Up to your neck in it?



Hello Dear Reader,

Thank you for emailing me, I’ll do all I can to help. You told me about your debts and asked if I could give any advice. I’ll do my best.

You’ll need to pick your moment as a family to do this. A quiet evening, when the children are tucked up and away. You will need to decide, based on their ages, how much you share. If they are young, or even if they are older, they don’t need the bare details. Just as much as they can bear. You will need to be brave and take a deep breath.

Then promise each other you’re both going to be totally honest.

To start, make sure you know the total of all the money coming in: wages/salary, child benefit, any tax credits or maintenance. Include everything and come to a monthly figure.

Next, work out everything that goes out and don’t miss anything out. You may have to do this by keeping every receipt for a week and then multiplying that by four to approximate a month’s spending. You’ll also need to know of every bill you pay and work out what that will be monthly. A notepad, pencil and, if you wish, a calculator is required.

Things you may not have included: sweets, treats for the children, school trips, charity donations, for example Christmas Jumper day, red nose day, Children in need….they all add up. School lunches, bus fares, car repairs, coffee with a friend, birthday presents, Christmas presents, dog food, vets bills, home maintenance and repairs. Some of these will be good guesses but always over guess and not under.

You’ll then have two figures. One will be less than you thought and the other will be more than you thought.

You will have a holy **** moment here. It’s ok, really, it’ll be ok……..eventually.

If your outgoings are more than your incomings then you are going to have to start trimming anything you both consider to be unnecessary immediately. If your outgoings equal your incomings then you will have to do exactly the same. My advice to anyone even if they are not in debt is to make sure they have a contingency each month for savings even if that’s just 1 or 2% of your after tax income. Anything is a start.

Savings (bit like ****ing Brexit!) can be hard of soft. We chose rock ****ing hard and paid our debts off as quickly as possible. You can choose the hard debt repayment or the softer option. With children, you might need somewhere in between.

So, tough mother version of debt repayment?

Mortgage/rent has to be paid.

Council tax has to be paid.

Minimum payments on any debts have to be paid or you could face the courts.

Gas/electricity/water has to be paid BUT! you can seriously cut these easily. 1. Make sure you are on the lowest tariff available 2. If you have a small family and can be disciplined get a water meter and drastically reduce your water consumption. 3. Turn off lights in rooms you are not in 4. Don’t heat rooms you don’t use 5. Reduce the hours of heating by five minutes a day until you’ve reduced it by 30 minutes in just six days. After 20 days, you’ll have reduced it by two hours a day and you’ll have got used to it by minutes a day. 6 turn the heating thermostat down by one degree a day until you’ve all adjusted to living at 19 degrees C. 7. Indoors, wear slippers, jumpers, put another duvet on the bed. 8. go to bed a bit earlier each day. All a bit obvious I’m afraid.

Set a food budget of £2 a day per person. I promise you that’s enough. Get your basics cook books out and get cooking from scratch. Soups, veggies stews, hotpot, pies and good old fashioned recipes that’ll sustain, nourish. Get yourself to the local market, Lidl, Aldi or look out for the veg deals in Morrisons. Stock up your freezer with frozen food such a chicken pieces, frozen plain fish, minced meat like pork or beef. Go own brand, go bulk buy!

Set a budget of £5 a week for toiletries for the family – a quick trip round Poundland on pay day once a month. Look out for the toiletries in Lidl and Aldi. I never use any toiletries except Aldi’s as I think they are so good.

Set a £10 a month budget for cleaning/laundry products. I always get these from Lidl (my local Lidl and Aldi are on the same street – Union st in Plymouth – on my way home) I buy Lidl’s largest laundry liquid for about £2.75 and that lasts two of us a month. I also work on the basis that if it isn’t dirty, doesn’t smell then it doesn’t need washing.

To save money on laundry, judiciously watch the weather report and launder when there’s a gap in the weather and you can hang it outside. With a family, using a tumble drier might be inevitable but that’s just not in rock hard debt repayment…..the choice is yours.

So, that’s a roof over your head, the bills paid, the house and yourselves clean and warmish and fed…………..everything else is optional. You must decide from here on what is important.

I could tell you what we did but you must make your own choices.

In the rock hard repayment system, you take anything that’s left and throw everything at debts. We chose the smallest debt first. We paid the minimum payment on everything else and paid extra on one debt until that was paid. We then took that entire amount we’d paid on the smallest debt and added that to the next smallest debt and paid that plus the minimum repayment on that debt. We then just did that month after month after month until we’d paid everything back.

Whilst we did that we: got another job each, took over time, sold anything we didn’t need on ebay and bought nothing at all for almost a year. It’s amazing what you can do without.

You have children at home so you have to decide what’s right for you.

I’d also like you to investigate professional debt advice from Christians Against Poverty  or Step Change  as one or both might operate in your areas. Don’t go to anyone else please as they could charge your money and add to your debt instead of helping you work them out.

