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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Life never stays the same! Our story straight from the heart x

I've been reading round blog land about the recent living below the line fund raising event and the tremendous efforts of the people participating to raise money. Sue I'm think of you and your peanut butter!

The challenge was to eat and drink on £1 a day for five days while people sponsored you.

There has been twice in my life where I've been this poor myself, once as a single parent on benefits and once as a married, working woman with four kids (ok the eldest has left home but we still have four kids)

When your young you think this is it for ever but you plod on as you feel you can take on the world. It seems such a distant memory now and if truth be told I can't remember how many times we had a jam sandwich for tea but I do remember taking the tad pole nets on the common and coming back hours later with tired kids and smelling to high heaven.

The second time I vowed never to be in that position again but it just takes one huge bolt to bring you down to rock bottom and it's not always expected.....

As I mention before DH has custody of his two boys and they live with us permanently after he was awarded custody. This cost £23 000 in solicitors and divorce fees.

The crunch came when the solicitors said they couldn't take small installments any longer and their fees had gone up as the estranged Grandparents had jumped onto the court case and as the solicitors were fighting two cases at the same time it doubled our legal bill over night!! The court awarded that DH would be responsible for half the travelling for the contact but the Mother had moved across the other side of the country so this cost £40 every fortnight and the child benefit should go to the estranged parent during the children's stay.

The other parent had legal aid and every time we received a letter it cost us £80!!!

We were drowning, no expensive cars, no holidays, absolutely nothing but we were drowning. We earn't too much for help but didn't have any money.

We had a self pity day full of every swear word you can think of...........the air was blue and then it was time to just get on with it.

We both worked, Hubby full time and me 20-30 hours a week and we were poor!! Hubby was in the RAF so he was not on minimum wage and neither was I........ the working poor there you have it.

The first step was to cancel the Solicitor who was also known as the blood sucking leech .......... we asked for a breakdown of their charges and found a few errors which took some off the bill but still left a hefty chunk. We then bartered with them for the chance to pay off in larger installments but they were determined to stick us on a finance plan. We stuck to our guns and said we couldn't afford anymore finance and we offered them £500 a month to pay off the bill.

This left us with £50 a week for five of us to live on..............EEEEEKKKKKK

Hubby was ok as if he got sick it was covered by the RAF  but if I got sick a prescription charge could wipe us out. Of course as fate would have it a few things popped up during this time.

The stress of working full time and taking on a double court case was never ending. Letters would always land on the mat on a Friday when you could do nothing about them and it ruined your weekend but we managed to hold Birthday parties for £10 including cake and a full buffet but we had to go without other things to save up the £10.

Everything regarding money made me panic, if we had to use the car ........... how would we pay the MOT? Our biggest saving grace at this time was that the supermarkets would take coupons even if you didn't buy the product, oh this was such a life saver I can't tell you. It brought our grocery's down to just over £10 a week as this was the minimum they would accept in cash and the rest could be in vouchers.

If you got a £2 coupon it was like a winning lottery ticket. We had "interesting" meals and just managed.

We Ebayed when we could and traded in favours for favours, hence the name Paidinchickens

We got through it .......... we're still here to live the tale. The main things I remember through these times is getting the Monopoly money out and showing the kids what we had to live on each week and what things cost and coupons, lots and lots of coupons! Wrapping up in blankets and walking round the house with candles looking for draughts, the neighbours thought we were raving lunatics!

Things are easier now but we are careful, very careful and if your sitting there thinking life is shit I just can't do this, you can do this, pick yourself up and look at what you do have as it won't be like this forever I promise as life never stays the same.

If your sitting pretty and life is good to you just keep your eyes open and keep an eye on that family across the road who's Dad is going to work with the sole of his shoes dropping off. Tell them if they are ever stuck for anything you will gladly send over a loo roll, as we all know loo rolls can be the breaking point when your down on your luck.

It's so easy to be down on your luck through no fault of your own. I have sat and listened to people go on about benefits this, that and the other and sit as judge, jury and executioner on the "unworthy" well careful sonny because karma knows where everyone lives and it could be you next.



