Spread the cost of your Christmas food shopping


All the Christmas goodies are starting to creep onto the supermarket shelves, so if you act now you can start to plan your shopping to spread the cost so that you don’t have a massive food bill in December. Aim to get all your non-perishables by the end of November – then all you have to buy in December are fresh foods with a short use-by date. I’ve compiled my tried and much-tested to-do list based on a traditional Christmas dinner, but if your meal is less traditional there are still ingredients that you can buy in advance.

Step One

Make a dedicated Christmas shopping list of everything that you’ll need and cross things off when you buy them so that you don’t end up buying them twice.

Start to make room now

Reorganise your food storage; tidy it up and use up any food that is near its use-by date. Blitz not only your shelves but also your fridge and freezer. Defrost your freezer and/or fridge-freezer if it’s not been done for a while. Keep any old bread in the freezer for breadcrumbs if you’re making bread sauce and stuffing (well worth the effort to make as they taste much, much nicer than made from a packet and they’re really easy to do). Bread is still fine to use when it has that dried whitish edge to it, it’s just freezer burn that is caused by water molecules leaving the food and doesn’t mean it’s bad or mouldy. Just trim it off if you don’t like the look of it, though you won’t see any difference if you turn it into breadcrumbs.

What to start buying from September

Jars of cranberry sauce and mincemeat

Any tinned foods and packet foods that you might use

Dry ingredients for baking

Dried fruit if you’re making a fruit cake

Alcohol for the festive period (keep it hidden and out of temptation’s reach! Attic, maybe? In a well-taped-up box?)

What to start buying from October

Meat for freezing

Frozen vegetables or fresh veg for freezing

Christmas pudding

What to start buying from November

Table crackers and paper napkins (though you might have got these last January when reduced in the sales!)

Nibbles – nuts, crisps, chocolates and snacks (ditto the advice above for alcohol – hide them)

Desserts that are suitable for freezing

End of Nov – perishables with a longish use-by date such as butter and eggs

December – ahh, nearly done

Once you’ve done that, all that will leave you with is a small shopping list of perishables to get a couple of days before the 25th. Check out the opening time on the 23rd or Christmas Eve, it’s often 7.30am now so get up early and you can get it all done before the crowds descend like an invading horde. You’ll then be leaving whilst dozens of cars are frantically looking for a space.


The Diminishing Memory of Destitution (and what I learnt from my grandma)


Family in Bethnal Green, 1900

“No man is an island”

This is a fairly long post as I have a correlation between debt and poverty at the end that I am trying to back up with evidence, so grab a cuppa and get comfy.

I propose in my book that we need a deeper and more critical look at how society and culture have a subconscious effect on how we feel in an ever-increasing consumer society, and that examining this is vital if we are going to tackle the underlying causes of our debt problems. One of those aspects that I briefly discuss in the book is how the memory of abject poverty in Britain is diminishing and I’ll explore that here in more detail, and how it relates to the growing debt problem in Britain.

I’d like to be clear, I am not dismissive of current poverty in Britain; it certainly does exist and there is also an unacceptable level of homelessness, and it is a miserable state to be trapped in poverty. There is a distinction though between poverty and destitution. Destitution is poverty where you have absolutely nothing to fall back on, and there was a time where there was no state help and when I was younger I heard first-hand accounts of this time.

Most of us haven’t experienced a time when there wasn’t a safety net

The system of National Insurance was introduced in Britain in 1911, providing free medical treatment and 26 weeks’ sick pay. Prior to that, old age pensions were introduced in 1908 for the over 70s and Labour Exchanges were set up in 1909 to help the unemployed to find work. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that National Insurance would also provide unemployment benefit.

Prior to these welfare benefits the main option for the destitute was the workhouse, though charitable institutions sometimes helped people in desperate situations. This was still the moralistic age where the ‘deserving poor’ were helped however and if there was any hint of perceived idleness or immorality apparent to the charity, help could be refused.

