Happy Halloween – NOT

Ah Halloween, a night of kids dressing up and multiple knocks on the door.  Up to this year, I love it.  It’s fun, and fills the house with sweets for a month!  But not this year.

I have been excluded you see, the children’s mother booked things for them to do in her new area and then was very kind enough to ‘ask me’ in front of them, meaning I couldn’t actually say no as they were already excited.  A cruel emotional blackmail of a trick, but it is the seasons of tricks is it not?

I was intending to work late, and blank it completely but why should other kids miss out.  So, I bit the bullet and bought a mountain of sweets ready for the door knockings to begin.  Nice night for it too, which is typical!

This is my first Halloween without the kids, but I am positive it will not be the last.  My children, despite their young age, are very wise.  Today they phoned me and said they had made a decision that next year will be with me, bless them!   So that gives me exactly 12 months to plan the single greatest house decoration of all time.  It will be immense!

But enough of my bitterness, I truly hope you all have a marvellous Halloween and your kids look great as little witches and vampires.   We don’t know each other, we just read each other’s blogs, but if your kids knock my door then plenty of sweets await.

Until next year then…………..

Single parenting is a balancing act

Wow, what a week.  Utterly flown by, made harder by the children being off for Half Term.   Co-ordinating this event is hard enough as I have to work out where I will be with work, whether the ex-wife can accommodate, what the kids want to do and it goes on.  I used to love Half Term when in a stable relationship, it was a chance to have family time.  Now, it’s more about balancing everything to make sure the kids have a nice time.

However, balancing is only done on my part.   It hasn’t just been work this week, I have had a mountain of paperwork to do for this meeting today, I have also had to have painful dental work and of course, do my job!   It has been co-ordinated well until yesterday when my son had to finish his football early to attend a party in the afternoon.  It seems asking my ex-wife to head out on her lunch hour to collect him and drop him back to me was apparently as impossible as re-inventing the wheel.  All I need sometimes, is a little help.

I take my job as a parent very seriously, even more so since being a single parent.  As much as you think you do a great job though, there are still times you need help.  It is simple impossible to do everything yourself, there are just never enough hours in the day and there will always be timing clashes.

I have always been careful to make sure work has not been affected and I am incredibly lucky (not a word I use often with my life!) to be able to work from home a few times a week.  Sometimes, my worlds do come close to colliding though.

What else I find amazing, is the perceived roles of a single parent.  I will do anything for my kids but my ex will do the glory days but I am still expected to pay for everything major.  I am never tight, but it was her decision to leave and the children are ultimately both of our responsibilities, expect for the bills it seems?

I need to be clear, I am not here to slate my ex wife but I am here to give everyone a clear vision of what it is like to balance being a single dad, and to try and achieve everything on very little money.  So my point is when did it become the responsibility of one parent to do all admin, all bills, all treats and be the voice of reason?

I am mid life now, this is not how I envisioned my life to be at this stage.   My children are as happy as they can be now though, and miss out on nothing.  But the more I try and resolve this debt, and the busier my job gets I need to start getting some real help or the balance of work v family will ultimately fail.

So much paperwork!

It is the Insolvency Meeting Thursday so still wading through all the paperwork I have to complete and provide.  Not a complaint as it is for the greater good, but there is so much information to provide.  Not surprisingly, my accountant has been none too helpful seeing as they will become a creditor.  Informed them what was happening, no reply!  However, I won’t worry as the Insolvency Practitioner will contact them to provide the documentation.

Work has also been the same, lots and lots of paperwork to do.  I am surrounded by paper and pens at the moment!  Also, my printer is low on ink.  But, a busy job is a good job as it means there is lots to do which ensures longevity of employment!

An added bonus tonight though, my daughter refused to go and stay at her mum’s.  This is only the second time this has happened, bless her!   I was all set for yet another night in with the dog, and I get the bonus of my angel!   It impacts my admin but who cares, who can moan when their little girl wants to stay with their dad?

With everything going on, I have noticed how fast time is going.  Somehow tomorrow is Wednesday already and that is another full day.   Sometimes time flying is good but right now I could do with it slowing down a little so I can catch up.

