Stupid Goals: Project Recurring Income

I’ve been stressed again lately. The ups and downs of hormones, the DOOM of summer holidays, the move, the kids, the usual shit. When I get stressed I start to ponder what I’m doing with my life and whether I should get a proper job.

Unfortunately, I’m basically unemployable; there’s no way I could go back to a 9—5 at this point and make it work. Sometimes though, the call of being able to switch off and walk away at the end of the day, of being able to take a day off sick without worrying about what’s piling up, of having an actual proper holiday… the call of all that is really bloody strong.

Of course the reality is that while a 9—5 job has those advantages it would also massively impact upon the flexibility in my schedule, my ability to work out while the kids are at school, would add wraparound childcare costs and all sorts of additional loads and problems.

So instead of being a moany arse (OK, as well as being a moany arse) I sat down and had a think about how I can achieve the two things I really need right now, those things being:

  1. Regular money (as freelance income is so unpredictable) to tide me over during times like e.g. summer holidays where my working hours are massively curtailed
  2. Time off (an actual holiday would be amazeballs) to de-stress

And how better to achieve than by setting some wildly unachievable, mostly stupid goals?! Something crazy like “raising 20k to buy my ex out” (which I mostly did with mortgage, but the hard work and kindness of strangers meant I could afford to go that route) or “paying off my mortgage in 5 years” (which I didn’t manage, but did eat enough into it to give myself enough equity to buy a new house!). So my track record isn’t great, but it HAS given me focus and achieved things that I wouldn’t have done had I not even tried.

Luckily, I can probably achieve the second “need” by tackling the first, which means “all” I have to do is find a way to raise enough money per month to cover my half of bills and regular expenses. This means that additional freelance income can then go in a) towards the tax bills, which regularly screw me up, b) towards my savings, whereby I might eventually have enough to go to the seaside or something. I reckon I need to get to the point where I have £750 per month guaranteed with usual more flexible work/income on top.

How am I going to raise a guaranteed fixed £750 per month? I’ve only got two things on my list so far:

  • Stop being scared of offering maintenance contracts to clients. One of the things I really struggle with, even after 6 years of working for myself, is feeling like I am ripping clients off. Although I value my time and experience and charge a decent amount for coding time, I don’t like hooking people into recurring fees as I don’t want them to feel I’m pocketing their hard earned cash and doing nothing. However, there’s a genuine need for some of my clients to have regular services — like back-ups and upgrades — that if I don’t do, won’t get done.
  • Work on my bloody “product”. I have a product, that ‘thing’ everyone talks about as a must-have for recurring income. I have a product that works, is good at what it does, and makes a handful of sales a month… but that I ignore for 90% of the year. I’m talking about my mail form, of course. I need to stop procrastinating, and put the effort into improving what’s there. The membership option and form builder aren’t used (because the form is mostly used by devs who can write their own forms) so I need to rip that out and then concentrate on moving into other markets using my strength: starting by creating a JMF-brand of spam protection add-ons for other form providers.

I have also considered working a fixed amount of hours in-office with a client or agency per month, but I’ve trialled this before and it didn’t work. I’m in a better place mentally now, but it’s very easy for these placements to feel same-y and stagnant so it would have to be for someone — or some project — I really care about. I need to think more about this one.

Plenty to be getting on with though. First step: reach out to clients who would benefit from a monthly maintenance package. Project recurring income is on! Watch this space…

Lead photo by rawpixel.

Moving Tales: Part 2

In my last post about our recent house move I expressed frustration about a series of relatively minor but annoying problems that we’d had so far. The two main issues were the lack of hot water, and a mystery leak.

Shortly after posting I started pulling out wood cladding in the downstairs bathroom (part of the garage conversion) and found that the reason we had a water leak was because the pipe that took waste water from the sink and downstairs shower was not actually attached to the piping that should have routed it out of the bathroom and through to what’s left of the garage. Water was literally pouring onto the floor every time the shower or sink was used. Annoyingly, this had obviously been a problem for some time, as there were clear water marks and residue of damp that had been painted over. I called a local plumber in and had it sorted for £50, job done.

