I’m a simple soul. I don’t want much from life and I’m pretty much happy with my lot. I have 3 lovely Squids and a comfortable life. I get’s a little rocky sometimes and money is always tight but on the whole it’s ok. I have achieved this lifestyle the hard way. Finding the balance I have now and ensuring the well being and safety of those I look after has been a learning curve to say the least.
My Hubby, bless him, was a bit of a muppet. He was the Boss as it were. Unfortuanately, he wasn’t very good at telling the truth, he wasn’t very good with money, and he wasn’t very good at being either a husband or a father. He constantly put his own wants and needs before the rest of us. No matter what he did, it was always some one else’s fault, from taking on debt he couldn’t repay to constantly being unfaithful. He never once said sorry. In May 2004 I left him. At the time he was in debt to the tune of £150,000.00. and had no job. As his wife I had to take a chunk of that with me. He kept the house I got the kids. And half the debt. But, I became the Boss. I became responsible for sorting out the mess that I had found myself in.
Here’s how I did it.
Slowly but surely I cleared my debts. I didn’t do this by consolidating them all and paying them off with another loan. I got good financial advice, some of the debts I wasn’t liable for, the rest, I spoke to the creditiors, told them the situation, made arrangements to pay them off, and stuck to those arrangements. I looked at what I could live with out, what I could reduce and by tightening my belt. It was hard, but I knew I had to do it. It has taken 5 years, but I have done it. I took on no new debt, and I ruthlessly cut back on all excess expenditure. Only spending what I had to.
When I started this the very first thing I did was talk to my Squids about it. I explained that things weren’t good and that we would all have to go with out some things. I promised that the essentials would always be there. Food, clothes, car etc. and assured them that although it was going to be a real change, if we all pulled together it would be ok. I promised them that certain thing would remain sacrosanct and would not be affected by the cut backs. Birthdays and Christmas would be the same as it always was. But no more Maccy D’s. No more Take aways. No more little toys every time we went shopping.
They were a little bit miffed at first but then I explained that we had a choice, carry on as we were for another 6 months and then watch everything go, or nip it in the bud, enjoy what we can have, and forget about what we can’t. I introduced the radical cut backs slowly, over a couple of months. The best thing I did was show them that I was prepared to go with out as well. No more new clothes for Mummy. No going out on a friday night. I am responsible for them and they know it. It would have been grossly unfair for them to be punished for my mistakes.
The other thing I did was include them in all my decisions. I explained the problem. Told them the solution that I wanted and between us we discussed how to get there. We all planned how we could cut back.When I go shopping on a Friday, in the morning I ask them what they would like. We barter over it, I explain the costings, we discount some stuff and add other stuff. Then we come to a general agreement and I go get it. They still get little treats but they are exactly that, treats. There are birthday parties to go to, costume days, fun days, school disco’s, school trips etc. They get to attend all of these because I feel they are important.
If we have a catastrophe, car breaks, washing maching blows up etc we have an emergency meeting. I try and keep money back to cover things as this but it is not possible to see into the future. We talk about where we can make further short term cuts to get through the crisis, with the assurance from me that once the situation has been sorted life will get back to normal. If I get a windfall (£70 on a scratch card my friend bought me) we sit down and discuss how we would like to blow this money. It’s not in our budget so it will be used on something that we can’t normally have. With the scratch card we went to the Cinema, bought loads of sweets, then had a meal at a local pub afterwards. We loved it.
5 yrs and we are sorted. Debts are cleared and our standard of living is more than adequate. How ever I am not about to use that as an excuse to start the cycle of again. I am happy with this stable life. And so are my Squids. We still have to go with out some times and there is always tears from some one if they can’t have something they have set their heart on.
We have learnt that although I am the boss, we work best as a team. I never blame their father, there is no point, Squids have short memories, they live in the here and now. I never lie to them, I never promise what I can’t deliver, I include them in all decisions from the tea time menu to where we go on holiday. If I cock up, I don’t blame some one else, I take it on the chin and apologise and it is me that goes with out, I do not punish them for my mistakes. They trust me to take care of the grown up stuff, paying bills etc but if something directly affects them we talk about it. I don’t keep them in the dark and they understand that although sometimes I have to do stuff that I don’t want to, it is done with all of us in mind, because we are all in this together.
As for the old Boss, well he’s out there somewhere, I don’t know where. We don’t have any real contact with him, and to be honest I actually think the Squids have forgotten he exists. Which is a little sad, but in all honesty, he only has himself to blame. My Squids respect me, trust me and look to me to keep them safe and well. It’s a job I do with relish and a job I do well.
It’s hard work being the Boss, if you do it wrong you stand to lose everything, but if you get it right the rewards are endless.