These really are just the basics but in summary; know how much you have, cut your spending to the absolute limit and direct as much as you can towards debt repayment.

You can but do your best and take care of yourselves.

I’ll speak to you all again on Saturday.

Until then,

Love Froogs xxxx





Tackling debt and money head on!!!

Hello Dear Reader,

I’ve been to the slimming club tonight and I’m as inspired by the honesty of why people are not losing weight as I am with the weight loss. To be honest, I’m quite good at sticking to something and allowing myself the odd bit of cheese or a sweet as a small treat and when I’m focused I am totally ‘on it’! I learned that from paying off debt, I took it head on and mustered up all my discipline every day and totally stuck at it. Now, I’m comfortable, I can make measured and budgeted purchases. (I bought DB a new bike at the weekend and I just loved being able to do that as I’d saved the money to get it for him.)

In the main, I know I’m preaching to the choir but I’m always aware that you dear reader, may have searched online for help or advice about tackling debt and some how you arrived here. I don’t just write here but write for other websites too. 

Take a look here at – Three simple steps to tackle debt.

as we’ve got one coming up this weekend, take a look at Bank Holidays Don’t Mean a Trip to the Bank

and as everyone needs to look at their budget every now and then Take time to budget

And!!!! As there’s a school half term break next week think about how you can stretch the fun without stretching the budget 

School holiday part 1.

School holiday part 2.

Finally, think about how you keep a rein on the purse string and are literally The Chancellor of your own exchequer.

I hope you find any of this useful. You can leave a comment here and let me know if you don’t want it published. You can use the contact details above to get in touch with me. I know some of you are waiting to hear back and I will take time in my half term to answer in more detail. 

I always love hearing from you and feel free to get in touch.

Happy reading and I’ll be back tomorrow,

Oh…..the slimming club? I lost another 1.5lbs so 9lbs down in total. I hope to be a stone (14lbs) lighter by the end of June. Like paying down debt or controlling a budget, I know it can be done and I also know that it takes time and I have to stick at it.

Love Froogs xxxxx

Walk this way!

Hello Dear Reader,

As I promised you this morning, here is my reply to your email. Thanks for agreeing to me answering on here and allowing this ‘quandry’ to be thought about in the open. I’ll let that phrase ‘in the open’ rest with you a while and let you think about it.

Here without any details of who or where are the issues: decent job, a life style to maintain and most of it is for show and all funded by credit that you will pay later. It’s now amassed to thousands . One of the partnership feels duty bound to maintain this lifestyle whilst you, who wrote to me are worried and want a different way. The words that struck a chord with me and will with many who read this is that you are ‘at your wits end with worry’. So many people in debt lose sleep, their health suffers and their children are affected by the worry of their parents. Debt can and does cause severe mental health problems which can lead to more debt and more worry. It can be a downward spiral but here’s the positive thing. You’ve asked for help and here’s my public promise to you…….I’m with you every step of the way!

Your partner is still in the earn it, spend more that they earn and keep spending phase of this issue and you want advice. Well here it is! If he can’t help himself, if he’s spiraling ever downwards then you are going to have to use shock tactics and take control of the situation. You know how much the debt is so I assume from that that you are aware of: overdrafts, credit cards, car payments and loans. You must also be aware of monthly amounts and payment schedules. If not then, by any means, find out. Get all of the facts and figures and sorry to mention this, but the figure you think is the final amount may be smaller than you think. 

You are going to need to find out a set of figures: total monies coming in and total monies going out. You will need to track all spending for a month: fuel, car costs, running costs, all direct debits and keep every receipt. Where do you spend money? Do you eat takeaways? eat in restaurants? buy clothes? go on day trips? weekends away? have club memberships? wine club memberships? occasional spending…….those trips to Tesco for a top up soon stack up? You need to get a picture of who spends what, when and what are you buying?

The big part of this that most people avoid is confrontation, challenge and change and you are both going to have to face up to all of these. If you’ve never had a row about money before, then you are just about to. There will be upset, crying, door slamming and emotional purging. One of you is having an affair with spending and the other is being cheated on! For some people this is a deal breaker but a real, strong and truly loving relationship will survive this. If one of you has the financial control, spends everything and leaves the partner worrying about this then you’ve got one heck of a domestic on your hands. All you can do is put on your big girl’s knickers and your Wonder woman cape and dig in for a long slog.

The good news! Your debts are half your annual income. Ours were two thirds of our joint annual income (at the time, we earn less now) and with total determination and short term deprivation we made our way out of debt in less than two years. If you pledge one third of your after tax income per month to debt repayment, you can be out of debt in two years. Any one can suffer any lifestyle change for such a short space of time.

