Determined to be debt free in 1 year(14 Posts)
Well here goes. I have finally bitten the bullet and have worked out that I can be debt free within a year. The only problem is that after all the bills and debt repayments go out each month. It shall only leave me with about 175 disposable income for the month which includes everything such as food, clothing, activities days out savings ect.
I'm starting to panic!
I always try to meal plan and budget for food and end up failing miserably. I end up in the supermarket and even with a list it always seem to be more than I have budgeted. We end up eating the same meals over and over for the rest of the month as I have spent the money.
There is me and dd in the household.
Of course my dd ends up having a growth spurt and not only needs about 3 pairs of shoes she has ruined all of the uniform I got brand new in september who give a four year old black marker?
At present I also have no savings for any emergencies the reason why I have this trouble on the first place.
I know what your are thinking and you'll all be saying concentrate on paying down debt then start saving but I need a cushion incase anything else crops up.
With the 175 for the month I want to spend only 80.00 on food for the month.Any meal plan ideas happily recieved. That leaves 95 for the month I plan to save 50 of this for the emergency fund. That leaves 45.00 for any activites and clothes.
I would be grateful for your wise words.
How many are you? £80pcm on food doesn't seem feasible unless it's just you and DD. Does she get lunch at school?
Would making your plans debt free in 2 years make life more comfortable?
Any chance of getting a job that pays more?
Don't panic! I'm sure we can work something out.
So Martin Lewis always says that paying down debt is better than saving, with the exception - you need access to money if you do have an emergency. If you have access to credit, then he says keep paying the debts, use credit for emergencies. If you don't have access to credit then it makes sense to save for emergencies, but you're basically paying twice if you don't need to, and TBH with the figures you've given, it sounds like you can't really afford it.
First priority: Are you paying off any credit cards via direct debit? You should cancel these immediately and switch to a standing order. You can keep it the same amount. The problem is that when you pay by DD, it works off percentages, so every time you pay some of, the amount goes slowly down by a few pence every month, you won't notice the increase in your own money and you'll never pay the whole debt off. If you pay by standing order at the current amount, it will stay at that amount (you can always increase it if your financial situation improves and/or debt increases.)
Secondly. Your next priority is to look at bills. What can you squeeze out there? Look at changing suppliers. If you've got anything unnecessary, e.g. big phone contract, sky, and you can't cancel it you can ask to be pushed down to the lowest package. Think about whether you could give anything up without being miserable/making life hard for yourself. Then look at any energy saving (and water, if you're on a meter) measures - try to use the oven as little as possible or double things up rather than turning it on several times a week or even day, make sure you switch things off at the plug at night, if you have a tumble drier, consider investing in a good quality clothes airer and using that.
Third. Is it worth stretching yourself so very thinly to pay off debts within a year? That is an ambitious target. If you stretched it out to two or three years, would it make the financial situation more manageable? You need to avoid stretching yourself so thinly that you actually can't afford to live and end up miserable - it's a great recipe for thinking "FUCK THIS!" and breaking out the credit card. Also, is it financially viable to combine any debts into one to reduce interest charges?
So to the cash - £80 for food for a month is not a lot. That's about £17 a week. Do you have to make sandwiches for your DD out of that or is she on school dinners? I recommend looking at Jack Monroe's website because they are very good at making food on a tight budget, and even have a few meal plans. Some recipes are nicer than others but generally, they are edible. But overall I'd try and move things around to increase the food budget. And then shop online for groceries. You can see the running total and meal plan as you go along, and it's easier to avoid impulse buys. Do it a few days in advance and the delivery charge isn't high, plus you can bulk buy staples when they are on offer and buy things like the 3kg bags of pasta. You might find that certain things are cheaper at discount stores like Aldi, and it's worth checking if you have one local (you could even walk around Aldi with a mobile phone connected to the tesco website to cross check) but if it costs you more to drive there, then it's probably not worth it.
If your income is low (I know you didn't say) then you might be able to claim healthy start vouchers which will go towards fruit, veg and milk so should be redeemable against a weekly shop.
You don't seem to have a category for the following, where do they come in?
- Household goods and toiletries (going to eat hugely into your £80)
- Travel/transport - do you have a car or use public transport, and where are the costs for this coming?
- Mobile phone - pay as you go, or is this on contract and counted in bills?
- School expenses - random things, christmas fair, non uniform day, extra lessons, trips, etc - where does this come from?
Argh I typed this and forgot to hit send and went away, so hopefully I'm not massively behind! Will post and see
I think it will be tough, but you can do it. Food budget is low but for treats and things do you have any family etc who can give days out or treats in lieu of prsesnts of stuff? Or who might say agree to feed you Sunday dinner once a fortnigtphtbor so? I could manage a very frugal year better than a penny pinching 2 ,years to achieve my goal so am firmly behind you!
