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My name is Susan. A few years ago I had this crazy idea that I should be helping people in mental distress who wanted to rebuild their lives after things had gone wrong. It made sense as I had been through something like this in my own life. The long story about this can be found here.

I set up Lily the Pink Education CIC to help me do this. Have a look around and see if you resonate with what I am doing. I would love you to sign up for the blog posts using the form on the right. That way whenever there is something new you will automatically receive a copy.

You can pick up a few more details about me if visit one of the other sites. The about pages do have slightly different names like About the author or About Susan or More about the author but it is not just the names that are different the text is as well. Yikes that means I must have written at least 13 other about me pages, one is normally enough for most people. No wonder I have run out of steam with this one.

At last food storage course has been released

Last Friday night I was watching the TV when and I heard someone predict that over the next two years there would be increasing food shortages even in the UK. It was even suggested that we would be approaching a famine situation. My ears pricked up and I wondered what on earth we should expect next.

I had started to prepare this course but I needed to put some finishing touches to it. Hearing that TV programme made me realise that it was essential to make this material available as quickly as possible. I spent Saturday making sure that it was all set up properly and released the course. At least that way if things do wrong in the future I will have done what I can to help people prepare for the future.

It is available here.

If you think it will cost you a fortune then you will be pleasantly surprised. The price has been set as a ridiculously low £5. In fact most people will find that they will be able to save more money by taking the advice on this site than the cost of getting access to it.

CAP – taking care of the pennies

While I was at a conference in St Andrews I had the chance to go to a seminar run by CAP. They were basically taster sessions for their money management course. They gave some good advice on how to handle your money on a day to day basis. 

The basic idea is for everyone to be able to have three bank accounts. The household account was to be a joint account if you were married. The idea was to make sure that all that all your earnings went into this account and that all your bills were paid out of that account. They encouraged people to pay their bills automatically using either direct debits or standing orders so that you did not have to remember to pay them. This account paid an agreed amount into the personal account of each member of the household for their own spending money. This would be for things like food clothes and entertainment. It would also pay an amount into a savings account that would be used to save up for annual bills like insurance as well as to build up an emergency fund. This is very easy to set up if you are paid monthly but not so easy if you are paid four weekly. 

Of course a system like this still will not work if you do not have a spending plan or budget. Yet many of us do not have a strategy for how we will use our money. What is worse many of have no idea where our money is going and are too scared to even try and work it out. Ever worked out what you could afford if you stopped buying an item that costs £2 a day for 50 weeks a year. If you think about it £2 a day for 5 days a weeks comes to £10 and £10 a week for 50 weeks comes to £500. Put it like that and those newspapers and coffees may soon become a luxury rather than an essential. That is why they used to say if you looked after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. 

My challenge

One of the biggest struggles I have had has been the fear or rather expectation of rejection. What on earth you might say is this to do with money? Think about it. If you are trying to sell something while struggling with the expectation people will reject you then you will not be able to build a good enough relationship with anyone to be able to sell anything.

I heard someone explain what they called the belief expectation cycle. Basically if you believe that xyz will happen then you will behave as though it will. If you behave as though it will happen then it will happen. When it does happen it will reinforce your belief that xyz always happens to you so the cycle goes round again and again and again. It is not as if you realise what you are doing it just sort of happens. For some of us this is such an ingrained pattern of behaviour that it is normal and natural to us.

Ok we know the theory but how do we break out of it and create new behaviour patterns. Part of the answer is retraining. Not easy when the consequences of getting so embroiled in such a cycle has led to a lifetime of experiencing bad behaviour on the part of others. It does not matter whether it is bullying at school, mental health problems of those around you, or just being treated differently in the work environment. It all adds to the cycle of believing the wrong thing and it being reinforced. 

