Sunday Monday Happy Days……..

August 28th, 2008

Today is payday and as hubby changed jobs just over a week into the month, I knew that he would be having to pay back the money he would have been paid, as he exceeded his holiday entitlement and therefore ended up with only a couple of days pay and a tiny tax refund. He has also just been paid by his new company and with the two amounts this month; he is about £500 down on a normal month, but do you know what? Hey ho, we’ll manage.

To be honest with you, I posted on the forum a couple of days ago that I am really looking forward to my second IVA payment coming out either tomorrow or Monday (it is due on the 31st, so I don’t know what my bank will do about a weekend standing order). We feel that we have achieved so much in such a short time. My goodness, if hubby had got this wage and we still had all the debts to pay, I would be raking at my hair, not knowing which way to turn. It just means that all the direct debits (essentials) will be paid; we will have food in the cupboards, fuel in the car, and food in the dog (or is that dog in the food, depends on how desperate we get) :-)  🙂

We have managed to scrape together the money for my son’s school uniform, as he only has to wear polo’s and trousers for school, it worked out very cheap. His new shoes were a bit more expensive, as I always insist on leather, but I have cut back on other things to compensate. This month, the non-essentials will have to suffer, but I can’t do everything with a limited amount. Next month will be so much easier and we look forward to the future pay months when things will be more settled.

We are in for a real treat this weekend; you may remember Melanie giving us approval to part exchange our car a year early. We purchase it on a PCP scheme which was due to expire next year, so to ensure the next three years with the car are stable, Melanie kindly authorised for us to change this year. Well, we pick our new car up on Saturday and we are very excited about it. The smell of a new car is just wonderful. We are chuffed to bits, as we downsized the specification and engine, and have reduced the insurance group by four groups, the road tax will be significantly lower and so will the fuel costs. The monthly payments are also £10 less, so we are really pleased.

We’ve had some great news this week, as my e-pal drowning-mummy has finally filed for bankruptcy. I have been so worried about her and have followed her story all along. She was one of my first forum friends, and we have formed a special ‘virtual’ bond and are in touch offline. I so hope things work out for her and her family. She is a strong lady and I know she will get through these darker times. I wish her the best possible luck for the future and I can’t wait to meet her at FF Birmingham. Looking out for you Trolly-Dolly  🙂

I am looking forward to next week, as my boss comes back from holiday. I have run our very busy accounts department for the last month and have got through it completely unscathed. In fact, I emailed him on Friday, and I told him I was going to make him redundant (he’s only the Director) 🙂 So, hopefully he will be pleased with the work I’ve done. The Company is still solvent so that’s a good thing!!!

Well, our new IVA month starts on the 1st September. I can’t wait to change my signature to ‘2 down, 70 to go’ and look forward to next month when we’ll be in the 60’s. No silly, not our ages, the number of months left in our IVA.  🙂

So, all in all, things are still going great. We still love our IVA and the glimmer of light is becoming all the more distinguishable albeit still only a pinhead at the moment.

To infinity and beyond……….

These things are sent to try us….

August 20th, 2008

Well, our first month of being IVAers is nearly over and although it has mostly gone as planned, we have had the odd little hiccup along the way.

The week before we went to my sisters, we had a chap look at the front tyres on our car. He is a chap we use at work for the company vehicles so I trust his judgement 100%. He kindly advised me that we needed two new tyres as the ones on the car were on the limit. I remember thinking to myself that this was the first of the unexpected bills that we would encounter in our IVA. Thank goodness we didn’t pay our creditors for a couple of months leading up to our IVA, so we had managed to save a little contingency to help us on our way. We had the new tyres fitted as my mind wouldn’t settle knowing we had to drive to London at the end of that week. Hubby managed to negotiate a ‘special price’ of £150.00 for the two, fitted.

After our lovely week away, we returned, as you do, with loads of washing. My sister had said to me before I left that I was welcome to use her washing machine to lighten the load when we got home. She had done so much for us that we felt it would be cheeky to take advantage of the use of her washer as well. So when we got home, we sorted the loads ready to give our washing machine a bashing. BIG mistake! I should’ve taken my sister up on her kind offer as my washing machine decided to give up the ghost. Hubby attempted to mend it but he is like a bull in a china shop with technical things, and to be truthful, I think he broke it more than it was already broken.

