It’s Done..

I’m at the end of one long road and at the start of another!

As of the 20th March 2015, 00:01, I am debt free.

The last £265 went whizzing over to my mother and I got a text saying ‘thank you for the money, that’s it now then isn’t it?’ No fireworks, just a simple acknowledgement and a sigh of relief.

I’ve learned so much from being in debt. I’ve yo-yo’d in and out of debt for all of my adult life, mostly being rescued by my darling mother when everything went wrong. But in a way that was worse, it never taught me the lesson.

I can say to a certain extent that I don’t wholly regret getting in to debt.

I know that sounds crazy to say but a large portion of it was spent making sure my dear Roger got the care he needed, and I don’t regret that.

What I do regret though…

Car finance over five years. Oh. My. God. That was like a huge millstone around my neck and I’m so glad to finally be rid of it. I’m now looking into selling my car and buying something more sensible, because Fiat 500 and two big dogs? Not gonna happen.

Frittering. Using my credit card for impulse purchases. At FAST FOOD PLACES of all things. Seriously, I used my credit card at McDonalds more than once. I have remedied this by completely and utterly forgetting my PIN number so I can’t fritter with money that’s not even mine.

I’ve decided to embark on a Fiscal Fast for the next seven days, so let’s see how I get on with that!

Thank you for sticking with me dear readers :)

It seems strange to think…

That in five days, I will be personal debt free (mortgage I’m counting outside that). So, yay, that obviously means life is sorted out, right? Ummm… Not so much. I’m still running out of money before I’ve run out of month. But the fact that I don’t spend in that time, rather than ramp my credit card or overdraft up, says that I’m making progress. I did sign up for an Ancestry membership in a moment of ‘sod it, I’ll pay for it next month’ but… I cancelled it. The thought of putting money onto that squeaky clean credit card made me feel queasy. I’ll save up for it instead. I paid for the insurance excess on my car from the savings I put aside every month for car bills so there was no struggle there. Definite progress. Millie was so lonely without Roger and we knew that whatever we vowed, we would end up with another dog. An opportunity came up to be a long term foster for a beautiful old man greyhound and we knew we couldn’t say no. So we’ve done something good but at minimal cost to us as his bills are covered, and he’s bought so much joy into our lives and Millie’s life. The wedding on an *extreme* budget is one of the ways we’re making the money situation work. So far, we have spent £199. That’s suit, venue and licenses. Just my dress (about £40 ish) and his ring to go. The honeymoon is weighing in at…erm… Quite a lot. The Motorhome we’ve hired is costing us £1000 for ten days. But I can justify that! Kennelling fees for ten days would be about £200+, plus buying food out (even in self catering we would only be able to take so much food with us), would soon mount up. The Motorhome hire place is near us, so it’ll be picked up, brought back here, loaded up with food and all the goodies we need (no suitcases required!) and then at the end, brought back here, unloaded, cleaned and taken back. So I’d like to show you a big way I’ve been getting through a very lean time…

IMG_0294 I had a strange few days where all of a sudden I became terrified at the thought of not having anything in to get through if there was a flood, or a zombie apocalypse (I have OCD and my brain tends to latch on to thoughts like that and terrify me). Don’t worry; I didn’t take out a second mortgage to build a nuclear bunker or buy 6 years worth of dehydrated food packs. What I did do was hunt down bargains on shelf stable foods and household necessities. This past few weeks having these stores has meant that I can keep the shopping bill under £25 a week which has been incredibly helpful, although it does mean it needs to be built back up again!

Change is A’Coming

This past time of radio silence has been tumultuous in the AF household. Mr AF’s job was a victim of a downsizing company, and I crashed my car into a ditch. We’re both standing and dusting off, but it’s the start of a long road, I feel.

After finding out about Mr AF’s job two things happened. I frittered away a lot of money. I seemed to have this odd reaction of ‘oh crap. Can’t spend on whatever I like soon…better spend now’. I’m disappointed in myself at this reaction but it was almost a knee jerk thing. I still haven’t achieved my first finance goal (be solvent without borrowing from other accounts) but as February to March payday is a short month I’m planning on achieving that goal in the coming month. I’ve already borrowed from another savings account this month which is why I can’t achieve the goal.

The second things that happened is that I devoted a huge amount of resources to paying off my debt. Just under half of my wages at the moment, to get it paid off as quickly as is feasible. So instead of May being my DFD, March will see me free of debt (aside from the mortgage) and also with a holiday paid for (booked before the situation with the job became apparent and not costing us a whole lot). This is the part of my reaction that I’m proud of. This part of my reaction will allow me to cover the whole of the household outgoings without breaking a sweat without digging into any of the redundancy payout.

Next time I’m going to talk a bit about the various things I’m doing and we’re doing to help make things go a little smoother.

On getting back into the groove

This month has been somewhat spendy, but reduced by using vouchers etc.

