Debt Free…Now What?

Hi, welcome back to Financial Friend.

As some of you may know if you’ve read my first blog entry My Journey towards Becoming Friends with My Finances. at the start of this year, in February 2018, I became Debt Free.
I had been working on this goal for just over 2 years, and I thought that once I had achieved it, things would be different for me.
It has come as a bit of a shock to realise that actually, this is where the journey towards building wealth gets really difficult.

I’m not sure what I thought was going to happen once I became debt free, but in the back of my mind I think I imagined a luxurious lifestyle, being able to spend whatever and whenever I want.
But the truth is, its not like that at all.

I’m a single mum working full time in retail, therefore I don’t have enough money to have a ‘luxurious lifestyle’ even if I wanted to! I do have more ‘spare’ money now that I’m debt free, but I have to admit that I’ve not really stuck to my budget since becoming debt free either. I know, a shocker!

What worries me more is that I KNOW having an emergency fund of 3 months worth of expenses will stop me getting back into debt. But I seem to have lost all motivation recently.

So I know I need to get back on the money saving wagon, and am going to get strict with myself.
I aim to do this by:

-Restart Meal Planning every week. I always meal planned when I was getting out of debt and I swear it not only saved me money and time, but took the stress out of cooking.

-Write a budget. This is crucial to saving money. It will also help me to see just how much money I could be putting towards savings.

For now, those are my main plans going forward, although I’m sure I’ll add to them as the weeks go on. Stay Tuned,

Feeding my Family on a Budget.

During Frugal February, I’ve been trying to eat out less, spend less on food, and eat what I already have in the kitchen.
I have a reasonably well stocked pantry, a safety net that prevents me from panicking, a reminder from when times were not so good for me financially.

During the last few months of my debt journey, I did something called ‘Scorched Earth’. I got the term from Dave Ramsey. What this meant for me, was reducing my food budget as much as possible.

As you may already know if you’ve read my first blog entry My Journey towards becoming Friends with my Finances , I am a single mum with 2 teenagers. As all parents of teenagers know, they have hollow legs and will eat like they’ve not been fed in weeks! So to keep them full and keep the budget in tact can be a lot of work.

I try and focus on a protein and fat rich diet. Fat and protein keeps them fuller for longer, and they also enjoy these types of meals.

For example, a whole large chicken can do us 3 meals each, plus a lunch for me and daily meals for the dog.

On day 1  roast the chicken and we have a roast dinner with all the trimmings (frozen veg keeps this cost low)

On day 2 I strip the chicken of all the meat I can find. This is how much I got from it during February. A whole pasta bowl full of it.

Then I will make a curry with some of it.

On day 3, I normally make a huge chicken and vegetable pie with some of it, plus i have stuffing and chicken sandwiches for lunch.

As you can tell, this gets boring after a while, and its at this point that i start getting fed up with chicken!

Days 4 and 5 are usually eating any leftovers of the meals I’ve mentioned above, or maybe chicken noodle soup if there is enough chicken left.

This is just 1 example of how i feed my family on a budget. I’ll be sharing many more tips such as this in future blogs.

Frugal February

Hello, welcome back.

During February, I have been taking part in a challenge where we (myself and a group of ladies from my Facebook Group) only budget £1 per day per person, on food and drinks.
So, each person in the family gets £1 per day of the budget.

We are a family of 3, so that has given me £21 this week to feed the 3 of us.
This doesn’t include food and drinks that we already have, or food bought with vouchers etc that do not require spending.
I don’t think I could keep this up for the whole month, so I chose the first and last weeks of the challenge to do it.

Today is day 1 of the final week. I’m slightly panicked! On the first week that I did this, I had an almost full pantry and a freezer that was bursting at the seems. Now I have an almost empty freezer and pantry!

I’ve decided on my old faithful, the whole chicken. The idea of ‘rubber chicken’ is something I first heard of on the MoneySavingExpert forums a few years ago. If you’ve not heard of it before, rubber chicken is a whole chicken that you get as many meals from as possible, so you streeettcchh it out for a whole week (or as long as possible).
My meal plans this week consists of 4 chicken meals for the 3 of us, plus chicken noodle soup and anything leftover will be the filling in my bread rolls for packed lunch at work

I’ve already done as much meal prep as possible, so here’s hoping I can manage it!

I am also keeping in mind that while this is a bit of a challenge for me, its the reality for many. Not just a few weeks of the year or of a month, not as a fun experiment, but a necessity that they face every day.
I’ll keep you updated!

It All Begins With Baby Steps.

Hi, welcome back to the blog.

