Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Not dead


I am alive, just dealing with crash related and work related malarky.

I'm not giving this up, regardless.

Been switching to value branded stuff foodwise, with some success. For the most part there is very little difference in taste etc to mainstream foods.

Starting to sell off some items as well, which is generating a little income.

I will explore these further in a little bit. For now I have things to fill out...


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Phone savings.


Can't believe I forgot to mention this one, (I guess I had the crash to deal with), but I wiped £15 off a month on my Mobile (Cell) Phone bill.

I did this by simply calling up and changing my tariff to one that better suited me. It turned out that I never call anyone, I text and email instead, and even then I'm still under my text and data limit. So by reducing my free minutes a good deal, dropping the free text limit and paying a lower monthly fee, I'm saving a bit.

£15*12 = £180 to the savings total.

This one should be easy for other people to replicate. My contract was up, so I phoned and said something along the lines of "My contract is up, and I am shopping around for the best deals. What can you offer me?"

Some people say threatening to cancel works out well for them - the cancellation team are better trained and have more resources to convince you to keep your business. i didn't quite go down this path, but I was sure to mention that I was shopping around for better deals.

Fellow Savers


I'm starting to 'follow' other Personal Finance Blogs as and when I find them. I like to see what other people are doing, so that I might copy some of their ideas that worked, or find out what didn't work out for them.

One comment is that I think people seem to stress too much about micromanagement of finances, trying to save 50 cents off a cup of coffee and whatever. Again, not my approach, but I do find it put me in the 'save save save' mindset when I read about other peoples efforts, and I do find out about what works/doesn't work for them.

For the ones not hosted on blogger I will maybe add them in a box in the sidebar.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

And we start with a crash...


I had a RTC (road traffic collision) last week which was partially, if not mostly my fault. (the other guy is not blameless however)

It happens, I guess? Noone was seriously injured, but on my part I feel damn damn foolish. It'll take a while for everything to go through as well

The problem is my insurance premiums are going to shoot up to double and of course that has implications for this project.

The main implication is of course that the project becomes more important than ever, as the finances now will have far far less leeway in them. I basically need to get this thing going if I am to enjoy any standard of living.

So screw it, this project starts as of 8th November 2009. By 8th November 2010, I aim to have at least that extra £6000, and I will aim ever so hard for that £10k target.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Saving on shopping


This one is a bit unscientific, I'll admit, but I've changed my shopping habits a little over the last couple of months, and appear to be spending a deal less on my groceries.

I usually buy a lot of stuff at a local mini-supermarket, in fact I'd say I usually do most my shopping there. Now, I've started heading out to the larger chain supermarket a mile down the road, and am finding that even £10 is taking me so much further. This is with buying the same brands too, I've not started buying value brand (Yet).

If I have to take a rough estimate based on my mental notes and whats been left in my wallet every week, I think I've cut roughly a quarter of my shopping bill. £50 a week normally covers everything I get, but the last few weeks it's been below £40. But since I never really took notes about my exact spending down in the first place I'm not sure what figure I should add to the total.

But again, one small change, a bit of a further walk and I've saved a ton over a year. Now I do have a bit of an ethical debate going on - local shops are important and should be supported. But at the same time, for now at least, I do need to save this money.

I think I'm going to add £12 per week to the total, thats about fair (and I have underestimated other savings and will do so in the future, so I think it's a safe figure). £12 a week = 48 a month = £576 a year. I'll round this down to £570.

So to the total goes £570

This is without switching to value branded stuff. I'll spend a month or so switching to that and see what impact it has. If it is anything like I think it's going to be, I can see a total combined savings of £1000 per year off my shopping bill. So wow. Shocked that saving that much on something so easy was in my grasp all these years and I've never taken it.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Ramblings


So I've not even properly started the project at the time of writing, and I've already found nearly £1200 in savings in my that I can easily apply. That is exciting actually. I'll be at least £1200 better off next year than I was this year. I haven't made any major unwanted sacrifices yet either, nor have I resorted to micromanagement.. If I didn't have stuff to pay off that could buy me a nice holiday.

I've a fair idea of what inefficiencies there still are in my current spending, and I know what approach I am going to take to cut those out, but I'm going to have to do a little research/trial and error to get a sense of what the numbers are going to be over a year by doing do. Until then I can't really post them. Unless they are going to be in the region of £100 per year it's not worth bothering with in my mind.

