They think it’s all over…….

So finally, here we are with 13 months left officially to run on our IVA jumping up and down with joy. I still don’t think that it has quite sunk in yet but we have finished paying our monthly payment!

We have paid our creditors back 100p in the pound and the IVA fees totalling over 74K – some of this was PPI but oh my, what an achievement!

Our IP has given us a three month ‘payment’ break to allow additional time to get responses back from RBS/Natwest with the offsetting issues as they have taken PPI over and above their debt, so anything coming back from them should then come back to us and our IVA will be closed.

These last few months have felt like an absolute lifetime, I have obsessed constantly over this and have felt like I have been going round in circles.

Our IP (and the variations team) was absolutely great and was on our side all the way – once we had tracked her down, found her email address then made her aware of the situation. Moral of the story is don’t always listen to the call centre staff, if they tell you something get it confirmed before believing what you are told.

What’s the first thing we are going to do? Treat our children, we haven’t told them anything yet, they know about the IVA (they are both in their 20’s) and attended uni throughout our time in the IVA so they struggled and we helped where we could but nowhere near as much as we wanted to. So we have told them that we are going to take them out for breakfast next weekend then tell them our news and take them both shopping, then I think Mr. Ruby Red and I deserve a weekend away.

This really does feel like a dream at the moment!

It hasn’t been easy but was a lifeline when we needed it. I wish every single one of you the best of luck whilst you continue on your journey. It’s a struggle but is so worth it, I know as I’ve been there!

I will continue to read the posts daily on the forum and will continue with my blog, there are bound to be things popping up and questions that I have and hopefully I will be able to offer advice to anyone who needs it, but in the mean time I’m off to put the kettle on!

x

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So close but yet so far….

So, here we are again, still no further forward. I’ve said this so many times but I so wish that we had found this forum first before diving straight in and contacting the first company that looked ‘ok’. But when you cannot see a way forward and someone is offering you a life line to stop you from going under you grab it, you don’t stop to consider potential consequences or look at different options, you grab that rope and you drag yourself out and feel elated.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still glad that we took this decision but how do you get across to people that they need to research different companies and read reviews, but then again who can foresee a future where the company you are originally with is sold to another who seem incapable of communicating. The letter we received when the company was first taken over included a few email addresses for queries, advice etc but we didn’t receive one response from any of these email addresses and it wasn’t until we managed to track down the IP’s email address that we actually started to receive any sort of responses. Our IP passed us onto a contact in the variations team who is trying to help us, we haven’t had good news with but at least we are conversing with someone now

Our variation request has come to a halt again, due to RBS and the offset rule, apparently they may owe us money therefore we can’t go ahead with a variation meeting, we asked if it was possible just to ask for the interest clause to be removed but again have been told that this can’t happen until the PPI/RPS issue is sorted. My main fear now is that we will now start paying the statutory interest of over 15K, if this happens will they refund any of it? Our calculations show that June’s payment will be for statutory interest as the IVA and fees, vat etc will be paid in full.  Thats another reason for wishing that we had understood fully the terms of the agreement and the interest clause as we could have asked for this to be removed at the very beginning, but in hindsight did we know that we would have reached 100% and this would then come into play, I don’t know….

On a brighter note I discovered a good website the other day with some frugal ideas which I am going to take up, there are a few delicious looking recipes – it’s called Mortgage free in three, there is a forum with some really good ideas that is worth a read as well, so go grab a coffee!

Mr Ruby and I took some time off of work recently and pondered some cheap days out, we ended up packing the gas stove and a picnic and drove to the coast, living in North Norfolk we have so much on our doorsteps and had a few enjoyable days feeding the ducks and watching the world go by, the only expense was the petrol but we factored that into our weeks budget and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Till next time take care all

Oh – and is it me, you can’t see the wood from the trees with all the Spam on the blogs recently!

