Saturday 25 August 2018

Times when we've needed money fast

Being careful and wise with my money has always been important to me. I've always ensured bills are paid on time, kept an eye on unnecessary spending and saved towards a rainy day fund.

Once I became a parent the importance of being careful with money was more vital than ever. From the day I found I was pregnant with my first born I felt a responsibility to love and care for my bundles of joy. Whilst it means the world to me to give them love, attention and quality time in simple ways it is also extremely important to me that I care for them by keeping a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs and food in their bellies.

Even though money is not everything and does not buy happiness it is important for helping them have a safe home and a caring environment. As such over the years I've developed and honed my budgeting and saving skills so that we can live comfortably within our means and save for the odd treat. Keeping a very close eye on the family's finances and bills, spending wisely in sales, taking advantage of discounts and offers when making a purchase we need along with putting our children's needs before our own (no longer do I splurge on a brand new wardrobe just for the sake of it and the kids getting clothes comes first) and buying second hand items has meant that we always have enough money for day to day family life.

Unfortunately in spite of being strict with the family budget and saving what I can for a rainy day fund there have been times when an unexpected bill or financial predicament comes out of nowhere and leaves us in a financial pickle.

Regardless of how well I manage the purse strings and put some aside for emergencies, what a big bill comes out of nowhere especially when it has been an expensive time of year such as school holidays or Christmas, it can knock our family finances for six and leave us in dire financial need for that month and sometimes the following months too.

Sometimes the unexpected outgoing wipes out all of our savings plus more leaving us on a very tight budget that leaves us struggling with bills and daily outgoings for months or if we don’t have any spare funds the unexpecting expense leaves us panicking and desperate to find the funds to get us out of a sticky situation.

Overall we have been fortunate that financial problems have been few and far between but a few times we have found ourselves needing money fast.

The first time was when we found out I was pregnant with our first born. Money was tight at the time even before we found out about our exciting news. We had been in a long distance relationship which came with extra expenses as we travelled back and forth to see each other. Then we had the expense of moving Lee from Leeds down to west Wales plus a change of jobs which impacted finances for a couple of months. It was a matter of weeks after Lee moved that we found out I was expecting.

We were overjoyed about having our first child but as every parent knows it costs a lot of money to get all the essential kit for a baby. Overall we slowly bought bits and pieces, buying second hand and in sales when possible to save money. The need for a lot of money in quick came when we had to fork out to buy the larger essentials such as cot, car seat and pram which unfortunately were the most expensive. As we were not financially prepared for starting a family it was difficult and even though we bought everything wisely in sales it was hard to find a big injection of cash readily available for when we saw a cot or car seat on sale and pay day was after the sale had ended. Thankfully we had supportive family who lent us money and we quickly improved our budgeting skills to help us cope with a tight family budget but allow us to live comfortably and buy all we need for our children.

Moving house
A few years ago when we lived near my family we were given notice on our rented accommodation as the landlord was selling up. Panic set in and I was in an emotional state. Not only did we have to say goodbye to our home where we were happily living in as a family of three but we also had to find somewhere else to live. Where would we live? How would we afford moving house? What if we could not find somewhere as cheap as the rent we had been paying?

At the time Lee had been travelling a huge distance to his work so we made the huge decision to leave the area where I had my family on our doorstep for support and move closer to his work from the country into a town. After finding a new home to rent privately the biggest challenge was the expense of moving. We had to find a huge injection of cash to pay a month’s rent in advance plus agent fees and deposit along with the cost of hiring a van to move all our worldly goods. 

All of this came at a time where we had just had a huge financial bill with our car which had wiped our savings and pay day was too far away (plus it would not have stretched far enough even if it was closer). With time ticking to find a new place before our last day in our then home we were desperate to find the cash needed to secure a new home. We scrambled around to find the money looking at same day loans at CashLady before a family member kindly stepped in to help and lent us the money. It was a difficult and emotionally tiring experience and took us a long time to pay back our relative which did impact our family budget for a long time. It was an expense we had never foreseen and one that took its toll. But signing on the dotted line of the contract and getting the keys to our new home was the best decision ever and I am glad that we were given notice on our old home as this home and area is ideal for us and well worth the financial and emotional turmoil.

Expense after expense
Our most recent expensive hurdle came when our car needed its MOT and for it to pass it needed a bit of work doing. We compared and considered the cost of buying a cheap second hand car instead but decided it was financially better to get our car through its MOT. Our car had been reliable never letting us down and the work that needed doing was general wear and tear rather than a big mechanical issue that would signify the car was passed it and best suited for the scrap yard. As I know from experience that MOT time can come with a few extra issues and costs we had saved up more than enough money to cover it.

However when our washing machine went bang at exactly the same time as we were going to go ahead paying to fix our car to put it through its MOT we were left with a big predicament. It would cost us more to fix it compared to buying a new washing machine but either way it was costly. Finding a new one to buy was easy, we even found one on sale however we needed money to buy it. Our savings would not stretch to fixing our car and getting a new washing machine. Unfortunately we did not have any insurance on the washing machine and with it being at least 12 years old it was well past its warranty.

We rely on our car for work, shopping and the children’s activities, holidays and visiting family who are all many miles away. Yet we also needed a washing machine to cope with the mountains of washing we have each week. We looked at getting rid of our car and use public transport but struggled to find options to suit work locations and time shifts - joys of living in a rural town. We also considered using a laundrette but decided that in the end it would work out very costly and be time consuming and a big hassle.

Thankfully for us we have been going to the same mechanic, a family friend, for 15 years since I passed my driving test when I was 17. He sympathised with our situation and kindly agreed if we paid a big part of our bill off in one go we could pay the rest back off over the next few months. That meant we could afford to get our car roadworthy and safe once again plus get a new washing machine.

The financial constraints we have found ourselves facing over the years have been difficult yet it is reassuring to know that we have found a way to make it work, overcome financial hurdles and kept the wolf from the door and a roof over our heads. We’ve been lucky that we have had kind family to help, savings to fall back on plus other options to consider to help us manage our money worries.

If you find yourself dealing struggling financially and find yourself in debt there are excellent charities you can turn to for help such as StepChange.

* Collaborative post *

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