46. Thinking aloud

tax and debts


Writing the blog gives almost more pleasure than anything I have ever done.

It is playful with me, throwing out synchronicity to be discovered in retrospect. I noticed today that Blog 44 cited a song lyric about ‘heading out west’, and a ‘riff to stir the dead’, before Blog 45 talked about Stonehenge, Cornwall and spirits passing through and mingling with the living.

By waiting for me, patiently, at the end of each day, the blog has banished the autumn blues. Could it somehow have accrued a momentum of its own? As happened with ‘Out of Essex’, many of the topics line themselves up. You can plan a few steps ahead, and use the timeline from past to present as a rough mountaineering rope, but wild cards pop up from nowhere.

A thinking aloud exercise for today, looking at personal finance.

There was a half-decent surprise at the end of last week. The company that recently cancelled my monthly contract, Croner, gave me work for November and December that claws back about 65% of what I would normally have earned. My cow didn’t jump over the moon, but it will graze a little more contentedly in the Christmas preamble. Might be able to go out once or twice.

Ultimately, we can survive. What may look precarious to others is bog standard. A new lance thrust from the financial pressure that we have been jousting with for about 18 years. The last 12, operating with the constraint of a £300 overdraft limit and no access to credit. Four years ago, the taxman was owed over 20 grand. It’s only £4,000 now, and will jump to £9,000 at the end of January. There are no assets left to cash in or redeem, so life will go on, prudently, until the right idea arrives, or opportunity jumps out.

My work, although quite often bestowing a degree of technical satisfaction, gives little pleasure after 25 years. Any new commission must allow me to work from home, with the freedom that I crave. If not, why would I waste precious time?

I can see how that could seem illogical, not to mention whimsical, irresponsible or perhaps plain lazy, but honestly, here’s the thing. Here’s the catch.

If, by some miracle, I could muster the stamina and enthusiasm to earn another £20k a year, I get to keep none of it. Not a penny, until the medium-term.

Just under half goes to the taxman, and the rest to my debt management plan. So work provides no solution to having more spare cash. These things can be juggled here and there, but the gist is two dark predators sucking ceaselessly at our spare gravy.

We are still treading water after the 2003 financial crash. Since when £50k of debt has been repaid, with another £30k or so still to go. Eric used to say that I should dig myself out of self-imposed holes. Everyone has certainly been kept warm, fed and clothed, but we need a win or windfall to wipe out the debt. Bankruptcy would do it, but could last as long as 3 years. While Rory needs regular money from us in his higher education, that’s not feasible. The most likely turnaround is when Eric passes away.

It’s a long time since this stuff ate away at me. I am balanced enough not to be jealous of the houses and pensions of my peers. They earned them. In the end, the learning curve is to find and pursue what makes you affordably happy, appreciate your perspectives, and scoop up whatever delights adorn the road. One of those has been my wife’s love.

My brother is always very generous whenever the pressures threaten to blow. At the weekend, our friend Jean paid for our meal on Friday evening. Our friends Martin and Judith paid for two nights in the hotel.

And I get to write this. How bad can that be?







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