Money Wise Talks 04/08/2022

This has been the busiest month of my entire life!

I thought that packing up 17 years of my life would be fairly quick, surprisingly it wasn’t LOL. However busy and long these weeks have been though, this time in my life feels like a dream come true. As at today, we have been in the new pad for just over a month 🙂

We were both so excited to move. My daughter was even excited about the prospect of sleeping on a mattress once I took her bed down. I wasn’t that impressed when I had to sleep on mine after cutting it in half ready for the tip. It wasn’t too bad, but I did feel ancient when I woke up in the morning and struggled getting up off the thing. The next day, both halves of the mattress went to the tip – good bloody riddance! I had to get rid of the king size bed and mattress as they are just too big for my new bedroom and at 17 years old, I probably do need to look at replacing them.

My daughter also wants a new bed as she has outgrown the cabin bed. The problem is I can’t afford to change either of them yet. My mum has lent me a small double bed from one of her guest bedrooms just so I don’t have to suffer an airbed. Not sure when I’ll have the money yet. I am trying to redo my budget but it’s hard when you have no idea what the utilities are going to be. At the moment, I have emptied everything in to my bills account, and when I say everything I mean all my sinking funds and emergency fund so I can make sure I can cover all the bills and anything extra that crops up. I’m so worried about one of the utility companies turning around and saying that because I left them I now own them hundreds of pounds.

Now I have done a full month in the new house I have a decent idea of what everything is going to be but being honest, I don’t feel any better for knowing. I have redone my budget and feel things are going to be tighter than ever. In the past I have had little slips up here and there but now I can’t spend anything outside of the budget. All monies have got to be accounted for and absolutely nothing can go on the credit card.

The plan with the credit cards is to cut them up, but I want to make use of an interest free offer on one of the cards that currently has no balance on so need to do that first. I just need to make sure my address has been updated on all my cards and bank account before I apply for anything as I don’t want it to be rejected. Changing my address has been quite a challenge especially when you try and phone each company and you’re on hold for 40 minutes each time. So for some awful companies I have had to write them with my new address.

I still need to record my You Tube video. I am absolutely rubbish at doing stuff like this, but will persevere.

I also need to save for an emergency fund, start my sinking funds again and keep over paying on the credit card debt. I won’t be debt free next year now, but I DO have a lovely new house. Just got to keep my head above water, like the rest of the UK/World and survive this cost of living crisis.

Apologies for being away for so long! And thank you for the messages. We are ok, just getting used to the new pad, new area and getting the house organised.

The organisation of the house is almost complete and the last box had been emptied today. The only things that are not where they should be is anything due to go into the shed and up in the loft. But before that happens I need to buy a shed and the loft boards. I was going to push myself and buy them this year, but with the gas and electric going up again and Christmas just around the corner, I need to start saving for that now.

I definitely need to raise some more money. Even with doing overtime every week, it’s just not enough. I think I’m going to start Match Betting again and see if I can accelerate the debt pay off journey and maybe even buy the bits I need for the new pad, although the new house things are not priority at the moment.

My new debt total is now at £28,091.69.

This is broken up as £16,271.69 on credit cards and £11,820 on an interest free loan which was borrowed for the house deposit.

I’m not going to lie, the figure does scare me a little, but then I look around at my dream house, I know it’s worth it. I’ve just got to make sure that I keep focused, I don’t let any negative thoughts affect my progress and I keep going. Which is easier said than done. Worry has already started to settle and I’ve already had my first sleepless night. I am sure I am not alone though with the talks of inflation, interest rates rising and utilities going through the roof.

Remember to talk to someone if you feel that you are struggling way beyond what you feel you can handle. If you feel you can’t talk with family or friends, there are organisations out there that offers helpful advice. Such as:

What I Spent Last Week

£28.00 Nails

£3.00 Asda

Total £31.00

Seriously, this is what I have spent since 28 July. Told you I had cut back! The nails I had done were for a treat for my birthday. My mum paid for me to have my hands done and I love them so much that I went and had my toes done. I haven’t had my nails done in years and they make me feel so lovely. This isn’t something that I want to continue due to the cost, but I am going to buy some gel polish and top coat and do them myself.

The £3.00 that I spent in Asda were on a box of chocolates that Shopmium bought me for my birthday! So I bought them last night, scanned the chocolates and the receipt and the money has been sent by PayPal already!

Another reason why I have spent so little is I have taken my cards out of my purse and when I was paid on the 25th, I took out what I would need for the month on petrol and food. £120 was taken for petrol and £134.48 for food (originally it was £120.00 but we ate out once costing £14.48).

We have £44.57 left in the food budget and £85 in the petrol budget. This has got to last us now until 25 August.

So far in this Summer holidays, we have hardly used the car and have spent nothing on days out. So I intend to use the petrol money if I need to for food. I reduced our budget this month to £30 a week for each food and petrol because I didn’t do much overtime leading up to the move and with the move costing more than I had budgeted for, I had to cover it from somewhere. From the next payday, our weekly budget for both will go back up to £40 a week which should give us more than enough for what we need.

It’s going to be tight, but we have a freezer and cupboard full of food, we are warm, happy and healthy. So I’ll take that as a win.

Hope you all have a lovely week, thanks for reading.

H x

Money Wise Talks 24/03/2022

Wowsers! What a week!

Not going to lie, but I’m on cloud 9 at the moment. Everything, and I mean everything this year is falling into place… amazing job, better salary, better work life balance and potentially a new *BLEEP*!

