Lucky Streak!

What an interesting week, been travelling a lot but coming home to exciting mail.  5 competition wins in 7 days, yep…5.  Not cheap ones either, a nice cash win (only my second ever) being one of the wins.  Also the 2 Kindles and now 2 juicers!  One of the juicers is worth £170, but no place in my home for it so ebay it will end up on.

This is an unusual turnaround but emphasises what I have said many times before, you can go months winning nothing then you get a flood!  There is no reason for it, just pure luck of the draw!   The little cash win was a nice pre-Christmas boost, and one of the juicers is black which matches my kitchen sides so a good fit!

It is always a bonus to win the things you either wanted or can sell, especially if of high value!   All the evening hours of entering these competitions make it so worth it.  I truly think all the wins have made a difference to my finances, but also to the outward appearances of my lifestyle.   Anytime that I can add something nice and posh to my home, without buying it, makes me look more successful in other people’s eyes.   I know we shouldn’t care what people think, I never used to but ever since the spectre of debt I have been oh too aware of people’s opinions!

The important thing – say nothing.   Nobody needs to know about these wins, just get on with placing them in your home or selling them.   It is all about self-improvement, and I myself made the effort to win these things by the hours of filling out forms.  Makes a change from filling our financial forms I guess!

December is a big month for competitions, so many Christmas and advent competitions.   Easily 4 times as much effort needed but the rewards are higher.  Anyone else struggling, give it a go.   Never get disheartened either, you will win.  The law of averages decides that for you.   If you can afford a laptop and broadband, nothing can stop you.

Hopefully the lucky streak will continue on, makes a nice change to be honest.

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Week of illness

What a nightmare week, health wise.  I have not been this ill in years, total and utter wipeout.   Flu like symptoms with the additional joy of severe stomach stickness and fluctuating body temperature.  One minute roasting hot, the next shivering under 3 blankets.  Add to that not eating in over 40 hours and virtually no appetite after that..yep, I look great this week!

It started with my son, he had it first but seemed to have gotten rid of it.  When it was kicking in with me I knew it was going to be a bad one!   By some luck, the kids were due to stay at the ex’s house from midweek and this proved to be a superb piece of timing.  Had I had them, I would have had to have sent them away, I had no strength whatsoever.   Consequently, I have had my first sick days in 3 years.

This actually highlights perfectly what a great decision it was to take a permanent role.  Previously I was self employed of course, any days missed meant no pay.  This time, that was not the case.  Backlog of work yes, but no loss of anything else.

This week has not been a total right off.  2 more pieces of financial good news, one from a competition win (yes another one) and one from an admin error from 2010.   The competition win was a cheque for £150 received from a competition win, only the second time I have ever won actual cash, always nice though as it goes straight into your bank account.   Then, yesterday, I got a letter from my mortgage company stating 2 letters, that I had received in 2010, had the wrong information meaning they had been fined by the financial institute.   Consequently, £760 has been knocked off my mortgage balance.  Not a fortune but almost a month’s mortgage payment and I will never grumble about owing less, be it £760 or £7.60!

One minor setback this week is that I have noticed my backdoors are rattling.  No, that is not a euphemism!!   I mean the locks have dropped slightly on the glazed doors so they rattle in the wind.  Luckily a minor repair but the £150 won should cover it.

Hopefully be back to full fitness next week.  As expected, I received little help from the ex but that is nothing new.  What is emphasises again is how hard it is being a single parent, all is well when you are ok but if you are under the weather then things start to get tough.

As a parent you get on with it.

Odd but apt horoscope

Need to make something very clear right off the bat, I rarely read horoscopes as I think they are too generic.  However, I happened to log into yahoo and this was on the home page.  I am a Gemini, but how specific and apt is this????