By the end of the year I can see myself having found at least £1500 in reductions in my current spending. Which is good, because it means hitting the first target (£6000) is achievable at least.

I'm still unable to really commit myself to any part time work, or any after work activities that might make me money on the side, so I don't feel I can quite start the project properly quite yet. This is an unusual situation, I normally do have a bit of time free. But until I do, I don't feel I can give the project a proper shot, because I do think that most of the progress towards the goal(s) will be me finding (legit) ways to make cash in my free time.

At the same time, I can't wait forever, and I really have to push myself on this.

So the way I'm going to work it, is that the instant I make any money on the side that isn't a saving on an activity that I already do, then the timer starts. Otherwise, the timer starts on the 1st Jan.

But in the mean time, I'll still be updating with the results of my hunt for reductions in my expenditure.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Giving up the Caffiene, and gaining a saving


Doc said I have to give up Caffiene, which looks like it will gain me an unexpected saving.

Now, I'm loathe to find 'savings' like saving 20p a day off a cup of coffee, so was going to ignore this totally, until I wound up mentally jotting up what I spend per day on caffeinated drinks.

I wind up spending at least a shocking £1 a day on caffeinated beverages, this goes for Coffee, Cola, Tea, etc. For me, it's mainly cola, which has to be bought (i.e. I can't just switch to using works supply only).

So, we've got roughly £350 over the course of a year saved. I'd actually say it's probably more than that amount, but I'll consider the 'at least' figure so I don't risk overestimating it.

Odd really, because I didn't honestly realise how much I was spending on the drinks until I was forced to give up the habit by the doctor.

For what it's worth, I've to drink water instead, which I can get practically for free from work (I can even fill up my bottle from the water cooler before I head home). I do drink a little fruit juice per day either way, so I won't be spending the money I'd normally spend on cola/tea/coffee elsewhere.

So this is another example of exactly what I'm looking for. An easy idea that doesn't require micromanagement (it's a simple case of not buying something ever again), and will save a fairly significant amount over the year.

So onto the target tracker, goes £350

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Gym or no Gym


Back from the docs, and I have to get exercising again, get to the gym and start getting my cholestrol and blood sugar down, because I'm putting myself at risk of heart problems and diabetes down the road.

I'm therefore going to have to get a Gym membership. Granted, I used to have one, not so long ago either and it cost me £25 a month. Or £300 a year.

So here is what I am going to do where the Gym membership and this project. If I can avoid this charge, then I will add that £300 to my project total, because it's money I didn't spend.

But you know what? I'm so confident I will avoid this, I'm adding it to the total now. A post later will detail where I'm going to get the bulk of my exercise from, but otherwise, there are easy alternatives to hitting the gym.

Jogging, for one. You don't need fancy gear to do this.

Standard Pressups/pullups/situps/squats, which can be done at home, i.e. even when it rains.

All you need to do is google "Exercise without a gym" and you've got tons of suggestions.

Doing a bit of hiking or fell running. Cheap weekend activity.

Anyway, I'll be focusing on cardio, the main thing is to get the heart pumping and energy used up rather than build muscle. It will be a pity not having the weights, but I'm sure a bit of googling will find an answer to that.

Not bad really. I wonder if it is cheating a little to add this, given I've actually cut this cost out a few months ago, but I'm under advise to start this again, so...

As I've said, the bulk of this exercise will be gotten by something I will post about by the end of the month.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Cashback - worth it?

Moneysavingexpert.com hits the nail on the had when it says that these only work if you pay off the balance in full each month. So this won't generate any significant savings for me for this project. But I'll mention them anyway, since I considered them.

Now I do have the opportunity to switch to such a card, but as per the last credit card post, I can only get to the 'pay off in full' situation in six months.

Assume I do pay off in full though, is it worth it?

My own provider offers a 1% cashback card that I can switch to whenever my balance is paid off.

So for every £100, you earn £1 back.

Now, to earn anything significant, you really have to shift all the spending you can to that card. So I would have to shift £10k of spending to the card to get £100. Which I think is doable.

But really, shouldn't the priority be to cut spending? I don't think I'd want that level of spending period. I'd probably only get around £50 myself

I guess it is good if you can't avoid it, £50 is after all better than nothing.

So I think I'll go for one once this project is over. £50 would cover a christmas present for the ladyfriend nicely. Won't say no to extra cash either.

Credit Cards - transfer to 0% APR account or just get it paid off?