Sorry, I still don’t have the *BLEEP* 100% yet so I’m still keeping it under my hat. It is costing me serious amounts of cash though, even now before everything’s been confirmed. It’s making my anxiety levels hit the roof! All this money just passing through my fingers like water.

However, on the flip side of that, my general spending is so low right now (must be the fear of getting further into debt that is scaring me) and I’m on fire with no spend days and just general spending! I definitely should have done a no spend month this month!

I spoke last week about getting back into doing money challenges as I feel these really work for me and over the last week I’ve been thinking of things I can do. This is my plan

  • Save 1p a day challenge
  • Eat for £10 a week challenge – and see how long we can go for
  • April no spend month

I’m going to make the trackers for these and will upload them and let you know when these are available via my Instagram account.

Save 1p a day challenge

Pretty obvious what I need to do on this challenge but I am going to save all the money into a jar and not touch it until the challenge is up. I already have a jar where I keep my 1’s and 2’s so will use these as part of the challenge. I’ll get these counted tonight and will share the start of the challenge tomorrow via Instagram and then weekly on this blog.

Eat for £10 a week challenge

I want to only spend £10 a week on food for me and my daughter. This will cover 7 breakfasts, 5 school packed lunches, 5 lunches for me (I work from home), 2 weekend lunches and 7 dinners. This does not include toiletries, cleaning supplies or pet food. I’m sure I can do it, but will need to meal plan and be creative with the food I already have in my cupboards. To be honest, I want to get rid of so much out of the cupboard and I’m hoping by doing this, we can eat through some of the food that never gets eaten.

April No Spend Month

After a month of huge spends because of the *BLEEP* and my daughters 10th birthday, I need a reset and a no spend. However, my daughter is off for two weeks in April so I am going to set aside some cash for that. I also have a meal planned with friends at the end of April and I’m not missing that either. However, the rest of the month there will be no spending on;

  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • Takeaways
  • Food outside the weekly budget

You may be wondering why I’m still prepared to spend money in the half term and to go out with friends and I want to explain that I don’t want us to stop doing the rare things that we enjoy. It’s just not the point for me or the reason I do these type of challenges and no spend months. For me, it’s to get out of the habit of careless spending. I mean if I was out every weekend with my friends, well that would be another matter but I’m not. And I don’t know about you, but getting four friends together that all have children and some having husbands well it’s a task in itself. So when we’re all free and want to see each other we go for it. As for my daughter, this is her childhood and I want to spend the holidays with her making memories and if that means saving a very small part of my income for these times, well that’s what I’ll do.

I think it’s important as well, if you’re on a debt pay off journey, like I am and you’ve been on it years because you have a single income or whatever other reason, you need to have some elements within the journey that you look forward to. For me it spending time with my daughter and not saying no all the time and seeing my friends every now and again. Yes it may take me a little longer to pay down the debt but I want to live as well as be debt free.

What I Have Spent This Week

£10.18 Macdonalds

£6.34 Asda

£1.40 Co-op

£7.63 MoonPig

£15.87 Morrisons Food Shop

£31.00 Hair

£10.00 Cash out

£23.97 Cinema for 3

£10.92 Vet

£18.49 Trampoline pole

£33.00 Ninja Warrior

£200 Daughters birthday present – New bike

Total £368.80

Total spend on food was £33.29 which isn’t that bad at all, and that includes the takeaway. The cinema, Ninja Warrior and new bike I have paid for by pulling £300 out of savings. So although my emergency fund will have decreased, my debt hasn’t increased which is perfect. I hope to pay that back in dependent on what my salary comes out at for March. I’m hoping for great things from my salary this month so I better not be disappointed.

The trampoline pole was a replacement part from the damage to the trampoline in the recent storms. I was surprised at how easy it was to fit. Let the free entertainment continue 🙂

Moonpig cards were just because I left it to late to post someone’s birthday card. I thought if I did it via Moonpig it would get there for the next day so that’s why I was happy to pay the higher price. Anyway, it turned out it still got there 3 days later and late so I would’ve been better just buying cheap and posting it myself. I’ll know for next time!

Hair was just the usual root top up for me. This is the cheapest I can get my hair done for as I don’t have it blow dried, it’s just left wet. Last year I used to go every 3 weeks because I hated the sight of grey. Especially when it went completely white during lockdown and our hairdressers had to close. However, by me going every four weeks, it saves me an £124 every year! Amazing really that these small changes can add up to so much!

This time next week, I should know if the *BLEEP* is going ahead so I’ll of course let you all know on here all the ins and outs. But until then, have a great week.

H

Money Wise Talks 17/02/2022

This is turning out to be one of the best weeks!

I won’t keep you waiting ….I GOT THE PROMOTION!!

I found out yesterday and am still smiling ear from ear. I just can’t believe it! I am so very proud of myself and proof that if you work hard and DON’T give up, you really can get what you want.

As you may know, I left teaching last year. It was such a hard decision because I’d not only left a great career in banking to pursue a career in teaching, a career I thought would be best as a single parent … LOL! But because after leaving the bank, I’d then gone on to do a full time degree in biology and a one year teaching degree. All when my daughter was only two! Let me tell you, it was bloody hard work!

So four years of hard work to then decide teaching wasn’t for me. What a nightmare. But after months and months of not seeing my daughter and being so unhappy I knew I had to leave. I had no idea what I was going to do and was working at an agency at the time just to make a bit of money. I wasn’t earning much though, just a minimum wage. I’d not been on minimum wage since 1998 so was feeling pretty low.