But I’m still not back in the groove, which is annoying me. Knowing that I don’t have a credit card payment to make next month has made me lax, and that’s not a good thing. I still have a considerable debt to pay back to my mother and although she is fairly relaxed about it, it is still a debt and debt is now no longer a part of my life plan.

I am one of those people who are constantly either making or looking for purchases that will fix my life. They will get me organised! They will stop me from overeating! They will make me exercise more!

In reality, the only answer and solution to all of my problems comes from within, but those solutions take more work to pull out of the bag. Most of my purchases are either comfort eating/shopping or these kind of things.

My purse is locked away.

My meal plan is in place.

All of the errands I need to run this week are sitting in a carrier bag in my car. No missy, you don’t need to take your purse out to produce ID, you just need the actual ID itself. My brain likes to play tricks on me in these kinds of situations.

I’m about to go downstairs and work on next month’s budget, getting the
rudimentals in place so I can fill in everything I have inevitably forgotten as I go along.

I’ll share it on here in a few days, to keep me accountable.

Wish me luck!

Oh yeahhhhh

Guess who paid off her final credit card today?

Me! That’s who!

I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted even though I have a sizeable debt to pay back to my mother.

Today was payday and I’m feeling a lot more in control. The budget is in place and the purse is locked away. Everything is in that budget, even our trip to alton towers in a couple of weeks which could be quite money hungry if I’m not careful. I’m aiming for no spends from my bank account until the 4th October which gets me a good third of the way through the month.

Things are starting to look up a little :)

Something has made me stupidly happy today…

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This is me, on my way to the bin, with a handful of chopped up (and cancelled) credit card. I’m down to one card now, which I will be keeping but locked in the filing cabinet that only has one key (and Mr AF has it on his keys).

It feels like I’ve let out a huge breath that I didn’t know I had been holding in.

I’m having a trial week of Austere August and whoops, I only have 45p left :/ but that’s why it’s a trial week! I’ve also started a well being journal as I tend to go way off track in other areas when I’m focussing so hard on one thing. I’m finding myself getting more and more stressed as I go along which is silly, so it’s time for a well being adjustment. I’ll share a page on here when I don’t feel quite so silly about it!

The way I’m going, the final institutional debt will be clear in two and a half months. The mere thought of that makes me grin from ear to ear :)

Taking Your Eye Off The Ball

Usually, when I take my eye off the ball, that’s when it hits me in the face and makes me sulk.

Well, that’s what happened last week with money!

I’m very much an emotional spender (and eater for that matter) and when I don’t feel very well, my purse accompanies me everywhere. My debit card must have friction burns from the amount of times it has been in and out of my purse this week!

My eye has now been superglued to my budget spreadsheet, which has been updated (oh THE SHAME!) and is 100% truthful about how much I messed up this week. But there have been a lot of positives –

I have paid myself back the money owed from my savings pot that I borrowed last month. This wasn’t included in my debt figure but was on my mind, as this savings pot is due to be used for it’s intended purpose next month so I didn’t want it to be short.

I’ve paid an extra £30 over what I was intending to pay to my interest free card, making it into a sexy round number. Round numbers please me. I’m very tempted to pay a little extra to it to take the balance under £1000 but I am going to be sensible and wait until the day before payday, just in case.

I’m still in the black! No other debts have been racked up and I’m starting to see a light at the end of my tunnel. Mr AF has spoken to me about helping me to clear one of the debts which was built up paying the vet bills for our dog, which will bring that one down even faster.

I guess the moral of this blog post is that in the beginning it is difficult to relax; in the beginning frugality isn’t necessarily your natural state. It certainly isn’t mine. But if you want to live below your means, debt free, savings in the bank, you can’t give up when you slip. Be honest with yourself, pick yourself up, take stock and carry on. It will be worth it in the end.

If you slip on a step you don’t go on to throw yourself down the stairs, you recover and carry on!

Payday…it’s been and gone

That most blessed of days, payday, has been and gone. Standing orders have sent my money here, there and everywhere and a money blunder has left my contingency fund, wistfully named ‘spare cash’.

Lesson learned folks, don’t online bank when you’re tired.

Basically I have four debts to service; two are interest free, one a moderate interest rate and one overdraft whose charges are about to rocket. The plan originally was to clear the overdraft, make minimum payments on everything and to move anything left from the debt fund over to the moderate interest rate debt. Good plan, yes?

The blunder came when I was making the payment to the moderate interest rate card; instead of entering the amount I wished to pay, I entered my debit card security code and paid £150 too much, taking me down to a £60 contingency for the month.

Oh crap.

Well, on the bright side, at least the money went to my debt rather than into a black hole where I would never get it back. I’m seeing the silver lining in this and hoping to clear this card this month through my newly acquired frugal habits!

Check back next time for my frugal experiments with the grocery bill!