Life as we know it…

I intended to update the blog six months down the line- but time has raced on and it is now some 8 months later. The time has flown and I have had challenging times on the way. The worst being the day- just before Christmas- when the car was written off. It was seven weeks before I got on the road again. Being in an IVA means not having a lump sum to for contingencies like these. It meant walking everywhere and buses to work for a while.

I have had a certificate of completion- mine was a lump sum IVA but have now started repaying the money at £200 a month to my aunt.

Compared to a year ago although I have less money – ( job evaluation means a decrease in salary over next 3 years) and one daughter due to uni in September I have been very careful to make what I do have go further.So what would be my tips for success?

  1. Set a weekly budget and withdraw what you need for the week- when it gone its gone. Any left over put aside for emergencies/ treats.
  2. Sign up to Martin Lewis’ money saving expert site-have saved a lot this way. Look in the ‘ quick grabbit section’ in particular.
  3. Surveys– I signed up to Consumer pulse- this generates a voucher for £10 a month which helps for birthdays/ christmas.
  4. Food shopping– make your own pack up- its much cheaper- especially home made soups- filling and easy to do in advance. Can often find ‘ whoopsies’ in shops to save even more money.
  5. Contact local council re election vacancies– I am doing the counting of votes this week. Will generate an extra £200. Once on the list you will usually be contacted annually for work.
  6. Consider taking in a lodger– under the governent’s rent a room programme- I did this and am now egtting an extra £340 a month tax free .
  7. Have a clear out– ebay everything in site, consider car boot sales to make extra money
  8. Shop around regularly for insurance renewal– great advice on Money Saving Expert ( MSE)
  9. Check you are not paying too much for utilities– check comparison sites such as uswitch
  10. Stay positive– you are on your way to a debt free future

it’s a long, hard journey but worth it and there will still be trials and tribulations and unplanned for expenses.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Taking stock……

Been working how many weeks to Christmas- more importantly how many pay days before then. Need to start budgeting now- 3 pay days to go- 2 after Friday. Have loaded a budget planning tool from Martin Lewis’ moneysavingexpert forum. Looking at the whole picture for the next year.

Payday is 4 days away- hoping to book car in to get head gasket sorted. For October I also have to buy three winter coats for three teenage daughters and a radiator to buy. Had idea of converting the largest bedroom into two and now we have a lodger. Now winter is on its way this job is becoming more urgent.

Still doing surveys online and conumer pulse shopping logs to earn enough points for shopping vouchers- every little helps. Also listed some workbooks for ebay- had some success selling these a couple of years ago and made a bit extra in the run up to Christmas-hoping to do the same again.

Finished the working week with a letter from the chief executive informing us of public sector cuts in October.  I have just been through restructuring and lost over £5,000 a year but feel certain there is a lot more to come.

Also got a call at work to say we were to be one of the featured local families for the ‘ love food , hate waste’ campaign. The good thing is we get hints/ tips/ recipes about not wasting food, using leftovers. Also as part of the package is a series of cookery lessons aimed at helping to reduce food waste. Not so sure though about progress being monitored on facebook though! Was solely interested in wasting less food, making it go further! Anyway the overall winner of the initiative in this region will get a luxury organic food hamper.

Saw on the council website that the census jobs are being advertised. Hoping to get a part-time short contract post- this would be the to earn/save enough for a holiday next year- haven’t been on one for 10 years or more now.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lump sum IVA agreed !

Yesterday was the creditor’s meeting for my lump sum IVA- all creditors  voted and all accepted. I was in meetings at work so didn’t get to know the news until later in the afternoon. As the funds are there looks like it will all be tied up within the month.

It’s funny I didn’t feel ecstatic- it is a new start but I felt drained – the worries, concerns have been going out for months now- though the end is in sight.

I am fortunate that I have borrowed the lump sum from a relative. Having a lump sum settlement means too that I can start rebuilding my credit rating immediately- not that I have any intention of using  a credit card but I may want to change mortgage provider at some point in the future- who knows.

I have been making savings, making the money go further. My job is under threat being in the public sector. Also Christmas is appearing everytime I go to the shop. Just shopped around to see if I could get a better deal for my health insurance- saved £18 a month and manged to get £45 in Marks and Spencer vouchers. That will help towards Christmas.

The car is still limping along. My aim is to last out until payday if I can. I now keep having to stop every half a mile or so as the engine appears to be overheating- looks like the head gasket and a hefty repair bill in the pipeline. Have just used the car to get to work- about a mile and a half and that’s all. Just another 12 days- just hope it lasts out!

Got a keen eye for a bargain now- the local Somerfield was having a clearance sale for its change over to the Co-op. Got 2 packs of dishwasher tablets for 48p each, 6 boxes of washing powder for 25 p each and shampooo at 30p a bottle. It turns out that the security guard had to intervene earlier today I am told. Some were taking items out of each others trollies!

