I feel like I’ve neglected my writing since we started our family YouTube channel. If you haven’t yet please do head over to The Travelling Roses and check out some of our recent vlogs. We are still in the beginning stages and would appreciate as much feedback as possible.
Many of you will be aware that I made the massive decision two years ago (almost to the day) to up and leave; I left behind my comfort, my familiarity, my job, my home, my car, my friends, my family and my now husband! It wasn’t an easy decision to make and there were many factors that influenced my decision.
I have always been one for adventure and travelling, I blame my parents as they grew us up on ample family holidays and trips! I, in fact use to spend my whole summer holidays in Jamaica…I guess you could say I caught the travelling bug from a young age. This yearning for adventure and in some sense escape, continued throughout the years; I went to college outside of my borough and university outside of my city. Therefore, I suppose the next logical step was to venture outside of my country and that is exactly what I did!
I could write on here about wanting to teach abroad to inspire young people internationally and yes although that is true that is only the partial reason why I left. London has always been my home, having been raised and lived in London for over 20 years (I was actually born in Kent). But London, also created a lot of wounds and scars…There were things that I had experienced, lived, witnessed in London that if I’m honest haunted me! One of my biggest living nightmares was MONEY…well actually DEBT!
When I first started university in 2009 and moved to Bristol, never did I imagine or truly process, that I would be leaving three years later with over £10k debt over my head! On top of that, I had not banked on having a child either and being a single mum. I really struggled to make ends meet in Bristol, as I had to move into private housing and was obviously still on a student wage. I did seek to find part time work and ended up doing a stint in Greggs bakery whilst 7 months pregnant! Perhaps that is why my daughter loves Greggs so much…HAHA! Trying to juggle rent, bills, nursery fees, transport whilst being a student was TOUGH! I was receiving some support from the state but due to me being a full time student it was limited. Things didn’t really get any easier for me there; I ended up falling behind on rent and was threatened by the estate agents to be evicted. I actually recall a time when I was pregnant and travelled back from London to Bristol, I had I think £5 to my name and was in desperate need of ’emergency cash.’ I ended up going to a location in the centre of Bristol where they distributed £50 emergency state cash for those vulnerable people in need. Fast forward…by the Grace of God and with the help from my family, I managed to complete university and myself and daughter did not get evicted from my house! Love then brought me back to London…
Moving back to London from Bristol was going to be my fresh start! I decided to move to Bromley, as I wanted the better schooling options for Arianna. I was very blessed in being able to acquire a really lovely two floor flat, in a very nice area for a reasonable price too! For those of you who have private rented in London, you will understand how ridiculously EXPENSIVE it is! I was advised upon moving back to London, that I would be able to get myself on the housing list, as I had managed to do so in Bristol. That information was FALSE! Bromley council refused to house me, as I was in suitable accommodation (2 bedroom) despite NOT being able to afford it! At the time of moving back to London, I was working as an office runner for a Film Production company and I recall I was on a minuscule wage bringing home under £800 a month. God graced me and I changed employment and began working as a Teaching Assistant. Although not great, my wage was better but I was still struggling to make ends meet. Long story short, this cycle of debt was continuous for about 2 years. In that space of time, I had again fallen behind on rent and therefore had to set up a repayment plan with my landlord.
Repaying debts whilst still paying bills, rent etc meant NO SOCIAL LIFE… in fact NO LIFE! I found myself really struggling to LIVE! I would go to work, pay my bills and never have enough out of my own pocket for days out with Arianna, regular nights out with the girlies, to save and definitely no disposable income for the travelling bug I had inherited. What I was able to do, was really at the expense of others! This was not how I wanted to live my life.
The final straw, was having to sleep on a very uncomfortable mattress (with the springs digging into my skin) on my daughter’s bedroom floor, whilst a complete stranger rented out my bedroom for a low cost amount. I really could write a book about my life…
I had to make a decision…did I want to continue living in debt, stress, anxiety and living to pay things off. Or did I want to give my daughter and myself, a life truly worth living. The latter was my preferred option and one I leaped at when the opportunity was presented!
Was it easy?
Was it worth it?
I am now in a position where I have paid off 80% of my debt whilst still being able to enjoy the finer things in life! If like me, you are really struggling with debt there are a wealth of organisations and charities in London that can provide support! Please do speak out and seek help (something I struggled to do) as no-one should suffer in silence. My anxiety at one point was so bad that I hated watching the program “Don’t pay we’ll take it away” with the fear that I may end up being featured on there! BUT, you can get out of it!
Here are some of my top tips:
- Do an income and expenditure spreadsheet – this will help you identify your cash flow.
- Think about things you could cut back on.
- Set up realistic payment plans with companies and debt collectors.
- Shop around for groceries and clothes.
- Use the cash for clothes outlets or similar.
- Charitiy shops are great!
- Plan your meals for the week.
- Join Facebook groups like Mummy’s Gin Fund – for days out recommendations.
- Take advantage of parks and free spaces.
- Reach out to organisations and charities for expert advice. – See here.
- Speak to your family and friends.
- DO NOT BE AFRAID TO SAY NO! – You don’t have to attend everything!
I hope that somehow this post will help someone who is going through what I experienced. If there are any tips that you could also share then please feel free to comment on this post or to message me on Instagram and I can share them publicly.
Thank you for taking the time to read.