What I learnt from my grandma

My gran, born in 1901, was one of 10 children in a poor household living in a small 3 bed terraced house. Her mother also took in and raised a local child who had been orphaned so that the child wouldn’t have to go into the workhouse or some other institution. My great-grandfather was a factory worker, so he didn’t earn a huge wage and his wife would also do anything possible to bring in money and to feed the family on a tight budget, as well as having a football team of children to raise. Although my great-grandmother was illiterate, she was a proficient midwife and well-known for this in the area, having learnt midwifery from her mother. She would also lay out the dead for burial, another skill learnt from her family; the local area was poor and its people were not able to afford the fees of a doctor or a hospital to deliver a baby or an undertaker to prepare the dead for burial. My great-grandmother’s modest fees were affordable.

The children would also bring in money in various ways from a young age by doing odd jobs such as deliveries and their earnings were handed straight to their parents. They were handed back a farthing, ha’penny or a penny occasionally for treats such as sweets. Everyone, young and old, pulled together to bring in money and it was spent sparingly, and the reason for this was the horror and stigma of the workhouse.







Lambeth Workhouse, men’s dining room

I heard from my gran just how terrified people were of the workhouse; it was the ultimate shame for the poor, but the choice was the workhouse or starve. In my gran’s youth, the workhouse had become a more benevolent institution than it had been in the past as compassion for the poor was increasing. It had also become mainly a place to house the elderly, orphans and people with physical and mental disabilities who had no-one to look after them. In an appallingly insensitive move, the city’s workhouse building later became a geriatric hospital and the elderly hated being admitted there; in their minds, they were ‘going in the workhouse’ and my poor great-grandma spent her last days in that hospital too. On the other branch of my family I discovered that my great-great-grandfather had died in his old age in a workhouse. This came as a complete surprise to the older members of my family; it had never been discussed, such was the shame and stigma attached to it.

Many people today look upon the thought of themselves claiming state benefits with horror and shame, but I don’t think that the depth of the stigma is anywhere near as intense as the fear of the workhouse over 100 years ago. At least if you claim benefits you can lead a fairly normal life, albeit on a very low income, and make your own decisions. You don’t have to move into a regimented institution where you have to wear a uniform, eat the most basic food, perform monotonous work, live by a strict timetable and be segregated by gender. Sounds like a prison, doesn’t it?

Britain at war


People in Britain went through the Second World War with some hardships such as rationing of food, petrol and clothing, also people living in cities would be at risk of bombing at night. My parents told me about uncomfortable, damp and dark nights spent in their air raid shelters in the back garden, sometimes spending several hours in there until the all-clear sirens sounded.

The nation pulled together and most did their bit to keep a semblance of normal life. Flower beds and lawns were turned over to grow vegetables and there was a ‘make do and mend’ attitude to clothing and other essentials. Britain also benefited from imports from countries such as the USA and Canada that included food imports, which came at a high cost; 2,825 merchant ships were sunk by U-Boats. For those who managed to escape the worst of the bombing they were adequately fed and clothed and it is said that the reduced diet made the health of the nation the best it has ever been, but the situation across the Channel was much worse.

A case study of Italy – abject poverty through war


Families left homeless on the street after the bombing of Milan

I’ve chosen Italy as it’s a country that I know well, I used to visit friends there in the early 1980s and I’ve also had the chance to visit a few times again to see friends more recently. I heard about people’s wartime experiences during my earlier visits and also I am grateful to my dear friend Paola Laghi for sharing her parents’ reminiscences.

Rural areas in Italy were already very poor before the war, which is the main reason why there was much emigration not only to the United States but also to many countries worldwide. In the later years of the war, hardship increased considerably and food was scarce; cities and towns were frequently bombed as the Allied forces attempted to defeat the Axis forces. I once visited a family in a rural town and we ate roast chestnuts one evening. The lady of the house told me that roast chestnuts reminded her of the war, as there were often times when she would get home from school and that was all there was to eat and nothing else – chestnuts that had been gathered from the local woods. The winter of 1944 was particularly severe and the people struggled to survive with a lack of food and fuel; 1944 also saw natural disasters such as the explosion of Mount Vesuvius and earthquakes.

Many Italian men and women fought back bravely against the Fascists, even though the death penalty existed not only for being a partisan but also for anyone found to be helping or giving refuge to partisans, and also for aiding escaped Allied prisoners of war.


