Tag Archives: advice

Helpful guest post

I chat a lot with Debt Therapy Scotland (@), sharing my experiences and reading some of their reader’s stories.  I have agreed to post something from them.  So many helpful links here, and I hope it helps some of you.  Perhaps if I have had access to some of this I could have progressed faster.

10 Best Personal Finance Blog Reads From Around The Web

We’ve been reading a lot of personal finance blogs lately and it’s high time we shared some of these excellent reads with you! There is so much useful information out there from UK personal finance bloggers on how to manage money, pay off debt and save money.

Here are our top 10 favourite blog posts in recent weeks:

If you’re looking for motivation to pay off your debt, check out how Ricky from Skint Dad is intending to kick debt’s butt. In this post, Ricky explains his financial situation in full and how he’s planning to tackle his debt.

If you’re living in Scotland and wanting to clear your debt, you might find Debt Therapy Scotland’s site useful. They provide all sorts of info on a trust deed in Scotland as well as Debt arrangement schemes and sequestrations.

Pauline from the Savvy Scot wrote about some ways to make money with what you already have. The great part about making money with things you’ve already acquired is that there is no risk or extra costs involved. Read Pauline’s post for some useful money making ideas.

Graham from Moneystepper wrote Britain’s Not Ready for Retirement! In this post, Graham takes a close look at statistics revealed by AXA Self Investor and explains why some people in Britain aren’t saving enough for retirement. He also provides a helpful formula for working out how much to save.

There was a helpful post over at Money Bulldog about what information doesn’t go on your credit report. Common misconceptions have been debunked about whether certain personal details are made available and whether council tax arrears and parking fines for example are included.

Abi from Bunny on a Budget wrote about cheap things to do at home with the kids. There’s no doubt that entertaining kids can be expensive, especially during school holidays. Yet there are many fun things to do at home with the kids which will not only keep them busy, but won’t drain your pocket either.

If you can relate to debt stress, you might like this post from Debt Spot on Dealing with the Stress of Debt. There are some good coping strategies in this article along with an important message about seeking help if needed.

Joe from Budget Breakaway highlighted some of the common reasons why you may not be approved for your mortgage. If you earn under £25K per year as an individual or are self-employed, you may be affected. Read his post to find out more.

Andy from Be Clever With Your Cash wrote about why you shouldn’t ignore spam text messages. He explained how he’d recently been caught out and lost money due to deleting spam messages without reading them. Please head on over to his site to read more.

Richard from Frugality Magazine wrote about 4 proven ways to accelerate your early retirement plans. If retiring early is one of your financial goals, check out this post to see whether these strategies could benefit you.

We hope you enjoyed these great personal finance reads as much as we did! Please check our blog again soon for more posts like this. In the meantime, you’d like to talk to someone about your debt, please get in touch.

Deluded friend

Hi all

Again been busy with work and travelling, this time Poland.  I admit I went with trepidation as I expected the worst but what a lovely city Warsaw is.  It was nice to relax for a few days.   The blog does get left a bit nowadays but things should settle soon enough, work has been ultra busy but that is always good.

So, I have managed some gym sessions recently and saw a friend I haven’t seen for a long time.  Nice guy but makes bad decisions, I mean my history isn’t amazing but this guy takes the biscuit.  Years ago we were working on the same sorting aisle at the Royal Mail, on my final week he was fired!   Fired for theft actually, for stealing money from cards.   When you heard why, you had to wonder how someone can let themselves be so controlled that they need extra money.  So why did he do it?  Well he met a girl who dreamed of champagne lifestyle yet he was on a fish and chip budget.  He went and promised her the world and had to steal to fund it, silly silly boy.  Inevitably, when the money stopped, she left him.  Sounds a bit like my ex actually!

So, back to the gym.  I saw him and had a good catch up and quite by chance we got onto finances where I explained what a nightmare I had had (without the finer details obviously) with the HMRC.  His eyes widened as he listened to how I managed to finally get out of it and then he butted it with “The HMRC are after me”.

Oh my poor boy, pray tell why?  So, he was self-employed for a while and then gave it up but didn’t factor in he would still have to pay tax.  He owes £15,000, which compared to what I owed them didn’t faze me at all.   He explained how he had ignored every letter and it didn’t matter as they all went to his parents address and he didn’t live there.

