Need help to make sense of my finances(21 Posts)
I really need some help making sense of my finances. I've been burying my head in the sand, used what was in my isa up and am now constantly about £1,500 overdrawn and have £2,000 on a credit card.
My total income is £1,800 a month including my wages, child benefit and tax credits.
After paying rent, travel to work, car insurance, council tax, wAter, electricity, mobile, broadband, paying £50 off my credit card and childcare. I'm left with £300.
Out of this comes everything else. I currently have Netflix £5.99 which I could get rid of. I also pay £40 for my daughters swimming lessons which I am reluctant to stop but I could.
I'm not sure where else I can cut back. Or what I can do. I work from home half the week which saves me a lot of money on travelling so can't cut the broadband.
Everything feels bleak and i can't see how to improve things.
It's hard to know where to start and I'm far from an expert but a few first steps:
Write down everything you spend over the course of a month. Everything. Including that 25p pack of sweets from Asda. Be brutally honest with yourself at the end of the month to see where your money is going.
Check to see if you can get a better deal on your gas and electricity. Likewise with your phone, broadband, etc.
Check out Money Saving Expert, the forums are very useful and there is an area on the forum where people put up their expenses and people give a lot of feedback on where you can do better/make savings. Be prepared though, they can be brutal.
There are lots of little things that seem like they won't make a difference, but they all add up, e.g. switching to own brands, shopping from oops aisle, turning down the thermostat, making sure everything's switched off at the plug, etc. If you do any online shopping consider signing up to quidco or similar to earn a little extra, it's not much, but it can add up.
Are you paying interest on your cc? If you are, can you consider switching to a 0% one?
I don't have kids so I have nothing to compare but £40 seems a lot for swimming lessons. Cancelling that is obviously the last thing you want to do, but are there cheaper options?
Thank you for your response. The swimming is at a council pool so I don't think I'll get cheaper but I'll ask around.
My credit is interest free at the moment. Thank goodness but I'm trying to get that down. A big expense for me is travel to work but I can't cut that down anymore working from home is saving me about £140 a month.
I will post on money saving expert. See if anyone has any advice. I phoned my mobile provider tonight I currently pay £33 a month but my contract ends in 20 days so will search around for a better deal
No advice just some sympathy. I'm in the same boat but with no dependent kids. Meeting all the bills you listed, on one income can be so depressing. I looked through my direct debits and the only thing I could cancel was my charity one. I just had to for the time being.
Do you need the car? I assume it's how you get to work, but it's also one of your riskiest assets in terms of suddenly needing a repair that knocks your finances for six.
Do you get a single person discount on your Council Tax? You don't mention a DP so I assume it's just you and your DD. Don't forget you have two Council Tax-free months coming up (assuming you pay over 10 months, I think most people do?) so make sure you chuck the spare money at the debt.
Ideally what you need to do is increase your income (don't we all!). Is it worth looking for another job? The amount of working from home you're allowed to do is a very attractive perk, but might be worth looking around for options. What about selling stuff on eBay, do you have anything you could flog.
Definitely get yourself another mobile contract - I've just had to up mine to 5000 minutes as I managed to burn through exactly 1500 the month before last; I use my phone for work. Anyway, that's £17/month with Tesco Mobile and that's more than enough as far as I am concerned. Both in terms of cost and quantity.
I would try to keep the swimming lessons if you can.
I wonder if it's worth going into a debt management plan - having your debt frozen and making sure you can't access any more. You're paying your debt off at such a low rate you might as well be in a plan and then at least interest would be frozen (I realise you're not paying any on the card right now). Without wishing to depress you, at your current rate of progress it will take you nearly 6 years to pay off the debt even if it's all interest-free. I would be looking to find a further 40 quid's worth of savings so you can keep the swimming lessons, and you would be debt-free in just over 3 years instead.
I have a contract with virgin for £5 a month ( as does dd) definitely worth a look.
Are you on your own as the only adult in the house, do you get the single person discount?
And although you don't want to lose your broadband package can you shop around for cheaper?
Thank you all so much for your advice and ideas. It hells to get it all written down.
I'm starting to think the best solution will be finding another job. I don't own anything I can. I don't have any gadgets or jewellery. The other idea I had was seeing if I could take a break from paying into my pension. I can cut a bit of my bills but think I need more money coming in to make a big difference.
A pension break might not be an awful idea if it gets you out of debt quickly.