That’s when I decided to go back to banking. It was a career I’d done for over ten years and I enjoyed it so why not. But what role to do? Whilst I was pondering what role I wanted to go into at the bank, a friend of mine told me about a job going at an organisation she’d just started to work at. She said it was perfect for me with my previous experience of banking and teaching. I looked at it, liked what I saw, went for it AND GOT IT.

I started with an agency but worked for the organisation and smashed through my training. I really enjoyed it. I worked from home, wasn’t on minimum wage anymore and only worked for 37 hours a week. I had never had so much time off in my life lol! I loved the extra time with my daughter, no commute, no paying breakfast club or doggy day care. It was a dream. AND I LOVED IT!

I knew this was the place for me and after a small interview I was successful in gaining permanent employment on 4 January 2022. Now I was a permanent member of staff I could work overtime, which was double pay. OMG – This meant I could give up my courier job which I had been doing the last 18 months in attempt to pay off the debt quicker.

My daughter was made up! No more freezing mornings in the car driving around delivering parcels. Secretly I miss it, but I do have to think of her aswell.

Pretty much as soon as I started working for this organisation, I had my eyes on the next role as I thought it would be perfect for me. It still had an element of case work which I love doing but then you also looked at the more complex cases and training new starters. I thought this role would encompass all my skills into one. But then the doubt starting setting in and I starting thinking about whether I should consider going for a promotion when I’d only been there officially 2 weeks (by the time I’d put the application in). “Stuff it”, I thought, “what’s the worse that can happen?”.

So I applied, had the interview last week and got it!! I’m still in shock but can’t wait to start my new role.

And it’s £6000 more a year – that’s £500 a month! WOWSERS!

What will this mean for my debt pay off journey? Hopefully it means I can bring my debt free date forward from July 2023 but I haven’t worked it out yet. I have an idea of what my new monthly income will be and will be soon redoing my budget to maximise the time so I can debt free sooner.

As you know for February, I haven’t really set many finance goals. I knew this month and next would be expensive so wanted to take the pressure off myself and this has resulted in me spending millions (in my eyes).

From Spa days (mums present) to giant vet bills to half term, this month has been an expensive one! And a naughty one with most being put on the credit card 😦

What I Have Spent This Week

£10.30 Takeaway

£9.98 Macdonalds

£149.45 Vets

£10.73 Birthday cards, valentines card and gift for daughter

£35.28 Morrisons

£310 Spa day

£16.00 spa breakfast

£32.97 Dinner, cinema and snacks

Total £574.71

WOW! Told you it was bad!

Even without the usual analysis I do with my weekly spend, it easy to see that I am spending too much on takeaways. It’s also obvious I am going out a little more with my daughter and family and friends which I’m not going to beat myself up about. It rarely happens and these last few weeks it seems to have come all at once.

I just can’t wait to know what my bottom line is that I’ll be bringing in so I can redo my budget.

I usually run my budget month by month as it worked well when I was being paid weekly from the agency, but now I am being paid on the 25th every month, I think I’m going to run my budget from 25th to 24th. I’m also going to rejig what I put into the sinking funds which should allow enough in them that they cover the costs like the vet bills without them being put on a credit card.

I also need to think about whether I want to continue the focus on the emergency fund or spread amount over the next 12 months. I have saved £750 in the emergency fund so far, so only have £2250 to go. This is saved into the Help to Save (HTS) account at £50 per month and then the rest into a cash ISA. By the end of the year, I’ll have put another £500 into the HTS, which leaves me needing to put £1750 into the ISA. If I split that into payments from the end of Feb to end of Dec it works out at £160 a month. (1750/11=159.09). Or I could just focus on putting £1750 into the ISA now and leave the debt overpayments until it’s done.

I don’t suppose it matters either way, but I feel I need to get back to paying off debt again and I need the emergency fund building before my car dies. Maybe I’ll do both! Will let you know what I decide next week 🙂

Have a great week

H

Money Wise Talks 03/02/2022

Welcome to the first Money Wise Talks of the month!

Considering I am usually very motivated by the start of a new month and love reviewing goals from the last month and setting new ones, this month I’m not feeling it at all.

I’ve been thinking of taking a month off from setting goals and maybe how I feel at the moment is a sign that this month is the right time to do it. The journey of me paying down debt has taken a back seat whilst I build my emergency fund to £3000 (a figure that came about after me paying just over £2000 in car repairs last year). I have saved £650 so far and have £2350 left to go.

I am hoping my wages in February will have my overtime and the monies back from when I paid emergency tax in January and then I can look to pay a large amount into the emergency fund. My plan was to have £3000 saved by the end of March 2022.

At the end of January I totalled my debt up and it stands at £16,666.85.

The debt has still reduced since December, but only by £28.57. Which although is pretty disappointing, I have spent on my card and it was expected.

I had some good news this week and started to receive weekly amounts in from child maintenance service (CMS) again. These stopped completely last year so it’s nice to see them again. Unfortunately, I am unable to rely on them as they are so sporadic, so don’t include them in my monthly income figures. I am currently using the money that comes in to pay down the MBNA card – which I am pleased to report is nearly paid off!!

In this last week I have sent two payments of £78.37, so have been able to colour two lines 🙂

And I only have £391.85 left to pay on the MBNA card before it’s paid off in full!! Although, since December interest is now being applied so it may be a little more than that. It won’t be much though.

The No Spend Month lost a little momentum by the end of the month and I ended up having another out of budget spend. That being said, I had a total of 18 no spend days which isn’t bad at all.

For February I have made a new Owl No Spend Days Tracker which looks to track days of no spend and spend, instead of it being based around whether I’ve stuck to a budget or not. Clearly, I’ve not started strong but I hope to have 20 no spend days.