Now here’s the only tough bit if one of you is living a lie and that big fat smelly lie is trying to keep up with the Jones when you can’t afford it. Be honest!!! You can turn down invites for a couple of years because you are trying to improve your family’s finances. That’s all you need to say. Yes, some people will be numpties and challenge that but you don’t have to grace them with any sort of answer. Let them think what they like! We told people we were paying off debts and were not ashamed to say we are improving our family finances. If people didn’t like it then they can lump it! We didn’t go anywhere or do anything until we were debt free and now we are, we still mostly turn down invites as we still don’t have money to throw away. If I can’t turn up to your wedding in my ordinary clothes then you don’t want the real me so what am I going for? 

Yes, people, usually in debt themselves, will do the willy waving, look at my: car (on finance), holiday (on the credit card), flashy kitchen (on a bank loan) and try and impress you. If you are genuine friends, then carry on being genuine friends but start to weed out the chaff of the fakers, piss takers and hangers on and rid yourselves not only of debt but the dusty collection of people with bad habits who are more interested in what you have instead of a genuine friendship where people can be honest with each other. Think of it this way, if you’d given up alcohol, would you still stand in a boozy pub with a bunch of drunks whilst you were sipping on barley water? It’s just not compatible. You may need to move on and keep on moving.

So lovvie, here is the summary. Get the facts – what do you owe? what are the monthly repayments? what are you spending money on? The tough bit, you’ve got to woman up! He’s got his head up his **** and you’re worried sick. It’s time for you to have equal say and if you want the debts gone then you’ve really go to show him how it can be done by looking at what you can stop spending money on to free up money to pay off debts. Remember the figure, one third of your after tax income needs to go on debt repayment a month.

1. Build up an emergency fund first – we worked on £500 in the bank that was for real emergencies! Christmas is not an emergency, it’s an annual occurrence!!

2. List all your debts from smallest to largest.

3. Keep paying the minimum payment on all of them.

4. Take one third of your after tax income and throw it all the smallest debt first.

5. When that is all gone, take all the money you were paying on that debt and move it to the next and keep paying the minimum payment on that debt too (minimum payment + third of after tax income).

6. By my calculations, you should have all your debts gone in two years! If you have a good credit score then use interest free credit cards to move debts into and pay off debt quicker. Make sure you pay off the balance before the free credit is up. Use price comparison sites to get the best deals on this such as Go compare. 

With the two thirds of your after tax income break that down into:

1. Mortgage.
2. Utilities – switch and save – get the best deals
3. Insurances – use price comparison site and also cashback sites to get the best deals plus cashback.
4. Food – switch down, go down a brand, use generic, shop in the local market, Lidl, Aldi and buy supermarket basic. Home cook, bulk cook, menu plan and set a budget each week and stick to it.
5. Transport to work costs – you’ve got to keep your jobs. Find a price for servicing and start setting aside a monthly amount to cover the cost when it’s due. Cost £300 so you need to set aside £25 a month into an account to pay for this. if your bus fare, train pass is a regular amount to commute to work then this is at the top of your priorities. 
6. Clothes, your child is growing so clothe him/ her – there are good clothes for children in Primark, Tesco, Asda and you don’t need to spend much. You and your husband are not growing so make so with what you have! Sell excess clothes on ebay and keep clothes in a Paypal account to use for vitals such as new work shoes, bras, boxers or tights. 
7. Sell everything you don’t need – use the money to pay off debts.
8. Only buy birthday and Christmas presents for children, the adults can get by with a token….who doesn’t love a shower gel or bar of chocolate! If they need impressing then ask yourselves about the kind of shallow plonkers you hang round with! 
9. Set aside 5% from the two thirds of your after tax income for saving, this will pay for school trips, hair cuts and real necessities. Make up is not a necessity……….Mua in Superdrug or Aldi’s make up if it is vital to you but get used to buying 98% less than you every used to. 
10. Money left at the end of the month? Move it one month into a savings account and one month as a debt over payment. 

Now here’s the most important one! Earn extra money!!! All of that money will go to an ongoing emergency fund that needs topping up. If the washing machine breaks down, the car needs new tyres, your only shoes have a split in the sole, then you need to turn to savings as you can not add one penny to the debts. This is the first phase of the new way of living, you only spend real money. Your own, that you’ve earned that month or saved from previous months. This amount will be meagre to some but it’s the realistic amount of money that you have and be proud of it. You’ve earned it, it’s yours. It will be more than some but less than others. It will have to be enough as now, that’s all there is!

Here’s the target date, in May 2017, you will be debt free! You will have a disposable income of one third of your after tax salary per month. 

It is possible.

Now gird your loins, you’ve got a blinkered, stubborn, resistant to change man to nudge firmly in the right direction. Be loving, be charming, be kind but be firm! You will need to love each other more than ever over the next two years and at times, you both will be all you have to keep yourselves going. 