Now, I have nearly £2000 on the credit card that I've accumulated over a few years. I do still put the odd thing on it when I don't have the hard cash with me.

Now, I've got a 20% APR on that card. (I could do better, yes)

Which means, oooh, £200 a year is going down the drain on interest repayments.

Now, this gives me a sub target of sorts, in that if I get this halved in 3 months, and cleared in 6 months time then I can save roughly £140 on that.

Or if I can somehow get a 0% APR card, and transfer the balance across, pay it off in full when that 0% APR period is over, that will save me paying interest.

I've had a look, and there are a number of credit card providers, such as Virgin, who do a 0% APR on balance transfers for roughly 12 months for a one off 3% fee.

Have a look at some deals here (I've a feeling that website will become my best friend over the next while)

3% of £2000 is £60. So, If I went down this route, I would save £140 right off.

Hmm. So I have two options here:

1) Simply try to get the balance paid off, first halfed by month 3 then paid off in full by month 6. I should save £140ish this way

2) Transfer the balance to a 0% APR account, pay a 3% fee, then pay off during the 12 month 0% APR period. This saves me £140.

Basically, if I was stuck in a really bad rut and totally unable to pay anything but the minimum balance for the next 12 months, I would be going for option 2 right now.

But, because I do tend to have a little left over per month, and I believe that I will find enough in savings and extra revenue to help me get option 1 out of the way, I think I am better off just going for it. Clearing the card (and car loan) is the goal of this thing anyway. Option 1 it is.

I will add £140 into the savings total on a provisional basis. I am confident I can make this saving, but you never know, I could slip up.

Anyway, for the first £2000 I find/earn during this project, you know where that money is going - straight onto clearing that card.

How I handle my finances


Ok, a post on how I (roughly) handle my finances. While I don't want to get into micromanagement or budgeting (boring), It's probably worth mentioning.

Well, first things first. I don't budget. (Gasp!)

Why not? Well, it simply doesn't work for me. I find that the best laid plans tend not to work out, and if they don't, it's too easy to wind up worrying about backup plans, and it's easy to 'mis-plan' things. Basically it leads to too much worry, too much time fretting about things.

It's easier, I find, if you just think of the vague approach that you are going to take, try it, refine it if it mostly works, scrap it if it doesn't.

So here is the general approach that works for me:

Lets say I start to get a monthly salary where previously I had nothing.

In the first few months, I will spend nothing except the basics, e.g rent and food. I will get enough in to cover a couple of months rent, and set it aside for emergency use only. I leave a little bit aside on the last month I'm saving.

After that initial period, I then:

1) Out of that months salary, Just let the rent and bills come out automatically, and buy whatever food I need when I need it.

I can be sure that I won't run out of money for food and that because I do still keep a rough eye on what commitments I am making. I try to make sure that automatically deducted bills/rent will never suck up more than 60% of my monthly salary (at the minute I admit I am slightly over that). I know based on experience I will not use 40% of that salary on food (more like 20%). Then petrol comes out on top of that, the odd new bit of clothing, and anything else that is needed. This covers everything, and leaves a little bit left over.

2) If I want anything else, like entertainment I will use *only* whatever was carried over from the previous months salary. So if I had nothing left over from last month, I'll not spend anything on games, I won't get that plane ticket to go visit my friend, etc. This does happen every so often, but is rare.

3) I'll admit, I only started this recently to break a bad habit, (It was just before I started this blog - I might even include it as a 'saving' later) If I somehow don't use the money from last month, I dump it on the credit card (because paying only the minimum repayment isn't good)


The upside is that I simply do not stress or waste time over budget. I typically only buy extras like games and that with money that has been left over from previous months, I have that emergency money set aside in case I wind up jobless for a month or so, and I usually will have a little left over each month for use next month. On the other hand this does fall a bit flat when it comes to big ticket items, that I don't immediately have the money for. Then I find I've not enough saved and it has to go on the credit card. And of course slapping something on the credit card increases the monthly payment. If this happens too often I wind up in the situation I am now, i.e. needing to find an additional £6000 to clear it all, and finding that my left over amount per month isn't high enough for the quality of life I want.

But lets be clear, I never have to worry about starving or homelessness. In recent months I've had to cut back on heading out and joining in clubs and activities, but in general I can still hit the cinema when something is on, or get a game every month and a half. But it could be far far better, hence this blog/project.