I will print and complete my final forms and statements tomorrow, then I am all prepared.  Just got to sort the payment and I am ready to go.  Keep an eye on those London papers for the Insolvency message soon!

something on the horizon

A rare childress weekend for me, that is how it works.  The ex has the children 3 nights a week and it so happened that 2 of the 3 days/nights were Saturday and Sunday.  Rather than sulk about it I took the opportunity to do some things for myself.  Had a friend to visit which was nice to catch up, finally mowed the garden, did a few other odd jobs.  Also, cleared my tv planner!

Spent some time with my family too, some good news for them as they may be about to complete on their home.  Being as they have gone through a total nightmare with this house sale and chain, it was nice to see relief and smiles on their face.

What is strange though is that since my important meeting and the subsequent results from it, there are 3 potentials of money coming my way.  In effect, just waiting over the horizon ready to help me out.   What are these potential cash influxes?

1. My dad said he will be giving all of his kids a cash injection after the house sale.  This is not a given and I never feel that comfortable accepting money, but anything will help.

2. I was involved in a car accident in July, not a bad one so no need to worry, but enough to damage my right shoulder.  This has gone nowhere but oddly, since my meeting and the very next day in fact, I got a letter saying the 3rd party had admitted full liability.  Now I can receive some compensation.  Again, this is not something I have asked for nor faked injury.  Whatever the figure is, it will help.

3.  I qualify for a bonus at work as I have delivered all my targets, as confirmed over the weekend.  This is 20% of my wage (minus tax of course Mr HMRC), but a nice pot.   Again, this will definetly help.

I realise that I struggle to stay positive, but I do believe if you can somehow improve your situation it tends to open other doors.  This has happened many times.  If I am down, I stay down.  Nothing seems to help, but if I somehow improve my situation by a little bit it seems to allow other good luck to follow.   This may sound ridiculous, I am aware of that.  But, you have to admit the timing of the 3 potential cash injections is very odd bearing in mind that I have been living on pennies for months.

Any of those cash injections should clear the debt not included in the liquidation plan.  This SHOULD just leave me with personal debts and loans.   I am paying those though so importantly, no threatening letters or phone calls.

Not a bad weekend really.

Family Portraits

We have concentrated a lot on debt recently, for good reasons, but this blog is also about divorce.

Half Term next week, so a week off for the kids from school.  When they break up from school they bring home all their projects, PE kits, etc.  Always nice to read through them and see what they have been working on.

My son has always been closer to his mother.  This is totally natural in a boy, also he is quite young.  Admittedly over the last year though, he has definetly become closer to me but I always expect drawings and writings to predominantly feature his mother.   As stated before, whatever the cause of the breakup you must never speak untoward of the children’s mother – as much as you would love to!

Checking through his pictures, his recent project was family.  Instant dread of course, but it was an interesting insight this time.  All the pictures, entitled ‘familee’ (sic) still contain only 3 characters.   We have touched on this before of course here, but this was a specific project.  He has to write as well this time.

My daughter has been quite vocal about the breakup with multiple questions, but my son has always been quiet about it.   But evidently, he is well aware and has many questions of his own.   The difference between this set of drawings and the last is it includes location.  If you check the drawing of the house, it is actually split in two.   One side is my side, one side is his mother’s.  It is actually quite clever.

Above my side is the sun, over hers is the rain.  Interesting isn’t it?

I don’t have the children much this weekend, last night my son gave me a hug and asked if he had to go tomorrow.  I said it was up to him but I can see he knows he has to go, he doesn’t want to upset his mum.

Being the stability and strength for my children is paramount, it is also why I have never let the sceptre of debt interfere in their lives.  I go without so they don’t have to.

I do not give moral advice, but anyone reading this think carefully before doing something you regret.   If you have children, they will be affected.  Not just talking about splitting up a family here, families split for genuine reasons other than a marital affair and sometimes it is unavoidable.   Just let them be children, where fairies and magic exists.  Adult traumas must not intertwine, a child should remain child as long as they can.

The adult world is not a great place to be.

Results of my meeting

Firstly, thank you to all the readers who have sent me messages of support and indeed asking me how the meeting went.  So, here is the summary.

Not sure why I was feeling nervous, possibly as the meeting was in a building that I had worked at 3 times so there was some fear I may see someone I know.  I had all my letters and evidence in a folder and felt prepared but why the nervousness?  In reality, I should have been excited but the wait in the reception room made it worse.  I also wondered if the 2 receptionists looked at me and knew I was another person who couldn’t pay their bills, another loser if you will.  But, I digress….

