Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Very Special Birthday...

Thanks to the lovely folk at "Broken of Britain" and a severe inability to sleep due to money worries, I have discovered that it has been exactly five years since the beginning of the Credit Crunch. And where are we?

Pay freezes which have lasted 4 years (and are essentially pay cuts when you account for inflation), spiralling debts (and that's just the government), increases in electricity, gas, transport, car insurance, car tax, food, water rates, Council Tax. And that is only the half of it. Here, The Guardian details where the 25 most influential people of the financial crisis are today. From politicians who ignored the problem, to speculators and bank bosses who caused the problem, to CEOs of mortgage firms who loaned to Ninjas (that's No Income No Job ApplicantS). And where are they? A few notable mentions are "Hank" Greenberg of AIG who is now advising the Ultra Wealthy on how to invest. Fred "the Shred" who is leading a quiet and comfortable life in Scotland, Former Bradford and Bingley Boss Steve Crawshaw who has a pension worth £105,000/year.

It is unlikely that any of these people will be truly punished for their misdeeds. Those who stood by and  knowingly allowed toxic bonds to be sold willy nilly across the globe won't face jail. Even the "Sub-Prime Specialists" of Bear Stearns paid a fine of just $1.05 million on losses of $1.6 billion.

Last month I threw caution to the wind and decided to go on holiday. It is a luxury, but one that we carefully thought about. Our last holiday was blighted by my injury, and with my depression worsening, we decided that we should take the opportunity to spend two weeks in the sun. Now my lovely bank has charged me £16.00 which took me over my overdraft. They then proceeded to charge me £22.00 for going over my overdraft. My Car Financing company ignored my request to change my payment date, and so now I don't know if I'll manage my finances over the next four weeks. I mention the holiday because I don't want any reader to think that we are destitute. I often feel guilty when I complain about my abysmal finances because there are plenty of people far worse off than me, I am one of the lucky ones. How come I feel guilty and yet those who caused the recession seem to be immune to this basic human emotion?

I have said it before and I will say it again, although I despise the actions of the bankers, I don't blame them - in the same way that I don't blame the dog that shits on the pavement outside the flat. (Yes, in this analogy, the bankers are the dogs and the government are the owners). New Labour promised, amongst other things - "New Labour", "getting 250,000 unemployed 16-25 year olds off benefits and into work", a commitment to "education, education, education"  and crucially "No More Boom and Bust". What did we get instead? Blue Labour, the highest levels of unemployment in decades, privatised Comprehensive schools with Academy titles... and of course a Boom in public spending with Quangos galore, followed by the Bust of the longest, deepest, double dipping-est recession the country has ever seen.

After D-Day, Britain was decimated. Some 800,000 soldiers, mostly men of working age, were dead, disfigured or missing in action. How did we managed to rebuild our cities, get out of rationing and "Keep Calm and Carry On" from 1945-1955? Our leaders were men of action. Firstly under Clement Attlee's labour government, then under Churchill's Conservative, Britain became Great again. The NHS was created offering non-descriminatory healthcare, free for all at the point of delivery, the Welfare State offering William Beveridge's "Cradle to Grave" support system was set into motion and the damage of done by WWII was fixed. Across major UK cities, slums were cleared and new innovative housing was built. By the time Harold Macmillan was appointed in 1957, Britain was in a Golden Age.

So what went so wrong in the intervening years? How come 60 years later, even with the advances in technology and the explosion in wealth and longevity we are now in worse financial shape than after the war? Could it be that we spent £11 Billion on hosting the Olympic Games (Spectacularly I might add) rather than a paltry £750,000 in 1948 (That's 0.7% of 2012 GDP vs 0.01% of 1948 GDP for anyone who wants to throw inflation into the mix, according to the Guardian) The 1948 games delivered a profit of £30,000 and actually cost the taxpayer nothing and the government did everything they could to keep costs down. They had to, the country, in fact most of the world was broke. Cut to 2012 and the Games are set to cost the tax payer four times as much as the original estimates. To put it in perspective, Manchester's 2002 Commonwealth Games cost £300 Million and hosted 71 nations. London's 2012 Olympics will cost £11 Billion and is hosting 204 nations - that seems like quite the disparity to me...

