Up, up and away.

Standard

 

For nearly 10 years, I have been in debt.  Oh debt. You savage beast.

I continue to amaze myself, year after year, on how well I can pay my debt off and then bring it all back again.  Credit cards are evil, but have been a necessity in our lives, especially in times of dependance on a single income, but they really are evil.  And this year, barring any massive dramas, I vow to have everything paid off by the time the bells ring to bring in 2014.  This year, in a way, is a “preparation” year, as I will be 30. years. old. (whee!) next April and I’d like to leave the weight of these cards behind me and start my thirties in a better financial position.

Cause, y’know, one of these days I’d like to actually buy a house and get married.  Like everyone else!

 

 

Credit cards and my “live for the moment” attitude (and not “YOLO LOL LETS DO STUPID SHIT”, but genuinely, I-have-almost-died-three-times-so-just-live-for-the-moment! – which also explains my addiction to telling people how much I love them) have allowed me to do some amazing things and visit some amazing places (and hell, move to Scotland!) and I don’t regret a second of it.  But I’d truly love there to be a day where my pay comes in, and it doesn’t all go out straight away!

So I have a plan, and it’s a similar plan to all the other years, but this time it is giving me a little bit of leeway.  And part of my solution also involves hopefully moving on up in my role/team at work, and getting myself a bit more pay.

My problem in previous years (apart from the redundancy on both of our parts), is that I have been either very very restrictive, or not paying attention.  Restricting myself to a pittance each week so that I reach for the credit cards leads to defiant/emergency spending (I know, I am a child), and not paying attention leads to… an empty bank account, I suppose!

I have spent the last few years checking my accounts daily, as a matter of habit, and because the UK does not have the amazing-but-not-really innovation that NZ has where money actually appears/leaves your account in real time.  Sometimes I will check my account and be absolutely baffled that suddenly £30 has gone missing, and it’s because they took a while to make deductions.  Our food account used to run out of money all the time because of this.

But yes. So. I have credit card payments scheduled up the wazoo, am not to be in overdraft unless for an emergency bill, and plan to channel the spending money I do put aside to take at last 3 Europe trips on super cheap deals with my Boo this year.  If we can coordinate our leave properly.  Ma and Pa are also hoping to come over in June, and that would be pretty amazing as they want to take us away somewhere as well.

 

 

Sometimes I really understand and relate to the beginning of the film Up.  I believe people should travel and live freely as much as they can before they get financially committed to something like a house, but I also understand completely the way life hits you like a brick.

Both sides of parents gave us money for Christmas this year.  My father gave me an amazing gift which allowed me to make credit card payments and keep some aside for us to maybe go somewhere like Venice in April.  Dave’s mother gave us a great bonus to help us do something nice for ourselves as well.  And you know what? the car needs to be fixed.  We need the car, we live practical lives with our vehicle’s support and it just needs to be done.  So despite the fact that the money pooled together could take us on maybe 3 trips, or for many many nice dinners, or help us finally buy a couch… it’s going on the car. It has to.

Smashing the metaphorical savings jar every time something breaks or goes wrong is a very real and shitty part of life.  I wish we had savings or money aside that could cover the emergencies like replacing transmission bearings in your Honda, but y’know. We just haven’t had that luxury for a long time.

And I didn’t move here to travel Europe.  Europe is always on the cards, and is always something we want, but. I moved here because I love this wonderful man and I wanted to spend my life with him.

But this year? Both on good salaries?  We can build up something as a cushion for the tough times.  We can take a few trips.

And next year? Without the debt?

We can do some amazing things.

 

 

 

…xxx
swhite
Advertisements

Cha-ching.

Standard

Day 28: money. #febphotoaday #photoadayThis month I began the process of moving more of my finances (read: debt) to the UK.

Thanks to a new line of credit, I’m thrilled to say that I’ve now paid 19.4% of my NZ debt off in one fell swoop, and although the debt itself is not wiped from my life, but is now in the UK, I love that I can regularly pay against it with a simple online transfer, instead of using a service and sending home once a month.

I have a long way to go (obviously paying off the other 80.4%!) but it’s a small step towards getting rid of this rather large anchor that has been weighing me down.  My credit rating in New Zealand must be truly abysmal, as despite how well-prepared I am, sending money home can be a troublesome and arduous process, even with the excellent help of Tranzfers, the company I’ve been using to send money back for the last 3-and-a-bit years (highly recommended!).  Sometimes payments just don’t make it when I plan them to, and I know that is not good for my future, especially if I want to buy a house at some stage in my home country.