The hot water issue was slightly more complicated. Gaz and I fiddled with the boiler, we replaced fuses in mystery switches in the garage, we tried the thermostat on the wall but all to no avail. In the end I called in my regular trusty gas engineer (Telford Gas & Heating, highly recommend) to take a look assuming — hoping — it’d be something as simple as the boiler needing a service.

Unfortunately, life is never that simple. I knew that the problem was a little more complicated when, during the initial consult & having opened the airing cupboard to see the pipework to and from the hot water tank, my engineer uttered the fatal words “what on earth is that”. We were quoted circa £850 to fix the massive piping cock-ups that had been made previously, which we managed to scrape together, and the work was scheduled for this morning (9th July)

In the mean time, to keep us on our toes, the house decided to throw a little electrics issue at us. One evening after school, Izzy turned her bedroom light on and the upstairs electrics & downstairs bathroom lights went out. At first I panicked and thought the leak had reoccurred and was seeping into a light socket or something, but couldn’t find any evidence of that. Attempts to reset the RCD on the fuseboard wouldn’t work, and it’d immediately trip again. After 3 days of ignoring the issue like the nice responsible homeowners that we are, Gaz suggested it might be related to a switch in the loft that appeared to not do anything that he’d fiddled with when he was hiding some of our junk. Lo and behold, after climbing back up there and switching it off, the electrics came back on. Tada!

Anyway, back to the hot water. The gas engineer and his colleague turned up this morning and immediately started trying to make sense of the pipes while I cracked on with work. Just before 10am I emailed Gaz to tell him I was hearing a lot of perplexed “jesus, this is a mess” type noises coming from upstairs which didn’t sound great. 20 minutes later and I was called upstairs to the landing, where the floorboards had been removed to expose further pipework that I can only describe as akin to a game of Snake.

I’m not an expert on central heating installation or plumbing etc but it definitely didn’t require expert skills to see that there were Big Issues afoot. With that, on top of the work that was scheduled to be done this morning, and the reality of the state of the system, our best option (short of bumbling along with what we have for the foreseeable) is to replace the whole central heating system: pipework, hot water cylinder, radiators, possibly even the boiler at an estimated cost £5,000-£6,000. This is before we factor in the problems likely to be caused by lifting floorboards (i.e. removal of the laminate in the bedroom for access).

To say I’m furious is an understatement. That someone would knowingly misrepresent their house to get an artificially inflated sale price fully in the knowledge that we have two young children for whom hot water, reasonable plumbing and working electrics are, y’know, somewhat important; to look those kids in the eye and reel off the story of her husband’s sudden death to engender sympathy; to lie to the solicitors about “not being able to find the boiler certificate” knowing full well there isn’t one because the system was installed by an unqualified fucknugget; and, finally, leaving a “new home” card behind wishing “happy memories” when you know you’ve screwed over your buyer to the tune of several thousand pounds? Fuck, furious doesn’t even come close to how I feel.

Still, life lesson learned. Don’t be a dick and skimp to move faster (like we did), get the most in depth survey even if it costs you a small fortune in the short term. Ultimately, it may save you you a fuck ton more later on.

Lead photo by Joel Barwick.

Budgeting: The Great Big Tax Bill and Recurring Payment Hell

After the touch of reality reflected in the last post — how my over-spending and wastefulness was contributing to an unsteady financial future w/r/t buying a new house — I was already feeling a touch the poorer. So as you can imagine, when my accountant (well worth the spend) did my tax return for the ’15-16 tax year a couple of weeks ago, you could say that the paperwork hit me like a ton of bricks.

I knew the tax bill was incoming, but I’d been ignoring the potential size of it (especially since I blew my savings on a website) and holy shit was that a mistake. With tax owed, tax on account for the ’16-17 financial year and accountant fees I suddenly had just over two weeks to find £3,000. And here I am, a couple of days from the dreaded tax deadline, and I’m only able to pay off the back of a loan from my husband and a big credit card bill. (I am a responsible adult, honestly.)