It is like an invisible barrier stopping you from making progress. You struggle to use the right words to persuade people to buy from you so you do not sell anything. You have a good product and somehow manage to have a sales page that could sell but you struggle to believe that if you use an advert to draw attention to it that anyone will go to the sales page. Why bother having a decent Facebook page because no one will like it or if they do they will not be the sort of people you could sell that product to. You cannot believe that anyone else will help you promote your product as an affiliate so you don't try very hard to persuade anyone to do so.

See the importance of good foundations. See why handling money well comes under the umbrella of Lily the Pink Ministries CIC. One of the community benefit statements is to help those in mental distress. Trying to say which came first the mental distress or financial issues is no easier than trying to work out whether the chicken or egg came first. The classic answer is of course that they were both created at the same time so it is impossible to determine which was first. 

If you have read our free eBook 12 stages to changing the world you will know that the first step is to recognise the problem and accept that you are responsible to do something to change the situation. I suppose that is why this is confession time. Like those who go to AA and stand up and say I am ____ and I am an alcoholic when they introduce themselves. Yes I know it will become easier the more soul wounds are healed by forgiveness but that in itself is a process. There you have it my confession about my challenge.

Trusting yourself to spend

We all struggle with our finances in some way or other as somehow most of us find ourselves held captive by the decisions we have made. Somehow whatever we do the past seems to catch up on us. If we have spent £1 on one thing then we cannot spend it on something else. They used to say if you looked after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves. What this old proverb is trying to say is that the only way to use money to achieve all that we want to achieve is to make sure every single penny is used wisely. 

I don't know about you but I must admit I really struggle with this. Often if I have money in my pocket, or even money in the bank that I can spend, I spend it. The only way I have found to stop myself is to put it out of reach by paying off debts or setting it aside in a savings account. It is so tempting to go ahead and buy something that you do not really need. Of course it does hit home eventually that you don't need it and then you regret it but by then it is usually too late to do anything about it. 

Last week I was driving past one shop and a small still voice said "if you go in that shop you will find something that will solve a problem". I looked around for a while wondering what it could be but then I found a large garden shovel. Someone said they were buying one because the plastic snow shovels that they had bought previously had not lasted very long. I did not even have one of them. Last winter trying to clear a way for my car to reach the road was so hard that I gave up some days . I had a small short handled coal shovel and a long handled spade which helped but they were not the the right tools for the job. A new long handled metal shovel should make it a lot easier if the same thing happens again. 

Notice the date yes it is the middle of summer. In fact today there are a number of red-skinned people wandering around who have forgotten the sun block when they have been out earlier this week. Here am I trying hard to put money aside for my big summer treat. Last year I had problems because I did not have enough money on hand to buy all the extras I wanted hence I am making a determined effort not to get into that kind of muddle again. It seems stupid spending money on something like that at this time but when else could I find one for such a good price. Yes it should last me a few years and I will be thankful for it in due course and it was a short term special offer. But now was not the time I had planned to spend money on something like that. 

Yes it does seem like madness but I have to learn to trust that small still voice and act on it. That is the difficult bit. Learning to listen and follow its leading is not easy but it is a process. The more I practise the easier it is becoming. When I stop to think about the situation last winter I did say Lord I would like some better tools for this job therefore that shovel was an answer to prayer. Despite it being the kind provision of a loving heavenly Father it was hard trusting myself that my that shovel as the right thing. 

What happens when things get squeezed too far?

Making the pounds meet the ends has become increasingly harder in the past year or two. Food prices have gone up. Flour for example is twice the price now than it was a year ago. Everything that is made of flour has gone up in price as well as a result. Fuel prices have gone up whether you want to heat your home or run the car it costs a lot more now than it did. There are fewer jobs as organisations become leaner and meaner in order to survive. One organisation I know of had never had to shed jobs until last summer when they had a minor reorganisation. This summer they are having a major reorganisation and with 20-30% of the job  disappearing. Even the tax man is getting tougher as they are trying even harder to find people who have tried to escape paying tax.

