Finances are a constant strain and worry for me at the moment. I will post a lot more in detail in future about how I do or don’t get everything to balance out but here is a quick summary. Basically my income is pretty static at just over £1100 a month. My expenditure is a bit more flexible, although it is already squeezed pretty tight, and is just a balancing figure by the time the mortgage etc is paid, and there is rarely any money left for luxuries.
However, just before Christmas a couple of things happened that made me realise that this constant teetering on the edge doesn’t work. First off my mortgage company decided to write a few days before Christmas to tell me that I was behind with my mortgage and that I needed to pay the shortfall by the end of the year. Timing was rubbish. And it was the first time that they had informed me that I was not paying the correct amount each month.
Then my boiler packed up. Yet again. Just a couple of days before Christmas and right in the middle of a particularly cold spell, with both boys home from school.
Both things combined sent me into a real spin. I wanted to just cancel Christmas, and hide under the duvet with a hot water bottle and sleep until it was all over with. But as a lone parent that is just not an option. So I simply had to deal with it, although it was a hard lesson to learn. Thou shalt not get by by the seat of your pants………
So I am trying to build myself a bit of a buffer. I’ve come up with an idea, my “50/50 plan”. I am going to try to save £50 per month on my current expenses, but also try and make an extra £50 income per month. I am hoping that the income will work alongside my 31 Day Minimalism Challenge, but tightening my already pretty squeezed expenditure by a further 50 pounds a month is going to be tricky
I did start this in December, as there is no time like the present to start, but January will be my first month to see if I can actually do it. I’ve drawn up a page in this year’s planner, so that I can see it visually, and that will hopefully help me along with it when I need a push. Here is progress to date. I’m really chuffed with how well I’ve done on selling things I don’t need any more, reducing the bills is proving a little harder, so needs more thought. But 13 days in, and it looks positive.
Many of us, myself most definitely included, are living in survival mode. I feel like all I do is barely keep afloat, with so much going on, and going wrong, that I often feel really overwhelmed! I have this underlying feeling that this is not what I really want to be doing with my life, but have not yet figured out what it is that I actually do want.
Over the last few weeks in the lead up to the new year I have put aside some time to figure out exactly that. What am I doing? What do I want? I made a mind-map of big areas in my life that I wanted to work on. Actually when I sat down and properly really thought about it (and not allowed myself to drift off to thinking about what to cook for tea, or how I was going to manage this month’s mortgage payment, or get another cup of coffee) it actually didn’t take me very long at all. It all sort of flowed out, like it had always been there, just that I had hidden it all away somewhere.
Once I started I realised that there were some key areas, so I tried to make some specific goals for each one. My next step needs to be to make those goals as smart as possible – specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and timely. Then I can figure out the steps that I need to take in order to achieve those goals. Break it down, little-by-little. This is usually where I feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to tackle everything at once. Instead, with the help of my trusty planner, I’m going to decide which tasks to tackle in which month, and then try to spread them week-by-week, assigning small manageable tasks to days in my planner. Over the next few weeks, I can start making small changes, and gradually make the changes and do the work that I need to do.
So, for example, with the house. I want to get the house sorted by the next long school holidays. So I have allocated two areas in my house to sort out each month.
Then for each month I have made a list of what needs to be tackled in each room, eg painting, sorting more storage space etc. Then as I come to write up that month’s planner, I can fit those tasks into specific days in the planner. Bite sized chunks.