt Figure ZERO !!!!!! 08/06/2013
    Lucielle's Daring Debt Free Journey
    DFD Before we Die!!!! Long Haul Supporter #124
    • Honeysucklelou2
    • By Honeysucklelou2 15th Jan 20, 5:42 PM
    • 2,283 Posts
    • 12,157 Thanks
    So are you having to cook at new chaps and transfer food as well? Even more impressed at your organisational skills . Will be trying the chocolate ginger cake, sounds amazing!
    paydbx2020 #93 £120.00/£10,025 . 1 debt 100 days 34. £0/£995
    EF £40. SPC 141

    # savings# £5 . Oven. £3/ £403 Health EF 0/£250
    • Kantankrus Mare
    • By Kantankrus Mare 15th Jan 20, 6:14 PM
    • 5,735 Posts
    • 15,338 Thanks
    Kantankrus Mare
    Thanks for the aubergine stew recipe! Will jot it down to try sometime.
    Walk 2000 miles in 2017....1780.35 miles
    Walk 2018 miles in 2018...1939.71 miles
    Walk 2019 miles in 2019.....2,038.97 miles
    Walk 2020 miles in 2020......32.16 miles
    Make £2020 in 2020.......£167.80
    • wishingthemortgaheaway
    • By wishingthemortgaheaway 15th Jan 20, 7:38 PM
    • 2,519 Posts
    • 14,170 Thanks
    Hi Topm - really good to see you back here.

    I reread quite a bit of your diary recently hunting out recipes you've previously shared - there should so be a 'find this recipe option' on this forum.

    Once again you are proving yourself Superwoman splitting yourself in multiple parts for the best for the children. Just remember to look after yourself too. Grief for your situation may poke its ugly head up at some point and bite you on the bum!

    How are the children doing through all of this? Has dc1 starting secondary school now? I can't quite work out where we are up to.

    I'm trying to think of a TOPM approach to the lack of doubles of stuff when you are house swapping - decanting stuff into repurposed jars? Hairdryers/straighteners etc as birthday pressies? Although I guess the swapping isn't a long term situation (it may be a medium term one) so not particularly frugal or environmental to double up and I don't think charity shops sell electricals do they? Maybe just putting the word out amongst friends you are looking for any they've got lurking in the back of their cupboards.
    Have a good evening.

    Outstanding mortgage: £23,181 (December 19)
    MFW 2020 Challenge Member #10 0/£2318
    • Treadingonplaymobil
    • By Treadingonplaymobil 20th Jan 20, 1:28 PM
    • 1,800 Posts
    • 18,818 Thanks
    Hi everyone! Just finishing up this weekís menu plan/food shop, so it seemed as good a time as any to update here.

    Honeysucklelou2 to answer your question, yes, mostly baking at new chapís house! Single layer food like biscuits or oven chips are doable at mine, but things like a big roast or a cake are completely impossible.

    Wishingthemortgageaway the lack of searchability is one of the main downsides of a diary format! Iíve thought a few times about shifting to a blog and copying over posts from here, recipes, mindset stuff etc.

    DC1 starts secondary in September, so weíll get school confirmed in the spring. Fingers crossed! All three have been amazing, although DC1 struggled with the very early days of the news, I think more fear of transition/what it meant. XH and I have been absolutely determined to make it as stable and positive for them as possible, and Iím tentatively confident weíre doing ok so far.

    The biggest constant packing/doubling up issues are:
    1. clothing - I have a pretty capsule wardrobe, so not enough for sufficient clothes in both places. This includes sports gear (yoga and running).
    2. Ingredients for recipes - cooking at new chapís and ferrying ingredients one way and finished dishes the other is tedious. He has no room for all my stuff, and also I do cook at home too, so spices, flour, sugar etc all used in both spaces.
    3. Outdoor gear - waterproofs, walking boots etc. All bulky, all used regularly in both places.
    4. Weighing scales (for people, not food). This one is ridiculous, but I weigh myself daily and that one bit of control stops me being obsessive about my weight (my mother was obsessed with me being fat as a teen. I donít think itís done my body image any favours).

