8 min read

A week in the life: the debt survivor

Hannah Salih
31 October 2017

Money plays a big part in our lives, but we don't really like to talk about it. Until now. Tony, a 49 year old dad of five (and one dog), shares his spending diary and talks about life after beating his debts.

Have you ever wondered how much your friends, family or colleagues spend on a weekly basis? We wanted to find out more, so we got in touch with a group of ClearScore users and asked them to anonymously track their spending for one week. We then caught up with them to find out more about how they feel about money and what they learnt from paying such close attention to their spending.

In this edition, we caught up with Tony to see what his financial week looks like.

Meet Tony

Age: 49

Lives in: Yorkshire

Occupation: Telemetrics engineer

Yearly salary: £30,500

Average monthly household income: £3,200 (This comes from my salary and my wife's, and £100 a month board from my two eldest)

Can you tell us a little bit about your financial situation and what influences your day-to-day spending?

My finances are always in the back of my mind. A few years ago, I got into a lot of debt which spiralled out of control and I ended up having to go through a debt management plan (DMP). This was a really tough few years on all of us. On top of the debt we had a big mortgage and although I’m happy with my salary, it doesn’t stretch very far with five kids. We had to be so cautious with our spending and I kept a close eye on every single penny.

I officially paid off the DMP two years ago. We’re in a much better position now. Our kids all still live at home, but they’re old enough to pay for themselves now (although that doesn’t stop them eating all the food we buy). We recently bought a new car on finance and we've started getting around to some house maintenance that we had to neglect for years.

Although I can allow myself to spend a bit more day-to-day now, a lot of the financial habits I picked up when times were difficult have stuck with me. I’m still quite cautious with money as I never want to get back into that position.

How much do you think you spend each week (not including bills)?

Weekly estimate: £125

I always have an idea of what’s in the bank and I keep a close eye on that total figure. But I've been trying to stop micro-managing all our finances. Week-to-week I probably spend the most on food. There's always lots of people (and an animal) to keep well fed.

The spending diary

Monthly expenses:

  • Mortgage (with council tax): £894.71
  • Utility bills: £226.65
  • Mobile phone: £10.26
  • Union fees: £15.14
  • Life insurance: £13.30
  • Personal loan: £144.43
  • Car loan: £337.13
  • Boiler loan: £41.70
  • Furniture suite instalments: £75.88
  • Savings: £250

Total monthly outgoings = £2,009.20

Monday

When I’m working I don’t tend to spend much money. I travel all over the place for work and I’m rarely in the same place, so I never know what kind of food there’ll be. I always bring my own lunch, it's never anything fancy but it tides me over. I’ll bring my own sachets of coffee too so all I need is some hot water and I’m set.

Monday’s total = £0.00

Tuesday

Stopped to fill up the car on the way to work. It’s a company car so I'll be able to claim for some of the costs at the end of the month. I picked up a drink and a chocolate bar while I was paying for the petrol. £34

Did a food shop from Ocado. We don't normally buy from there but we had a voucher for £15 worth of free frozen food. I’m always on the lookout for things like this – it can be surprising where you can pick up a bargain. £47.95

Success of the day was that I made £55.55 in cashback from Quidco for renewing our car insurance. When we were struggling we’d do everything we could to find any extra change. The habit’s stuck and it definitely doesn’t hurt.

Tuesday’s total = £81.95

Wednesday

A few years ago, I’d often leave the house carrying no money at all. I remember I once got locked in a car park after work and had literally no way to pay to get the car out. That really was a low point. I rarely spend in the week even now but I always have some spare change.

Wednesday’s total = £0

Thursday

Another day at work means another no spend day. We cooked dinner from the Ocado order we made on Monday. Our house is hectic but food is one thing we all come together for.

Thursday’s total = £0

Friday

Bought a bacon sandwich and a drink for breakfast today because it was a Friday. Definitely worth it. £5.05

Caught up with a few old work colleagues who’d come over from Canada. We went to the Carvery for a meal, which is always great value. None of us really drank which helped to keep the cost down. £18.45

Friday total = £23.50

Saturday

Even though we picked a few things up earlier in the week, we needed to do the bulk of our weekly food shop today. I’m really not a fan of supermarkets but it has to be done. £77.84

Picked up the Saturday paper from the Newsagents round the corner. £1.65

Saturday's total = £79.49

Sunday

Made a brief trip into town for a bit of shopping. My biggest weakness is definitely clothes shopping. I do have a taste for nice clothes. It’s something my parents could never afford when I was younger, and you always want what you can’t have. But I very rarely pay full price, I'll either look at the sales or head to a shop like TK Maxx for a discount. Today I treated myself to a new shirt and a jumper. £62.99

Picked up the paper. £1.10

Sunday’s total = £64.09

Spending estimate vs the reality = £125 vs £249.03
That is quite a bit over my first guess but I’m not overly worried by that, as I don’t tend to buy clothes every week. In the past being told I’d over-spent would have been awful. It’s actually quite reassuring to not be filled with regret for spending money.

Any reflections on the week?

Making note of what I bought over the week really reminded me how different life is now that I’m out the other end of the debt problems. We're still keeping costs reasonably low but the big difference is so much more personal. Before, every purchase felt stressful - could we actually justify it, were we missing out on a cheaper deal? Now I can buy the odd luxury, and I don't have to feel as guilty. We’re even thinking about going on holiday - I can’t remember the last time that happened. We have options and that is so freeing.

Join in the money conversation
Are you more of a spender or a saver? What does your average week look like? How do you really feel about money? We want to hear what you think. Get in touch via Facebook or Twitter to join in with the conversation.

by Hannah Salih

Hannah reads all the finance info on the web so you don't have to. She also spends a disproportionate amount of time responding to Moose and Flearoy's fan mail.

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