Life as a poor person, or living with debts

I hate debt, period. I’d rather spend my free money on luxuries, but there you have it.

After receiving a credit card statement recently, I spoke with my mother. It still shocks me how there’s such a disconnection between the realities of having debt and paying it off.

I write this as a person who has debt themselves. My total “debts” are about £17k so I generally know what life is like with no money. I’m fortunate enough to have a job, so I’m chipping away at my debts. My debts however are going to be something that will take me probably 3-5 years to pay off. They’re always on my mind

There’s plenty of argument to increase the minimum wage to the “living” wage. This will rarely happen though. I see shows like Rich House Poor House as sites with a bit of disillusion. Apparently most “poor” families have various amounts of free money left after all “bills” are paid off.

I’ve seen anywhere from £25-£130 per week. Apparently food/groceries aren’t considered essential bills to these shows, so the families have to do their Grocery shopping on this amount. I think it’s a bit stupid. Essential bills are things you need to pay to live. Anything that’s not essential are bills in which you can afford to put towards debt.

Seems stupid amount really. To me being poor means you’re either overdrawn every month, or you have about £2 left in the bank after all bills/shopping is done. So you’d rather put that £2 on a lotto ticket, scratchcard etc as a simple punt.

Living with debts to me, is someone who has no free money, and simply goes to work to pay the bills. Nothing more. Below are my thoughts, on the actual reality when it comes to debts and being “poor”.

What do the Creditors tell you to do?

Most lendors/creditors, will tell you that you should over pay or make additional voluntary payments towards your Debt such as a credit card. They spin this by saying that you will save money because the debt will be paid off quicker you will pay less on interest.

Is this true? – Yes, however they need to see the whole picture. It’s pointless saying you can save £500 in interest in the long term for example by overpaying an additional £70 per month. Mostly because this is probably something which a poor person can’t afford.

What is the reality like?

Well, to be plain and simple about it. People who have debts / credit cards, and are living beyond their means, or on low wages. Simply can’t afford it. These people in reality have maybe £5 in their bank each month, are living payday to payday just to keep the bills going. Use their overdraft, and generally use their cards for emergency purchases such as a new washing machine.

So when creditors threaten to suspend your cards, because you’re paying them but not fast enough this is a lot more stress. Simply because it’s a life line. The card WILL eventually be paid off by sticking to minimum payments, it will just take longer. Most people in financial hardship or poverty are fine with this. Simply because we’re used to “juggling” money around.

Usually when these people finally get some money saved up, something usually happens which messes things up again. This is one of the big difference between Rich and the Poor.

A person who is financially rich can afford to put money aside for a repair without much care in the world. Or fix up their house with parts they’re not happy with. A person who is financially poor has to chuck it on the credit card, borrow from friends, put in some additional overtime at work, become inventive, or sell some goods to make ends meet and put towards their next bill.

Is it better to pay off the interest, or minimum payment?

In an ideal world, it’s always better to pay more towards the card, which will indeed pay off the card faster and save you money in the long term. In theory this is excellent, and yes, it’s true you will save money in the long term. The reality however this information is useless. Simply because people who had racked up debts, would pay more money… if they could.

Money is the one thing I keep tracking constantly as part of my financials. My debts take up approximately £460 per month out of my wage. Which is a lot of money. I want to do this not for just personal reasons, but also financial. It’s money I can put towards a retirement, save up for rainy days, and work on my projects which focus towards improving quality of life for people.

What a lot of creditors don’t understand (or really don’t care), since they only want their money back. Is that when you are living paycheck to paycheck, you have zero free money or very very little. Also your card is your source of additional spending for emergencies.

It’s pointless a creditor saying “stop using your card”, money doesn’t grow on trees. So it’s better to have something which has £500 available for emergency use if needed. Generally credit ratings for this type of person are so rubbish, they can’t get a consolidation loan to get them out of their problems.

In terms of interest – most people know that interest is what cripples you on a credit card.

In an ideal world, you should pay off the interest more. If you’re financially poor though, it’s better to pay minimum and save up. The only exception to this, is if you have a high APR card (something like Vanquis), it would be better to get a loan and pay it off, than to actually stick to the minimum payments.

My credit rating was destroyed (still is in a sense, but it’s better now). One of the only cards I could get at the time was Vanquis, the danger with this card is that the APR is extortionately high, and if you stick to the minimum payment.