Keep in touch lovvie and good luck.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx

Quiet Restraint

Hello Dear Reader,

Life isn’t all about saving money, you only live once. Someone said to me recently. Well, we live everyday and we only die once. There are still plenty of thing that I can do one day that I don’t have to do immediately. We don’t have to go to the cinema, theatre, meals in restaurants and we can happily keep saving money and preparing for our future.
I was trying to explain UK politics to my young hairdresser ( as I’ve said before I will pinch every penny but I no longer skimp on my hair) who was worried about her long term financial future. It’s tricky one, I told her but you have to say no and go without. We only earn so much money and we can have it now or in the future but it won’t be enough for both. I didn’t have those choices at her age, I was at home with two small children and had no money whatsoever. I had no job so no money touched my hand – I was married and then, that was the way it was. Now, people seem ( in over hearing general chat in the hair dressers) busy having ‘fun’. Nights out, weekends away, clothes accessories, nails and hair for every occasion appear to be the norm for so many people. 
Now I don’t profess to know anyone else’s circumstances but who can genuinely afford it all. I explained to my incredulous hair dresser that she needs to pay one quarter of her income into a pension now and another quarter into savings. She then explianed that most of her income went on having a good time and life was for living. I gave my rather forlorn prediction that by the time she retired that state help may no longer exist and if she wanted to eat and keep a roof over her head without either rent or mortgage that she needed to make entire working life sacrifices to pay for it. 
What’s the answer?
I really don’t know but some solutions could be…
1. Whilst young, unmarried or still at home, save 3/4’s of your income.
2. House share or rent just a room for 5-10 years until you have a deposit.
3. Don’t assume you can ever get by with just one job.
4. Whilst you’re young and fit, work all hours and save.
5. Buy a house as soon as you can and keep that house for life- don’t upgrade, we’d all have paid off our mortgages by now if we’d stayed in our first homes.
6. Don’t expect to have your own home, a pension, savings and fancy holidays, cars, hobbies, meals out.
7. Keep taking qualifications and building your skill base, lots of these have to be supplied by employers.
8. When you get a home, furnish it second hand, learn to make do and mend.
9. If you can, buy a home with chimneys and when you can fit a wood burner. From then on, prepay for your heating and dry your laundry in front of the fire.
10. Other than a mortgage, never borrow any money.
11. Unless you have high incomes, or you are prepared to go without, don’t have children. Or have them anyway and pay someone else to bring them up? Tricky one. 
12. If you’re going to university, have a genuine reason why. Have a career path or take a degree in something useful such as a science, maths, engineering, medicine or business. I kid you not but you can rack up thousands in student debts on a degree in puppetry. If you have no genuine career path, then get a trade training. You can make a good living from electrical engineering without a degree.
13. The alternatives? Spend it all when young, never own your own home, have no pension and be At the mercy of charities? As there may be no ‘state’ when we get there.
Finally, learn to make your own fun and amusement. Go away with your friends to basic campsites in secondhand tents, entertain in your own homes, share homemade food with each other, make home brew. It doesn’t take money to have fun but it does take money to retire. Also, we won’t all die on our 68th birthday, nor will we become incontinent, get dementia or have a stroke two weeks after retiring so it’s always worth saving for the future.
I gave her a foldable tip and said……open a saving account with this and put every next tip in there too.  I have a feeling though that it might go into a nice outfit but each to their own.
Now, over to you. What advice would you give to yourself if you were young again?
Until tomorrow,
Love Froogs xxxxxx

It’s time to stop doing what ever is holding you back!

Hello Dear Reader,

Over the last five years of my life, I have done more to change my life for the better than I’ve ever done before. Previously, I thought I was doing OK but actually I was just shuffling along quietly. Now, I look at every way I can improve my life. If something isn’t working then I literally bin it! I’ve not the time, energy or desire to do anything any more that doesn’t enhance my life. I’m acutely aware at 48 years old that I’ve lived longer than I’m going to live. I’ve no time to procrastinate and now is the time to get things done.

I put off getting fit for years and year and now, it’s part of my everyday life and there’s no stopping me. It’s proven that successful people do more exercise, eat more healthily, read more, move more, focus on achieving goals, volunteer more often and watch less TV. No one is ever going to achieve much in life sat on a sofa!  If you’re looking for tough love then you’ve come to the right place!

This may or may not be popular but I abhor laziness. I find great happiness in ‘getting it done’. I like to start my day at five thirty every morning so I can leave for work with a clean and tidy house, the laundry put away, dinner made and the bed turned down. I like to wash and blow dry my hair every morning and leave the house looking my best in pressed clothes and with my makeup on. I get great pleasure in coming home and working on a quilt, recipe plans or writing projects. A good day is one that leaves me exhausted but feeling smug in the knowledge that I leave others standing.

