Money Wise Talks 26/05/2022

Life is just a rollercoaster isn’t it?

I think I may have said that before. But it really is, certainly an emotional one anyway.

This week I have exchanged contracts on the house and have a completion date of 30 June!

I still can’t believe it. Literally, 3 months ago I had no idea this was going to happen and yet here we are. We are so close to moving into our new house. A brand new start for me and my daughter and I just can’t wait.

All I need to do it try and keep the anxiety at bay. It is trying to wreck my feelings of happiness by making me feel scared about taking on more debt. Urgh, mental health sucks. Just when you feel like it’s all coming together BOOM … it’s there pulling you firmly to the ground.

And it’s so strange because I am just so happy. This house is the exact house I wanted 3 years ago. I went online, saw this house, requested a brochure and stuck it on my notice board. I looked at it every day and when I was told I couldn’t get a mortgage because I hadn’t been teaching long enough I took it down. So when the opportunity came to buy this exact house, in the area I wanted to live, on the estate where my family is, how could I say no?

Obviously, after being told I couldn’t get a mortgage, I thought I would have to do it the long way; be in employment for a year, pay the debt off in full and save a £20k deposit. I was happy with that and accepted it. But it hasn’t happened like that. I got the call to say the house was available, my name was a the top of the list and I had to make a decision there and then if it was going to be a yes or a no as they had a list as long as their arm for people who wanted it. At that time, I had no deposit, no mortgage offer and I’d only been in my current job 3 months. Would this be enough?

A couple of calls made and I rang back and said yes let’s do it. I still wasn’t sure at that time if I would even get a mortgage! I was on tenterhooks waiting for the bank to say yes and I was so relieved when they said yes.

Since that day, the last few months have been a whirlwind. The house is now legally ours. The move is getting closer. And as exciting as it all is, my anxiety is through the roof! I am taking on an extra £11500 worth of debt (deposit), my mortgage and life insurance is increasing, I need to pay for building and contents insurance and as it’s a new house, I need a lawn, blinds, light fittings and curtains lol …. All I see is huge EXPENSES!!

Is it worth it? HELL YES!

But I can’t sleep. I look at my bank account several times a day. I look at my budget each night, sometimes just staring at it (not sure what this achieves). I’m checking the news and researching ways to reduce bills until the early hours of the morning. It’s fair to say I’m becoming obsessed. I come out with a stress rash on my neck when bills hit the floor and I’m checking plug sockets are off around the house like someone with OCD. It’s no joke.

I’m hoping this is a small period of intense anxiety I’m going through, as this is such a big event in my life and after I’ve moved in it will stop.

My friend and I were talking the other day about anxiety and I was talking about how money makes me anxious and especially with what’s going on currently with the increases in living costs, it makes me feel like I’m not in control. None of us are. We can do all the cutting back we like but if inflation is hitting the poorest families up to 14% how do we cope with that?

The government are bringing in extra measures to help people on benefits and pensioners which is a fab idea but what about the people who are just over the benefit cap – like me? I feel like a carry a huge weight around being a single parent and only bringing in one income. It’s all down to me. The weight is sometimes so heavy it feels like its crushing my chest.

So I work as much I’m allowed and it allows me to feel like I’m doing all I can. We can only do this can’t we? In a way I’m quite lucky my employer makes us sign the Working Time Directive so we are unable to work more than 47 hours a week, because if they didn’t, I work even more. I still work 7 days though. I feel like I can’t stop now either. Not whilst the country heads to a recession and costs are increasing even more.

I know I’m not alone in my thoughts and I am well aware that I am better off than others out there. I understand that it’s a privilege that I can afford my bills, food, pay off debt and save abit. But unfortunately, I still feel worried about it all.

With all the research I’ve been doing, I plan on lots more blog posts coming your way. I have got a few in the bag that I am just finalising and when I’m on holiday next week I hope to make them live. I really hope you find them useful so make sure you subscribe to my blog (it’s free to do so) so you won’t miss them 🙂

What I Have Spent This Week

  • £10.66 Macdonalds
  • £7.10 M6 Toll
  • £2.89 Road Chef
  • £1.65 Coop
  • £6.86 Post Office
  • £3.89 Maccies
  • £4.09 Morrisons
  • £2.85 Coop
  • £39.18 Morrisons food shop
  • £49.53 Petrol
  • £10.00 Cash
  • £9.05 Newsagents
  • £5.29 Shop
  • £11.09 Snacks

Total £ 164.13

I had some extra expenses due to extra petrol to attend my Grandads funeral and accidently took a bloomin toll road!! Couldn’t believe I did that, I even got off the toll road and then Google maps put me back on it! I was also naughty and picked some service station snacks and a Macdonalds breakfast :). The other bits seem snacky again, just like last week, although last week I spent more, so it’s definitely going in the right direction.

