Where did my pay cheque go?

6 10 2013

Wallet MothsI know I was paid this month.

I saw the money arriving in my bank account.

For a day or so my balance looked fairly healthy.

I do not particularly recall spending lots of money or moving it out of my account.

So…

…where did all my money go?

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What it means to be poor

4 10 2013

Kevin Bridges

I have been enjoying a nght in front of the TV watching comedian Kevin Bridges. I laughed out loud at his take on the recession and the debt levels in America of 16 trillion dollars – the idea of Africa rounding up some great rock bands to stage a concert for us as (In Mr Bridges words) “It’s their round” – is comedy gold.

I often talk about my finances and how broke I am. However the reality is that FFOMC and I are comfortable and have everything we actually need. This does not mean we do not have aspirations but we can not really consider orselves to be truely poor. It made me remember a docummentary I watched some time ago about the definition of poverty in England.

As part of the program the presenter revealed the list used to determine if a family are living in poverty. Apologies for the copy and paste job but I found it really interesting and for anyone who did not see the docummentary it is worth scanning. It is surprising that some of the items have made it on to the list but depressing to think how many of the things we regard as necessities are not affordable to many families. If a family does not have access to any three of the things on this list because of financial constraints they are deemed to be living in poverty:

  • Heating to keep home adequately warm
  • Damp-free home
  • Two meals a day
  • Visit friends or family in hospital or other institutions
  • Replace or repair broken electrical goods
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables every day
  • Washing machine at home
  • All recommended dental treatment
  • Celebrations on special occasions
  • Warm waterproof coat
  • Attend weddings, funerals and other such occasions
  • Telephone
  • Meat, fish or vegetarian equivalent every other day
  • Curtains or window blinds
  • Enough money to keep your home in a decent state of decoration
  • Household contents insurance
  • Hobby or leisure activity
  • Appropriate clothes for job interviews
  • Table and chairs at which the family can eat
  • Taking part in sport or exercise activities or classes
  • To be able to pay unexpected costs of £500
  • Two pairs of all weather shoes
  • Regular savings (of at least £20 per month) for rainy days
  • Television
  • Regular payments to an occupational or private pension

 

 





Home Improvements

8 07 2013

Home Improvements

I am getting twitchy.

The summer holiday is fast approaching. During the 6 week break I will be spending more time in my flat and I am desperate to pick up a paintbrush and redecorate my living room so I can relax in my own living space.

However I do not own the property in which I live but rent it from a private landlord. This is a bit of a sore point.

Due to a leaking roof, the wall of my living room is streaked where water streams down from cracks in the ceiling when it rains heavily. There are also patches where plaster is flaking off. Even if none of this was an issue, the paintwork itself is very much in need of a recoat.

I resent the idea of spending money on someone else’s property even if it is me who has to put up with the décor looking a little tired.

I will resist the urge to indulge my inner interior designer for now and focus on saving my pennies for my mortgage and a summer holiday with FFOMC.

 

PROGRESS TOWARDS RAISING A HOUSE DESPOSIT

DATE

% OF DEPOSIT SAVED

ESTIMATED MONTHS TILL PURCHASE

JULY 2012

28%

23 – June 2014

AUGUST 2012

31%

22 – June 2014

SEPTEMBER 2012

33%

21 – June 2014

OCTOBER 2012

36%

20 – June 2014

NOVEMBER 2012

42%

19 – June 2014

DECEMBER 2012

47%

17 – May 2014

JANUARY 2013

54%

15 – March 2014

FEBRUARY 2013

59%

14 – February 2014

MARCH 2013

62%

10 – January 2014

APRIL 2013

76%

                      6 – October 2013

MAY 2013

62%

10 – March 2014

JUNE 2013

73%

6 – December 2013

JULY 2013

77%

5 – December 2013





Good Deeds

25 06 2013

donation

I am the eldest in a family of three girls. Thanks to, what I understand was extreme tenacity on the part of my parents; I have been blessed with two wonderful younger sisters.

Sister 1: Mother to two wonderful boys with a loving partner who is a fantastic step-father to her eldest son. She is plagued with constant anxiety about the well-being of all of her “boys”. Working life has been a struggle due to finding a work life balance and being treated poorly by former employers.

