A kindred spirit in an old friend

Isn’t it strange how life goes?  A while back I was back in contact with a very good friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for almost 10 years.  Caught up with her a few times but last night I got a text asking if I fancied a chat later.

Firstly, you should all know, she knows nothing of my situation.  Why would she, after all I took years to tell my own family so I certainly wouldn’t have told her!  Anyway, I digress..

So what was the chat about, well it was an emotional one.  It is lovely that someone considers you worthy of enough to chat about their worries, and get your opinion.  The chat was about money, more so the financial hardship she was experiencing.  It was like hearing my own story, but a story I should have told.

The words about hardly having any money left, worried how she will support her children, living on the edge.  Words I know so very well.  For me, she chose the perfect person to speak to as I can offer my tips on making money last, how to increase your funds, all legally of course.  Simple methods..

But then, after we spoke for a while, I confessed my story.  Even though my debt and financial troubles eclipsed hers it still gave her a perspective that her situation isn’t a loss.  In fact, to me it sounds like a milestone I want to hit!   Yes, I know that sounds really odd, but her figure is way under mine!

Do you know what this highlights?  You feel so totally alone but, in reality, there are so many people in the same position.  It’s a shame there isn’t a big door somewhere that you can knock on, and when it opens you say “Hello everyone, I am really in trouble and I need someone to listen who won’t judge me”, and there are hundreds of people in the same boat.  Debt makes you feel so alone, it really does.

The problem is that so many doors are already closed before you try them, like banks and loan companies.  Perhaps the old friend getting in touch, and wanting to get advice on a similar problem is a sign to keep going.  A sign you can ask for help, and to invite people in.

Or, karma wise, if I have offered help then something good will come my way.  If I could afford a lottery ticket I would have bought one!

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Children know more than you think

I am often , asked, when I found out about the affair did you throw her out etc?  well no, it’s not as easy as that is it?  Let me clarify, if you don’t have children then it is, but if you are a parent, nope.   Through anything like this, you must consider the children.  From my own bad experience though, one parent will actually practise that, the other will just do the glory parenting.  Glory parenting, means anything you can post to social media that makes you look good.

The impact of when everything came out was immense however, I was massively worried about the kids.  Who wouldn’t be?  It was my worst nightmare, a broken family.  But, as everything came out, I was forced to put on a fake smile most of the time and continue trying to act normal.  What we, as parents, perhaps don’t realise is that the children already know something is wrong.

As people began to talk to me about what she had been up to, as did evidence come up that the children knew.  They had one outlet for their questions and confusions, and that was their nana.  It was from here I found out the kids had been worried for a while about what their mum was doing.  Bless them, too scared to speak to me as to not upset me.  They are very young too, so impressive that they are already socially aware.

Since that day, I have been forced to bite my tongue and do things I have not wanted to do.  I have to include family events in this where normality is the key.  However, it is tricky to force back the hatred for someone you used to love, the hatred not for the affair but for being the sole reason out family has broken up.

Only recently have they started staying with her and her other half, in his house.  So many questions, which I answer.  But you know what, one fatal error on her part was telling the kids they were going to be staying there, and NOT asking what they wanted to do.

I see that one blowing up at some point.

My point in this is though, don’t put off something that isn’t right just because you are worried about the impact on the kids.   If the signs have been there, they have seen them.  Be the strong parent, the one they look to for ‘security’.  This means dealing with your anger and resentment, and answering things honestly.

In short, you have to be an adult.

Oh stop being so snooty!

Today’s bank discussion went well, albeit with a few silences and sniffs of disapproval.  The early welcoming and over-exaggerated greeting was soon replaced by grudging assistance.  Now why did this occur?  Well I dared to mention I was teetering on bankruptcy and trying to lower my debtors, and to achieve this I would like my overdraft fees and interest back.

You see, when the floodgates of PPI claims opened a few years back it actually changed the way banks were treated.  The banks were no longer the end gate of dreams and requests, now you could ask for money back for errors.  Traditionally any error with your account was met with a fine and interest, even if it wasn’t your fault.  PPI opened the way for other investigations, which includes the path I decided to take today.

And boy was it not met well.  As soon as I asked for money back it was very unfriendly, let’s call it begrudging customer service.