So, in my last post I mentioned that in 2015 I got to the point where I was in a very bad place financially and decided that I’d had it. Enough was enough, and I was ready to change.

If anyone is reading this, hoping I’m going to describe how i found a magical way to pay off debt and learn to manage money better without any hardship or sacrifice, then I’m sorry but that isn’t what you are going to hear.

It was (and still is) difficult. It takes time and sacrifice, as well as hard work and perseverance. But i promise you that it’s also going to be worth it.

So, I sat there at my kitchen table, despairing about my financial state and turned to Google, naturally.
I Googled ‘how to pay off debt’, ‘paying off debt quickly’, ‘how to save money’ and nothing I came across really struck a chord with me. I didn’t need to go bankrupt and I wasn’t interested in making minimum payments of £1 a month forever, or not paying my debt off (I was, and still am, under the impression that if you borrow then you also repay), I just wanted someone to tell me how I needed to start!
So, I then went onto YouTube and typed in ‘how to pay off debt’. Instantly, the first video called ‘How To Start Paying Off Debt’ popped up and i watched.

I listened to a caller on this live phone in show describe how he wanted to start paying off his debt but just didn’t know how. That was exactly how i felt. I continued to listen when the host of the show, Dave Ramsey, told him that in order to sort it out, it was going to be uncomfortable and radical.
He talked about making a budget and then selling everything in sight to put towards your debt.

I was scared! I’d never heard someone say that before! But it made sense to me. How could i sort out my finances if i didn’t even know how much money came in, how much went out, and what i was spending on?

So I wrote my first ever budget. Although it wasn’t perfect, and was constantly added to and changed over the next few months (i forgot to add a lot of things), it was a start.

Over the next 2 years i sold everything that wasn’t nailed down, didn’t participate in almost anything that cost my money, didn’t buy new clothes (except school/work uniforms and shoes for me and the kids) and dedicated my whole life to paying off £12k of debt.
I’m a single mum on a low income, working full time in retail, so it did take me longer than some people. But I really don’t care. I still did it!

Now I am following the rest of the BabySteps as set out by Dave Ramsey, in order to build wealth. I’m currently on Baby Step 3, which is to save 3-6 months worth of expenses.
I still live frugally, so this blog is all about cheap but healthy recipes, how to save money around the house, and all sorts of other money saving content.

If you are interested in reading a review of The Total Money Makeover, the bestselling book by Dave Ramsey, Emma over at My Debt Diary has a great post here

Thanks for reading.

My Journey towards Becoming Friends with My Finances.

Hi, and welcome to my new blog!

In this, my first post, I’m going to tell you a little about myself and also a little about my history with my finances (spoiler, it’s not pretty). I’m also going to explain why I started this blog.

I’m a 37 (or 38, I can’t remember) year old single Mum of 2 teenagers. I live in a ‘cosy’ (aka small!) 3 bed semi, in a small town and work a full time retail job.
As well as myself and the 2 teens, my family also consists of an 11 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy, and a 13 year old long suffering Cat.

While I now consider myself quite financially sensible, having spent 2 years paying off my debt, this definitely wasn’t always the case.
Back when my teenagers were toddlers, I was exceptionally BAD with money. I never thought of the future, not even as far as the next week. Although my income was lower than it is now, my outgoings were considerably lower too, especially the food bills, everyone knows how expensive teenage boys are to feed!

I recall many a time that i was counting the pennies so that I could buy some milk or a loaf of bread a few days before pay day. I never had any money to save, and stumbled from one financial disaster to the next, without any sort of plan. I regularly used payday loans, borrowed money from friends and family, and never wrote any type of budget.

In 2015, after a particularly bad time with money and finding myself with no job, I decided that I was sick of it. Sick of feeling poor, sick of never having money in my bank account or purse when on paper I should have, and sick of the worry and stress that came with these things.
So, I decided to change it.

My journey wasn’t as easy as deciding to change, and then ‘hey presto!’ I did it. That doesn’t even begin to describe how hard it was, the sacrifices I had to make, or what I learnt about myself and about money along the way.
I’ll explain more about my financial journey, the good, the bad and the ugly, in the next post.

I decided to start this blog as a way of sharing what I am learning about money, with other people who may not know how to better manage their family finances. I don’t pretend to have in depth knowledge of how everyone can solve their financial issues, but I do have an in depth knowledge about how I helped myself pay off £12k of debt, while on a low income and as a single parent.

Money management was always quite a scary thought to me. I didn’t understand technical terms, I still don’t understand much about pensions or investments, but I am learning as i go, and will share what I’m learning, as I’m learning it. I hope you’ll come along with me on the journey!