This Week’s Goals – Week 2

weekly todo list

I am really easily distracted. My brain runs at about 100mph from the minute I wake up, so having a little public to-do list like this worked brilliantly last week for making sure I got the right things done.

I think each week I need to make sure I always add one procrastination-prone goal to the list (this will inevitably be something I have been putting off for ages). It’s really good to clear these kind of things as it just gives you a bit more mental get-up-and-go when you get them done. I also need to balance it with things that are easier/more enjoyable. Last week was a good mix, so let’s see if I can repeat that again this week.

On the agenda:

  1. Carry on getting photos sorted out on Mac/Phone
  2. Get back to inbox zero, for both personal and business accounts
  3. Three runs (one of these is a 5k race) and one strength session
  4. Get to the bottom of each of the washing baskets and put the mountain of outstanding clean clothes away
  5. Plan out shopping, meals and cooking for the start of the 3 week healthy eating challenge I’m doing from Saturday
  6. Keep within a £60 budget this week for food (no spending until Wednesday as that’s when I get some money!)
  7. Send Dad the book I bought for him
  8. Business goals: decide where/how/if to blog about these, but in the meantime get a quote out, do design changes for current project and get new email list up and running.

And here’s how last week turned out:

  1. Start my tax return (yawn!) – Done! Did the whole thing and got a £15 rebate, which will go straight towards debt reduction when it arrives.
  2. Do not buy any food except bare essentials like milk and bread (I am trying to use up everything in the cupboards/freezer/fridge as part of a money saving drive) – Done!
  3. Do two more runs – Done. And got a PB at parkrun on Saturday.
  4. Ring up and check what happened to my pension (I got a statement and its value had gone down by 20%) – Done. This was a paperwork error, the value has actually gone up. Phew.
  5. Start sorting out my photos (oh lordy – I am in a mess with these. My phone isn’t syncing with my desktop and everything is all over the place) – Done. I’ve fixed the corrupt library issue I had on the Mac, so getting it updated is now underway.
  6. List baby carrier and pro microphone on eBay – Not done. I decided to keep both of these items as the sling works as a back carrier (which I didn’t realise), and I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to sell the microphone in case I use it to develop any online course material for my business.
  7. Think about adding household accounts to YNAB (I am a total YNAB convert – it is the best personal budgeting tool I have ever used!) – Done! I thought about it and did it. I’ve added the household account and the mortgage account to a separate YNAB budget. The husband is going to transfer the TV licence over to the household account (he’s been paying that on the side for years), and I’ll be able to save any money from the household account that we don’t need each month and put it towards a) a kitchen/holidays/emergencies fund and b) mortgage overpayments. We’ve been working really hard at getting the mortgage paid off and are hoping to see the back of it within the next six years.

Getting Back Into It

Boo has learnt to climb up onto the sofa. She fell off head first the other day and has a nice bruise to show for it.

It’s funny, but when I’m happy and content, I find that my blogging inspiration dries up. When things are hard, or I’m suffering with self-doubt, I can write thousands of words – they just pour out of me and onto the screen.

I blame obsessive diary-writing for this as a teenager. All my teenage angst gave me so much practice in writing about emotions like frustration, anger and sadness, that it set me up to be a maudlin blogger for life. Writing about secondary infertility kept me going for three long years – there was so much emotion there I practically burned through my keyboard.

These days however, life is good. And my god I am grateful for it. I think partly I worry about somehow tempting fate to take all the good things away from me if I publicly talk about good things happening in my life. But partly it’s just that I’m happy. And my brain is less busy when I’m happy, which means the need to write (which is very cathartic for me) decreases.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make for a) decent blogging and b) ever finishing any of the books I have started to write and not finished (because my mood affects my desire to write also, and writing is one of my big loves).

So.

I’m going to try something new.

Firstly, I’m going to write a “On The List This Week” post at the start of each week. I love my lists, and this is a great way for me to be even more accountable to the massive list of things I want to get done. It also means I share what I’m up to and hopefully find other people doing similar things.

Secondly, I’m going to try posting more often, even if it seems like I have nothing to say (omg, I can hear you all clicking ‘unfollow’ now).

Thirdly, I’m going to try to find more bloggers out there like me. I really want to read and share and see what other people are up to. It’s really the most fun part about it. I struggle a bit with the WordPress reader, but I’ve been clicking around trying to find new blogs to follow and have a few new ones on my list now (yes, that’s you I’m stalking, mwah ha ha!).

So, without further ado, this weeks “On The List This Week” is late as it’s Wednesday, but here it is anyway:

  1. Start my tax return (yawn!)
  2. Do not buy any food except bare essentials like milk and bread (I am trying to use up everything in the cupboards/freezer/fridge as part of a money saving drive)
  3. Do two more runs
  4. Ring up and check what happened to my pension (I got a statement and its value had gone down by 20%)
  5. Start sorting out my photos (oh lordy – I am in a mess with these. My phone isn’t syncing with my desktop and everything is all over the place)
  6. List baby carrier and pro microphone on eBay
  7. Think about adding household accounts to YNAB (I am a total YNAB convert – it is the best personal budgeting tool I have ever used!)

That’s it for today!