You can of course download it for free :). Let me what you think of it in the comments below.

I successfully completed Dry January, yippee but have no current plans to have another dry month yet lol! Let me know if you’re doing a Dry February. You can use my Dry For …. Tracker for free

What I Have Spent This Week

£7.76 MacDonalds

£35.00 Dog Groomed

£11.00 Single Duvet

£57.47 Daughters Coat, gloves and head torch

£20.68 Desserts

£8.46 Present for party and birthday card. Photo frame for us.

£ …… Morrisons

Total £139.38

Absolutely no idea what I spent in Morrisons for food and petrol! This is due to me using cash and not keeping the receipt. As soon as I get home, I scan the receipt into a receipt scanning app and then bin it. This WILL definitely be a learning point for me to take forward this next week.

My daughter was in desperate need of a new coat and gloves so I bought them from Mountain Warehouse. I love buying from there and they had a 70% sale on which was even better! We also picked up a head torch for her camping trip she is due to go on in September. They will soon have a kit list and that will be one of the items, so my plan is to get something off the list each month so it’s not a huge expense.

My daughter also went to her first birthday party in two years! It was so nice to see her socialising with friends from school. I never spend much on presents and managed to pick up a lovely stationary set for £3.99, a pop it key chain for £1.49 and card for 99p. All those gifts looked alot more expensive than they were anyway!

The £20.68 I spend on desserts was ridiculous! However, in my defence I am starting the gym and a new healthy eating regime so wanted one last blow out before I did that – Lol, how my mind works sometimes makes me howl!

Finally, I have my interview set for Monday and Tuesday – it’s over two days! Monday is a written test and Tuesday is a mentoring exercise and then the panel interview. So the next time I write my Weekly Money Wise Talks, I’ll be able to tell you all about it. I really want this job, so I hope I get it 🙂

Hope you all have a great week 🙂

H

Money Wise Talks 27/01/2022

This week has been an absolute whirlwind!

From being paid my first months salary at my new job, to the realisation I forgot to give them my P45 and was then taxed at the emergency tax rate to then being offered an interview for the promotion I applied for!

My nerves are a wreck lol!

Anxiety is through the roof.

Anyone else feel like this or is it just me? Life is so UP and Down isn’t it?!

The plan was – be paid for the month so I could see what the minimum was I would take home after tax, national insurance and my student loan payments were deducted. When I saw that I’d been paid so little, I checked the tax code that had been applied and BOOM – Emergency tax code – and an extra £300 gone 😦

I then spent the next hour pausing standing orders to our ISA’s and the payments to the sinking funds. Luckily by doing this I have found the £300 needed to make the other payments on my fixed bills like rent, utilities and credit cards.

I’m such an idiot lol.

I have now given my employer my P45 and they have confirmed it will be all sorted for February. I hope I’m given the money back next month so I can make double payments to the ISA’s and sinking funds.

Just before I started typing this blog post tonight, I received the most wonderful news that I have been invited for an interview for a promotion at my new job. I know I’ve only been there for a few months but believe I would do a brilliant job in that role.

If I did get it, it would be a huge payrise and my debt free date could even be brought forward! Ekk exciting!

The worse that can happen is I don’t get it. But at least I will know the interview process and will be better prepared next time.

I’ve been trying to cut our variable expenses down even further and managed to save an extra £124 a year by reducing the number of times I go to the hairdresser over the year. When I go the hairdressers I don’t have anything fancy but like to get my roots done as soon as the grey starts coming through.

  • Going every four weeks means I’d go 17 times a year = £31.00 x 17 = £527
  • Going every three weeks means I’d go 13 times a years = £31.00 x 13 = £403
  • The saving difference = £124!

I know using box dyes would save me even more, but I find they don’t go well with my curly hair, so this is the next cheapest option. I stopped having my eyebrows tinted and waxed and my nails done so am happy to leave the roots to the hairdresser. It makes me feel SO OLD when I have grey hair and unlike others who look trendy and cool when they allow the grey to come through, I look washed out and aged.

No Alcohol Update

I’m 27 days alcohol free! Whoohoo.

I’m not a huge drinker anymore, probably because I hardly go out but if I had a bottle of my favourite from Asda every week it would cost £5.99. This saved over four weeks is £23.96. It’s only a little saving but it all adds up.

Over the year that’s a whopping £311.48

I have no plans to stop drinking for a whole year though. I stopped for a year in 2018/2019 and although I felt great and saved loads of money and calories, I don’t want to do it this year. And hopefully with covid restrictions easing off I can finally get out, see some friends and have some much needed cocktails.

No Spend Month Update

It’s not going too bad, I started the month quite strong (as everyone does) but have become a little more relaxed as the end of the month approaches. It’s always the way isn’t it.

So far I have:

  • 15 days No Spend
  • 7 days In Budget Spend
  • 5 days Out of Budget Spend

The 5th Out of Budget spend was today! But in my defence, it’s a treat for me and my mum. An expensive one lol. Half for her birthday and half for just wanting to do something special with her. She may read this so I’m not going to put anything on here about it until after the event lol!

For February, I am not going to do a No Spend Month, but focus on the number of no spend days and to only use cash. My budget for the next four weeks (until payday) is £50 a week which will cover our food and petrol. My mums birthday will be a separate expense. When I remember to go to the bank this week, I’ll be drawing out £200 in cash and will split it into weekly pots for food and petrol.

