State of the Union

You haven’t heard from me in a few weeks, so I thought I should provide a State of the Union address.

So what’s been going on?

Life has been pretty stressful these past few weeks, a lot of small things snowballed into a huge avalanche of stress. Most of it out of my control, but as always I am my best when I feel like I can control or handle everything, so I have been far from my best.

Financially:

A mistake made on the part of the local council has thrown me into a huge tailspin. I am someone who strives to “do the right thing” and had been handling the debt we had built up during 2013 through a Debt Arrangement Scheme that had been set up by StepChange. This had really saved us from losing control of our finances, and we’ve been trundling along just fine the past 18+ months knowing that our debts were being paid off on our behalf. Until the Council realised they had multiple accounts in my name, and had been playing all kinds of musical chairs with the Council Tax I had personally been paying for the current year as apposed to the council tax arrears that our DAS was taking care of.

They didn’t know what money was coming and going so decided to request for my DAS to be revoked. When I caught wind of it I went to town, the council admitted their mistake and assured me that they would resolve the issue and contact the necessary people to stop the revocation.
They didn’t and our DAS was revoked. They dropped the ball severely. So now none of our debtors are being paid as they should, and I have had to file for an appeal which the council have graciously said that they won’t oppose (how nice of them) but we won’t know for a few more weeks what the result of this is. Fingers crossed our DAS will be re-instated. If not, we have to begin the DAS application process all over again, and our 6 years to being debt free is reset :*sad face*

Stress wise:

It’s time to start gathering evidence for my husbands visa renewal. His current visa doesn’t expire until September, but I believe the sooner we can gather the necessary paperwork, the sooner we will know what we may be missing. Sadly this also involves a financial concern, so +10 to the above.

Business wise:

A few things are going on regarding the business. We have to apply for a change of class on the new property we wish to move to. This is going to be a drawn out process, and I’m not too excited about paying for a piece of paper that says “you can now run this type of business.” But that’s business for you.

One of my therapists will be taking off the first 3 weeks of May for her wedding, I am so happy for her, but I’ve decided to add another half day to my schedule to try and mitigate the loss of appointments (and income) during this time.

Once the change of use is submitted, we wait, and hopefully I can start gathering quotes and working on our crowdfunding campaign for the move.

+10 to Stress

Health Wise:

Ive been down for quite a while, I’d say thoroughly depressed at times, and decided that I wanted to address my many concerns with my GP.

As expected, the GP didn’t want to consider a depression diagnosis, and instead opted for the anxiety path, included some rather bizarre therapy methods developed by him and a friend, who knows what for. I did have the most obvious symptom addressed which has been this sudden onset of Rosacea, but already after just a few days I can see the difference the topical medication is having on my skin. I’m heading off for some blood tests tomorrow too, as I believe a lot of these issues are hormone related. So they’ll probably drain me of what little blood runs through my veins tomorrow and still come up with nothing.

In related news, my dad was taken into hospital 10 days ago after poor reception by his own GP that left him in heart failure, with atrial fibrillation and fluid in his lungs. It was quite shocking to see him at his worst, as I’ve never seen my dad so vulnerable before. It gave me quite a fright. Thankfully after 5 days in the hospital he was allowed home and seems much better than before, with the added bonus of him currently no longer smoking which is a HUGE achievement for him. Long may it continue.

So what’s the plan, man?

Oh I have so many plans, it’s hard to focus on one or the other.
I really feel that our main goal over the next 24 months should be to get us back above water and get us out of debt ASAP.
We are far from living as frugally as we possibly can, and that’s because it can be difficult to give up comforts but at the end of the day, short term discomfort for long term gains is most important.

It’s time to sell up, and it’s time to sacrifice.

I have a Chromebook, Mac mini and Ipad that are all sitting gathering dust. Some of that won’t make much, but selling all three could get one of our debtors paid off completely.

Time to go through my clothes…..AGAIN…..
This doesn’t gain me much, but it covers lunch for 3 days of work.

Bills:
We are cutting the chord, the TV is rubbish, and we barely watch Live TV anymore. Who has the time for it? We have Fibre internet, that is all we need to maintain our entertainment at home. We have Amazon Fire upstairs where I watch box sets and TV shows through Kodi, so the plan is to cancel Sky and one months payment to sky can get us another Amazon Fire for the living room so I can set it up there and be synched across all systems.

We are now under the 12 month mark for our phone contracts, and normally I would be counting down the days until we can upgrade to the newest phone.
Not this time. When our phone contracts expire in April 2017, my plan is to go to a Sim only plan and hold on to my current phone as long as it continues to work.
That will save a minimum of £60 per month.

We are ready to renew our energy services so will hopefully reduce our gas and electricity again this year through NPower.

Savings £10 per month

No more Sodas and Eating out.

We eat out a minimum of once a week. Mondays are our regularly scheduled trips to eat out with Moxie after her swimming class, that will stay, but beyond that, NO MORE EATING OUT. (unless we get a great coupon/deal).

We are cutting our food bills by bulk buying and batch cooking thanks to Costco.

Savings £100 per month

Fuel costs, I’ve worked out that it costs me £8 per week to drive to and from work. I am budgeting £40 for my fuel costs, and will try to reduce as much additional driving as possible.

Savings £30 per month

Heating costs, the weather has finally picked up, and I’m a huge fan of blankets anyway. So time to drop the temperature at home.

Savings £5 per month

My makeup addiction has to stop.
Although I had stopped my subscription boxes, I was diverting that money to other things. As well as giving up my 6-weekly haircuts. I will be going for one final haircut in the next few weeks, but after that it will just be twice a year. In between times I will maintain my colour myself, so probably no exciting colours for a while.

Savings £50 per month.

This is just based on my own personal savings/sacrifices, will be chatting with the husband tonight to see what he would like to offer up.

But the changes above alone will bring in a minimum of £150 per month.
And then?

It’s time to use the Snowball method of paying off debt.

We have two avenues of debt that needs to be addressed, “official debt” and “family debt”.

Thankfully we have some very patient, forgiving, understanding family members who have allowed us to focus on our official debts first.
So I managed to get a list of all our official debts before our DAS was revoked, and the amount owed.
We have around 8 different debts on the list ranging from just £41 to £20,000.

Why on earth are we allowing a £41 debt go unpaid?
Exactly, so this is where our snowball repayment plan will start.

We will repay our debts at the minimum as per our DAS agreement (hopefully this will be reinstated soon) and we will throw any additional/spare income to our lowest debts first and paying up. I’d like to pay each balance off in full if we can, so additional/spare income will go into a savings account until we hit the outstanding balance. Once we have enough money in the account to pay that debt off, we do that and move on to the next.

My hope is that this will allow us to pay off the debts quicker than the 6 year imposed by the DAS. Once almost all of those debtors are paid off (there is one who will remain on the DAS until the term) we will start splitting the extras we have between emergency savings funds and paying off family debt.

We have 6 years of a debt plan.
I’d like us to be debt free, with 6 month emergency funds by the end of that term. If we hustle hard enough it can be done. We just have to take it one month at a time.

U.K people, what are your favourite budgeting tools?
How frequently do you review your finances, daily, weekly, monthly?

What are your favourite side hustles for making extra money?

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