I Have Wombled over £2000 This Year

I have ‘wombled’ over £2000 this year.

Now, I bet you are thinking ‘What is wombling?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘Is wombling some sort of weird British sex game?’

Ha ha…no.

You may have heard of a lovable British children’s book series and later a television show called The Wombles. The Wombles were little furry, pointy nosed creatures who lived in Wimbledon and they aimed to help the environment by collecting and reusing and recycling rubbish in new and creative ways.

The Wombles TV series became so popular that they later released pop songs, and grown up performers and musicians would dress up as The Wombles and perform on Top of the Pops.

This is an important part of British history…maybe.

Anyway, originally ‘Wombling’ became a term for people (like me) who are obsessed with a bargain and saving money and may do slightly legally ambiguous things to save some cash. It has come to mean a lot more than that, but I will just explain it’s origins.

It all comes down to receipts.

Receipts can earn you money.

So, I will give the example of a certain big chain supermarket. If you find a receipt for certain big chain supermarket and it has the magic words ‘If you had a (store loyalty card) you would have earned X points with this transaction’ on it.

And any money saver will have that loyalty card, so they can take this receipt to certain big chain supermarket’s customer service desk and say a little story of how they recently did a shop and ‘forgot’ their card and could the points be added on.

So it is recycling…to a degree.

You can make serious dosh with another big chain supermarket who do a price match guarantee, so if you find one of their receipts and enter in the special code at the bottom on their website, you may find the person that did the original shop could have gotten their shopping cheaper elsewhere, and thus big chain supermarket number 2 will give you a voucher for the difference.

So that is what wombling originally meant (outside the context of the TV series), but it has come to mean (at least on the Money Saving Expert website) anytime you get a bargain/money off/get given something.

So no, I did not make over £2000 in ‘wombled’ receipts (most supermarkets have cracked on to us wombler’s and thus a discarded receipt is very hard to come by anyway). BUT, I have used coupons, vouchers, special offers, promotions, discounts, and free gifts (such as my recent OLIO squashes) to have effectively retained the value of £2000.

So, if I had paid full price for everything this year, it would have cost me over £2000 extra.

I’ll give an example of today’s wombles.

I went to have an eye test done, I had a voucher for a free eye test at Vision Express. Their eye tests are normally £25, therefore that was a womble of £25.

The boy bought some ciabatta rolls that were on offer for £1. They are normally £1.96, therefore that was a womble of 96p

And remember when I did my Christmas shopping and got over £120 off because I paid for it almost entirely with vouchers I had earned? Or when I got £64 worth of clothing for £2?

Wombles, my friends, wombles.

Next time you have a deal like that, take a moment to register that you have saved money on it, maybe make a note of it (to be honest I am very surprised I don’t have a a spreadsheet for it). It does get a bit addictive after a while.

 

A review of this week

I’m bending the rules a bit here as there have actually been 8 days of the year so far, but I thought I would do a little review of where I stand statistics wise, and Sundays always feel like a nice day for reflection.

NO SPEND DAYS (NSDs) = 3

SPENDING

FOOD/HOUSEHOLD

Tissues £0.80

Milk £1

Bread £0.50

Milk £1

Frozen Onion Packet £1.29

Milk, Orange Juice, Bread, Parsnips, Cucumber and Bananas £4.34

Apples and Grapes £2.19

TOTAL = £11.12

 

PERSONAL SPENDS

HOME: Printer Paper and HDMI Cable = £5 (paid for with a £5 note I found on the floor)

WORK EXPENSE: Milk = £0.80

SOCIAL: Train to friends baby shower = £3.90

SOCIAL: 3 Drinks meeting recently engaged friends with my boyfriend = £7

TOTAL SPEND = £16.70

Also this week I have earned 25p in a supermarket survey (to be uploaded to that supermarkets loyalty card) and a £5 Amazon voucher through the app Shopprize.

I have also earned enough points to exchange for a £10 voucher for a store of my choosing (from a selection) through a shopping data collection company I use.

Including the £5 note I found this week I have earned £20.25 on top of my wages.

The food shopping money comes from a separate budget so this week I am in profit when you compare my personal spends against what I have acquired.

I would find it extremely hard to make every week like this week, but I feel very positive about this start to 2017.

Also I have lost three pounds through healthier eating so go me.

Next week is going to have a few more spends in it than this week. I am on annual leave tomorrow and am using the day to go to the Dentist for a check up. Then I am travelling to a Football Theory session with my team on Tuesday, Wednesday should be a NSD, but Thursday will involve travel to my Football training, and also paying for the football session, Friday will hopefully be a NSD but then I am watching my football team on Saturday and may be seeing friends afterwards.

All of those things have been budgeted for but it still involves money leaving my pocket, something I am keen to do a lot less of this year.

I need to do a tally of all the money I have this month as I am determined to clear one of my credit cards-the one with the balance of only about £90 on it-before payday.

Wish me luck guys.

 

 

 

 

Adventures Close to Home

I have finally learned how to shop well.

All because I nearly undid my 6 days of good work.

I was food shopping, just a few essentials, when I went into Iceland (cheapest place for frozen veg based on price per gram-I work this stuff out) and saw a shelf full of Wok’s.

I could do with a wok, so I had a look, and the offer was buy three Uncle Ben’s products and get a free wok.

Good deal surely.

So I had a look at the products available. I can take or leave Uncle Ben’s, and I would never spend £1.70 on a packet of microwaveable rice when it is 50p down the road in Home Bargains, but there were some nice little rice and curry pots (vegetarian as well) for £1 each. That was only a spend of £3 for food and a wok, great deal.

But then I put them all back, because the rice pots were probably full of fat and sugar, because the wok looked cheap and nasty and I have been down that road with wok’s before and I want a good one when I next get one, and also because I was considering asking for a wok for Christmas and I didn’t because me and my Boyfriend do not need a wok on account of my boyfriend not liking stir fry or curry.

Yes I’m sure a wok is more versatile then that, but space is a premium in our kitchen on account of me having every kitchen gadget under the sun, most of which have been used once, or less!

It would have only been £3, it would have been nice, but I’m glad I didn’t buy it.

Anyway it’s my birthday in a few months, I can always ask for one then.

I still did my usual looking down every aisle for a good deal, or something magical and exciting (do such things exist in Tesco?) but in the end I left with just the items on my list.

SPENDS

ICELAND – Frozen Chopped Onions – £1.29

TESCO – Milk, Orange Juice, Bread, Cucumber, Parsnips and Bananas – £4.34

All from the food budget.

I started off with the best of intentions, honest! (Also NSD # 3)

When I acquired my first ‘didn’t belong to a bank I was with’ credit card it was honestly with the best of intentions.

I have spent most of my employment history on a zero hour contract basis. A zero hour contract is basically a contract where I would be employed by a company on an ‘as and when needed’ basis. I would have no guaranteed contracted hours. Some weeks I could be working 30+. Sometimes I would be given a three week rota with only one shift on it (a short one at that).

This made it impossible to predict an income or even to budget effectively. Some weeks I would be flush, and other times I would be buying a reduced loaf of bread on a credit card as I didn’t even have 40p in my bank account (true story).

So I discovered you could get credit cards through places that weren’t banks. And as I was sick of borrowing money off my boyfriend just to pay my share of the household bills (although he was happy to do it I thought of myself as a parasite during these moments) I decided I would get a new and shiny credit card to use only in emergencies when I had a shortfall in my income.

But then I decided that I ‘deserved’ that new book by my favourite author. I decided I couldn’t possibly wear my current clothes on a night out and I ‘needed’ a new outfit. I wanted some new jewellery and make up to go with the new outfit.

Soon I had maxed out the card, so as at this point I still had a passable credit rating, I applied for another.

And then another.

Until I had 5 maxed out credit cards, increasing bills to pay and was still on a zero hour contract.

I wasn’t afraid of hard work. At one point I had SIX part time jobs at the same time just to try to desperately earn an income.

That is why one thing you will never hear me say is that my income is too low or that I need a better paying job.

Because they wage I’m on at the moment, whilst still entry level, makes me feel like a millionaire.

It’s just that I spend nearly £300 of it getting to work a month, and I spend an almost equal amount of that just on my debt repayments a month.

It’s not my income that’s the problem. It’s me, and my bad habits in the past.

But I have good news.

In 2016 as all I did on 4 out of 5 credit cards was pay towards them each month they started throwing balance extensions my way. This meant my ‘credit utilisation rate’ went down (meaning I had borrowed a small amount of money compared to what was available to me) which meant my credit rating went up!

I get a free credit report every month. It is by no means a perfect indication and the company I go through isn’t the best, but since I am not really applying for anything major in terms of credit all I want is a happy little indicator that I am doing good. And the day the report comes out is a good day for me as I can see the little, probably meaningless, numbers go up.

This means I have better options available for me in terms of credit, such as a nice low rate balance transfer card.

I have been accepted for a new 0% balance transfer card and soon all my credit card debt will be at 0%, meaning when I spend £250 a month on my debt payments, you know that it will all come off my debt.

Previously I was lucky if over £100 of it was cleared from my debts a month.

I got myself into this mess and I don’t mind working hard to get out of it, but will still do things to ease the journey. A 0% balance transfer card is a good compromise, it is still a debt, but one at a better rate.

I know the year is only 6 days old, but things are going well.

NSD #1

I am pleased to report that today was a ‘No Spend Day’ (NSD) meaning so far this year 1/3 of the days have not involved any money leaving my wallet.

Yes the year is only three days old but I will take victories where I can.

In December I think the weight of 2016 had finally gotten to me because I was buying a big fat sugary latte coffee (despite being more of an americano kinda girl) at least once a day in order to just get through the day with at least one eye open.

But that can happen no more, so it was goodbye Java Mermaid and hello supermarket own brand gold roast instant coffee. I do like a nice ground coffee but am perfectly happy with instant, I know to some that is a sin but I don’t really have very discerning taste buds.

It was so frosty this morning, and so cold, and so dark at 6am that I was a bit like ‘Up with this I will not put!’ but there are far bigger problems in the world.

We do need more milk, but I think we can live without replacing it until tomorrow. I am desperate for as many NSDs as I can get.

In 2016 I achieved 71 NSDs.

In 2017 I want to achieve double that.

Some may wonder, what’s the big deal about a NSD? Why go out of your way to have X amount of NSDs when all that matters is that you stay in your budget?

I agree, to a certain extent. The trouble is I know myself, or at least the old self. I could barely go more than half a day without spending my money on something. It didn’t matter what it was.

I am the sort of person for whom money really does burn a hole in my pocket.

I remember when I was a 12 year old girl and was going shopping in town with my friends (no parents, woo hoo!) I would spend all my pocket money there and then, and if I had 50p left, then I would find for something, ANYTHING, that was 50p just to buy it and to have more more things.

I remember my friend had to stop me buying a 15p shampoo that had the look of washing up liquid just in order to use up my last pennies.

My problem is shopping gives me a high, and ok my tastes are cheap, think Peacocks not Prada, but debt is still debt whether it came from haute couture or the high street.

This may seem like a big revelation, but actually I have known for a long time that I am on the hunt for something that will make my life better. I am on the hunt for essentially a magic wand or a genie lantern.

What is wrong with my life? What do I have to complain about?

My life is pretty blessed, but I do have mental health problems, hormone problems, anxiety problems and low self esteem. Aye aye aye.

I was after a magical product that would cure my problems. Dealing with them head on in a mature and reasonable fashion would be too simple and sensible for the old Flo. Instead I tried to buy happiness. I had a hole in my heart that needed to be plugged with something shiny.

So when I did go shopping I couldn’t stick to a list. Oh I would make a list, but I would add to it. I couldn’t just buy the loaf of bread and milk that we needed, I would hunt high and low until I left the shop with the baking supplies, herbal teas and wonder products just to buy some lifestyle I was hoping to emulate.

I don’t really have the confidence to be me. To say and believe that I am fine the way I am. I seem to be trying to find someone else’s idea of perfection in the shops.

What I’m hoping this year is to cut to the very core of who I am and rid my life of ‘clutter’ whether it is in terms of clothes, physical items or mental clutter.

NSDs do me good. They make me realise I can live without buying crap.

Just 141 more NSDs to go.

 

 

The Truth about Debt

Let me tell you the main thing about getting into debt.

Getting into debt is super easy.

Think about it, it’s managing your money that is hard. Making all those decisions, putting things back if you can’t afford them, saving up for things, that’s the hard stuff.

But if you have had at some point a pretty ok credit rating you can destroy this very quickly.

Here’s how it happened to me.

I have worked sporadically since graduating from University. I was in no way afraid of hard work (I at one point had SIX jobs), but I have only had one full time contract with a yearly salary in my lifetime. Everything else was short term, casual contract, volunteer work, self-employed work or something inbetween.

At some point after leaving University I was offered a Barclaycard credit card. I already had one credit card, but somehow I had misread things and thought the Barclaycard was a 0% balance transfer card. Which is one of the credit cards you do want. I had a guess that my income was about 10k a year (it wasn’t) and signed up.

Initially despite being very poor due to working part time on a casual basis I was good with the credit cards. I paid them off in full each month. This did mean that I had cash in my account for about 3 days of each month, as all my money would go on paying the credit card in full (I was too afraid of paying just the minimum) and then I would use only the credit card to pay for things.

This led to a particularly low moment when I was forced to buy a 40p reduced loaf of bread on a credit card as I had zero in my current account.

Somewhere around 2013 I got sick of my deprived lifestyle. I had just left a job that was so awful it made me have to take anti-depressants. I had cleared the Barclaycard months ago and destroyed the old card. I ordered a new one and spent. And spent. And spent. I had Amazon deliveries coming about twice a week. I ordered books I wanted to read, I ordered sports gear, I bought clothes and everything else.