Italian partisans in the winter of 1944

Paola’s family lived in the region of Emilia-Romagna in an area that suffered from bombing attacks and her aunt died from gangrene after she lost a leg in a bombing raid. The family lived in a 2-roomed house and the children shared single beds, though Paola’s mum and her sister eventually went to stay with family friends near Lake Como in the north for safety. Towards the end of the war and in the aftermath many people had little money and they managed to survive by bartering goods and services. Paola’s grandmother was an excellent seamstress and obtained food and other necessities by paying with clothes that she had made. After the war, Paola’s parents married in 1950 and lived in an old, tiny house and the door had a wide gap at the bottom that the landlord refused to fix, so they had to stuff a sack in the gap to keep out the worst of the winter weather. I’ve experienced Italian winters, it’s not always hot and sunny as some believe and its winters can be very severe. Her mother had to work even when she had her first child, who would play in a back room whilst she worked.

Paola’s parents managed to find work in England as a driver/handyman and housekeeper/cook; at that time it was fashionable amongst the well-to-do to employ an Italian cook. They were struck by the relative prosperity of England, even though rationing still continued and to Britons it was a time of hardship – but to Paola’s parents, it was paradise. By the time they emigrated they had a child but they were not allowed to bring him with them, and it would be five years before they were permanently reunited as a family; such was the sacrifice they made in order to get themselves financially secure. Paola says that when talking about these years her mother would say ‘”non saprete mai quanto siete fortunate” (you’ll never know how lucky you are).

How this relates to personal debt problems

On one of my early visits to Italy in the 1980s, I met a young engaged couple and they talked about getting a home, but they hadn’t saved up enough yet. I asked if mortgages were easy to obtain, and they were horrified! They said that you should never, ever borrow money, not even to buy a house and I later found out that this was a common sentiment. This was at a time when Britain’s credit boom was taking off and personal debt in Britain would see an ever-increasing rise every year to staggering levels.

Sadly, this is changing. Whilst many Italians still prefer the use of cash and are often very prudent with their money, card use and borrowing are increasing and consumerism is on the rise. Credit card companies are targeting countries such as Italy that have low card use with a blitz of advertising. Gone are the days when you would see many battered old Fiats on the road; you still see some around, but there is a predominant desire for a brand new car. Italy is starting to feel like Britain in the 1980s in this respect.

There appears to be a statistical correlation of personal debt and abject poverty within living memory. Of the EU countries with the biggest levels of personal debt, six of the top ten were largely unaffected by occupation, widespread destruction of property and extreme poverty during the war. Britain is the 7th most indebted and Italy is at number 16. It’s interesting to see that many of the countries with the least personal debt are in eastern Europe, an area that suffered great deprivation and destruction in the war.

Maybe that’s why our debt problem is such a huge problem in Britain – we no longer have a paralysing fear of destitution. It could be that it is in our mindset that even if we don’t have a home or a job, the state will help us out and there is no danger of starvation. Nevertheless, reduced circumstances lead to a miserable life so it is a worthy education to learn about the prudence of our ancestors and how they coped with a level of poverty that is unimaginable to us today.

Photo credits:

PLA Collection/Museum of London





Money fraud could make your debt problem a whole lot worse


Disease Called Debt

It happened to us!

Well, to Mr P to be precise. Last year he bought something with his debit card from a website he hadn’t heard of before, and a few days later I noticed that our bank balance was about £120 less than it should be. I checked the statement and there were about 30 withdrawals that had started the previous day; one from a shop, five from an online betting site, and the rest were small sums for computer gaming.

We contacted the bank straight away and Mr P’s card was stopped. He was asked a few things about his security of his card and when his answers satisfied the bank, they agreed to investigate and refund the money. Fortunately they could see from our prior transactions that we don’t indulge in gaming or betting. The missing sums reappeared in our account about three days later and Mr P later had a declaration in the post to sign and return to say that he had not made those payments.

I have taken a keen interest in financial fraud scams and preventative measures that we can all take ever since.