Our government seems intent on spending indiscriminately whilst cutting almost equally indiscriminately. Our wonderful, unique NHS must do more, with less, every year. Our schools are being farmed out to the highest bidder - will there soon be an IBM High or a Syco Academy of Music? We are being robbed blind with one hand, whilst with the other, Dave and his cronies give tax-breaks to millionaires who earn their money here and spend it abroad. Our legal aid system is rife with abuse, as is our welfare system, but instead of making life better for people who choose to work, they simply make it worse, both for those who do work AND for those who don't. I am sure we will see these people, forced off benefits getting legal aid to take the DWP to court under the Human Rights Act in the next few years, and they will win and they should. For to take from those whom have little or nothing to give to those who are (in some cases) obscenely wealthy is surely one of the grossest human rights abuses of the modern age. People are literally killing themselves (that's 3 different articles) because they cannot afford to live a decent life.

I kind of hope that this little blog might go viral. I'm one tiny voice, unable to cope amongst with the financial demands of living in 2012. But I'm sure, I'm positive that your tiny voice is saying the same thing. In pubs and cafes across the country. In sitting rooms, around kitchen tables, in double beds between couples. In hospitals, in schools and in workplaces across the country, we are all saying the same thing. If only we could join up those voices, maybe then we might be heard.

*Update (thanks Historic Inflation Counter - £700,000 in 1948 would equate to £21,530,000.00 today)

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Libor Libor Pants on Fire

Mac's take on Barclays (From The Daily Mail)
Credit is like a drug. In fact, it's like a few drugs.

You start with something soft, like an overdraft, interest free for the duration of your student years. Then you move onto a credit card, the thrill of spending money that isn't yours on the never-never too tempting to pass up. Then a consolidation loan, just enough to free up some cash month to month. Next you get a Mortgage, it's worth it, you've got a house and one day it might make you a profit! Finally there's equity release, not a loan so much as a way to decimate the lovely profit that your house has just made.

You might as well be sat in a gutter, belt around your forearm trying to find a vein - please, just one more hit, one more grand, one more loan. And that's when the real pushers come in. and their ilk have become the loan sharks of the 2010s. There was a time when anything more than 30%APR was considered extortionate, now when you look at those ads, you see upwards of 1000%APR justified by the fact that "these loans are not a long term solution". Try telling that to the single Mum who is now paying half her weekly wage to one of these companies trying to play catch up.

So finding out that Barclays traders had been fixing interest rates didn't surprise me. It annoyed me, but it didn't surprise me. It made me feel physically sick with rage, but it didn't surprise me. Essentially it's like finding out your drug dealer has been in cahoots with the other drug dealers in the area and has kept the price of your crack artificially high. Yes, I just compared bankers to drug dealers, which is frankly offensive to drug dealers - at least they're honest about the work they do!

I feel so angry and helpless, and it has left me asking the question, how the hell did this happen? It started in 2005 when traders from several banks began fixing the LIBOR rates (London Interbanking Offer Rate) artificially high. This meant that when the banks loaned each other money, they could rake in huge profits. This went on throughout 2006, 2007 and 2008 and during the global recession when the purpose of fixing the rates was to deceive the world at large that they were doing better than they were.

Now obviously, I've been writing a lot about this, but there is a reason. I feel personally aggrieved by the behaviour of one particular bank - Barclays. At the same time as Barclays were raking in the profits through lying and scheming, they were also telephoning me between 3 and 4 times every day demanding that I paid them £300.00/month to repay my overdraft in the shortest possible time. I couldn't afford to do this, it was a large overdraft accrued during my time at University and in the end my father took out a loan that I repaid in order to get them off my back. It makes me feel physically sick that at a time when I was financially vulnerable, they were threatening me with court action and bailiffs requesting more than a 3rd of my monthly earnings, whilst defrauding the Bank of England, the British Tax Payers and of course their customers.

