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I was chatting to someone in the pub yesterday about their broken car, which turned into them saying they’d not claimed the child tax credits they’d be entitled to (with 2 children), which then became ‘I haven’t paid any tax for 3 years, so I doubt I’d get anything anyway…’ which turned into ‘I don’t even open letters.’

 

This makes me SO uncomfortable for survivors – but this sort of thing is a big part of the work I do for vulnerable people through charities and so I’d like to speak about it.

 

When I first cut my family off, I realised how alone I was.  Granted, I no longer had the potential for more of their brand of harm to guard against, but I had new problems resulting from my new situation.  What if I became unwell?  What if I had to go into hospital?  What if I lost my house keys?  And I’d better have money behind me at all times….

 

If I did not do these things and something happened to me, what then?

 

I was never that bad with this sort of thing anyway, which was lucky, but plenty of survivors do not attend to thing and plenty get in trouble as a result.

 

Administering ones’ life is not difficult or complicated and it doesn’t take that much time either, and the results are very worthwhile for survivors.  If we have no-one, then we’d better be good to and for ourselves.

 

Firstly, I advocate people get to grips with the elements of their lives – their rent, bills, contracts, incomings and outgoings.  Know what you have to pay and when, and know what you have coming in and when.  If you are able to, get online banking sorted out, which is the easiest and best way to manage money these days.  Keep passwords safe.

 

Get A4 envelopes and write broad headings on each, one for each category – tax, water, electricity, gas, house stuff, insurance, pension.  Stick all relevant post in the relevant envelope.  But before it goes in there, read and highlight what needs doing.

 

If you call someone, write the date and details of the conversation on the letter, allowing you to find and remember what was said, to whom and when.  Given most other people don’t care about our business as much as we do, we need to be on top of our own business.

 

Lots of the people I work with think ‘The rent isn’t my business; I get it paid for me’ but this is not true.  Yes it may be paid for you, but you owe it and it is in your name, so it suits you to know that it IS being paid OK.

 

If you are late or behind with anything, ring up and discuss it as soon as possible.  All they can do is ask for what you owe and you can talk about how to pay it off, small and steady.  Don’t leave things to fester – it will be so much better once it sorted out.

 

If your handling of money has been sporadic at times, try to become regular in your paying of bills.  It’s not enough to say ‘Well my Grandad leant me £500.00 so I paid it all off’ – the point is that you are seen to make regular payments and are demonstrably secure in your handling of money.

 

I talk about money quite a lot with clients, as who has enough??!  And there is usually always a shortage of some sort and it shows.  But skilful handling of money is important for our safety and our power in life – if I get into trouble but I can go the hole in the wall, draw out £50 and get home, then I’m fine.  If I don’t have that, then I am stuck.  Money is our friend and a tool we’d be wise to learn to handle.

 

If I had my way, that gentlemen I was chatting would have a few sessions with me and then hey presto, his car would be towed away at last, he would log onto HMRC and upload tax forms, then claim whatever is left in tax credits.  His bills would be sorted into piles and filed, calls made and logons saved.  He would know what he’s got to play with and can make safe decisions from there.

 

There is NO aspect of our lives that can be left flailing in the wind if we are alone.  It is a worthwhile task and a good habit, plus it’s a further example of a sorted headspace.  If you have the money, start with a stapler, some nice pens and highlighters, some envelopes, a filing box and a rainy afternoon with an old movie on in the background.