Christmas aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Well Christmas is coming and like so many people in an IVA I am starting to wonder how I am going to get through it. Its been 6 months since I started my IVA and this last month has been without doubt the hardest few weeks to date. I was down to my last £7.00 and had over a week to go until payday. Luckily I have a large freezer and made sure it is always full so although it was a tough week with no money, at least I had food in the freezer to keep me going. There has also been a number of general maintenance issue to fix around the house like the shower breaking down and leaking water everywhere which damaged the floorboards and also needed replacing. I get paid on the 20th of each month and on this pay day I spent a couple of hundred quid on basic maintenance around the house which has of course a knock on effect on any cash I may have had for Christmas etc. I have consequently been a bit down in the dumps over the last few weeks but reading a number of posts on the IVA forum has helped pick me up. I know I don’t always respond to posts but I read a lot of them and it has helped me considerably over the last couple of days to pick me up and regain my focus. I’ve given myself a good talking to and started to focus on the positives once again. I am sure I will experience some low points throughout the IVA process but I will continue to try my very best to keep thinking positively.

On a plus note, my cycling has gone really well and my fitness is definitely improving. I have also started to focus on a little challenge I have set myself next year. My wife is a Coeliac and I have always wanted to do something to help and support her more. Consequently I have devised what I have called my Spring Challenge. In March I will be doing my first Triathlon, In April I will be doing the London Marathon and in May I will be going completely crazy and jumping out of an aeroplane at 10000 feet completely on my own and not as a tandem like most people do. I am of course doing all this for charity and have set up my own charity fundraising page. I am not writing this on here to ask for sponsorship, as I am sure most people reading this are probably in an IVA like me:-) I am merely just sharing what I am doing and any words of support are more than enough from my dear fellow IVA friends:-) I managed a half marathon run last week so the training is going well at the moment.

I also just wanted to mention the unison pre-paid credit card I am currently using. I generally put about £200.00 on the card every month on or around pay day and I get approximately 5% cash back on all purchases in certain stores like Sainsbury’s, Asda, Wilkinson’s, B & Q and Marks and Spencer’s etc. Its not a lot I know but I am getting between £5 and £10 cash back every month. There appears to be a number of these type of cards available out there so its definitely worth looking into if you haven’t already done so.

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The Dreaded Car M.O.T

Well it’s been a long month and there is still a week and a half to go until payday. I have been stressing somewhat about car M.O.T’s as both my car and my Wife’s car have needed their M.O.T in September. Unfortunately we both brought our cars several years ago pre-IVA in the same month which now means we have to do the M.O.T in the same month every year. We have staggered things like road tax and insurance but you can also budget for these because you know how much they cost. The M.O.T however can carry an unknown cost factor depending on what (if any) is found to be wrong with the car. Well, this months money saving tip is for the cost of the initial M.O.T. I did a lot of shopping around and the average cost for an M.O.T test seems to be between £50 and £60. However, my tip is go straight to the Halfords Autocentre website and book the test online. Make sure you book it online as it is much cheaper than booking it directly with the shop. I had my car booked in for last Tuesday morning for just £27.50 instead of £55.00. I dropped my car off and awaited the call to find out if it had passed or not. At approximately 12.30pm the call came and to my delight the car had passed with no work being needed at all. I was so happy with the service that I asked if they had time to do my wife’s car the same afternoon. They said yes and quoted the £55.00 price. I promptly thanked them and told them I will ring them back. I then went to their website and booked my wife’s car in for 1.30pm the same day for £35.00. So both cars should have cost £110 for their M.O.T tests and I paid £62.50. It does appear that their online price changes regularly and if you book it in advance you are more likely to get a better price. The additional bonus is that my wife’s car also passed its M.O.T without any additional work being needed. I was dreading bills for both cars and as it happens, for this year at least, I have been lucky. I now have two things in place though. What little money I had kept back for the cars has been put aside for next year as I know I wont be this lucky every year (and I am only 5 months into the IVA) and I have also bookmarked the Halfords Autocentre website on the computer which will be my first point of call for any car issues for a while:-)