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I’m still here

Well I have been quite quiet recently which is unusual for me. I do read the forum daily though :)

We have finally had a response with regards to the variation meeting we have been asking for since November 2013 to have the statutory interest clause removed, it’s only taken 5 months! We had a sort of apology and are expecting a phone call at some point today, I won’t hold my breath though but our IP has confirmed that it is with the variations team. We are still on track to conclude early, our calculations (which are probably totally out) see us finishing around June/July time, so that’s a full year early thanks to pay rises and promotions. I often wonder if we had gone it alone and had written to our creditors, asked for interest to be frozen etc, would we have done it, would we have been strict enough with ourselves to budget to such an extreme. Sometimes I think yes but I think that I am fooling myself. It’s almost like a habit now this constant looking for the cheapest deals at the supermarkets, writing meal plans every Friday, budgeting for birthdays and Christmas, nothing is ever on a whim and that has taken us a while to learn, but we did it because we had to, so no, if we had gone it alone I think we would have fallen off the wagon a few times and gone back down the slippery slope of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I’ve had some health problems and now have a long term chronic condition which was diagnosed early thanks to private healthcare through work, however the private healthcare won’t cover me now as it’s a chronic condition but at least I know where I am, I have a stick to walk with and at the age of 46 it has taken a little while for me to accept it, but it helps and that’s what is important. The company I work for has allowed me to work from home two days a week and more if I need it on a permanent basis now, so on the bright side at least we will save a little money on fuel!

Everything seems to have been running quite smoothly since the beginning of the year, apart from the naughty dog that has now started to gnaw on the living room door, I tell you, everything that needs to be replaced is because of him! He is eight now, he should be past the puppy stage! Car passed its MOT, its 12 years old now and still going strong (uh oh, that’s done it!)

I’m finding myself day dreaming a lot now, mostly about going away, nothing fancy, we used to go camping a lot but due to my health that’s no longer feasible, shame as at only a few pounds to pitch a tent for the night, it was a cheap way of getting a break, so I daydream instead.

Oh and as a side note – we had been asked to sign a variation of terms to our agreement when it moved over to Creditfix to raise the fees to 25%, I worried about this as we are on track to pay 100p in the £. We asked questions, nothing was ever answered so we didn’t sign. We emailed to say that we weren’t happy and didn’t want to agree to this change. This was a few months ago now and we haven’t had any more correspondence so I assume that us saying no is acceptable, I thought we would have a fight on our hands but (so far) it seems not.

Take care all

x

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The sound of silence

I’ve recently read a blog on here that has made me feel so sad, and has also got me thinking about the support that this forum gives to its members. If people ask for help there is always someone there to give it, it’s the people that don’t ask for help that worry me. You have to talk about your problems, the old saying a problem shared is a problem halved is so true. Years ago I worked as a Samaritan, you are trained to listen, and just having someone to listen to you without passing any judgement is better than anything a doctor can give you. If there is anyone out there that is struggling, please pour your heart out onto ‘paper’ so to speak, someone will read it and will be there for you. Just the act of getting those feelings out onto paper can sometimes help you to see things clearer. We all have our problems, sometimes those problems all merge together into this huge mess that you can’t ever see any way out of as they are all jumbled up together and you can’t break them down into smaller manageable amounts of ‘mess’.

I’ve also been thinking about the beginning of our IVA journey and after the initial elation is over, it does seem like your life as it was is over, there is nothing to look forward to and nothing to get excited about. But it is what you make it, it takes determination and it is hard work and you will eventually reap the benefits. Occasionally something springs up to surprise us and it’s those things that we look forward to. You need to get into a routine, humans don’t like change and an IVA is a big change and you have to learn to adapt and live with it otherwise it will get the better of you. We are also fighters, you need to bring out that side!

There is a light at the end, its glimmering for me now and I have hope. Looking back I don’t think I would have done anything differently, we have made sacrifices for our children, but that comes with being a parent and doesn’t always just involve money. Love and friendship is free and I count myself lucky to have that in abundance.

I think I may have waffled on a bit too long now, so I’ll stop but please remember that no-one should suffer in silence, you owe it to yourself to ask for help and be your own advocate.

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January Blues

Well and truly settled into the January blues now – on the bright side it’s almost February, I am struggling to find something to look forward to, everything seems so bleak, I know there is an end and there are many people worse off than we are, we have food on the table, good jobs, can’t say good health though. I think that may be the root of the problem at the moment, I am just so tired all of the time. I still have a few days to wait to get the results of bloods and x-rays. I finished a 2 week course of anti inflammatories from the doctor a couple of days ago and the joint pain has gone from annoying to really painful again, I can’t sit at work for longer than 45 mins before my hips feel like they are going to explode, my hands are looking gnarled now and my fingers don’t like to type or use the mouse. I work for an excellent company and I know that I will get all the support I need if things get worse, I have worked for them for 13 years now and am lucky that I have the ability to work from home as and when I need to.