To be fair, and as stated before, I am not greedy.  I just want help, and what I want is for the money back to be used to pay off my long standing overdraft, and the overdraft removed.  Then I am back to a normal back account, and effectively knock £1500 off my debt.

The bank assistant’s eyebrows raised, “you know for people in your situation (skint you mean!), we can close off your overdraft by way of a loan.  It’s specifically designed for people who cannot get loans”.  Yes, how helpful, but I didn’t ask for a loan, I asked for my money back.  But hey, can I borrow £25,000 on that basis?  No…oh ok then, shame..

Net result, I can find statements 3 years old.  This gives me money owed of £1500.74, which is utterly bizarre as £1500 is the amount of my overdraft.  Perhaps this is a sign my good people of it is meant to be?   Reasoning letter and 3 years of bank statement summaries handed over, and acknowledgement received – you never know, they may ‘misplace it’.  So we will wait and see.

If agreed, and the fact I am asking for the money to clear a debt and not go in my pocket should make it attractive to the bank, it will be a good day seeing no overdraft balance.   £1500 interest and charges in 3 years is a lot of money isn’t it?

Anyone else in this position, give it a go.  What do you have to lose?

moneysavingexpert.com has a brilliant example letter to use.

time for a meeting, two actually!

Very busy today but made a decision, and organised 2 meetings.  They are over the phone sadly but first stages!  Do you know what triggered this enthusiasm?  Of course you don’t, well I found some money.  Don’t get excited people, it was just 20p.  For some reason when I picked it up, I thought “how else I can make money come to me?”.  Well, pleading is the way forward!

Meeting One

This is with my bank.   I have been in my overdraft for years, 5 I think.  Anyway, now that legislation has changed I have decided to ask for my bank charges back.  I qualify due to the shocking financial predicament I find myself in.  So why do I need a call?  Well here is the irony, to get the statements I need will cost me money!   Cheers then, so to claim back my money I have to pay extra money, I don’t think so!   My meeting is to request the total I have been charged over the years and then the statements as proof.  If I have to pay, I will add it to the total and use that evidence as proof on how badly I am off.

Meeting Two

My mortgage company.  Yes the very same mortgage company I have described previously. This time I am armed better with how missing two months will help.  I have the debt amounts and the one it will pay off, giving me more disposable income.  The best result is to meet me half way and give me one month off.   Even that would be a help.

Each day is a newly thought out way of finding ways to lower the debt.  I remember the joy of clearing one of them off, just the knowledge of one less payment coming out of my bank account was amazing.  Sadly it appeared to make no difference to my poor credit rating!

positivity or premonition?

I have a side hobby, a geeky one so I will keep it a secret for now.   But, I often wonder if being positive plays a part in it.  Take today for example, woke up knowing I was spending the morning doing my hobby and had a feeling something good would happen.  It stuck with me, and it’s happened before.

It happened again, hobby produced something great.   It’s amazing yes, but how do I put this to winning money to clear some of the this debt!  Or..perhaps it doesn’t work that way?  I have read ‘The Secret’ , learnt about the influence of the universe etc and it only seems to work in some situations.

Stay with me, I am not some oddball who believes in the stars and/or magic.  I wonder if positivity only works for something you haven’t caused yourself?  deliberately or by error.   Perhaps the point of life is to push you along but not bail you out, but something will have to.

My positive thoughts on the debt are mostly hopes and dreams!  As in, lottery win / inheritance / find buried treasure!   The important thing is to stay as positive as you can, apparently it can attract good fortune.  Well my smile has been pasted on for so long now it needs renewing!   Smiling through an affair, divorce and mountainous debt is some acting let me tell you.

But it has to end sometime, I firmly believe that and that, in itself, is a positive thought!

Oh HMRC, give me a break!

The readers with better memories will recall that I get continually fined by the HMRC, despite negotiations and pleas.  These fines make up a 3rd of my debt to them, and it grates on me every day.

Readers will also recall I get my mail redirected to my parents house.  Popped there today to collect my mail, and there is a letter from Companies House. This letter, for once, is expected as I have closed my company and removed it from the VAT register.  I thought this letter was the confirmation.

