The race to zero pt.3

I’m a couple of days late with this entry; forgive me. Things have been, interesting.

When I decided to create this debt reducing thread, I had a few ideas as to how I’d proceed.

My original plan was to work more and generate income, in effect creating a surplus to my monthly income. That surplus would then go to reducing my outstanding debt.

But I hit a snag. The overtime that was offered was snapped up like bread in a duck pond by keen eyed colleagues. I missed out on some great opportunities in January.

(My daughter is sitting on my shoulder and reading everything I type out loud. It’s annoying, bless her)

I also had a bout of the flu, which lasted around 3 weeks. It incapacitated me, showing another flaw in my plan.

But I have more plans – income generation.

Jumping about

Let’s back up a bit. January wasn’t all bad. I did manage to secure some overtime, some extra work delivering training, and offered my availability to do some shadowing/monitoring for some other stuff on the periphery of my day job. That was promising and it will show its rewards at the end of this month.

It also all materialised around the same time that I was starting to worry that nothing would turn up.

January is a long month

Historically it felt that way anyway. The issue of Christmas spending and a payday that can leave you budgeting for 6 oncoming weeks can make you feel the pinch, but last year I planned properly and all was well. January was just another month.

I guess sleeping through a third of it helped.

On the downside, the credit cards have remained static, rather than showing signs of reduction.

This might take longer than I thought.

Changing shape

I had meant to look at shifting regular payments onto my card, then paying more of my salary into them per month.

I haven’t yet. I will.

It might work.

Income generation

This isn’t a new thing. In a much earlier post I spoke of how some of the greatest financial whizzes out there talk of wealth creation methodologies.

Three income streams is the key. The theory being, if you lose one stream you still have money coming in.

In these days of redundancies and corporate collapse, we need all the security we can get.

Passive income seems to be the ideal. But does real passive income exist?

I’ve been working on a couple of digital sidelines and I can tell you, they take work! I’ve no doubt that once they’re up and running the time taken to tend them will fall away but for now, it’s work work work work work.

Investing

So here’s the key; the realisation that opportunities to work more in my current role are susceptible to my health and the speed of my response to an email has led me to the realisation that I need to invest more in my sidelines. This will mean investing in myself by getting some training/mentoring.

Gurus here I come.

BSD

January 2017

Card 1= 97.9% utilisation

Card 2 = 99.4% utilisation

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Time to reflect.

It’s that time of year again where I like to take stock of the last 12 months. It’s a thing I do that allows me to press on into the oncoming new year with vigour and determination.

I try to weigh up the good and the bad in an attempt to learn the lessons that I was supposed to.

Sometimes I’m a slow learner.

The cub’s mum

We had more downs than ups. It’s still new and the wounds are still open I guess. This morning we managed to have a row after I asked how she was; the accusation? I phrased the question incorrectly.

I backed off. Part of my philosophy; it takes two to have an argument and I’m not playing.

stress

The lesson

This was one of a few flash points that we collectively experienced over the last year. So how do I avoid them in future, and why should I?

The easy answer is the stress that arguing brings. I just realised that my teeth were clenched whilst typing!

Some disagreement is inevitable, but it’s the handling of such that is all important; the reasons to avoid it are pretty obvious:

  • Poor health
  • Poor relationships
  • Unhappy cubs

The last one is crucially important.

I’ve spoken before about the fact that I will never speak ill of her in front of the cubs. It’s not fair; they only have one mum and they deserve to hold her in high esteem. I will do nothing to change that image.

This is where the teachings of the ‘7 Habits’ come in; seek to understand, before being understood.

In future, I’ll choose my words more carefully; consider my tone and watch my timing. Communication, not confrontation.

Failing that I’ll ignore her until the end of time, plus 15 minutes.

My home

I’ve mentioned already that I’m not overly happy where I am at the moment; it’s too far out for where I need to be, most of the time.

home

The lesson

Stop moaning! It’s warm, it’s dry, there’s food in the fridge. Some folk have none of those.

I’m sure that I will move in the not too distant future but for now, this is one blessing that I am counting.

Relationships

I’m single. I have been for a while now; the longest while in over two decades. For once, it actually feels ok.

love

The lesson

Historically, I used to bounce from relationship to relationship, without a break, without ever reflecting on why the last one didn’t work. Sometimes, perhaps inevitably, I’d go on to make the same mistakes again, and again.

I had to stop and ask myself why this was.