It’s a good job that we weren’t close to the edge

It didn’t cause us any hardship as there were no big expenses coming out of our account imminently and we had an emergency fund. This could cause someone a major problem though if money goes missing from their account close to their mortgage, rent or Council Tax payment; if there would not be enough money in the account to pay it, the bank would not do so and this would be classed as a payment in arrears.

It could mean that you have to borrow to tide you over

Unless you have an emergency fund, it could mean that you might need to borrow in order to make your essential payments until it is sorted out by the bank – if they do agree to return the money to your account, which they don’t always do now. You might end up incurring interest if you can’t pay it back quickly.

It all changed earlier this year

In March, the chief of the Metropolitan Police suggested that banks should not be responsible for fraud that could be the result of poor computer security. Consumer groups criticised his remarks as they saw it as a way of banks to absolve themselves of responsibility and the Met backpedalled on the comments, but I have heard since that the Financial Ombudsman Service has reported a rise in complaints about the banks’ handling of fraud losses by customers.

“Cybercrime Overtakes Traditional Crime in UK”

That was the conclusion of a recent report by the National Crime Agency, which stated that “the speed of criminal capability development is currently outpacing our response as a community”. In other words, the crooks are getting cleverer and more innovative all the time.

Is online/phone banking a good thing?

It’s convenient, that’s true. But – you have to weigh up the risk of having your bank accounts emptied though smishing and other frauds. I do use online banking but as little as possible, and only on my MacBook after deleting my browser history and using a private window. Read why a cyber crime expert won’t use online banking; https://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/nov/21/safe-internet-banking-cyber-security-online

Furthermore, the more we use electronic banking, we are putting bank branches at risk and the jobs of people who work there are in jeopardy. I do prefer to deal with people than a computer screen.

Make sure that you have strong passwords

An unbelievable number of people use ‘password’ or ‘123456’ as their password. A hacker could crack those blindfold.

It is also a bad idea to use the same password for every account that you have; if your details are hacked from a shopping site, the same password could be used to hack into your email account. Apparently 12 character passwords are the most difficult to crack, especially if they’re made up a combination of letters, numbers and other characters. Identifiable words such as ‘birthday’ or ‘coolbabe’ made up only of letters are easier to crack.

Try using a phrase to help you remember it, for example:


(“my brother Jack is a 20 ton softie”, with the beginning and end characters added to make it harder to crack.)

A few tips for keeping your money safe

NEVER disclose your bank account details and passwords to a caller.

If you’re phoned out of the blue and asked for bank/card details and/or any passwords, hang up.

Create strong passwords.

Call your bank to check suspicious calls on a different phone. If you call your bank from the same phone, fraudsters will stay on the line after you have hung up and listen to everything you say, including your bank account details.

Get the best antivirus software that you can afford.

Run the update notifications on your computer regularly.

Delete your browser history frequently.

Run malware scans regularly.

Beware of using shopping websites that you don’t know – use Paypal where possible rather than your card. Check review sites for shopping websites that you haven’t used before.

Never open emails with attachments from people that you don’t know.

If you see a USB stick lying on the ground, never pick it up and use it; this is a recent scam of dropping malicious USBs for people to pick up. Bin it or hand it in to the police.

Disease Called Debt

Further reading

If you’re a victim of fraud, take a look at this advice from the Money Advice Service:


Types of scam, also from the Money Advice Service:


The scale of the problem:


Photo attribution – By BrackezMassimo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Struggling to budget? Team up with a buddy.


I know how hard it is to struggle alone with a budget. Years ago I would carry a little notebook with me to record every daily expense, but I always lapsed within a few days. I would find shopping around for the best deals tiresome – of course, the internet has changed everything and now it is much easier.

Group support is powerful

Think of slimming clubs. You try to diet alone, then one day you’re fed up and you think that one cream scone won’t do any harm, but that’s the start of the slippery slope and then your diet is down the pan. If you join a slimming club though it gives you an extra incentive to stick to it, as you want to be seen to succeed when you go along to your weekly meeting. Everyone there is rooting for you and willing you to lose those extra pounds.