I take the same philosophy into the gym. I’m there to sweat, work hard and there is nothing better than leaving aching. I no longer have my trainer (he went off to join the Met) but as he would say, you know you’re working hard when you’re blowing out of your arse! No one ever lost weight, improved their health, reduced their BMI or wore considerably smaller clothes by just chatting to the person next to them on a static bike whilst updating Facebook!

I was once someone who genuinely thought I couldn’t do anything to improve my life. I was once at absolute rock bottom. We both earned minimum wage, neither of us could save and money just seemed to run away from us. It took a total change of our lives to begin to live the life we actually wanted to live. We now have that and it just gets better. 

We now know that it’s our good habits that create our financial stability. We now know that our choices cause the results of comfortable living. Luck has nothing to do with it and we’ve worked our way to where we are. None of it happened by sitting on the sofa. It happened because we were prepared to get our hands dirty.

This is my challenge to you Dear Reader. Ask yourself, what is holding you back? Why are you not earning more so you save or pay off debts? Why do you clear your debts only to create more? Why are you waking up at the last minute and getting to work in a rush? Why do you have no time for your family? Why is your house disorganised or cluttered? Why do you watch so much TV? Why are you promising to exercise and then you never do? If the reason is you: can’t be bothered to do two jobs, can’t be organised enough, can’t be motivated enough……….then you and you alone are the reason that you are not making the changes that will move your life forward.

Over to you Dear Reader, leave a comment in the confessional and literally leave it there and walk away! Walk away from what ever is holding you back and move forward with your life. It’s time to stop doing what ever is holding you back.

As ever, I look forward to hearing from you.

See you tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Some is plenty and enough is too much

Hello Dear Reader,

I had the very great pleasure of meeting Natalie Gavern, the Truro centre manager, from Christians Against Poverty. She came into Radio Cornwall to join the discussion with myself and Tracy Wilson about managing debt. I also had the honour of meeting a lovely young man called Craig who is currently working with CAP to repay debts. It was humbling to hear just how big a difference it made when someone supported him with paperwork, had time to listen and helped him cope with creditors as well as helping him set a budget and live within his means.

To hear this wonderful discussion and humbling example of the devastating effects of debts, then click HERE to listen to the radio programme. Move the cursor to the last hour and we’re on straight after the news.

For anyone who may be affected by issues raised in the radio programme today. Please call Christians Against Poverty on 0800 328 0006 from a land line. If  you only have a mobile, please call 03335 558800 – it will then give you the link to call the free phone number above and you will not be charged for the call. 

Craig, as an ordinary young man, had lost his job and was unable to pay debts. He openly said how hard it was to see everyone around with good clothes, a car, their own flat, holidays and nights out. It made me think of how much we think  people have. They seem to have so much and yet the likelihood it’s all being paid for with credit. That in turn made me ask the question; how much is enough?

I know I’m preaching to the choir here but I’m always aware that someone might be reading for the very first time. I’ll repeat what I said on the radio. It’s ok to make do with less. It’s ok to buy what you need from charity shops and car boot sales. It’s ok to collect pallets from the industrial estate to break up for firewood and kindling, it’s ok to upcycle, to use freecycle and to barter, haggle and get by with a lot less. It’s ok to make quilts from shirts bought on the £1 bargain rail from the local Woodside Animal Shelter shop. 

To anyone who has decided to make a real change in your life, feel free to never again have to have a catalogue delivered to your house. Feel free to cook everything at home and never order a takeaway again. Next week, find one day where you don’t carry money and don’t spend anything. In our thrifty world, we call that a ‘non-spend day’. Build them up so you can eat from the freezer and store cupboards and stretch your shopping so you only have to go once a fortnight. 

It’s also ok to have less than other people. I’m acutely aware that my car is aging fast, that my clothes are certainly neither fashionable or stylish. I’m fine that I don’t have a shoe, handbag or nail varnish collection. I’m ok with what I have and what I don’t have.

Listening to Craig today reminded me of the crippling insecurities that some people feel when they can’t keep up with the Jones family. It is hard. We lost friends along the way when we didn’t want to live our old life and gained new ones too. My message to Craig and anyone else who is young and feeling as if you must get swept along with the crowd is to believe in who you are and what you want to be. Take any job, any changes and any chances. Listen to reason and common sense and a lot less to trends and advertisements. If someone doesn’t like the fact that you are working in a bacon factory, meat processing plant or cleaning caravans then just remember you are working for you and not them! Build your self up from the ground and start again. If you fall over ten times then get back up eleven times. But most of all, remember this…………some is plenty!

Until tomorrow

Love Froogs

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Hello Dear Reader,

Across the UK and behind closed doors, people are lying. They lie about how much money they earn, they spend, how many clothes they buy, how often the use their credit cards and they lie about their credit card bills. Worst of all, they lie to their partners and to themselves. 