Your financial situation will just become worse and worse over time. I think at the time my minimum payment was £100 and it was barely covering the interest charged, so it was paying off about £2 per month from the balance. In the end I obtained a loan and consolidated my debts, which saved me the money long term. You’re always borrowing, but when you live paycheck to paycheck the priority isn’t paying off the interest. The priority is making sure you have free money at the end of each month so that you can focus on your debts, or paying essential bills, or dealing with emergencies.

What does it do to the person?

Generally someone who’s poor or in poverty, you will find their houses will probably have something broken. It’s not a case of that persons house is like that because they have no pride in it. The reality is that they probably can’t afford £100 to buy a new door, £150 to get a new tumble dryer, etc. It’s why so many families buy from “catalogues” because it allows them to jumble around money when times are tight.

A poor persons house is probably going to be neglected. What’s more important paying £50 to repaint the walls, or £50 to feed the kids?

Also the mental health takes a toll because all the person feels is they’re working to pay bills, they don’t get any pleasure in life. So you’d probably find most people who are poor are depressed and I would guess it’s sometimes reflected in their house.

Sure, painting the walls may improve the overall mood and reduce depression. However the reality is that when you’re poor you probably have very little pride left, because you stop caring as much. You’re just trying to get by like everyone else and priorities to you are the essentials and family. Not the condition of where you live.

Don’t judge people on their past

Not everyone with debts has acquired them through their own stupidity. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they’ve had hard times or just plain bad luck.

My mistake was accepting a credit card and sticking to the minimum payments. Rather than paying off the balance in full. I also paid money on the card, rather than just getting a loan instead or saving up. You learn through your mistakes.

I actually never had debt until I got a Credit Card, I always used to save up.

After this I had a string of bad luck, my credit rating was destroyed from car finance APR. Then I had a car crash, which meant more money needed, and then i had to buy a new car. They all had knock on effects for me

I would consider myself financially savvy, I know where every penny of my bills go, and how much I’m spending. I can actually monitor where I can make savings and where I can’t.

At this moment in time, my goals are towards making more income. Even if it’s just an extra £500 per year, that’s an extra £500 I can chuck on my debts. If it means buying one less loaf of bread per week, that’s an extra £55-£60 per year I can save and put towards debts.

If someone handed me a cheque for £5k, I’d just instantly put it all on my debts. It would save me about £250 per month, and like compound interest. That extra free money helps you pay off debts a lot quicker.

What about Credit Ratings?

Credit ratings also have a lot of influence on the APR and Loans you can get offered. When I had an excellent rating (999), the APR I was offered was about 7.9%, which is still high. As a low credit rating, I’m generally offered around 15-30% now which is annoying, it takes time to rebuild. This is why it’s important to work on restoring credit rating as fast as possible. The sooner you can get better offers, the better you can consolidate.

What can you do about it?

I’m always researching methods to help pay off debts. The website MoneySavingExpert is well known, and a great source of financial advice.

  • Sign up to a credit monitoring site. There are 3 sites I use to monitor my credit rating, all of which are completely free. The sites names are Noddle, now known as Creditkarma, Clearscore, and Credit Club. The last one being a partnership through Experian and MoneySavingExpert. This is useful in finding out areas where your score is weak, what debts you have and ways to improve them.
  • Create a financial monitoring calculator. If you really want to track your financials, you either need an app for your phone. Or somewhere like a spreadsheet so that it tracks every bit of money inbound/outbound. I’ve created one on this site for download.
  • Focus on clearing high APR. I’m talking about extortionate ones like Vanquis, if you have a card like this. Seriously consider getting a loan. One of the companies who actually offered me a loan was Everyday Loans. They’re designed for people with bad / shitty credit ratings. APR isn’t the best, but it was way better than Vanquis and one of the few that would accept me. Their criteria is a bit different, in a sense that. As long as you’ve showed effort in history to pay bills, you’re generally accepted. It’s the people who don’t bother paying back they will reject.
  • Cut back where you can. If you can afford to not have some drink, cigarettes, spending money, it will help. These aren’t essential.
  • Trick the system. I haven’t tried this, but it’s worth researching or looking into. I read that if you make two smaller payments, it tricks the Creditor system into thinking you’ve made two payments in one month which somehow alters your rating. I think it’s because the system thinks you’re making more regular payments towards debt. So rather than an £80 direct debit, maybe try paying with a standing order of 2 x £40 during the same period. This may or may not work, but I’m mentioning it, because I’ll probably try it myself.
  • Identify new ways ways to make more money. Poor people can become inventive, there are plenty of ways to make more money that don’t involve money, or very little. I’m busy writing an article on this, but increasing your skills and making use of free training. Or generating more income is always a good way to create pay off debts. I will update this post when I finish my article.