How would we cope? We would usually have nipped off to Curry’s with credit card in hand a purchased another one. Not this time – instead, I trawled the internet and came across Friday Ads. I had a good look through the advertisements and came across a fifteen month old Candy washer/dryer for 50 quid, and it was only five miles away. RESULT! So, back into my little contingency I went, and with £50 cash in hand, hubby kindly drove over the collect my ‘new old’ washing machine. When he delivered it, I was like a kid with a new toy. It was lovely and clean and looked like new. I was chuffed, yes it was second hand, but I decided that I couldn’t afford the snobbery of having to buy brand new anymore and my new purchase was fabulous and it works like a dream.

We went back to work and hubby had only one week to work at his company as he had handed in his notice. He was starting his new job the following Monday, but funnily enough, his boss asked him to go to work on Saturday morning after he had officially left on the Friday, to help out one last time. So being the obliging sort he is, and knowing that the last week he worked, he actually worked for nothing as he had over taken his holiday entitlement so had to pay back a week’s holiday, decided to go in to help out. All was well and he left work that same day and said a last farewell to his old pals.

He started his new job last Monday and all is great. Well, that was until I came home last Tuesday, to a rather official looking letter marked ‘Private & Confidential’ and addressed to me. When I opened it, there printed proudly in the corner, the local Police emblem. Oh my god, it was a flipping speeding ticket. When I read the details on the letter, I realised that the time didn’t coincide with any time that I was driving the car. Funnily enough, hubby tends to drive this car more, but it is registered to me. For a moment I was confused, and then it dawned on me. 6.46am on Saturday 9th August. I then realised that it was my dear beloved who had been driving 5 mph over the limit and not me. This was on the way to doing to good deed for his old company by going in to ‘help them out’. Bleedin’ typical, he went in to earn a bit of dosh as he was going to be short, only to have to pay it out in a speeding fine. So we are another £60 worse off than expected and three points on this licence to boot 🙁 Now the contingency is looking poorly but everything is paid 🙂

So all in all, the first month of our IVA has been sent to try us but we’ve got through unscathed if only a bit poorer. Hopefully hubby has learned from his stupidity, I have a new washer and all is well in the house. Even the dog looks happier 🙂

So the moral of this month’s story is……….. life can throw what it wants at you, but if you stay strong and try not to crumble, keep on smiling then things can only get better.

On 25th August, we will be 2 payments in, with 70 to go. We are loving our IVA. It was one of the best decisions we have made in our lives.

Onwards and upwards

August 13th, 2008

The wonderful bubble that we found ourselves in on 25th July, thankfully has still not burst. Each day we remind ourselves of how lucky we are; that thanks to our IVA acceptance, we have been given the opportunity to start with a clean sheet and live our lives again.

We received our chairman’s report a week or so ago, and we were really surprised by the information it contained. The blighters who had hounded us for so very long for a payment didn’t even bother to vote at our creditors meeting and the one creditor who everyone dreads, our beloved Northern Rock, turned out to be our saviours. They are our biggest creditor and were the only ones to have voted ‘yes’. Very strange….

We now realised that we are faced with the task of learning how to budget, scrimp and save and this to me was going to be my biggest challenge. Hubby and I can shop fairly modestly so we felt that we could quite easily achieve our goals, but to educate a fourteen year old we thought may have been slightly more difficult. It’s amazing when you try to change a child’s habits. My goodness do they feel hard done by but to be fair, I must say, my lad has adapted really well.

We were up front with him and told him of our money worries. We didn’t give him figures, he didn’t need to know the finer details, but we did explain to him that we had ALL overspent over the years. It wasn’t that we were blaming him for the mess we were in and we certainly didn’t want to burden him with our problems so that he felt guilty, but the truth of the matter is that we did splash out on nice things for him. He did have the new bike every couple of years, the trendiest trainers that were ‘in’, the Playstation for Christmas. They all added up, but it was our choice, we bought them for him and sadly this became the norm. He lived in a place where he came to expect extravagant gifts, and not even necessarily gifts, just a trip to the shopping centre on a Saturday for some new kit ended up another £100 on the plastic. This type of spending had to stop and we were going to have to start saying no.