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Pedal Power

Well after a lot of research and helpful advice from the forum I have decided to take the plunge and I have just ordered a new bike via the cycle to work scheme that the government supports. I should hopefully get the bike in the next 1 to 2 weeks and then I intend to start cycling to work a couple of times a week. I work about 12 miles from home so it will be a 24 mile round trip each day I cycle. Now here’s the maths bit. It costs me approximately £65 for a full tank of petrol and I get approximately £400 miles to the tank. Therefore it costs me approximately 16p per mile travelled. This means that everyday it costs me approximately £3.84 to travel to work. So, if I travel to work twice a week in a 4 week month on my bike I will be saving approximately £30.72 in fuel costs, not to mention that it should help me get fitter. Now with the cycle to work scheme it enables you to buy a bike up to the value of £1000 and you make monthly payments directly from your wages for 18 months that are tax free saving you 20% off the value of the bike. I have chosen a bike of a value of £650.00 which means my monthly payments have worked out at just under £25.00 a month. Therefore I am making a total payment of £450 for the bike instead of £650, I will own the bike in 18 months, If I keep up the cycling planned I will actually be £5.00 a month better off for the 18 months and then even better off after this and I will be getting fitter. Ive done the maths and I talk a good game. Now all I have to do is actually cycle to work:-)

Whilst in my IVA I have decided to come up with one good money saving idea per month. So far I have made a vegetable garden (obvious savings), capitalised on a great last minute caravan holiday (£100 instead of £550) , changed my TV package from sky to virgin (free installation and saving £20 per month) and now I am going for pedal power. I wonder what will be next month:-)

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3 Months In

Its been just over a month since I last posted and I thought an update was due. Firstly I enjoyed my first home grown carrots the other day. They are still only small baby carrots but I couldn’t help to feel a little proud when eating them within a fully cooked meal, yum yum. The cucumbers and leeks still have a way to go but the lettuce have unfortunately suffered from some very hungry slugs in the rain storms we have been having recently.

On another note Its my wife’s birthday next week and I have been saving like mad to try and spoil her the best I can. I finally spent the £100 I won for blog of the week a few months ago which has gone towards an iPod my wife has always wanted. My wife has been so depressed over the last few months that I have really wanted to show her that we can still have nice things as long as they are budgeted and saved for. Unknown to my wife, the last few months I have become eBay mad and have been selling all sorts of things from the loft so that I can spoil her on her special day. I love my wife so much and have always spoiled her and this is probably another contributing factor to why we are in an I.V.A today. The difference now of course is that I am spoiling my wife with careful budgeting and saving instead of just putting it on the card and not really thinking about how it would get paid for. Here’s hoping my wife has a smile on her face on her birthday next week:-)

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A Good Week

It was a good week last week and I just wanted to share my discovery. A holiday when in an IVA is probably something we all think is a luxury we just cant afford and I know the 4/5 star all inclusive holidays that helped get me into this situation are definitely a thing of the past for now. However, my wife has a very stressful job and due to work and the whole IVA thing, she has been going to counselling and taking anti depressants for quite some time now. A holiday to look forward to has always been something very important to us as a form of relaxation. Anyway, last week we both had booked a week off work so that we could try and relax which is very difficult for my wife when she has the temptation to turn on the work computer, clean the house (again), or even pop into her work which is just down the road. So, the night before we were off I was experimenting on some websites with an idea I had and I struck very lucky and had a lovely surprise for my wife. I booked a last minute holiday at a caravan park in Devon for 4 nights (Mon to Fri). The whole holiday including our dog was £129.00 instead of over £500.00. I was very sceptical about the offer but did some research and decided to go for. Well I have to say that it was a fantastic decision and the fact that we were so lucky with the weather was a bonus. The whole resort was very dog friendly and for the first time since we started the IVA I think both myself and my wife were able to relax.

