It was a few years of misfortune that led me to entering into an IVA almost a year ago now and although I have been very fortunate with a lot of help and support from my family and friends, life still seemed to be drifting along a bit. Having escaped the threat of redundancy yet again and with life seeming to settle down a bit more, with a few tentative steps of actually starting to enjoy life a little bit more now the stress of the last 3 years is very much a distant memory, a little bit more good luck has entered into my life recently.
First of all much to my total surprise my blog was chosen as Blog of the month here on the site, which considering I just started it as a personal ramble about my journey was a bit of a shock to the system, so a big thank you to Andy Davie and the IVA.co.uk for choosing me, it was a real honour to win and I appreciate it so very much. A nice little voucher accompanied being picked which I have spent wisely on things that needed to be replaced but never had the money to do so.
Since I have been a youngster I have had a real passion for music but over the last ten years this has slipped as 2 jobs and never enough time in the day for me time meant I just never got the chance to listen to much of it. With hopefully being on the home straight now to my IVA completion, I have once again become very interested in music and have even been lucky enough to manage my budget and go and see some live music, although I have to be a bit choosy who I see due to the cost. So it was a total shock for a second time that I won tickets to see a major event in Hyde Park as I never, ever win anything especially when 100′s of people entered. It was a line up of dream bands for me as I like my rock and I had a fabulous day out (with a little spending money support from the family as London is just so expensive for travel and food) and has given me hope that life is finally turning itself around again to be very good and feeling that I was at my lowest point only a few years ago.
I just hope that the luck and good times continue as I could really get used to being happy again!
Well the good news is I was one the of the few that managed to not be made redundant this time around which is a huge relief. I love my job and would have been very sad to leave it and to find something new, so a mini celebration was in order. I just hope things are more settled now and I am not facing it again in another few years but no job is for life these days it seems so I wouldn’t be bold enough to say that is now the end of it.
With the IVA slowly heading towards to completion, I am being a little bit more hopeful that life will soon be back on track fully and I am slowly coming out of my hermit shell and doing a few more things I used to have a real passion about. It is strange how the stress of going through a repossession and the subsequent debt can wholly take over life to the point it is all you seem to focus on and everything else in life just isn’t important. Of course I am still under the terms of my IVA until the completion certificate is issued which means I still don’t feel 100% that the whole financial nightmare is over but I do certainly feel that I can start looking forward to the future a lot more, especially now I still have a job.
It does serve as a reminder that I have been incredibly fortune throughout the whole journey, as many others have had a far worse time than me and I really do appreciate all the things that make life good. There is hope that even in the darkest times when you think the worst has happened that you can get back on track and start to enjoy life again.
Well thankfully the car passed it’s MOT without any major problems and I even got a free repair from the garage with the engine problems, I guess they were a little embarrassed that having told me they couldn’t find anything wrong with it I decided to prove them wrong by getting recovered back to them by the breakdown service just a few hours after picking it up! It did need a few others things doing but as the money had all gone on the service and MOT it will take me a few months to save up again to have those repairs done.
It certainly makes you think about trying to save up as much as you can for such repairs as before it would have been added to the credit card without a thought about paying for the work. When it is counted out in cold hard cash it does make it seem more real about just how expensive it can all be. The heap also needs new tyres all round – why did I get a car with low profile tyres – so unless some sort of miracle happens it will be a number of months of save and spend to get the car up to a standard of being fully repaired. I guess that is the downside of a car that is getting on a bit is that what hasn’t been replaced so far in it’s life, which to be honest is not an awful lot on that car as only I could get one that is considered a ‘Friday afternoon’ one when it was built brand new 9 years ago, and apart from the gearbox and rear brakes nothing else hasn’t been replaced!
So rather proud I didn’t have to go cap in hand to the bank of M&D although the kind offer was there if needed and now it is back to scrimping and saving as much as I can to get the other work done.
Well it has now been six months since my IVA was approved and still getting used to the non-contact from my creditors, which is a good thing naturally but after 2 years of calls and letters it does seem a little quiet when I check my post and no one has sent anything!
After the initial euphoria that life is finally getting back on track it does like to throw the odd problem at me and this time it is yet another threat of the loss of my job. Having gone through the process numerous times I never have the expectations that a job is for life any more but it would be nice to be a bit more settled. Still there is not a lot that can be done should the worst case scenario happen so at the moment I am just doing my job the best I can until I hear one way or another. It is just the wait to find out that is probably the worst of all and all I can do at the moment is keep my eye out on jobs that are around at the moment.
As I work a very specialised job I know I am not unfortunately going to get a job as good as this one and so I have resigned myself to getting something I can actually do but it will probably mean a pay cut. I am more fortunate in my company that I have done other work as a second job in the past and won’t find it as hard as some others who have been with the company for years but it is not a happy time.
Another fortunate thing is I went through a full and final IVA at the start and so although I may lose the small amount of redundancy pay I may get, at least I do not have the additional worry of having to take a payment break whilst I find new employment, something so many people have to go through when they lose their jobs.