Other things I’m going to do to GET BACK TO BASICS are:

  • Take my cards out of my purse and phone wallet.
  • Meal plan – I’m going to try and do this for the month instead of the week to see if that makes a difference

What I’ve Spent this Week

£11.96 Just Eat, takeaway

£6.99 Car Wash

£15.99 Hello Fresh

£24.15 Morrisons Food Shopping

£18.49 Home Bargain, Cat Food, sinking fund

£31.00 Hair, sinking fund

£10.00 Morrisons Petrol

£42.00 Clarks, daughter school shoes

£2.99 Superdrug, leave in conditioner

Total £163.57

I’ve spent this week on things I wouldn’t usually buy, like a car wash and Hello Fresh. I paid for a car wash just because I ran out of time at the weekend and didn’t get chance to do it. It desperately needed it done as I couldn’t even see the number plate it was that dirty lol! I’m not going to beat myself up about it though. There’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done is there?!

Hello Fresh was something I tried for the first time as a friend had a voucher to get some money off. I’m really enjoying the different meals we are having but my daughter is not a fan. It’s a nice treat but not in our budget to have every week. Great news though, Hello Fresh give you the recipes so I can cook any favourites anytime I like!

The shoes are from Clarks and are always super expensive. I’ve tried other cheaper brands but they just don’t cut it and I end up replacing them more often. So the cost you originally save, you end up spending anyway on extra pairs. I always think with shoes, buy cheap buy twice but that’s only my view. If you know of any other cheaper brands that don’t fall apart, please let me know as I’d LOVE to save some money on shoes.

Thanks for reading and for all your comments. Have a great week!

H

Money Wise Talks 20/01/2022

Why does it always feel like there are 9 million days in January! Payday can’t come soon enough!!

I guess that’s the downfall of being paying monthly, you have to wait to be paid!

As you know, I have just gone permanent at my main job and will be receiving my first months pay this month. Once I have received it, I’ll know exactly what the bottom line is that I’ll be bringing home and I can start planning on exactly where my money is going.

I have my debt free date set for July 2023 but this is dependent on £800 a month being paid off debt so I need to make sure I can afford this much. I am 99% sure I can, as I’m on the same salary as before when I worked on a temporary contract but I like to see the actual figure first.

Now I’m on a permanent contract I can also do overtime on a Saturday which is DOUBLE TIME!! Whoo-hoo!

I have done the overtime for the last two Saturdays as well as doing the courier work on Sundays and IT WAS A LOT. I know I want to be debt free and want to buy a property but I don’t want to spend the next year completely exhausted. And I want to spend some time with my daughter whilst she still wants to spend time with me before she hits the dreaded teenager years!

So, I made an absolutely huge decision to NOT DO COURIER WORK ANYMORE!

I wrote down a list of pros and cons and decided it was a better choice all round to stop.

Pros – Overtime

  • More money
  • Work from home
  • No cold/wet/windy days
  • No having to drag my daughter out of bed
  • No dragging myself out of bed
  • Daughter doesn’t have to be bored
  • No wear and tear on my car

Pros – Courier work

  • I liked it
  • Exercise

One of reasons I wanted to carry on with doing courier work was for the most part I really enjoyed it! I would rave about it each week on my Instagram page and still think it’s a fantastic job to do especially as a parent and the struggles around childcare. Whether that’s being able to find work only during school hours or find childcare outside school hours, it’s bloomin hard work! For me, being a courier ticked all those boxes.

I always did it on a Sunday, mainly because Sundays you make the most money per parcel and I gave myself Saturday off. I have always worked full time in the week doing my main job so courier work was extra to help me pay off the debt quicker. I took my daughter along and never worried about childcare – it was perfect.

But now I’ve been given an even better opportunity and a chance to make some extra money, working from home, whilst nice and warm so of course I’m going to take it!

I will miss courier work, but onwards and upwards.

I have just found out there isn’t any overtime on this weekend (it’s usually on 3 times a month) so for the first time since August last year I have the WHOLE WEEKEND off!

Not going to lie I am definitely looking forward to having two lie ins and spending some quality time with my girl.

No Spend Month Update

It’s going well in terms of the number of days I am NOT spending. So far this month I have only had two days where I have spent outside of the budget. The first time was a swimming bag for my daughter and the second was on a deposit for the holiday I have booked for me and my daughter to go on.

12 / 20 no spend days

6 / 20 In budget spend days

2 / 20 Out of Budget

I had planned for no holidays until I was debt free, but I had also planned to be debt free in December 2021 which clearly didn’t go to plan.

Having yet another year of no holidays just made me feel so flat.

I think it’s really hard to be motivated for years when paying off debt. And that’s what it’s been for me. I started to focus on paying my debt when I had £35,907.04 in 2019.

The fact we have yet ANOTHER YEAR AND A HALF to go before the debt is paid off, I decided I would get us a small holiday abroad booked this year. Therefore I am pleased to announce we are going out of the country for a whole day! 😊 😊 😊

Yes, you heard it right! A WHOLE DAY!

I have wanted to take my daughter to Lapland for a few years and looking at the prices around Christmas for a 3-day break, you’re talking £2500! And that was for half board only! I know I said I wanted to go somewhere amazing and I’m sure it will be, but £2500 for 3 days is insane.

I just can’t justify it.

Therefore, I have compromised. We are going to Lapland but on a day trip instead. It’s probably going to be the longest day of our lives as everything will be jam packed into the day, but I can’t wait.

We are going to have a husky sledge ride, see igloos, reindeers, the ice hotel, have lots of snowball fights and of course see the real Santa!

The cost is £1385.11 and that is with £200 off. It includes airport parking and insurance.