Horoscopes Yahoo Celebrity

·         Gemini

21/5-21/6

It will be difficult to get a loan or additional line of credit. You’ll have to do the best you can with existing funds. Saving money will take time, so be patient. Fortunately, there are some exciting career opportunities ahead. By pursuing a high profile position, you’ll be able to earn the money for a hefty deposit. Working in a glamorous industry will bring out the best in you. You’ll enjoy all the creative challenges such a job affords.

Thought it was amazing that it mentioned loans, credit and savings and a good job.  Like I said, I don’t follow horoscopes but this was worth sharing.  Of course it is only apt to me, to most other people it would mean nothing.  Shows you how you read into things.

For me, getting a loan or credit is not just difficult but impossible!  My credit history is shot to pieces but that is a blessing in disguise as I don’t want any loans.  I am doing well to clear my debt, managed to pay off another £600 this month.  Soon I will be back to zero and start again.  I say soon, about 2 years I think.

That will be a good day, the day I am ‘debt free’!

I should wish for things more often!

Many of you who read yesterday’s post may have noticed this line:

Still hopeful some of these competition entries pay off, haven’t won anything notable for a while.

This morning I opened an exciting email, I won not one but TWO Kindle Paperwhite e-readers.  How awesome is that?  I wanted a Kindle for ages but couldn’t afford one as you know, now I have 2!   Ordinarily I would sell an expensive prize but you know what?  I am keeping one and have given one to a very good friend of mine.  She is a single mum and has had a torrid time of it at the moment, awaiting redundancy and panicking about Christmas.  She can now give her son a Kindle.

From all the advice I have given, entering competitions is so worth it.  I have won some great prizes, some useful prizes, some expensive prizes and of course fun prizes!   It is odd I mentioned yesterday I hadn’t won for a while and then 2 at once.  Not just that fact, but I prize I really wanted!  No more boring train journeys for me.

It is always nice to win something on the 1st of the month too, gives you that push to enter loads more!  December is a great competition month, ten times more than normal due to advent competitions.

I hope to update you with further wins soon!

Am I allowed to be smug?

Well now, it seems like my ex-wife is having a hard time of it at the moment with some bad luck.  So, do I act smug or not react at all?  Is this where we battle with Karma?  I have been waiting for a long long time for Karma to pay her a visit, but if I gloat am I inviting Karma to come back for me?  Tricky one isn’t it?

Sod it, I’m going to allow myself a wry smile.

Lest we forget what I have been put through by her, and then all the other personal nightmares I have had.   At some point everyone who has been wronged secretly hopes for some sort of retribution?   It doesn’t have to be anything major but something is good.

Over the last week she has had some a couple of bits of bad news/luck.  Nothing to do with me of course, I don’t tend to meddle in people’s lives.  The timing is not good of course, we are now in the Christmas countdown so any unnecessary, unexpected expenses are unwelcome.  I, more than most, know the stress of those little unwelcome financial surprises.   It is nice though that it is her, and not me, on the receiving end.

Those who follow the blog will, hopefully,  understand my attitude, new followers please read from the very beginning.  Whether Karma exists is debatable, perhaps life just catches up with people in it’s own time.   I am not exactly sure what I believe but I do know that I believe that we are on a path, but the steps are never set in stone (pardon the pun).   Depending what decision you make, your life takes the appropriate turns.  Make enough effort to cope with bad times, and the good times come back. Equally, if you continue to coast through life, treating people like garbage, then at some point you hit a bad turn.  I think, actually I hope, this is one of hers.

It is her turn to struggle a little bit, and I am ok to be smug.  Each week I chip away at the debt, and try my hardest to improve my life through effort and research.

Isn’t it strange, someone you once said that you would love forever you now cannot stand?   But, if you take enough hits from them then sadly that love is broken down.

Her time has been coming, is it now my time to shine?

I truly hope so.

Black Friday (UK) deals

What a busy day bargain hunting, but not for the same bargains as the masses of other hysterical people.   I don’t think it has ever taken that long to get to town, are they savings though?  Most of the ones I saw online were based on RRP prices from July, but needless to say there were bargains to be had.