Everything is being squeezed and people are starting to squeal. Those who are squealing the loudest at the moment are those who are being asked to contribute to more to their pensions. A few years ago it would have been unheard of for people to threaten strike action because they were being asked to pay more for their pensions. There would be strikes for more pay or because people disagreed with government policy like becoming less dependent on coal as an energy source. 

I have even had one person tell me that they intend to stay at home on the day of the strikes in case they get caught up in any unpleasantness. This is because strikes by angry people have in the past turned very unpleasant. Even the strikers have called some situations battles. Hardly surprising when the TV showed police in riot gear and people from both sides walk away from the scene covered in blood. I am hoping that this is an over reaction but only time will tell. 

Somehow we need to find other ways in which to make the pounds meet the ends. The aim of one of the course that we are working on at the moment is to help people find alternative ways of surviving the current situation. It is based on our bridge model where we look at how to make good choices in terms of spending and finding an income because the right foundations are in place. I wish it did not take so long to prepare these materials as they are needed today not next month. There again good things take time to produce. 

Financial security and earthquakes

One of the things I did over the weekend was to read up on bridge disasters. Ok now what has that got to do with financial security? Well remember the idea that finances are like a bridge. I was looking at various bridge disasters to see what comparisons could be made between them and the financial disasters that people experience. Amongst the reasons why bridges collapsed was that they were victims of an earthquake. This morning I heard that Christchurch New Zealand had experienced yet another earthquake that was strong enough to bring down buildings.

Our finances can be like that everything can look sturdy strong with no sign of problems then the earth shakes beneath us. Something that we rely on disappears. It could be a loved one who is involved in an accident or experiences a medical emergency. They say with earthquakes that it is possible to predict them to a certain extent and that is also true of accidents and medical emergencies. I mean if someone smokes it is not much of a surprise when they are diagnosed with a smoking related illness. How many times do we use the phrase that was an accident waiting to happen? We look back and recognize the warning signs after the event. Things that we could have done differently if only we had recognized them for what they were.

Life assurance household insurance and other insurance that covers things like critical illness  come in very handy when these sorts of earthquakes hit. Losing the breadwinner and being able to claim on an insurance policy that pays off the mortgage will increase the possibility that your family will not lose their home after their death  Even just putting money aside to pay for your funeral so that your loved ones are not presented with a huge bill can be helpful. Some people end up in debt that can cause them problems after paying for a family funeral. Of course many also advise building up an emergency fund or putting aside money for a rainy day so that you can draw money out of you savings to replace a washing machine rather than paying for it using a credit card and in the long run paying more for it.

Earthquakes do not happen that often and there are some areas where they are more likely than others. In the same way with our finances it is more likely that you will have to bury a relative older than you than one younger than you. It is easier to survive an earthquake if you are better prepared beforehand. Is it time to sit down and think about what can be done now to protect your loved ones from future economic earthquakes?

Some lessons on financial security from looking at an old bridge

Yesterday I decided to go on a field trip to research bridges and buildings. I had driven through Bridge Place but had never stopped there. This time I took my camera and had a walk around. With a name like that it had to be a good place to think about bridges. Bridge Place is literally a small collection of houses next to a bridge. That bridge carries a railway line across the road. It is quite a narrow archway by today’s standards and on a bend so there are traffic lights for safety reasons.

I was looking at bridges to get more ideas for writing about how we use money. I found so many ideas that there is not room here to share all of them but I will share a couple. Beware though they both be sparks that could start you thinking about possible problems and add  a number of items to your jobs to do list. .

This bridge I had a look at is obviously quite an old bridge. it is built of stone that has weathered over time. Looking closely at it it was probably built of the local yellow limestone although these days at a distance it is the dirt on top that makes it appear so dark. It is curious looking at how an old bridge has survived. There are holes where there used to be signs, some filled in and some not. The face of the stones is no longer smooth as it has weathered unevenly. There are also signs of where it has been repaired in the past with new mortar to fill the gaps between the stones.

