I always remember what my father used to say to me when I was a teenager, he would say ‘You can’t go wrong if you invest in bricks and mortar’. He himself however hadn’t done the same thing but that was because my parents couldn’t afford to. They never purchased their own property though in later years they had the opportunity. They considered at that time it wasn’t worth it. As things turned out they were alright. They moved from Liverpool to Stratford-upon-Avon not long after I had married and had moved on myself. In fact I was the last of my siblings to leave the home of our parents. I was told later that they thought I would never leave! They were joking but I could tell their concern was for me to find a partner and settle down. Eventually I did that of course but only after a long time. The reasons are all explained in my pages section of this blog. One of my sisters had along with her husband at that time (for she has married four times) gave my parents a house to live in for as long as they wished. They, my sister and husband were financially well-off and had another house of their own. Today it can be difficult for anyone on an average income to purchase their own property because of the high deposit often required and the high repayments thereafter when taking out a mortgage. Many have lost their homes because they have been made redundant at work or have lost their jobs for other reasons and could not keep up the repayments. I guess I have been very fortunate having ended up with my own (jointly owned with my ex with whom I still live) property with the mortgage fully paid last year. We had financial support from my in-laws in the early years which helped us enormously. Not everyone is so fortunate, I am very aware of that and am grateful. Looking back I think we would still have been secure but with a smaller house than that which we now have. I had been very fortunate in not ever being out of work and in later years having worked for myself. Though owning a property doesn’t necessarily ensure security, nothing really does in the materialistic world, it does give a fair measure. It is nice to know we have somewhere to live in comfort and to call our own. I was wise to invest in bricks and mortar and I would encourage young people starting off in life to do the same if they possibly can.
I get frustrated with the many procedures we often have to endure when dealing with financial things. I say endure because of the inordinately long and drawn-out things we go through when the simpler way has not been possible. I write this on April 3 rd after a busy afternoon attempting to pay off my mortgage. Yes, E and I have finally been able to pay off the mortgage after almost thirty years. We had an endowment policy which should have paid off the account but fell short by £8000 when the mortgage term ended almost five years ago. E managed to get an extension by virtue of her disability and the policy deficiency was gradually reduced though I did have the necessary funds in the bank to have paid the full amount at the time. I had been out for a walk in the morning and whilst out E received the information that today the mortgage was to be paid off. We decided to go to my bank and arrange for a Bankers Draught to pay off the amount due.
We owed two separate amounts, one for the mortgage itself and the other for a loan we had secured many years ago. In total they amounted to almost £26,000. When we arrived at the bank they obviously required identification and my ability to access my account using my pin number. I had forgotten the pin number but it didn’t matter as I had an encrypted version of it and several others in writing. However when I checked it wouldn’t work! There was no way I could make the withdrawal so I arranged for another pin to be sent to me whilst we were there and we left. We walked across town to the branch of the bank who were, or rather one of their departments, the recipients of the mortgage payment. After chatting with the manager we were given the bank details of the mortgage department so we could complete the transfer on-line at home. That is when the fun started! Before driving home we decided to stop at a coffee-house and take a break. When we arrived back home I signed in to my bank and added the details of the two separate departments regarding the mortgage loan and the personal loan. E assisted me with this just in case of mistakes and to be honest it was just as well she did. We successfully set up the first recipient and the payment for the personal loan which was by far the lesser amount (around £1300) went through with ease. We then set up the second recipient and made the attempt to pay them but the bank intervened and asked we phone them. This we did but it took about twenty-five minutes just to get through and then we had to answer all sorts of security questions because of the amount we were paying out. I understood the necessity for all of that of course but even so it took ages. They sent codes to my mobile phone to verify it was me calling. Whilst speaking with the bank official we repeated the attempt to pay using her directions but again it was stopped. She suggested we transfer the money to one of the other accounts I have with their bank and attempt payment once more. After checking several times we had put in the correct details and after many security questions payment was finally made! It took almost an hour but half of that time was spent waiting for the phone call to be answered. The house can now be called our own after thirty years.
Life is full of surprises isn’t it? You would think by my age I would have seen it all by now but no like everyone else there is always something to surprise. Speaking of age and all that comes with growing old I can say I am becoming a victim, if that is the right word, of it. According to one theory we begin the downward slope of deterioration once we are beyond the age of twenty-one. Until that age we evidently continue to grow. Obviously twenty-one is only an approximation though I remember noticing small things happening to me at around about that age which would seem to support the theory. Physical ability and strength are usually the first things one notices which begin to deteriorate. We simply cannot do things as we once were able to. Oh yes we can do them though often more slowly or with less strength but as the years pass even that sometimes dwindles away to nothing. We begin to forget things as we age.