We sat down at the dining table and drew up our plan. I had purchased some poppa wallets, an expanding file and some sticky labels and I proceeded to label up the wallets from my expenditure list. Each wallet had something different written on the label; Fuel, Hairdressing, Prescriptions, Food and the list went on. I designed a little spreadsheet entitled payment schedule, with columns for ‘cash in’ and cash out’ and wrote the title of the wallet at the top with the monthly allowance for that element of expenditure. I was ready……… On pay day, we went to the bank and drew out enough money to cover all our ‘spends’. The rest of the money remained for the utility direct debits to be drawn throughout the month. I made sure I got the denominations of notes correct so that I could successfully split the money up correctly for each wallet. I then set to task….. I felt like the chancellor of the exchequer, sitting at the table, counting out the money and putting it in each wallet, not forgetting to write on the payment schedule, the date and the amount of ‘cash in’ and then a running total. How fantastic. This was such a simple procedure and one which took me back to the days when I was very first married and we got paid in good old cash. We used to do exactly the same with our money then and it was only when we started to use bank accounts and debit cards that our problems began.

From now on we will carry out this ritual every month, adding to our wallets and keeping control of our ‘spends. This way we know exactly where we are; what we’ve got and what we have left (if any). It’s strange to say it, but we get a warped kind of satisfaction out of doing this – I suppose it is because we have control back in our finances again.

Although it’s only three weeks since our IVA was approved, our recovery period has so far been very successful. Our son is doing an amazing job of learning how to help us budget. He spends his own money which he earns from his paper round, on anything he wants, like, hair gel which makes his hair so sharp it would poke your eye out. I must confess he has adapted far better than I expected. It is his birthday soon and he has said that he will just be happy with a family day; perhaps a nice home cooked dinner and some good old card and board games and maybe a couple of mates round at the house.

Although as I explained in my last episode, hubby and I have never had a crossed word about our money difficulties, but strangely the aura in the house feels different. We have a spring back in our step, we are more motivated and everyone just seems happier. Do you know what? I would even be brave enough to say that our IVA has given us all a new lease of life.

Happy days…….


August 10th, 2008

Having sat tight for a week or so awaiting a call from my IP’s office, I was nervous but excited about the impending date for our IVA meetings.  It seemed like forever waiting for the date to be set, but we had been warned that it would be longer as Northern Rock were involved with our case, therefore some extra enquiries had to be taken into account.

Eventually the date had been set; it was going to be Friday 25th July in the afternoon.  I remember thinking, oh my goodness, how were we going to get through that whole week, waiting for Friday to arrive?  Luckily for us, we were going away on that Friday evening, so I was really busy at work catching up on everything prior to my break. 

Friday 25th came and I had arranged to take a lunch break, which was unusual for me.  Believe it or not, I sat in a local superstore car park waiting for my phone to ring.  Hubby’s meeting was at 2pm and mine was at 2.15pm so I made sure I was available by the phone from 2pm.  I sat, had my juicy salad lunch and waited……and waited…..and waited…., feeling more and more nervous about whether the phone would ring in time.  At 2.45pm, I began to think that I would have to start making my way back to work and hey presto, IT RANG!!!

 My heart started to race, should I answer it?  Before I could answer myself, I had answered the phone and a very friendly voice on the end of it confirmed who she was.  She proceeded to tell me that our meetings had been held and subject to a few modifications, our IVA’s had been ACCEPTED.  I really couldn’t take in what she was saying to me completely, but she made it clear to me by talking to me very calmly and explaining in detail about the meeting. 

 The long and short of it was that a couple of our creditors had requested some slight modifications but she explained that they affected the Supervisor of our IVA more than us as they were more to do with conditions within the supervision.  We already knew that Northern Rock had requested a six year IVA as apposed to a five year, and this was confirmed at the meeting, so it didn’t come as surprise to us.  That was fine, I remember thinking to myself, in six years we will be completely debt free.

 After speaking with Sarah and concluding the call, I was completely stunned, we had been ACCEPTED!!  I quickly gave hubby a call and told him that he could breathe again – he was delighted but I was already late back to work, so I told him I would give him the details later.