One way I am going to make this way of doing things a bit better when this project is over, is that I am going to set up a savings account and whatever money carries over into the current month from two payslips ago, it goes into the savings account. I will make an effort to make sure this is at least £100 or so. This way I should be building up a nice stash to use should I need a big ticket item. Hopefully meaning I don't have to hit the credit cards again.

I probably won't be changing this way of doing things, frankly it works well enough for me. I only have to jot down what I've left at the end of each month and do some quick subtraction to work out what carried over from one month ago.

So hopefully this gives an insight as to how I do things. You won't find any micromanagement or endless detail on budgets here. The way that I'll be finding cuts for instance it that I'll say "I have thought of this, I can apply it like so, and this will save me £x amount over a year compared to what I do now". Fits into the framework of how I do things, and is easy, simple, and effective. Particularly if anyone wants to follow it themselves.

Current totals


I've a few more posts to do that will affect this greatly, so I will replace this post around the end of october, but did a bit of a quick jotup on what savings I have listed here already

Car/Petrol: reduced £240 a year (though this will be amended in a later post for good reason)
Entartainment: reduced £160 a year

Edit: Credit card: £140 for making it a goal to pay it off ASAP, within 6 months.

Current savings:

£540

Which isn't bad, considering I've only looked at a limited number of areas so far.

This makes me believe I can hit my extra £6000 no problem, and might just have a shot at the 10k target. I think this is going to be worthwhile for me.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Carpool


Not where the cars go for a swimming lesson, but the act of sharing one car to/from work.

Now I do this to an extent, there is someone on my route to work, and rather than him getting a bus I will pick him up.

Now this could turn into a revenue generator of sorts, but for the purposes of this project I am going to assume that the revenue I get from it is a saving.

How? Simple. Make them pay for being picked up.

In my case, I was offered some cash for the daily round trip. Now it costs me no extra fuel to pick this guy up, so I'm spending my £50 a month in petrol either way. So I decided to take the guy up on his offer, and he gives me £1 a day towards my costs.

Now, this is brilliant, because it works out a good deal for us both. I get an extra £20 a month (£240 a year), and he still saves on having to get buses to/from work

Now this will work out far better for some people than it ever will for me. Ask yourself the questions:

1) How many people are on the way from your house to the workplace?
2) How many people could be picked up with a minor diversion?
3) How do those people get to work? By bus? By car? How much does it cost them?

It just takes a little planning and jumbling around with the numbers, but start picking up people and charging them less than it normally takes - I'm sure £1 a day is less than what they'd use in petrol or bus/train fares in a lot of cases. See if you can bring other people into it, so that you can drop the cost for everyone (if you are feeling nice) or increase the earnings for yourself.

It is possible to effectively reduce your commute to/from work to almost nil this way. 4 people @ £1 each per day = £4 a day = £20 a week = £80 a month = petrol bill nil, assuming the only driving you do is to/from work in a reasonably efficient car.

And you don't have to feel crap for it either, because you can always claim that you are merely charging for the other peoples share of the petrol costs. And you can always claim it's saving on the carbon footprint for everyone involved!

For this project, lets assume I save £240 a year from this. However, this isn't being added into the total *just* yet. Because I found another way of cutting my own expenses in travel that will complicate things a little. However I will get onto this in a post coming in the next week or so.

Healthcare


I've grown ill in the last month (which is why things have been slow to kick off), but it makes me all the more glad I am in the UK, where our 'Socialised healthcare' means that I've been able to see a doctor, get multiple blood tests at a clinic, at a cost of nothing to me asides the monthly contribution to my national insurance.

In addition, my employer has me on a private healthcare plan as well, that I can use when I want to bypass the national health service to get treatment a little quicker.

It is seriously worth making sure you are insured, either through an employer or through whatever schemes are run by your government. If I didn't have any of that cover, I would be out thousands of pounds by now. Honestly, I've got more out of the national health insurance than I've put in, and I can be sure that they will treat me even when I am on my death bed.

I'm typically right wing, smaller government is usually better. However, In some cases, it makes sense for everyone to chip in for the common good, because it raises the quality of life for everyone across the board. Healthcare is one of these cases.

But in my situation/my project, you won't see healthcare mentioned anywhere. That's because I can take it for granted that I will have it. Lucky me.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

FAQ v.1


I decided to do something of a first draft of an FAQ for this project to sort out in my own head how it is going to work. This may change yet, but it's a start.

Goals

The project is, that over a timespan of a year, find out if it is possible for a normal guy like me to find particular amounts of savings and extra earnings (above and beyond my currently frozen salary). These will be defined/explained later.