Though I still have an excellent long-term memory recent events sometimes elude me. I can remember events from forty, fifty, sixty years ago, even further back in some instances which were part of my life. Often though I forget events which are very recent, months, weeks, days and even hours ago disappear from my thoughts. I would guess I first noticed poor short-term memory loss around the age of sixty. An example would be my going upstairs either at home or in someone else’s house to collect something and upon getting there no remembering what it was I was collecting! I have a poor memory when it comes to people’s names though faces I do remember. Where I had seen the face is usually forgotten though. What has all this to do with a dining room? No, I haven’t forgotten…….honestly! I was up in my bedroom a few days ago searching for something to wear and inside the wardrobe I noticed a cardboard box on the shelf. That in itself isn’t unusual for I have many boxes and other things in my wardrobes besides clothing. Wanting to refresh my memory as to the boxes contents I removed it from the shelf and delved inside. I found amongst other things some small plastic bags which I thought E might find useful so I removed them. Whilst doing that I saw a plastic money bag of the type used in banks with something inside it. To my surprise it contained banknotes, two hundred and sixty pounds in twenties, tens and fives. I couldn’t remember when it was I put the bag there or why. There is a small purse in the same wardrobe in which I keep banknotes and it has a similar amount in it but I know what that money is for. This separate bag of money I must have placed there for a rainy day as the saying goes but I had forgotten about it completely. It must have been there for more than a year waiting for me to use. I took a trip to the bank and deposited most of it. With the remainder I took E out to lunch. That is where the dining room comes into the story. We drove into town and went to the plush Bold Hotel restaurant for our meal. https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g191255-d568615-i180703826-The_Bold_Hotel-Southport_Merseyside_England.html
More walking about on Monday….I could get used to this! I extended my usual walk of two to three miles and did five instead, something more like the distances I used to do a couple of years back. I used to regularly walk eight to ten miles then but I was younger and was working many hours each week then. For many years I went running, doing four miles each day and often eight or sixteen miles each week too but I gave up running about eighteen years ago. Actually running isn’t as good as it is made out to be and isn’t good for the joints and spine. Brisk walking is safer and just as good for the heart and general health as far as exercise is concerned. Running certainly builds up stamina though and is good for improving blood circulation. I always found it exhilarating and I could feel the beneficial effects of a long run for many hours afterward. A brisk walk has a similar though lesser effect. Anyway, I was nearly finished my walk and noticed something on top of a perimeter wall surrounding a nearby apartment block. It was a debit card. I examined it and found it to be a recent issue so not an old one someone might have discarded, if indeed anyone would discard such a thing by leaving it on a wall. It was issued by the Santander Bank to someone addressed as ‘Miss…’.
No doubt she would have been terrified at the thought of someone using it illegally and emptying her account in the process. People should be more careful with their credit and debit cards and indeed all their financial affairs. I took it home and showed it to E. and we agreed to take the journey into town immediately and hand it in to the branch of that bank, the only one in the district. Bank branches are getting thinner on the ground and soon there might not be any at all! Having done our good deed for the day I took E out-of-town to lunch. We spent the remainder of the afternoon out on the patio whilst the sun was still shining. Tuesday promised rain once more.
Was I going to get Friday (9th) all to myself? Well sort of. I managed a little bit of a lie-in for a change though even then I was up and dressed well before eight-thirty. I had no work so I decided I would walk into town and deposit some more cash at the bank before it started to burn a hole in my purse! I had just finished breakfast when someone called to ask if I could check why their shower wasn’t working. I was free so I agreed to drive there and sort out the problem. The drive took me to another town which doesn’t have a branch outlet of my bank so I would have to wait until I could drive back home before making my deposit. The fault with the shower lay in the ceiling pull-switch which had jammed open, an unrepairable internal fault meant it would need replacing. I carry several types of switches in my van stock so I was able to effect an immediate replacement and was soon driving back to my own town. I parked the van in the same road I always park in when I have to visit the town centre but only wish to walk part-way there. The bank uses machines for making deposits so I took out the bank notes and placed them into the receptacle for the machine to count and verify them but half were rejected as being unrecognisable! They were all twenty pound notes £500 worth. I walked over to the girl at the help desk and she tried them in another machine with success. I could have done the same thing myself but at the time no other machine was available and I had thought that maybe there was an actual problem with some of the notes and perhaps they were forgeries. It wasn’t my fault was it? It would be quite possible after all for my customers pay in cash (I won’t accept cheques) and who knows where they got them from? There are forgeries at large. Anyway all was put right and the deposit was made. Now I have known this ‘girl’ for quite a few years but actually she is a middle-aged woman. We took a little time to catch up with each other’s news. She told me she was dreading the introduction of tablets for the staff to use when assisting customers. We ended up chatting about technology and the way it is beginning to take over our lives. She and