Sister 2: Owner of two gorgeous Labradors and wife to a loving and romantic husband. They are desperate to be parents and are in the process of trying to start their own family but ongoing ill health is a major barrier to both their financial position and their prospects of becoming parents.

Sufficient to say, both of my sisters have a hard time. They are not in particularly well paid jobs and seem to be first in line when it comes to adopting additional difficulties in their personal circumstances – they have both definitely drawn the short straw.

As the eldest I am ashamed to say that I am not around anywhere near as often as I should be as I moved to England in my late teens and even worse with building pressures in my own job, I missed both of their birthdays in April this year – EPIC FAIL!

I did buy them cards. However they are currently somewhere on my dining room table and I would need to enlist a team of archaeologists to unearth them from the ever increasing volume of teaching debris before I could consider posting them.

However I came up with a master plan. I hoped to show up unexpected in NI for a surprise weekend and take Mommy and my two baby sisters on a spa day. The plan was flawless but due to my own circumstances this never happened – a new plan popped into existence.

My parents have added to their bucket list their plan to take all of their girls on a holiday with their partners and children. FFOMC and I have been wracking our brains to work out holiday plans that will suit. Sister 2 was first and she enjoyed a fabulous cruise with hubby and parents.

In little under a week Sister 1 will take a 2 week all inclusive holiday with Mommy and Datty and her partner and 2 children. She is concerned about finances. I can understand this. After all even on an all inclusive holiday, you want options and having some spare spending money available just in case – is something of a necessity!

I had decided to deposit a small amount of money into both sister’s bank accounts as a belated birthday present.

Following a FB conversation when Sister 1 revealed her anxiety about finances I brought my plans forward and made the deposits before telling her to check her bank balance. It was not a life changing amount of money but the reaction was heart warming.

It is so amazing to be able to treat the people you love. I hope my both enjoy spending the money and that it eases whatever pressures they are currently under. Any time I am in a position to help I fully intend to do so – I only ask for photos showcasing their happy memories with their respective partners and families.





Data

26 05 2013

Control

I have never been someone who has coped well with the aspects of my life that our outside of my control. As such I have a tendency to obsess over the things that are within my power.

I also have a deep love of things that I can track and monitor. Monitoring DATA is definitely one of my guilty pleasures.

Sometimes these obsessions are very healthy and have a positive impact on my daily life; but on other occassions they are more destructive and lead me into more dare I say it…obesssive behaviour.

Taking my personal finances as an example: it is of course beneficial for me to keep track of the APR on my credit cards; but, it is a poor idea to continuously scrutinise my savings and agonise over how many months it will take me to raise a desposit for my own home. In both scenarios I benefit financially as these obsessions can have a positive impact on my bank balance. However in terms of affecting change – I only earn so much each month – so constantly berating myself about the state of my finances does nothing for my emotional health.

Pound

 

We are all faced with an overwhelming amount of data on a daily basis that places each of us in a particular category. For example:

JOB: inadequate – satisfactory – good – outstanding

FINANCES: poor – fair – good – excellent

WEIGHT: underweight – average – overweight – obese

RELATIONSHIP STATUS: single – co-habiting – married – divorced

WORK: unemployed – self employed – employed – billionaire playboy/girl

 

While I unfortunately tend to buy into these systems – attempting at all costs to control the figures to ensure that I am in the optimum category for each aspect of my life…I cannot help but wonder…wouldnt it be easier to simply…be?

I am not going to have a personality transplant as a result of this post but it has made me reflect on the things that I value and the  high value I place on being top of each and every list I could possibly be placed on. There is no point in playing the game if you dont want to win but maybe – just maybe – some of the games in life just arent worth playing.

 

 





ISA’s

4 05 2013

ISAIn my quest to make the most of my savings towards my house deposit I have been watching the Martin Lewis Money Show.

A recent episode has made me realise how poorly informed I am about the nature of savings (in particular ISA’s) and that my approach to savings has been as productive as an infants attempts to practice their fine motor skills by forcing square blocks into triangular holes. Since watching the show I have been in the process of moving money round all over the place to try to get the most out of the funds I have managed to raise so far.