  • What was I compensating for?
  • what was I afraid of?
  • what was lacking in myself that I sought from a companion and could that ever be the successful driver of any relationship?

I know that I need to be the complete article before I can share that place in my heart.

I believe in the Law of Attraction; thoughts become things etc.

I also believe that the Universe will keep giving us the same lesson, until we learn it. I’m just thankful that the Universe is very patient.

I’m getting nearer to those answers by spending time with myself, discovering who I am, after all this time.

In the meantime, the most important relationship is the one I’m proudest of; the one with my cubs. They give the most amazing cuddles.

I’m sure that when the time is right, she’ll find me, or we’ll find each other. Then I’ll have to change my pen name.

Finances

Tough! as they no doubt are for us all. Everything seems to be going up apart from our wages.

green shoots

The lesson

Take control and keep control.

If you’ve read my last post on clearing my debt, you’ll know that I plan to smash this one in 2018.

My ultimate goal is to have 3 income streams. Something recommended by the successful out there. I’ll give you more on that one in 2018.

Health

I know the benefits of exercise, especially in the world we live in today. You absolutely have to do it. I use it to defuse stress too. See my first point, above.

why train

The lesson

Schedule my workouts!

I schedule everything else important, so why should this be any different?

I’m fit; I’m healthy and I’m thankful; truly, truly thankful.

More of the same next year and maybe something to aim for..?

So that’s about it for now. The planning is the next phase and the important thing is to set my goals early and write them down.

Commitment is everything!

XperiaZ3 762

So that’s it for now. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I know what I need to what I need to stop, what I need to start and what I need to keep doing in 2018.

Bring it on!

BSD

The race to zero pt.1

About this time of year I undertake a review of my personal finances. 

The reason I do this is two-fold;

  • I want to make sure that I’m in some sort of decent shape for Christmas and
  • I use this time to set financial goals for next year.

I go through everything, checking that I am on the best deals or using things in the best way; from energy bills to how I do the food shop, nothing goes unchecked.

This December, I’ve decided to take decisive action on my credit card debt and eradicate it over the next year.

My debt isn’t particularly high, but I’m in that daft cycle of paying just above the minimum each month, so effectively only paying the interest on a month by month basis.

This is great for them, not so great for me.

My target is to be down to 1/3 of the available balance on both of my cards by the 2018 review, with the real kicker being that I actually want to zero both cards by the summer, then use them as they should be used.

Ace

At the moment, I’m taking calculated risks with my credit cards. My balances are quite high on both but I’m hedging this against my ability to earn more money next year.

I’m not a spend less person but I am a spend wisely person, and that makes all the difference.

I’m also an earn more person and that is the key to this working.

What I intend to do differently over the coming year, is to journal my thoughts, actions and balances (in percentages) in order to either help and inspire others, or to reflect on good and bad practice. I’ll do this once a month.

I have a 3 point strategy

As usual, discipline (and delayed gratification) is the key.

  • Pay off as much as possible month-by-month, by *snowballing;
  • Reduce utilisation, as an extension of solid budgeting;
  • Increase utilisation, through regular payments.


In order for this to be a success, I have to understand my credit cards. The following is what I already know:

  • Which has the highest interest rate;
  • Which is more punitive on spending;
  • Which has the most perks or greater incentive for correct use.

I’ve mentioned correct use a couple of times. With cards, the idea is to keep your balance low then pay it off monthly. Sometimes easier said than done.

My issue came in that transition from two incomes to one; things needed to be bought and paid for. Items that shouldn’t be purchased on a card (when your utilisation of credit is quite high) started to creep on there regularly, rather than once in a blue moon.

As a consequence, I know have a robust set of rules around the use of credit. I’ll place these in the December update.


November 2017

Card 1 = 99.95% utilisation.

Card 2 = 97.22% utilisation.

green shoots

Time to get to work.

*snowballing – weighting your outgoings to pay off the debt with the highest interest first.

BSD

It’s time to talk money..

I came across a definition of the difference between being poor and being broke whilst browsing yesterday; it struck a chord with me.

It was an excerpt from Rich Dad – Poor Dad  and it was this:

The difference between poor and broke is that poor is a mindset whilst broke is a temporary condition..

www.richdad.com October 2009

My first thought was ‘thank goodness I didn’t call myself Poor-Single-Dad’. Not alone for the fact that P.S.D sounds more medical. More importantly, I have never felt poor, and that is important – it’s a mindset.