I know, because you tell me, that some of you are trying to reduce family spending alone because your partner does’t share the same view point. They tell you that life is for living and that you might die tomorrow. In all likeliness, you’ll live into shivering old age because you didn’t save money to keep yourself in your dotage. In most cases, the lives you describe are openly antagonistic with one person being thrifty and the other being a spendthrift. I have no idea to sort out your relationship problems or what advice to give you.  You have to make your own decisions.

I would ask everyone to think of the following. Do you and your partner know how much the other earns? Do you both sit down and work on household accounts together? Are you both responsible for balancing the books and paying the bills? Do you both check receipts and keep a record of spending? I’m not asking you to turn your dining room table into Barclays but you should be at least able to be honest about spending. If you are both in the financial dark then you could shed some light onto your household budgets by doing some or any of the following:

  • Keep your payslips/salary statements in the same file and both know how much the other earns.
  • Agree between you a spending limit per person per day/week/month.
  • Agree a saving amount either individually or jointly when you are both paid.
  • Share the financial routines and check meters together, pay bills together and have a sort out the finances meeting once a week.
  • Agree a budget for food, menu plan together and food shop together and when it’s done cook together.
  • Keep bank statements in a shared file and if you bank online, give each other your log ins and have an open and honest discussion about spending.
  • Go through bank statements weekly to check on each other’s spending.
  • Have joint ‘No Spend’ days every week. Try keeping money in your wallet all week and only spending on a Saturday or pick a day. 
  • Discuss any individual purchases – if you get your life under control then you will make your coffee at work, take lunch with you, have a library book to read and you won’t need any unplanned spending. If you need to buy clothes then discuss it with each other. If you share finances then you need to get used to planning the spending of them.

If you have no debts but you are not a saver then you might have to cut back on spending to leave money for saving. If one partner doesn’t like making a pack lunch then trade a job you don’t like doing to make lunch for them and help the family finances. If you have debts then you need to work together on controlling your spending so you have what is necessary and learn to go without what isn’t necessary until you have your finances under control. 

Getting your finances under control is so much easier when you do it together. If you are already doing this then all power to your elbow if you are not and want to then this is the time for a family conference to discuss the issue. Either scenario isn’t easy but will be worth it.

Over to you. Who has a financial partnership that works well and you want to share the secrets? Who has a ‘sort the money out’ night? Who keeps financial accounts either on a spreadsheet or in a double entry book? Who is struggling to support a spender? Who spends but needs to change? I’d love to hear from you.

As I suggested, try just one thing and be honest with each other.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxx

I want to hold your hand!

 Hello Dear Reader,

It’s five days after pay day and you’re worried already how you’re going to make it through the month! You were paid and the overdraft swallowed a chunk of your salary and your direct debits took the rest. Things are different this month because you are utterly sick and tired of this being the way things are month, after month after month! You were so sick of it that you emailed me. You are scared of the future and how you are going to get through this. The only thing you know for sure is that you want to get rid of debt but have no idea how.

Let’s start at the very beginning. I want you to go and get all the payslips, all the bank statements and I mean both of you. No secrets, no hidden payments no denial. You have to get real about this. You need to take a deep look at the money you have coming in. That’s it. That’s all there is. Now that wasn’t so scary was it.

Now the big scary bit! I want you to make a list and find the statements of everything you owe. The total list. The car payments, the credit cards, the bank loans, the home improvement loan, student loans and the overdrafts. Get some kind of file and put them in some kind of order. I would suggest that the smallest amount is put at the front and the biggest at the back. I’ll explain why as I get further into this.

Now remember, I’m holding your hand, really tight and I’m not going to let go. I recognise that look of in trepidation in your eyes. I saw it in the mirror once. Now take a very deep breath and find out the total amount you owe. I guess it’s more than you thought it would be by the way you’re digging your nails into my hand. It’s OK, we can get through this. 

You’ve now faced the brutal truth. You know how much you’ve got and how much you have to pay but we’re not done yet. I now want you to go and round up all your utility bills, maybe you can just check your bank statements to see how much goes out every month. You may not have checked this before; how much do you spend on gas, electricity, the mortgage or rent, home, contents, car and life insurance? Next, how much does it cost you to get to work each month? Finally, go find some grocery receipts. How much are you spending on food? These are the utter essentials and you have to pay for these. 

You are nearly there. You might need a spread sheet? Or may be just a big old note pad. You need to check the maths. You will need to be able to cover at least the minimum payments on all of your debts, to pay the essential bills, to keep the roof over your head and now you need to brace yourself. If you want to pay off those debts…………….EVERYTHING else is a luxury and you can do without it. Now breathe because I’m still holding your hand. Now, you will take away one figure from the other. The total amount you have to pay out each month (Mortgage+utilities+minimum debt payment+food+transport to work=how much you have to pay out). IF there is anything left that’s what goes to debt payments.

You can pick any debt, but I’d like to suggest you pick the smallest. Maybe that’s your overdraft? Every month, you’re going to throw every single penny you can at that one debt whilst paying the minimum on all the rest.

