Saving, Debt & Family Life

Lets face it, for most of us, at some point have had a debt of some sort. Be it on a credit card, loan, mortgage or just to a family or friend. I’m no different.

It’s very easy to spend, but once you’re in it, it’s very hard to get back out again.

I made lots of mistakes with money when I started working, not spending it ridiculously on junk but using HP to buy things or credit cards & then it turns into a vicious circle. Trying to save the money to pay of the debt but then getting back into it again!

We brought our house at the height of the housing market & financially it pushed us to the limit but it was a decision we made at the time & not one I regret. Especially as it was due to the fact that we could take a mortgage break meant we were able to have children.

Houses are expensive though and due to having a young family and monthly outgoing leaving a little spare each month means that a lot of work we wanted to do on the house has had to wait.

We are in need of a new kitchen & bathroom (this is high on the priority list !) but its all had to wait. Even the living room is in need of a new carpet and a lick of paint but again this has to wait. At the moment though our priority is trying to make our garden a little bit more child friendly as it’s just a patio area with a huge hill at the back. But we’ve learnt lessons from out past mistakes.

We are calling in favours from our family members to help fix the broken fence & tidy the garden up a bit. We’re having to do it bit by bit, simply because we don’t have money to throw at it but we’re getting there slowly but surely. This way though we’re not getting into more debt!

So although I am still young I have  learnt a lot financially over the last few years!

  • If you can afford to put a little away each month (even just £20) it makes a great little pot to fall back on should an emergency come up.
  • If you can help it don’t take anything out on HP. Yes I know its tempting (very tempting, especially when you see the lovely sofa’s on the tv!) but it eats into your monthly spare cash for at least 2 years maybe more. If you do need to use HP for an emergency try to use a company that does the 0% APR.
  • Although saving for the future is important clearing your debt first should help, especially for things your paying monthly interest on. The sooner these are paid off the less it should cost you in the long run.
  • Make a list of what you owe, how much you pay monthly, interest & when it’s cleared (if its HP). It will help you in your own mind understand where the debt is, what it’s costing & how long till its gone.

There are also lots of little bits you can do on a day-to-day basis that I have found help you watch the pennies:

  • Meal planning & shopping online – I swear by this as it stops impulse buying & I have found a huge difference in our shopping bill!
  • Price comparison – This doesn’t just work on food bills but I price compare everything. I never take an insurance renewal straight away, I always shop around. Yes it can be a bit of a pain but I managed to save £10 a month on our house insurance which comes to £120 saved a month.
  • Cash back Site – If you planning on switching energy suppliers/insurances or purchasing something large of an online site I would recommend finding a good cash back site! We have managed to raise a nice little sum from this over the last few years. Just switching our house insurance got us £70 cash back. Firstly though make sure you shop around so you can find the right product for you then check if it’s on the cashback site 🙂

Of course this is just things that have worked for us, if you are in need of more financial or debt advice please contact someone like your local citizens advice bureau  who can give you free, confidential, impartial and independent advice.

There is still a long way for us to go and I’m under no illusion we will be debt free any time soon, but I know now that financially we are in a better frame of mind to tackle our debt which will in turn become savings for our future & retirement.

 

This post is this is my entry for the BritMums Piggy Bank Tales competition, sponsored by Virgin Money