|Holiday 2007....Loch Carnan - South Uist|
- I'd just bought a new car. Well, I say "I'd bought" - but in fact I owned about 25% of it with the remainder really belonging far more to the bank, who'd loaned me the money to buy it...
- I was earning close to double what I earn now...
...but I wasn't happy.
- I had just had the most miserable 12 months imaginable at work, and had had my first encounter with a black dog that I now know will trot at my heels for ever more. Mostly it's rather well-trained (I'm quite good with dogs) but sometimes it just sits down a refuses - point blank - to budge.
- We had been talking for the previous 5 years about overpaying the mortgage, but had never got around to it somehow.
- I had a conversation with a friend's husband about the merits of overpaying, and MoneySavingExpert among other things...
I still have the car, but almost everything else has changed. I'm no longer in contact with the friend whose husband gave us the advice and sat down with his spreadsheet to actually SHOW us, in black & white, what differences we could make. In some ways I quite miss her, in others I know that we had become very different people to the pair of mad Queen fans who'd met in 1992, and played huge parts in each others lives until 2010. I am hugely grateful to her husband - Kevin - for the fact that he was responsible for us "seeing the light" on all things financial, and maybe that's the best memory of all of a faded friendship.
The car is all mine - and has been since 13 months after I drove it off the forecourt, as the loan to pay for it was shifted 17 months early. When we bought MrEH's car second hand a few years later it was done with cash which we'd saved, and we're adamant that the only finance we will ever take for anything again will be of the 0% variety!
We now save set amounts every month to budget for things like birthday and christmas presents for the family, and our annual holiday. We also budget for "fun" - meaning that things like our trip to Orkney at easter, and upcoming visit to Scotland to see good friends get married, in wellies, in a forest, can be paid for up front.
I'm no longer in a stressful job, and the nightmare former employer is a distant memory. (In every way actually - they no longer exist at all. In some ways it was quite distressing to see a depot which had during the time I'd worked there always been a profit-making flagship branch, slip into loss after loss, before finally the whole of my old division of the company was sold off for a fraction of its proper worth. I've no doubt that the management are probably still making employees lives hell elsewhere, while pretending to the world that they wonderful - "Investors in People" award anyone? The truth is, your employees will say anything you like about you if you ensure that they're too scared to do otherwise!) I now earn roughly half the amount I did then, but a good part of that is as a result of the fact that I work less hours - and my work/life balance is back to being where it should.
We've been overpaying that Mortgage for 5 years now - half the time we've been living in the flat. We're also rapidly approaching having cleared exactly half of it - hurrah! When we changed to a new mortgage deal a few years back we reduced the term by 5 whole years, while barely changing our standard monthly payment at all. Since then our continued overpayments mean that we are now scheduled to knock ANOTHER 5 years off it, and we're still working to increase that further. Whatever we do down the line, having the mortgage gone will give us the freedom to make the best choices for us, and also means we will have paid an astonishing amount less interest than we were originally due to!
|Holiday 2013 - Howmore, South Uist|
I've learnt a lot about myself too - and gained some seriously good friends along the way. I've learnt that I enjoy the challenge of living simply from day to day, and that I don't need a constant stream of "stuff" in my life to make me happy. I've learnt that I'm quite happy to do lovely things with value or budget foodstuffs, and that a cheaper supermarket doesn't mean cheap & nasty meals. I know that I'd love to challenge myself to live entirely without shopping in the Supermarkets like Team Pugh are doing, but where we live it's simply not practical, and that's OK. I now know that not only am I good at the challenge of making our money stretch, I enjoy it too, and will be happy to keep it up for as long as it takes!