So is it time to say NO to the banks?

We are all so blinded by this perceived need to put our money in the hands of the banks that we can't imagine there is another option. My reason for staying with Barclays is simple, like an unfortunate divorcee, there's a lot of debt, all in my name, which has to be cleared before I can be rid of them. I've got an overdraft and a loan and so for the next 5 years (or less with a lotto win), I'll be tied to the bank.

I keep having this fantasy, a daydream of sorts in which I win the lottery - a big win. For most people they'd be dreaming about telling their boss where to stick their job... Not me! My fantasy has my bank manager calling me up personally to discuss my options and me uttering a string of expletives and then putting the money into my local credit union.

So what to do? I feel as though I'm in limbo. A curious mixture of abject fury and helplessness, I am just one person. How can I take on the banks? The reality is, I can't. My fury will remain, quietly poking me stomach lining until I get an ulcer and tapping away at my brain tissue. I am so angry I'm struggling to sleep and although that seems ridiculous, my righteous indignation has suffered a hit (if you don't know that's a Captain Bucky O'Hare reference, you're either too old or too young!). I worry so much for my entire generation, and the next, as it will be us who clean up after today's leaders. We're unlikely to get on the property ladder, we can't afford to insure our cars or have children or take holidays without almost impossible savings.

I'll let you in on a little secret. I have SUCH a desire to protest, march, make my voice heard. But there is that fear that my participation would lead to my arrest and ruin a possible future as a teacher. So how about a peaceful protest to begin with? How about joining a Facebook Group... may I suggest Topple The Banks? A civil forum for organised discussion. Somebody needs to fix this, and we can't rely on Cameron, Clegg or Milliband. They are more interested squabbling amongst themselves (Seriously, have you every watched Prime Ministers Question Time? It's like a school yard!) Could we be the first serious political party created on Facebook? Why not? We can't do much worse than the current lot...

Saturday, 30 June 2012

More Banking Nonsense

It's been a long while since I've posted, but the past two weeks have really been infuriating me. I went to the bank about a month ago and agreed a strategy to get myself out of debt.

The first month was shaky, we had a hen night, wedding, gig, Jubilee and trip to Cambridgeshire so it was destined to be an expensive one. So I went back to my lovely personal banker who looked at me without judgement and said, ok, let's try a different tactic. I now have a spending account into which money goes on payday, and that is all I have to spend for the month. I also have a savings account to raise money for treats, wedding and eventually my overdraft.

Feeling very proud of myself, Nick and I have since booked a holiday and made a strict pledge to save up money for the flights and spends by September (thanks Mum and Dad for paying for it and for letting us just pay for the flights and not the accommodation).

Nickie and I are doing everything we can to raise the £600.00 each (£300.00 for flights, £300.00 for spending money) by September, and if we can, we will be in Turkey for two weeks in a lovely Villa chosen by Mum and Dad. We're shopping at Aldi, and spending no more that £25.00/week on food. We're taking lunch every day and eating very healthily - all salads and baked potatoes. No meals out, no takeaways (this isn't just a money saving thing, I want to lose a stone and a half by the holiday too). We are going to Chester Races this weekend which was booked ages ago and will serve as the final blow out, although even that is going to be done on the cheap as much as possible.

Our only treats will be Orange Wednesday cinema as it costs just £3.00/person with my Printworks savings card. At night we will be using our Apple vouchers to rent movies, playing on our new Macbook game "Cradle of Egypt" which we both downloaded after playing it on Mum Bernsmeier's computer when we went to visit. We CAN do this, I am determined that in the next three paydays, provided we don't splurge or go to Pride, we can save £600.00 each without resorting to the credit card!