    So, other stuff...

    Ginger cake feedback - excellent, but could have been a thinner cake to improve the cake:icing:crystallised ginger ratio. I will make again, but with half the cake ingredients (apart from the ginger in the cake, which made a lovely sticky layer).

    XH and I have our first joint mediation session this week. I SO hope it goes smoothly, and that we can start to make progress towards sorting the house/debt/assets/childcare schedule situation out. It's all so up in the air, and I desperately want to be able to move things forwards.

    However, regardless of what is agreed, something that I've become really ridiculously clear on over the past six months is that I need independence, freedom and choice. And that means being financially stable by myself, regardless of my relationship, with a good solid income which is significantly higher than my bare minimum needs, so I can put plenty by for a rainy day/begin to think about retirement income. With that in mind, I've been spending today on business planning for 2020, and I'm feeling pretty positive about what I can accomplish. I find it amazing, in a way, that I sacrificed this freedom/choice for so long (I mean, I know it was so I could be there for my children etc, so it's not like I regret it). But it's one of the main reasons I'm self employed rather than employed, and I need to start making it pay and allowing myself to reap the rewards of self employment rather than seeing it as a limiting factor which keeps me to a small income.

    I'm pretty epically pleased with my menu planning and budgeting this month. Including this week's shop, which will take me up to the last couple of days of the month, my food spend (including solo food shops) is at £240. I'm expecting the total for the month to be £290 or so, but that will be a food shop which will do half of the first week of February's food.

    Menu planning
    Iíve been trying to keep notes this week of things that we either have a lot of or that have been hanging around a while. The list looks like this:
    - popcorn
    - suet
    - dried fruit for mincemeat mince pies etc (unused bulk purchase made by a friend and donated to me - I have about 2kg of ready mixed raisins/sultanas/currants/mixed peel)
    - prunes
    - apricots
    - rice crispies
    - marshmallows
    - macaroni
    - batch cooked soft rolls in freezer
    - batch cooked granola bars in freezer
    - red wine (gifts)

    With that in mind, the menu plan currently looks like this:

    Breakfast - porridge (chia pudding for me pretty much every day, as I've found it's improved my somewhat temperamental gut SO much)
    Lunch - pizza slices
    Snack - fruit
    Dinner - Cauli/tofu korma

    Breakfast - french toast and stewed fruit
    Lunch - sausage rolls
    Snack - popcorn
    Dinner - macaroni cheese with bacon

    Breakfast - porridge
    Lunch - leftover macaroni cheese
    Snack - granola bars
    Dinner - soup from freezer and homemade sourdough

    Breakfast - granola, yoghurt and fruit
    Lunch - soup from freezer
    Snack - biscuits/cake
    Dinner - choose meal with DC3 tonight and add to shop, lemon pudding

    Breakfast - porridge
    Lunch - savoury popcorn
    Snack - toast and jam
    Dinner - beef stew and dumplings (use up suet and wine)

    Breakfast - pikelets
    Lunch - carrot, ginger and turmeric soup with fresh sourdough
    Snack - fruit
    Dinner - fish and chips, prune cake

    Breakfast - porridge
    Lunch - freezer dive
    Snack - fruit
    Dinner - freezer dive

    to make
    mincemeat - salted caramel, pear or similar (NB dough in freezer)
    rice crispy squares
    oatcakes if short on snacks
    Last edited by Treadingonplaymobil; 20-01-2020 at 1:32 PM.
    £67,031.92 is a frightening number indeed... The debt free diary of one family and their enormous debt
    LBM debt on 12th Feb 2017: £38,608 unsecured debt/£20,000 parental loan/£173,282 mortgage = £231,890
    debt on 1st Sept 2018: £12,221.27 unsecured debt/£19,940 parental loan/£191,003.72 mortgage = £223,165
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