Friday, 5 March 2010

Lessons from February

I like the way many personal finance blogs, particularly US ones, include a goals and net worth update at the end of each month. I'm a bit too inhibited to do the same, even anonymously, but this month felt I'd learnt various financial lessons, and had a few small successes, which I thought I would document. This may even become a habit....
Here's my list:
  • Joined a local oil-buying consortium and cancelled my oil direct debit
  • Continued using up toiletries, cleaning products and freezer contents
  • Kept within our £50 a week food budget
  • Saved most of my freelance earnings
  • Experimented successfully with life without a car for a few weeks. (The experiment continues, beyond my control...)
  • Learned that if an oyster card is not swiped firmly enough, the gate may open, but extra money will be deducted from the card as a penalty. (I got most of the extra few pounds re-credited when I queried how my card could be down to a £0 balance after a very few uses, but am not sure I have heard many things as nonsensical as this explanation. Others may not be aware of this quirk in the system....)
  • Was charged interest in a catch-22 type situation by my credit card - but managed to get it deducted after pointing out the unfairness of the charge. (I had been asked to re-register my payment details after a new card was issued, did so immediately, but not in time for the next payment due date, and my payment was therefore inevitably late.)
  • Discovered the dangers of buying cheap car insurance through a broker. Next time, I will check feedback on car insurers before renewing, rather than just going for the cheapest quote, as my current insurer was, for many days, completely failing to progress an insurance claim. (It is now ongoing again, after much pestering from me, thank goodness!)
  • Learnt much about the handling of debts, budgeting, and the UK benefits system, as part of my financial capability training course. These budgeting tools from Martin Lewis's site were recommended to me; I intend to try some of them out in the

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