So… up shit creek without a paddle I sat down and thought to myself: my ‘half’ of monthly expenditure (household bills, mortgage etc) is about £750. I make plenty more than that each month — certainly enough to live comfortably and be putting money aside for tax bills! — so why am I sat here in such a terrifying position? Where the hell is all my money going that I constantly in my overdraft and only have £9 in my ISA to pay my tax bill?

Wine and eating out and frivolities, yes… but that doesn’t eat through hundreds of pounds a month in income, surely? (Even with my wine consumption levels?!) To Excel!

I started adding up all of the yearly expenses that aren’t on my basic month-to-month budget. Hosting bills, domains (again!), WordPress plugins, memberships, magazines, software and SAAS ‘apps’. I’ve not finished logging and I’ve already totted up over £3,600 worth of yearly expenditure which totals over £300 per month. Start adding wine and eating out and frivolities to that and it’s not too hard to see where my income is going.

It’s an easy trap to fall into: pay off an expense in one lump sum, and forget it exists until next year. But it does exist, and it is chipping away at the money I could be using to pay off debt and my mortgage. It’s no wonder I’m up shit creek when I’m easily spending nearly £4k a year on things I don’t give a second thought to.

Am I the only one this disorganised? How many people actually have a handle on their irregular / yearly expenses? It’s probably about time I started using YNAB again…

Back to Budgeting Basics

Feels like ages since I’ve talked about budgeting, and for a reason… with excess spend on frivolities, a loan to pay off two credit cards one of which I didn’t close and am steadily filling back up, an expensive honeymoon (which I barely contributed towards) back in October 2016 and the increased cost of US-based services since the Brexit vote, it’s obvious I’ve had my head firmly planted in the sand. Or up my arse, if you like.

But I have a problem. And not just the problem of big scary debt which I promised myself I’d never get hooked into: the problem of a mortgage deal that ends in just over 12 months time and only self-employment income to prove my ability to buy or re-negotiate. If I have extra debt when it comes to sorting out a new deal, nobody is going to touch me. All of my mortgage over-payments will have been for nothing.

So I have a year. A year to do all the things I’ve blogged about doing a million times: reducing outgoings, making my projects successful (or closing them down) and putting any ‘side’ income straight into debt reduction.

And as that won’t be enough on its own, I have no choice but to go back to full scale frugality as per maternity leave income levels: meal planning, £20 a week shops, turning the heating down to 19 degrees and putting on an extra jumper… the kind of money saving stuff I used to do as par for the course.

I know I can do this, I’ve done it before. So why does it seem the most daunting of all my plans and goals for the year?

Depressing money crap

I’ve just come off the phone to my current mortgage provider. I rang up to see how much I’d likely be able to borrow if I wanted to purchase a larger house using equity in this house as a deposit.

I was hoping that because of my regular overpayments to my mortgage as part of my ‘mortgage free in 5 years‘ thing, and my reasonable income for a working mother of 2 with my experience level, that I might be able to secure at least enough to upgrade from my tiny 2 bed to a medium sized 3 bed.

Unfortunately, because I am now fully self-employed, any income I’ve received over the past few years in full time employment no longer count. Because I spent much of the past 2 years in full time employment with only self employment on the side, my official SE income for 2014-15 for example is just £1700 (despite overall income being much, much higher).

So, as it turns out, despite my reasonable financial status, repeat steady business and an average income more than enough to sustain my house & kids etc, I don’t even qualify for my existing mortgage deal let alone a new one.

I understand why affordability checks are in place on mortgages: to prevent people getting in over their head and ending up bankrupt and the bank losing money. But it makes absolutely no sense to me that they can’t look at the bigger picture in terms of income and net worth. Because I blew all my savings on a website I can’t even put together a bigger deposit.