Still I must brush up on the CV, be prepared for the worst and then should it not happen then it will certainly be a bonus and a great weight off my mind.
At the end of last month I actually had a night out at a music event, something I have not had either the inclination or money to do so for a couple of years. With a small amount of Christmas savings I was able to be slightly decadent and spend some money on me for once so it was a rare treat and made the evening much more special. Fortunately the car made it to the venue and back home again without needing to resort to calling out the breakdown service which was an additional bonus. However on the downside was the fact that I spent half of my fuel budget for the month on one trip so it mean dipping into the car savings fund a bit to be able to get to work for this month.
Although learning to budget is really good small things like an evening out which is a very rare treat makes you realise just how much money can be spent without really thinking about it as before it just went on the credit card to be paid at a later date. I am not saying I regret those evenings out in the past as I have a lot of great evenings but with a tight monthly budget I have to be more careful about going out for a treat and how much it will cost.
Still thing will get better once the debt has been paid off and in the future I can start to live life to the full again, even if I do become the oldest rocker in town by the time that happens!
A new year, with a new start and just a minor reference to the weather! Christmas is now finally over as the adverts for Easter eggs have gone into overdrive and my local convenience store is awash with them and at the moment being very good and avoiding purchasing such products as I have a lot of Christmas chocolate to eat up, very tempting though!
The savings pot for Christmas next year has now already been started as only another 11 months to go and I must resist the temptation to break into it when I need money for emergency repairs, especially for the car. Which is a little poorly at the moment but desperately trying to hold on until I have a bit more saved up as I don’t think it will be cheap. I once read a very good quote that if it has wheels or balls it will cost you money which I think pretty much sums up most of my adult life!
I am trying to be good and finally having sorted out my life, my next task on the list is to get fit and shift the weight from too many years of working 2 jobs and having an odd mealtime during the day. With a lack of money, I have researched ways on the internet to make exercise fun as I do have a real hatred of it although healthy eating is going to be a bit of a challenge as I have never done that all my life. With a limited food budget I am going to have to be careful on the shopping side of things and to come up with new ways to make nutritious healthy meals as in the past I have been reliant on ready meals a lot due to being incredibly lazy. Cooking for one is not always very cheap as most recipes are for families and I am not really one for eating the same thing day after day just to eat it up. I suppose I could freeze a lot of it to stick to a budget. Certainly being on an IVA makes you think about how to get fit and healthy on a limited budget and to be creative to do a lot of things for free rather than join a gym, I just hope I can motivate myself enough to stick to it all.
PPI – it is quite possibly the most contested, talked about, disputed process within the IVA. There seems to much confusion over who keeps the money, whether you have to claim, who keeps the interest, almost a sense of blackmail from some firms that you have to claim in order to complete the IVA and quite possibly one of the most confusing and inconsistent things ever to have happened in the financial world over the last few years. Record fines and the rise in PPI claims firms, with their own little problems, unsolicited contact and the curse of sales phone calls have all been part of the fiasco.
I appreciate that some people were mis-sold PPI but like extended warranties some customers were eligible for the product and took it out for peace of mind. The questions lurking in the back of my mind when I took out the IVA was would I really have to claim even if I wasn’t mis-sold the product. I have a good understanding of PPI, I know when it was something I wanted and I was happy with, in the same way I equally knew some years down the line that a certain company was incredibly dishonest when selling PPI insurance in both the initial application and subsequent paperwork. Although I have shown moments of real stupidity in my financial choices, PPI was not one of them.
I have already claimed once so I know the process and the rather long questionnaire that accompanies the claim, asking for information that probably most people would struggle to remember if they had no longer kept the paperwork (fortunately I did) and I was very much aware that it ended with a signed declaration that it was true to the best of my knowledge. So I was very concerned that now I was in my IVA I would have to claim with the latest PPI forms even though I was as sure as I could be that I was not mis-sold the policy. Would it be seen as not paying as much into my IVA as I could, should I just put that I had been mis-sold it using one of their examples even though I knew morally this had not happened and would be falsely claiming I had?
Now I appreciate it could possibly be hard to dispute my opinion over something that happened many years ago, especially as records are not kept of the entire conversation but to me it just felt very wrong to instigate a claim just because I was in an IVA. Immediately I sought advice from my wonderful IVA firm, who reassured me I didn’t have to make a claim regardless and I could state I was happy with the PPI product. A quick response, no fuss, an incredibly sensible policy that it was up to the customer to decide whether they had been mis-sold it seeing it was their signature on a FOS document and a testament to how firms should handle PPI claims.
I certainly count myself to be incredibly fortunate to be with a certain IVA company who is the best in this sector.
Well it’s December and Christmas is now in full on mode. I will admit I am a bit of a grouch when it comes to Christmas, being born in the same month as that celebrated day the lack of attention to my birthday as it was Christmas means there has been a simmering resentment of it since I was a child. Churlish of me I know but I do Christmassy stuff because it is expected and my patience has already worn thin with endless Christmas adverts, music and the panic buying in the shops even though there are 3 whole weeks to go.