Chilling out with X factor tonight ( and tomorrow)- it’s been a long , tiring week but time for a fresh start as far as finances are concerned…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Snakepass and a few other challenges!

Spent a few days before going back to work near Chesterfield with family. Planned on a day in Manchester shopping with my teenage daughters. This was to be one of the highlights of the stay ( not for me particularly as maybe am getting too old for a full day’s shopping)  and I need to keep a watchful eye on the budget too. Just got a few miles when the  car warning lights  came on- only another 55 miles to go! Fortunately there was a garage within a mile so we  trundled/ limped along till we got there.

The diagnostic evaluation revealed the cylinder head was getting hot but the mechanic said the code being displayed was possibly a rogue one. He couldn’t see anything obvious and turned the warning light off.

We set off again- in trepidation- and had to try and conquer Snakepass. Several times en route we had exactly the same problem. Managed to get there but I spent all day  worrying  how we would get back. My fears were to be confirmed-had exactly the same problem on the way back- took us twice as long to get back as we kept having to stop to cool the engine down.

Next day booked the car in at a local garage- apparently  the engine had been misfiring too and so spark plugs were changed. £200 worth of work later ( involving temperature gauge) I picked the car up to be told it  it still had a problem- the head gasket is going.I was told this would be in the region of £400 to put right. Just when things seemed to be looking a bit brighter!

It is hard to have a contingency amount available- I was fortunate that I had just got paid when it went into the garage for the initial work.

The following day we set off back to Lincolnshire and had to stop every 20 mins or so. How we managed to get back I don’t know- a wing and a prayer.
So now am back at work and hoping that for as long as possible I can keep the car running so I can save up the repair monies!

The budget was just looking a little healthier too and I had been making frugal plans for the month.One thing I am going to try and do is put aside some money a month for times like these. I fear it won’t be the last time the car lets me down. It’s been a great runner up until the last year- 18 months- bought it on Ebay four years ago.

We now have a lodger- a great help with the household finances- took a while to get used to sharing the house with someone else but it’s fine now.

Finding time- when I can- to complete Valued Opinions and Consumer pulse surveys online- every little helps as they say! Ready to claim another £10 Tesco voucher shortly. Creditors meeting another 12 days away and am hoping things go smoothly on that front..

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I have a date now

Just a quick update to say the creditor’s meeting is set for Friday 17th September. Glad there is a date set now- only 18 days to go…..

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Starting out….a long way to go….

I have, after several months, just posted the IVA proposal along with proof of ID back to the IP. It was 5 months ago when I realised I had a problem with money and, after job evaluation and regrading, my salary was going to decrease substantially over the next 3 years ( protected income for that time).

Not only that I had one daughter at a local university and another due to go next year ( 2011) and one the following year-to start a nursing degree. As a single parent I know this wasn’t going to be easy. I think the infamous ‘ lightbulb’ moment was when I got vouchers/ money for my birthday during this time and used them all to pay bills. At 43, birthdays don’t matter as much as they used to but this was necessity.

I contacted a few companies re an IVA following the good advice on the forum. A forum on which I had ‘lurked on ‘ for a number of months. After enquiring about an IVA I was ‘grateful’- if that’s the word that I was considered to be insolvent so qualified for an IVA. A harsh reality that hit home- after all that couldn’t be me could it? I kept up all minimum payments but with income reducing over the next 3 years I knew that wasn’t going to be sustainable.

When I got the early draft IVA to look at – which has only been calculated for year 1 so far then I realised immediately that after year 2 I would not have any disposable income. That was a dark weekend- bankruptcy seemeed to be the only option and one I was vehemently against as I didn’t want it to impact on my job. There didn’t seem to be a way out this dark place. The only other option open to me- not an easy one- was to try and access a substantial sum of money to propose a ‘ one off’ IVA.The only person that came to mind was a cousin who had said, a few years ago, when my husband left that if I ever I needed financial help to go to her….

I plucked up courage to write to her ( she doesn’t live locally) and I couldn’t think of how to broach the topic with her on the phone. I drafted the letter and redrafted several times, nearly ripping it up on one occasion. I did eventually post it and told her to expect a letter from me. Up until now she had thought I had been coping very well. I was such a nervous wreck when I realised there was no going back and had dropped the letter in the post box.

I was extremely relived to get a text form her within hours of getting the letter-‘ of course I will help you, don’t worry about anything’.I can’t tell you what a relief that was. I have agreed to pay this money back over 5 years ( assuming of course the IVA is accepted). So thats’ where I am at the moment- just waiting for news of the creditors meeting. A scary time but I know this is the way forward…

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hello world!

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment