D4D

A drop of blood in a sea of piss

Archive for the category “Finances”

The Joy of Tech

Yesterday, while doing a quick shop on the way to work, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. Bugger.

I was just about prepared to take everything back to its shelves/locations, when it occurred to me that actually I was still OK – I had my phone with me still. That meant I’d got the ability to make a contactless payment – and because I’d also added the details of my Monzo card/account to the phone, it meant I had everything I needed.

It’s pretty amazing, the way these things have now become so much more mainstream than they were ten years ago, or even five.  Since I got the Monzo card eighteen months ago (it’s the only one I have that also connects into my ApplePay account on the phone) I’ve stopped carrying cash except for specific occasions – for example, the car wash I use still only takes cash.

I still prefer to carry physical cards (hence usually having a wallet) but it was still interesting to realise that forgetting it is no longer the “Oh shit!” moment it used to be. (So long as I remember my phone, and that I can use it, anyway)

Ain’t progress grand?

Ten Years Back – The Changes

Having whanged on about things from Ten Years Ago, I thought I’d have a quick sum-up of what’s changed in that time as well. It might be interesting, it might not.

So anyway, since Jan 2009 I have…

  • lived in five different houses (a couple only short 6-month tenancy things, but still)
  • been a lot more settled of late, and now been in the same house for nearly seven years. Which is faintly terrifying
  • changed jobs and contracts more times than enough – by my reckoning I’ve done 17 jobs/contracts in that time, but I’ve still probably forgotten at least one.
  • been through the whole bankruptcy process from start to finish
  • gained three cats
  • lost one cat
  • changed car. Twice.
  • driven lots (and lots and lots) of miles
  • Started going to see more plays and theatre stuff
  • Been to a whole load of Michelin-starred restaurants (as well as plenty of other places) as part of that whole “solo dining” thing

There’s other stuff as well, but that seems to be the key points, at least.  All told, I’m pretty happy with that list – some of it’s not been great, but even those have been better than the alternatives.

I wonder what’ll come in the next ten?

Closing The Year

And so we’re at the end of 2018. And as such, it seems apt that the last post of the year should be a quick assessment and overview.

All told, it’s been a good – and busy – year.

There’s been more travel than usual, with that week in Toronto to add into the bargain.

There’s been more work, but also more fun times, trips out, meals, etc.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on weight-loss which has ultimately ended up not doing much – but I have more knowledge, more figures, and the steps I’ve taken have improved my health, strength, stamina, and resilience. They’ve just done sod-all to lose actual weight. But I’m OK with that, and it’s something I’ll continue to work on.

On the downside, I’m ending the year with a bit more debt than I’d like. It’s nothing earth-shattering, nor even major. A fair chunk of it is for tickets for things in 2019, of which another decent chunk is owed to me by others for their tickets. But all the same, it’s more than I’d like it to be.

However, in a fit of progress and being grown up, it’s also now all in one place, with zero-interest ’til 2022, and it’ll be done by the end of 2019.  I could do it even quicker if I wanted – and I may do so – but it’s all under control, and I’m OK with it.

There are, as always, things I haven’t done – no matter the good intentions, they just haven’t happened. I’ll continue to work towards those things, and I’m going to write more about that tomorrow.

All told, it’s been a positive year, and I’m feeling pretty good at the end of it.

Debtor’s Tales

This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.

I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)

In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)

According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments)  He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything.  (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)

Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt.  Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement.  From the article…

Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.

(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526

Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about.  When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone.  I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it. 

Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did.  Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.

So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.

But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people.  If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before.  There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.

Turbo Near-Miss

While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.

I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”.  (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times)  So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)

I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out.  Bollocks.

So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.

So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive.  It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.

It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.

What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom.  If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?

That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.

We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab.  (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)

Nearly Done

Today marks the six-year anniversary of when I declared myself bankrupt.

The next twelve months is the final stage of it all – Bankruptcy is a strange edge-case when it comes to credit-score reporting, because it actually has a duration.

If it had been a simple marker, it would expire today and all would be well.

But because it lasts a year, it doesn’t come off the record until six years after the bankruptcy period *ends*. So, another year of it being on the record.

It’s an oddity, and one that seems to confuse a lot of people when it comes to asking about when these things expire.

Still, only another 12 months to go. Could be worse.

Illumination

On Friday morning, while it was still dark, I started the car to go to the client office – and one of the headlight bulbs blew.

Bollocks.

I’m not a fan of driving with one bulb out, but in this case it was going to have to happen, so off I went, a bit more carefully than usual, as a bigger swathe of the road than usual was in darkness.

On the way home though, I dropped in to one of the local(ish) Halfords, and got a new bulb sorted and fitted. Yeah, in theory I could fit it myself – but seeing the struggle the lad had with getting to it (the space was extremely tight/narrow) I’d have had issues, so it makes sense to get them to do it. (Also, when he opened the packaging for the first bulb and dropped the bulb through the engine block, he just went to get a replacement – that wouldn’t have happened if it’d been me doing it!)

From start to finish, it took less than half an hour – even with the difficulties the lad had. And all for less than £20.

I really don’t get why so many people seem to have problems with getting bulbs replaced. Some people I see in the village have had the same bulb out for weeks, if not months. I understand that sometimes you just get used to the problem existing, rather than fixing it – but at the same time, working headlights are a pretty basic requirement, I’d have said.

And besides, if it’s only £20 all-in to fix it, really, I don’t get the point of not bothering. but maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all.

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