 Remember, you’ve paid for everything else, the food is bought, the mortgage is paid and you can live without luxuries. Now, start to cancel anything unessential. Give notice to your mobile phone company because you can go pay as you go. Cancel the Sky TV or Virgin package because you can go Freesat. Cancel the papers, cancel the holiday, the trips and just remember…………..this is temporary and you will holiday again but not just for now. 

Fast forward six months. You’ve not spent on any credit cards, you’ve reduced or paid off your over draft and your credit score is improving. Now it’s time to look for 0% Balance transfers. You will start to get debt savvy. You will now be making the biggest payment on that 0% each month. The minimum payment that you would have paid on that debt and every other penny you have to throw at it. Then what? Oh, you just keep going. You may have years of this, but it will be many years less that just paying the minimum payments on all your debts every month.

Whilst all this shizzle is going on every day. Know that I am holding your hand. I won’t let go. I know how hard it is to say no. No I can’t have a holiday, no I can’t go out, no I can’t have my hair done, no I can’t have new clothes, no I can’t buy anything for the house, no the family can’t have anything either. Some of you will have to do this with your entire family. Your teenagers or toddlers are in this with you. 

I also know the liberation and freedom of paying the last payment! Then and only then……….I’ll release my grip and turn and say to you. We made it. 

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxxxxxxxx

Gambling or playing safe with money?

 Hello Dear Reader.

After DB spent the day on the phone and researching, we decided against looking for a different mortgage provider and here’s why. We have already spoken to more than five mortgage providers and one independent advisor. We kept being offered interest rates at a fraction of a percent lower (lowest we could get was 4.9) than we’re currently paying. We have no debts and we’ve reduced our mortgage capital by £27K in the last twelve months. We’ve done everything we can to improve our financial standing so we can downsize our lives and it’s the very fact that we’ve done that which has put us in a unattractive position to new lenders. 

We’ve had an interest only mortgage for five years and if we had made repayments each month, then we would have paid off £30K of the balance in those five years. By the end of the fixed term of this mortgage, we will have done exactly that. However, we are not attractive customers because the entire amount we have paid off has been wiped off by the down turn in the market and our loan to value status is not great and effectively we have made no difference to the percentage of the house we own.

We have asked all the right questions and know, if we go through an application process and are turned down because we have reduced our salaries (DB’s not by choice he was just one of those public sector workers who had his salary cut by 10%) and don’t have a good loan to value ratio, then we will get a negative score on our credit reference (FICO score). 

Just like the players in Deal or No Deal, we have a reasonable deal on the table from our current lenders and it would be sensible to take it. We can move over to a repayment mortgage on a variable rate, no questions asked and we can over pay what ever we like and if and when we have built up better credentials, then we can leave that deal with no financial penalties. We could gamble and end up with the 1p box! There are better mortgage deals out there and I could risk it and might get accepted. I’m going to play safe with my money and know I can afford an interest rate rise as I’m already paying a higher interest rate. Most of us will remember interest rates of 15% and we just got on with paying it! 

I will be paying less interest and I will be able to pay off more of the capital. I will continue to do what I always do when faced with difficulties and that’s just hang on and get on with it. I am more determined than ever to reduce the amount I owe and I see a mortgage as a debt no different than car payments. It’s not mine until I’ve paid for it.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogsxxxxx

How I got started!

 Hello Dear Reader,

Some one wrote to me today, at the beginning of their journey, and wanted to know how I started mine. I wanted to downsize, I wanted to move to a smaller house, have a smaller mortgage and have smaller bills. I put my house on the markets, sold it, found somewhere and the offer was accepted. Santander, who kept us on hold until New Year’s eve, had an underwriter phone me and tell me that I had too much in the way of personal borrowing and they would not lend us the money. We had/have a mortgage deal, that if we came out of it, even 1 minute before the deal was up we would have a £10K get out clause. The house sale fell through, another £1500 was added to my debts as that’s how much the selling/legal process had taken up to that point. We had also spent £3K re-decorating, re-carpeting, landscaping, re-tiling two bathrooms so that we could sell it. We were well and truly fucked! I was now stuck in a house, that I couldn’t really afford and I was going no where.

 I crawled out from the bottom of a gin bottle, pulled myself up by the bra straps and got on with it! I had a home loan from my previous house, about ten thousand on credit cards and overdrafts and a car loan.

 I had a huge mountain to climb, it was scary, I can’t stand heights or being told no, and I had no way to go but up, as I was hanging off the edge. I started by phoning the National Debt Helpline, which was a government funded advice line. I asked if I should reduce my mortgage by paying that or pay off personal debts. They advised me to pay off my debts first and pay off my mortgage later. I had an interest only mortgage for a while……………I was in no hurry to give Santander their money back! 

