Friday, 30 December 2011

Goals for 2012

It's 2012 a new year with all new possibilities, new goals and new opportunities

I have been working on my new budget for the year. First I have my big income tax bill to pay at the end of January and then it's going to be a bit tight for the first few months because of a trip I have planned a trip to Venice with three of my godkids in March.

I will have to start leaving my debit card at home or leaving my purse at home when ever I go down the road to the high street. Online is also a big temptation for me especially when it comes to books and music. I have spent way too much on the iTunes site last year and so will have to really be careful this year not to repeat that. My next purchase will be for my birthday in April and not before!!

Hope you've sorted your budget and wish you every success in reaching your goals for 2012.

Planning the New Year

Hope you all had a great Hanukkah/Christmas!
Now that the festivities are done, it's time to sit down and see what damage it has all done to our finances.
For me - so much for not doing Christmas, I have spent way more that I thought I would on my Godkids and even sent some pressies back home for my younger brothers family. And of cause something for my Mums too.
My biggest thrill this year was a text from my Dad wishing me "Happy Christmas" - haven't seen him since 2000 and last contact I had with him at Christmas was when I was 9 years old.

But back to my finances I will end the month with £500 less in my savings than I had planned for December. So not a good end to the year.
Christmas and New Year are good for me as I get double time and so this will greatly help with my expenses for January, which includes the first payment of my income tax for 20011/12. As I have very little in the way of expenses to worry about next year is now all about saving and paying in cash for all my spending. I am planning some trips in March and in August, possibly even a trip to Africa in May. The African trip is purely vanity - I just want to see my sponsor kids again. It would be better to just send them the monies I would have to pay for my flight and accommodation but I would really love to see them. May is the end of the rainy season and is said to be cheaper at that time. Will see how well I keep to my budget between now and March.
The plan for the next month is as follows:
  1. Pay 1st payment for 2011/12 tax year in full.
  2. Save £300 in my regular saving account.
  3. Save £500 in my ISA.
  4. Keep to my expenses budget of £200 (ie. don't overspend on my phone or Internet usage)
  5. No food purchases unless out with friends. (This for my wast line as much as for my finances)
Wishing you all a very happy New Year!
(this one is a big one for the UK)

And like the pub landlord said - "it's going to be a little bit shit"!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Now that it's December I can eat mince pies with a clear conscious!

It's offically the silly season and as it is December I feel able to start shopping for Christmas not that that will be a lot of shopping for me. As I tell all my friends and family - "I don't do Christmas or birthday". That way I never forget a birthday and no one is disappointed at Christmas time. But am so very glad that I did purchase a Heston Blumenthal's Christmas pudding last month as they have sold out 'again' at Waitrose.
According to The Telegraph.........

"That is because Northern Foods, the supplier, has bought up the complete supply of Valencian cured oranges – the crucial ingredient – and no more existed. It takes seven weeks to cure a Valencian candied orange, meaning that after this short production run no more were possible until after Christmas."

The pudding was for a friend who now resides in New York and so is lacking in the basics for a good English Christmas but I really should have gotten him two of them.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

November Check Up

November is roaring through like a express train and next thing you know it will be Christmas.
My spending hasn't really improved since last month and it's all small purchases, a coffee here, an item of clothing there and downloads from iTunes etc. I need to start leaving my debit card at home to prevent wasting monies on things that I don't really need.
So far I have paid £500 into my Freedom Fund and am on track to pay £300 into my Building Fund. As yet I haven't opened a 2nd regular saving account but have been looking around. Interest rates are not great as you can expect.
Turn on the telly or the radio and all you hear is how bad the world economy is and the crisis in the Eurozone. It makes you worry about the future but I have to be honest and confess that I haven't been effected at all by the current wave of economic crisis. I don't drive a car, I don't have to pay any power bills, I don't have massive holdings in the stock market. My only real expense is my tax bill. Yep - HM Revenue and Customs is my only creditor.

Monday, 31 October 2011

All October

It's been a great month - the All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup for the second time after 24 years of chasing the dream, I have dropped a 'jeans' size and I am still debt free! Yep, a good month all round!
When I open the newspaper in the morning the first thing I do is chuck the sports section but not in October this year. I have been pouring over all the articles I could find on the Rugby World Cup, especially anything about my team the All Blacks. A local pub on the high street has been flying the New Zealand and the All Blacks flags - so it's been great. Didn't get to see all the games because of work and the time difference which meant a lot of games been played in the early hours GMT. It's only once every four years so am so happy that we beat the French even if only by one point!
However my spending has been way out of hand, what with birthdays and lunches for my godchildren, food buying (that I don't need), clothes (more about that later) and Internet buying like iTunes etc. - have stopped me saving more. But because I don't have a credit card I am not spending more than what is in my bank account.
I could have saved £500 more this month than I have. Thinking about it makes me cross with myself but as I haven't broken my budgeted saving plan I have to accept what is spend is spent and leave my debit card at home more often in November.
On Friday I had a lunch date with a friend and while I was waiting for him to arrive, I decided to try on a pair of size 10 (UK size) jeans at Next and couldn't believe it when they fitted me perfectly. So I bought them! I did check with the lady behind the counter that they were indeed size 10. It's been more than twenty years since I have been about to wear size 10 jeans. I know I am going on - it's a girl thing I guess. Today I picked up two shirts and a sweat shirt at a local op-shop for just under £20. Expensive because they were all brand names items. You used to be able to get a shirt or most items of clothing at an op-shop for about £2.50 but not any more.