The two targets I am aiming for are:

1) £6000 - hitting this much will let me clear my more troublesome debts, hence getting rid of the monthly repayment for them and so helping get me back into the black within a few months

2) £10k - hitting this much will pretty much wipe all my debts, meaning none of my monthly salary goes towards debts, and gives me enough left over to get a few essentials out of the way and some money in the savings pot.

Why am I trying to do this?

Simple one - my quality of life is as good as it could be at the minute, I'm finding I'm having to pass on some of the things I want to do, and a good portion of my monthly salary is used up by rent, food and loan repayments. Getting rid of my major loans/debts in one go over the course of a year will free enough up in the monthly finances that I can start doing new things and start getting the savings built up.

I believe that I do throw money away at times for conveniences sake, but that is proving counter productive. I am better off learning and applying how to make savings now, so that I benefit later on down the road.

Another reason is that I wish to go and work abroad for a while - I cannot do this while I have a significant level of debt. I need it cleared, and I need to start saving. This is the 'long term goal' that I might refer to vaguely every so often.

Why make it public?

Because some of what I come up with, try out and get working might be useful to someone else trying to save some cash. There are too many 'get rich quick' schemes out there, I thought it would be good to have a blog where something realistic was attempted by an honest-to-god average joe with an average salary and an average level of debt. I'll be focusing on things that people can actually do, rather than my life story or what I'm up to.

I know full well there are other, very extensive, websites out there. I will be picking and choosing ideas from them, and reporting them here if they will work for me (or even if I have tried them and failed).

Donations / Ads

At the moment I do not accept donations.

If I *do* though, please only donate if you have managed to save some cash through applying some of the tips I've come up with in this blog. E.g. If you save £100, feel free to fire me £10-20 say. I'd rather see you be better off before you send something my way. I personally don't feel comfortable taking money unless I have provided value to that person.

I will have ads on the site, but I do not expect them to earn me anything significant. If they do prove to be an easy way of making some earnings though, that anyone can repeat, I may very well change my mind on this.

I will not count any donations or ads intake in the project total, at least not until the very end of the project. Reason for this is I'd rather go for my targets and hit/miss them based on my own effort and sacrifices. That isn't to say that I don't want the extra money, in fact I'd be super grateful for it (because in the end, I do need the cash, hence the reason for the project).

Savings

I will keep a total, representing how much reductions I have found in my annual spending.

If I find a one-off saving then I will add that number to the total saved only once.

If I find something that can be applied regulary, I will work out how much it will save me if I applied it over a whole year, and add it to the total. this means if I find something in month 6 that could have saved me money if I had used it from the start, I will still add it to the total at the end assuming that I did it over all 12 months.

Reason for doing it this way is for simplicitys sake - makes it easier to track for me without counting pennies every week. Besides, I don't mind waiting an extra month or two for me to see the money in my pocket. So the goal isn't necessarily to get the cash in my pocket right there and then, the goal is the ability to make these consistent savings. I will be applying these savings, and I will see the money from it.


Extra Earnings

All extra earnings I find will typically be added to an earnings total as a one-off. Reason being is that for the most part any new income I find will probably not be regular from month to month. There *may* be exceptions to this however.

I will try and find extra income that most other people can do, or if something does apply to my situation only I'll try and find parallels so that others can apply it.

Updates

I will typically update once a week with what I have saved/earned that week. I will also update when I find a new source of income or a new way of saving money.

Starting

So when is the start date?

It hasn't started in full *quite* yet. At the time of writing I'm in the 'preparation' phase where I will still blog about savings, but I cannot aim for the extra revenue that I will need to take a fair shot at this target (temporary time constraints)

I will probably spend a few months researching savings, and then hit a point where I say, "Year starts NOW" where I will be applying those savings, keeping track of totals, and looking for extra revenue to add to the total. Any savings I've identified from before the start will be in the total right at the start. The 'year' will probably start on the actual new year, but could start sooner if I feel ready.

Finishing

The project will finish exactly one year after I start, or I hit my target without counting donations/ads, which ever is first.

Once the year is up. I'll add the Savings and Earnings together into the final total. As mentioned, £6000 will see me hit where I need to get to clear the more annoying debts, and hitting that £10k target will be a massive bonus that will let me kickstart my life a little, and hopefully get on the track to doing a bit of travelling and working around the world.

