I started this blog a number of months ago and I wanted to talk about a couple of places where I haven’t been doing so well, both to get your reactions and also to talk about strategies where I am trying to do better. Some of the things that I find challenging relate to trying to live more frugally with someone else. We have different places where we are more likely to fail and so its sometimes easier to see where someone else is doing worse rather than look at yourself, or at least that is what I am finding.
But before I look at failure, I want to talk about where we are doing well.
We are doing really well at debt repayment!
Almost all of our non-essential income goes to debt repayment. A big chunk of that is student loan related (about 22% of our total monthly income), but we also have a car loan and some credit card debt, which we are trying to aggressively pay off. We have paid off 54% of our debt, which is 4% more then when I started the blog. We are about 2 to 3 years away from being debt free. This is exciting. I also called places and changed where our debts were to get lower interest rates. The car loan rate went down significantly.
We are doing really well at tracking and building our credit!
My credit rating has gone up significantly and we also discovered that the husband’s credit rating is non-existent. So, we’ve taken some steps to deal with that (gotten one of those credit cards that only people with no credit can get – the interest rate is 39% I kid you not!). Fortunately for us, we don’t have to use this card very much, but it is important for him to build up his own financial history. The reason that he does not have better credit is that he is not on the electoral voter list. If you are not EU, Commonwealth, or a U.K. citizen, you cannot vote in any election – and hence you cannot be on the electoral list and therefore you will have shitty credit. I haven’t seen much stuff related to immigration and credit scores on personal finance blogs that I follow. A lot of people take being a citizen of the country they live in for granted. It effects your credit score. So does moving internationally.
We said no to buying a house even though we probably could have!
We had a flurry of house hunting trips, including to London. We decided that with our measly downpayment and the economic uncertainty about the U.K. housing market as a consequence of Brexit that we were going to abandon looking for a house and work on getting a more substantial downpayment so we are less exposed.
We are not so good at Food! a) packing lunches and b) making dinner when busy
We still eat out a lot. I have no idea how to change this. My partner doesn’t want to be the only person in the office that eats at his desk when everyone else goes out. Sometimes I am working late and I/we have no time to prepare food for dinner. My one strategy to deal with this is that I cook for the whole week on Sunday, but I haven’t been able to do this. Also, there is aversion in our family to eating the same thing for lunch and dinner. This is compromised by the fact that I have food intolerance (fructose) and I am trying to lose weight (ditch the pasta and bread). I don’t know how to succeed better at this one.
We are not so good at not Shopping! We still spend a lot of money buying stuff
Because we got a new bed which was bigger than our old bed, I bought new sheets. Because we went camping with friends for the weekend and we didn’t have rain coats, we bought rain coats (mine was 15 years old and falling apart!). Because I am interested in better strategies to deal with Brexit and to save money and I don’t know much about the UK, I bought books (3 in fact). I’m also dreaming about buying paint and repainting my rental house. I’ve also been researching buying a pressure canner. I forced myself to run on the treadmill yesterday just to prove it wasn’t a waste of money.
We are not so good at saving!
So while we are pretty good with paying down debt, we suck at saving. One of the problems was that I had my cash ISA savings account in the same online place as my demand deposit. I could see when we needed money and I could then easily transfer it to debt or to our account. The savings never lasted. I now opened a new stocks and shares ISA account and I am just moving everything there and I automated a direct deposit which is 10% of my salary (not our salaries combined but just mine). I’m hoping that by putting it in a different world – place / account and eventually putting it into ETFs (I’m not sure I am going to do this now and instead just park as cash), I will just forget about it and it will grow. This is obviously not the savings rate I want forever, but if you think that our student loan debt alone is 22% (plus we have other debt and transport costs) then just between this savings and student loans that 32% of our income.
As usual, would love to hear your thoughts especially on those places we are struggling. xx