So you can imagine my surprise when, after making this promise to the bank, more banking nonsense starts to emerge. Beginning with NatWest and their abysmal handling of their own personal banking crisis. It affected a friend of ours who banks with NatWest and also works in payroll. She spent Friday saying "Yes, I know, my salary hasn't gone in either". I think people might have been a tad more understanding had the crisis been resolved in a couple of days. But after SIX days of missed flights, lost homes and cancelled children's birthday parties, you could forgive people for being more than a little irate!

I was lucky that it didn't affect me, buI I felt so sorry for people, particularly when I read about the couple who missed their honeymoon! Even at that point I thought, it's forgiveable, it's a possibly unavoidable IT issue. So you can perhaps understand my fury when on Thursday night, unable to sleep I logged on to the paper to read about the Barclays Libor scam. It was 3 in the morning, but even through my sleep deprived haze, I knew that some SERIOUSLY illegal stuff had gone on. As day broke and more of the story about how traders had made themselves approximately one metric shit tonne of extra cash by lying, scheming and fixing interest rates, I found myself positively paralysed with anger. The next story to break was that this dishonesty, this collusion crossed the entire banking sector and through the upper echelons of management. Yes, that's right, whilst you and I were feeling guilty about splurging on that holiday and wondering how we could afford our Love Film subscription of £6.00/month, the banks were literally bullshitting their way to massive profits, and of course bonuses.

Meanwhile in the real world, small businesses were being missold insurance (again? Seriously?) and normal folk who work bloody hard were trusting their bank managers as they said "so sorry, no loan, you're a financial risk!" what the hell? These men, no better than gamblers who damn near bankcrupted the country telling us poor folk (very poor folk sometimes) that we're the ones who can't be trusted.

So, what is to be done? Well first to rewrite my British Spring blog and place the blame on the bankers. I don't think regulation could have neither predicted nor prevented this dishonesty. And then what? How about we protest? On the streets, on the internet and with our wallets! Goodbye to big banks and hello to community credit schemes. A friend of mine told me how she had just stopped paying her loan and it got me thinking. One person refusing to pay hurts only that person. The bank doesn't care. Just another sap who can be charged extra interest and fined up the wazoo! But what if it was a million people? What if it was 10 million? What if every person with a bank loan in the UK all simultaneously ceased paying? What could the banks do? What a glorious day! Perhaps then they will realise they are not untouchable. Sadly this is unlikely to happen as the only thing we fear more than not having enough money to pay for the stupid loans in the first place is bailiffs knocking on our front doors.

Any suggestions on a postcard to...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

What Seriously?

UK Citizens to Cameron & Clegg... "That's ANOTHER fine mess you've gotten us into!"

The story of the week has to be the cap on tax relief for Charitable Donations...

Feeling genuinely sick at the prospect of cancer charities and children's charities and LGBT charities losing out on money because these pricks are so determined to avoid a return to the 50p tax!

The people this will hurt are LITERALLY (and I really mean that), the most vulnerable in society. The Manchester Children's Hospital, Age UK, The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research - will ALL miss out (not to mention the rest), because of this bungled, muddled together legislation. In my opinion (and this is only my opinion), if celebrities and rich people want to give large amounts of money to charity as a way of LEGALLY avoiding paying tax, that's absolutely fine. I'm happy for them to keep their tax as long as they are saving children, protecting the most vulnerable and assisting in finding cures for diseases (plus all that other amazing work that charities do!)

In the paper this morning, I've seen some of our richest citizens threaten to stop giving to charity in protest of this new legislation. It would be easy to vilify them for their actions. I mean, how dare they try to avoid paying tax! But it's not about the tax. It's about the charity.

My fab Dad and I were chatting again about this foolish and hasty statute. We talked about who is really to blame and who thought up this ridiculous legislation and we both agreed that it doesn't matter who came up with the idea that a cap on charity tax relief was efficacious to society. Those steering the country (i.e. Cameron and to a lesser extent, nodding dog Clegg) had the final say. Do not let the headlines blind you to the fact that this is a direct attack on the most vulnerable in society and don't forget to focus your blame in the right direction.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

So What Now?