Again, worth mentioning that as per the 'savings' section above, the cash from savings may not be in my pocket at the finishing time, but if it is a consistent saving then all I need to do is wait a couple of months while applying that saving to get it. So I'm perhaps cheating a tiny bit, but at the same time, it's not like I won't ever see that money. If I hit the 10k total here, I will see 10k go into my bank account.

Once it's over, well I'm not going to say the blog will stop, but it will perhaps be retooled a bit and/or incorporated into a new project.


Monday, 12 October 2009

Make Money Fast Hall of Shame


Last one for the day, but I thought I'd link to the Make Money Fast Hall of Shame:

This is just in case anyone winds up here after looking for ways to make money online or the likes.


Remember, If it sounds too good to be true, alas, it is. This linked blog has numerous examples of some of the worst.

This is why my goal isn't to become a millionaire or earn £100 a day online or anything (frankly, I believe it to be impossible), but something more reasonable that will still mean my quality of life is improved. And, as I say in my first post, £10k is what I'm targeting for so that I push myself more, but I'd be more than happy with £6k, just over half that.

Gaming and Saving 2


In the last 'Gaming and Saving' post I showed how I could easily wipe £80 off my yearly gaming bill, by abandoning bricks and mortar game retailers for online stores.

There are even more savings to be had, it turns out, and all it requires is a little patience.

Here is a website which will help greatly anyone trying to game on a budget:

www.cheapassgamer.com

There is a UK and a US version of this site, so this will help people from all over.

Now, I found this website only recently, but the reason I point to this website is because it pointed out something to me that shocked me:

A retail game I bought only 3-4 months ago at £44.99? It's now coming out in at least one retailer for £15.99.

Had I waited, I would have saved nearly £30 on this purchase.

Now, if I saved £20, instead of £10 as per my last posts, on my typical 8 purchases a year, just by waiting a few months for the prices to drop? I've just saved £160.

Now again, £160 towards a target of £10k doesn't seem much, but as the ads say, every little helps.

So from now on, I will no longer spend any more than £20 on a game. Less if I can get away with it.

Again, cheapassgamer.com is a godsend.

Of course, it would be better if I didn't buy any games at all, or at least bought less of them. I have some ideas on this topic. There will be further posts on how to reduce my gaming budget even further.

Gaming and Saving


Lets have a think about one of my hobbies and where I might make quick savings.

Well, I am a gamer. An expensive hobby as they come, really. Over the course of a console generation I typically wind up with every console going at some point.

Games for these are expensive, no doubt, so where can I make savings on these?

Well today, I popped into the local store where I do all my shopping, thanks to a loyality card I have with them, and had a look for a game I am interested in getting, at this moment in time Katamari Forever. It was £44.99.

I went online as soon as I arrived home. The price of this game online was £34.99 from a big online retailer. A saving of £10 for a new game. I found a retailer selling it for closer to £30.00 as well.

I normally buy around eight retail games per year. Assuming I can get the same saving each time, I get at least £80 per year savings by going online.

But does the loyality card make up for this difference? I have £10 worth of discount on my loyality card for my purchases this year so far. I'd end up with £20 per year.

Conclusion: The Loyality card is no reason to shop at a store where full price is being charged. Shopping around online can save you money right off the line.

Part 2 of Gaming and Saving coming soon.


Sunday, 11 October 2009

Ads


A week since the last update and a small one to boot, not a good start, I know. I'm still in the preparation stage for the project where I am researching some of the opportunities for saving, and getting extra cash on the side. I want to get off on a strong footing and have something to update with every weekend at least, hopefully a new suggestion to try out.

I know if people start reading this they'll mention it, so I want to get this out of the way first. Ads. Don't they make money? I have stuck ads on a few of my pages, but I wasn't sure how much in real terms it might bring me. Also, I'm debating including them in the project updates anyway (When it gets kicked off in full swing at least).

I found on fark.com a story where a woman with a successful blog brought in $1.30 a day with her ad provider (And got in trouble with the unemployment office for it). That is roughly $40 a month, or £25. To be honest, that isn't a lot In addition, I am not sure I could hope to get near that, but lets say I get £20 a month, thats £240 a year. Then again, is it the case of the small things counting? It could mean the difference between making the goal and not.