Team up with a friend or relative 

More people are in debt than you think and struggling to manage their money. Ask around if anyone is interested in teaming up to look at ways to save money. If you team up with someone else, you will then have the moral support to keep going in your money-saving endeavour. You could even form a group and get together on a regular basis and compare your progress.

There’s no need for anyone to know that you are in debt

If your need to reduce your expenditure is because of your debt problems, your money-saving buddy (or buddies) don’t need to know the reason. It’s your business alone. There are many reasons that you could give for wanting to save money, here are just a few:

  • You want to increase your savings
  • You want to save up for birthdays, Christmas or a holiday
  • You want to replace your old car
  • You want to build up a fund for emergencies
  • You want to save for a house deposit

Let your imagination run wild and think up an explanation if you feel that you need one – though if you say it’s for something like a trip to Florida, they’ll wonder later why you haven’t gone. Make it plausible!

You can find a suitable budget tool together

Maybe if one of you feels hopeless at preparing a budget, you could work through the method of preparing a budget together. There are many online tools for preparing a budget that will help you. You could look at the online tools for budgeting, here are a few:

StepChange – https://www.stepchange.org/debt-info/how-to-make-a-budget.aspx

The Money Advice Service – https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner

Citizens Advice – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/budgeting/budgeting/work-out-your-budget/

Money Saving Expert – http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/Budget-planning

You could also share the cost of budgeting software to load on your PC if you prefer. Have a look for budget planner CD-Roms in charity shops, you might find one there.

You can share the research

List all the areas that you both want to research, for example cheaper insurance, sources for price comparison, money saving tips, how to decrease the interest on loans and credit cards. Divvy up the list so that the  time spent on the research is shared, and each of you can report back on your findings.

If you don’t want to do this with someone you know

You can look at ways in which you can get help and advice elsewhere. There are forums such as Money Saving Expert where you can engage with other users anonymously. There are also various debt support groups throughout the country that can help you to get out of debt and help you to budget. Unfortunately there are not groups in every town (though it seems that an increasing number of groups are being formed to tackle such a widespread problem), but Debtors Anonymous UK hold Skype meetings.

However you do it – do tackle your debt

It does take effort and determination, but tackling your debt now will place you in a much stronger position in the future. You never know if some calamity might be round the corner; this is what happened to me, an unforeseen crisis tipped my debt problem into insolvency and believe me, it is an awful position to be in and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Once you get out of debt, you realise how trapped and burdened you once were by debt and you will relish the liberty. Enjoy the journey to debt freedom!

6 uses for ice lolly sticks


It’s summer again! Here are some ideas for low-cost ways to keep both kids and adults amused, inspired by an Italian supermarket magazine article that a friend sent to me, as she knows I like making things.

Save up used ice lolly sticks rather than throw them away; here are 4 craft uses, one use for the garden and one money-making idea. Save your lolly sticks, get them off your family and friends or you could even sneakily get them from an ice cream van’s bin when they’re not looking.

Instead of the ideas that use paint, if you like pyrography you could also use that to decorate the sticks.


1. Earring holder


You need 11 lolly sticks for this, paint and glue.

Paint your 2 base sticks and the 5 for the horizontal sticks and leave to dry. Glue the 4 vertical sticks to the 2 base sticks and then glue at the top of each triangle; once dry, glue the horizontal sticks to the front vertical ones leaving an even gap between each stick.

2. Bird feeder


This one’s a bit more complicated! For instructions, see http://www.tonyastaab.com/2011/06/x-treme-bird-feeders.html

3. Photo frame 


You need 8 lolly sticks, paint and glue. Glue the sticks together in pairs on their thin sides so that you have 4 pairs stuck together. Paint your design onto the sticks and once dry, place 2 pairs horizontally and glue one of the other pairs over them at the bottom, the other pair at the top.

Glue a matching short piece of ribbon to the back of the top of the frame if you want to hang it up. Centre your photo in the middle of the frame, place a piece of stiff paper at the back cut to the widths of the inner sticks and secure it with sticky tape to the outer sticks.


Let your imagination run riot!  This is a great way to keep kids amused. All you need is paint, artistic license and a bit of spare time.