Thanks for all the feedback on my last post! Knowing that others feel the same way made me feel incredibly humbled and though I don't seek to speak for anybody other than myself, it was reassuring that I'm not going mad!

For a while now, I've felt like a big change is coming, like something's going to happen. I don't know what that might be, but I know I want to be a part of it. Imagine people, members of the public, all classes coming together for a common purpose.

I'm not talking anarchy, or the dissolution of the government, or a move towards a socialist Britain, or abandoning capitalism. I'm talking about 6 million people quietly stating that the status quo is unfair. So what do the people want? I can't speak for everybody, but my requests are simple and small.

1) Take the tax burden away from the most vulnerable (the elderly) and put it on the wealthiest by bringing back the 50p tax.
2) Reduce duty on petrol to allow members of the general public to move freely and get to work.
3) Find a better way to fund pensions which means that we can retire at 65.

Three small changes which will affect every person in the country. So, will you stand up and be counted? Will you reclaim your Britain for the people?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Time for a British Spring?

I've just had my Dad round to do a DIY job (I'm one of those non-manual lesbians!) and after he re-hung the towel rail that I broke about six months ago, we got to chatting as we do (I inherited my soapbox from him) and the conversation turned to politics. This is a volatile subject for anyone in these difficult times but for me and Dad it just seems to set us off. He has been lied to and lied to and lied to through his whole life by a series of never-ending and seemingly never changing political parties - but whereas in the old days you could live in hope for the next general election, today I swear we have one guy who keeps changing his tie - red, blue, yellow... What he said next scared me.

"I've NEVER seen it this bad" 

And why did that scare me?

My Dad is in his 50s, and in his lifetime, he has been through the 3 day week (1970-74), the Winter of Discontent (1978-79), the Introduction of the Poll Tax (1989-91), the Early Nineties Recession (1990-93),  and the Early Millennium Recession (2000-01). He's lived through 15% interest rates, Record Inflation of 10.9%, Sky High Local Rates which forced the family (including a two year old me) out of our home and yet he told me today;

"I've NEVER seen it this bad" 

He, and his whole generation were told they'd retire at 65 and then somebody spent their pensions. I know I'll never retire. I'll probably keel over aged 80 at my desk in my final office job.

And whose fault is it? The government, with their deception, spin and outright lies would have you believe it is your fault, or somebody else's fault, or the bankers fault, or the immigrants fault. These same fat cats are the ones making the policies on tax, health, education etc, whilst constantly and consistently undermining the laws they impose. Choosing private schools over public, choosing private health over the  NHS, creating companies in their own names to avoid income tax.

I used to blame the bankers, but now I realise that anyone will do what they can get away with including gambling with money that doesn't exist, insider trading, price fixing, paying extortionate bonuses to the gamblers, mis-selling PPI, offering poor financial advice to poor people, offering mortgages that people could never pay and then repossessing peoples' homes  - the Government should have protected the country's coffers and the money of the working man with regulation, laws and statutes.

I used to blame the high level of immigration (although I am the product of immigration), but now I finally realise that free movement is the right of every law abiding man woman and child on this planet and capping the number of immigrants who come into this country is a violation of natural law. The government should have made it easier for those coming in so they have no need to live and work here illegally and can contribute to this country.

I used to blame the rich, but once again, I realise that they do what they can get away with including refusal to pay a liveable wage, refusal to protect the environment, refusal to respect their employees health and safety, refusal to provide employment opportunities in the UK and instead sending their business overseas. The government should have protected its people and its industry.
And will it get better? I can't foresee a change for the better within my lifetime.

