An index and summary of the highlights of success, the low lights of mistakes, the out-come of experiments and incidents worth noting. When and if they happen *grins*
~ Welcome to the Front Page ~
Hi there – my name is Mands and I am hoping you can help get me and my family out of a bind with debt. Yes, we are asking total strangers for the gift of few dollars, even a few cents to help pay off our debt, stop the interest accruing, building and getting further out of control.
This debt did not come about due to lavish spending, over-indulging or financial mismanagement. Most was incurred due to medical expenses, assisted living charges, travel costs while I waited for and now rehabilitating from spinal surgery at the same time the single incoming wage under went restructure, reductions due to the financial crisis' impact on Husband's employer.
We are not asking for you to pay it for us ~ rather help contribute to pay it down with us.
Back in 1997, after my first and only attempt at aerobic fitness, I was in this almighty car accident – another driver decided to cut across a six lane highway and collected me along the way (and a few poles, signage, a fence and a letterbox). Watching the world through the windows of a spinning car is quite surreal ~ more so when the darn thing catches on fire while rain buckets down. Luckily, I didn’t seem to be too badly injured.
A knight in a long brown dri-as-a-bone coat stopped, donned his akubra hat to keep his head dry before taking his trusty fire extinguisher from the back of his Jeep, kicking up the bonnet of my still running vehicle and slather it with white foam. Sure did the trick on the fire, although the motor kept running without keys in the ignition. She was a fighter to the end.
My BushMan knight hero hung his extinguisher back on his Jeep, tipped his hat to the small gathering of sopping, shaken survivors, jumped in his vehicle and drove off into the torrential storm, leaving me with a smouldering car and an excellent tale to tell. There's more about this in Meanderings here.
The next day at work, my poor body went into shock and spasm thus starting the long journey to find for a decade I'd got about with spinal fractures. I'd soldiered on to the point of no more with pain and leg numbness ~ 2007 started with a series of events heading a down hill slope. More on that, starting with reference to 'that' MRI is here in Meanderings.
Unable to sit, barely able to walk and not remembering what it was like to stand up straight – that was the end of work for me. An operation in September 2008 had the surgeon declare it was a ‘real dog’s breakfast’ in there but pins, screws, plates and all things gory were inserted for the slow road to recovery to begin. The surgeon wasn’t wrong when he said to expect nothing for the first year, some improvement in the second year but plan on taking the next 5 years off. You can read a little about the op here, I'll see if I've got some 'back' shots for those who just must have evidence this is real
Three months ago, my husband ceased paid employment to be my full time carer, reducing our income by $550 a week. It ends 25years in a single industry with business relationships as strong at the end as the start. The gaining the time previously spent away from home working, we have productive home time, reliable help and physical changes for the better - physically, mentally and aesthetically. No longer feeling we were doing it alone, now we enjoy a simple(!!) life on $628 a week from government payments. Why no compensation you ask? Because the other driver’s husband was a solicitor and the knight in dri-as-a-bone drove off into the night. The court awarded 50/50 no fault; TAC covered 13wks income in 1997, blah blah, legal stuff and that was that - all over red rover. Darn it!! Life goes on...
Today, October 6 2010, I sat down
Actually I lay down - with the budget ~ and worked out what we have, what we owe and boy, we are on such a tight deal. Our mortgage is $276pw and we've not missed a payment. This is not going to help clear our current debt if we still plan to eat, stay warm, put petrol in the car to get SmallBoy to school (not that he would be complaining). The repayment rates increase with the interest rate rises, the interest accrues ~ oh why can't we put all the interest/revenue raising/life expense increases on hold for a year or so and let us catch up, get things back to zero!?!?!
So, thinking outside the square and hoping to make this as entertaining as it is rewarding. Be warned from the on-set : I tend to waffle, change thought mid-way, discuss our options 'aloud' to see how it looks. I will try to keep that process on ~Mands Meanderings. It's my personal blog, started while waiting for surgery. Please forgive me in advance for over-flow...
On a Mission to Find Change
Aside from the mortgage, which is not part of the mounting debt we want to clear, we owe the following:
The VISA credit card (drastic plastic) ~ $5,836.33 (was $18k in 2005)
Outstanding Bills ~ $3,930.63 so far – sadly there may be more
Personal Loan (Wyndham) ~ $4,057.94 (was $11k in 2008)
Line of Credit (attached to the mortgage ~ $21,764.21 (was $16k with $7k available end 2008)
Frighteningly Scary GRAND TOTAL : $ 35,369.49
Hold on a tick ~ just need to scoop my stomach up off the floor and put my poor heart back in place.
I guess that's $1 from 35,370 people with $1 to gift to us ~ if you can't make the dollar, perhaps the 49cents then??