But thanks to 13 months of interest-free purchases, it looks like I’ll be able to continue sending this kind of money home to New Zealand for a few more months to pay off the debt there, then spend the next 12 months paying off the UK balance, and not suffer too much for it.  It looks like I’ll be officially (well apart from my usual small overdraft) debt-free by my next birthday!  How liberating.

I’ve also been using this shiny new card to get Dave sorted for police college/training which he starts in just over 2 weeks(!).  I am amazed at how the time has flown, and we are getting excited for his new career.  He now has new running shoes, parade shoes and boots, and receives his uniform on his first day (can’t wait to see him in it!)

And in just over 6 weeks, he will be paid!  Like, a proper, real salary!  It will be 2 weeks shy of 1 year of using my salary (+ his temping work/benefits) to support us.  To celebrate, I have already used the card to get some clothes, some tickets to the Edinburgh Tattoo (it’s the 4th year I’ve been around to see it, and I’m not missing it again!) and a new watch.

We hope to start our travels to Europe next year, and will try and plan a weekend away in Scotland before the end of the year.  I’m thinking we might go camping!

But for now, I must be good. On Friday it will be 13 weeks until I head home, and I’ll be saving my shopping/spending fun until then.  I’ll be very busy for the next 8 weeks with shows, and then suddenly it’ll be nearly time to go home.  I can’t wait to see everyone.

 

…xxx

Still

Standard

So. This month people have been finding my blog by searching things like, “manson lamps”, “labyrinthitis” and “scully smile ice cream”. Welcome!

Lately it feels a bit like we’re standing still. Dave had no response from the NZ Ministry of Justice for a while, and finally received his security check yesterday, about 9 days too late for confirming him in the March intake at Lothian and Borders. So it looks like he’ll start in May, but we don’t have a date still, nor a piece of paper to confirm he has a job, and I’m feeling a bit over it, to be honest.  I know we’ll get a date in about a month’s time, but it’s just more waiting and a likely 2 more months without a 2nd income, which is wearing on me a little.

I am still trying to make 2012 a year of positivity, but sometimes it’s okay to feel like you’ve had enough and negative feelings are as valid as any others. I really want to get out of this rut. Yes, May isn’t far, and it’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we were coping knowing that March was the light, and now the light is dim again. So yes. We shall perservere. But May? May is 1 year after his original application, and his June pay will be 9 months after his last pay. 9 months on one income is a long time.

I have a lot of respect for those in serious poverty, because even though we have a decent roof over our heads and a lot more than a lot of people have, living on lentils is only fun for so long.

But yes. We will soon have money to live a little more. I actually can’t wait to start paying a little less into our joint budget and pay off my debt properly. That little thermometer on the right will be full this time next year.

In other news, I have been writing and gigging and singing my wee heart out. A few videos of my most recent gig are below… hope you like them! The week’s photos are up in the next post.

 

Wellington
 
 
Shine On

If I Had £1,000,000…

Standard

…I’d buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress, that’s cruel)…

But seriously. I marvel every day at celebrities throwing their cash away on ridiculous things. Why is it always that those who are wealthy have no idea what to do with it?

The feeling of unrestricted possibility must make you go a little crazy. But I really feel that if I had £1,000,000 come into my bank account from one thing or another, I’d do my best to be sensible with it. Because this ‘credit crunch’ thing? this ‘recession’? Has turned me into an honest-to-god poor person.

I have a job that doesn’t pay me peanuts, but it’s not a high salary by any means. Dave works ridiculous hours, and is given paid time off, but not any more money.

We have a nice, if not a little bit small, place to live. I have a lovely, lovely man and am very glad to have him. But every month we struggle to juggle our finances (Dave being on monthly pay, myself on weekly) to make sure there is enough money in our bank account to pay our bills. We’re fighting currently with the Edinburgh Council, trying to appeal them taking us to a debt collector for our year’s council tax and water costs (long story, but basically they sent no correspondence for 4 months despite many attempts to contact them, and then sent us a ‘final warning, we’re sending this to a debt collector’ notice). We get by with our internet/phone bill by not making any local calls whatsoever: I only use it to call home for 3p a minute and to receive calls. Dave has 1200 minutes on his mobile phone, so we use that if we need to phone out.