November Goals:

I have another birthday present to buy for this week and then I have my sponsor kids Christmas fund to sort out. Also have a dentist appointment to see the hygienist so that will cost me £45 and I need to get an eye test (will probably need new glasses) - it all adds up doesn't it!

Savings: £500 Freedom Fund, £300 Building Fund, £100 stocks and £100 to open another high interest (yer the interest rates are a joke) saving account.

Richie and the boys preparing for battle 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011

What was my Year End Goal?

It's September and I was trying to remember what my Year End Goal was and if I even had one. Well I found I had stated in January;

Goal 1. to clear my debt

Goal 2. save emergency fund of £5000

Goal 3. savings over and above this amount to fund house building fund.

Okay these are the only gaols I found and am a little disappointed I wasn't clearer on what I wanted to achieve for the year financially. In saying that, will I be able to achieve the goals that I have set out above?

Goal 1. Achieved this one as I have cleared my debt

Goal 2. I have not even got chose to this goal and currently my Emergency Fund is at just over £100 so needs to be topped up again

Goal 3. I have saved £1,800 so far and by the end of the year my total here will be £3,000
that will be the goal amount

I have started to save about £500 a month (okay I only paid £250 in August) into a Freedom Fund. A term I have used in the past but have now changed it's meaning to be my pension saving or if your in the USA think Roth IRA. I am putting it into an ISA which is a tax free saving vehicle, the interest rate isn't great but that is more to do with the current financial situation. I don't trust pensions and I don't like the way they are operated or how you have to buy an annuity with your pension, so I am going with an ISA instead.

I did have a ballpoint figure in my head to save $10k (NZ) towards my Building Fund, that is equivalent to about £5k but I will be short by about £2k or $4k (NZ). So that will have to go into my Goals for 2012.

As 2011 comes racing to an end, how have you done with your Goals for the Year?

Monday, 26 September 2011

Months End

I have banked my final cheque for the month and now have to sit around waiting for it to clear before I can credit any of my accounts. It will clear by Thursday but it is aways such a drag having to wait.
In the mean time I have to confess that my Emergency Fund is almost not there and will have to built up again over the next few months. My holiday to the North cost me more than I had planned as I had three days of not walking and so did a little sight seeing instead. There were lots of Roman forts to visit and I got to see Aydon Castle which my grandmother was convinced was an ancestral home. Before my visit I was pretty sure she had been wrong and since I am certain she was wrong! (Sorry Grandmere!)
Anyway back to finances - once my cheque clears I will be adding £800.00 to Freedom Fund and Building Fund. My net worth will be down on last month but still at over the £4k mark (cash). Once I am over the £5k or there abouts, the plan is to close the Flexi Loan account that I am still holding on to. May do a credit reference check to see what my status is now with the Flexi Loan still listed but not being used.Next month the only radical thing I am planning to do is going to a Glen Campbell concert (don't even go there...) and that is already been paid for. So hoping to have done well and kept to budget, time will tell.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Back From The Front

Yes I am back from the edge of the Empire - the old Roman empire that is, as Hadrian's Wall was just that. And I have to confess that I didn't complete the wall walk either. I completed three days, walking from Bowness-on-Solway to Steel Rigg and then did the final day walking from Heddon-on-the-Wall to Wallsend in Newcastle (I did that last day wearing jandels, aka flip-flops).

But for three days I had to give my feet a bit of a rest after getting blisters on the balls of my feet as well as my heels and (?) little toes too. This was very frustrating as I have spent three months breaking in my walking boots! But as someone pointed out I had been walking in mostly urban areas which for the most part were flat (most of London is very flat) and on footpaths. Then on top of that the longest I had worn them was about three hours so five hours of solid walking was going to be a bit of a shock to my feet.

But regardless of all that I had a great time I did walk about 61 miles and would like to go back and complete the part I didn't do but that is for another day.Looking back at where I had come from, with King Arthur's Turret and beyond that Walltown Farm.
Walking towards the highest point on the wall in the Northumberland National Park.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Months End

What happen to summer, we have had a horrid month weather wise here in London. What happened to global warming? Oh well.......
My saving plan for the month is completed but because my pay cheque wasn't banked until Tuesday (as Monday was a bank holiday), it will not clear until Friday so I will transfer another £250 into my Freedom Fund then.
September is going to be a half month as I have two weeks holiday but will still plan to save a minimum of £800.
So on Monday I am off up north to walk Hadrian's Wall, all 84 miles and am really looking forward to it. The weather should be terrible, wet and windy but I figure if that is my expectation all should be well and I may even get a nice day or not. After my walk I will be spending a few days with my god kids, so expect to spend a little money while with them.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