The first thing we did was to get the balance on everything we owed. We then looked at our income and made a budget using the two. I wasn’t a big spender anyway and always shopped and dressed reasonably frugally. Dearly Beloved and I sat down and had the biggest and frankest talk we had ever had. It was one of those ‘I solemnly swear’ moments, where we decided, then and there to pay off everything we owed before we bought anything else ever again. 

We started saving money straight away. We changed credit card companies, we transferred a card at a time to zero % balance transfer cards and paid the maximum on one until it was gone. We snowballed our debts, until we only had the car loan left and put money aside each month until we could pay off the total balance. The more we paid off the homeloan, the smaller the interest payments were and we could pay that off as soon as we liked without penalties.

We shopped around for cheaper energy, we got a water meter. We turned off our central heating and froze our tits off (wear more clothes, snog more………….you’ll get by). We got a lodger, I marked exams, I tutored private students, Dearly Beloved went to jumble sales, car boots sales and auctions looking for things he could sell on ebay. We used our ‘ebay money’ to pay for large annual bills such as home and car insurance. We made on average another £5K a year in extra income and £1.6K from having a lodger. We used every penny extra we ever made to pay off debts in big chunks. I cleaned caravans in the summer holidays and DB worked and still works extra as an ebay trader.

I always cooked but took on the food budget as a military operation, I got my weekly shop down to £30 a week. I don’t shop every week. I use Approved Food for some dry goods. All my cleaning materials, toiletries and basics were Tesco Value. I would internet research for pet food prices, where laundry soap was the cheapest…………..I still do. I made Christmas and Birthday gifts, we only do this in a very minor way in our family and DB, myself and our children no longer exchange gifts at all for either. We love each other any way and nothing that can be bought can make that any better. I make my Dad a cake for his birthday and take mum flowers on hers, other than that, there is no expense.

We went without. We didn’t go on a holiday, didn’t have a day out anywhere that cost anything until our debts were gone. We took a flask and a piece of home made cake on day trips and internet researched places to park for free. If you live in Wadebridge, on a housing estate at the back of town and wonder whose car that was? It was mine………..I don’t pay for car parks! 

At the height of our debt repayment, we had £150 a month for both of us to live on and that included food. We went without new clothes, without new shoes, without having my hair done, without anything which wasn’t needed. I mended tights, I stitched up holes in my bras if the wire poked through, I mended knickers, I cut and coloured my own hair, I could make a mascara last a year. We cancelled the satellite TV, the mobile phone contracts. We found cheaper broadband, we still have the same steam powered PC and we made do with what we had.

We went to work by train (both worked in different directions in those days) and even charged our lap tops and phones on the train to save money. We turned off the lights, we wore more jumpers.We took any food and drink we needed, where ever we went, including when we went to visit family. We declined all invitations and now people don’t invite us as they know we don’t go, don’t send a wedding present, don’t go to work ‘do’s’ – they accept we are the people who don’t.

We aimed to pay off all our debts by the London Olympics, we did so a year early. We managed that by taking on extra work and earning extra money. I still mark exams and did so to pay for our holiday, if I hadn’t have earned the extra money, even though we are debt free, we wouldn’t have gone. 

When I look at what we’ve achieved, it was relatively easy. It was fun. We played at it. We now pay, almost the amount we were putting towards debt repayment, towards reducing the capital on the mortgage. We still have a hefty interest payment each month and it is only reduced by £100 month, each time I reduce the mortgage balance by £10K!! Every time I see the amount of interest I pay each month, I can see my money going to a blood sucking bank and I want to pay off the balance as quickly as I can. I still aim to move house when I’m out of the terms of the deal I am in and when the market picks up again, so I don’t lose the balance I’ve paid off. This could go on for years, in fact, I may never get the money back. 

I can now manage and afford the house I live in because, I have very low bills, I live frugally, I don’t spend money I haven’t got on stuff which isn’t essential. I haven’t changed my lifestyle one bit as I still owe thousands and thousands to the bank for the house. When the government has decided how much they want me to pay for my pension, then and only then can I start paying extra into that as well as paying extra into my state pension to pay for the years I didn’t work. With that in mind, I have to save every penny and still continue with food for nutrition and not fun, clothes for warmth and not style and be careful with every penny I earn.

I am now a judicious saver and live frugally to put money aside for: pension, monthly mortgage capital reduction, car replacement in the future, emergency fund, dental bills, an annual week long holiday, some new clothes and my favourite Aldi make up. 

Starting was easy enough, we just decided to do it and did it. Sticking to it wasn’t hard either, we just held on and kept at it. Sticking to it now is harder as we could spend money but continue not to. Neither of us cared what people thought, some people were OK about it, some weren’t but I couldn’t care less. Our friends stayed so and happily came for supper and we went to them and we continue to do so. Now, the hard bit , is just keeping this up for the rest of my life.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxxxx