94 Days

I think a lot of people are beginning to be annoyed at the large amount of bank holidays during lock down.

I am of course only pretending to be annoyed by this. In the grand scheme of things it is not important.

It is still nice to have some time off work. I am debating whether to take a full week off work as annual leave or to take 5 Mondays in a row off work. I am now leaning towards the later.

I am feeling a lot recovered from the long weekend and I feel perhaps I am over the worse of my lock down burn out.

I have looked over my ‘June 2020 Finances’ spreadsheet which is where I detail my money in versus my money out. It is not entirely up to date given that I won’t get my pay slip until tomorrow but the prognosis is next month isn’t going to be as bad as I initially feared. My savings are going to take a hit, and I am still in two minds as to whether I am doing the right thing prioritising paying off the debt over saving. In the book I am writing I did just go over why it is better to prioritise savings over everything else on a financial journey and I really don’t want to be a hypocrite. I will see what I can do. I might partially transfer some of my new debt on to my 0% balance transfer cards and pay off the rest in full, and then the amount on the balance transfer card I will pay off over four payments.

I shall investigate.

It is nice to spend time in the house and make the most of things. I think I will watch A Streetcar Named Desire on the National Theatre YouTube channel later. Or some Netflix. Who knows, the world is my lobster (I know that’s not the actual expression, it’s something my flat mate and I say).

I still have a decent amount of jam tarts left. Just like Grandma used to make, literally.

I have some batch cooked Tuna Pasta Bake to see me through to pay day, and some potatoes that need eating up. All is good really when you think about it. What I mean is I’m trying to make the most of a bad situation.

I really do wonder what life is going to be like when ‘normal’ service is resumed. They keep talking about the ‘new’ normal and I wonder what that will involve. What will we keep from lockdown and what will go.

I am happy in myself.

My diet has completely fallen apart. I used to religiously eat my five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. For the last week or so that has fallen apart. Boo hiss. I don’t want to come out of lock down looking like a diagram of the covid-19 cell, big, round and with spiky bits (my hair is a bit wild). Despite running daily it turns out if you eat a lot of cake and jam tarts you will still put on weight. Who would have thought it?

I base my day around a to do list, it gives me an enormous sense of achievement though how much of that is actually real? I mean, putting ‘Hoover’ on the to do list takes 10 minutes if that, and is an easy win, but it contains the same real estate on a to do list as ‘write 3000 words’ which will take significantly longer. So it is important to do what I call the ‘Macro’ tasks first. I live my life by thinking macro over micro. What I mean by that is I prioritise the things that will give me the biggest pay off, the 20% of effort that produces the 80% of results. It doesn’t always happen but that’s what I work to in theory.

I have the urge to spend money. This is because it is a hormonal time for me and for people who know what I’m on about a little known fact is that people who menstruate tend to feel the urge to go shopping around ‘their time’. So be nicer to your significant other if they come back with half of Primark during their time. I am aware of this so I am quite good at ignoring this, or again I tend to go for purchases that will give me an investment rather than a bunch of tat.

Anyway, I’ve waffled on enough. I wish you all a pleasant Monday.

 

96 Days

I am suffering from lock down burn out. Funnily enough realising this is the reason behind my recent extreme low mood and my inability to focus, concentrate or produce good work has made me feel happier. If I have a diagnosis I can find a cure. If I identify the problem I can be fixed.

I have decided when I return to work after the bank holiday I will be looking to take some time off as annual leave. Before I felt like it was a waste of annual leave. Taking time off when I could neither go anywhere nor do anything. But to be honest, I don’t think we are going to come out of this any time soon. I am beginning to think we could be looking at the things I took for granted last year like an office Christmas party not happening this year. I think taking a few days annual leave now to drink tea, read, write and watch Netflix undisturbed will be good.

Please don’t take this to mean I am trying to panic people, or I have inside knowledge. I am not trying to panic people, I do not have insider knowledge. I am speculating, and I choose to speculate on a worst case scenario basis as it makes me feel better protected in case the worst does happen. That is how I work. But it might not be what is best for you, in which case feel free to disregard my choices.

I am over budget on the food budget by nearly 33%. The food budget is £300 a month, it currently stands at £388. From next month onwards my food budget will be £400. There is a lack of deals in the supermarkets in the UK as they are getting rid of multibuy offers to prevent food waste and also to make sure there is enough stock for everyone. There is a lack of basic, entry level, economy buys in the stores. Tesco Every Day, Morrison’s Savers, Sainsbury’s Basics, you know these names as what they call their economy ranges. They are not available in stores at the frequency they once were.

My energy bill went up. We are in a deficit of about £335 so have to look to pay that back during the time of our contract. The flat mate and I might be moving out of this property in September. It depends what the landscape for moving houses is like then. Logically as a couple that split up we can’t live together any longer than we have to. But it might not be possible to move out in September when our tenancy agreement is up for renewal, so we may be stuck for another year. Or the landlord could kick us out as soon as normal service is resumed. I don’t know, so I must be prepared for what could happen.

Again, I like to prepare for the worst.

I am going to dip into my savings to make sure I pay off the debt of the writing masterclass as soon as I get paid this month. I have a huge aversion to debt, I mean, I kind of have to given that this is a blog about my debt free journey. I can hardly preach but not practice. This would leave me vulnerable to a potential emergency, which isn’t unlikely given that we are in a risky time and things we never thought would happen are happening left right and centre.

If I can, as an aside, recommend a book, it would be ‘The Black Swan’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. I definitely recommend having a look at it. I predict this book will be rereleased in a few years’ time to include notes on the pandemic.

I feel good currently. I need to reduce my drinking. I tracked what was a typical lock down week for me of at least one can of beer most days, a bottle of prosecco on a Saturday, and wine on a Sunday, and it came to 21 units. A woman’s weekly guideline is 14 units. I was over by 50%, and worryingly I didn’t see this as bad.

So my rule is Monday to Thursday I won’t drink, and then I will only drink at the weekend. I include Friday evening as a weekend day. And this isn’t an excuse to drink 14 units across 3 days. I can’t do that. I will be good.

There’s no way to deny it. Financially I am benefitting from lock down by not spending money on going out, work canteen lunches, and random crap. I am having to analyse every single purchase, and I am really making the most of every last drop of product.

This week I had 3 tube lip balms down to their stubs. I used a skewer to pull out the remainder of each of the three tubes, and I put it in an empty Vaseline tin, mixed. This will give me an extended lip balm product. I did this because in the old days I would just go to Boots or Superdrug on my way home from work and buy some lip balms. But I can’t do that now. I can’t just leave the house for one purchase. I am really trying to leave the house as infrequently as possible.

Another reason why food shopping is costing more is I tend to just go to the one store. I used to shop around. I used to go to multiple stores on a weekly shopping excursion. I don’t want to do that anymore. It is too difficult.

Getting out of debt is just one aspect of my financial journey. I will also be looking to get my credit rating as high as it can be. I am looking to save to buy my own property. My goal for buying property is not as an asset. It is simply so I can have a pet freely and without restraint. I want to have a fully funded emergency fund. £1000 isn’t enough. 3 months expenses isn’t enough. 6 months isn’t enough. I want to have an emergency fund that has my annual salary in it. After that I can have fun spending freely.

So Flo’s Debt Free Diary isn’t going to end in 96 days’ time. It will continue. I will still be on my financial journey. I still have much to learn and much to teach and I will do what I can.

97 Days

I am writing a book about my debt free journey.

I am due to be debt free on the 27th August. It is a journey that will have taken me 1727 days, or 4 years, 8 months, 22 days. It was on the 6th December 2015 that I realised I couldn’t carry on with the way I had been living my life at that point. That is the date I began to take control of my finances rather than have them control me. Sorry for the cliché.

About 50% of my total debt was from being a bit silly with my money. Buying things I didn’t need, buying things I couldn’t afford, and buying things I neither needed nor could afford. However, the other 50% of my debt was from literally, and I do use that term correctly, not having any other option to survive.

At the beginning of my journey I kept it a secret. My partner at the time had an inkling as to what was going on but I was giving him an edited version of the full picture and I think to an extent he was too afraid to ask.

Now I tell anyone and everyone about my debt. I’ll talk about it to anyone who shows an interest, and probably to people even if they didn’t show an interest.

Getting into debt understandably changed my life for the worse. But getting out of it has ultimately changed my life for the better.

I am not the same person who got into debt. 10 years from now my financial journey will also likely take me away from the person I am now.

The most important thing I’ve learnt in life is you should never underestimate your capacity to change. You can change. You can make mistakes, but then you can fix them.

I have made countless mistakes with money, you name it I’ve done it. But I will never make them again and my financial past does not determine my financial future.

So I’m being a bit bolder and a bit more public about what I want in life. You all know that I’ve invested in a book writing course, so let’s hope that it will be worth my money (I’m sure it will be). Ultimately I will only get out of it what I put in. So I will do my best.