August Catch Up

July has gone and the tax bill is paid for, for another six month. With the chaps from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs dealt with I feel very free to start planning my finances for the rest of the year.
But before I can get to excited I have to reveal that I have had to purchase a new computer as my last one died on me suddenly. I had had it for just over five years so it was to be unexpected I guess but none the least I hadn't plan to have to replace it just yet. Thankfully the local Curry's store was having a laptop sale on, so I was able to replace my computer for one that was more powerful but less than I had paid for my last one. (I always think that, that so great)
So my current finance plans are;
  • The computer purchase has been paid for via my Emergency Fund so I will need to start building that Fund up again.
  • Keep up planned saving, which are £500 into ISA and £300 into Regular Savings.
  • Set aside 28% of income for taxes and national insurance.
  • Share builder account depositing £100 per month.
I have decide my staycation will be in early September and did all the bookings at the end of July to keep the costs down. My travel is less than £40, that's for return train tickets to the north of England. Savings of about £100 for the travel and I also booked a night in a central London hotel for £49, which is also a very good price. For my trip I am going to walk Hadrian's Wall - all 84 miles of it!

Last month like June I did spend more than I should have on online purchases but ended the month on budget, which is always the main goal. Still debt free!

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Little Here, A Little There....

- oh dear I have been spending this month, and I so didn't want to go over my budget but have well and truly stuffed my goals for this month, in fact the only goal I will accomplish is my payment to my Regular Saving Account. I am treating all my regular savings as if they were debit payments, I have the amount I want to have saved by the end of the year and am paying it off each month.
So my over spend amount is £289.71 of which;
  • £49.95 on food items (incl. health food supplies, coffee's etc.)
  • £38.69 books (7 online purchases)
  • £6.89 vitamins etc.
  • £83.46 clothes (incl. hiking boots, socks, court shoes etc.)
  • £110.72 miscellaneous (incl. concert tickets for Oct.)
To meet my tax payment amount of £1,520 I will be £47.97 short of my budget and my spending had resulted in the demise of my current account buffer balance that I had built up over time. The one good thing I can say is that I do not have any debt (other than my tax bill), so it's a nuisance but not the end of the world.
My book purchases will not last me to the end of July - I am such a bookworm at the moment, keep finding great books to read and that's after I finished all the Lee Child books and thought I would never find anything I would like as much.
Was planning to take a stay-cation in August but have found out today that I will have to go either the end of July or wait till September. As my holiday will be an outdoor affair, weather is going to be a major factor and September can be very iffy in the UK. Also if I go in July I will have to use some credit (ie. go into debt) which I am not so keen to do.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Wow can you believe it
it's been 4 years since I first started

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

May Review

My three goals for the month of May were as follows:
  • Totally fund my Emergency Fund with £1k Done
  • Set aside £500 for my rates Done
  • Set aside £880 for my taxes Not completed
"Two out of three aren't bad" but it's not good either.

The good is that I have opened an e-ISA with £500 (that was meant for my taxes) and so it's not wasted just I have gotten ahead of myself in my savings goals. The remaining £380 however is mostly made up of unbudgeted spending for the month for things like my dental hygienist appointment, books, clothes, eating out as well as internet and mobile pay-as-you-go. The latter two items I really need to add to my monthly budget as they are reocurring costs. Next week I have another visit to the dentist, which is hopefully my last one for a while and I already know that it will be costing me £204. I am having an infulling and that comes in at the top banding for NHS dental chargers which is never more than £204. Thank goodness for the National Health Service (NHS) I guess?!

So at the end of May I have the following:
  • £1k in an Emergency Fund
  • £860 in a Regular Saving Account
  • £500 in an e-ISA
My three goals for June will be as follows:
  1. Set aside £1520 for taxes Done
  2. Put £340 into my RSA Done
  3. Keep my spending to my budgeted amount
Now just gotta do it.......

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Beginning Investing

Investing has been my hot search topic on Google this week and I have been doing lots of reading up on Stocks and Shares ISA's, Tracker Funds, Investment Trust, Unit Trust and everything related. I have had a Share builder account with the Halifax for a few years but because of debt wasn't able to add to it. I haven't found a better share dealer so will stick with the Halifax, they only charge £1.50 commission for each purchase and I also have to pay government Stamp Duty of 0.5%.
I have a small amount of shares in a single company but am planning to switch to a FTSE All Shares Tracker and set up a monthly deposit that I can set and forget. I only have one friend who is investing and he has only invested in a single tracker and that was through a financial adviser so I don't have anyone around me with any real knowledge on the subject.
So far I not impressed with the online sites about investing - if your an absolute beginner with no family contact or history ever in the world of investing - all the information in the world about what funds to buy and what cost to avoid are pointless if you don't know how and where to buy shares, unit trusts etc. But all is not lost; Motley Fool have some great investment advise in articles and also their Discussion Board, with all the what, how and where questions that most sites just don't answer. Too many sites tell you what you should do but not how to do it.

"Yes you should invest"
- great but unless you know how to go about it you are never going to invest are you!

Even now I am still not 100% sure on all the abbreviations used to name shares to understand what the share entails. I should go to the library and get one of those books out that explain the financial pages of the newspapers. They should have the break down on the abbreviations used.
Investing is for my long term goal which I should have started decades ago (well I sort of did then stopped a few times over the years) but now it the time to be very serious about it. I am only looking to put in £50 -£100 a month at this time but will increase this once I have sorted out my short and mid term goals.
Are you investing? Did you find it easy to start out?