Time to kick my mortgage free thing into gear and get back on the money-saving track, I guess.

Mortgage Free in 5 years: half of every invoice goal

Having announced my intention to return to 100% freelance from October, it might therefore be surprising to hear that I’m also going to be attempting a pretty radical goal to try and drastically increase the amount saved to use against my mortgage balance: I am going to try and put away half of every paid invoice each month for the foreseeable future.

I don’t know if this is entirely sensible with the cost of hot desking to think about, my car insurance due in November and the dreaded bank-draining event that is Christmas just around the corner but I’m becoming increasingly aware that I’m not doing enough just bumbling along tucking away passive income. However, with something in the range of £1600+ worth of bills at the beginning of every month, after contributions from Gaz towards his half of the utilities and Karl towards childcare, I’m going to need to earn £1800 as a minimum (per month) to be able to cover the bills and put half away. That’s not including irregular and/or business expenses.

To get me off to a head start, last week I tucked away £500 into my ISA. It wasn’t quite half of the weeks income but with travel to and from Brighton and the inevitable cost of food etc while I was over there, I knew I’d need a bit more in my current account to get by. However, I did what I always do when I go somewhere “new” and I over-spent on stuff I didn’t need, so I need to start setting myself a budget for these occasions too. There has to be a happy medium between radical frugalism (is that a word) and free spending…

Earning ‘passive’ income

I talk about passive income every now and again on my blog, so I thought I’d talk about what it means to me.

What is passive income?

Passive income is money I ‘earn’ without the need to specifically do anything to get it. That is, income that just drops straight into my bank or PayPal account without having to intervene or work or any other unpleasant and/or boring activity.

Why do you need passive income?

As I’m now (mostly) self-employed again, I don’t have the stability of a guaranteed monthly salary to depend on. Passive income is important to me because it allows me to build an emergency pot — while I’m busy doing actual, billable work — to fall back on should I be unable to work for any reason, e.g. kids, health (physical or mental); it also means that if an unexpected bill or the like comes in I have something to draw from. Eventually when this ‘pot’ is big enough it will be used to pay a lump sum off my mortgage as part of my goal to be mortgage free in five years. At the moment, all passive income goes straight into this ‘pot’ (it’s an ISA, not a literal pot).

How do you earn passive income?

I have two sources of passive income at the moment:

  1. Income from my premium mail form sales
  2. Income from adsense advertising

(I earn dribs and drabs from affiliate marketing which many see as passive income too, but more often than not the effort required to get to this point far outweighs the pennies I get back.)

Of these two sources, advertising is obviously the easiest. I dropped the provided code from Google into my blog sidebar, mail form site, WAHMweb etc and watch the pennies trickle in. Making money from my mail form is rather different; although I generally don’t do anything month to month to drive those sales, obviously I had to write the form in the first place. I also occasionally have to drum up sales, which I’m not particularly great at (because of laziness, not necessarily lack of skill). The required initial effort and occasional shameless plug are not “passive” but in terms of overall work I don’t do a significant amount month on month.

How much do you get?

It’s taken me a year to earn £60.10 through adsense so it’s hardly lucrative, but £60 is better than nothing.

adsense-payout

The mail form makes the most money out of the two (although still not making me rich): I’ve had 12 completed sales since it launched in February, totalling £228. After subtracting fees (£11.63) and ‘software’ costs (£107.32) there’s a total ‘profit’ of £109.05.

Clearly I’m not going to be retiring off the back of this passive income any time soon, but it’s income I otherwise wouldn’t get.

Are you going to do more?

My grand plan is to open up a member’s only section on my mail form site, which will give users more customisation options and the ability to generate custom forms and add more/better functionality. This requires effort and energy and at the minute I’m struggling to drum up either, because I’m about as low as the time I cried into my wine.

I also have a couple of other content-focused sites which I may or may not choose to work on over the course of the next year which should bring up my income from advertising.