I have promised myself this will be cash flowed and will not go near the credit card. I have already paid the deposit of £176.91. The next amount is due April with the full amount paid by September. My plan is to pay a little bit off each month so by the time September comes it will be fully paid. That works out at £151.15 per month.

The TUI app has a countdown on it’s app, so I know we have 331 days left until we go! Ekk Exciting Stuff!

I can’t wait. My girl is growing up so fast it’s scary, so I want her to go before she gets to high school and the Christmas sparkle starts to disappear.

It’s made me realise, you don’t have to put absolutely everything on hold whilst you pay off debt. And as long as it doesn’t affect my debt free date of July 2023, I’m actually happy to spend a little on us making memories.

No Alcohol in January Update

This is going absolutely fine with 20 days of no drinking. I’ve had the odd craving, probably caused by the fact there is still alcohol in the house and when I see it next to the fridge, I want one lol! But other than that, not bothered at all.

I do have a catch up with friends in the diary for next month where cocktails will be had so I don’t plan to continue with the no alcohol challenge but I have enjoyed it and will do it again.

What I Have Spent This Week

£55.98 Pet Food

£34.00 Remote Control

£30.00 Petrol

£70.42 Food

£28.47 Takeaway

£176.91 Holiday deposit

£11.96 Takeaway

£102.73 Tax Bill

Total £510.47

Blimey, I’d not realised how much I’d spent this week. Quite a lot when you see it written down like this instead of looking at a banking app.

Petfood is covered by a sinking fund which I pay £50 a month into. This covers our two cats and dog for all their food, treats, toys etc…. I always buy the pet food in bulk as it works out cheaper and lasts longer.

Petrol was within the normal weekly budget of £30.00.

Food was over the usual budget of £30 as I decided to try some new things on top of what we usually buy, just incase we don’t like them. I am also in the process of getting some money back. I use an app called Shopmium, where products are listed are either free or have money off. Once you buy the product, you scan the receipt and the product and complete a review of what you think the product is like. After a few days Shopmium pay’s you through PayPal. I should receive £5.40 back for products I tried this last week.

If you fancy signing up to Shopmium, here’s the link https://www.shopmium.com/uk/referral/ek5c5v it’s completely free and if you use my referral code you get a free pack of pringles (the big tub!) Just enter this referral code: EK5C5V.

Our remote control broke, so I had to buy a new one. I couldn’t believe how expensive it was, but I wanted to get the exact same as the one that had broken as I hate trying to work out technology. It wasn’t until I realised that I bought a remote control you can talk to that then I realised why it was so expensive! My daughter however thinks it’s amazing!

A couple of naughty takeaways this week, one because my parents came over on Saturday to help me so I of course fed them with the most gigantic pizza ever! 18 inches of pure cheesy amazingness!

Final Exciting News

I have applied for a promotion at my new job! I know I’ve only been there for a few months and have only just been made permanent but I feel it’s a perfect job for me and thought, just go for it! What’s the worst that can happen?

I mean, if I got it, I’ll finally be back to the same salary I was on when I worked in finance in 2014. Also, it will have an element of providing training to others which I’ll love as I still have a passion to teach! If I don’t get it this time, I’ll definitely try again. That’s one of my yearly goals – GET THAT PROMOTION!

Hope you all have a great week, let me know if you use any of the trackers I make. They are free to download here. I would really appreciate anyone’s feedback!

Thanks for reading

H

Money Wise Talks 30/12/2021

In a flash that’s it – Christmas is now over!

It’s almost the New Year and soon we’ll be back to school and work.

Christmas this year has been the happiest I have been in a long time. Even though my hair dryer blew up and the oven door broke lol.

Since I left banking and a career I loved very much, I have drifted around whilst getting a degree but never really settled on a job I liked. I thought teaching was the answer, especially as a single parent. I mean all those holidays that teachers get and not having to find childcare outside of term time for 13 weeks a year, really sold it to me.

However, teachers don’t really get those holidays or anything close. To be honest, in the nine years my daughter has been born and since I became a teacher, I have never worked so much in my life. I was so unhappy. Don’t get me wrong, I am a hard worker, always have been but when you chose a career thinking you will get more time with your kid to find you have no time for them, things had to change.

Last Christmas, I was a teacher, unhappy, stressed and spent no time with my daughter.

This Christmas, I’m no longer teaching and I’ve found an amazing new job. Even though I only had one week off instead of two, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! I didn’t forget to move the Elf on the Shelf once, I’ve spent time with my daughter, my parents, my stress levels are zero and life is just bliss.

My advice to anyone out there that’s unhappy in their job, please look into changing it. No job is worth your health. Even if that means having to go back to school. I left banking and started a full time course at university when my daughter was two years old. It’s easier than you think to study when you have young children. I found it more difficult as she got older.

Confession Time!

I did NOT need to buy my daughter more presents for Christmas!

There I’ve said it! If you remember from my Money Wise Talks 9/12/21 post , I spoke openly about feeling guilty that I’d not bought her enough because as her presents are getting more expensive there was less to open. Stupid really, but it’s so hard to ignore those feelings that tell you you’re a bad parent! If anyone has any tips for me, please let me know.

What I ended up doing was buying her some clothes to bulk out the number of presents she received. I would have bought her clothes in January anyway because she has out grown hers so I thought I would bring it forward to satisfy my feelings of not getting enough.

This is something I’m going to work on this next year because I know I’m a good mum. In fact, I am the best mum I can be. It’s just annoying that occasionally my feelings make me think otherwise.