I have a £5 a month contract with id mobile, I can get 4g in areas Dh can't even get signal with Vodafone.
Start with "moveable bills".
Food, shop at Aldi/lidl. Do try smartprice items. 20p spaghetti & £1 spaghetti is remarkably similar.
Electric/gas. Heat and light the room your in, switch off anything with a clock like a microwave or oven. If you have a hot water tank heat it for 20 minutes at 55c. If you have a combi lower the setting to 55c. If you can switch do so through moneysaving experts energy club, the cheapest deals are on there. Ll can't stop you changing now, you do have to tell them who your with when you leave though.
Mobile phone, shop around. Cross reference with quidco and topcashback. Then get topcashback to price match if quidco offers more. Tcb pay out quicker ime.
Contents insurance. Really cheap if you shop around and use tcb.
Broadband, compare and cross reference with cashback sites. Our sky Bb is equivalent to £6 a month after CB. Mils is £4 a month.
Council tax. Ask to pay over 12 months, it's less to find each month.
Car insurance, same as home, but see if you can put a parent on the insurance as a named driver. They don't have to live with you to do this.
Thank you for your ideas. It's so helpful to have another perspective.
I don't have contents insurance (which I know is bad) so can't save there but will definately look into paying council tax over 12 months I hadn't thought of that.
I didn't realise you could get broadband so cheaply. I pay £25 a month for line rental and broadband so will look at getting that down. Likewise switching energy supplier I thought as I rented I couldn't do that.
Thank you all. I'm increasing my hours at work from April so will have an extra £250 a month but guess my tax credits will be reduced.
thank you, feel like I'm starting to get a bit more of a grip on things. Only a bit but still a start
Are you claiming wtc for childcare, how much do you pay a montjand for how many dc?
And you rent, would it be possible to move either nearer to work or a cheaper property.
Obviously moving won't be practical in the short term due to the costs but maybe long term?
Please don't stop paying your pension. I think you would regret this in later years. I hope you manage to work out some savings on your line rental/mobile
I got a deal from EE for broadband and line rental. £18.99 a month plus an extra 5gb for my phone data. Don't know if the deals still running but with having a look
Another job might not want you to work as flexibly, though, OP.
Is it just you and your daughter? Could you get a water meter?
I'm assuming you are a lone parent? Can you chase her dad for some maintainence.
Just another suggestion (is your brain fried yet?) if you have to use child care for your dd, either during the day or during school holidays it might be worth checking if your employer offers child care vouchers. They come out of your wage, but are before tax, so it may not save you in the short term but in the long term.
I have giffgaff for my mobile, it's on a month by month basis as well so you can start at £5 per month and you could increase it for a month if you think you'll need more minutes or something in the next couple of weeks. If you do change to giffgaff can I be really cheeky and ask you to use this link: www.giffgaff.com/orders/affiliate/sarahcoalier and you'll get £5 credit and so will I. If you find a better deal that's ok.
Yes I'm a lone parent. I've got a water meter and I get working tax credits and child tax credits. I get maintenance from my daughter's dad it's not a lot but I've checked he's paying the right amount.
I work in central London so although my travel is high my rent is cheaper. I'm better off living further out. I have thought about moving further and starting again somewhere else. The only thing that ties me to this area is my job and being near my daughter's dad.
I know oohh that's me I feel a bit trapped in my job because they are so accommodating. If i got another job id have to weigh up cost of
Going into work Everyday and the wages.
Thank you all so much. No one in real life understands. My friends are all in couples and earn good salaries.
Op if you childcare costs are more than £175 a week you can also claim childcare vouchers from your employer and wtc childcare help.
However you can ONLY use vouchers for any amount above £175. The difference between whatever you receive from wtc childcare and £175 you have to pay.
Things I would not do:
-stop paying into pension. It's there for the future. Continue paying this. You'll regret it if you don't.
- don't cancel swimming. It's an important life skill. It could save her life. I grew up and still live on an island. I could swim before I could walk. It's important.
Can you: switch phone contract, ditch Netflix for a while (I go through binges where I watch a few shows then cancel), use car less,
Look at what you already have (toiletries clothes) and use these up before buying new. Or sell on eBay/gumtree. You'd be surprised what others will buy.
Can you ask for a payrise at work? Realistically are you due one? Do you deserve one?
And set up a dd to pay off some debt before the interest kicks in.
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