We had such a great time that I am sure we will be looking to do something similar again next year. The trick is to not book anything until the night before and your holiday ends up being wherever the bargains are. Its been our first holiday in our own country as we have always travelled abroad in search for the sun, but to be honest I was pleasantly surprised and its been another very valuable experience:-)

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A bit of good news

I started this blog when I started my IVA as way to share my experiences all be it good or bad. I am always trying to stay positive (and its not always easy), but it does seem to help a little by sharing your problems. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that:-) Well as everybody in an IVA knows there are definately good days and bad days and I just want to thank Andy Davie for giving me a good day. Apparently these blogs are entered into a weekly competition which I had no idea about. Well it appears that I won last week and yesterday my gift voucher arrived in the post. The voucher has been put to the side for now as i hope to spoil my wife with something nice for her birthday. It’s not until August but I am trying to plan ahead a lot more than I used to (especially when I dont have those devil credit cards to use whenever I want). So, Thanks again Andy Davie and thanks for all your hard work on the forum:-)

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Money Management

Well its been nearly two weeks since I planted my little vegetable garden and a few sprouts are starting to show. I dont think I will be eating any of the veg in the next few weeks, but I am still hopefull that I will be eating the fruits of my labour at some point. If I can work out how to add a picture I will do so if and when I have something worthy of showing:-)

Anyway, I wanted to share my little money management tool I have developed which is working exceptionally well. Ive written a basic programme in microsoft excel that allows me to easily see where all my money is going and exactly how much I have left. All I have to do on a daily basis is enter any expenditure and the sheet automatically totals everything up and gives me an end balance. Ive created 12 tabs (one for each month) and the end balance of a month (if I am lucky enough to have one), is automatically carrried over to the next month. On pay day I enter my wages and start the next month from that point. As me and my wife have different accounts I am constantly doing an audit by adding up my bank balance with my wifes bank balance which should equal the total balance of the spread sheet. Ive been doing this now for just over 3 months and its amazing how useful it is to see where your money is going. Maybe I should sell the template and make my millions:-) Also, I have found it extremely useful to check my bank balance every morning and it has now become a routine for me. This has proved invaluable as on 3 occasions over the last few weeks NPower have taken the incorrect amount (too much) from my account via the direct debit. By realising this on the day I have been able to contact my bank and request they they action an indemnity claim which reverses the direct debit on the same day. I think I have now resolved the issues with NPower but they were taking out £50.00 more than they should, which is a lot of money when you are in an IVA, and could potentially cause problems if there wasnt enough funds to cover the incorrect payment request. So checking yout account daily is something I do and would now recommend that everyone should do. Right, I am off to water my veg plot:-)

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1st Payment Made, Yippeeee!

I made my 1st payment of £229 last Friday and i actually feel really good about it. I have made a payment with my own money and have 59 more payments to go. I know its not all going to be easy, I guess its not supposed to be, but each little step is helping me feel better about myself and life in general. I am constantly looking at positive ways on reducing bills and saving money. I spent last weekend constructing some large containers out of scraps in the garage and have turned them into vegetable gardens. Fingers crossed I will be enjoying some home grown carrots, cucumbers, leeks and lettuce etc in a few months. The best thing is i found it very therapuetic and satisfying.

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The Beginning

Well it’s been a stressful few months and the decision to apply for an IVA was not taken lightly. The 26th March 2013 was D day so to speak and the meeting of the creditors was scheduled for 10.30am. My wife and I were both on tender hooks. What if its rejected? What would we do then? Well it appears, for now, that all or worry was unnecessary. The phone call came about an hour after the start of the meeting and we were informed that the IVA application had been approved by the creditors with the exception of a few minor changes. A sigh of relief from us both as the realisation that maybe, just maybe we have done the right thing. The documentation arrived in the post a week later and our first payment towards the IVA is scheduled for April 26th 2013. We have been to the bank and set up a standing order. We know 5/6 years is a long time, but at least, for now, we can see some kind of light at the end of the tunnel:-)

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