In an ideal world, by the end of 2015 I’d like to be making at least £100 per month in passive income so that I can increase my mortgage overpayment by that amount. I have a lot of work to do to get there…

If I inherited a million pounds

I don’t play the lottery (aka “tax on the poor”), scratchcards, or indeed gamble at all. It’s not that I have any ethical/moral concerns about gambling but rather I just seem to have awful luck. I’ve never won anything in my life, and regularly bemoan the frequent catastrophes that I seem to have to put up with (yes, I’m a drama queen). This means that my only hope of ever having a million pounds is inheriting it through some long lost rich relative. It’s unlikely, but I never give up hope.

So. If I inherited £1,000,000, what would I spend it on?

Firstly, on £1,000,000 I calculated I would have to pay £270,000 inheritance tax. I’m a law abiding, tax paying citizen, so without having spent a penny I would actually only have £730,000 to buy whatever my heart desires. That should be enough to buy:

A decent size house

It was only yesterday I was telling you all about my ideal house: big kitchen, play room, home office, etc etc. I don’t really want to move too far away from where I am now, and a cursory glance at Rightmove suggests I wouldn’t have to. A decent size 5 bedroom property, within a half mile radius of where I am now, that would meet many of my dream house needs currently retails around £450,000:

broseley-house
jackfield-house

Stamp duty on a £450,000 property costs £12,500. Solicitors fees etc would probably cost another £5k, plus moving costs and the rest, let’s assume that the total cost of purchasing one of these houses would be £470,000 which brings me down to £260,000 left to spend.

A new car

The next important purchase would be a new car. I currently have a Honda Jazz. I hate it. It’s an old lady car. It’s slow (although everything feels slow after I’ve driven Gaz‘s Celica), it’s not responsive when I need it to be and I have issues with it randomly jumping between low and high revs which can catch me out causing the car to stall.

I miss my old car, which was a Skoda, and have been lusting after a yellow Fabia for a loooong time. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like Skoda do a new model yellow Fabia (or not one you can configure through their site) so I’d be looking at a slightly older model, like this 2012 Skoda Fabia MONTE CARLO TSI 1.2 5dr:

yellow-skoda-fabia

…which would set me back £7,495, bringing my inheritance pot down to £252,505.

Fixing up an ‘old’ car

Gaz’s Celica, to be precise:

celica-gt-four

I fell in love with this bloody car not long after Gaz and I met and that love only strengthens every time I drive it. I know that the poor thing has a few issues at the moment though: some minor rust above one of the back wheel arches, the exhaust keeps getting clipped by a concrete ‘lip’ on my driveway, apparently the suspension might be playing up and I’m sure there’s other things Gaz would like to do with it. I’d happily gift him £5,000 to sort it out.

Property investment

Having moved to my big dream house, my current property would of course be empty. I would pay off the mortgage on the house and get the decorators in to give it a fresh look from top to bottom (to deal with my half-arsed attempts at decorating, and the bodges left by the previous owner). With the current mortgage at around £96,000 and around £15,000 needed for early repayment fees and decorating that leaves me with £136,505 to play with.

University / job starter fund for the kids

I really wasn’t sure if I should put this one in here.

On one hand, I kinda feel like I started my adult life with nothing of value, no monetary support and no real job experience to speak of and I worked hard (and sometimes for free) to get where I needed to be so that today I can sit in relative comfort — albeit we have tight months (and months and months), an overdraft I regularly dip into and outstanding credit card debt — but I can raise my children fairly flexibly. I want my children to have to work hard too, so that they learn the value of the money in their pocket and know how privileged they are (comparatively speaking, we’re not middle class or ‘owt!)

On the other hand, if I were genuinely wealthy enough to be able to put money aside for my kids I know I wouldn’t be able to NOT do so. I want them to have a chance at higher education if that’s what they want to do. I want them to be able to enter the world unsaddled by massive debts or without having to worry too much about how they’re going to be able to scrape together their first months rent and a deposit when they set out in the big wide world on their own. I think I’d put aside £15,000 each for my kids, which means my total left to spend is £106,505.