This week I’ve been paid and my budget is done for the next month. My challenge this month is just to stay in budget and not spend outside it at all. Especially, as I could be moving soon and need the money for that and not snacks!!

I’ve been thinking about doing this alot and have finally made my mind up but I AM GOING TO START THE YOUTUBE CHANNEL I set up in January, The Money Wise Mum YouTube Channel and I am going to vlog about my journey too. I feel this will be the one thing that keeps me on track and as I find some YouTube channels so inspiring, hopefully by me sharing my journey it will help others too.

So, in my first YouTube I will be bearing all my budget, income and expenditure and hope you will all join me online and subscribe 🙂

Have a great week! Thanks for reading, Heidi x

Money Wise Talks 19/05/2022

9% inflation! This is a 40 year high!

A recession is on the horizon that’s for sure. Is there anyone out there that disagrees with me?

Now is the perfect time to start looking at your budget, or setting one up if you haven’t got one. Stop spending more than you earn, build up an emergency fund and try and pay down as much consumer debt as you can (that being credit cards, loans, store cards etc). Tougher times are coming, I can feel it.

The worse thing to do right now is ignore the signs and bury your head in the sand. I would even go so far and say, don’t take any more debt on right now if it’s already a squeeze. We just have no idea how much the cost of living is going to increase throughout this year.

These are the increases that we have been hit with so far this year (some of these amounts may be specific to me)

  • Water 19% increase (Own calculations)
  • Gas & Electric 165% increase (Own calculations)
  • Council Tax 5.8% increase (Own calculations)
  • National Insurance 1.25% (From 12% to 13.5%) (Source Sky News 2022)
  • Petrol 32% increase (Compared to a year ago – Source RAC, 2022)
  • Food increase (variable)

Most of you will know I have just bought a house and although it is within my budget (just), I’m still anxious and worried that it will put pressure on my finances. One of the only saving graces I have is that I opted for a five year fixed mortgage so I know my payments will stay the same for the next five years. If you are on a variable rate you may want to look at some fixed deals or speak with a financial advisor to see if there are better products out there that will limit the possibility of an increase.

An increase in inflation could also mean the Bank of England increases the base interest rate again which means an increase in borrowing and credit cards.

So, if you have a credit card, unless you’re on an interest free deal this will mean you pay more interest and less off your overall balance meaning it will take longer to pay off. I wish I had the opportunity to clear mine in full but right now, the balances are too high to make a huge dent in them. All I can do is keep at it with the small overpayments I can afford to make and hope I can absorb any future increases.

I don’t usually focus my blog posts around what’s happening in the news, but last night I saw something on the TV about the inflation rate and it then played on my mind all night. I didn’t get to sleep till after 2am only to be woken up by my senile cat at 5am. Bloomin Knackered! This is one reason why I don’t like watching the news before bed as it just plays on my mind. It did make me curious though to what was going on. So today, I took the opportunity whilst on a long car journey to find out as much information as I could. I had four hours in the car today so I exhausted as many news channels as I could which talked about the increases in the cost of living, inflation and recession. Although I feel pretty knowledgeable now, it hasn’t elevated the sense of worry.

But I know I’m not alone.

It has created this need in me to know more though, in the hope that the more I know, the more time I have to plan my survival. I think that’s what it will be for a lot of us now. Just surviving and making sure we come through it. Seeing people on the news today talking about missing meals and not being able to put the heating on made me realise I am luckier than I thought. But that doesn’t mean I should be complacent. I know I can tighten my belt a little further so that’s what I’ll do. I can’t wait to get into the house now and see what my new bills will be so I can do a new budget. I feel like this will be the only thing I can do that will allow me to take back control especially when I have no control of what is happening in our external environment.

What I have Spent This Week

  • £2.60 Post Office – Parcel tape and wrap
  • £51.00 Next – New house things
  • £20.00 Cash
  • £22.47 Home & Bargains – Cat food and sweets
  • £5.09 Macdonalds
  • £38.22 Asda (Food shop)
  • £7.85 Costa Cafe
  • £2.80 Newsagents – Sweets
  • £2.50 Next – Sweets
  • £33.10 Dinner out
  • £3.13 Home Bargain – Snacks
  • £9.35 Co-op – Wine and sweets

Total £198.11

This last week has clearly been a week of snacks, eating out and just generally splashing out hasn’t it! And yet, only spending £198.11 is pretty good for me in comparison to the last few weeks anyway. I had a one off cost to get my daughters passport renewed and I couldn’t resist picking a couple of things up for the new pad – kind of inevitable as the excitement grows lol!

But the good news is, that all of these items can be cut back.

