Some you win ...

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I've always been a bit leary of switching to interest free balance transfer credit cards.
I hear Dave Ramsey in my head saying 'No! Because it makes you think you did something. And you didn't. The interest is not your problem, the debt is.'
However my free credit report was offering an unbeatable 40 month 0% deal and my credit card has gone down a lot - by the noddle calculation, it would save me £900 and be paid off within the 40 months paying just what I'm paying now.
So I applied - there goes another credit search on my file - and here is where you have to look out - was offered a credit limit well below my balance. Grrr.
If I was the kind of mathematical genius who could see whether I'd be better off with half of it on one and half of it on another, I wouldn't be in this mess. I suspect I wouldn't. So I cancelled the application.

On the upside, I've been helping H look for scholarships. Do you know about the scholarship hub?

With a free account you can locate quite a few bursaries and scholarships students can apply for - lots not attached to any one university or subject. There are plenty of small bursaries with an essay submission for entry.

I went mad and invested £12 for the year - I'll give them both my password so that's 50p a month per daughter! - and with that you find loads more obscure and varied opportunities to try for scholarships. I'm really encouraging them both to make that effort. I know (from Dave again) that in the US it's possible to fund your entire college education with scholarships if your grades are good enough. We may not be there yet, but let's get in on the ground floor.

So a lose and a win today - how is your financial spring clean coming along?

Spring Cleaning Finances

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We'd just started having a bit of a clear up when Martin Lewis popped up on the telly doing just the same thing.

Always a good idea to have a skip through your finances and see if you can trim them back.

We checked our electricity with U-Switch. There are deals that look good, saving nearly £300 per year but with companies we've never heard of. Taking Martin's advice and googling their reviews or looking on Trust Pilot it seems they are not the most reliable.

Ended up taking our existing supplier's one year deal (our deal had just lapsed)  and still saving around £200 a year.

Did a fair bit of research on Neil's mobile which is coming up for renewal, and we're pretty sure we'll go with a sim only deal with Three and a cheap handset from Carphone Warehouse via one of the cashback sites. Anyone got any better ideas?

We have still not tackled the daunting task of submitting a PPI claim - not for want of people calling us offering! - and that's another thing we need to do the leg work for.

This is the year we get our budget in order, and beat the stranglehold of debt. Have you spring cleaned your finances? Found any especially good deals? Set particularly challenging financial goals? Do share!

Amazing Days

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We have had such fabulous days.

Last night, at my wits' end and just about to break, I insisted we sit down and attack our situation logically, with a permaculture slant - the problem is the solution, right?

After a long and ofen painful evening, facing up to our fears about old age and homelessness, my unhappiness at being indoors all the time, the housing crisis, being called to the land, and sundry other trivial little matters, we kind of formulated a plan.

There was something I didn't like about it though - no instant significant change.

Then this morning, after an early Lidl run, while I was putting the shopping away with one hand and chatting to Jo with the other, it came to me.

Part of our plan is to move out of this rental and find some way to finance our own home. It is going to take a lot of blood, toil, tears and sweat *  but we can do it. On this bright spring morning, I was going out into the garden ... but, wait. If we are moving, why am I gardening here?

Surely, if we believe all we've planned, I should be starting a new garden - an allotment of sorts - on our field?

And everything dropped into place. That's our big change. That's our declaration of intent. No garden here this year. Our own allotment, on our own land, to grow and expand into ... who knows what? But as a testament of intent.

Not here. This is not the garden. This is an upward gaze across the hay meadow.

 Then to add to my joy, this evening I think I finally got the drift of my 1940s cardi pattern. This cardi has had more frogging than Paul McCartney.  It starts with the fronts, and I've undone the left front a half a dozen times before deciding to start half way through the pattern, with the back, as is more normal these days. And finally, finally, I think I'm getting it.

Like so many wartime publications, it presupposes a level of skill long since forgotten. Be it knitting, sewing, cooking, gardening, mending ... anything of any use really, these publications prove that the women (and men) of 70 years ago had a skill set that puts us in the shade.

But I'm happy because I'm on the way to my cardi! **

*why does everyone omit the toil and get it in the wrong order? Get it right!
** a link to the pattern can be found here.

Another Garden Club and a House on a Hill

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This seems to have been a  month or more of general illness and yuckiness
I went from a major cold/flu/viral thing straight into a crippling session of aches and pains, on into a nicely time IBS flare up and now back into a cold - yes, the sore throat and cough are back.
I know I'm run down. I know I'm designed to live outdoors and when ever I live indoors I get sick. I know my immune system is not up to much at the moment, but SERIOUSLY? This has to be the fourth cold in as many months.

Garden club last night was another triumph of a lecture on science in the garden, although the highly qualified horticultural prof (echoes of Rosemary and Thyme for those with similar trash TV habits to my own.) who began early on with a story about how we shouldn't really use plastic as it was an environmental disaster, proceeded to feature I would guess about 80% products and innovations which involved plastic.

The tea tasted of mouse droppings as usual, and Mr P shared some priceless nuggets  of gossip. There was debate over whether the little pub in our village (not the main village, we are the outlyers, the marsh dwellers, the hamlet people. We are very much Larkrise to their Candleford) has new managers or not, and a great deal of worthwhile information about the current situation of the previous managers.

Tonight I came home with a mountain of work, only some of which I have cleared, and accidentally watched the episode of Grand Designs featuring Simon and Jasmine Dale again, and now I am in bed planning to run away with my husband, the dogs, the chickens, my seed stash and all my wolf tools, and just find a place to live at peace on the land.

Not quite sure about the format I've found it for you in, I hope it plays for you. I hope it inspires ...

Can't work out how to embed it just now so here's a link


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Yesterday, we heard that we had not got even an interview for the County Farm we'd worked so hard on.
It was for us, a huge body blow. Possibly our last shot ever at a tenancy, and the difference between *both* girls living at home next year and both leaving - it was a fabulous opportunity and the farm we'd dreamed of all our lives.
I was at work when we heard, and had to hold it together - though I could have cried and cried.
Last night, we sat and talked, and tried to focus on what we can do on our (rented) land.

Today, another thing struck me.

In the last three years, we have:

  • tried for three farm tenancies
  • looked at and applied for half a dozen shared ownership homes
  • made contact with a budding eco village project
  • tried to figure out a private sale on a bungalow
  • tried with help from friends to buy a field, on which one day to build a roundhouse or similar
I may have missed some.

During that three years we have paid out nearly £30,000 in rent. In the ten years we've been here, we've paid over £80,000. In that time we've raised two lovely girls, both hard working and decent. We've worked every single day of our lives. We've had between us numerous jobs and extra jobs.

We cannot afford to buy a house, a plot of land, a shared ownership house ... we can't afford a deposit. We've lost our last chance at a farm. I am 57 and Neil is 50.  

I don't want to say it is over - because I do not know what we are going to do, when we can no longer pay the rent, or when our landlord wants his house back. It simply can't be over. But I'm beggared if I can see what we can do.

This is not about losing a farm. Again. 

This is about being one of a growing number of people (AND THEY ARE NOT ALL 'YOUNG') who just simply do not have a safe and secure way of housing themselves for the rest of their lives.

And it's blooming terrifying.

Excuse us while we regroup.
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