I know its going to be hard to get into the swing of it but I believe its entirely doable. I could stretch out the length of time to longer than a year.But these debts have been lingering over my head and I just want them gone.
Within the area I live I have accesss to Farm foods and Lidl. I tend to bulk buy things like toliet rolls washing powder and tolietries so only buy them every few months or so I tend to use poundland and B&m and homebargains for this. I always have bread in the freezer and uht milk incase I run out midweek to stop me going to the shop. And I think I am going to take BertieeBotts advice and shop online that way I cannot be tempted by offers and itll be easier to stick to a list. Also I'm literally going to seel everything I neither need nor use on Ebay.
My Mobile is accounted for within the bills, and as for the school they tend to give you abuit of warning incase there are certain expenses.
Our days don;'t really seem to be expensive as we just tend to do special treats such as the Zoo, Cinema day trips shows and such on special occasions such as a Birthday or half term. I have always taken a packed lunch drinks and snacks wherever we go. This year our days out shall be all the free museums forest walks parks and to see family and an occasional trip to softplay which is ony 5.00.
Good luck, I think you can do it! Being frugal is actually quite liberating when you realise you don't need to spend money.
Make sure your utility bills are the cheapest you can find, same for phone. Giffgaff is cheapest.
Also, it doesn't matter if uniform has black pen on it, as long as it did her and is washed and clean. You don't need to buy a new one.
I agree about the uniform. If it fits and it's clean it's just fine. The new set will only get whiteboard pen on too. I'm on my third child in school and I've yet to find evidence of those 'washable pens' they use. Trust me if you bothered to look 85% of the other kids will have those marks too.
As for shopping, weekly meal planners are you friend. Plan and make a list, and try and use the same things for each meal. Ie if you buy a celery use it in several meals that week. Costs less and saves a fridge full of half eaten bits wilting away. I find a casserole or pasta dishes at the end of the week uses up most odds and ends so ends up being quite a cheap meal.
Also check you have made provision for things that you pay yearly or quarterly like car tax and MOT, then you don't end up blowing a whole months budget by surprise.
Finally good luck. It's a nice feeling to be in control and not worrying over your debt isn't it! I really hope this time next year you'll be laughing.
If you shop online, don't forget you'll have to pay delivery charges. We've cut back a lot over the last 18 months, I think look at offers but am good at only buying those that we already use or work out cheaper than something else I presented buy - you can do it.
I'm not sure if you have a car - if so, walk wherever is doable, even if it means extra trips to the shops as you can only carry back so much then. If you need to pay for public transport, then make the most of your trip and buy anything coming up you'll definitely need.
Look out for freebie websites if you have time. You won't get loads off them, but it's all extras towards food etc.
Look at your insurances, do you really need everything you're covered for. You can phone and check if necessary. Also, would utility bills be cheaper elsewhere.
It's important to get yourself out, even a walk locally is good. When it's warm enough you could take sandwiches. Having friends to play for your DD can break it up, you don't have to spend loads of food - value biscuits and if for tea or lunch value sandwiches.
If clothes become really old and tatty, and you can't sell them, cut them up and use them for cleaning cloths - saves buying them. Use a tiny bit less toothpaste, cleaning things - it all adds up.
Don't know what you like eating, but I always find it handy to have value tomatoes, value rice, value pasta in and onion handy for adding flavour if I haven't got much in - you can throw most veg, pulses, mean, fish in with this. We spend about £15 pp on grocery shop here, this includes cleaning stuff, bottle of wine once a week, salmon or chicken fillets once a week (so could cut back)
Sign up to Top Cash Back as well. Then go through that for anything you do online. You can earn lots of cash back to go towards Christmas or holidays or indeed the debts.
Also get on the forums of Moneysaving Expert. The Oldstyle board is fabulous, especially the Grocery Challenge thread. Also the Debtfree Wanabe board. Ask on there for them to look at SoA and ask about snowballing your debts. Have a good mooch around the other boards as well.
Muscle foods might be good for you, it depends how much freezer space you have.
Have you checked your on the cheapest tariffs for energy and phone etc?.
Oh yes I wanted to say that about uniform, too. I think it's okay to leave it with the pen on it. It's different to having food all down it all the time. And when she grows out of it, see if they have a second hand uniform sale through school from parents of older kids who've outgrown theirs. You could look on local facebook selling groups for uniform, as well. If they don't have one, if the school has a facebook page or a PTA, you could suggest one (I'd probably wait until you have a non stained set to sell on, though!)
This is good from Jack's site:
And she did this recently - meal plan for a family of four for £35 for a week. Obviously you want yours around £18ish instead, but perhaps it does work out that way if you halve it. Might be a starting point anyway.
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