And finally…

I think it would be quite easy to spend £106,505 on a bunch of frivolous crap. Dresses, good food, gifts for friends etc. However, it would make more sense for me to put it into some sort of high interest account and pay myself an amount from it monthly to cover my highest bills, which would allow me more flexibility (and security) in my self-employment endeavours. Nobody said I had to spend it all at once!

My Ideal Home

With at least two of my friends in the process of buying a house at the minute, and my place full to bursting with accumulated STUFF since Gaz moved in, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking lately about what I’d like out of a home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moving any time soon. For starters I’ve only had my mortgage about 6-7 months, and securing that was hard enough. Secondly, now that the bulk of my income is from self-employment I’d need to seriously beef up my accounts before any mortgage company would come near me (although hopefully by the time moving is an actual possibility, I’ll have paid off a significant chunk of my mortgage) Still, a girl can dream!

So here goes…
In an ideal world I would have a big kitchen. I do a lot of cooking and food prep, so want a huge cooker and a ton of surface space. I’m also a big believer in the kitchen being the hub of a home, so there needs to be room for a dining table and a small sofa. Something like the traditional kitchen in this local property (left) or the more modern open plan kitchen from Real Homes mag:

big-kitchens

I would love a playroom for the kids. I dream of being able to shove all the kid’s toys away in a room and forgetting they exist (the toys, not the kids). It’d also mean I could bring some of the toys back out of their bedroom, which would give them a dedicated uncluttered sleeping space.

playrooms

1: Hugo’s Retreat (very slow to load)
2: Our Land of Nod Playroom
3: 35 Awesome Kids Playrooms

Once the kids have got their own playroom, and the dining table is tucked away in the kitchen (or a dedicated dining room if I wanted to be really posh), my living room can go back to being a grown up space. I don’t actually use my living room all that much but when I do it’s normally for entertaining guests or relaxing. It would need to be cosy, comfortable and have space for all my books (present and as-yet unbought). It would have to be clutter-free and ‘unfussy’, because too much stuff stresses me out. I like:

living-room

1: Another local home
2: 5 home feng shui tips to create positive energy
3: Err…

Although I have a thing about red in living rooms, so would need to decorate all of those!

I’d also need a dedicated office space. A room with a lot of natural light, space for my whiteboard on the wall, big enough to take two desks:

home-office

1: Studio Makeover: Before & After
2: 33 Crazy Cool Home Office Inspirations
3: 45 Awesome Workspaces & Offices

Obviously I’d also need a garden with extensive lawns for the kids (and inevitable horde of bunnies and guinea pigs), a master bedroom with en suite, space for at least 2 cars, garage for storage/conversion into a home gym, at least one guest bedroom so that cakefest-ers don’t have to sleep on my kid’s bedroom floor…

I guess I need to hurry up and get that mortgage-free thing sorted.

Hoard Mode

As I woke up to another sale on my premium mail form yesterday, I felt like I’d received a fresh kick up the bum to start actively working towards my mortgage free in five years goal again.

It’s not that I’ve not been working at it — all sales of the form (minus PayPal’s extortionate fees) are routed to my ISA where it sits til I can pay off a chunk of the mortgage — but I’ve not been doing anything to increase that passive income which is going to be the key to paying off the mortgage; I’ve not released stage 2 of the mail form functionality, and my other two projects are stalling while I get back on my feet too.

It doesn’t help that I’m currently in hoard mode: that is, because my financial future is less secure now that I’m self-employed again I can’t help but keep hold of every penny. I don’t want to move money out of my current account in case I need it quickly, and I don’t want to move what’s in my ISA onto my mortgage debt because if I have a sudden unexpected bill or a few dry months I’ll need that fallback.

I’m being paranoid. I have plenty of work and my bills are being paid. I just seem to be stuck on the thinking, and not on the doing… perhaps another spur of the moment decision is in order.