5. Seed and plant markers


Just so that you’re sure what you’ve planted – write the name on a lolly stick (or paint it to look more decorative) and stick it at the end of the seed row or in the container.

6. Collect a load and sell them to crafters 


If you get 100+, sell them on eBay, Gumtree or similar sites, or advertise them on a local notice board. A lot of the ones on eBay are unused, but as long as they’re thoroughly cleaned you could sell them as recycled. I’ve seen a listing of 250 used lolly sticks, cleaned in a dishwasher for £4.20 plus postage. I think you wouldn’t get very good feedback if you sent a pack of sticky, gooey lolly sticks…

For even more craft ideas, check out https://www.pinterest.com/scrapstore/lolly-sticks/


How did I get into debt when I hate shopping? 



My idea of hell.

Shopaholics – they’re women who buy too many clothes and shoes, right? And those are the people who get into debt?

Well, that wasn’t true in my case. I hate clothes and shoes shopping, maybe because of distant memories of my mother’s hand firmly clutching mine, to prevent my escape, as we trudged around Marks and Spencer looking at everything in the store (so it seemed). It didn’t help in later years that I never had any sense of style; I could buy the most gorgeous clothes and they would make me look like a sack of potatoes. To rub it in even more, my best friend could have worn hessian sacking and look fantastic. She had style oozing out of every pore.


I was never destined to be a fashion icon.

I don’t like crowds either, shops attract too many people for my liking. Put me on a 10 mile hike across a desolate moor and I’m in heaven.

Looking back at my debt-ridden years, I find it hard to think where the money went. I think that the answer is that I loved knowledge and experiences – I’m bored the second I walk into a clothes shop, but put me in a bookshop and I’m happy as a pig in clover. If I wanted a book, I’d buy it. I loved travelling; can’t afford a holiday, Jen? Stick it on the plastic! Heavens knows how many courses, workshops and seminars I attended over the years and some of those weren’t cheap.

I think I can say that at least I broadened my mind, even though it put me into debt. At least I have something to show for it, rather than having spent a lot of money on things that are now landfill. That said, if I could turn back the clock I would have used the library more, not jumped at every single course that took my fancy on a whim and had more budget holidays. I wouldn’t wish debt problems on my worst enemy, it was the cause of the darkest and most traumatic period of my life.

The truth is, people get into debt for a myriad of reasons and it’s not always about excessive shopping. Men are just as likely to overspend as women, sometimes on different things like cars, sport and nights out with the lads. The people on the lowest incomes in Britain struggle to obtain basic necessities, and then the doorstep lender comes along – and before you know it, that small loan has turned into a massive debt with extortionate interest.

It doesn’t really matter how you got into debt; it’s all in the past now, but I know from experience that it adds a great burden to your life, harms your mental and emotional well being and can cause problems in your relationships. An unexpected calamity in your life can turn the problem into a nightmare, so if you haven’t reached that point yet – do something about it now and start the path to debt freedom.

Get Out of Debt Hell – on sale 9 July on Amazon.

Photo credits:


http://thehistoryanorak.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-history-of-scarecrow.html, attributed to the Daily Telegraph

How Brexit could affect your debt problem


This is a non-partisan view!

First of all, I would like to make it clear that I am not going to take sides in this post. The campaign leading up to the EU referendum has been highly emotive for many people and there has been too much abuse hurled about by both sides, but for this article I intend to take a logical and rational view here to look at the facts. Please don’t ask me how I voted – it was a secret ballot and it’s going to stay that way.  🙂

I’m not a global finance expert, I did Economics O Level (that’s a GCSE if you’re a lot younger than I am), I found it as dull as dishwater but did scrape a pass. I do follow global and finance news in the broadsheets, I don’t understand the complexities of it all (who does?) but I have a fairly reasonable gist of what is going on. I read both the Guardian and the Telegraph so that I get a rounded view and avoid ‘confirmation bias’ (looking only at sources that tie in with your own beliefs).

What is going to happen to the economy?

I don’t know. In fact, nobody knows. There are plenty of experts who tell us that the economy is heading towards doom and disaster, and plenty of others who say all will be fine and dandy.