We still haven’t signed the paperwork from Creditfix and they haven’t answered our questions yet. We have taken it on ourselves to complete and send in a new I&E expenditure form to show the shortfall now Mr Ruby has a new job. There isn’t a lot of difference as we save over £90 now Mr. Ruby doesn’t have the commute. We have kept copies of all the communication sent in and will amend our standing order to the lower amount in readiness for our next payment. I am assuming that there will be no response to this communication.

An update as well on the recently poorly but very naughty ruby dog, he is finally back to normal (he will never be normal) with no lasting damage. The specialist vets in Newmarket that he spent a few days at called us recently to say that the samples sent off to America came back positive to show he was developing acquired Fanconi Syndrome. They are now preparing a press release for the Veterinary Times to warn other vets. Shame we can’t ask for royalties!

On the plus side though, nothing new has broken and nothing else has been added to the ‘needs repairing’ list so far this year!

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Highs and Lows

Happy New Year, I hope that 2014 is kind to you all.

We had a lovely peaceful and relaxed Christmas and not a credit card in sight

This New Year has got off to a bit of a mixed start in the Ruby household. Nothing too major though.

We were notified that our IVA company had been acquired by CreditFix just before Christmas. We had a letter asking us to sign that we were happy for the new company to approach creditors to agree   to raise the IP fees to 23%. The letter also stated that this will not affect our monthly payments which is correct but as we are on track to pay back 100p in the £ this will affect us. We have contacted CreditFix to ask some questions about this fee rise but they haven’t yet responded, and we haven’t yet signed the change to our agreement, however they have been very helpful in another matter….

Mr Ruby started his new job on the 6th January but had to leave his last place of employment on the 20th December so there is a shortfall in salary. Mr Ruby will not get paid now until the end of January so we are going to have to really be careful this month. We contacted CreditFix and they have agreed to give us a one month payment break so that has eased our worries – so from that perspective they have been very understanding and helpful. I think that I am worrying unnecessarily and am always expecting the worst, you do read some horror stories on the forum pages.

We are going to have to ask CreditFix about the variation to our proposal to remove the interest clause, we had just about got there with the last company and are having to ask the same questions again, we are also chasing up a new I&E form due to a salary reduction for Mr Ruby, we do have some leeway now though with the payment break.

I am having a few health issues, I was poorly at the end of 2012 beginning of 2013 and ended up with sepsis so had a long stay in hospital. I haven’t ever really felt ‘normal’ since then and have always suffered with aches, pains and fatigue since, my fingers are also painful and are starting to look disfigured, two of them are starting to bend in an odd direction and my hips and shoulders are really aching at the moment. It feels like I have run a marathon when I drag myself out of bed in the morning. Finally dragged myself off to the GP who thinks that I may have rheumatoid arthritis. I had bloods taken this morning and have x-rays and an MRI lined up. I just hope that, if it is this, it can be managed somewhat. I am only in my mid 40’s but I can’t imagine carrying on like this for the next half of my life.

So, all in all a mixed start to 2014!

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Peace and goodwill to all!

I know that this is an IVA blog but I need to rant about something else and make as many people aware of this as I can. The nightmare Ruby dog was slowly being poisoned by a treat we were giving him that happens to be imported from China. He had developed ‘Acquired Fanconi Syndrome’ by eating dried chicken strips that we thought were a healthy option for him, but in reality we were slowly poisoning him. He spent two days in ‘dog hospital’ (it was like a Bupa hospital for pets!) and is back home now. He needs to be monitored for a while to make sure that his kidneys are functioning properly. These treats are currently banned in America and Australia, the vets are preparing a report for Defra and the nightmare Ruby dog may be used in a press release. I am so angry that these treats are readily available for unsuspecting pet owners to buy. please check the small print on the back of any packs that you may have and dispose of any that are imported from China, these are dried chicken and duck strips, they are also available wrapped around raw hide chews and sweet potato sticks. If anyone needs more info then search for Chicken jerky and Fanconi syndrome, it’s frightening and we were so lucky to have caught this before it went any further. Please pass this information onto any pet owners that you may know.

