The past couple of years have been hard and we’ve really struggled. Being self-employed was great to start with; I’d been earning a steady amount each month for well over a year and a half and didn’t think anything of it. I still don’t really understand why or what happened but all of a sudden my earnings dropped to under 1/3 of what I had been making. We had obviously grown accustomed to living a certain way and relied on the money I had been making. Without that, things were really tight for a long time.
So, over the past year or so we’ve been getting by the best we could and hoping that things got better. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t stupid and didn’t live on hope. We took steps to make sure we would be okay such as calling creditors and putting payment plans in place. I actually really wish we’d done this earlier but I kept thinking the next month would go back to normal and then it didn’t.
We were very lucky that John got a promotion at work during this time so just before Christmas things looked a lot better. John’s pay increase was able to cover most of my outgoings so I didn’t have to worry quite so much about what I was earning. However, most of our monthly payments that aren’t for household bills are on payment plans so a reduced rate.
Being in such a bad state with money really made me re-think what we were doing. Before, we had no savings whatsoever because we just couldn’t afford to put anything aside. Now, we are making sure we save something every single month. I have different accounts set up for things like a home fund if something needs fixing or to save up for bigger jobs, I have a fund for days out and school holidays, one for any upcoming trips we have planned and then I’m also working on paying off my overdraft.
I have also gone back to trying to earn small amounts in other ways such as Swagbucks, Prolific and apps on my phone where you upload receipts to earn points. None of these things will earn us a lot of money but some I use to cash out with Amazon vouchers and this will then take the pressure off what I need at Christmas, therefore saving us money.
I am also trying to make sure I can get the best deal when it comes to shopping. I often shop online and use a quite a lot of different websites. Something I didn’t know until recently was that so many websites have offers for first time customers. There are great websites where you can find a list of loads of sign up offers that might be available. It’s always good to either save a bit of money or get a free gift if you would have done some shopping there anyway. Sign up offers can be really varied, and can range from clothes retailers, to hotels, to cinemas so it’s always a good idea to have a look before making a purchase.
I know this sounds like a lot but we don’t always put much money into the accounts every month. We still don’t have a lot spare but having savings is so important and I wish we’d done something about it earlier. Of course, our ultimate goal is to pay off anything we owe as well but seeing as we’re not paying interest on anything at the moment it’s more important to make sure we have some emergency funds put away. For now though, I am happy knowing that we’re working on our finances and getting somewhere… even if it is slowly.