Hello Dear Readers,
Especially you! The new one, the reader who’s reading this site for the first time today. My stats have grown recently showing footfall has increased by hundreds visitors a day. I can only guess it’s because people have had the ‘Oh Fuck!’ moment when they’ve looked at their finances this January. Don’t worry, you will get through it. I did! I survived and I’m going to tell you how I got out of the deepest shit and made it to where I am today.
I started, like many of you will, with complete cold turkey. I cut up every credit card and stopped spending any money. A lot had to to go. I looked at the stupid money wasting first. I looked at mobile phone contracts and gave notice, then I looked at satellite TV and gave them notice. I looked at contracts I was in that I could get out of, or get a better deal for. I looked at gas and electricity suppliers and got a new, cheaper supplier. I moved debts to 0% transfer deals and I turned the central heating timer……….off! I crossed everything off the shopping list that wasn’t part of a ‘meal’ and I stopped eating between meals.
I then looked at every bill, which in my case, back in 2009, were mainly debts and looked at our income. I paid the maximum I could afford to pay on every single one and on one debt, I over paid massively and I got rid of debts, just one at a time. Most importantly, I made a budget. If I had £20 a week to spend on diesel, then I would get £20 a week out of the bank and buy £20 worth of diesel, then drive like a granny to make it get me to work and back all week. For a very long time, I could get a weekly train ticket for the price of diesel, so I did. It saved me money on tyres and wear and tear. I cancelled holidays, I know I lost the deposits, but I decided that I was not going to go on holiday ever again, until I was debt free. I stuck to that and it’s one of the reasons I paid off my debts sooner.
I stopped kidding myself that ‘I deserved it’ or ‘I didn’t have time’ or ‘I needed it’. I used to think ‘I don’t have time to cook from scratch, what bollocks that was! Of course I did, just watch less TV! I didn’t need hairdressers, a total stranger to de-hair my hairy bits, or a new set of clothes every year! If you, like I was, are in debt, you have to get on a cash diet and cook every thing………because it makes economic sense, holiday at home………..because it makes economic sense and buy a pack of 21p value razors! I stopped kidding myself that I needed to go to weddings, parties, the work do, the retirement do. I couldn’t afford it. If I couldn’t afford to celebrate my own birthday and we’d given up buying each other presents then we really couldn’t afford to go to anyone else’s! After a while, saying ‘sorry but no’ is your standard answer. If you think you can go, but you’re still in debt then you are deluding yourself!
One of the hard things to do, which I feel liberated from now as I don’t do it any more, is giving up ‘going to the shops’. If you still do this, just stand back and watch the zombies shuffling round for want of anything better to do. Get a hobby. Get your bike out of the garage and get on it. Take up a craft, grow veg, become a volunteer in your community. These don’t cost any money. You can borrow ordinance survey maps from the library, do so and get out for a walk. Any sturdy shoes will do………..don’t get suckered into needing an expensive bike, or expensive walking boots – just do with what you have.
Well, I’m not in debt any more. I still budget, I still have the lights and heating switched off. I still have a five minute shower every other day. I still wash in a plastic bowl full of water and then flush the loo with that water, we still stand in a plastic stacking box in the shower and use that water to flush the loo. We still use our mini oven, we still go to the supermarket with a list which we devised from a menu plan. I still sell stuff on ebay to make a bit more money. I still use the library and don’t buy books. I still dry washing outside or in front of my wood fire. I still don’t use the central heating.
I know how hard it is to set your mind to do something and stick to it! It is hard to not spend money, it is hard to not have holidays, it’s hard to live in a cool house (I don’t freeze, but it’s certainly not hot). I understand perfectly well what it’s like to go without and sometimes it is completely and utterly shite! I’ll give you and example. I went on a medical appointment in a town and went for a walk round that town as I was early. I went in the charity shops for a look and even they were stupidly expensive. I did see some lovely jeans, I saw some vintage china and I saw some crafty items and I could have bought any of them. I went in some real shops, which is something I rarely do, I gasped audibly when I saw a lovely dress and it was £75! I know a cash diet is very very hard.
To those of you, in desperate need of help to stick to a financial plan, that you’ve got the sense to make yourself, all I can say is that years later, it’s still hard. Giving up spending is as hard as giving up smoking and eating! It’s what we do! It’s what everyone else is doing around you when you’re not doing it. I can’t lie to you, it will always be hard. It was hard for me not to shop and it’s going to be hard for you too.
If you’ve turned the heating timer down, it will be hard to get used to a cooler house. If you go shopping to Tesco with a list, guess what……….that’ll be hard too. However, it’s not as hard as the options of staying in debt and just throwing money at the interest which just keeps growing and growing. The only way to get on top of finance and, essentially, your future is to go on a cash diet and stick to it.
If you’re a new reader, then leave me a comment, become a follower and let me know who you are. Email me if you want any first hand advice or if I can help in any way. If truth be told, I wish I’d had someone to talk to when it was really really rough. Any one else out there on a cash diet? Leave a comment and tell us all how you’re getting on.
Love Froogs xxx