Breaking news: Economy plunging into Mordor (that’s what some would have you believe, anyway)

However, if you read these news stories closely, they are all expressing opinions. Newspapers always love a sensational headline too (“House Price Shock!!”). It’s important to remember that these are only opinions, and even the economists disagree amongst themselves. So whichever way the economy goes, only one side will have their “I told you so” moment.

The result has sent shockwaves through the financial markets, this is true. Political change always does that, the markets will undoubtedly react when the result of the US presidential election is known next November. This referendum in the UK has been quite a unique event and it is of great significance to the whole of Europe, so it is not surprising that the financial markets have reacted so drastically – but it will probably be back on a even keel at some point. The question is when that even keel will be reached.

Read the news carefully!

Take a look at a news story about the economy and read it analytically. If you see a headline like this:

House prices ‘set to crash’

… the words in quote marks are an opinion of someone else. Look carefully for these words – ‘might’, ‘could’ ‘possibly’ and words in a similar vein. This gives you a clue that this is what they believe and not what they know for certain.

Why I take economic experts with a pinch of salt

They didn’t see the 2008 crash coming, did they? Maybe some did, but if they warned about it, it was well off the radar for most people and it was a shock for all of us. Now we know that the crash was caused by financiers making a lot of profit by buying high-risk sub-prime mortgage debt, surely economists should have known how the scale of this trading was putting the economy at a huge risk?

Brexit isn’t the only risk

There are also other things that could knock the economy sideways: geopolitical turmoil, disruption to gas and oil supplies, and instability in economies such as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to name a few.

(Update, 3 July – I’ve just read that Deutsche Bank is in serious trouble – https://geopoliticalfutures.com/signs-of-trouble-for-deutsche-bank/)

Just in case – tackle your debt!

Of course, economic instability puts jobs at risk and higher prices put household incomes under strain. We simply don’t know what’s round the corner, so it is a wise move to tackle your debt NOW. Whatever may hit us, you will be in a stronger position to deal with it if your debt reduction is well under way. If the economy takes a turn for the worse, you will be better prepared to cope. If it takes a turn for the better – you’ll have one less thing to worry about in your life, and hopefully more spare cash to tackle your dwindling debt total. Once you have got into the habit of tackling your debt and curbing your expenditure, it becomes addictive and second nature, and a habit that you will never want to quit!


My new book, Get Out of Debt Hell


Now available on all Amazon sites as ebook and paperback.

Get Out of Debt Hell_eBook

“How could I have been so stupid?”

That was my overwhelming thought when reflecting on too many years of living on the edge with overspending and juggling credit payments. It all collapsed when an unexpected crisis happened in my life. This is a familiar story for many people, and I will help to guide you out of the debt problems that have blighted your life with practical solutions and ways to save money. I will help you to think more deeply about what led you into overspending, by casting a critical eye on the insecurities in modern British life and the subtle and insidious forces that seduce customers into spending on things that they don’t need. This is a call to everyone struggling with debt to break free of this hell – becoming debt-free will liberate you, improve your life and you will never look back. No matter how much you owe, you can do it!

It is a book written from a British perspective with a view on life and resources for debt help within Britain, but I’m sure that readers outside Britain will find the principles to be universal. Many countries are also experiencing the insecurities and mayhem that are currently happening in Britain; they are all being blighted by global trends.

There are many books on debt help, so why is this one different?

Well, many are concerned with the ‘nuts and bolts’ of budgeting, cutting back on your expenditure and working out a solution with your creditors. Some also provide excellent advice for the emotional difficulty of facing your debt crisis and overspending habits.

What I look at in my book is the influences in society and culture that have led to overspending habits, as it is difficult to address your emotional responses if you don’t have a clear idea of what has led you to them in the first place. Advertising methods, celebrity culture, peer pressure and the triumph of emotion over reason all conspire to induce you to desire what you can’t afford. Once you understand how these forces work, it is much easier to switch off from them. I hope that this will help you to think more deeply about perspectives that might not have occurred to you before and to develop your own ideas and thoughts.

In addition you will find lots of practical advice to help you start to become debt-free, ways to save money and there is a *bonus free recipe* too!