Monday, 2 February 2009

Money, money, money

Today, I have mostly been sorting out finances. Juggling money in order to pay the taxman. Phoning credit card companies and asking them what interest rate deals they would like to offer me to dissuade me from transferring all my money *cough*debt*cough* to another card. Telling them that, no, I really, really, really do not want payment protection insurance. It is a complete con. They might as well stop the sales pitch. I will not be swayed. I am a strong, confident woman... Changing the Sky package from the all-singing, all-dancing, stupidly expensive one to the Children's Pack and Variety Pack. (Not giving it up entirely, thank you - it is essential for R to be able to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Dora the Explorer. Essential, I tell you.) Cancelling the ISA payments and pulling the money out of it (oops, should have done that before the stock market went kabloom). Moving money around to pay off teeny tiny loan that is costing silly money every month (monthly payment more than decimated). Already got the tracker mortgage payment lowered in line with the interest rate falls (you'd think it would be automatic but, no, you have to call and tell them to do it). And probably some other stuff, too.

None of this is down to the credit crunch. We did have some quiet months at the end of last year, but are going to be very busy over the next few months and things are already being booked in for the summer months. Last year was a bit under on average than usual. The problem was, I had been 'managing' the finances. And I'm completely and utterly useless at it. We're not entirely sure how I ended up being the one doing this, but it was a combination of the business being mine to start with, my having set up most of the utilities, my having officially had the mortgage to start with (though it's been in both our names for a fair while now) and C having a tendency to panic about money. The thing is, though, his tendency to panic about money isn't and wasn't a thing to avoid. It is not a thing to hide away and cower from. It is a thing to embrace. To love and to nurture. Because then, perhaps, we will live nicely within our means, instead of some way without them.

Don't worry (if you were at all inclined to, of course), we're not about to declare bankruptcy or anything. Though it's possible that if I'd continued for a few years like that without calling help to C, we might have ended up at that point. We're not going to starve. Or lose the roof over our heads or anything like that. So we're doing very well compared to many people. This is more of a belt-tightening exercise (put carrots and mushrooms in the pasta sauce instead of courgettes and aubergines) but also an exercise in judicious money management.

Be systematic in paying off debts - in order. Make sure good safety nets are in place. Don't use overdrafts in the wrong way. Don't use credit cards in the wrong way. Know how much money you need to make each month and chase new work in plenty of time, even if you're really busy. It might take an extra fifteen minutes to send out a similarly-worded (check carefully you change the names and the details!) email to a number of contacts, but if it means you make the money you need to the next month (or more), rather than dip into the safety net, it's worth it. Pay the safety net back first when the money does come in. All these things are things I know, but I somehow fell out of practice with them over the last couple of years (perhaps it's down to the Total Fuckwit Chip they installed when R was born).

So, from now on, the money management in the household is being shared (though R's part in it will be limited to not being allowed to make money out of the coin jar and post it through the floorboards anymore). There will be some of that there communication.

And can I suggest, if any of you do not share the financial decisions, maybe talk about it occasionally. If you're bearing the burden on your own, ask for help. If t'other half is, check in with him/her and make sure they're not sinking. And if they are don't blow up. A problem shared and other clich├ęs. I'm pretty sure (and if I could be bothered to look it up, I could probably find some evidence to back it up) that money troubles are one of the biggest catalysts in marriage (and relationship) breakdown. Don't become a statistic.

3 comments:

  1. Are you kidding me? I can't share our finances with my other half. He would explode! Seriously, the less he knows the better.
    Funnily enough, he's the maths head in this house. I'm just the head screwed on and everything in order head!

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  2. That's what I would have said for the last two years. But am very relieved to have changed my tune. I could envisage a situation where I would still say that, but it would be a situation where all we had was mortgage and all I was having to do was make sure the bills were paid and our extra money was invested well. Possibly even a couple of well-managed credit cards.

    So I suppose it must be possible.

    I think, though, that I am the math head and C is the head srewed on one here and we've just had it the wrong way round for years. I can do maths, I can add and take away large numbers, do rough estimates in my head that come out pretty close, with pen and paper there's loads I can do. But if you stick a £ in front of the same numbers (or even a $ or a 'where on earth is the Euro symbol?') I make loads of mistakes.

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  3. I am rubbish with money, actually that's not true I'm very good at spending it. That was ok when I made enough of it, I even managed to save up to pay myself maternity pay.

    But now I own precious little, so this winter I sold old clothes on ebay to fund my new wardrobe - also from ebay, now an ebayholic instead of a shopa one.

    I want my own bookshop so now I sell books on ebay; my cds are soon to go so the cupboard can become a to cupboard!

    It's actually a little liberating sorting stuff out, even if it's little stuff. It's the fretting about it beore hand thats hard.

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