Final thoughts

This is the reality of what it’s like living in “poor” areas, financial hardship, or paycheck to paycheck. The only realistic way to get out of these situations for us poor folk is to get more money and improving our credit rating. Creditors realistically don’t give a shit, they just want their money back.

I don’t disagree or hate them for it. At the same time though, I feel it’s people don’t understand the reality of these situations. When a Creditor threatens to block someones card because they’re only paying the “minimum” payment, they’re not just adding the mental stress onto someone, they’re adding financial stress.

The best thing credits can do would be to lower the APR rates on the cards so that more money is paid towards the debts, so that they can work on rebuilding their credit rating.

This is why the FCA are investigating credit lenders so heavily, rather than doing smart choices and limiting the amounts, they’re just offering extortionate credit limits because they feed off the poverty and people who need the money. Why give someone a card with a £500 limit, when we can give you a £3000 limit and know you’ll owe us forever and keep filling our coffers.

My obsession with Finland

For some reason, I can never explain. I have been obsessed with Finland.

It’s always the 1st place to me that comes to mind where I’d love to visit. If I could only choose one destination it would be this.

I’ve never been abroad before, which doesn’t exactly help. However I’ve felt a constant desire for it that I can never explain.

Literally thinking of the name makes me happy. I can’t explain why. I love everything about it. The language, the culture, the place.

I don’t know why. It’s something I can’t explain. The closest I can think of describing is that I have a longing to be there. The closest words I can find which resemble my feeling are below

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudade

It is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places, or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, and well-being, which now trigger the senses and make one experience the pain of separation from those joyous sensations. However it acknowledges that to long for the past would detract from the excitement you feel towards the future. Saudade describes both happy and sad at the same time, which is most closely translated to the English saying ‘bitter sweet’.

https://introvertdear.com/news/sehnsucht-yearning-word/

It is an untranslatable compound German word that conveys essentially the same concept that I just described. The word is “sehnsucht,” and it roughly means an inconsolable yearning or wistful longing for something one cannot explain or does not know. When I came upon this word, I was relieved to find such a concise way of describing this nearly incommunicable feeling.

Translating this kind of feelings to me into Finnish would roughly come across as this

Tunnen kuuluvani sinne ja minulla on luonnoton halu olla siellä

It’s meant to say (I feel a belong there and have an unnatural desire to be there)

 

What interests me in Finland it’s people

They think before they speak

Most people don’t learn when to shut the fuck up. Or never stop talking. Finnish people take the time to formulate answers first. They’re a reflection of the Introvert personality.

The language

I’ve always been interested in Languages, and Finnish/Chinese/Japanese have always drawn me to them, because of their “perfection” and complexity. It’s so unique, and very precise.

Time is very important to them

If you say you’re going to meet someone in England at 7pm, generally that can be 15 minutes before, 10 mins after or at 7pm. In Finland, 7pm is 7pm. On the dot. I like the precision.  I think it’s rude to show up late at meeting someone. Showing up early is OK if it’s a busy event, but generally I would always try and be as close to the time as possible

They kindle relationships

Relationships are very important, and they’re very loyal people. Friends for life

Saunas

This is always just interesting. Finns love Saunas. I love the traditional approach of a Sauna then just dive boming into a lake.

Scenery

Why couldn’t you enjoy the place. They’re surrounded by Lakes, beautiful Countryside, snow and can visit the Aurora Borealis (another thing I have a strange desire for).

The place

It’s a very safe culture to be around

 

I’m not from Finland, I was born in England. Maybe I lived there in a previous life. Who knows, either way, it’s all I can think of, and all I want.

 

What is warehouse work like?

Warehouse work is an interesting sector. I’ve worked in Warehousing now for close to 11 years. I’ve been exposed to their operations, so generally get an idea of how things run

Some people may have not worked in this type of environment before and wonder what it’s like. This list isn’t meant to be a “pros and cons” of working in a Warehouse. Just a summary of of what you can expect.

