Kick up the arse: update #1

As promised, I’m documenting my progress following my big kick up the arse

This week I:

  • Unlocked my online banking account
  • Entered nearly 4 months worth of transaction data into YNAB
  • Paid in both a cheque (which I’m notoriously lazy about) and some cash (which I’ve never done before, I just spend notes!)

So, numbers back on track. Now just to finish a project. Hmm…

Kick up the arse

I spent nearly an hour on the phone on Tuesday night with a friend of mine who’s asked to remain nameless (I don’t know why, maybe he thinks you’ll all call him up asking for financial advice too?) Following my comfort spending confession he’s given me a bit of a virtual kick up the arse and set me a challenge (and as we all know, I can never turn down a challenge).

In an attempt to curb both my comfort spending and procrastination, I’m under instruction to:

  1. complete one project and/or
  2. log one months worth of budget figures
  3. and document my progress on here

…before I’m allowed my next glass of vodka.

I’m not sure this challenge is entirely fair. I mean for starters, vodka is important fuel for my growing body. Secondly, doing number 2 actually means pulling my head out of my bottom and unlocking my online banking which I managed to accidentally lock myself out of (but am currently too deep in a river called denial … or something) to do anything about.

But I said yes, so here goes.

Oh Bugger (Budgeting Fail)

I made a terrible, terrible mistake in June.

I ignored my budget, forgot to check my online banking statements regularly, and made a big ‘luxury’ purchase (last minute half week “glamping” break) in the same month as a big necessary purchase (car tax). What with that, bills, childcare, mortgage, new shoes for Isabel etc my bank balance was officially lower yesterday than the day before pay day. I am in my overdraft at the beginning of the month for the first time ever.

I’m telling you this because a) it proves that even the most frugal of us make stupid, stupid mistakes sometimes, and b) because I need the accountability and the kick up the arse to motivate myself to go back into mega-frugal mode… the kind of frugal I rocked when I was on maternity leave. Meal plans, packed lunches, budgets, spreadsheets: you name it, I’m on it.

It’s too late to cancel the glamping break and get my money back but I’ve (sadly) dropped 2 ongoing payments to WAHMs for work on WAHMweb, put a crapload of maternity clothes and shoes up for sale, and resolved to cancel a bunch more domains. It’s not going to make me any money — that’s another topic altogether — but it’s a start. August WILL start better than this.

New Job, New Budget

One of the first things I did this month after starting my new job was to set up a new bank account. It’s not that new work necessitates a change of banking details, I’m just slightly paranoid that my old details are splashed all over every invoice etc from self-employment. Plus, a better rate of pay means I can get a supposedly better bank account… that is, until childcare fees are deducted (whine!) I’ve gone with First Direct because they have the best reviews for customer service, easy online & telephone access and £100 cashback for any new customer who switches their account. Free money, yay!

Talking of money: I’ve also started basic planning for my new budget. The past 12 months or so as self-employed meant that although budgeting was super important, I didn’t actually get the time to keep on track of mortgage overspends, extra savings, extra passive income streams etc basically because I’ve had NO TIME. We’ve stuck to a low food budget but not gone much further. The grand plan now is to start pushing my mortgage-free goal in the hope that we really can be mortgage free in 5 years (and we have some catching up to do).

Although I’ve been profitable since I went self-employed I’m a little paranoid about the months where things were not so great; where I slipped into my overdraft (and that’s another reason to move bank account – my old one was charging!) or had to move money around to make sure things were on an even keel until a strong month came along again. I’m keeping an eye on my credit rating using the Experian CreditExpert service (who are on topcashback if you’re a member) and everything is – touch wood – fine. Our fixed mortgage term ends this year though and I’m not sure how important it is that your credit rating remains strong in case you want to move your mortgage? I’m guessing “very” is the answer to that question. I am acutely aware that the interest rate we’ve got was the best on the market at the time and it’s not going to stay that way (and that we should have put more against the mortgage 2 years ago!)

The rest of the budget plan is basically about making money rather than – as well as, should I say – saving it. I need to make my websites self-sufficient in terms of hosting and domains costs, which means pushing revenue streams from premium support or paid downloads and the like. I’ve got monetising ideas for my mail form and desperately need to do something about WAHMweb. GirlsWhoGeek, rev.iew.me, my Jem on WordPress blog – it’s make or break for several of my sites this year. I can’t afford to spend upwards of £1000 on hobby sites that are only bringing in a few pence a month (if that). Ideas on a postcard…