I am about 20000 words into the book, or two dissertations worth. I mean, I might as well write, it’s not like I’m going anywhere or doing anything else during lockdown. Might as well keep busy.

I didn’t spend any money today, which is always good. I did a run, which is always good, and I’m doing some writing. Good times.

See you tomorrow.

98 Days

Today has not been a good day for me mentally. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I feel like I am the happiest person in the world and at other times I feel like everything is going wrong.

My sleep has fallen apart. I am constantly tired. I feel bloated and lethargic and weak.

I am struggling with working from home. Which is wrong, so many other people are worse off than me. I never realised how much I crave human interaction until now.

The food budget has completely overblown this month. I’m going to have to increase it to £400 next month (£200 each for me and the flat mate). This is going to cut my disposable income dramatically but I’d rather be prepared food budget wise.

All my bills have been paid for the month. I have about £17 left in my account. I get paid next week. It could be worse.

At least there are no more ants in my flat.

I am struggling a bit with lock down. I am trying to keep busy. I am trying to make the most of my time. I am trying to be productive. And some days I am. Some days I feel like I could have achieved more, but that is toxic productivity coming into play.

I am not sure what the rest of this year holds in store. No one knows. No one can predict anything. Interestingly I am reading a book called ‘The Black Swan’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb about unpredictable events. I have a feeling this book will be reissued in a few years’ time with a new section about this pandemic.

But I am getting further away from talking about my debt free diary. I must keep strong. I must focus on the 27th August when I will become debt free. There is unlikely to be the party I was originally planning. Maybe I will make and decorate a cake, much like I did when I paid off my overdraft. It looked a bit like a contender for a Pinterest fail, but it was a novel way of celebrating it.

In 98 days’ time I will be debt free and to an extent my life can begin again. It will be interesting to see what the future holds after that point and it is at the very least something I can look forward to on the horizon that should predictably happen.

I can only hope.

99 Days

Hi everybody,

I am now in double digits of days left till I am debt free.

I have a habit of not being able to enjoy the good times. I am always fearful of the next bad thing to come along and take over my life and my finances.

I am in a good situation, I should enjoy the journey of life. But it is hard when I am publically making a declaration that I will be debt free on the 27th August 2020 as I feel the universe is going to smite me.

I’m sure the universe has bigger things to worry about than me.

I probably was rather impulsive signing up for the master class. I want to write a book, I want to write a book this year, I want to write a book during lockdown. I feel passionate about this. I want to do the best I can out of life.

I just have a real sense of seize the day and live for the moment due to lockdown. So many things I put off in life thinking I would always have the time for them only to find you can never predict what is going to happen next.

I want to keep a happy balance of prioritising my future, but living a little in the present as well and really making the most of what life has to offer.

Obviously my care free, live for the moment attitude is partly what got me into trouble debt wise in the first place. I don’t want to go back to that. I never want to use debt to fund my life. But I do want to be less fearful about spending money and accepting that sometimes a modest splurge is a good way to make the most of my life.

I just want to enjoy every stage of my life, the past, the present and the future. I see no reason why I can’t have this I just have to be sensible.

Today will be probably my best day at work for getting things done. I have mapped out my week and I highlight that I had the most uninterrupted periods of time today to get things done, so the things will get done.

It is a 4 day week for me this week as I have Friday off, then there is the bank holiday on Monday. I have big productivity plans for the 4 day weekend. That will keep me safely at home other than my daily run.

I don’t know what the next 99 days will bring. Maybe everything will go well. Maybe everything will go wrong. I don’t know, but if I worry about what might be then I suffer twice if it does happen.

Just enjoy the journey. I’ve made it this far on my debt free journey, I will survive whatever comes next.

 

100 Days

Hi everybody

Today marks 100 days until I can make my last credit card payment and become debt free.

I begin this in the spirit of honesty by telling you that yesterday I increased my debt by paying for something on my credit card. It is for a masterclass about writing a book. It had a 50% discount. I had been doing a free challenge with the leader of the masterclass all of the last week, and the challenge has proved invaluable. I also great respect the leader of the masterclass, I have read all of his books, and he is considered a great success. Yes, paying for this course was slightly impulsive, but it wasn’t as impulsive as you think.

Yesterday I did not have the money in my accounts to pay for this course in full, but by the end of the month I will. I bought it after having first determined by looking at my budgets as to how I was going to pay it back so that it doesn’t impact on my debt free date. Knowing that it won’t made me feel like I could pay for the course. I have a plan that won’t impact on my savings either. It’s all gravy, baby.