I came from an Office working background, so this experience is more specific to Office working in a Warehouse, and general related to the operators

You need to develop thick skin

As warehouse work is predominantly men, you will be in an environment filled with testosterone. This means lots of arguments, confrontation, swearing, farting, footy talk and general sarcasm or male humour. Operators love to wind people up. So usually you will find they will keep digging and digging at you until they get a bite. Once their goal is achieved they usually have a laugh then bugger off and go wind someone else up.

Ironically usually these type of people can’t take it themselves. Generally wind up merchants are Extroverts. Extroverts love an audience, so play them at their own game. Wind them up back and watch them bite.

This environments usually make or break some people. Usually HR nightmares because there’s always someone complaining about someone. The same culture however, also helps build working relationships. People respect you more when you give as good as you get.

What’s the culture like?

As a team, generally you know how your team work, who plays well together. Which quirks every person has. You learn each others strengths. Operators for all their problems are people you get used to. Usually the lads on the “shop floor” are spot on. It’s normally the “higher up” management who are complete arseholes. They’re usually so far detached from how things work in a Warehouse everyone thinks they’re lost because they only ever appear when something goes wrong.

It’s exhausting work

If you work in a Warehouse as an Operator. The work is physically exhausting. If you work as an Office staff, the work is mentally exhausting. I’d argue that the Office work is harder, although my opinion could be considered biased. Most people classify exhaustion as physical and not mental exhaustion.

Physical exhaustion, you have a bad day, you go home. Have a beer and a hot bath, you’re recharged for the next day. Your body also develops stamina and gets stronger over time, so the work itself helps keep you fit and you become less exhausted and can repeat it again and again.

Mental exhaustion however, you have a bad day. That person could potentially commit suicide. If the body is exhausted, it recovers. If the mind is exhausted. The body follows.

That’s why when people admit defeat, they can’t do something. They have already convinced themselves that’s something isn’t possible before they’ve even attempted it. Which is so many people commit suicide when they’ve had a bad day at work. This isn’t specific to Warehousing, it’s all job sectors. I’m simply trying to highlight my reasoning behind why I think Mental exhaustion is the more important than Physical exhaustion

Think about it. How many times have you gone to a job in a bad mood. Argument with someone, just found out a friend was ill, family member died etc. Worried about a medical bill, got money issues. All of these problems add up. Some people take it out on others by lashing out their anger. Some people keep quiet about it. You don’t always know what somebody is going through, and that one day you’re being sarcastic could be taken the wrong way.

Mental health is no joke

Mental Health is affected in these environments. Operators are treat like slaves, and not cared about. So they generally don’t care about the job. I always tried to perk up the staff I used to work with bringing in them sweets and food every now and then. A little pick me up never hurts once in a while. I considered myself one of the “lads” on the shop floor.

I knew exactly the stuff they had to put up with, which irritated me too.

Never understood why companies don’t value their staff. They lose all the job experience and practical knowledge because they pay fuck all to their workers. If you want money, you invest with it. This is why Warehousing can become a toxic environment. When people stop caring, work quality suffers and so does job performance and mental health.

Don’t expect to be treat fairly, most employers will want their pound of flesh from you, and then some more afterwards. Rather than pay employers an extra £1 per hour, employers would rather save this money for themselves. That extra £1 per hour is equivalent to an extra £2080 per year if working a 40 hour week.

Obviously this depends on how much money the company makes, but I’m saying start small. Even if it’s just £0.20 extra per hour, it all adds up (especially with overtime). The employees feel more valued and are likely to stay.

Shifts will make or break you

If you’re working in a Warehouse. Expect to most likely work shifts, and have no social life whatsoever. Shifts can vary, anything from 4 on 4 off. Days, Lates Nights, 2-shifts. Usually working shifts means you lose part of your social life, or part of your weekend. It varies on company to company really. Could be 7am – 3pm, 11pm – 7am, 6am – 2pm, 3am – 3pm, 4am – 1pm. There’s nothing specific about what you work. The only bonus is that by working shifts, you generally get a boost to your pay because you’re working unsociable hours. Anything up to 30% on top of your base pay.

