Credit Clusterfuckery

Over the last few years (well, really since the bankruptcy) I’ve kept a fairly close eye on my credit score – mainly using ClearScore (who use Equifax data) and CreditKarma (which used to be Noddle, and use TransUnion’s data). Both services are free in perpetuity, and have done a pretty good job so far.

Anyway, back in 2019 I’d put a few things on credit (intentionally) and then merged it all onto one interest-free balance-transfer card which gave me a longer term to pay things off.  And my credit score went super-high, and has stayed there since.

In the last couple of months, I’ve completely paid that off, and all my cards now have a zero balance – which is a pretty good feeling, I can’t deny.  It’s always been well within my means, but still, it’s nice to be completely clear.

However, that’s had a significant knock-on effect on my score – because I owe nothing, my credit score has dropped by about 10% this month.  I know it kind-of sort-of makes sense, that they ‘can’t gauge my indebtedness’ if that figure is zero, but it also means that I could utilise 100% of my income to go into credit, yet somehow that’s less valuable. As is, of course, the perfect record for borrowing and paying back.  (Albeit without paying any bloody interest whatsoever)

All of which goes to show, yet again, that credit-scoring really is a monumental load of old bollocks.


Excessive Renewal

This time last year, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding over in Madeira, and bought some travel insurance along the way.

Obviously it didn’t work out, because of Covid and the like, and the insurance didn’t get used for any other trips, for similar reasons. Thankfully, I’d had a good deal on it, so wasn’t too upset. Them’s the breaks, and all that.

This week, I got the renewal letter from the company, telling me what I’d pay this year.

Now OK, there’s been a lot going on in the world this year, and I assume insurance has taken a kicking (although I wouldn’t have thought it was a huge one, in comparison to travel companies, credit cards and the like) but still, the increase from last year to this is a 50% rise.  And bear in mind, there’s no way I’d be using it ’til at least May/June, so it would cost me more to able to use it for less time.

Needless to say, they’ve been told to fuck off. I’ll buy travel insurance again as and when I need it – but that’s still not going to be any time soon.


Staying In Place

With everything else that’s going on, I’ve made the decision to stay in my current house for another year, and sorted out the tenancy agreement to that effect.

I’d been seriously looking at a couple of different locations (although still in the same region as I’m in currently) that would’ve worked, and enabled some other stuff to be a lot easier. It would also have been nice to have a slightly bigger place, as I’ve said before.

However, all the places that were available were at least double the price of the one I’m currently in, and weren’t making enough other things easier. Alongside that, the way things have been with Covid, and the upcoming clusterfuck formally known as Brexit, I ended up deciding that it was likely to be better/smarter to stay here, rather than over-extend things too much.

If nothing else, I’d be properly mortified to end up being in the shit because I’d moved to a better house and then everything else had gone to crap, knowing I could’ve still be in this little cheap(er) place.

So yeah, here for another year. That’s eight-and-a-half years now – by far the longest I’ve been in any one place since I left home.

For now, it still suits me enough. I’d like to move elsewhere, and I’ll look again come summer 2021, and see what happens in the meantime. If things are properly shit, I might stay again, but we’ll see.


Organising

Among all the usual stuff, I’ve spent some time this month getting things a bit more organised, and kicking off things that had slipped last year.

So in the last two weeks, I’ve…

  • Moved/merged my credit-card crap onto one interest-free balance-transfer card.
    It’s not a huge amount, and not something I’m worried about, but it’s good to have it in one place and no interest for the next two years.
  • Started playing hunt-the-pensions, seeing if I can find them and merge them into one fund, so I know where the hell things stand.
    I’m not expecting much, but again, it’ll be good to know
  • Started sorting a new will, as the last one was done while I was still with Herself. So yeah, that *really* needs to be sorted
  • Booked in cat-sitting people for all the stuff I’ve currently got lined up (which is more than it should be, but less than it could’ve been)
  • Actually also done less – in each of the three weekends so far, I’ve had a day of doing very very little, as per the plan for this year.  I don’t know if that’ll keep on happening (in some ways I’m finding it more exhausting than being busy, but I’ll write about that another time) but so far it’s worked out
  • Completed another project outside of my usual work, which has already made me more productive than last year
  • Oh, and visited my first Michelin-starred restaurant of the year as well (and it was bloody excellent)

