Tuesday, 20 November 2018

When the unexpected happens... and you need some extra money, fast!

I’d like to say I’m good with money, but what I really mean is I’m good at spending it. I do have a good handle on my finances and have kept a really detailed budget sheet for many years that helps me log all the incomings and outgoings in a given month so I know where I stand. But I do like to squeeze every little bit out of my monthly salary and enjoy looking ahead so we can budget for holidays or special occasions or the next thing we are working towards in our house - or perhaps even preparing to have this baby of ours!

Because there’s always something, isn’t there?

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I remember when I first started working full time, and Ste and I first moved in together. We rented a flat in the Jewellery Quarter part of Birmingham - it was trendy, but the flat had a monthly rent tag to match - and somehow we managed to get on despite the relatively low level of income.

We then managed to secure a 100 per cent mortgage and got our first home - in fact, it’s the house we still live in now, 12 years later. I don’t know how we did it, considering the total earnings we had were so much less between us back then, but again, we made it work.

I was just 22 years old and we were very lucky to get on the property ladder when we did. However, I did start using credit cards and even store cards at this time. Everything with the house moved quickly so it was a way that I could get appliances and other essentials for our new home.

I just didn’t really plan that far ahead. I then finally passed my driving test, so a car was on the cards for the first time. Then we saved to get married, finally tying the knot in 2010. So each year, there was always a way of spending our income, as we moved onwards with our lives and upwards in our jobs.

When I was 28, we were expecting Ethan, and I managed to save around £6000 to cover my maternity leave, so that I could top up the SMP payments and ensure bills were covered.

At every life stage, there’s been something to add to our finances. Needs must and really, if we didn’t do the things we did along the way, we wouldn’t be here.

We may try to plan our life and our finances as best we can, but likewise we all will have those times where something unexpected happens and in my experience, it’s when you have the least money to spare that something crops up and you start worrying about what to do.

Like a high energy bill (energy companies are great for getting their sums wrong, and sometimes, it’s you that needs to pay out).

Or more money being taken by the tax man than you accounted for.

A blown tyre when you’re three and a half hours drive away from home, and have around £34 in the bank account you use day to day (true story).

This time of year can obviously put a bit more of a strain on personal finances too - even if you are quite strict with your spending. There’s usually extras to account for, like school trips or visits to family, more food needed and more people to buy for it seems than in previous years. Even if you’re a savvy shopper, perhaps using Black Friday deals to snap up some bargains, sometimes something will crop up and take a chunk out your budget. 

For us, it’s usually car related (failed MOT’s, punctures, accidentally knocking someone’s Mercedes in a car park and whilst your car is relatively unscathed, there’s isn’t so you need to pay for repairs - again, true story).

When the unexpected happens, and you’re going to be left shorter than you thought, it’s good to know the options you have. Unless you have some money under your mattress or can make a few pennies on eBay, and fast, you could consider a short-term or payday loan from a reputable lender such as Cash Lady, to give you that quick cash injection that will let you cover the essentials, right when you need it most. If you know the terms and it’s right for you, it can be a real lifeline so an option to consider if you really do find yourself in a pickle. 

Then, when you’ve got a handle on things again, you can start thinking about building in a contingency plan to help you for ‘next time’ (their blog is a pretty useful source of financial information and suggestions that could help you handle your money a little better so you can avoid stressful emergencies).

You can’t plan for everything in life sadly, but the one thing I have learnt is that to have a plan is a good plan, but to be prepared to go off it too is worth bearing in mind. Life has a way of working things out, and I do think that things happen for a reason - so if you try to think ahead, consider the potential pitfalls or problems along they way, and have a back up option, then you’ll be as prepared as you can be for whatever life throws at you.
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