Mr Ruby leaves his current employment at the end of this week and starts his new job straight after Christmas, we haven’t had the new I&E forms through yet so as always we need to chase this one up. We have sat and worked everything out properly and we will need to reduce payments by £275, this is taking into consideration that our fuel allowance can be reduced as Mr Ruby will no longer be putting in the long commute to work. Everything seems to have gone quite smoothly so far and it’s making me nervous, still no news about the variation proposal – I sound like a stuck record now!

Christmas present shopping is all complete and within budget, just need to complete the food shopping, there are a lot of home-made goodies in the freezer, and a few ‘whoops’ luxury items also stashed away in there. Homemade luxury gravy, pancetta and chestnut butter for the sprouts is all made and frozen. Homemade Christmas pud is being fed frequently with left over port and brandy.  Aldi’s is our friend and we have just had a new store open near us and had £5 off vouchers every week for the last month so we have used the £5 vouchers to buy wine and other Christmassy items. Homemade red onion chutney and chili jam is sat in the fridge, just the sausage rolls to make now, It’s my last week at work until the 6th January, so time for a well earned rest with the family.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones and happy and peaceful Christmas, I hope that the New Year brings happiness to you all, even if it’s not a prosperous one. Speak again in 2014.

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New Beginnings

So Mr Ruby has a new job. It is a weight off of our minds as being a contractor does come with risks. This is going to take a bit of juggling as he only needs to give one weeks notice at his current place of work and it looks like he will be starting mid December.

Our main concern is that currently he is paid weekly but the new job means he will now move to monthly pay and will miss the payroll deadline at in his new position. It will be a struggle to get through till the end of January before he receives his first salary, plus it’s a lower salary. But he gets holiday pay and sickness pay and he hasn’t had that luxury for about 5 years or so.

He called ‘SDS Towers’ yesterday to see if we could request a payment break for this month (We pay on the 25th of every month) we were dreading the response but…… apparently we’ve been paying early, the payment made on the 25th November is Decembers payment, we don’t need to make another payment until January and we can choose when in January to make that payment. That was such a relief! We have also requested a new I&E expenditure form, we estimate that our payments need to drop by about £250 per month which is about a 15% drop – fingers crossed for us please! SDS did say that they would need three months wage slips as proof of a salary drop but that is just ridiculous, how can we manage with a deficit for three months. He has his new contract and the salary is stated on there. We don’t have to send in three months proof of a salary increase so why does it apply for a decrease?

Still no news about our variation proposal that is supposed to be with us for review, still we can’t have everything can we.

The nightmare Ruby dog is poorly at the moment and has had a few trips to the vet, at first they thought he was diabetic, then they thought he had Cushings, we are now looking at Kidney disease. He was in for an ultrasound yesterday and he has one abnormally small kidney and there may be some nodular growths. He is only a small terrier and weighs about 7 kilos, but he is drinking gallons of water at the moment and his pee is almost clear, he’s peeing in his sleep as well and he hasn’t ever done that before. Our vet needs to speak to some specialists to get some advice but it looks like a biopsy of the kidney is next. We do have pet insurance, but we need to pay the bills then claim it back (my last post said that I wouldn’t ever have a credit card – this is one occasion where I wish we did have one!) We have been ok so far paying for blood and urine tests and an ultrasound but I have no idea how much a biopsy will cost. We may have to ask Mr Rubys parents for help on this occasion and pay them back from the insurance claim.

Putting the Christmas tree up this weekend to bring some Christmas joy to the house…..

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All That Glitters…

Christmas shopping this weekend, can’t wait! We put money aside from allowances every month. Who needs a dentist, optician and a hairdresser anyway, the money is paid to a family member every month (so we are not tempted to dip into it) and we take it back on the 1st December so we can go Christmas shopping. The 1st December is Sunday….

Christmas shopping without credit requires you to be a savvy shopper and learn new habits. I think that when you have a credit card you tend to focus more on the item that you are buying and not much thought goes into the cost of that item because it becomes accessible to you by just handing over a piece of plastic.  We have all proved that we don’t need credit cards to survive, does it make us lesser people? Of course not, I’m sure it’s not for everybody but it will be for us. Once this is over we will get a prepaid credit card to help with our credit rating. That all hallowed credit rating that got us into trouble in the first place, the only need that I can see for us to improve our credit rating is for mortgage purposes. Our fixed rate expired two years ago and we will eventually move so need to be able to get a mortgage. Everything else we will save for. Yes we are lucky as we have a reasonable income and we will have the funds to save and budget for large purchases. It was in the news this week that there are nine million people with serious debt problems and of that 9 million 74% are unhappy, make you wonder about the other 26% that are happy with their serious debt!

