This Goes to 11: IVA Survival Tips

1,826 long days, I have been officially skint. Well I was skint before that but I have a court judgement to prove it. The IVA is government legislation which whilst keeping you to a strict budget and forcing you to cut up your credit cards, allows you to reach an arrangement with all your creditors to pay back only part of what you owe. Unlike a debt management plan, both parties are bound to this so Barclays can’t suddenly decide they want all your cash tomorrow, or they send the boys round.

If you are in money strife as some of you might be after Christmas, worry not. A IVA or similar financial agreement is not a cakewalk but it is a proactive step to doing something to keep the wolves from the door. If you are thinking about taking one up, here are 11 (I like Spinal Tap) things I learnt along the way to help you sleep a little better.

    1. If you know you you are going to enter into the agreement and you need to buy something, shove it on the card before. If it’s a big purchase, don’t try and do it on the cheap. Two reasons for this, whatever it is will have to last you 5 years and it is the last chance you’ll have to “enjoy” spending for a while. I brought the Macbook I’m typing this on, yes I could have got a cheaper machine, but it wouldn’t have lasted me.
    2. Before you enter into the agreement, grab a meal out with your family and friends (or people you like!) It’s the last time you’ll do so without wondering if you really should.
    3. Get a decent administrator. I recommend Payplan. They do everything for you, and they are very friendly and sympathetic. They know arrangements inside and out and will assist you to keep as much money as you are allowed.
    4. Ask questions and be honest, when you are in £20k + debt, the time for bullshit and bravado is over. Ask any questions you may have, and above all be honest. Help them help you.
    5. Don’t respond to any letters or phone calls from creditors. They are trying to catch you out.
    6. If you didn’t before, look at bank balances and statements on a regular basis, no overdraft means you won’t ever be overdrawn, but knowing what you don’t have will save embarrassment at Tescos.
    7. Another way to not be embarrassed by cash running out in shops is to either, withdraw cash before shopping or use the self service checkouts. The machine won’t judge you if you can’t pay and you can just leave the stuff you can’t afford and haul ass to your car and sob uncontrollably.
    8. Sounds silly but pick some luxury every day items. Things that even though they are more expensive you will enjoy. For me it was Cheese and Tea, it’s amazing how much something little can brighten your day. Best not choose Caviar though eh.
    9. You will learn who your friends really are. Sounds cliched but it’s true. I have been very lucky to have so many people in my life who have been willing to lend a hand. I will always be humbled and grateful.
    10. Tell people in your life the restrictions imposed. I told everyone important to me, this helps because when your daughter asks for those new trainers and you say no, she knows it’s genuinely because you have not got the cash. Learn to say NO.
    11. It’s not forever. And with careful planning and the support of your administrators and your friends you will make it. Credit score zero is a wonderful place.

>Enjoy this, chances are you won’t be seeing fiftys for a while

Poem: Simple

I am a simple man,
I mean what I say,
Do what I can,
I try never to imply,
Say what I mean,
This is not a popular place,
People would rather stay,
Stay in the grey,
Save face, black and white,
Is a Scary place,
A place with facts and minus figures,
A simple place, where you know where you are,
A location of control,
With blameless culture,
People get what they deserve,
I am a simple man,
Misguided, wrong at times,
I mean what I say,
Do what I can.

Poem: Gravy Train (Bitter)

Am I me, the me with the tie.
Or are we four conspirators in one big lie,
Dressed in fresh suit,
Beard neatly trimmed,
The hour of judgement about to begin,
Hypothetical scenarios,
For which I have incorrect answers,
From across the desk shoots judgemental glances,
“If black was white and the sky was the sea”,
“But it’s not” Say I. “same as you are you, and not me.”
“But if this was that and that was this..”
There, right there, is the point I missed.

If all your questions are not as they seem,
All this pantomime may well be a dream,
Don’t judge me from that side of the table,
I am a person, not a label,
I’m not playing the game anymore,
With people who don’t acknowledge the score,
Corporate world, built on a game,
Let me off the of gravy train.

Work? Optional!

So todays prompt from the lovely folks at WordPress asks the question would you work if money was out of equation.

Well regular readers will know I love my current job and all of my colleagues are an absolute delight to be around for 6 hours every day. If had no monetary reward I’d still want to be with them every second that was available to me. My work is the reason I live. It’s as important to me as my solid grasp of sarcasm.

If money was out of the equation I would still work, for less time and for a vastly different company in a vastly different field. You see I do have quite high standards for myself, I want to do a good job, be the go-to guy. Be trusted to do a excellent job and leave the customer feeling more satisfied than someone who has had a 48hr free pass to a high end brothel. But where I currently work I am not trusted to order so much as tea and biscuits without managerial approval.

It is like being at school. We are treated like kids, some respond in such a way. Some like me dream rather sadistically (and this is the piece that will be quoted on the news when I finally snap) of disembowelling the vast majority of my co-workers with only a paperclip. (It can be done I have blueprints)

Weapon of Choice
Weapon of Choice

In any given year there are approximately 253 working days for me. 1518 hours a year if I work until I’m 65 (I’ll be dead by then) 45 years working that’s 68310 hours in total.