I get paid next week so am going to change up my budget for the entire month, well payday to payday. A week before payday, I’ll set my goals around what I want to spend in each area of the budget so I’ll know what I’ll be spending on X, Y, or Z. If it’s not in my budget, I won’t be spending. I think this will help eliminate a lot of my mindless spending on snacks and will help curb the overall spending each month.

Unfortunately, this month I have had to pay £210 for the annual car tax and £123.80 for a penalty notice so that’s all my planned monthly savings gone from May wages which would have gone to the house :(. Trying not to worry about the new costs for the house is hard when it needs so much, like a new lawn, blinds, light fittings, beds etc. And unfortunately, I’m not allowed to work for more than 47 hours a week in this job so I haven’t got the ability to make any more money either, apart from my 10 hours of overtime every weekend. I guess I still need to go back to that drawing board!

Let me know if you have a great ideas in the comments below.

Thanks for reading, Heidi x

References

Money Wise Talks 23/12/2021

The last Money Wise Talks post before Christmas!

As I said last week, excitement has been brewing in this house for over a week now and it’s ready to EXPLODE!

I’ve not yet broken up from my full time job yet which is a little strange as for the last few years of teaching and studying I have always had two weeks off for Christmas. But it’s been no problem at all, my daughter spent time watching all her programs on TV and generally chilled out, which in a normal week we don’t do much of and the lucky girl even had a few days out with my parents being completely spoiled – as always!

We are still watching a Christmas movie a day. Both old films and new. Two of my favourites this year are “The Boy Called Christmas” and “ELF”. The Boy Called Christmas is a magical film that brings back those lovely memories from my childhood. And the film Elf – well I have not laughed so much at a film as when I watched Elf. The part where he gets excited about seeing Santa is my favourite. Both are definitely worth a watch.

This last week money wise has been bad. I have my head completely in the sand with regard to what I’ve spent. I know I need to face it and by preparing this post I am forced to look at some of the damage. I don’t know how I get it so wrong. I know most of my spending is emotional – feeling I need to make it up to my daughter in gifts for the lack of her not having a dad in her life. I’m tight all year and then Christmas it goes out the window! Single parent guilt sucks!

This week I have spent lots of time thinking about my current debt position and how I feel about going into another year with debt hanging around my neck and to be honest it’s pretty depressing.

Yes I’m making progress

Yes my debt is going down

So why does it feel so urgh then?

I think it’s because this debt payoff journey has been going on so long. As I’ve mentioned before in my story, I have been focusing hard on paying this debt off since 2020 but really my journey started before that, just with less focus.

To focus on something intensively for a long period of time is mentally exhausting. That’s why I have so much admiration for people who take a little longer to pay off large amounts of debt. Even when compared to people who may have paid off a larger amount of debt but over a shorter period of time. That focus requires a real determination and strength. Sometimes I just don’t feel I have the fight for it anymore. And then the positive Heidi is like, no stick with it, go hell for leather this year and it will be your last!

But’s that what I said last year!

Car costs and a change of job – well career (not planned, but the best move I have ever made job wise) changed the projectory of my debt free journey. And with a few ‘mess ups’ along the way (completely expected) here I am with what I think is the same amount of debt I had mid 2021. I feel like the last six months of paying off debt has been for nothing.

So plans for 2022 are currently between – Stuff it V Go for it one last year!

Hopefully after Christmas, it will be the latter. I will sure update you all very soon!

Options currently include;

  • No spend year
  • No alcohol for a year
  • Cancel subscriptions – Sky, Disney plus
  • No investments, sinking funds
  • Cut up all cards including debit cards and only use cash
  • Get a promotion in full time job
  • All of the above

What have I spent this week?

£10.40 Snacks

£60.00 Cash out

£7.88 Macdonalds

£45.32 Home Bargain Teacher presents and stocking gifts

£26.92 Post Office posting cards

£5.38 Macdonalds

£249.16 Morrisons Christmas food shop, covid food shop- hoping it lasts till the end of January!

£42.61 Petrol

£10.99 Amazon Fish accessories

£113.46 Amazon Fish accessories

£3.69 Amazon treasure hunt cards

Total £575.81

I don’t even want to acknowledge that figure.

How many times is it ok to fail at something before it’s time to throw in the towel?

Asking for a friend.

Over this journey I have tried and am still trying to understand my own relationship with money. Whilst I love reading about other peoples stories about their own debt journey’s, I seem to miss the parts about it being bloody hard work! Or is it just me? I don’t think for one second I am the only one who finds paying off debt really hard so it must be that people miss that part out. But I want to share mine because as I’ve said before, its not all sunshine and lollipops. It’s emotional and draining whatever your situation, but even tougher doing solo.

I want to be the one at the end of 2022 who has no debt. I want to start the next part of the journey of saving, investing and buying property. I want to show other people out there – single parents, parents, young and old that paying off debt can be done on a low income. That financial success is available but the road towards it isn’t paying for courses or resources but good old fashioned hard work, focus, grit and determination.