Monday, 16 May 2011

May's Mid Month Update

My Emergency Fund is now fully funded, I know, I have done Dave Ramsey's steps in the wrong order but am now on to Baby Step three having completed the first two. Gosh I am so happy to get to this place in my finances. Not sure if I will be able to totally complete one of the goals I hope to achieve this month, that being putting aside £1k to pay towards my taxes. This amount I have to lowered to £800 which isn't to much of a problem as I have until the end of July to pay my next tax bill.
A few expenses have popped up so far this month which I needed to pay, like having to replace my ipod ear phones after dropping them into my coffee last Saturday week. Not a great day that one.
So far I haven't spent very much at all this month which I am happy about but I did order a book online which is the first of a series of seven books and I am really liking the first book!
Another book I purchased this month is 'I Will Teach You To Be Rich' by Ramit Sethi (UK edition) which I am finding very good reading. This is written as a six week programme and each chapter ends with action steps for each week. I have been following along with some of the recommendations, one being to check your credit rating which I did and my rating was 999. However some of the information from some banks was over a month old and it didn't show that I had paid off my Flexiloan. So I am very happy with that rate.
Other things that Ramit suggested were change your bank for better rates (did that last month) and automating monthly payments to avoid bank changes. He doesn't like to use the word 'budget' and instead calls it a 'conscious spending plan'.
All in all a great book if your starting out in your financial life - good basic steps to building your future, with not only good ideas but practical steps for you to do! I am up to chapter six and it deals with investing - that's something I had been planning to do next year but Ramit says start today. We will see.
How are your goals for May coming along? I'd love to hear from you......

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Sorting out my new financial landscape....

May has been the start of my saving plan, last month after fifteen years, I changed banks and have opened a regular saving plan with my new bank which allows me to save up to £300 a month at 8% for twelve months only. I plan to start up an e-ISA account (if your in the USA think Roth IRA or 401k sort of) once I have fully funded my emergency fund of £1k.
Where to put my emergency fund has been a problem as I want to get some interest from the account if possible and it needs to be an account I can have easy access too should I need it.
After looking at some comparison web sites I have decided on a Santander online account as it offers a half decent interest rate. Okay it's not every ones favorite bank but as it is online I am hoping to avoid as much contact as possible with the physical bank and hope the cyber side of Santander is better to deal with.
In my online Santander saving account I plan to save my emergency fund and also my income tax payments so this account will probably be holding a running balance of about £3k.
Once that is done I will open an e-ISA account, this will be for my (Dave Ramsey) baby step 3 ie. saving up 3-6 months of expenses. I plan to save a further £4k in this account.
Finally my regular saving account is to build up a deposit for a house (or what ever I decide to do with my section once I make up my mind). The accounts high interest is only for a year and I will not have saved enough so will have to go looking of another account to put the balance in.
So the plan is so far:

  • online saving account for (baby step 1.) Emergency Fund

  • e-ISA account (baby step 2.) Saving up 3-6 months expenses

  • regular saving account Saving up deposit for building plans
All of my plans so far just cover my financial plan for this current year and don't include any investing I would like to do in the future. Next year I would like to open an investment account, fund a second ISA account and also look at possibly opening a fixed term saving accounts. What do you think? Am I wrong and if so why?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Journey or Destination?

Saving is the journey to a destination or it it?

This is how I have always considered saving to be, I would have a goal or destination and then I would put aside money weekly, monthly etc until I had arrived at the goal amount. Always short term goals - usually saving for a trip or the latest gadget but there was a start and an end. I always had part time jobs when I was growing up - I was from a family of five kids and as a solo parent my Mum couldn't afford to give us pocket money. I paid for all my school stationary and school trips from aged about 12 years old onward. After leaving school at aged 16, I went straight into work and paid board to my Mum and was responsible for all my own finances from then on.

Is the journey about debt and not credit?

I got my first cheque account at aged 16 years but I didn't really do much in the way of saving at all. When did I get my first credit card, I really can't remember, I guess it didn't mean that much to open a credit card account. But I had one once I had started travelling around the world and good thing too as I had a couple of emergency's in my travels. But the bills were from then on always there waiting when I got back home. I would load my credit card before a trip, the idea being that the credit on the card was for emergency's but I always ended up spending my emergency money too.
From then on my 'saving' were going to pay off my credit cards and then my consolidation loans and then both my credit cards and consolidation loans. I had a destination or goal, the balance on my card and the journey to pay it off. Lots of journeys for lots of different accounts.

So where does the journey lead too, what is the destination?

Having just cleared all my debt I have just arrived (again) and it's a strange new world. Suddenly I have money in my current account with no where for it to go. Oh don't get me wrong I have a plan, a budget and goals but now I need to find places to put that money. I no longer have multiple credit card accounts to put my money in so there for I need to start looking for saving accounts with all the care I put into finding the best credit card deal.

The journey is over and now I must adjust to living in my new world, to learn the new customs and traditions that are practiced here. Already I am trying to fit in by opening a regular saving account but I know there is more to do and this week, for the first time in along time, there will be a credit balance left over after all my monthly expense have been taken out of my pay cheque.