The meeting was an 85% success.  I cannot include ALL the tax debt, but most of it.  So, basically I can apply for Insolvency and in effect not pay £20,000 in tax debt.  I would need to pay the other £5000 as it counts as ‘personal tax liability’, but I can tackle that better than tackling £25,000.  The cost of the procedure is £4500 as well, which I need to pay up front but that may have been sorted if I can swallow my pride.

The explanation was really clear, my limited company will be wound up and not myself personally and the insolvency is only advertised (is advertised an appropriate word?  shamed would be better!) in the London papers.  I don’t live in London so that is not a problem.  I also received the clarification that it will not affect my job and I did not need to disclose it either.

Moving on to the plan.

I have to provide a mountain of information, all readily available from my accountant.  Interestingly, you need 2 creditors to apply for insolvency.  One is the HMRC, the other will be my accountant as I will no longer be allowed to pay them as the business bank account will be suspended.   I also need to provide a timeline of went wrong, but keep to the facts and resist the urge to state how the HMRC have made my life a living hell.  Some other documents and ID as well are needed, but all manageable.

I also have to type up a board meeting, with minutes, whereby the shareholders agree to wind up the company.  This is purely admin as I am the only shareholder/director so it just for show.

The person I met was extremely helpful, I think she could see how broken I was.  I am not putting this in here to give you all an image and to feel sorry for me either, this really has been a nightmare for me and I have a lost of lot because of it.  Both on a personal and health level.

The summary is that next Thursday I have my follow up meeting, pay the money, sign lots of things and it is taken out of my hands and into the Insolvency Act.   The whole thing takes 3-6 months but in that time the HMRC cannot contact me, cannot fine me and cannot charge interest.  I have handed over all my letters, that was a relief.  I have been hiding them away so I didn’t have to see them.  After that meeting, everything is in motion.

I was surprised how many meeting the team have, but for bigger companies than me.  Would you like to know the main reason these companies have had to ask for advise or apply for liquidation and/or bankruptcy?  HMRC FINES!!!   Oh how I understood, it is largely what made me unable to pay everything off.  I never imagined actual trading companies were in the same boat as someone like me.  Strangely it made me feel better, less like I was being singled out.

I feel a little better, but until I get the official letters I will remain guarded.  The fact is though, I should have done this ages ago.

Tomorrow is a very important day

Tomorrow I have a big meeting, yes another one.  However, this is life changing.

I have been speaking to an Insolvency Practitioner about keeping my tax debt separate from other debts, it transpires that I can do that as the company has no assets and I was the only employee.  I closed the company down in July, but the HMRC has kept it in their records as a trading company!. The company is unable to pay it’s debts, this it is insolvent.

Still with me?   good…

What works in my favour is the clear evidence I have made every single effort possible to pay back everything, which has been a huge amount of money.  I also pumped in £18,000 of my own money back into the company which left me unable to meet other demands.  It shows I have tried everything.

If I can achieve it, the insolvency will only go against my name as a company director and not myself personally.  But, it’s not cheap.

To set this up will cost £4000.  Wow you might say, but remember the outstanding debt is £25,000 so if you look at the 2 figures it is a small price to pay to finally stop this nightmare.   There will be some that now think, well hang on that isn’t fair so let me qualify it.

Remember, a quarter of the total money owed to HMRC is fines and interest.  The actual bills were paid, not on time I know, but paid.  The figures grew which were more of a struggle to keep up.  The more I missed, the more I got fined, the bigger the total was each month and so on.   And, from reading my posts, you will see I have been on my knees but still paid as much as I ever could.  But, I can’t pay what I do not have.

Additionally, I am not including my own personal debt.  I am totally committed to paying it off, and I will do.

Appointing an Insolvency Practitioner means they deal with the HMRC directly now too, so they can’t flood me with threats every single week.   I had to look at what this was doing to me, the dread of the unknown number on my phone, the constant fear of hearing the mail being delivered.  It is not healthy to be constantly worrying, and to be harassed to the point of no return.  I would rather be banned from being a company director for 5 years and walk away with the knowledge I paid back nearly £100,000 before I could do no more.  I think you will agree the effort has been there.