It’s been interesting, and eventful – and it’s good to have some of that stuff checked off the list already


CostCluster

Have you ever noticed, there are some times where things all just decide to cost money all at once? And it’s usual at the most inconvenient times…

The last ten days have been a pretty good example of that. Since last Wednesday…

  • The car had a front tyre blow out , so has needed a replacement tyre.
  • The clutch on the car also started playing up, so has needed to be replaced.
    Admittedly, it wasn’t yet completely stuffed, but you could feel it was well on the way, and I’d rather not be stuffed by that over the Festering Season
  • In the kitchen, the steamer I use most days died (tripping the circuit breaker along the way) and needed replacing
  • And one of my smoke alarms also started doing the beep-of-battery-death. And of course it’s a non-replaceable battery (not my choice, but that of my landlord) so that’ll need replacing

On top of that, all the usual stuff for the Festering Season and so on, and it means it’s been an expensive month…


Annual Car Costs

The start of October is expensive when it comes to the car, because it’s the anniversary of when I bought it.

So first there’s the renewal of the vehicle tax, although happily that’s not a big expense at £30 for the year.

Then there’s the insurance renewal, which is always a fun dose of bureaucracy and weirdness. And at least that one is an expense that’s spread through the year – I could do it in one payment, but find I usually can’t be bothered.

And then of course there’s the MoT test. Never fun – even if it passes with no problem, you’ve still spent time beforehand worrying about what’ll happen, and figuring out as many of the financial permutations as possible.

Last year, it passed the MoT OK, with just a couple of advisories – although one of those was about the brakes needing attention next year. So I knew that was going to come up, as well as the MoT and a service – which makes it all already Not Cheap.

Luckily though, that was it. I got one small advisory for this year, but absolutely nothing else to worry about. I suspect the clutch is likely to die sometime this year (although I said that last year too) which’ll be an expense at some point.

But for now, it’s all sorted, and my wallet isn’t as light as it could’ve been, so I’ll take that as a positive…

 


Reinsuring

The world of Car Insurance is very, very strange.  I truly don’t understand how it all works.

My car insurance is due for renewal in October, so I recently received the renewal gubbins from my current insurer.  They’ve put my insurance up by £60 for the year.  Bear in mind, I’ve not even spoken to them all year, let alone made a claim, and I’ve now got another year’s no claims discount as well.  And yet it’s gone up.

So I shopped around, doing the usual comparison website thing (Meerkats rather than opera singers) and got one that’s actually £120 cheaper than what I was being offered by the current insurer – and with slightly better cover.

Brilliant, I’ll sign up and do that.  Job done. And this is where it all gets weird(er)

My new insurer is actually one I used a couple of years ago. So when I log in to their ‘self-service portal’ to see my new policy, all I can see is the details of the old one. Fuck sake.  (It looks like the policy is actually tied to a combination of my username and password – so I can change password, and now view the new details instead – but I didn’t know that at the time)

So first things first, I call my current insurer to tell them I won’t be renewing with them. It’s the usual automatic phone gubbins, and gives the name of the insurance provider – let’s call them ABC Insurers, for the sake of argument.   I give the correct information, go through, tell them I won’t be renewing, explain why, and it’s as easy as that.

Then I call the new insurers. Who are also using ABC Insurers.  So I go through the correct information for the new insurance, get things sorted, get the documents emailed to me, and it’s as easy as that.

But it’s weird – I’ve used two different companies (well, two different front-ends) and given them the same information (obviously) but one faction is offering me a significantly better deal than both the one I’m on, and the renewal quote from the one I’m on.  But they’re both the same company underneath!

How the fuck does that make sense? Offering the same person two completely different prices (and slightly different packages/benefits)  Why not allow my current insurer to offer the same price as my new one?  It’s all just a bit bizarre.