We are in a bit of a mess financially to put it mildly so we are having to sit and take a good look at the way we lived when John was self-employed and the way we can make changes now he is employed and on minimum wage. I took myself off to the Job centre and have registered as looking for work, I may or may not be eligible for job seekers allowance (not enough contributions ), I have to wait another few days to find out, please do not take offence anyone but if I had just come to this country I would be given a house, clothes, furniture and food vouchers oh and a suit to go to interviews in even though I had not paid a penny to be here. I have not have worked full-time but I feel I should be allowed job seekers I am looking for jobs sending out CV’s and scouring shop windows. I worked full-time until I started a family, I did my husbands accounts, volunteered in all of my Son’s classes ( now you are called a teaching assistant and get paid for it) helped run an after schools club and also had a part-time Job in BHS, then when my Son;s were old enough I got a job in Spa’s head office,amending invoices and releasing invoices for the drivers, I was also a volunteer fundraiser for the NSPCC and co-founder of a Down syndrome support group. I have not sat idle watching TV every day. I worked when I could and remember putting the kids in the car in their PJ’s when my husband took me to work at 7am. I hope I do get job seekers allowance! We also claimed Council tax benefits which would be about £20 a week but we were not eligible because John earns too much! OMG !!! he brought home last week £245 he is a 55-year-old man !
We have contacted the credit card company and they have put us on a payment plan to reduce the monthly payments as we just can’t pay even them ( we used to pay off all or nearly all the balances every month), I contacted my bank and have made a payment plan to reduce my overdraft, the lady I spoke to from the Lloyds TBS was so helpful and very understanding. I have no ISA’s now as we cashed that in when we were struggling as John had very little or no work for 7 months last year and we thought things would pick up but they didn’t, so he sold his lorry and ceased trading. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and I have found out it is nothing to be ashamed of and as long as you talk to these people it is in their interest to help you because at the end of the day it may take a little .longer but theya re getting their money.
I sat down and took a look at other areas where we could save and contacted Virgin media and we are now on the bare minimum tariff for 18 months as I said I was going to cancel everything, they offered me phone basic TV and basic internet for £15.99 a month we were paying over £45 ! I know we could cancel and save £15.99 but I sell bits and bobs on e-bay and need the phone and internet for job hunting and staying in touch with family so it is staying.We have no papers delivered and have stopped buying them, I only get the Thursday issue of the local paper as the jobs are in then.
I have been menu planning for a while and have saved around £30 a week and we are eating a lot better, I even cook a new recipe every week, Nigella’s chicken and chorizo bake last night and it was so nice and did not cost the earth. I look for BOGOF’s and sale items and make use of my freezer, I cook a big pasta bake and freeze it in portions for my lunch, I make my own cakes and biscuits and am digging out my bread maker ( used twice). We are not going out now but have a large collection of DVD’s to keep us occupied and we are also getting DIY jobs done, I am still going to boot sales with a bit of spare cash and trying to make a bit of a profit on e-bay. We have not had the heating on unless it is really cold and I only use the tumble drier in emergencies now. We do not but magazines or any items not on our shopping list even though it is tempting.
We have sold our little caravan (it was getting old and we could not afford winter storage and pitch fees) and we are using the money to buy a new built-in oven as I have been struggling with the tiny top oven for months , I have done price compares and found a good deal, we had to cancel the order we made just before we realised we were broke! also we have to get through Christmas, we have a budget for that and we are sticking to it and I am only buying for family this year, I have told my friends the situation and they are ok with that. We art at my parents for Christmas day for a change as I usually have a house full. We are also saving some and paying a few bills, and getting the car taxed etc.
I believe things happen for a reason and this is a big wake up call for us! we were wasteful, not on purpose but I never looked at any prices in the supermarket and had magazines coming out of our ears, we went on holidays and spent like it was going out of fashion and I have bags and shoes galore. We had no wills no life insurance ( very bad) and God forbid if anything happened to one of us? We have taken a long hard look at this mess we are in and are taking steps to get out of it. We are not getting any younger and we need to get through this and come out of it stronger and more prepared for hard times. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table and clothes on our backs, we have family and friends who we love and have our health, we have been together for 33 years and make a good team, we are very lucky people.
I have also been looking around the house and we have far too much STUFF, I have started what I like to call the de-crapification of the house, I am going through every cupboard and draw in this house and getting rid of ( either giving away,selling or donating it to charity) anything we do not want or use or need. It began with my house file, I got one carrier bag full of shredding and a bag for the recycle but it is now in order and tidy, I sorted out my wardrobe and bedside tables and this morning I sorted out my down stairs sideboard draws and cupboards.
I am on a mission to get it all done by the end of November and then I can relax knowing we only have what we love and use in this house, a big job but I know it will be worth it in the end.I am off to the Directgov website to look for todays jobs and this afternoon I am making banana crunch muffins as I have a few sad-looking bananas in my fruit bowl!.