I then went to climb Snowden with my sisters, whilst coming back down the moment I got a call from Barclaycard to say my request to increase the balance had been approved. My sisters cheered for me, but even at the time despite the freedom to buy more things that caught my fancy I knew that this was a low point.

I started a new job, which I was fired from after 7 days because the villains at my old job put a stop to it (I will tell you more about this point in my life another day). I got another job, but it was again casual. I maxed out my credit cards at Christmas.

I survived through my pittance of a pay slip and lots of borrows off my boyfriend. It was in about 2014 when I was thinking about the book series ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ . I didn’t know how someone could amass a huge collection of credit cards as I thought you could only get them through a bank. It then occurred to me that there must be other ways to amass credit cards.

A quick google search later and I had an Aqua Card heading my way.

I thought I would use it to buy a laptop, or to pay back my brother, but I was a twat and used it very very quickly. I blew through 500 quid in a couple of weeks.

At this point my credit rating was still passable so I quickly ordered another card. And then another.

My monthly bills went sky high. I blew through this money (borrowed money) so quickly that I am ashamed of the way I behaved.

I was a complete and utter idiot. I was selfish. I was bad. I was awful.

Getting into debt is a stupid, stupid, thing to do.

I was depressed, and debt and depression usually go hand in hand. I was buying things because I wanted to feel better because I felt so awful on the inside. My confidence was zero. I believed I was worthless.

I was sick of not getting anywhere with my career. I was sick of working casual jobs for minimum wage. I was sick of not owning the same things my friends did.

I was wrong. I was selfish. I was a twat.

When one of my credit cards was extended in late 2015 I used it to pay off a long debt I had to my brother. Finally I was free of that, but I had caged myself into a long standing debt on that card (which was one of five).

My minimum payment for that card alone soon reached nearly £200.

I had reached rock bottom finally. In debt there is the point of no return. The point when things are too late. The point when you have screwed everything up and things are almost irreversible.

I was thankfully about 1 month away from having a financial catastrophe. I stopped myself just in time before I would have had negative income. And it coincided with a new year, so yes, it was a cheesy ‘new beginning’.

Since January I have done a complete 180 on my financial situation.

I used to almost be turned on by the things I bought. Now I get excited by what I save, even if it is just a matter of pennies.

Getting into debt is so easy. Credit card companies don’t exactly make it hard, because here’s the big secret.

They want you to get into debt with them. As long as you can make the minimum payments each month they will have you for life. They will have your money each month. They will take you for everything you’ve got.

Please do not think for one minute I am blaming the credit card companies for my mistakes. I made them wholly on my own. No one exactly forced me or tricked me into getting into debt. I knew the risks. I dived in anyway.

I will tell you more about what I’ve achieved this year. I will teach you how to save money. I will show you there is a way out.

But just remember, getting into debt is easy. Getting out of it? That’s the achievement.

A Fresh Start

It has been a while since I last posted, and I guess it’s time to come clean.

Through a combination of bad/casual/infrequent employment over the years since graduating, and also a result of ‘being a twat’ with money, I have rocked up nearly 6K of credit card and overdraft debt. This is in addition to my student loan debt of around 22k, and also a not insignificant debt I owe my boyfriend.

After nearly a year in a wonderful role in a job that was everything I had wanted I am now in that tricky stage where I’m between contracts with my employer, so I am for want of a better word, unemployed.

I decided this year would be the year I got serious about paying back my debt. 2016 started off with good intentions, but there is no denying that I began 2016 by checking my bank balance after a hefty Christmas to find I was nearly 20 quid into an UN-arranged overdraft. Which meant I was over my arranged overdraft of a thousand pounds, of which only 500 quid was interest free.

However, up until June 2016 (the first month of my technical unemployment) I had been making great strides. I had not touched the (5) credit cards at all. Considering I spent most of 2015 paying the minimum on the (5) credit cards, and only doing so so that I could then spend that available balance once the payment had cleared, you can see that not using the cards was an achievement.

I managed to survive June 2016 through self employed work, selling everything on ebay, getting refunds on bad purchases and a little bit of moxy.

July was a different kettle of fish though, and somehow I had lost my desire and ended the month borrowing the money I needed to pay my bills off my boyfriend. So more was added to that debt.

I am determined that August will be different, and because I’m a bit of a masochist and love giving myself extra work I thought ‘Hey, why not just survive the month, why not blog about it as well?’

If I can help anyone going through a similar situation I will, or at the very least I will keep you company.

I will tell you more about how I got into this mess, how I did so far this year, and how I intend to get out of it forever.