  1. Hi there,
    I don't comment on many people's blogs as a rule, but felt i had to say how much i agree with your last two paragraphs especially. It is so so true. As my husband says, anyone could be one car accident away from being a vulnerable person and all that may follow. Benefits etc etc. It is all very well for people to smugly dismiss those on benefits as being scroungers, wasters and so forth, but no one can really know what others have been through.
    Oh, the loo roll thing chimed with me. In the past i have been so desperate for some that i have been down to our public loo in the village to get a few sheets to see us through until some money came our way.There's a confession for you. !!
    Kind Regards.
    Alison in Essex

  2. Hi, Ali, I'm glad you know what I mean, not that you have been in that position but the fact too many people are sitting pretty and looking down in judgement on others. I have listened and read one too many comments this week and I thought I would share our story in the hope that anyone down on their luck may take some words of encouragement to help them along their journey.

  3. No matter where all of us are right now we've all experienced times of plenty and of penury. This is a very powerful post and I can remember times back when I was a child and we were living on buttons and I never ever want to experience that again. You are so right about it being the little things that tip the balance and how any of us can reach the precipice with just one event or series of small ones. Things do change and you are absolutely right about karma. Good on you for sharing and giving hope through your experiences.

    1. I don't think it ever leaves you, it's always in the back of your mind, a Plan B for those up the creek moments x

  4. My financial story is very weird (I can send you a link to a post about it if you like) but I have had some desperate times with a divorce or two thrown in there! Life is good these days but not for everyone I know. Although hard work and bootstraps are much admired, I agree that one calamity can send the cards tumbling. Or it's possible to make poor decisions which are only seen in retrospect (in my case!)

    1. Oh please send me a link as I'm very nosey ;)

    2. It is here:
      My kid has since left university but still lives in Toronto!

    3. Half the battle is sharing the same goals as your partner. There's no point working your socks off as you did if the other half is spending what you earn. So many people get their light bulb moment but their partner carries on with their spendy ways and that's never going to work. I'm so glad your sorted now and Rom sounds great x

    4. Thank you PIC! Life is good these days!

  5. I've been wondering where your blog title comes from.
    With different details, I have been through similar times. Scary, stressful--those words don't even begin to describe it, do they. I look back at those times now and I'm grateful for how much I learned about how to get by, and my kids, too.
    I think the scariest thing for me is that although I am doing fine now, a medical problem would be a disaster as I live in the US where there is no national medicine.
    Meanwhile, I am grateful for blogs like yours where we can share ideas and keep on learning! I hope anexactinglife does post her link here as I know I will benefit from her ideas.
    This is getting too long (obviously you've struck a chord!), but I do also want to say that I have only compassion--and a helping hand--especially for young families in dire straits. We all think, that could never happen to me, but it can.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. Cynthia I do worry about people in the US as our NHS isn't fabulous but it's better that a whole lot of nothing. I'm not up to speed on US politics but it seems to me they're spending more money fighting against having medical care than it would cost in the actual care? Or is it different for each state possibly.

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I feel we have been so lucky as even with a low income in our early years of marriage ( one council roadman wage) at least it was regular and just enough, with time to spare for growing on an allotment and skills for car mending, building etc and always small ways to earn a little extra. A long a stable marriage, with regular, albeit average wage and no unexpected happenings mean that now at approaching 60 we can cope with whatever life may throw at us. I hope my blog never comes over as smug and self satisfied. Was it all luck or was it knowledge and hard work? Who knows.

    1. Sue you could never be smug! I love your blog and I can't wait to see what you've been up to each day x

  7. I was one of the lucky ones! Father walked out and left Mom with 3 small kids, no money, no car, and 200 miles away from family. Mom hitched a ride with college kids on their way home to get the four of us back to her family - where we at least had a mattress on the floor until she could find a job. She went to work the next day washing dishes at 5:00am and she never looked back! We lived our whole childhood below the poverty line and didn't know it as Mom was brilliant at pinching pennies - she could really make them scream. She never accepted charity, but cooked simply from scratch, op shopped, remade all our clothes, bartered, and occassionally worked two jobs. I raised five kids and still live the same way. The government sets the "poverty line" - I've always been there and yet we live very well on our own efforts, simple living is the best life. Blessings to you,

  8. Patty your Mum sounds like a remarkable woman and the apples doesn't fall far from the tree in your case does it? I thought we had enough with four kids but five, hats off to you x