Just over a year ago I openned an ISA account.

I knew this was considered a good option for prudent savers.

I also knew that these savings were not subject to tax.

I even knew that the tax free element has an upper limit (about £5000 when I first openned the account).

I did not know that I could continue to pay in money  after I had reached this limit.

I also did not know that if I did not remove the money from the account after the end of the tax year – that it remains tax free along with my next yearly allowance.

What a dipstick!!!!

When deciding where to put the majority of my savings I was only looking at the APR. Therefore it seemed a better option to leave my money in an account that had a higher APR rate (albeit less than 1% difference).

This decision may have cost me in the long run.

I like to think that I make good choices about how to invest my savings but I am clearly a learner in the financial world and need to pay much closer attention to the small print if I am to make the most of the savings that I have worked so hard to acculminate.

My annual tax bill has taken me back a step with my savings but at least I had savings with which to pay it rather than spending the next agonising few months paying a hefty bill and not continuing to move forward 🙂

PROGRESS TOWARDS RAISING A HOUSE DESPOSIT

DATE

% OF DEPOSIT SAVED

ESTIMATED MONTHS TILL PURCHASE

JULY 2012

28%

23 – June 2014

AUGUST 2012

31%

22 – June 2014

SEPTEMBER 2012

33%

21 – June 2014

OCTOBER 2012

36%

20 – June 2014

NOVEMBER 2012

42%

19 – June 2014

DECEMBER 2012

47%

17 – May 2014

JANUARY 2012

54%

15 – March 2014

FEBRUARY 2012

59%

14 – February 2014

MARCH 2012

62%

10 – January 2014

APRIL 2012

76%

                      6 – October 2013

MAY 2012

62%

14 – April 2014





The future father of my children…is expensive to maintain

10 04 2013

money-magnet1

This has been an expensive month.

As the main bread winner in my household I have spent a lot of money and it occurs to me that while FFOMC is essentially a man of simple pleasures, he can be very expensive to maintain.

It started with the realisation that he had no black dress shoes to go with his suit. No problem, a quick trip to Debenhams after school at the beginning of the month produced a stylish pair of shoes that were half price in one of the many, many promotions they run throughout the year.

I also treated myself to a new outfit for his sister’s wedding so I would look good hanging off his arm. Due to the unseasonably cold weather we are having I needed something with a jacket. I was happy with my purchase a patterned green and white dress with a lime casual jacket and a pair of nude peep toe shoes. The realisation that a size 12 drowned me and I had to go down to a size 10 only added to my pleasure with my new look. I felt a million dollars and an unplanned visit to the hairdresser for a designer messy up do completed the look but lightened my purse further.

A last minute decision to stay in the hotel (so we could both enjoy the overpriced hotel drinks together avoiding the drive home), placed a further burden on my strained credit card.

We encountered the familiar situation at weddings of realising that you have neglected family and friends and should make an effort to see them more regularly so you agree to organise a catch up soon. This time we actually followed through resulting in a lovely meal out with family. But the costs of our indulgences were mounting.

FFOMC is also on a quest to finally acquire a driving licence. I bought him some lessons for Christmas to get him started. He is now covering the costs and at £27 per hour, he is feeling the pressure so I have agreed to fund his theory test to help him out.

All in all there is not a lot of spare cash right now and it may be a long slog to our next pay day.

I get paid slightly earlier than FFOMC so towards the end of every month FFOMC comes to me all doe-eyed and requests some pocket money or else he won’t be able to buy lunch and how could I say no to his sweet little face?

Considering the financial strain on us this month I must question whether we will ever be able to afford children. After all kids are notorious for needing new shoes, school uniforms etc. They tend to be invited to more parties than their parents resulting in need to splash out on birthday gifts for their many school friends.  Trips to MacDonald’s and Pizza Hut don’t come cheap and our future kids may take ballet, karate or other classes that could leave us totally destitute long before they get to an age when they demand pocket money each week.

FFOMC is apparently preparing me for living on a tight budget and just like our future children, he is worth every penny.