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…

New project: maths, emails, and an empty ISA

What do you do when you try and find a site that allows the re-sale of preloved cloth nappies but the only one that did exist has closed down operations?

You buy the site of course.

used nappies-02As briefly alluded to in the last post, I’ve bought into a new project which I’m hoping will give me an increase in passive income in the long term, but in the short term is a great way of shifting several hundred pounds worth of cloth nappies: UsedNappies.co.uk

The purchase/takeover has not been without issues. The software the site was running on was massively out of date with a ton of potential security issues. The upgrade to the latest version was both a) expensive and b) complicated by poor documentation. Seriously, PHPProBid is one of the worst documented things I’ve ever had the misfortune to use. That said, version 7 is worlds apart from version 6 and it’s growing on me, so there is hope.

I took the decision to restart the site from scratch after I bodged the upgrade and I didn’t want to waste too much time on a rebuild when the site data was a few years old anyway. In the world of nappies, a few years is enough time for someone to finish with and get rid of their stash, rendering the user data useless.

Once the new version of the site was up and running, I created an email to advise the 15,000+ existing users that they needed to re-register. I send my mass mails with Campaign Monitor (because they’re awesome) but the 15k emails went over my limit with them, so I had to get approval on this. I explained the bodged site upgrade situation but they said that the data was too old to be marketed to as-is and I needed to run my list through a 3rd party verification service (more expense). That done, and 12k approved emails back in the system, I actually sent the mail (++expense).

At this point I begin to wonder how email marketeers make any money, because out of over 12,000 emails I had a 43.94% open rate with 3.84% unsubscribing — despite me clearly stating in the mail it was strictly one off to notify them their account was gone — and only 1.61% clicked the bloody website link.

ONE POINT SIX ONE PERCENT.

A third of that 1.61% have since re-registered on the site, giving me a current cost per user (adding up purchase price, software, add-ons, branding, etc) at approximately £23.43.

My ISA is currently barely above empty and I’m shitting bricks in case any big expenses come my way, but I’m crossing my fingers that the risk will pay off in the long term. Of course, you can help a girl out and give me some like / follow / share love if you like:

And if you know someone who uses, or is thinking about using cloth nappies? Tell them about the site of course :)