When working shifts, you have to weigh up the risk. Some people are morning people, some are night owls. I personally hate Night-Shift, anyone who’s worked it will understand what “the wall” is. It’s basically the point where you struggle to stay awake, normally around 4am. You’re also risking your health driving home, and increasing the risks of developing Cancer, Diabetes etc, due to messing with your Cicadian Rhythm.

You gain transferrable skills

One of the perks you can walk away with if you ever need to change jobs, is that the skills carry over. Being able to drive a Reach Truck, FLT. Devanning a curtain sider, or a container. It’s all universal language in the Warehousing environments. That’s why the labour is cheap, because it’s an easily replaceable skillset. So don’t be afraid when it comes to the job about walking away. There’s always another place who can take you on. The skills are always in high-demand. It’s normally why you find recruitment agencies dealing with Warehousing companies. It’s a constant source of money for them.

Salary isn’t always the best

Unless you accept a managerial position, you’re essentially just a grunt. Which means you’re easily replaceable. Forget the fact you’ve got 15 years of experience operating the Forklifts or Reach-Trucks. That means nothing. If you give the company a reason to fire you, they will. It’s not hard to find another person who can drive a truck. What the company loses is more experience on the job rather than the skill set to replace. Another one of you is easily possible. Doesn’t matter whether you’re the one slogging away doing all the work on the shop floor. Or a grunt in the Office. Same situation, it’s the job experience what’s valuable. The actual job is replaceable. So don’t generally expect much more than minimum wage.

The only way you’re going to get a good wage is working for a company that pays high wages from the start. Going into a managerial role, working shift patterns. Or doing lots of hours and lots of overtime.

Google Translate is your friend

Generally speaking, most companies receive deliveries from abroad. Basically because it’s cheap. Usually this means you’re going to be dealing with Drivers who speak to the bare minimum (if any) English at all. Sometimes they just show you their phone with text on it.

Now, this isn’t necessarily bad, it’s actually a great experience if you want to practice learning to speak other languages from the exposure you get. If you’re not that way inclined however, if you don’t speak another language. Chances are you’re going to have to try and explain to a foreign driver where to go.

Or, if you’re in a Customer Service position usually a pissed off driver. Simply because they have driven 1000’s of miles and are being passed about with no help. You will find operators generally don’t give a toss. So if the driver doesn’t speak English, it’s normally a case of “not me”, or “go see them in there” and then they disappear.

I try to be as helpful as possible. Google Translate is broken, but it helps get the point across. It’s a universal app, so don’t be surprised if a Foreign driver has it on their phone. Always try to think of how the driver feels. How would you feel driving many miles to a foreign country, and find someone shouting at you or telling you to fuck off. It happens. More than you’d believe.

You can get the chills

Depending on what role you do in a a Warehouse, it can get chilly. If you’re a manual worker, general you can get hot from constantly working, so it’s good exercise. If you’re an office worker, unless you enjoy the cold, you’re heater will always be on. The problem with Office work is that you’re not moving. So you tend to feel the cold a lot.

Both feel the temperature difference, the Office Workers feel the cold because they’re used to the warm office. The manual workers feel warmer, because they’ve come from a cold to a warm environment.

My preference to this was to sit in the Office without the heating on, the window open and no coat/jacket for additional warmth. It helped me climatise to the temperature; I would frequently walk around the building without no coat. It’s better for tolerating the cold as your body gets used to it.

The added benefit to this is that I’m a lot more resilient with colder temperatures now, and I don’t get ill as much. The downside now, is that I hate the heat. I’m too used to the cold, so I actually remove layers in “normal” environments because the temperature makes me uncomfortable.

PPE is important

This actually surpises me, but you it’s common knowledge, if you work in a Warehouse.

Minimum of high visibility top, and steel toe capped shoes (or rigger boots). Normally rigger boots, or boots for shop floor operators. Office staff can get away with steel toe capped shoes.

Depending on the location, some people may need you to wear ear defenders, eye guards and a bump cap. Also if you’re wearing “boots/shoes”, consider keeping an extra pair of boot laces. You’d be surprised how often they snap.

It’s amazing how many people turn up for Warehouse work, who have worked in the environment and still don’t bother wearing steelies or a high-vis

 

This post was just a quick summary from my own personal experience. Would I recommend working in a Warehouse?

YES.

Don’t be fearful of it. If it’s something you’ve never tried, give it a go and stick it out. You might just enjoy it

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