Well, what a palarver

I cannot believe it is almost eight months since I last posted on here (and I have just realised it will be car time again in another four months!!)

It has been an eventful eight months and we have had happiness and tragedy, none of which I will go into here.

I felt that I would post something today because we heard via a web forum that our IVA had been transferred from one company to another and I wanted to record my feelings from the start of this process through to where I am now.

My initial feelings were of fear and insecurity. We didn’t know anything about this new company, and of course we had chosen the original company with great care. How could they do this to us? Why didn’t they tell us? It felt like a betrayal, but then again, I will always feel gratitude to Mel and her team for supporting us at the outset of our IVA. This was at a time when, I think, the most important work is done and the I&E is laid down and questions are answered. We had trundled along quite happily because of this and, because we had had such massive outgoings in the form of interest payments pre-IVA, we had felt a massive sense of relief and actually had MORE to live on than we had done previously which was a bonus and a nice surprise.

We are a member of the “rural poor” class, so our outgoings tend to be higher than most as we are not on the gas main and rely on oil, we have no public transport and there are no cheap discount shops nearby. We either have to travel quite a way or ask Mr Asda to drop off our internet order – they are cheaper than the others who deliver round here. Mel and Co were realistic as to our needs which are clearly relatively unique. We also need to maintain a car that can handle tracks and unkept lanes so the cost of running this is higher than, say, a nice little compact car so this was also taken into account with our allowances.

Anyway, as I say, we found out through reading another forum about the change. I rang PJG and yes, the IVA had been transferred. I was scared because of the transfer from a nice little cosy company who understood us and our needs, to a faceless company with a CEO who appeared to buy companies then sell them on and move to the next project. We would be just a number, a way of making money and nobody would understand or care about our situation.

This was fuelled by issues on the massive thread on the IVA forum in which many worried people (including me I might add) were worried sick about what would happen, and, understandably, upset about the way in which they had found out about the change. By the way I still haven’t had the letter that was sent out to me although I do have the email version.

The email didn’t really say anything about how the IVA would run in the future but gave vague assurances in that way in which you can say nothing whilst appearing to say something, and I was worried about allowances for the reasons that I have given in the paragraph about our circumstances. I lost a few nights sleep and worried about silly things such as would the new company look at what we were spending on what? How would we be scrutinised and how would they apply any changes to the expenditure that they might wish to apply? What if they scrutinised bank statements and reduced spend because we had used one category of the I&E to fund another?

The research and time on the internet that I have spent this past week or so has been worth it. I have been able to hammer out my worries and concerns on the IVA forum and have explored many issues that were worrying me. I have had much support and encouragement there, and my post count has gone up astronomically so maybe I might have a new status from “novice” soon.

I would advise anyone else in this position to read carefully the posts that are made by experienced IVA-ers (both past and present) and the extremely kind IPs who post on there and give their advice for free. I now know that we can progress with confidence with the new company, OK there may be a battle or two ahead, but I know what to do and what our rights will be going forward (I hate that phrase “going forward”!).

I have also spoken with the new company, and the representative who handled my call was concerned about how I felt and knowledgeable although he did ask for one or two things that I now know are not needed and I will not have to provide them by law (thank you Michael on the forum). The representative gave me his direct line number, and also some very good advice. He did not need to have done that, so the new company DID have a human touch after all. I was surprised and pleased, as I had waited on the line for 11 minutes for them to answer and by then was feeling really cheesed-off.

They say knowledge is power, and this is so true. Speculation just brings fear and to not go out there and research, ask questions and read the original paperwork extremely carefully means many sleepless nights. Last night I slept well for the first time in a couple of weeks and it was all down to the IVA forum-ers who have been there before, got the t-shirt and know the process and the law. Thanks guys, you are worth more than your weight in gold. Actually, I could do with your weight in gold….

Onwards and upwards, as they say. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and soon the first year of this IVA will be under my, and Mr Ivamess’ belt.