68310 hours surrounded by people who I have nothing in common with other than a shared work place.
68310 hours surrounded by people who know nothing of what I like (nor me of them)
68310 of dancing to someone elses tune.

I’m tempted to leave right now. But it’s the money that keeps me here or rather the need to have a roof over my fair bonce. I would love to throw this away and do something that helps people, makes me feel good too. Use my 68310 hours for good instead of evil. So wordpress if you want to take money out of the equation and pay my bills I’ll gladly accept your offer of work.. I await your confirmation.

Poem: iWish My Brain Was Like My iPod

iWish my brain was like my iPod,
Designed by Jonny Ive,
Everything stored in memory,
Keeping me alive,
iCould plug my brain in,
To sync with something new,
If it turned out not quite right,
I’d simply click Undo.
If my brain was like my iPod,
I could Pause and Play,
Skip to find the bits I like,
And let the rest just fade away.
If my brain was like my iPod,
All scuffed up and abused,
It surely is the off function,
That would be most often used.


“I Took a What in Your Tuba..” Robin Williams – A Tribute

I’m not usually one to get emotional over the loss of a celebrity. Having never met them my reaction is usually a “Oh no thats such a shame” today was different.
Today I am genuinely saddened like a part of my early teenage years has died. Robin Williams Live at the Met remains an often quoted reference from that time between my friend and I. The CD of the recording itself a story, brought, lost, found, lent out, lost, dodgy MP3 copy made, CD repurchased.

Everything about that performance makes me laugh now as it did for the first few times I listened amongst friends. It brings me a comfort that even the most masterful performances of Hicks and Pryor can’t touch. It was educational, made me research to understand the sections on American politics in the mid 80’s. Above all this performance oozed energy and showmanship like I’d never heard before.

Not being a particular film buff I have not seen too many of his screen performances. (I will rectify this in the coming months) But again those I have, have memories attached to them. I saw Mrs Doubtfire at the cinema after a sleepless sleepover night.My friend dozed off during the trailers at the beginning with a big tub of popcorn balanced in his lap. When the movie began he woke with a start showering the two rows in front of us with popcorn. Williams delivered a touching comic performance, I can’t imagine any other actor delivering given the somewhat creepy “man dresses as woman to gain access to home” story.

Good Morning Vietnam, again an education. Being a teenage Brit knowledge of the Vietnam conflict was at the point of first watching this was very limited. The humour and warmth of Williams drew me in and his ability to switch from mapcap high energy comedy to genuine emotion is something that other most other actors can only dream of. This film was the very first DVD I purchased.

The last performance I caught was his guest appearance on Louie. Where he appeared as himself and joined Louie at a funeral where they were the only two mourners. The two characters decided to search to find people who loved the deceased. No such search will be required for Robin Williams who will be so sadly missed. Rest in Peace.

Robin Williams Canada.jpg
Robin Williams Canada“. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

Independence Day to Day

That is what is all comes down to, from a very early age everything was geared to being or becoming more independent. To your average Joe or Jane this means, getting a job, getting enough cash to move out from your parents house. To a disabled person however this independence can mean something most of the able bodied world takes for granted, like dressing yourself for example.

I am lucky I suppose my disability is by the standards of many quite mild, so I am able to function and live a “normal” life. I have a job, a handful of good friends, family and I live alone in my house where I pay full rent and have no assistance at all.

So as independent as one gets.

This year I have found I have become less mobile. Things are starting to hurt, or even worse just not work in the way of which I have become accustomed. (I’m not talking about issues that Viagra can fix here either) So where do I turn? Again the average Joe or Jane in the street seems to be under the impression that the disabled are either paralympians capable of bounding over buildings like the bionic man or so disabled that they cannot possibly function and have all the help and money to enable them to live out their days in comfort.

So in the view of the outsider, disabled people either, A don’t need more help or B have all the help they need.

Let me add my C to that list of options.

From a early age I was taught and pushed to be as independent as possible, to do things myself. This has brought me opportunities and allowed me to meet many wonderful people but it’s made me very single minded and set in my ways at at times a bastard to live with or be around. I haven’t needed help, so I have been off the radar. No huge social services file, no massive cash hand out that means I don’t have to work, no case worker I can ring up and get someone to help me.

In order for me to get assistance for anything, I have to be referred by a GP. The GP probably knows less than me about my disability and I have to wait along with everyone else to receive treatment from a guy who specialises in sporting injury. My sporting days are long gone!

Independence has for the most part been a very good thing for me. I just wish someone would have told me to ramp it back a little so that it would be easy to get support I need now. It seems the more you do, the less is offered, which when you think about it is very wrong. Only option to keep on going until you drop.

Still Happy 4th of July America from the old foe across the pond.

Lincoln Memorial July 4th 1.jpg
Lincoln Memorial July 4th 1” by J.W.Photography from AnnapolisFlickr. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

Hoping it's gonna come true.. but theres not a lot I can do


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