I realised that although we can plan our finances and think that everything is OK. Those plans get older and need to be revisited. There is nothing wrong with leaving the surface dirt on them indeed if they are cleaned up too much then it could damage the structure. On the other hand, there could be cracks as things have shifted. In terms of dealing with finances this could mean that the money we have in one savings plan that seemed to offer very good interest when we opened now pays very little interest at all. Or that gas supplier could be charging a lot more now than they once did and it would be cheaper for you to change suppliers. Just as the bridge owners have a maintenance plan where they regularly check their bridges we need to have a regular maintenance plan so that we check our finances to see if we are receiving as much interest as we could for our savings or not spending more than we need on certain items. This regular ongoing maintenance will make sure that we stay as safe as possible.

Another thing I noticed was a sign from the people responsible for looking after the bridge. It gave a phone number and said that if anyone ran into that bridge they were to ring that number and tell them. It gave a reference number for the bridge and even the address to use when reporting an accident. It said at the bottom that it was important to report accidents as it could make the bridge unsafe for trains to use.

How many of us think we are reasonably secure in terms of finances and then something happens? Someone runs into our car and the main breadwinner ends up in hospital. It could be a temporary set back that is fairly easy to recover from. Or it could mean that they are left permanently disabled and have to make many adjustments to their life including finding a job that is better suited to their new situation.  Or worse still the family has to continue without them. Do your plans include what some people call putting aside something for a rainy day? Is your emergency plan your credit card or do you have some savings that you can draw on?  Have you insured your home so that if something goes happens you can recover easily?

See what about about setting you thinking about two major areas?

Get to know us better – What is the idea behind our logo?

Have you ever heard someone complaining that they could not make ends meet? That was the original idea behind the logo and the old name of the web site i.e. Making the Pounds Meet the Ends.

The original Making the Pounds Meet the Ends course looked at how to increase income and decrease your spending so that you could make ends meet. When I was looking at updating this material to create a new membership site I had a download of inspiration. I suddenly realised that using the image of a bridge would be really useful. A simple bridge can be made up of two pillars with a walkway or road in-between them. Hold on a minute could a good personal financial plan involve building two pillars i.e. one by increasing income and one by controlling expenditure and then adding a span in-between them by developing a spending plan (or if you really must use that dreadful word, a budget).

The amazing thing about Pounds CAN Meet the Ends is that it started as a web site with a very different flavour and yet the logo and domain name are still appropriate. It was a way of expressing my need to minimise expenditure because I did not respect myself enough to allow myself to spend enough to be comfortable. One look at the original keywords would tell you that. These included “UK reduce cost of living” “domestic economy” “reduce expenditure” “frugal lifestyle” and “saving money” No mention at all of any way of improving the situation by increasing income as any thoughts about doing that were just not on my radar at that time. When it was revitalised into a blog I realised how much my attitude had changed. This is what led to the change in the title from Making the Pounds Meet the Ends to something more much positive i.e. Pounds CAN Meet the Ends.

 Look at that logo again. It has the two pillars i.e. money coming in and money going out. Yes the pounds are turned different ways but I cannot make my mind up which should represent income and which expenditure. Maybe one day I will set up a poll for you to decide that one. It also has the text like a span. That logo was designed for the original web site that floundered somewhat aimlessly. Once that concept of a bridge came to me I looked at the original logo and I could see that it would take very little adjusting to make it look alike a bridge. It had been designed so that the text in the middle took up all the space so it was moved so that it moved up a bit.

Would you like to develop a healthy relationship with money. Not punishing yourself and squeezing your spending until the pips squeak but maintaining a reasonable level of control. Looking for ethical and creative means of increasing your income rather than accepting that you can never make any improvements. Come and join me on my journey.

How many battles do you have with money?

What on earth do you mean a battle with money? Ever thought of money being a like a power that it it is nor controlled and used in the right way it will cause problems for you and those around you. In recent years I have have become aware of some of the battles that I have with money. Here are some of the ones that I have identified.