I did most of my research online and, as such, I then nailed 6 xmas presents today!   I spent less than £100 looking for toys.  Bargain hunters seem to aim for the high end electrical goods but these will depreciate in value quickly, but toys at a 1/4 of the price?  That’s Christmas sorted for my nephews and nieces.  Quite pleased with myself actually.

That is the point of living on a shoestring, you are delighted with any saving you can find!  You all know I was worried about Christmas and how to afford it.   It’s tough and scary, nobody wants to fail as a parent.  They want happy faces on their kids, so I strive to do that.  I don’t care if I don’t have brand new clothes or things in my home, those times will come again I am sure.

Still hopeful some of these competition entries pay off, haven’t won anything notable for a while.

Next week is December, still some shopping to get done but most of it will be online I think.   I am lucky that where my office is, is right on a major high street so any additional shopping is done on my lunch hour.  This saves extra trips in the car as well, see how I count the savings now?

How boring a life that is, but necessary.  If I have learnt anything from this debt nightmare it is how to find the things you need for less.  That is a life skill I will hold on to if (when) I win the lottery!

We can all dream……..

Underestimated the admin!

Apologies for the quietness, been so busy!  Not just with work, but all the admin!   I knew I would have forms to fill in for the Insolvency but wow.

I had already completed a mountain of paperwork and forms, but then I received my ‘director questionnaire’ from the high court.  It is 48 pages, 46 of which are questions around your financial acumen and how you conducted yourself.  Most of them I could answer but some of the questions are so ambiguous that it is hard to know what to put!

Questions such as “Did you, or are you/have you been aware of, any directorship directly or indirectly linked to the “company” at the perceived date?”  what perceived date??  confused…so I put no!  Or did they mean the company that has gone Insolvent?  Who knows.

I did my best with it though, and was as honest as I could be.

In addition, I had the car accident back in July.  I finally received my medical report and proceed forms.   Again, 28 pages of reporting on a meeting I had ages ago, and then an expenses form for minor trivial expenses.   Again, all done and in the post.

As if my hand was aching enough, I attended my Driver Awareness Course and was handed renewal forms for my driving license as that expires in 8 months.  It feels like there is a mountain of paperwork that I have got through but luckily I have a huge backup of stamps to use!

Sometimes you have to get this stuff done, and things like my blog and entering competitions are forced to take a back seat.

But, all admin is done and out of the way, so back to real life.  Is that a good thing???

Each day is another step forward

A major part of being in major debt and dealing with an affair, and the subsequent split/divorce, is that you are always looking to make improvements.  When my life was stable, as in I was happy and with manageable standard debt like credit cards, I just took life as it was.   Having your life largely controlled by external factors doesn’t just change you emotionally, it changes your whole way of acting.

A large part of every week is looking for improvements that will lead to a saving of some sort, small and large savings all help.  Sometimes I get a result, this week I have saved 25% off my council tax yearly bill after the local council conceded that I do in fact live alone.  I have been trying for 2 months to prove this, made difficult by the fact my ex is still on the mortgage and electoral role.  A fact that is changing next year by the way.   A fantastic saving though that will help me enormously.

This is another example though of a saving that helps not just me, but my children.  Every extra penny gives us a better life, or as better a life as I can give them.

My competition entering continues to go well, another 3 kids prizes won this week.  Makes the effort worth it.

I often wonder where my week has gone.  I spend the week working, being a dad, entering competitions, following up ways to get in extra money (PPI claims, Financial Ombudsman are 2 good examples), and online shopping around.  Oh and Ebay, a way of making money and finding things you want at a fraction of the cost.

I do hate it though, I would love a life of not having to do this.  It takes a lot of work, but the rewards make it worth doing.  Perhaps I miss out some things I like but not all, and at least I get my children 4 nights a week.

