Tag Archives: money


I’m going to moan about life, you’ve been warned.

Firstly, I’ve not got much to moan about when compared to some people in the world – but we all live within our own context.  So in the global scheme of things, I’m super lucky.  But that doesn’t stop me being overwhelmed by rubbish stuff.  So, in an attempt at some cathartic release, here we go.

We bought our house about 5 or 6 years ago and haven’t done much to it since, so everything that’s ‘wrong’ with the house is a hangover from previous owners.


Our driveway is tarmac.  It’s starting to perish and the rate of failure is increasing.  There’s a long crack from the front to almost the back, and about 2 feet of tarmac is going to slowly fall away.  I suspect when our next door neighbour had a long hedgerow removed to put in a fence, the contractor hasn’t backfilled tightly enough, or the ground has dried out, and so the drive has sunk a little.  Around a water access grate at the front of the drive it’s beginning to crumble, and near the back of the house where the tarmac joins a sheet of concrete patio, it’s sinking into a little hole.


Car is due it’s MOT at the end of March and we know it’s going to fail with various bits.  If they come back and say it’s a few hundred, we’ll pay, if they say it’s a lot more we won’t, but if they come back in the middle ground, it’s always an annoying decision.  Pay and hope we get another year out of it, or don’t pay and just replace it.  Replacing a car isn’t easy for us either, we don’t know anything about them, and when you have no transport, getting around to buy another car is always a depressing experience.  I do not cope well.


A layer of bricks around the bottom of the house is crumbling.  This worries me in a sort of esoteric way, I’m not even sure how terrified I should be.


The electrics in the house are a little worrying.  At some point, one of the previous owners did some ‘work’, so there are extensions running all over the place, plugs that appear to hang off other plugs, and various other things that seem clearly wrong to me.  But we’d need to get someone in and review it and then do a lot of work to fix it.  And we never have a single lump of cash to do that with.


The plumbing isn’t bad (especially compared to the electrics), but the bathroom sink hot tap has seized up, and although it’s decreasing in frequency, flushing the loo causes some of the pipes somewhere to vibrate.  Also, the silicon sealant around the bath and sinks has perished and really needs sorting.


The oven is starting to fall apart, and I try and avoid thinking about how the various bits of electrical equipment in the kitchen are actually wired in.


Our bedroom double glazed window has had a hole in the outside of the glass since we moved in.  The woodwork on all the frames needs serious attention.  One of the previous owners extended the kitchen, and the kitchen window’s outside wooden frame doesn’t actually fit into the brickwork properly.  So last year I found two 1.5cm diameter holes at the end of the woodwork, between the frame and the bricks.  Lovely.


The paint on the wall in our bedroom under the window is flaking away.  Either it was put onto the plaster while it was wet, or we’ve got some damp action going on.


The whole house is in serious need of internal decoration.


Money is the root of all stress

In May 2006 I wrote about how I’d paid off a significant personal loan that I’d had for quite a while (Loan Shmoan).  We got that loan because of a broad range of circumstances, and it really kept us afloat at the time, but paying it off was a pretty good feeling.

Three months later in August 2006, I wrote a post about how our credit card bill was still not going down quickly enough and that I was thinking of taking out another loan to get rid of it (Loan Moan).  We didn’t take out a loan at that time, we just tried hard to keep the credit card balance under control, and mostly we did.

It just stayed static (mostly), and it remained that way until the early part of this year.  Every now and then I would check and see how much interest we were paying on the balance and what the minimum payments were, and think about a loan, but it seemed like accepting defeat.  We weren’t buying anything big on the card, but a few small things here and there (literally £10 and £20 stuff) that wouldn’t get paid off and would mount up.  In the early part of this year we finally started making some progress on the balance and it was less each month, which is the first time that had happened for ages.

And then, in the middle part of this year we had a run of bad timing.  Car troubles, road tax, various other bits and pieces, and suddenly before you know it the balance is higher than it’s been for a long time.

I could pay it off over time, I could stop using the card, set up a direct debit covering the minimum payment + whatever I feel I can afford and the balance would eventually go away.  But the interest rate on the CC balance is significant (it’s not terrible, it’s a reasonable card, but it’s clearly higher than you can get with a personal loan).

So defeat or not, it finally made sense to take out another loan, clear the card down to a zero balance and start fresh.  Once the cash arrives I’ll set up a ‘pay off the full balance of this card’ standing order with the bank1.  The payment on the loan is only 50% higher than the minimum payment was on the CC balance, and the loan repayment is four years.  So every month I know I’m better off than I was the month before and there’ll be no sudden increases.

I arranged the loan over the phone with my bank,  and despite the fact that I knew they’d give me the money, the conversation still made me feel nervous like I was being grilled and that I could somehow fail to meet their expectations.

So anyway, here we are again, September 2010, with a personal loan.  Hopefully, some time in 2014 I’ll be back blogging about how it’s paid off and how happy I am about it.

The key will be whether I’m back again three months after that saying the CC balance is out of control – let’s hope not.

  1. I know I should have done this last time, but I still have this weird concern that I need to micro-manage everything in my bank account, but it’s clear I’m not strong enough to actually do that []

Mixed bag!