What I hope is the financial evidence review goes well, and that I am allowed to be separate the insolvency.  If it doesn’t, I am utterly doomed.

So fingers crossed please my beloved readers and followers.  I will update you all tomorrow night.

Did I run over a Leprechaun or something??

Well well, after writing my previous blog post about my concerns for November, it just got worse!  Seriously, I have run over a leprechaun or let a posse of black cats cross my path?  As days go, yesterday was not a great day.

Started badly, had a minor toothache for days which increased to the point of emergency dentist visit time.  I hate the dentist anyway but sadly, I couldn’t eat on one side of my mouth so had no choice.  One X-Ray later, absess above a tooth in my jaw.  Oh joy, and the tooth is infected too.  So, this tooth is being removed next week but now I have a bill for the injection and removal, and antibiotics.  Not budgeted for this at all but I need to eat, although ironically I may not have much money left for food!

We move on…..

Knock on the door, cheery postman awaits with a parcel and an apology. “Sorry mate, just pulled your gate off the wall by mistake”.  Brilliant, so my front gate is now hanging off.  Had a look at it, yep it’s totally knackered so need a new iron gate and 2 new holes drilled in the solid brick to fit it.  That can wait though, just means animals can now wander into my front garden at will.

My car was struck from behind at the end of July, finally picked up yesterday.  I was supposed to get a high end car as a replacement however it is a small car.  A very small car.  Sucked this up but went out yesterday evening to a friend’s house and when I left I made a fateful decision.  Rather than take the motorway, I decided to go the back rounds over the hill back to mine.  Decision was based on the fact there had been a minor accident so I went the other way.  Came over the hill and got flagged down by a policeman, apparently I was doing 40 in a 30 zone.  Really?  I didn’t think that car did over 30.  The joke didn’t go down well so I got a fine and speeding points.

Got home, one of the cats has been sick over my fresh bedding.

What is going on eh?   My luck appears to be on a downward spiral, not entirely sure why.  The problem with being in debt is everything seems worse when it happens.  If I wasn’t in debt, a broken gate / dentist bill / speeding ticket would be something you could suck up.  But when you are already struggling, new bills seem 10 times worse.

I love this quote:

The only good luck many great men ever had was being born with the ability and determination to overcome bad luck.

Still trying to remain positive but, come on, give me a break!

November could be a tough month

Payday Friday…yay.  No wait, boo.  Checking what has to be paid during November, I may be in trouble.   In fact, I will be..

I have a few extra unplanned bills, not new debts, but repair bills and half term children entertainment to pay for.   I have always tried to keep on top of the house and it’s upkeep, I was told a long time ago by a builder friend to try and repair things as soon as you notice them, if you leave it…the problem worsens.   So, I have managed to do that.

But, next month I need to find an additional £500. That is a fair amount of money for someone in my position but not a lot I can do.

I really hate being in the position where I don’t look forward to my paydays anymore.  Now, being paid merely serves a purpose, there is no room for treats or luxuries nowadays, just bills and multiple debt repayments.   That is my dream though, to be paid and have nothing bar the essential payments coming out.  Actually having disposable income is a pipe dream I’m afraid.

So what am I going to do about it?  well, I still enter hundreds and hundreds of competions. I have done well but right now I need to win some more things, primarily to sell for cash.   I have also been busy researching freelance part time jobs, being as I get a lot of time to myself.   What else is there, nothing that I can see.

Run out of things to sell too, apart from myself ha ha!   But, I have found the internet is full of tips, and so are so many of the blogs I am following.  These blogs are really inspiring stuff, at some point I hope my blog becomes an inspirational one rather than me moaning!

The scrimping continues though, amazing how little you can spend when you don’t have to.

Congratulations! Someone has nominated you for a UK Blog award!

Received a couple of these yesterday:

Congratulations! Your blog Divorced and in Debt has been nominated for a blog award! This means that someone has recognised the dedication and hard work you have put into your blog. Your blog has been entered into the Lifestyle and we are writing to you today to ensure you are happy to be considered for awards in these categories.

Thank you, you lovely people.  I have had a few nominations for the the UK Blog awards.  No idea why, but thank you.  Nice to be recognised but more importantly an honour that people enjoy my blog.

If you enjoy reading, I can continue to enjoy writing it!