Super Simple Minimal Money Management

money

Today I want to share a simple system with you that I’ve used for managing my financial accounts for a very long time (over a decade!).

What I love about this is that it tells you exactly how much disposable income you have each month – it makes it really easy to make spending decisions and you never have to worry about paying the bills.

This system works whether you are an individual, or part of a couple sharing your money.

So here it is, in a nutshell:

You have two current accounts, one of which runs on autopilot, and the other from which you make your general purchases (food, coffee, designer clothes, gifts, whatever you feel you need).

Before you start you need the following:

1) Two current accounts that support direct debit payments.
2) A list of all your direct debits – every single bill that you pay monthly.

And this is what you do:

1) Your salary presumably already gets paid into your main current account.
2) From this account you set up a standing order to pay a fixed chunk of your salary, a few days after payday, into your secondary current account.
3) The money left in your main current account is for you to do whatever you want with, and that’s how much you have until next payday.
4) Transfer ALL your direct debits to your secondary account, to come out a couple of weeks after the payment from your main account.

That’s it.

Direct debit everything you can and make sure you know what you are paying for everything. Setting it up takes a little time to arrange, but once it’s done you’ll barely have to look at your bills, saving you time and worry.

Caveat

Remember that you will have other non-monthly, large expenses to meet each year, e.g. car insurance, car tax, holidays etc. I suggest you siphon off additional money from your pay packet to a savings account to cover these.

FAQs

What if my direct debits vary in amount?
Good question. If you have historic data, you can do one of two things: either take the highest figure you’ve ever paid, and use that when working out the total to transfer for bills, OR if that isn’t practical, use a prudent figure and be sure to eyeball the amount of the bill each month to see if your estimate covers it.

What if my direct debit only runs for 9 months or 6 months of the year instead of 12?
We pay in the amount for every month of the year regardless, and let it accumulate. Every year we move any excess to savings.

Isn’t it excessive to have two current accounts? That’s not very minimalist!
Minimalism isn’t just about always having less, less, less. It’s also about finding ways to automate necessary jobs and to spend less time doing mundane things that (without sounding too hippy-ish) consume your creative energy. If two current accounts help you avoid loans, overdrafts, overspending and financial chaos, then it is a minimal and elegant solution.

What if I get paid weekly?
Divide your direct debit expenses by 4. At the end of each week transfer that figure from your salary. Set all the direct debits to come out at the end of the month. At the end of the year (52 weeks) you will have a surplus that you can move to savings.

What if I’m self employed and my income stream is erratic?
Presumably you already pay yourself a salary of some sort and you  know that you have a certain amount of expenditure each month, even if your income is high for two weeks and then low for two months. In this situation I would reverse the flow so that a) all income goes into one pot b) that pot pays for the bills FIRST and then you can take a salary from that pot as and when you can or need to.

How can you do this with a partner?
Set up a joint current account that pays bills only. Agree how much each of you will pay in to meet those bills. Then from each of your main accounts pay a chunk of your salary into the joint account at the same time each month to cover the direct debits.

Basically, no matter what the situation, you can find a way to make this system work – and once it’s in place, it is SO easy.

Super simple banking!

Paying Off My Debt

Not working, having children, spending as if I’m still bringing home a decent income… these things have left me in a mess.

Financially, things are not good. Ha!

That’s OK, because I’ve been here before.

After completing my second degree, over 10 years ago now,  I took a programming job which meant a move across the UK. My salary at the time was less than my monthly outgoings. I had to rent a flat AND buy a car, and I had a huge student loan to pay off. In the first six months I had to supplement my income with credit cards, simply so that I could make ends meet (I wouldn’t advise this).

Luckily, my job prospects were good, and payrises and bonuses meant that within a year I could actually live within my means. Three years later, not only had I cleared every debt, including my student debt, but I’d also saved enough for a house deposit with the husband (then boyfriend).

I vowed I would never get into debt again.

But that was before motherhood and the transition to being a stay at home mum (something I never even imagined I would do).

So, after keeping my head in the sand for the best part of 4.5 years, I’ve finally taken stock.

I owe, today, £5786.06.

Ouch!

One of my 12 goals is to pay this off within 5 years, which means a monthly commitment to at least £96.44 each month towards my debt. That’s almost double what I currently pay back.

Initial problems are that:

a) I’m also paying around £25pcm in overdraft charges. This is £300 a year. I know this figure will reduce as I reduce my overdraft, but by shifting this debt onto a long term 0% credit card, the transfer fee (<£100) will easily beat the overdraft charges, and leave me with more available cash. I’ve made an application, but for the first time in my life I am not sure if I will be accepted. Having to put “homemaker” in the employment field doesn’t fill me with confidence. So, we shall see.

b) Aside from my massive overdraft, I have one other credit card, which actually contains the debt from some work we had done on the house last year. This has been at a 0% rate for 18 months, but runs out in July. This is bad news, as I’m not sure if I can obtain another card to shift this debt to (see above).

So, action points:

  • Wait for card application result (not hopeful, as these things are usually instant).
  • Either shift debt around, or replan budget.
  • Finish monthly budget and consider withdrawing cash at the start of each week rather than using cards.
  • Set up payments to meet at least the minimum repayments.
  • Start selling on ebay!
  • Commit to a monthly summary, to track debt reduction.

 

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