 I returned to work and just wanted to jump for joy all afternoon, but as no-one at work knows of our situation, I had to keep completely shtum.  It was so hard because I wanted to shout my fantastic news from the rooftops but I couldn’t. 

 That evening, we had arranged to drive to my sister’s in London and spend a week with her and her family.   I remember loading the car and thinking that it was going to be the best week ever.  We were going to be debt free in six years time. 

 Two hours later we arrived.  I burst through the door and blurted out to her WE WERE ACCEPTED!!  She couldn’t believe it and was delighted for us.  She is the only person we have told about our IVA and she said she had felt sick all day awaiting our news and as she hadn’t heard from me, she felt sure it was bad news.

 We had a fantastic week away.  Having been totally stressed out at work and with the worry of our IVA, we managed to chill out, see the sights, watch a bit of telly (which we never do) and we even took a lovely trip up the Thames.  This was all courtesy of my dearest sister who was desperate to relieve us of our extreme worries of the previous three months.  She succeeded and a week later we returned, cool, calm and collected and were ready to take on the world again.

 The relief of the acceptance of our IVA was beyond any words that I could ever express.  To be able to sleep through a full night has been a real treat.  To wake up in the morning and not dread the postman coming with threatening letters that we could do nothing about, is amazing.  To not be afraid of answering the phone to a debt collector and being made to feel like a complete failure is beyond our wildest dreams….. but to be able to talk to each other about our situation calmly, by not blaming one another for our failures and to respect each other is something that we have ALWAYS managed to do all the way through our deepest, darkest debt traumas, and it is our united front that has kept us together and helped us work through these times without the situation dividing us.

I knew my husband was amazing, it’s just taken me seventeen years to voice it.

No turning back

July 9th, 2008

Going for an IVA has been one of the hardest decisions we have had to make in our lives. Recently, my sister has gone bankrupt and it has changed her life. She didn’t worry about not paying back her creditors, but we do. We have encountered a real mixture of emotions, firstly the disbelief in allowing ourselves to get to this stage, forty somethings with nothing to show for our 25 years of hard graft since leaving school. Then what about our family – we have so let them down, a son who has been allowed nice gifts for birthdays and Christmases and now has the reigns tightened to more modest gifts for such occasions. Then there are our friends – we daren’t even tell them, so with this, we feel deceitful that we can’t share our ‘secret’ – they wouldn’t understand, they would just think we have been stupid, so its safer not to spill the beans. Then there’s our home that we sold earlier in the year, as we knew we were on a slippery slope (this in hindsight was probably the most sensible financial decision we have ever made). We now live in rented and are very happy here. Then of course is the admission to the IP and creditors that you have to confess to – I remember the sheer embarrassment during my initial conversation with my IP’s office, I could have died, what must they think of me? Another irresponsible debtor bites the dust. I remember cringing with every creditors name I read out, followed by the amount owed. My goodness was this real, surely these figures must have been incorrect, I must had added them up wrong – afraid not, they were correct and I was astonished, ashamed and felt sick.

The response I got when talking with the representative from my IP’s office was the complete opposite to what I was expecting. I must confess, I expected a lecture, but to my amazement received totally the opposite. To the point, frank advice is what I did receive, a non-judgemental voice on the end of the ‘phone, listening to what I had to say and using their professionalism to point me in the right direction. For once in my life, I had the freedom to choose my families destiny, a chink of light in the far distance could be seen for the first time in many years. There was hope.

A couple of days later I received my ‘pack’ which explained the options available to me. At this point I realised that an IVA was right for my family and my creditors. I wanted to pay them back. With no assets we could have walked away, but my strict upbringing and the voice of my dearest late parents, told us that this was the correct path along which to travel for our own nagging guilty conscience. At least we will have tried.

That all happened approximately 8-9 weeks ago and yesterday we received our proposal pack. It was checked, signed and returned within 24 hours and as I type this blog, will be winging its way back to my IP.

We await in anticipation, the telephone call to confirm the date of our creditors meeting which we have been advised should be towards the end of July.

We have survived the stress and trauma of preparing our paperwork ready for our IVA, it has been a very daunting process and the telephone calls from the creditors have been pretty hair raising, however, we have got this far……… there’s no turning back now.