I have ear marked this to be put towards my emergency fund but will need a new saving account to put this in as the regular saving account I have doesn't allow withdraws for the first twelve month. Should I have a saving account for only my emergency fund and a second saving account for other savings or just one account and save everything together?

I'm new here and am looking for advice!

Thursday, 28 April 2011

April Update

I've done very well I think this month and have clear my final loan which was my main goal. The other goals I set for myself in March were to save £300 and start my Emergence Fund with £60.00. The latter is the only goal I didn't complete and this is because I have been doing some spending this month (cash only of cause!). In total I have spent £174.22 which is the most I have spent since last December. Not all necessary I am sorry to say but I haven't gone crazy.
Okay so where am I financially?
I'm debt free!
I have started a regular saving account and have now deposited £560 into it.
(The account has an interest rate of 8% for twelve months and the maximum deposit per month is £300.)
My goals for May are as follows:

  1. Put £1K into an Emergency Fund

  2. Save £500 to pay my rates

  3. Save £1K towards my next income tax bill

I have the advantage of extra money this month as there are three bank holidays - two for Easter and one for the Royal Wedding. So that has paid off my spending of the month.

So enjoy Will and Kate's Wedding everyone - we're having a street party afterwards, the bunting is out and I now have some cooking to do! Lets all pray for no rain huh!!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Whoops..... I Did It Again!

Yep I did it again but this time I have a plan!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

It's why we are all here....

Debt sucks and I guess if you read pf blogs you're a debt hater - your probably in the red and are blogging away debt like I am. Getting freedom from debt whether you're a single broke female and are head over heels in debt or it's single guy money issues that have you wanting to kick debt off, we all want to leave debt behind. A budge, some bills and a lot of determination is the way to finding financial peace and for me getting out of debt again. Being a girl in debt, no more spending was the single saving grace to help me to becoming debt free 4 ever. My journey to eliminate debt has been helped by blogging about my so called financial life, this has made me realise that I wasn't the only single in debt and there were others who were an enemy of debt and wanted to punch debt in the face and scream give me back my five bucks. Musings of an abstract Aucklander and midlife Mom musings like our debt blog are out there to encourage us all to be a thousandaire and look after our magical penny. So if you're a single Mom, single income - ditching debt or if you are dealing with 50 plus finance matters our debt free path will lead us all to our destination: planet debt free, where the grass in greener and we can leave our ugly debt behind.

New Tax Year Starts Today

Yep it's the start of the new tax year of 2011/2012 and I am now waiting for my tax forms for last year to arrive having already worked out all the figures I need to complete them. Technicality I have made one payment toward the balance of my last years tax bill. The "Tax Man" (sorry I am not PC) always sends out a guesstimated statement in advance, of which I pay half in January and the second half in July, if when you submit your taxes you owe more than the guesstimate amount you pay the difference in the following January. What happens if you are owed money I can only guess at as I have never been in that situation. (You probably have the choice of a payment to your chosen bank account or a credit payment towards your next tax bill)
It was in about 2003 or 2004 when I got a call in about August from the HMRC (the tax man) to say that I owed £££ for the last tax year and I needed to pay immediately. Of cause I didn't have the money and told them so, to which I was told to take out a loan to pay the bill - which I did. Refinancing a loan I was currently paying off at the time in the process, all part of building my debt balance to the spine chilling £20k that got me blogging and looking for ways to get debt free.

Taxes are not fun but we all have to pay for the services etc, that we sometimes just take for granted. Whether you like the government or not taxes still have to be paid.

Personally I am happy that the current UK government is trying to pay down the countries debts - the sooner they do it the better for everyone but as I know from personal experience; it takes time, it's not easy and it means missing out on all those little treats that got me into debt in the first place.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

March Review

Goal for the month was to clear £1440 from my Flexiloan account but I am ending the month £215.54 short of that goal. Still not to worry I have opened a Regular Saving Account (RSA) and have deposited £260 into it. The account has an interest rate of 6.4% (net) and 8% (gross) but this is only for 12 months. Also by opening this account I will not have to pay the £10 monthly charge for my new current account. Sure the money deposited into the saving account would more than covers the short fall to my flexiloan payment but I'm happy to have the money in a high interest saving account.
Goals for April:

Flexiloan - clear the final £1627.76

RSA - add £300.00

Emergency Fund - add £60.00

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Quick Update

Got a text message this evening advising me that the text messaging service for my new bank will be activated within the next 10 days. So I take that as a yes, I am changing banks!! All my direct debts and standing orders will be transferred over for me and being the end of the month they have already been paid. Oh and I even get £100 for switching my current account.
Now I have to sort out what accounts I will need once I'm debt free - what saving accounts, ISA's and interest rates?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Changing My World......Financially!

Coffee jar snow flaking for March is £31.55, down from last month and £6.45 short of my monthly gym membership. I really have four days left till the end of the month but I will count the rest of the month as April.

Tomorrow I'll bank my last pay cheque for March and I'm hoping that it is the last time with my current bank as I'm hoping that I will be able to change banks this week. I have been wanting to change banks ever since last year when I was turned down for a 0% transfer balance credit card deal. All the interest and charges I have been paying over the years to my bank and with a really great credit report and they turn me down?