I tried to give him the words of wisdom needed, wisdom gained from personal experience as you all know.  They will find you I said, they will turn up at your parents address and so forth.   I felt sorry for him until I asked him if he had anything to sell, his reply was this:

“Nope, only my brand new Jag”.

Pardon me?   the brand new top of the range Jaguar sports car you are driving?   I asked why he didn’t sell the 40 grand car, pay off the HMRC and still then have enough for a top of the range car.  Sadly his reply is unprintable but along the lines of why should he.

You see, this is my big issue, why was I persecuted to the point of breakdown when I was actually making payments and had paid back an obscene amount of money yet this guy is giving them the middle finger and living the high life.  My issue is that the HMRC fails to treat everyone the same, I was once told they will target you more if they feel you have the money.  That is why they were on my case every single week.

My own ethics don’t allow me to tip them off, but I would love to.  I lost respect for him then and there, I struggled for years.

But, the poor deluded fool truly believes it will be this way forever.  It won’t…they will find you and they will take your car.

You cannot hide forever.

HMRC just won’t let it lie

Long day today, stuck in traffic and it took a while to get home.  When I did, checked my mail and there it was – a brown envelope.  Avid readers will know I hate them, it takes me ages to open it as it creates fear and brings me out in a sweat.  They are never nice and they are always from the HMRC, so I knew this wouldn’t be good.

What a shock (sarcasm), they have totally ignored the letter from my Insolvency Practitioner and sent me a demand for Corporation Tax, £14663 payable immediately.  We expected this to happen, purely because they know they have threated me before and I have somehow raised the funds to pay them off.  Not this time, I have sent the letter over to my IP for them to deal with.  This was the point of going through business insolvency, to stop this.  One week after the declaration and the HMRC ignore it.

I cannot think of one good word to say the HMRC.  They are like a dog with a bone, they bully and harass you until you break and care not for your personal stories or strife.   They want the money you owe, the money they added on, and the money they will add on when you can’t pay after a month.   It stops now.

Before I started this blog, I read a lot of forums about to stop these threats and the amount of pages of broken souls desperate for some sort of a solution to stop the letters, phone calls and visits.   I felt for all of them, I was lucky that I could pay off such massive amount of money but it did me no favours.

The best advice I have been given is not to pay.  If you are in trouble, do not pay.  Most of us want to pay, including me, as it is the right thing to do.  However if that debt target continues to move then you are never going to catch up.  I thought I was doing the morally right thing but no.  I should have said years ago I couldn’t pay and stopped it there and then.

There are times in your life when right is actually wrong, and this is one of them.

At least I can pass this letter on, legally they cannot threaten me any more.   On a positive note, I found 21p today!  I continue to find small coinage.  Every little helps!

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!

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.

Lessons I have learnt about debt

When you are desperate to clear your debts, you look into as many options as you can.  And, those options have been repeated by well being comments via this site.   They are all top tips and good advice, however this is what I have found out.

There are many ways to help with debt and financial difficulty, some work, some don’t and some are not applicable sadly.   What I have found out is that is depends on your debt and current situation. The factors that affect how you can get help are your job, the money you earn, who you owe money to and your health.

There are only 2 easy ways out of clearing your debt, and I use the word easy as your debt will be wiped out BUT your life as a future creditor is over.  They are, of course, Bankruptcy and Insolvency.   These 2 options come with drastic consequences but depending on your life situation, it may be a great move for you.  For instance, if you were single with no kids and could start again, is losing your home to clear your debts a bad thing?  Compare that with a family faced with the same option, and the single person can look positively at it.   Insolvency is similar, but costs a fair bit of money to set up.  It is unlikely you will have a spare thousand or 3 to set it up but you CAN include tax debt and it is unlikely you will lose your home.

Tax debt, we have mentioned it so many times, but any money you owe to the Government cannot be included in any conventional debt relief schemes and loans.   I am stating this fact again so that you understand why I could not take up some of the options.

Loans – so many loans available, but in 2 categories.  Unsecured and Secured.   Unsecured is not an option for anyone with bad credit.  It is a NO immediately.  So, secured loans are an option.  The drawback is obvious, you are moving all your debt into a loan directly against your home.  The interest rates are quite high too.  For example, I looked at a £25,000 secured loan and the amount to pay back was a hefty £33,000.  Additionally, you can only borrow an amount that is comparitable with your equity.  So if you have 10K equity, you can only borrow 10K.

