Category Archives: Finances

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.

Anniversal

Having gone through the six years of the bankruptcy process (as I’ve written about many times in that period) today marks a year since that process completed. Time flies, and all that rot.

It’s the final real anniversary of any significance though – even though it came off my record a year ago, most of the banks work on a “Six years plus one” basis (fuck only knows why, but that’s their choice) when it comes to ‘full’ current accounts and the like.

So that’s where we are now – the full “six years plus one” is complete.

It shouldn’t affect things much – it would be nice to have a ‘full’ account with overdraft facility and so on , but only because that’s another thing that is good to have.  I’ve done fine over the last seven years with no overdraft and never needing one, and I don’t see any reason why that would change now.

However, it does mean I’ll almost certainly move away from my current bank’s offering, purely because they were lying dicks about it all the way through the process. Once I’d gone through the first year where I was officially bankrupt, I was fine to have a basic current account. When I got it, I was totally honest with the bank, and they said I could try to apply for an upgrade to a ‘full’ current account on a regular basis (every six months or so) and see how I did.

It was only after three years that anyone mentioned that they wouldn’t give me an account until the “six years plus one” – ‘but it’s not that we have a policy, sir, it’s just that’s how it works, we won’t do it before then‘ – and so had basically lied and wasted my time for all those reviews.  That did cost them money in the end – a complaint went all the way to the Financial Ombudsman, who found in my favour.  (The rule in this case is keep a record of all paperwork and appointments, so you can show a history of wasted time, and stuff that you wouldn’t have done if they’d been honest and said to not bother for seven years!)

So yes, I’ll probably change banks for the current account – I’m not yet sure who to, but we’ll see what happens.

But the most important thing really is that now, seven years on, there’s nothing else keeping me back.

Disconnecting

As part of the whole bankruptcy process (now well and truly complete, of course) I’ve been using a couple of free services to keep track of my credit score.  It’s been useful to know what’s going on, and where things stand.

I primarily use ClearScore (who use data from Equifax) and CreditKarma – who used to be Noddle – and use data from Transunion (which used to be Legatio)

Part of the reports from both of those (and from Experian, whose ‘free’ service is an absolute dumpster fire, and absolutely refuses to allow me to view my own data) involves past addresses, and people with whom one has had a credit connection – things like a shared mortgage, or whatever.

Looking through the CreditKarma stuff in particular, I noticed that they still have a record of my old addresses going right back to Bracknell – bearing in mind, I moved there back in early 2005…   It also still had me linked to Herself for the mortgage we had back on the Norfolk place (which must’ve been 2007/8, if not earlier)

So, I asked them about why this stuff was still on there – bearing in mind, credit stuff is supposed to stay on one’s record for six years and then go – and got a response back that was… less than encouraging.  (Note, I’m going to edit some of this so it’s comprehensible without being comprehensive)

There are several reasons why TransUnion UK hold historic address information [including] something called asset reunification, which is when TransUnion UK helps clients trace the holders of lost or forgotten financial accounts, such as pensions or bank accounts.  So, if you have an account associated with an old address that you don’t know about, financial institutions will be able to find you.

Another reason [we hold] old historic address information is to help organisations trace individuals who have moved without telling their creditors where their new home is (this is known as debt tracing).

For now, let me confirm that TransUnion UK holds address information indefinitely. However, they are reviewing their policy to see if a fixed upper limit can be set on how long they will keep address data for.

The “Indefinite holding” of that data is definitely a no-no. So far as I know, it’s still the case that if a company doesn’t get in touch with a debtor at all for six years, that debt is no longer viable, and is effectively written off.  So historic data could be stored for (I’ll be charitable) seven years, and then get erased. I’d be OK (ish) with that, at least.

But this is information going back more than twice that time.  I’ve now filed requests to lose all of that data – I’ve now been at this one address for longer than the six years usually required – and also to take away the connection to Herself. (I can’t imagine she’d be overly happy to still have that connection either)  We’ll see what happens on those things.

I’m also going to refer this to the Information Commissioner, because I’m pretty sure they’ll be interested in anyone who claims to be storing personal data indefinitely…

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.