I used to blame the very poor who claim benefits, but now I realise that the poor sod who lost his mining job in the 80s left school with no qualifications and has been left behind by a society which can't even educate its kids anymore, never mind adults struggling with literacy. Unfortunately, they too will do what they can get away with - claiming their dole, HB, CTB, Tax Credits and Child Benefit, spending it giant TVs, Sky, iPhones, drugs, booze, anything to distract from the monotony of a desolate life. The Government, instead of throwing billions of pounds into developing this benefit culture, should have enforced a liveable minimum wage.

I've ALWAYS blamed myself, but now I realise that I too will do what I can get away with, like other normal people. When I have money, I'll spend rather than save - just like the government and my £10,000 debt is nothing compared to the £1Trillion owed by the country. The government should have set a better example frankly - but I'm not blaming them for my own downfall, that was my own doing.

There is nobody left in our Government who can be trusted to save this once great nation. Each and every one of them lies and deceives. I feel sick that my options in the next general election will be three wolves in sheep's clothing - in fact, no, they're not even in sheep's clothing. They make no attempt to disguise their true selves.

So what next? Is it time for action? Is it time for a British Spring? Or is it time for someone to stand up and say NO MORE? Because it's NEVER been this bad, and the only thing we're all in together is The Shit.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Edwina Currie doesn't live in the real world

I know this is a couple of days ago now, but I've been stewing about it since and dying to get something down on my blog!

Edwina Currie took part in a Radio 5 Live Breakfast show, during which she reduced a mother of two to tears. This woman who has previously claimed that she had great difficulty believing that people in Britain were starving, stating "Are you telling me people in this country are going hungry? Seriously? Seriously?"

I was very lucky to have my partner and family around when I was off work who supported me and kept me fed and in a home. Others are not so fortunate. The woman in question whom Edwina reduced to tears was working as was her husband. She fell pregnant and went on maternity leave - then her husband was made redundant from his full time job. All of a sudden their meagre savings dwindled and they were left in arrears for Council Tax and their mortgage. Now a year or so later, the woman is working two part time jobs and her husband has managed to find a third part time job. They are trying desperately to live within their means - but how is that even possible when the National Minimum Wage is just £6.08 per hour? Ten years ago the NMW was £4.10 per hour. That's an increase of a pitiful £1.98 increase in ten years whilst the cost spirals.

This story made me angry for so many reasons. We are by no means living on the breadline, but some months are difficult and this is through no fault of our own. Edwina Currie would have us living in a bedsit, sitting around every evening in front of a black and white television with 4 channels, no internet access or computer. She would probably tell us to eat Smart Price beans for dinner every night in order to build up some savings, and she probably wouldn't approve of our savings going towards our wedding either. 

She needs to come out of her £800,000 house and try living in the real world where you have to make decisions like - 

  • What's the cheapest thing I can have for lunch today? (usually a Greggs sausage roll or a pound shop meal deal). 
  • How can I manage to get to work on time when I live so far away and can't afford to move? (I was written up for my lateness several times before I managed to move to Manchester, but it was never an affordable option before and I couldn't get a job in my home town)
  • Can I afford to replace my holey cardigan? (not really without resorting to the catalogue again!) 
  • How am I going to afford to feed my kids? (pray for the kindness of relatives, strangers, the church and food banks).

We're very lucky and in a couple of months we might be able to kick start our finances again. I'm hoping to get some more work building websites and both of us may get pay rises (although that's not guaranteed). But there are people living in the UK today who are genuinely missing two or three meals per week so that their kids can eat; who can't afford the bus fare to get to their job; who haven't had new clothes for two years... 

So Edwina (I assume that all fallen politicians who shagged John Major read my blog!) perhaps  you might like to come down from the land of milk and honey where flipping property and appearing on the radio for extortionate amounts is your source of income which pays you VERY well. Come down to Manchester with £1000.00 and rent a flat, get two kids and try and live - I'm sure you'll be screaming back to Chinley before the end of the first week.

PS - John Major? Gross! I imagine that even his spunk is grey!