Tuesday should be when I hear from my new bank and I am hoping that all will be okay. I have a plan B bank just in case, my experience with UK banks has been ropey at best. I had no problem opening a bank account in the States but I went from bank to bank when I first arrived in London trying to open an account. The first bank that decided to risk it would only allow me to hold a basic bank account, so no cheque book and cheques took about 5 days to clear but they gave me a credit card after only 6 months. For three years I banked with them and applied three times for a current account and was turned down each time. A bank clerk from another bank encouraged me to apply with her bank and I had no problem opening a current account. Since then my second bank has changed name and over the last few years has gone down hill as far as I am concerned and I want out.

So fingers crossed for Tuesday.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Missing March's Goal by Two Fillings

In light of my February review I will not be able to achieve my goal for March to pay £1440.00 off my Flexiloan but unlike my over spend in February, this time it is an unforeseen expense.

The joy of the NHS (Nation Health Service) is that you don't have to pay for any medical expense (well you do as it is included in our tax bills) but what is not covered by the NHS is dental and optical costs. So things like eye tests, glasses prescription or tooth fillings, root canals and the like are not free.

So a way over due visit to the dentist is going to knock my payment plan this month and even though it's only £45.60 this visit (two filling and x-ray), I have been advised that I will need to return in June and will need further treatment then which is going to cost the a lot more. Not looking forward to that visit I can tell you.
This will all be putting my DFD back a week or so which is not what I really want but that's life!

Monday, 14 March 2011


It's half way through March and my finances are okay, everything is on budget and I haven't been buying things online. However my snow flaking isn't so good and I have only saved about £17.00 or so. This money is to cover my gym membership which I have been informed by letter will increase as of the first of April by £2.00 to £38.00 a month. Yes finally I can say that government cuts have caught up with me but only via my gym which is run by the local borough council.
One thing I keep telling myself to do is change banks and I have more or less decided which bank to change too. Why should I be loyal to a bank that turned me down when I applied for a new credit card transfer balance deal last year. It's been a rather one side relationship with me paying lots of interest and my bank ignoring me and just take, take, taking. Time to forget my loyalty and say good bye. Breaking up is hard to do.
Will this effect my credit rating? Should I care too much about that if I am getting rid of all my credit accounts anyway? What do you think?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

February Review

Having crunched the numbers for my spending last month I find that I've spent £63.98 that I didn't need too and a further £25.00 for expenses that weren't budgeted for. The £63.98 relates totally to Internet purchases and that means £60.00 less going to pay off my Flexiloan in February which is not good news.
The £25.00 is for my mobile phone and wifi both are pay-as-you-go and well the wifi is used way more than the mobile - I really don't like mobile phones much. Am I the only weird person?
Blogging is my way of being accountable with my finances, so I feel I should be precise in what I want to achieve for this month.

Current Flexiloan balance is £2,852.22 and I would like to pay £1,440.00 by the end of March bring the balance of my total debt to £1,412.22.

Well that's the plan now I need to step out and "just do it"!
Be brave and be different!
Rock the flock and live like no one else!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

End of the month and all is not well!

The total balance from my coffee jar for February is £59.25 a further £18.25 added since last week, great snowflaking or what and very needed too. I have told a few of my friends and family that for me this is the year of the bitch! Yep I need to focus on clearing my debt (again) and saving up the start of a deposit for a house - so no little gifts etc,. to anyone. But okay I did buy two books on Amazon for my oldest God-daughter as she loves the Wilma Tenderfoot book I got her ages ago, and had asked if I could get her the latest book but found that there were two new books as this is a kid who never asks for very much and has had it really bad these last few months, how could I not get both?
Still my debt total is now below 3K and only two months till it's gone for good!
The only cloud for the month is that the direct debit for my gym membership was take from my account today the last day of February. This is not due till March, so I am not very happy about this and will speak to the manager tomorrow when I go for a work out. This had put my account into debit and I am now worried that I will incur a bank charge because of this. I have since deposited money into the account to correct it.
Don't some things make you wanna go Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa......

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Fiver A Day

With still a week and a pay cheque to go till the end of February - I am way ahead of myself with my coffee jar savings.
For the last forever it seems, I have been living on £5 a day and each day when I get home I put all my change into a empty coffee jar. I have counted the contents today and it totals £42.05, up from £32.85 in January. This I will bank on Monday as it more than covers my gym membership for next month. (Talking of the gym, I have been there 5 times this week - am I good or what?)
Living on £5 a day is more than possible - I find it very hard to justify spending any monies really but did when I succumb twice this week to a Portuguese custard tart (they really are so heavenly).
The idea for £5 a day came after reading Kath Kelly's book "How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day" back in January 2009, I take my hat off to Kath she is amazing but I like to live a little larger!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Financial Freedom Blueprints

I have been reading lots of older blogs and found this from (dated 17 September 2010) which I thought might be good to consider.
  1. Do you know your financial situation?
  2. Are you doing something about it?
  3. Do you have a written budget?
  4. Do you have an emergency saving fund?
  5. Do you have health insurance?
  6. Do you have life insurance?
  7. Do you have a written will?
  8. Does someone else know where you keep all these important documents?