Bad credit equals no new credit cards, so no consolidating balances onto different credit cards with lower interest rates.

Bank loans, again if you are honest you will lose.  Sadly, I was too honest for my own good.  Mention tax debt and it is goodbye sir, good luck.  Quite why HMRC debts are ringfenced are beyond me.  Same with mortgage payment holidays or partial payments, mention what it is for and it is a NO.

Debt Charities, wonderful for advice but really geared for smaller debt problems and often solved by re-budgeting or making key changes in your lifestyle.  They do a wonderful job helping people but again, I would say this is for ‘normal debt’.

So what does work?

Well, for me, it looks like Insolvency.  However, there is only one other thing that has helped me, and that was the use of a reputable debt consolidation/management company.  I did my own research, found a good one that I will happily recommend them should anyone ask.  It was the only option whereby I could include most of my debts and debtors and have them all move into a monthly lower payment.  The company got my interest frozen for 12 months and a decent payment plan which meant, importantly, that I was still decreasing the balances.  The cynical will state you pay a fee each month, and you are absolutely right to say that.  I pay £30 month fee, now if you compare that to the combined interest of all the bills which was £136/month then it was worth it.  The extra money left allowed me to pay back 2 other loans.

To summarise, research all options and don’t go with the popular choices.  Not all of them are a fit for individual circumstances, most importantly don’t ‘panic sign up’ to things.  Honestly, if you have a tax debt like me then don’t waste your time on standard solutions, as it cannot be included.

It is a world geared towards the wealthy, if you are down and out you have to fight like mad to recover from it or get really lucky.  That is how I have found it to be.

Sometimes the truth has to wait

As a parent, I would never lie to my children.  It is important not to do that, and it teaches them a valuable life lesson – in my opinion.   However, there is an agreeable difference when it comes to divorce as there are some details that you have to swallow as an adult.

Some questions are easy to answer, an example from my daughter “why do adults get married if they only divorce?”.  This is a perfectly acceptable question from a child who has watched her parents spilt up.  It’s a tricky one, answered with cliché answers of “sometimes adults just fall out of love, but we still love you very much”

And there is my issue, you simply cannot answer truthfully can you?  “Sorry darling, but mummy was naughty and decided she didn’t want us to be a family”.  And why can’t you answer this way?  Well, quite simply, because children have a perfect view of the world so I am forced to swallow the truth and anger and reply in the most mature way I can.

That’s life isn’t it, you protect the children and their innocence.  When it comes to an affair, one adult must always maintain a safe supportive demeaner, whilst the other one waltzes around stating bizarre sentences which only confuse the children.  One classic from my ex is:

“mummy and daddy will always love each other, but mummy loves someone else more”.

Brilliant, and I am trying to refrain from sarcasm in my blog, but it is obvious that all questions should be put through me for filtering!

One day, the children will be old enough to demand the answers and they shall receive them.  Despite what my ex put me through I will never slate her, as she is their mother.  But rest assured, the anger I have for everything will never rest.  The kids will then make their own balanced decisions, and I can rest easy knowing I did nothing to influence this.

Tricky being an adult isn’t it?

Brief restbite from the real world

I was lucky enough to be on the VIP guest list at a world famous beer festival yesterday, which is normally not something I would attend.  I rarely drink, out of choice and it saves me money!   But I had a really brilliant time, so brilliant in fact I can’t remember most of it!  long time since I have had a hangover like this one, almost like being 18 again!

But, it served a purpose going there.  It gave me a chance to catch up with mates, it didn’t cost me anything but the train fare, and it also allowed me to briefly forget what has been going on.

It was interesting though, one of the chaps who attended opened up when he was drunk about his wife had left him and he was having a terrible time.  Made a change to listen to someone else, although his was not money related problems I could totally empathise with his marriage issues.

To highlight my problem though, one of the other guys (really nice guy actually) inherits millions when his parents die.   That is one hell of an inheritance!  I tried to become his best friend!  I’m joking, I wouldn’t do that..but millions of pounds overnight, wow.

Checked my lottery ticket just in case I inherited millions, not a bean!

Tomorrow is a new day, going to use it to find other ways to make extra money.  I have some spare evenings, there must be something I can do right?