We. Can. Do. This.

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas, stay safe and have a lovely break.

Heidi

Debt and Mental Health

I am just going to come right out and say it – ‘being in debt affects your mental health’!

I feel I need to talk about this openly to help off load some of my own emotions surrounding being in debt and the impact it’s having on my own mental health. I hope by my own honesty, it helps someone else out there who is feeling the same.

Sometimes it helps just to know you’re not alone doesn’t it?

There is lots of stigma around mental health. It’s much harder to see when it’s broken or damaged, unlike a leg. When you break a bone in the body, you can visibly see it’s damaged as it will be in a cast, but you can’t see damage to someone’s mental health unless they tell you. People don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental illness to have mental health problems either. And most people will have many periods of low moods or anxiety in their lifetime as they deal with stressful life events like death, moving house, getting a new job, married, divorced and having or not being able to have children. These are all part and parcel of life though aren’t they?

I have, like everyone else gone through these events and had many periods of low moods, low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and have come through the other side. So why is this so different to all these other stressful events?

As I have mentioned before, I have always had a little debt and looking back it never bothered me. I had other priorities in my life and always managed to do pretty much whatever I wanted so there was no urgency to pay it off. I was always a ‘happy go lucky’ person and pretty easy going. But something has changed. I am not that happy free-spirited person anymore. Frankly, I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders which I carry around with me day and night. I hardly feel any relief and it’s constantly on my mind.

I don’t want to sound like a victim, I want to help myself so I need to try and understand why I feel this way. Why do I feel so differently about debt now than I did before?

The only way I can describe how I feel is ‘stuck’.

Debt is stopping me from moving away from an area and a house I don’t want to live in anymore. I can’t move and rent as the 20 houses I’ve applied for over the last 24 months won’t take pets. I can’t get a mortgage as the debt impacts my affordability and what I can borrow and I also have no deposit because all my free cash goes towards debt. It’s a vicious circle which never ends.

Debt is taking away choices and my freedom.

It never did this before.

If I had no debt I could save for a deposit and move to a new house in a new area. If I had no debt I could save for mine and my daughters future. We could travel and see the world. Debt is stopping me from doing it all. And on top of that, debt makes me feel like a failure, making me feel low and worthless.

All these things I post about often on my Instagram page, the highs and the lows. I don’t post everything but being truthful, I feel lower than I feel high. If I didn’t have my daughter and a job to go to, most days I wouldn’t get out of bed.

Everyday is a battle.

A battle to stay motivated and pay the debt off. I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. I mean, I can’t be! I can’t be the only one who feels that these negative feelings exacerbate other areas in my life. The fact I am single and on this journey solo, makes it 1000 times worse. I don’t have that support of the other half. Yes, I have great friends and family but they aren’t there in the middle of the night to ease my fears or pick me up when I’m feeling deflated after another month of staying in and seeing no one. And when you feel miserable 99.9% of the time you don’t want to see people anyway. You don’t want to say that you’re stuck. That things in life are really hard. What could they say that would help? I would just then be worrying about them worrying about me.

It’s not just that either, it spreads to other areas of my life like my physical health. And the feelings of failure impact how I see myself as a person, so as you can imagine I don’t think that much of myself at all. This is something else I need to work on.

If you still reading down to this point – thank you!! I know it seems like it’s all doom and gloom, but I am trying (albeit slowly) to help myself by breaking up the problems into manageable chunks.

When I am not feeling so low about the debt, I feel the exact opposite. Like a debt warrior and what keeps me going when I feel this way is I know debt can be controlled. I can take control by paying the debt off.

With a budget, persistence, side hustles or extra jobs. We all can take back control.

It’s not all lost even though it sometimes feels like it. It’s hard to do on your own. I know, but it’s quite liberating to take back some control of your life.

This is what I have done so far;

  • Zero Based Budget
  • Reduced my expenses
  • Have no spend weeks
  • Automated my savings to sinking funds and investments
  • Increased payments to debt
  • Cut up credit card
  • Took a second job
  • Selling clutter/preloved items
  • Increasing my finance knowledge by reading books from the library

I know I still have a long way to go, just over £15000 now but that was originally £36000 (just under) and sometimes when I don’t feel as low I feel a sense of pride and know I will be debt free – I just feel it.

I won’t be happy until it’s gone though, I will continue to feel trapped until it’s gone for good. Some friends and family say to me that they have debt and it’s ok, or that everyone has debt and it’s ok. But for me, debt has made me feel completely trapped almost to the point of being claustrophobic, so it definitely needs to be gone.

This is my experience with mental health and debt and will be different to everyone else’s. If you are feeling like me or worse and don’t feel like you are getting any better, please reach out to family, friends or places that can help you.

National Debt Helpline – Freephone 0808 808 4000