Separation brings significant issues, even if you are the one that decides to call it a day, as I was in this case. Issues both physical and emotional that you just have to work through; there is no short cut. Money is a major hurdle but it is not impassable.

One home will become two and domestic finances become a sole responsibility. This can be a greater challenge if you were unaccustomed to handling finances pre-break-up.

My issue was that over the years, I became complacent. I earned well but those earnings fell behind the cost of living. If you’re lucky enough to earn well but your increments do not keep pace with inflation, this is a bullet-time recipe for bad times; the way back isn’t easy.

Take Control

Recognise the issue and even if it has crept up on you, it’s never too late to take control of your finances. Read up on monetary issues and controlling finances. I follow a lot of money minded individuals on twitter and online. Barnaby King; Debts to Riches; Tori Dunlap; Zero Day Finance; Debt Free Geek; Dirt Cheap Wealth to name but a few.

I follow these folk for two reasons:

  • Hints, tips and ideas and
  • Most of them have found themselves in fiscal hot-water historically and have dug themselves out.

Seeing that others have not only survived but actually thrived, from positions often worse than yours can serve as great inspiration and reassurance, that you can take control.

Keep an eye out for signs of stress…


Lets fix this

good idea

Count everything

This is essential. If you weren’t doing it before, do it now. Account for absolutely everything you spend over a month or two. The outcome will surprise you. Scratchcards, Coffee, buying lunch every day will all add up.

Use an app if you have too. A quick search will give you lots of options. I use OnTrees; which is a Money Supermarket subsidiary. Other’s are available.

Once you entered the access details to all of your accounts and cards, they will track and even categorise your spending.

Cut back or earn more

Once you’ve plotted your spending, usually followed by stating ‘I spend how much on xyz??’ you need to make a decision. Are you going to cut back on certain areas or earn more money?

I’m not a great one for lavish spending. In fact i’m pretty frugal and I always have been. My issues are that I have too many liabilities and not enough assets. This is a classic way to ensure that there is a lot of month left at the end of your money. The liabilities that I have are ones that I’m keen to keep so therefore my option is to earn more.

I won’t go into money-making methods now but [hopefully] you’re reading one of mine.

If you don’t fancy pulling extra shift, pulling pints or whatever niche you find to monetise, then you’re going to have to rationalise your spending.

False loyalty

Ruthlessly got through everything. Credit cards, loans, utilities, insurance, assurance, the lot. Are you still on the best deal? Some companies have a funny habit of penalising loyalty so shop around, don’t just renew blindly. It’s not hard to do and there are a lot of comparison sites out there that are perfect to mull over whilst you’re having a coffee.

You may seem like you’re moving things around for the sake of pennies but mark my words these little changes will add up.

Budget and discipline

This can be the hardest element to control. By the middle of every month, I have laid out my income and outgoings for the next month. I look at the last two months and decide on how much ‘slush’ I have. This is set aside for non-essential elements.

Again, there are apps out there that will package this all up for you. I’ve tried a few but found them difficult to stick with. By the time I’d edited, tampered and corrected the entries I was better off creating something myself. Personally I use an excel spreadsheet which does the job just as well.

Once you have a budget, discipline yourself to stick to it. It might seem hard at first but the results are worth it.

I recently stumbled on the 50-20-30 rule whilst virtually thumbing Forbes.

  • 50% of your income should go on living expenses and essentials;
  • 20% should go on financial goals such as debt reduction or savings;
  • 30% should go on flexible spending; things you don’t need.

It’s not easy. Once I’d put these percentages on my weekly spreadsheet I saw how out of kilter things were.

If you have debt such as credit cards, make sure you pay these off first. Snowball if you have to by paying off the most costly debt first.

Treats

Otherwise what’s the point?

An endless slog, or something that feels like it, is usually doomed to failure, unless you have steely focus and military like discipline.

Plan your treats. Whether its a take-away once a month or a foreign holiday once a year the further you can plan ahead and break costs down the better it will be. Obviously I’m talking about the holiday here rather than a takeaway – if you have to plan ahead for a takeaway you may be spending too much on it.

plate

Planning ahead also gives you something to look forwards to, and occasional rewards should keep you on track.


Finally

Don’t despair. There are real problems lurking out there and trust me, money isn’t one of them. If you have your mental and physical health, you can achieve most things.

black-and-white-sport-fight-boxer

BSD

None of this post is sponsored. Links are to external sites. Twitter folk have no idea I’ve written about them (it’s all complimentary).