Mel, if you read this, I wish both you and your team every happiness for the future. I would like to thank you sincerely for the time you gave to the IVA forum and the compassionate and realistic way you and Sue and the others handled the set-up of our IVA.

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Car update and empty tin

The car passed its MOT – well done Mr Ivamess. There are a couple of things it still needs but we are aware of them and they will be fixed in due course when we can afford the parts.

The tin is empty!!!!! All the money has gone on the car plus the (small) few birthday presents that we had to buy so we will need to start saving up again

On the plus side – several demijohns (well, plastic water bottles) of vino on the sideboard bubbling away plus the beer is now in its pressure barrel almost ready to drink. I might even get to like beer whilst waiting for the wine to complete itself.

We have lots of veg seeds that need planting, and need to get the motivation up in order to do something about them. Maybe the weather will be decent enough to plant them this weekend. I am hoping that the voucher I won for the blog will be useful in B&Q for the gardening stuff that we need in order to do this.

So far, so good with the IVA. We have cut our coats according to our cloth, as they say, and it isn’t particularly painful just yet. This is good as we are still adjusting but feeling that we are making progress.

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Good old car – not

The car is due its MOT. It is quite elderly being 8 years old but it has served us well and been reliable so we were not expecting much to have to be done. Mr Ivamess deals with car servicing and maintenance himself so we at least don’t have garage fees to pay unless it is something absolutely desperate.

The handbrake cable snapped the day after the IVA started so it meant changing it for a new one that had to be bought. However, as it was being changed it became apparent that new brake discs were needed, that brake pipes were needed and the plate holding the tow bar on needed replacing.

The “cash stash” of what we have saved in the tin has now come into its own – a couple of hundred pounds lighter we have new parts, fitted by Mr Ivamess and the car is up and running again. Just a gentle (?) introduction to IVA-land.

Thank you car. You had better pass your MOT after that lot…or else.

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Meeting done and dusted – now we begin

Yesterday was the creditors’ meeting. It was quite nerve-wracking leading up to it. I wasn’t sure what to expect and although I knew that we had an excellent team working for us I was still worried about it. After a sleepless night, 11am came around and we learned that most was fine but Barclay’s wanted an extra year off me; many thanks to the team for managing to sort this out and get it back to five years

It’s a strange feeling; it is good to have an end date and a total relief to not be paying a massive amount of interest each month to creditors. I wonder, do they realise that if they raise the interest rates so much it follows that people will find it difficult to pay them? I am really happy that this time in five years we will be debt free and we will NEVER, EVER put ourselves in this position again.However, in some ways it’s scary. I find myself staring into the unknown and wondering what we will do if the car packs up – we live in a very rural area with no public transport. What if something goes wrong that demands a large payment? What if…. what if…. but I suppose that I will get used to it eventually and I have to say that our practice run of living to the budget has actually been quite “fun” if I can put it that way

Taking account of everything we spend will take a bit of getting used to. I have discovered the “cheapo” shops in the town and it’s an education realising that all along I could have been spending far less on things than I have spent. We are also lucky that it is the right time of year to start planting seeds and growing our own veg for the coming year – I feel that the weather patterns of late will affect the price of food so this is something that we can do to offset the budget

We have also discovered that there are ways of making food go a long, long way and this isn’t just our food but the dogs’ and the cat’s food too. It is amazing what you can do with three chickens and a pressure cooker for example. And the Approved Food site is an excellent place for bargains if you dont mind stuff that has gone beyond its “best before” date.

All in all, a step into the unknown-yet-previously-practised, and with luck we will be highly efficient at saving money within the next few months. Our little tin which contains our “stash” (the amount we are making sure we can save to put by each week) now contains some notes, and we are actually better off than we were before – both emotionally and financially.

Here’s to the next five years minus one day…. I hope it passes quickly although by the time it has passed I will be five years older so maybe it had better not pass TOO quickly!


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Beginnings and ramblings

They say that writing things down is cathartic – I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a few weeks and the time has come to give it a go. This is the first time I have ever written a blog so I am not sure how it will go…but we will see.