Mortgage Free: Bumps in the Road

One of the biggest barriers to me being mortgage free in 5 years is a bad habit I don’t tend to talk about too often: I’m a comfort spender. If I’m stressed, I spend money on anything and everything. The ironic thing about this unnecessary splurging is that it ultimately leads to me adding to my stress levels because I end up wasting money that I need to save or use more appropriately. To put this into context: I recently had to give my credit card (which I took out at 0% interest purely for emergencies when solicitors fees swallowed my savings) to Gaz to look after because I spent £57(!!!) on a dress I didn’t really need.

I have good months and bad months. At the minute, despite being hugely anxious about work and my impending return to freelance, I am also incredibly aware that I have no choice but to cut all non-essential spends for the foreseeable future. Over the weekend I managed to keep my spending low despite being out and about, yesterday I spent just £15 on groceries for the week and I have successfully resisted the urge to buy an extra set of barbell weights (which I ‘need’ to progress my lifting).

Although… I did have a minor slip this morning and spent £1 on a box of Cadbury’s chocolate fingers, oops.

I know I’m doing it, even as I shop. I know I’m wasting money. I browse online shopping sites and tell myself as I go along “you don’t need this” and “you can’t afford this”, and then end up clicking “buy” anyway. Sometimes I add a ton to my basket and get as far as checkout before I come to my senses and browse away (but sometimes I don’t).

I know I do this for the feeling of pleasure I get both completing a purchase, and also when the things I’ve ordered arrive, but I also know that this feeling is fleeting and is soon replaced by spending regret, or (often worse) complete indifference: because that means the hole I’m trying to fill remains a void. I also know that I primarily spend like this on days where I don’t have my babies at home. I’ll leave you to fill the gaps there.

The question is how do I stop myself from doing it? How do I employ enough willpower to stop the spending (especially when I feel like my strength & willpower is exhausted just getting through the day at the minute)? I suppose I could buy a book on comfort spending habits…

To be mortgage free: overpayments and stuff

Tomorrow marks a month since I secured a new mortgage on my home, giving me the funds I needed to complete “project £20k” thus buying Karl out and transferring the deeds to solely my name. In total: £97,617.23 — £77,617.23 to pay off the old mortgage and £20,000 for Karl.

This week the first mortgage payment came out of my account, taking the mortgage account balance to £97,467.00

You’d be forgiven for thinking my mortgage payment was £150.23, because that’s what you get if you subtract the current balance from the original lending figure. Except it wasn’t: it was a nice round £500, which is made up of £477 actual mortgage payment due and £23 overpayment which I set up as soon as my mortgage went through (because I can afford an extra £23 but if I have to manually transfer it each month I’ll find other ways of using it!) This basically means that in a month I’ve accumulated £350 worth of interest.

THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS.

How am I going to be mortgage free in five years if I blink and £350 is added to my mortgage balance? Well, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • I released the premium version of my mail form and have started working on the membership area. If I can sell 1 copy of my premium mail form a week for a whole year, that’s £939.12 which would take 4 months off the term of my mortgage and could save me £1,174 in interest.
  • I transferred some money from freelancing straight to the mortgage pot. If I can work just a few hours a month for a year I could earn around £1600 which would take 7 months off my mortgage and save me £1,985 in interest.
  • I’ve done a lot of work on Soft Play Reviews, a project I started two years ago, and if I can earn just a couple of quid a week through ads I’d save myself £131 in interest.

Combined, just these 3 things could take a year off my mortgage and save me £3,240. Even if I can’t be “mortgage free in five years”, who can balk at saving over three thousand pounds?

Other things I’ve done this month:

  • I didn’t eat out because of whole30, which saved me money.
  • I was more careful about what I was eating (again, because of whole30) and this also saved my money: the idea that whole30 has to cost a bomb is hugely erroneous.
  • Sold some old things on ebay which have been sat in the back of my wardrobe for years, and made £91.11 (minus fees) … although I imagine a big chunk of that will go on postage!

Can I keep up the momentum? Can I do even better? Only one way to find out…