Monday, 2 January 2012


Anyone who knows me or reads my Facebook will know that I am now officially saving for my wedding... Actually, that's not strictly true at the moment... I have to sort out a few of my bills for the next couple of months, so at the moment, I'm just trying to reign myself in so that come March I will have money to save. The downside to this is that we are not going to Maspalomas Pride in May, which was quite a special one as it represents somewhat of an anniversary for me and Nick (we barely knew each other when we booked it, and had a magical time!) The upside is that if we can save £100.00/month each, we can afford our dream wedding in March 2014... Hopefully on or around our anniversary which is the 4th. This is the first real thing I've every saved for - everything else has been NOW NOW NOW, credit cards, overdrafts, loans. I am determined that 2012 will be the year of my financial awakening - I've had an epiphany (thanks to my Uncle Cliff who had very wise and six months of being on a very low income). My plan is to treat every month as though they were the last month of 2011. It was a very difficult month, my bills matched my income (and only just thanks to help from Mum and Dad and Nickie). I had no spare cash at all. I had to be clever! I didn't go out, I made all my cards by hand, my presents too - baked gifts, hand made decorations etc. I'd say I spent around £50.00 all in all on ingredients and supplies. For that I managed presents for 6 people and cards for 15.

Now the financial situation is marginally better... without Christmas to contend with, I can manage my bills and travel to and from work, as well as a small food budget. Time to get clever again...

Rules for 2012

  1. If you can't pay for it straight away, don't spend it - No more Credit Cards or loans. (Not to mention our unfortunate decision to buy a second hand vacuum cleaner with a view to paying for it "after payday" thinking we had enough money in January...)
  2. Justify every penny - All outgoings to be added to a spreadsheet and justified. I have a column labelled "Valid". If I can't honestly justify the spend, the cell is coloured red, the plan is to end up with no reds.
  3. Don't pay full price for any item that you can realistically live without - So "Whoops" labelled treats and Orange Wednesday movie nights!
  4. Don't buy what you can bake - This includes cakes, biscuits and other tasty treats... it also includes presents.
  5. Pay £200.00 off the credit card each month - If I do this for the next 4 months, I can afford to reduce it and save the rest.
  6. Make Spare Time Pay - Car boot sales, Web Design, Baked Goods, eBay ... If you can make £1.00 profit, sell it!
  7. Be Smart - This deals with two things in particular - my NHS Prescription Pre-Pay card and my travel Season Ticket. I'm on so many meds at the moment that £10.50/month is worth it! In addition, I can get a season ticket loan for the bus which will save me £s!
  8. Make One Change - I only buy one or two Starbucks coffees each month, but added up over the year, it's loads of money. No more posh coffees on the way to work (obviously if I'm meeting a friend for coffee, I'm allowed to have one!)
  9. The Longer You Hold Off, The Greater The Rewards - That's thanks to my bbf Lucy! Why buy it now when you can pay off a few more bills and treat yourself next month?! 
Following these 9 rules should eventually get me back in the black!

Today was a particularly fortuitous day. I've been telling Nickie for ages that we should try to trade in all of our unused gaming equipment and today we finally did it... We got £130.00 (store credit) trade in for various Wii related equipment (£12.00 extra due to staff incompetence - what do you mean the controllers don't work?! Turned out the "new" batteries they tried were actually dead!). We won't be going out very much so all those new games will definitely be useful!

We also took a set of knives back to Next. They were 11 months old (the finish was chipping and they were going rusty!) and we got the full price back £35.00 onto a refund card. If we're very lucky, we'll get a new set in the sale and then we'll have a little bit to treat ourselves with!

It's a good start... In the next few weeks, we're hoping to do some car boot sales, and putting some old designer clothes on eBay. In March we're opening a joint (scary!) savings account and every extra penny will go into it. I just hope my resolve will keep firm! Wish me luck!

*amendments are in italics

Bloody Fraud

I’ve just learned about Elizabeth Holmes, former CEO of defunct medical equipment company Theranos (so close to Thanos that I actually wro...