First Steps to clarity & focus
I have mentioned a few times on my blog and social channels that my life is in transition at the moment. It’s that time of year where I get itchy feet and I have the most motivation to change things. So a fabulous event with Experian and the School of Life to discuss first steps could not have come at a better time.
Experian are one of the big credit agencies and have taken a huge first step and are now offering checks on your credit score for free. Now there is nothing stopping you from checking out your score to see how it might be affecting you ability to obtain credit.
So back to transition. 2 weeks ago I had a lot of uncertainty in my life. About the direction of Mrs Mummypenny, about our financial circumstances, about where to live, a few family & friend issues. I didn’t really know where to turn or how to focus.
I am a firm believer in things happening for a reason. So the Experian event came along at the perfect time and for the reason to help me out. Possibly a bit of law of attraction going on there 😉 It was a lovely lunch at the top of the Gherkin in my old stomping ground near Liverpool Street. There was a few bloggers and some lovely peeps from Experian. All of us were in a place where we wanted to start first steps into something new. The views were perfect, the food and wine was beautiful and the company was incredibly inspiring.
John Paul Flintoff from the School of Life was our ‘thought provoker’ and leader. He has written a book called ‘How to Change the World’, which says quite a lot about the kind of person he is. He put us all at ease and asked us to discuss what we wanted from the day, what were our goals and fears. We discussed vulnerability and feeling the fear. As we went around the table there were incredible stories of loss, bravery and ultimately inspiration. And I am not 100% sure how it was done but I left with a clear plan for my first steps within 24 hours and then further first steps for that week, month and future.
What Have I Achieved – Mrs Mummypenny
With Mrs Mummypenny I have been spreading myself too thinly. It’s not just the running of the blog and social media, it’s also the help I give to other bloggers setting up and small businesses who need some marketing/promotional support. It’s the groups I run and events that flow from those groups. The deals I am brokering on behalf of other bloggers and all the technical improvements and changes I learn and do myself on the blog. There even more and it’s all too much for one person. So things have to be dropped.
The event gave me the courage to drop lots of things. The very next day I cancelled 4 meetings. And I am now solely focussed on 3 things. And everything I do for the business will be in order to achieve those objective, including this post!
Organised House = Organised Mind
My friend Jane Batts has always said this and tells me a lot that my house is too cluttered. She even mentioned it on her radio show on SG1 radio!!! Before the event I had already de-cluttered the baby stuff, amassed from 3 babies. All of which has gone to my wonderful friends Becky & Dave who welcomed the beautiful Aimee to the world last week.
I have sorted out my office, paperwork, and items to sell. The desk is tidy and my office is a nice place to work. I have created an inspiration board, full of pretty pictures and quotes. And lots of things are listed for sale.
I have gone through mine and the children’s clothes and worked out what can be sold and what can be given to charity.
I have organised the huge pile of toys into neat storage boxes. The living room is now a more welcoming place to relax in.
Finances – The Good
I have faced the truth. I have collated a cash flow position and know exactly how much debt we have and worked out our plan. And even better we, hubby and I have talked about it. I have prepared a budget and have sent it to Faith from Much more with less blog to tear it apart.
The facts are this and let’s start with the good. We are extremely fortunate (being born in the 70’s, buying 1st house at 23 and having well paid jobs whole life) that we own a house and have a significant portion of equity. 60% of the value of our house is equity. This is a huge chunk of money locked into the house not in our pockets available to spend. Good and bad is availability point.
I have a great credit score, investigated at the lunch with Experian. A very positive result for any future lending decisions. I also have 40k in pension pots that I have uncovered during my recent pensions post analysis.
Mrs Mummypenny is earning okay money after trading for 1 year. The money really started to flow in in the past 3-4 months. September has been my best month ever and between us we are now earning just about enough to cover the bills. I need to grow the business by a fair chunk to reach my target of 5k per month. I am aiming to get to 5k by December:-)
Faith pulled my budget apart and have found an additional amount of £2k per year that can be stripped out of my spending. My budget was okay, it just needed someone external to look at it logically and offer ideas.
Finances – The Not So Good
It feels good to face facts and come up with solutions for if the worst happens.
Currently we have 0% credit card debt of 11k. This is basically a result of 2 holidays this year, and a little hangover from house extension 3 years ago. We have 6k in liquid cash (savings accounts/shares). The debt is currently being paid off by £400 per month.
Also we need to renegotiate our mortgage next July as we come to the end of a fixed period.
My concerns are about the lack of liquid cash for if and when anything out of the norm happens. And do we focus on paying off the debt or so we postpone it to when we have more income available?
Bearing in mind that we are stuck in a catch 22 situation with the mortgage. We cannot release any money from the house as we only have 1 year of books, thus not enough joint household income to borrow the mortgage we have left on the house.
So the decision is to strip back everything possible from our budget and be frugal for a few months, including no savings, no charity donations, no takeaways, no big nights out. The debt is 0% interest and it stays like that for another 18 months, so we are not going to overly worry about it. We are just going to pay the minimum payments for the short term.
I am feeling stressed as we don’t have enough of a disaster fund, I am not comfortable with 6k. So this is our priority to build up to more like 10-15k. Once Mrs Mummypenny is earning more I can repay the 0% credit card debts.
Next year when we need to re-mortgage First Direct have said we can roll over to a new fixed deal with no financial checks.
If something unexpected happens we have options. First Direct will lend us some money on a really great rate of 3%. I could get a small business loan. We own our car so we might sell it and lease another car instead which could also help with petrol costs if we get a much more efficient car. To know that we have options is an amazing feeling.
So many First Steps
So you can see I have taken so many first steps in the space of 2 weeks. I am feeling happier, more focussed and more in control. And this relates to every aspect of life from business to family to friends to finances. Transition is good, bring it on.
You too can take first step, what is your dream, what would like to do next? Do you have something positive you want to start or do you have an issue you need to face and resolve.
If you need any financial help why not drop me an email on Lynn@mrsmummypenny.co.uk. I have budget templates to help out and have a wealth of posts to help you to save lot of money and make money too. Don’t let finances hold you back from your dreams and happiness. Take a first step.
This post was written in collaboration with Experian. I was not paid for this post but did attend the lunch event in London all expenses covered.