We've included where accounts were at the maximums and looking at the reductions already made - we think we have done a terrific job bringing that down on the reduced single income (plus ridiculous transport costs due to distance) Husband earned. The personal loan is less than 2years old and we'd almost got that cleared. With some outstanding monies paid and Husband's tax sorted, this could be gone – completely – finalised. Or perhaps it is best in the LOC to keep interest down while keeping the mortgage paid with our benefits. While we are no longer using the drastic plastic VISA credit card ~ we reduce the limit each time we get $2000 down and plan to have it with a $3000 limit within 18mths with your help...
Some of our debt has already had no interest applied, or been reduced down and bill repayment amounts are arranged or in the process of being so. Our home line was averaging $45 per month, most in line rental fees – we had this lowered to $20 and use the mobile phone on contract for out-going calls, or email, or text. I'm about to find out if the home line be reduced if we make it an incoming only line. My mobile is incoming and will go onto recharge and not account now the contract is up. Husband is locked in for another 12 months. Internet is under $50 and with more family and friends doing the Skype thing, we'll look at getting into that perhaps.
Had we not had income low enough to meet the threshold to receive government payments for the next 6-12 months, this shout-out probably would never have come to fruition. I don't think we would have thought to ask for help through the kindness of strangers, especially when others might see as a crass grab for cash ~ but be assured the intention is not to have kind people pay all our debt for us. Not at all ~ you can help by throwing your spare change our way; purchasing from the eBay shop or 'treating us' to a cafe latte ~ and feel good knowing you have helped the Mission maintain momentum!!
We are hoping to achieve a few things while on our Mission:
- Clear the clutter we have gathered over the past 10 years
- Provide new homes for items by selling on eBay
- Stop wasteful spending on chemical cleaners, fancy footwear and pre-package pantry delights - - this might have to include chocolate *sobs*
- Simplify life so it is not such a stressful, unstable roller-coaster ride
- Show and explain what we do to reduce debt, make-do, become less wasteful, lower financial stresses, find happiness *blissful sigh* We can make something wonderful happen!
- Encourage others to organise themselves so they never become 'that poor family you heard about who...' personally!
- Become frugal with money and aim for our goal of semi self-sufficiency and environmentally friendly living
And primarily; reduce the debt to zero and maintain a lifestyle fitting within our means.
Thus ~ the journey begins.
(posted 8 October 2010 - first post, main page)
Success ~ the attack on the credit card
The interest rate being charged on our credit card was up over 20% ~ that is one fifth of the balance and a ridiculous amount when you think about it. Every $1000 we spend means an extra $200 ~ so on $5k, that is an extra $1000. No wonder the banks are raking it in.
So I called VISA and asked if we can get that brought down to under 10% - half it or more. Nothing ventured, nothing gained the old saying goes - right?! Well - not only did they lower our interest rate - it was lower more than 50% to a much more 'reasonable' 9.2% PLUS no annual fee ever again. That alone saves $90 a year.
There was an article in the paper saying most people find it too hard to change banks to better their financial position. We say - why go through the rigmarole of changing banks when you can negotiate them down to a lower rate in a telephone conversation taking about 10 minutes? No paperwork, no hunting around - one call, one conversation, one instant change of interest rate - no new numbers, pins or accounts.
So, before you look to change banks - ask your bank what it can offer to keep you as a customer. Works every single time. Have a few competitor rates on your computer screen and aim for the one you'd like to be getting and see if they can match it.
We challenge every single person with a credit card with an interest rate higher than 15% to call their bank and ask for it to be lowered. And, if you successfully get an interest rate cut of 5% or more, tell us about your 'win'. Consider putting a few dollars into the Treasure Chest or Spare Change Jar as a thank you to us for challenging you to make that call.
We will make it easy and provide you with the following dialogue to help you :
You: "Hi, I'm calling about my credit card interest rate and was hoping you could reduce it to below 12% " (or be daring and say 10%)
- [[ don't let the operator speak, continue with ]] -
"See I've had XYZ Bank offer me a card with 9.6% ongoing interest, and I've seen CitiBank offering under 2% on their credit card but I've been with you guys for the past (4) years and really have little to complain about other than my current interest rate - - can you help me out??"
- [[ OK - let the operator speak now ]] -
If you get any grief, or comments like - you've not been keeping on top of your current payments - say:
"I know. The interest is killing me ~ that's why I thought it would be better to call and see if you could help me, rather than just leaving you and going with the better rate that XYZ has offered me"
Obviously XYZ Bank needs to be a different bank to the one you bank with. We usually mention one of the big banks advertising heavily at the time.
See how you go and let us know ~ tipping there will be success!!
(posted 6 November 2010 - main page)