When you close a company, you submit final accounts.   Informed HMRC they would be late as we have to account for all my debtors INCLUDING the HMRC, so we had to wait for the amount I owed.  Got all the information, posted the accounts 4 weeks late.

So I open this piece of mail and what do I find?  £350 FINE FOR LATE FILING OF ACCOUNTS, PAYABLE IMMEDIATELY.

Are you actually joking me?   I utterly despise them, it is a waste of time ringing and explaining things.  Anyone else dealing with them, don’t bother.  Just pay what you can, and submit what you can, you will get fined anyway!

Net summary, my debt has increased AGAIN by £350.  Yet again, due to a fine.

How can I ever get out of this nightmare with them?   Lottery win, the time is now!

Still smiling though…

Is it financially better to stay single?

So prior to marriage I had no debt at all, aside from the mortgage.   After divorce I am drowning in debt.  This begs the obvious question, “Am I better off on my own?”.

During the relationship and subsequent marriage, I always paid for everything.  Every single direct debt, bill and unexpected costs.  I guess this was ok as it was never ever questioned, it was expected.  However, there is the obvious resentment of previous posts where I describe how I had paid off her credit cards, whilst she was having an affair.

To get divorced added 4.5K to my debt, plus the few hundred a month I have to give to the ex for ‘the children’.  Net result, after the divorce, my little pot of spare money has dwindled even further through no fault of my own.

I have done internet dating but when you have little spare income, even going on dates eats into your finances.  So this raises the big question of loneliness vs debt freedom.  Are you happy being on your own clearing your debt, or happy meeting someone new and clearing the debt slowly?

Think about it, no relationship means no birthdays, valentines days and Christmases.  That’s a huge saving!  Add in romantic gestures (and I am a real romantic sod!) and treats and you see the picture.  I have been single for a while now and I am not as lonely as I thought.  Possibly as I have several brown letters a week to keep me hiding away!

Also, if hugely in debt, what do you really have to offer someone?  Who wants to take you on?  I suspect nobody.

You have to admit it, having nobody other than your children and immediate family to pay money out on, it’s a tempting reality!

bah humbug….

External advice – sometimes good, sometimes irrelevant

I searched a lot of places for debt advice, and there is a lot of good stuff.  However, I found most of it geared towards what I would class as ‘standard debt’.  What I mean by that is credit cards, overdrafts etc.

But where is there practical advice on major debt, like the Inland Revenue?   Or advice for people with the additional problem of going through family separations?

A good solid piece of writing is here http://www.modestmoney.com/defeating-debt-good/ but as you will see, not helpful for myself.  But don’t let it stop you reading, it will help some of you guys out.

What would be good is someone who has been through a 6 figure debt and come out the other side writing a practical advice sheet.   This, I hope, is what my blog will ultimately achieve WHEN I clear the final amounts.

Why have a plan if nobody will back it?

One of the most frustrating things about being in debt is you have ideas of how you could possibly get out of it, but nobody will back them because they involve not paying people!   In an ideal world, I would win enough to clear everything and start again, I am not a greedy man, I just want to start from zero.

My main plan involves taking my mortgage payments holidays I am owed.  So, as you may or may not know, for every twelve successful payments you qualify for a 1 month payment holiday.  You have a certain amount of time to take them, anyway to cut a long story short I have 2 owed months.  So why not ring and get them and save some money?  why not indeed…

Well, if you do that, you technically start a new loan.  Your mortgage repayment goes up by something ridiculous like £11 a month but you have to be financially reviewed.  Well that’s me doomed then, my credit score is appalling.   So it was a no…

So let’s review, I am owed 2 months non payment.  That saving would clear 2 debts, meaning more money in my account when the mortgage starts again.  However, I am not allowed to have the loan repayment holiday so I am in the same boat.  What does it take to convince these companies of your plan, and how it benefits every party?

And there is the problem isn’t it?  When it comes to logical financial propositions nobody will touch you without a credit score.  What would help is if someone came to your house, rather than over the phone, and listen.  Listen to the whole picture, look at the raw actual benefits of the request and make a decision then.

Sadly, the world isn’t that easy is it fellow debtors?  divorced or not…