How did we get to this position? It has taken some time, and crept up on us slowly but surely. Just like the proverbial ostrich, heads and sand come to mind. I feel guilty about what we have done but the more I analyse and think about it, the more I realise that there are several factors involved and, from reading the iva forum, debt isn’t as straightforward as it initially seems.

So, a bit of history. We run our own business which in recent times has been like a monster gobbling up cash and, because the banks are mean with loans for small companies, the credit cards have taken a bit of a bashing in this regard. Just as we thought it would be best to close the business down we have a potential very good customer once the ins and outs are sorted, but this won’t be for several months as new software etc has to be put in place by the customer. We have put so much into our business that we feel we cannot abandon it now, we need to rethink our financial position and where we go from here. We are not able to explore the BR route due to the company that we run.

We don’t have a house to protect – we rent, and, ironically the place that we rent is a LOT bigger and much nicer than the house we had with a massive mortgage on it. It also allows us to grow our own vegetables and have eggs from our hens. It would be good to rent a field too and do some smallholding which would make us more self sufficient and less dependent on having to buy everything in, but financially I think that will be a no-no. Our landlords are not just our landlords but have become very good friends of ours over the years, and I know that they would not think badly of us having to enter an IVA.

I will mention this because I feel it is important as it affects my employment status. I have a very long history of anxiety and episodic depression stretching back to around the age of 2 – and I am pushing 60 now. I am also quite paranoid. I was a child of a government official who was posted to many different countries and I went to at least 10 different schools which was very unstable mentally.  As a result of my condition, I HAVE to work from home, and this means being self-employed as I am unable to travel to an office or cope with that environment or being with a group of people every day. I am proud that I have managed to find a niche and am able to earn what is normally a reasonable income although it can be somewhat “feast or famine”.

I also have an obsessive streak and I cannot cope unless I know that the food cupboards, the fridge and the freezer are full. This could be a potential issue on the IVA route and living on a tight budget.

We’ve had a practice run with the budget for about a month now, and we are honestly better off than we were before – this is because everything we had seemed to go out to the creditors and there was noting left for us…. so what did we do? Yes, bring out the credit cards in order to live. Looking back, virtually all that I personally paid on the cards was interest – £800 of it with almost no capital repayment at all!!!!!!!!!

This brings me to the guilt aspect. I DID feel extremely guilty about what has happened but thinking of the figures involved in the interest rate hike for paying the minimum each month (up to 29.9%) means that actually I probably HAVE paid what I owe and more – the greediness of the creditors has brought themselves to this stage, had they not been so greedy we would not be in this position now and they would have got their money back (or so I like to think). Offering more and more credit to us also backed us into a corner, given that we were too weak to ignore it but this part is not meant as an excuse – or maybe it is. I honestly now  think that people like me should not be let loose with credit cards and loans. I wonder how many other people are in this position? If interest rates didn’t rocket for those who only pay the minimum, would less (or is it fewer?) people enter IVAs or bankruptcy?

Funnily enough, living on the budget has made me feel more secure. I know where I am from week to week and I don’t feel like I am drowning yet. It is good to deal with hard cash – it is also a bit of a shock when you see just how much £100 is when it is there in front of you! BUT we have not reached the stage of anything breaking down yet and having to fork out large sums of money for repairs. I don’t know what will happen then.

So, the creditors meeting is next week. With a wonderful IP behind us, we know that we are in the best possible position for things to be accepted and we have a lot of confidence in our lovely team. “Failure is not an option” seems to be their approach and I am so grateful for that. It was embarrassing disclosing our finances and how we got here, but nobody judged us and they made us feel far from alone. I know that it IS our fault but we have never once been made to feel that way. Mental illness is a difficult thing to cope with and I think the team working for us are able to understand this which is a massive bonus. They say that writing things down is cathartic – I have been toying with the idea of writing a blog for a few weeks and the time has come to give it a go. This is the first time I have ever written a blog so I am not sure how it will go…but we will see.


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