  1. Buying only what I need when you are surrounded by people and organizations who are trying to entice you to buy their product or service. Their challenge is to sell as much as possible. The challenge is to chose your purchases wisely no matter what the pressure that is put on you.
  2. What is an acceptable level of need? for example I will hardly every buy meat or bread at full price. It will be something that is on offer. Everything I buy is carefully chosen so that I get the most product for the money spent. I see something cheap and stock up on it whether it is kept in the cupboard, fridge or freezer. Being careful has become second nature. So much so that letting go of the tight purse strings is difficult.
  3. There are times when I do loosen the purse strings and spend a bit more I find myself struggling because I end up spending more than I have. I then clamp down hard to the point of punishing myself and keep my spending down to a level below what is needed to be comfortable. By comfortable I don't mean reckless. The problem is finding the balance between sensible control and self discipline that hurts.
  4. Another challenge I have had is receiving money. This was most obvious when I was a teenager living with my parents and when I was married. I developed an expectation that if I asked them for money the answer would be no, it is a waste of my hard-earned money letting you have something. I thought that their priorities meant that there were more important things to spend their money on. There were times when I and my then husband would spend the same amount of money a month. He would spend that money while at the pub and I would use what I had to make sure the three of us had food and clothes. Even he at the end of our marriage recognized that there were times when he had spent more than he should have done on beer etc than he should have done. These days people think that I live cheaply but in those days buying meat for a casserole was a luxury, these days it is normal. I did not realize it then but I have recognized it since that one of the big issues that make it hard to use money wisely is that it is linked to honour and value.
  5. These days I am trying to build up a business and the challenge relating to money has changed. i have been looking at many training programs or more accurately previews or launch information for such programs. Not only that there are many get rich quick schemes out there. Follow my system that I have proved works and you too can become a millionaire in a few months. Use the same system as I do and you will be able to have the free time to do what you want to do and you will not be chained to a workplace. You will be your own boss The problem has become what is ethically acceptable in terms of making money. So much of what passes for selling is really tapping into the greed of people. Now some of these people do have good systems for doing something that you can learn from but quite a number of them have different ethical values to me. They want to make as much money for themselves as possible rather than to make sure that the maximum number of people are helped to overcome a problem. There is nothing wrong with making a profit but fleecing either customers or employees is unacceptable.
  6. On the other hand there is an expectation within certain sectors of the community that everything they need will be provided free of charge. This is often because someone else has paid for it like the government subsidies which make it possible to run free business support workshops and free or cheaper college courses. Churches and charities are often the worst culprits in this respect.because they expect to get labour, products and services for little or no cost. Those who are used to be treated as recipients of charity such as those on low incomes or with a disability can easily develop this kind of expectation as well. If someone charged them a fair price for a product or service they would balk at paying them and look around for someone to do it for nothing. The battle here then becomes if you try and provide a service to that sector of the community you will struggle to persuade them to pay you. Quite a challenge if, like me, some or all of your target market is in that part of the community.
  7. Another challenge is the expectation is that anyone working for an organization where the idea of benefiting the community is stronger than the profit motive should be paid the minimum rates rather than the standard going rate for the job. If they are paid the same as someone in an equivalent organization would be there is an outcry at the money that cannot be spent to benefit the community. Lily the Pink Ministries is a Community Interest Company so it has a community benefit statement. Because of this structure there is pressure from some sources to make sure that I only ever take the absolute minimum amount from the business i.e. a basic survival income rather than a sensible or realistic salary. The CIC regulator would have something to say if the directors were given fat cat salaries but the question is not whether it is excessive but the going rate for the type of work undertaken.

I surprised myself when i realised how many battles that I have had with money over the years. I would guess that you have had your own battles with money. Are any of them the same as the ones I have had? Are any of them different? On the other hand do you even think that there is a battle with money? I would love to hear your views.