I appreciate for many people it is a time of excitement and so I try not to be too much of a party pooper but apart from liking to make my own cards, I could quite happily hibernate through December. I am also lucky that due to things being tough for most people I know, the expense of Christmas can be quite depressing and so gifts are only exchanged with close family members these days. We still celebrate birthdays for friends but although I am a lot better off at not having to buy anything around Christmas, alas that poorly planned December birthday for me means my friends do not quite get away with the expense. On the plus side at least it is only one present they have to think about!
I do have a lot of sympathy for those with families and especially those with children where they want to provide the best Christmas for them even though it will be a struggle. Shopping habits mean we are continually pushed to go for the most expensive and I am sure once again in January we will see an upturn in debt. Being of a generous nature myself it has taken quite a lot to get over the ‘guilt’ of sending just a home made card instead of giving presents but I am very fortunate that all my friends and family know of my situation and completely understand my reasons for a lack of giving.
When I look at all the consumerism I wonder if many have lost the reason for Christmas itself and how it should be special for spending time with those you love, not by how expensive and shiny the present is.
So here were are, now at the present time and 3 months post IVA acceptance. One of the most interesting things to deal with I have found is the sudden silence of all my creditors. As it took pretty much 2 years from when my relationship broke down to when the financial mess was finally sorted out, the one thing that was consistent was the letters and phone calls from my creditors and now there is nothing apart from the odd statement. I know most people dread the contact but it became so much a big part of my life that I actually do miss them. We would have a little chat, sometimes have a laugh, sometimes a moan, sometimes just to see if there was any update in the situation and now there is nothing. I am sure I will get over it eventually but the fact that there are no phone calls to answer and no letters to reply to does just seem to have created a bit of a void in my life at the moment. I still obsessively sort out all my bills and correspondence but it has come to the point where any letter, even junk mail is a real highlight of the day (especially as most of my bills are online only). Well apart from the one like below but it does at least cause some amusement for being very much factually incorrect.
Of course now I am on the Insolvency Register I have become a target for the junk mail for services to those unfortunate enough to be in financial difficulties in a public way. I got my first letter last week about PPI. It was very naughty really as the first paragraph did read like it could have been in conjunction with my IVA company. However they soon let themselves down with their truly incorrect claims about how I could keep it, how even if I couldn’t keep it all I could keep 50% or how it could be used as a lump sum to finish my IVA early. They got my name and address right which is easy to do as they pulled the data straight from IS, the GBR bit was the giveaway, but as for the rest of the letter I am not sure they should have been allowed to send such rubbish.
I had my house and car insurance renewals in for next month and I was wondering if it was going to increase dramatically due to my IVA. I am not with the cheapest car insurance anyway but as I still get a bit of a discount I have found the Co-op to be pretty reasonable for the cover offered. The good news is the house insurance has stayed the same and I actually got a reduction in my car insurance so I will stick with them again this year as I know I can pay monthly on the insurance without any problems. Naturally I spent quite a bit of time comparing quotes with various sites but having worked out the cover I have, then by the time I have added on all the little extra’s with the discount I have I am paying around the same price of some other well know insurers. Yes there are far cheaper ones out there but having once dealt with a tiny company may years ago which was an absolute nightmare, I am very much swayed by the bigger named brands. Plus the Co-op could really do with my business at the moment.
With the agreed funds guaranteed by a 3rd party, I contacted the only company I wanted to go with based on numerous recommendations from that essential site for IVA’s – on IVA.co.uk. Although it is hard to get an impression of what a company is like from just words, everything said made me feel very confident and came across as a company that really cared about people and it was not just about business when posting on the forum. All of the team were wonderful, I had a clear proposal with no assets, a lump sum and the advice was excellent. From that first phone call, I knew I was in good hands and having already been organised for my DMP, all the paperwork was very straight forward. The proposal was submitted and the wait was on for the creditors meeting within about 6 weeks which was great. However I still kept the DMP running as you could never be sure the IVA would be accepted, even though I was with a company who has one of the best acceptance rates in the business.
Everyone who enters into an IVA probably goes through this, but the wait of 2 weeks for the creditors meeting was far worse than the last 18 months of debt hell. It seems so tantalisingly close to be finally getting to a position where you can put all the stress of the past behind you and start to live again, but knowing that it may not happen if creditors say no. I can tell you, the night before you will not sleep, the hours before you get the phone call to give you the outcome will seem like days and nothing will take your mind off it for one second, those hours go by in some sort of daze, but the feeling of utter relief and joy when you get the phone call that your IVA has been approved can’t really be described in words. There are a few tears to be shed once the phone is put down even though you are on cloud 9.
I am so grateful to so many people who have helped me in my time of need and I don’t think I will ever be able to tell them or even repay them for the kindness and support they have all shown me. I went through a lot of major life disasters pretty much in 18 months that a lot of people are lucky enough not to experience in a life time, and even though I was stronger it has made me stronger, made me value those around me and ultimately made me realise that at some point you have to stand up for yourself and your own happiness. For the first time in my adult life I also have a more healthy attitude to money and have learnt how to budget.