Our TV license has gratefully dropped down to £11/month, now that we’ve basically settled the biggest chunk of the fee (though in all honesty, I would much rather not pay, and have commercials, because trying to find a moment to pee in a fantastic BBC show is agony), and our power/gas seems to stay fairly steady, but it’s getting so much colder, so the gas fire is on all the time…

I’ve been saving pretty much since I arrived to be able to buy a digital piano. After much research, I chose the Yamaha P-85. Standard RRP is £600+ but I have found one for £483. It isn’t top of the line, but it’s not cheap crap that I’ll want to replace in a few years. It’s an investment for at least 5, and I think I owe it to myself and my career to take that leap. It’s just taken an awfully long time to save money, as 2 or 3 times I have had to use it to pay a bill. But I’m getting there. And now that we’re so close to Christmas, I’m probably going to end up waiting for sales.. so that pushes it another few weeks. But yes! It’s coming. It’s a light in the dark.

And of course there’s the debt at home. When I moved over here I had eliminated 60% of my credit card debt. I worked really hard to do that – long hours, several 4am shifts, swaps, depriving myself of any spending money each week. I was incredibly proud. Now, unfortunately, due to the move, I’m back at 9% paid off. 9%. It makes me sad, but I have to ignore it most of the time, and send a payment each month, always more than I need to pay. Each month’s interest takes a big hit. But slowly, and surely, I’ll get that off my back.

I’d really, really, really, just once, love to buy myself something. Some new trousers for work. A warm coat that goes past my knees. I feel that my piano is enough of a purchase to fill up my ‘spoiling myself’ quota, but it’s been a long, hard 9 months.

SO. Here is what I would do with £1,000,000…

1. Buy a flat. It doesn’t have to be amazing. It doesn’t have to be in the middle of town. Hell, I couldn’t get one for the money. But it could be a nice, 2-bedroom place, with a kitchen that’s more than a box so Dave could have room to move when he cooks, and the spare bedroom could just be for guests. I could decorate a little more, with some more pieces around the place, which in our current place would just make it look more cluttered. And I’m sure I could sell it on if we move away. It would be nice to eliminate rent every month.

2. Buy a wee car. Maybe the coveted classic mini. Or a little Swift. A nice little weekend run-around that we can get Dave’s cricket gear in and can take a few trips in.

3. Wii + Wii Fit. Ever since I moved from NZ, I have missed my little Wii Fit. It was an excellent way to get me exercising, and definitely helped me with my 7kg weight loss (which I think 50% has come back by now). If I had a shift in the morning, I could do it after work. If it was a later shift, nice wee morning workout! Unfortunately, in Scotland, after work is dark. Dark dark black dark. And cold. Cause the sun has been gone since 3.30. And wet. And it’s going to snow. I ain’t runnin’.

4. Quit full-time work. I’m tired. I like my job, but I work long hours to get a little extra cash and get things done so it doesn’t get on top of me. I’d love to work part-time. A few days a week, even. I’d use the rest of the time to write and keep our place clean. We get so behind on the cleaning, because we come home from work exhausted every day.

5. Travel. Not too much. I think Dave would still want to work (if he gets The Job he really wants), but if he can get some time off every now and then, I’d like us to go places. Around the UK, around Europe bit by bit. And I’d really like to go home every now and then.

6. Pay all of our bills up front. Say to the power/virgin/council/insurance, and everyone: Here. Have your money. If any other costs arise, let us know. And then they can just stop mailing us.

7. Send £150,000 home. While this would pay off my debts many many times over, it’d also prepare us for when we leave the UK. I’d really like a house. A house that isn’t too flash, but isn’t falling apart. Maybe somewhere in the suburbs. How boring. But it’d be nice.

8. Save. While the idea of earning a whole lot of interest right now is a bit laughable, I’d put that money in the bank. Hell, I’m not demanding. By the looks of things, I’d have a whooole lot left.

Huh. Maybe this post should have been, if I had £500,000. Or even less. Because really, it’s just the little things. I’d be happy if £10,000 dropped into my lap. It’d cover most things. I can keep working. I don’t need a flat or a house. I’m incredibly grateful for my family, for my home, for my faith, for my Dave. I’m definitely not a greedy person, nor am I wanting to splash out on Fendi bags.

I just want to live month to month without the anxiety, the 45 minute walks on the weekend to places the buses can’t get us, the mess, the exhaustion and the ever-growing belly.

But there are so many people much worse off than we are. I struggle to bring myself to complain about my life when every day I walk past people without a place to sleep, without a job, without hope. I give them coins from my pocket, but sometimes that’s all I have left.

I just wish the world didn’t revolve around money and bills, debt collectors and interest. I’d love to be a kid again. I’d love to go on Deal or No Deal. I’d love to get my shit together.