Goals for 2022

I have set my goals now for 2022 and have a post on setting ‘End of Year Goals if you need some direction.

I have decided I need to be more specific in setting my goals, especially when it comes to getting out of debt. For the last few years, I have always said at the start of every year, “I’ll be debt free this year” and it’s not happened. Probably because I had no plan of how I was going to get there. Maybe, unconsciously I didn’t really want to find out the actual debt free date knowing it would be so far away in the future and that it would make me feel deflated. What I found out this Christmas though is how deflated I was by not knowing.

After crunching the numbers, my debt free date is July 2023.

I feel sad that it’s so far away, but this is based on my current income and being able to pay £800 off every month. If I get the promotion I am planning on going for in 2022, I will be able to pay more. Fingers and toes crossed I get the promotion, I can increase my payments and can bring that date forward!

What I have spent this week:-

£35.78 B&Q (Pots and compost)

£15.44 McDonalds (two trips)

£22.30 Just Eat (Curry and Pizza)

£12.34 Marks & Spencer (Bedding)

£16.00 Dunelm (Bedding)

Total £101.86

For Christmas, I asked for some kitchen things, a true sign that I’m getting old. I still can’t believe how excited I was to find a yellow bread bin and funky dinner set from Sainsbury’s that I’d had my eye on since the Summer. All this excitement made me want to finish the kitchen off so I popped to B&Q to get pots and compost so I could replant the plants I have in the kitchen. I also received a £100 Marks and Spencer voucher so treated myself to some much needed pillows and bedding. I’m ashamed to say I’ve had the same pillows and bedding for 16 years and they have definitely seen better days! Frugal living or just gross?!

I put them on my bed last night and the pillows were so plump, it was like being in a hotel. I also treated my daughter to a new duvet and pillow set – Hers was only 2 years old but had fairies on, which apparently is for younger girls now 😊

A couple of naughty takeaways just because I couldn’t be bothered to cook. We still have lots of food in the house from the huge shop I did a few weeks ago, so we will be eating that first before we go for another weekly shop. Apart from fresh bits for my daughters’ lunches when she starts back to school. But I’ll be doing a meal plan Saturday for the following week.

I will do a separate post to go through my 2022 goals, but I have decided not to do a no spend year. I will continue to track my expenses daily and aim for 25 no spend days in January.

BIG NEWS –

Ahhhh I’m so excited and very nervous to announce, I am going to start a YouTube channel for The Money Wise Mum!!

This will start in January 2022 and will be to document the rest of my ‘getting out of debt journey’. I’m hoping this will give me the last push I need. You can subscribe here so you don’t miss my first and probably very awkward post.

July 2023 seems so far away so I need to make sure I stay motivated.

I hope it helps others too. I know watching my favourite You Tubers blogging about their debt pay off journey has helped me. It can be daunting having so much debt that you feel that there is no way out of it, especially as a single parent. But there is a way, it’s just usually a long and tiring one.

But we can do it together.

We got this! Here’s to a fabulous 2022!

And Happy New Year!

H

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

Money Wise Talks 16/12/2021

IT’S NEARLY CHRISTMAS!

I’m starting to get really excited now – possibly caused by the decision to watch a least one Christmas film a night to get into the Christmas spirit!

And it’s working alright! I’ve never heard of there ever being a time when there was too much Christmas spirit. That wasn’t alcohol related anyway! Lol

I’m not sure why I’m so excited this year, but maybe because it feels so different to last year. My Christmas shopping is all done and wrapped. I’m not working every waking minute, completely stressed out and missing time with my daughter.

This week I received my official offer of a permanent job, the one I’ve been doing through an agency since September. I was successful at the interview the other week and have been waiting for references and checks to come back. My new start date is 4 January 2022.

What a way to start the New Year!

I have a really good feeling about this next year. I feel this is the year I will finally become debt free. It was my plan to become debt free by December 2021 but when I made this plan I had no plans to leave teaching and when I did leave teaching, I found myself without a job. I immediately signed up to an agency so at least I was earning something but in that instance, I lost 10k in wages. I’m still not being paid as much as when I was a teacher but I have plans to get there within the next 12 months for sure.

This week has been full of positivity but I can’t ignore the fact I’ve gone over budget.

I planned Christmas last December and after going ridiculous over budget last year by £900 I vowed to never be so stupid again and I set up a standing order for £83 every month to cover Christmas 2021. At the time, I thought I needed approximately £1000 to cover everything I wanted. This included; nights out, food, Christmas days out with my friends, family and daughter, decorations, presents and well basically everything Christmas.

Then I got smart – too smart and after a few months I decided to change the amount from £83 to £50. I told myself it was silly to spend so much on Christmas. I scaled back everyone’s gifts and continued to save this amount for the whole year, giving me £600 for Christmas.

And you know what, it’s not enough. Everyone’s budget and personal finance is just that, personal. And for me it’s just not enough. I haven’t brought any decorations or lights this year or Elf on the Shelf things like last year and I’ve been out once with work for a Christmas meal. I was right last year – £1000 for me would have given me the budget that I need to get everything I want without going over budget.

This is a huge learning curve for me. If I compare myself to what I should have spent this year, I’ve failed massively. However, if I compare myself to last year, I’ve made progress because I haven’t spent £900 over budget. I’m going to take it as a positive step in the right direction because this is the first time in forever I really know what I spend at Christmas. Next year I’ll have £1000 saved and I’m really interested now in how it all pans out!

I’ve still got to work out exactly how much over budget I’ve gone over by – I’ve been putting it off I’m not going to lie.