So mixed bag today.  Once I realised I didn’t have any appointments today, I thought I’d try and get a phone appointment to get my blood results.  Rang the surgery and asked for one, and they told me my doctor was working out of a different location today and I should call there – after it took me about 20 minutes to get through.  Still, I called the other surgery, and after another 15 minutes asked for a phone appointment – they don’t do them – but he could see me at 10:30.  So, I ended up with a visit to the GP today anyway.

The good news, from the blood test my kidney and cholesterol results are fine.  My liver results are ‘off’ but they’re always off and this time they’re off by less than they ever have been before.  My HbA1c test was 5.8.  That’s pretty good, and the biggest indicator of diabetes related health.  It could stand being a little lower, more like 5% maybe and I still need to make sure day-to-day control is maintained.

The bad news is that my urine test showed protein, which means although my kidney blood tests are ok, my kidneys are allowing protein through.  Essentially this is caused either by diabetes, or by high blood pressure or by both.  The treatment is ACE inhibitors, which means another daily tablet.  Yay me – see the NHS did get me something new for my birthday – a surprise!  I get to take them for a week and then have more blood tests so now I have another appointment next week to give more blood and then I’ll need another GP appointment 3-4 weeks after that to review the results.

In other bad news – the car needs a new rear silencer (it sounded really bad today), and the MOT is due next week (which we’d kind of forgotten).  I guess I know where the money I’ve managed to save is going this month.

But in other good news, Wickes sell mini-trip switches which are the exact right size for our old fashioned fuse box.  I bought one 5amp one (after being caught out recently buying low energy light bulbs in bulk only to find out they didn’t fit, I thought I’d start with one thing this time and expand if it was the right option) and it fits perfectly.  So hopefully if the Annoying Hallogen Light Bulbs from Hell in the kitchen trip the fuse it’s a quick switch flick to get things back online and no need to power down the entire fricking house.

So tomorrow eye test, Wednesday nurse appointment, sometime between then and next week, car in for MOT.

Then I’ll probably need a holiday to get over all this stuff.

Four Working Days to go

Not that I’m counting, but in four more working days, I’m on holiday for Christmas.  Only a week off, then back for the New Year but I’ll take five days.  I really need a break from it all at the moment, it’s starting to get on top of me.

Ten days until Christmas and we’re sorted.  Presents sorted, wrapped, posted or delivered as appropriate.  Well, technically I still have to wrap Grete’s presents but I enjoy tormenting her too much by leaving them lying around in the open in boxes.

We’ve already bought all the food we can get in advance which won’t perish before the 25th, so we probably need to shop again in the early part of next week, but no mammoth shops like in previous years (standing in a queue in Asda for three hours for example).  Much more relaxed Christmas this year.

Except money wise obviously, the insurance company is being annoying about the car wing mirror (like claiming we don’t have protected no-claims, which we do, and ‘suggesting’ they may write the car off for the cost of the repair which is just insane.  I suspect they’re just trying to put us off claiming).  Either way, it’s another £100-200 I can’t afford at this time of year after the dentist bills.  I don’t begrudge paying out any of the money we’ve spent on presents and gifts at all, that’s money well spent, but the timing of the other bills just makes it a bit frustrating.

Still, I’ve been in debt since the second year of my university course, so I guess another year of it in 2009 won’t kill me.  Since we got rid of the loan our debt has been pretty much consistent in size, it’s grown a little in the last few weeks, but I’ll try and make a big dent in the early part of next year.

Fingers crossed.

So, four days until holiday, ten until Christmas and sixteen until 2009.

loan shmoan

it’s gone.
no more.

today was the last payment on my 7 year loan.

i’m ridiculously emotional about it.

Loan & Moan

So I wrote to customer services, but they didn’t really get it, and told me to talk to the store, and I talked to the store and they don’t really get it. None of them understand that the card they’re advertising never had 256mb of memory, it’s not that we got a card different to the one they’re advertising, it’s that the one they’re advertising doesn’t have what they think it does.

The GeForce 6200 TurboCache PCI-Express cards do not have the memory on-board used in the card ‘name’. They just don’t. So I ordered two replacement cards while I try and educate the retailer. Of course, since it’s such a small market, I ordered GeForce cards even though I think this whole problem is GeForce’s at the root.

But on better news.

Only THREE more loan payments before it’s gone.

That’s going to have been 84 loan payments in total, and it’s nearly over. Finally. It’ll be roughly equivalent to getting a 8-10% pay increase after tax.

I’m pleased we managed to avoid adding the loan onto the mortgage when they offered us the option, I’m glad we’ve managed to hold on and not extend the loan any more, and that we’ve finally gotten to a stage where we can clear that debt.

Credit card balance is the next target … and once that’s gone, the overdraught. Getting there slowly.


So it’s bonus time at work, computer prices (without monitors) are mad and low – which means we’re sporting a couple of new ones. Been about 2 1/2 years since we had new machines and the speed of the old ones was starting to show. New P4 3GHz machines with 1GB memory and decent graphics. Not state of the art, not super quick, and not more than £430 each.