Anyhoo, the mini rubies love the silly Christmas stocking presents, and we scour the 99p and pound shops to come up with ingenious ideas. Mr Ruby and I would rather spend money on the mini rubys than each other. I’ve been hand knitting cup cakes all year, they are stuffed with a scented filling and make novel presents for the family, I managed to track down some greatly reduced cake stands to place them on and if I may say so they look pretty good. I also like the idea of gifts in jars as well, you layer the jars with cake ingredients (without the eggs and butter!!) and then decorate, and the gift tag will have the cooking instructions.

All this making do and mend means I have gained some sewing skills that I didn’t know I had, nothing gets thrown away now unless it’s beyond repair. The art of darning is quite therapeutic!

One thing I do begrudge every Christmas is the cost of postage stamps, I need to get myself sorted this year and send everything out second class, I don’t need to buy cards as I grabbed some bargains at the beginning of the year, we have a franking machine at work which we can use and it works out slightly cheaper than a stamp. I don’t want to become one of these people that send a bulk merry Christmas email with an animated snow scene. I love the cards landing on the door mat every year, they all get recycled into gift tags with pinking shears (zig-zag edges) for the following year.

Take care and keep smiling

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Wishing my life away…..

Feeling a bit down this week and I don’t know why, well I do, but nothing major has happened, we are still plodding along.

We saw all the extended family at the weekend and there was excited talk of next years holidays, ‘where are you going?’ we were asked.

‘Camping probably’ was our reply

‘Why don’t you treat yourselves to somewhere warm? You never go away’

‘But we like camping’ (we really do!)

‘Oh, ok’

No more talk of holidays

Mr Rubys sister has a new car that everyone was drooling over, we were asked when we were going to replace ours – she is getting rather old now.

‘Why? There is no need, it still runs…..’

It felt like we were on the defensive all the time, probably paranoia on my part though

I have chased the variation to request that the statutory interest is removed from our proposal this week and have had a response back to say that the variation is currently with our IP and will be sent to us for approval shortly. I am usually the proverbial optimist so why do I feel so worried about this? I think that seeing the figures in black and white were terrifying, with fees and interest our debt had doubled and we owe nearly 92K but started with a debt of 58K – We have paid in over 62K so far and are still waiting for a 9K PPI claim to be paid. I know we will only see about 45% of that claim.

But then I argue with myself that this is money that we would have had to pay back in interest had we not embarked on the IVA journey, I also tell myself that we would never have cleared this debt in 5 years had we gone it alone. We didn’t know at the time when our debt was becoming unmanageable that our finances would improve somewhat. I have never regretted the decision that we took, just regretted the choices that we made that put us in the position that we were in. But then fate pays a part doesn’t it? We don’t put ourselves in debt for the fun of it, I’ve mentioned before that we don’t have anything to show for it, none of it was frivolous spending, unless I have chosen to forget those moments!

It’s true you know, people say that the first couple of years are ok, the pressure is off and you can relax a little, I’m not saying it’s easy but compared to the alternative it is.  But when the end is in sight it’s so hard to think about anything but the end, the all consuming, can’t think about anything else end.

I am going round in circles and need to stop….

Mr Ruby had a job interview at the beginning of the week as an aircraft mechanic at the local airport, he has been on a rolling 6 month contract for the last 5 years but it looks like it will finish next year for sure which is quite worrying. The potential new job means a cut in salary but he will get holiday and sick pay and we will save £80/£90 a week in fuel so it has to be worth it. He had an email yesterday asking him to go back for a hand skills test tomorrow so they must like him. It also means that I can have the car back and he can walk to work! It takes me 80 minutes to get to work on two buses, this would mean my journey would drop to 20 minutes by car….. Heaven.

We may treat ourselves to a day out this weekend, we have a favourite busker who visits the town every month or so and he is so good, so I think that we are going to wrap up warm and treat ourselves to a coffee and sit on a bench tapping our feet for a couple of hours.

Have another’ happy’ week everyone

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