How did I answer?

  1. Yes I do!
  2. Yes I sure am!
  3. I most certainly do!
  4. Ahhhmmm...working on it!
  5. Not really something I need worry about as I live in the UK and have the NHS.
  6. Yes I do - not sure how great my insurance is but I have some.
  7. No - need to deal with this I guess as I do have some property.
  8. Something else I need to sort out.

See there you go - this is a good exercise to flag up some areas I need to deal with, with regards to my finances and it could be for you too.

Question 4 is also Dave Ramsey's Baby Step 1 and currently I have no emergency fund at all. My excuses for this is I plan to be out of debt by April so am snowballing all monies to clear my debt and will start paying in an emergency fund once the debt is all gone. Okay, so I am doing Baby Step 2 (Snowball debt) first but I have a method to my madness which is simply this - I am paying off a revolving credit account so you could say my emergency fund is being funded and going into the revolving credit account to keep the interest payments down. However it is there should I need it. Can I get away with this? Do you think Dave would approve?

Question 7 One of the problems I have with living overseas is that I am never sure if I should set up financial things in the UK or back home and this is another one of those things. I have a lawyer back home I should have a chat to about this issue.

Question 8 An easy one to deal with as I have a file for all my important documents and I think making copies of everything and sending them to a family member I can trust is probably a good idea. (Don't get the wrong idea about my family, I trust them all but some more than others if you know what I mean).

One question that is not including on the list and I feel should be is:

9. Do you have a pension?

I don't and it's something I am worried about, with hind sight I wished I had started a Stakeholders pension when they first came out about a decade ago. Another area that living overseas makes very hard to decide on.

How did you do? And what do you think of question 9 should it be added?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Whats In Your Wallet?

I did this back in July 2008 but thought why not do it again it's been a while, what is cluttering up my wallet (or purse as I call it). It's a bit early for spring cleaning but a February clear out is okay I guess.

The before picture of my purse

Yes, a new purse my old one just got too tattie. While going through it I came across a card I really do need to deal with, it's an internet account ATM card with only about £20 in it, I should check out the interest rate currently on the account and decide if I keep it or not. Saving accounts and the like are something I am looking at currently and I will do a blog on this subject at some point I am sure.

Now all is revelled

  • cash £10 (2x five pound notes)
  • cash 15 dirhams (currency from UAE)
  • cash 10,000 shillings (currency from Uganda)
  • Bone Marrow donor card (do you have one? if no why not?)
  • Blood donor card (again you should have one of these unless you have a medical excuse)
  • Red Cross Resuscitation Card (helpful info should I even need to be reminded)
  • book of 1st class stamps (10 left)
  • Costa coffee card (still got about .90p on this)
  • Caffe' Nero loyalty cards (4 cards completed so that's 4 free coffees)
  • Cafe bb's loyalty card (don't go to this one often)
  • M&S loyalty card (new card)
  • House of Fraser loyalty card (don't like the coffee here so should give this one away)
  • Padi card for Open Water Diver (very proud of this one)
  • Orange Mobile Phone card (back in action as I am back to pay as you go)
  • Boots Advantage Card (one of my favourites)
  • Tesco Club Card (not been using this one very much)
  • Nectar Card (this has been a winner lately)
  • Waterstone's Card (don't go there often these days)
  • HSBC Debit Visa Card (not had a lot of joy with this overseas as you know)
  • Abby ATM Card (bank changed its name to Santandar - need to check out this account)

So what is inside your wallet, need to have a clear out? Do you have credit cards lurking in there - ready to tempt you or cards that are maxed out there to depress you? Take a stand and sort out what's in your wallet!

Friday, 4 February 2011

February 2011 and all is well!

Very well actually - (big drum roll) - today I cancelled my Barclaycard and also my CreditExpert account. Yes I really did it!! (big smile and happy dance) And I feel really go about it too.

Dave would be so proud!!

My CreditExpert account is only £6.99 a month but as I am clearing my credit accounts and closing them my credit rating is not really of interest to me, should I need to check my rating for any reason I can do that for a one off payment of about £5.99 or so. Paying £6.99 each month for information I really already know is pointless.

Often it's those little things that leave your current account by direct debt etc. which can really add up over the months and years. I have been looking at every direct debit and standing order that I have on my current accounts to see if I really need them. Am I getting my monies worth from the services I am paying for?
My goal for this year is so far to save a £5k credit cushion, this will fulfil two of Dave Ramsey's Baby Steps of 1. Save a £1,000 Emergency Fund and 3. Save 3 to 6 months of expenses. I am already working on Baby Step 2. Paying of all debt.
Other goals are really to just save money and build up a deposit for a house. Where to put my savings is my current obsession - I'm a little ahead of my self I know but you gotta dream huh!

Monday, 31 January 2011

Month's End

It's the last day of January, the day my first tax payment is due for the year ending in April and I am happy to say that the payment has been made. Next tax payment is due at the end of July and I am budgeting to have the monies put aside before that payment in due, once I have cleared my debt in April.

All my debt is now held in my Flexiloan account - an account I want to cancel once I clear it but I think I have said that before. Still everything and anything is being done on my part to clear that last £4k and get back to that better place of "debt freeness"!