I did succumb to my daughter’s puppy eyes at the weekend and brought a moving model village fair ferris wheel for £135. WHAT WAS I THINKING!

It wasn’t until a few days later I saw she had stuffed her tiny teddy in it so it could go for a ride that I decided she didn’t quite understand that it was an ornament and not a toy so I took it back. Sometimes when you go a little crazy, you just need to take things back.

What I Have Spent This Week

£50 Christmas money given to my daughter for my present

£40.60 Gift and food at Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience

£35.17 Tesco food

£20.00 Tesco petrol

£169.90 Garden centre – spent on model Ferris wheel and other bits (135.00 has been refunded)

Total £315.67

Considering my weekly budget is £50 per week with no budget for anything else, you can see now why I need more room in my budget for Christmas. Things I’d not accounted for, like my daughter wanting money to spend on me for Christmas so she can experience shopping for Christmas with my mum. And the annual Christmas trip to somewhere really special, this time to Harry Potters Forbidden Forest Experience – again not considered.

This journey I’m on is not just about paying off debt and having all the answers. It’s about having a better understanding of my spending behaviours. Trying and failing and trying again with budgets, finance plans and everything money related. As they say “To learn to succeed, you must first learn how to fail”.

H

Money Wise Talks 9/12/2021

Following a super hectic and fun weekend, I welcomed the quiet week that followed in The Money Wise Mum household. I can’t believe how organised I am this year and how less stressed I am. I’ve not forgotten to move the elf on the shelf once and all the Christmas shopping is done apart from one gift left to buy. Christmas cards have been brought and will be written and posted this weekend and then I’m done. I have even had time to buy the cats and dog new beds.

In last weeks Money Wise Talks, I mentioned feeling like I’d not brought my daughter much this year, due to the fact that what she’s interested in now is more expensive than previous years. My whole budget for her went on just a couple of gifts instead of the usual lots of less expensive gifts and I was worried that these feelings would make me go out and blow loads of cash – cash I don’t have. Well you’ll be pleased to know I didn’t go out and blow loads of cash to satisfy that emotion – But I did reason with it.

I’m an emotional spender so now I always try and analyse why I want to spend if it’s out of the ordinary and what my motives are before I hit the shops. In relation to how I feel about my daughters gifts, I’m not sure whether all parents feel the same but maybe it’s because I just don’t want my child to grow up! Either that or I’m not quite ready to have the living room not completely covered in a vast amount of multi-coloured presents. Even though they would be less expensive gifts, the room was full. Maybe it’s me holding onto to my daughters childhood that little bit longer. What I do know for sure is they are only young for a small amount of time and every year I feel slightly more desperate to cling on to all tiny details that remind me when she was smaller. A room full of presents on Christmas day being one of them.

So how did I reason with that part of me that wanted to spend, spend, spend?

I spent!

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t worry! I felt like I needed to buy more, not because my daughter needed more and not because I felt I didn’t spend enough but because psychologically I felt I’d not done enough. Although I’m in no way an expert in psychology, my understanding is that most of our decisions are based on emotions and how things make us feel. Spending money, eating and working out or not as the case may be is all down to how we feel. Change how we feel and we can somehow change our path.

After last year I didn’t want to go mad and knew my Christmas budget was almost gone so instead of buying her more presents to make me feel better and that I couldn’t afford, I decided to buy her clothes instead. I was going to buy her some new clothes in January anyway as she has outgrown them so I’ve used the clothes sinking fund, brought them a few weeks early and wrapped them up. Psychologically now I FEEL like I’ve done enough and I’ve not broke the budget.

Even though I have gone slightly over budget, it’s not by £900! Like last year!

I think as well, as long as I’m always improving I don’t mind. I know for next year’s Christmas budget I will increase the monthly amount by a little more so hopefully next year I won’t go over budget at all.

For December I am doing another plan to pay off £850.20 worth of debt.

This is going to be broken down into five payments of:

  • £113.00
  • £368.08 (Extra) Hermes pay
  • £25.00
  • £290.75
  • £53.37 (Extra)

So far, I have paid off £113.00 and £368.08, so three payments left to go. If I can keep paying off £850 a month I should have the debt cleared in a little over 12 months. But thinking about that and another long year of paying off debt gets me down, so I think it’s best just to focus on it month by month. Especially as I had expected to be debt free by December 2021 😦

What did I spend this week?

£9.00 Train to works Christmas party

£6.95 Drinks at work Christmas party

£35.00 Food at Christmas party

£3.48 WH Smith

£0.15 Tesco

£12.20 Morrisoons

£0.87 Parking

£10.47 Macdonalds

£24.00 Car parking

£100 Train for two to London

£100 Drinks and food in London

This week has been so spendy! But also super fun!

A total of £302.12 was spent this week.

The work party and London trip were all put on my credit card. Not ideal but I don’t go out very often. Its also made me aware that I need to consider adding in entertainment to my Christmas budget as this is something I’d not planned for before.

On Thursday, I hopped onto a train to where my work is based (I work from home) and we all met up for a Christmas meal and drinks. The three-course meal finished me off, so I couldn’t manage my passionfruit martini. Loved seeing my work colleagues though, even more as I don’t work in the office.

Managed to have the passionfruit martini at the UKMB event

Then on Friday, I took the afternoon off and dragging a friend with me, we headed off to London for a networking event where I was able to meet lots of other money bloggers. We drank the drinks, ate the bar snacks and talked all night. Well mostly all night – until we had to get the last train back anyway. It was great meeting new, like minded people. Next time, I will definitely be getting a hotel so I can stay out gossiping for longer!

Have a great week

H