I read a lot of other debt related blogs, and I know they read this one.   The biggest fact I had to learn quickly was not to sit and break down.  It is unlikely you will ever get out of it by sitting and praying for a miracle, so look for ways to make it better.   Savings and advice will always help.  You might not like some of things you have to do, for example my Insolvency decision, but if it can you through the other side then never worry about people’s opinions.

You can never stop feeling ashamed by your situation, just don’t dwell in it.

All done – Insolvent

Well, the meeting happened today and it’s official – My company is insolvent.   Loads of forms for me to sign but importantly none of my creditors turned up to the meeting, which made it really easy.

There were 4 creditors due, my bank, my accountant and the HMRC (2 debts) and none were interested in attending.  Although that is good news, it kind of shows how you are viewed.  The debt of £24,000 is massive to me but apparently not worth anybody else’s time!

What happens now is that all the forms and reports are sent to the creditors and Companies House, and I will appear in the paper next Thursday.  Coincidentally, I am in London next Thursday so may buy the financial paper out of morbid curiosity.   It is sad though, I worked very hard to set myself up but in the end, the HMRC and family related issues meant I could never carry it on.  Once you find yourself in trouble, you rarely get out of it.

With regards to the timelines, everything will be completed by 31st January 2015.  Any of the Creditors, before that time, can challenge anything they like but as my company has a total asset listing of NIL, the Insolvency Practitioner and I find it unlikely we will see that challenge as it is a waste of time.

I don’t feel great about it at all though, a lot of you will think I should be relieved but not really.   It’s still a form of giving up in my eyes but life teaches you that you cannot fix every situation.  Sometimes you have to stand up and say “I’ve done all I can, help?” and this is what happened here.

For anyone going through this, or planning on Insolvency, this is what it means to me personally.   The Insolvency goes against my company and not me personally, meaning I do need to declare it.   The Insolvency does not touch personal possessions so I won’t lose my home.  Finally, it stops brown envelopes.  The flood of them with the associated threats.

For that peace of mind, the decision has been the correct one.

Run of bad luck continues

Those who follow my blog are aware, by now, that bad luck follows me avidly.  I seem unable to avoid it, but still hope that at some point my luck will turn.  Perhaps not strictly bad luck this time, but I will put it in the same bag if I may.

The point I always try to make is that I never seem to be able to not pay out for things, I just never get a clean break.   Despite looking forward to my Insolvency meeting tomorrow, and the promise of a glimmer of financial freedom, 2 more things have happened.  One will most definetly hit my bank account, the other…maybe not.  It will totally depend on whether I bother to get it repaired.

So, my dishwasher has broken.   It’s irritating timing, like most things that break I guess.   I will need to get it repaired as the kids and pets generate lots of things to wash up.  I have no idea how much it will be, but whatever the cost it will eat into my Christmas budget.

Now the next one.  Last time I got home quite late, due to a major road being closed on the way home.  The lateness meant there was little parking in my road, so I was forced to park right up the other end, the first car parking space in the road actually.  I walked up to get it this morning and discovered some total scumbag has keyed it.  They have dragged a key along every panel of the passenger side.   Remember I have only just got the car back from the repair place, so I was livid.  Actually, livid doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I have never understood why people do this to cars, what do they get out of it?   I would love to catch someone, I really would.

The car will cost a lot of money to put right but am I going to do it? no….I don’t have the money at all and what’s the point?  Evidently we cannot have nice things (although the car is 5 years old now but still in nice looking shape), lowlife people take it upon themselves to wreck them.  They are unaware of how my life has been of course, as they dragged their key down my car, laughing.   For me, I was raging.  I suspect this is a build of emotion and frustration recently.

It does feel personal, all these things that keep happening.  At the risk of repeating previous post themes, I feel like life is doing all it can to stop me getting back on my feet quickly.  It feels personal too as it doesn’t seem to happen to anyone else I know, always me.

I have to ask, when will it stop?

How did I end up in this mess?