However, all the get rich quick schemes seem to center on various ad platforms, and to be honest I'm not sure I believe them. Too good to be true the way these people say you can make money from them. I'm not really planning on exploring the avenue further, but I will leave them there for now. When I start doing the weekly/monthly update and that, I think I will leave them out, *Unless* they start making some serious money and are easy to replicate for the average guy. Theres no point in me adding things here if other people can't do something similar and get similar results.

To summarise, yes, I'll have ads up, but no, I don't think they'll get me anything, and I'm probably not going to wind up looking for ad revenue as part of the project.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Current situation and 'The 10k Target'


As I said, I work in IT at a junior level. I earn 20k a year, and my company is undergoing a company wide pay freeze. In addition my job is on shakey ground (recession and all), and while I can probably get a new job it will be the same salary - I will therefore more or less be guaranteed to be on the same salary for a year or more. (Side Note: Those ads you see on TV saying you'll earn like 35k a year for working in IT? Not everyone makes it to the average salary, and noone starts there...)

Now, I do cover all my bills and expenses, and have a tiny bit left over each month, but not really enough to enjoy myself with (I haven't been out of the UK for years now..), or worse yet, nothing that I can put in the savings account (currently 0). Savings as it turns out are important. If I had saved when I was a student I would not be in this mess. Oh well, lessons learned :)

So what I want to do is simple - I want to find enough in savings and extra 'side' income over the course of roughly a year so that I can *at least* eliminate two of the biggest drains on my monthly finances. These being:

1) Car loan + Insurance
2) Credit card repayments

To do this, I will need to find £6,000 extra over the course of the year to eliminate what is left of these debts. After that I will have at least £200 a month freed up for myself in order to stick in a savings account, or to use the odd time for taking myself off somewhere nice (Bognor? Heh)

*But*, why not set myself a more aggressive target?

Lets go for 10k.

So my target, therefore, is to find 10k in savings and new revenue over the course of a year.

Why 10k? It is a reasonable target, I think, and achievable. Might be hard to hit, in the end, but it is achievable. I'm not a believer in all those get rich quick schemes you find around, and I'm not looking to become a millionaire. I'm going to shoot for a reasonable, if tough goal here, so that even if I fall short I'm still all the better for aiming for it.

10k then. There are two ways to get this:

1) Reduce outgoing expenditures (i.e. find savings, cost reductions in everything I buy)
2) Earn the extra money (by doing odd jobs, selling on ebay, etc)

The focus will be on savings. Because if I can cut x amount out of my spending one year, then I can cut that same amount out the year after if I wish.

I recognise however that I will most likely have to find a new source of revenue or two to bump my earnings up a bit. I earn 20k, I don't think I can fin 10k in savings unless I don't pay my rent. This isn't so bad mind, becuase I am sure I can repeat at least some of the steps whenever times are hard, but I am not expecting extra revenue to be repeatable year on year. I will focus on easy to find revenue that other people can emulate, if possible (i.e I will not be suggesting everyone do I.T consulting on the side, heh).

So to summarise. I need to save £6000 over a year to eliminate my two most troublesome debts. I will consider this project a success if I hit that. But I want to aim for 10k in savings and extra revenue to push myself, and wind up with a little savings after it all.

I will be starting this goal in earnest soon. I will make a few posts in the next month or two planning a few things and looking for easy savings that I can apply from the start. One I've started counting in earnest, I'll let y'all know.

Introduction

Hi guys. My name is Curtis. I work in IT at a junior level. I have recently hit what I would call a financial low point, which while not threatening me with homelessness, is affecting my ability to maintain a lifestyle where I do something more than sit at home in a darkened room when I am not at work.

After chatting with some friends about the situation, I decided that rather than get depressed about it, I would see what I can do about it, and to document what I did online so that others can hopefully find something that might help them out. It's one thing seeing all these debt websites saying "Do this, do that!", but I think it helps more if some guy actually does it, you know?

To that end a good friend gave me a birthday gift of a blog and a domain name. Thanks to M for that.

The goal of this site is not for me to become a millionaire through it. My goals will be more limited - I will simply be scraping together what I can and seeing what easy money is within my reach.

Anyway, I'll update again soon with a bit more on my situation, my goals for next year and what I am going to try and achieve during that.

I know this will come across as amateur at times, and as before there is already information out there - I will be hitting the established sites and seeing what works for me out of their suggestions, and filtering that back here. This will be hit and miss, and what works for me might not work for you. But I hope that someone will see what I'm doing and maybe see that they can save a few quid.

Anyway, thanks ever so much for any support people give me while I'm doing this blog.