Being Frugal sucks! Well especially for someone like me who inherited the spender gene but didn’t inherit the money to maintain it! 2016 saw a year of hard times for my family paired with the ‘spender’ in me being left in charge of the finances while still trying to maintain the facade that times weren’t hard therefore ‘keeping up appearances’.
Well 2017 saw an improvement in circumstances along with a realisation for myself that it can’t go on! I gave up smoking after 18 years and made it clear to my nearest and dearest that this is the year I get back on top of things. It will involve some sacrifices but what hard work doesn’t? If it means I don’t have to check the bank balances every day whilst worrying about how Im going to pay the next bill or where else I can get credit then its totally worth the sacrifice!
Some things I learnt in the last year have been very valuable. Mainly that nothing is worth getting into unnecessary debt for. At the height of my debt, I owed £16k across various credit cards and overdrafts. A LOT of this debt was completely unnecessary spending. Did I need all those holidays? All those clothes? Shoes? No! But hindsight is a beautiful thing!
My first step in getting out of debt was to enter into a debt management plan. This is not something that you do lightly as it massively effects your credit rating, but I was left with no choice as I could no longer afford any repayments. I did mine through Step Change and they are fantastic. They are a charity set up to help people who are in debt and they take away the stress of dealing with your debtors which can be quite an ordeal when you’re in the heat of the situation. They then review your spending to work out how much you can afford to pay each month after everything else has come out. They then take the payment and pay your debtors for you. If you stuck to that initial minimum payment forever, it would take years to pay off your debt, but you review annually.
Once my epiphany hit in January I realised there are lots of other places savings can be made too. Weekly food shop was a big one. It is so easy to not plan meals and just grab stuff at the shops every day, but its really costly. Thats when I started planning my meals for the week and shopping accordingly, hence my food glorious food post! Takeaways was another big one! We are lazy so ate a lot of takeaways. Cutting these out saved lots of money and when we got really desperate for some greasy food, we cooked the fish at home and spent £2 on some chippy chips. A great compromise!
Tv & Broadband is usually an easy saving, more channels than you need etc. We reduced our package significantly so more savings there, if you really wanted to save, you could cancel completely. Now TV and Netflix are great cheaper alternatives to Sky and Virgin.
Going out was the final place we really had to save. This one is particularly hard as sometimes going to see your friends or family can be mentally needed, but it’s a case of finding ways to do this for free. Going to visit friends and family shouldn’t cost more than your petrol to get there and there are so many free activities in nature that there’s no excuse to have to pay to do things. My friends and family have been an absolute godsend during these hard times and have always been understanding. If you come across people that aren’t understanding and chastise you trying to get yourself out of debt, perhaps new friends are needed?
You will soon start to see things change and as you save more and more put it into the most expensive debts first to get them clear. And remember, be positive. You will never do this with a negative attitude!