The Flo of 2015 and before that year would have just paid for the course with no thought as to how she was going to pay it back, and she wouldn’t have reduced her spending or looked at her budgets first and as a result she would have got into trouble as soon as that credit card bill landed on her doorstep.

This new Flo is not a twat. I know what I have to do to get myself out of debt and to get the most out of my life on a small budget. I honestly believe I can afford whatever I want in life I just have to have the plan in place first.

I feel so good about my life at the moment. Feeling good makes me worry, I worry that the universe is going to think I shouldn’t be this happy and will do something to make my life go terribly wrong. But that’s a bit egotistical to think that the universe is totally concerned with me. Ultimately life is just a serious of ups and downs, there is no other motive behind that.

So, my 100 day countdown to being debt free begins today. On August 27th if all goes well I can make my last credit card payment and become debt free. There is a chance that the old way of life won’t have returned, and my plans for a wild party will be just a dream, but it will be a joyous day either way.

I will posting every day, or at least trying to, on the 100 day countdown to being debt free.

I remember the first 100 days of my debt free journey and just how different a position I was in then compared to now. It was still arduously hard then. It remained really difficult for years. It is only really in the last year that things have become the easiest they have ever been.

I have changed so much as a person, and I know I have the financial skills to see me safely through the rest of my life.

A History of my Debt Free Journey

Good evening my darlings,

So I imagine most of the people reading my blog have been here since its inception and know all my secrets by now. However, I have had a few new followers and also given that there was over a year between the last time I posted on here pre-lock down and posting now during lock down, I thought I would do a little recap of my journey.

DECEMBER 2015

In December 2015 I had what was called my ‘light bulb moment’ and realised I couldn’t live the way I was living anymore. My financial management was disastrous. I was about one bad decision away from having a negative income, and I was for the first time earning a full time contracted wage and I wasn’t going to ruin the hard work I had put into getting that job in the first place.

On December 6th 2015 I began my debt free journey by starting a debt free diary on the subsection of the forum on the Money Saving Expert website. Sorry for those who know, but the Money Saving Expert website is an absolute hero of a site and it was set up by Martin Lewis who is the UK’s consumer champion, like the UK’s equivalent of Dave Ramsey if you’re American. I started my diary and called it – obviously – Flo’s Debt Free Diary and began seeking help for all the terrible decisions I had made up to that point.

My goal debt free date was set as my 30th birthday that would be in March 2019. I had at this point about £5150 debt.

2016

In 2016 I tried really hard to pay off my debts and save money and be frugal. I began getting into side hustling and learnt all about that world. Sadly I had bad health problems and ended up being unemployed for 4 months and that meant I ended 2016 with a higher debt total than I began the journey with – £5996.

2017

Inspired by a book I had taken out of the library I decided I would do a ‘No Spend Year’ and I started this blog. The premise was that I wouldn’t buy anything unessential. This book interestingly was not ‘The No Spend Year’ by Michelle McGagh and was instead ‘In the Red’ by Alexis Hall, meaning my idea was totally not original. I reduced my spending by 80% compared to the year before and paid off about £3000 of debt but ended the year unemployed – again – and with my debt not significantly smaller than I started the year with at the total of £3980 . This was because of a mental health breakdown that was chronicled on this blog that saw me signed off work for 4 weeks. I hit rock bottom, but without sounding like a stupid cliché it really was the best thing that ever happened to me as it was what I needed to sort out my mental health and since that point I have never been better. Plus I had paid off my £1000 overdraft during this time!

2018

I started a temporary job and needed more money so I got a second job at the weekends and was working 7 days a week. I got a better temporary job in a role I loved, but still had to keep the weekend job. This was the start of things going well for me, and my debt significantly reduced and I was able to save. An enforced house move meant I didn’t save as much money or pay off a much debt as I would have liked to, but compared to the last few years I ended 2018 in better financial shape with £2900 of credit card debt. But…and there’s always a but isn’t there…I had borrowed money off a friend and owed them £1300 at the end of the year as well.

2019

My 30th birthday came, but I wasn’t debt free. I carried on though and ended the year with savings and my debt at the lowest level since pretty much ever, £1600

NOW

I have £900 of debt that is soon to reduce to £750, a small emergency fund and I am on track to be debt free by late August this year.

That’s my story, like most debt free journeys it has had many downs and a few ups and it is finally in a steady trajectory. I will be debt free this year!