Today is the last day of the month but yesterday was my last pay day for the month and so I have to wait until Thursday for the money to clear - I 'll update my debit amounts then.

Coffee jar amount is £32.85 and I have banked this amount to go towards the £36 gym membership payment which is not due until March. So not bad, I have saved just over a weeks spending money in the last four weeks and if I can keep that up each month I will be very happy.
Tomorrow I am attending a birthday lunch and I have been able to buy a gift using my Nectar card points, so my £5 a day budget is still working well. I also have a Booths card with lots of lovely points on that should I need them.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Countdown To Clearing Debt

This week I received a cheque for a savings investment plan I had and after much thought I have decided to use it to clear my debt sooner. Having decided this I have banked the cheque into my Flexiloan account, which is my smaller debit and also has a lower interest rate than my credit card debit. This in turn made me think about clearing the card with the Flexiloan account, which should save me a little in interest.

Tomorrow my direct debit payment is taken for my flexiloan so I will wait until after that before I use the credit available to clear my credit card. Then I will have only one account to clear and all at a lower interest rate, going from 19.9% to 17.9%.
I have set up a snowball plan on and it says that I will be debit free by the end of April (only four months to go!).

I have been playing around with my budget and have worked out that I can pay all my monthly expenses, spending etc. in my first weeks pay, that leaves me with three weeks pay left to use to snowball my debit. Also the money I have been saving in my jar each week is going towards my monthly gym membership of £36.00. This helps to round off my budget to cover all my monthly expenses in my first weeks pay.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Good, Bad Or Ugly?

My Visa Debit Card, good, bad or ugly?
Last year I had the opportunity to use my new Visa Debit Card overseas - when I took it with me on my visit home (that's New Zealand if your new to the blog). I loaded it, having been assured by my bank that it would work just like a Visa Credit Card and with great anticipation handed it over to refuel my rental car.
No go! (as they say back home) - the petrol station with all the up to date gadgets and gizmo's for making payments by credit cards and the like, couldn't get my card to work.
Not put off by this I felt that is was just a glitch and that maybe it was just a one off so handed my card over again, this time at the Warehouse (think Walmart or the like) but once again, no go!
I try once or twice more before heading for the nearest branch of my bank. They were as helpful as a pork chop at a Jewish wedding! The name and logo may be the same but as far as the staff were concerned I was not a customer of the back.
Now just to let you know my Visa Debit Card did work in all the different bank ATM's in New Zealand, which always chargers you for the privilege if you are using a foreign card. However my last "non" Visa Debt Card worked in all the ATM's also, so it is not an improvement.
So good, bad or ugly - well for me it's differently ugly!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Gosh it is well into January and time is flying again.
I have listed a load of books I have been reading in the past year on and check each morning to see if I have a sale or not, usually not but I have sold about four books since mid December. Snow flaking is up and running then.
I was given some money to look after a neighbours dog over the New Year and used that as my spending money up until this week and so haven't until today taken any money out for day to day use.
Went out and had coffee with friend today and he paid so that saved me some money. My £5 a day spending plan is an old habit I enjoy and I have started once again to put what I don't spend into a coffee jar - a little more snow flaking (every little helps - as they say at Tesco's).
My current account has not looks so health since before I went on holiday, the drag is that I will have to use most of it to pay my end of January taxes. Still at least they will be paid up and done with, Frugal Dad calls tax debt - Ugly Debit! And I agree you don't mess with the tax man.
Still I will end the month in credit, my tax bill cleared and having paid more than the minimum payment for both my debt accounts.
Off to the gym tomorrow so that will mean another fiver in the jar and a pound or two lost? Oh well here's hoping!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

2011 Clearing my head

Oh Man!!!
It's the start of the year again and the Tax man is waiting for his cut at the end of the month and once again I am using my January pay checks to clear it, not the worse part even. While on my second holiday to NZ last year (yes that is correct - second) I have clocked up debt on my credit card and my flexiloan. So now is the time to get rid of both.
An emergency situation with my god kids has meant that I have added to the trip debt on my card. Not what I had planned but as they are my god kids I do feel I had to do what I could.
So back to clearing debt, something I have to deal with every time I come home from a holiday.
My flexiloan is up to £2,500 and my card is at about £3,700 not including my tax bill which is just over £2.5k.
The Tax I will clear by the end of January - no problem and then it is just working on snowballing the card and loan, something I am aways doing. I am back to my £5 a day budget and will start up going to the gym (yep put a few pounds back on will away too).
As VAT was raised to 20% from yesterday I am sure the gym has changed it's prices, so will need to check what it is now. My coffee is 10p more than it used to be and that has got to be more than 20%. Thank goodness the gym is a monthly pay deal that you can stop at any time, should my job end and I need to move on.
Closing both my flexiloan and credit card are going to be quite hard to be honest. That is where the emergency funds account comes into being I guess. Does that mean I need to have about £5K+ in an emergency account to feel financially safe? Weird when you really think about it, will I be different about it if it was my own money and not borrowed from a bank? Lets hope so!!
Goals 1. to clear my debt 2. save emergency fund of £5000 3. savings over and above this amount to fund house building fund.
So that is all settled - see easy - what made it seem so hard to sort it all out.