I are both of the same opinion it seems for we both hate it, technology that is. I mentioned ‘the sign of the end times’ when nobody would be able to purchase anything or conduct any business unless they had on them the mark of the beast (which is metaphorically 666). In other words if we haven’t fallen in line with the ‘system’ we will be outcasts. On the other hand God says that whoever has the mark of the beast upon them will be cast out of His presence too. People may not see the future but future has its beginnings in the present. She actually informed me that it is planned that access to banking facilities will one day all be carried out on a smart phone to which I replied, ‘What if you haven’t got or don’t want a smart phone’? Get my drift? We also chatted about Christmas and the hype that surrounds it nowadays. It is surprising what you can chat about in five minutes isn’t it? I had to let her get back to her work but not until she had provided me with the bank’s contact number for their special services. I had told her that I wasn’t impressed with the bank having closed their branch in my village for it meant an inconveniently long trek into town to make deposits. On my way back through town to collect my vehicle I walked through the high street church grounds as they are open to the public and was approached by a lady running the church stall outside the church building. She wanted to know if I had ever used their cáfe to which I replied I had. She wanted to press upon me a couple of tickets for free drinks but I refused them. She then mentioned something about Christmas but I told her that although I was a Christian too I didn’t celebrate it. She was taken a little aback at that while I continued to say that nothing that was on her display, Christmas tree, decorations, wreaths etc. had anything to do with Christ, it was all heathen symbolism. She didn’t have a reply as I bade her farewell. Maybe she (a sister in Christ) will have something to think about in the weeks ahead. When I returned home I phoned the number I was given in the bank and I was able to register to have the branch of the Post Office in my village receive deposits on behalf of my bank. They will send me a book of deposit slips which I will receive in due course. It will mean I will no longer have to walk all the way into town just to put money in the bank. After lunch I received two calls for my electrical services, one I took on board but the other I rejected as it would involve too much work. The one I took on was for another of my regular customers and I would do that work on Saturday morning. I wanted to accommodate them by working on a Saturday because they had a very busy schedule ahead of them. It would be nice to see them again anyway. After their call I drove off to the electrical supplier to purchase a few items and that about summed up the day.
A few weeks ago I received a letter from my motoring organisation, the AA, informing me that the bank details they had with which to pay my membership renewal were now invalid. This happens when a card has been replaced by my bank. I was to call them nearer to the date of renewal with my new card details. Around about the same time as I received that letter I received one from the Inland Revenue Service showing an estimate of revenue due for payment in January. I was pottering around the house on Monday morning with nothing to do so I phoned my local newspaper to make arrangements for cancelling my advertisement over the Christmas and New Year period as it would be pointless advertising during the holiday. I do this every year but somehow still get one or two jobs anyway. Not long after I received a call from a guy living in the next town asking if I could install some replacement light units. I jumped at the chance as I had no work scheduled until the following day. I was away from the house for about two hours and on my return I saw that E had left my post on the stand in the hallway. We place post there so that it can easily be seen. Obviously the postman had called whilst we were out. E had taken our neighbour to her hospital appointment as she is reluctant to drive herself because of the treatment she receives. E was already eating lunch as she had to go out again. I had the rest of the day to myself but first I made myself a snack. After lunch I opened the letter from the tax office, this time it was my statement showing the actual amount of tax due. A few clicks on the computer and I had the payment done. Then I noticed the letter from the AA where I had placed it to remind me to action it. Funny how we forget things isn’t it? I had forgotten but no doubt would have been reminded anyway as I had put the letter in a prominent position. I telephoned their office and gave them the new card details, the membership renewal date is mid January. I like to get things out-of-the-way as early as I can as I don’t like having debts hanging over my head. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my tax bill, it hadn’t been as much as I had first thought.
Nothing special to report by way of that surprise except that I received a request for my services on Friday morning when I had expected I would be having a day with nothing to do. It was one of several small jobs I have been offered lately just as I needed in order to rebuild my disposable funds. The work itself involved finishing work a builder/electrician had not completed having been asked many times to do so. This I have found happens quite a lot and I wonder why jobs are not properly completed promptly. No doubt the builder has started another project and now hasn’t the time to complete the first one. Personally I think that is a despicable practice. Anyway I did the work and was paid and better still it has led to other work at the same house.
The lady of the house was a teacher, is a teacher and an accomplished artist who teaches young children at a local school. She’d gotten the day off work and had decided to search for an electrician who would finally get the much-needed work completed. I was the fortunate person she chose having seen my advertisement as a local female electrician. She told me she was tired of waiting for male electricians to turn up! How nice for me. We got on very well and it was very pleasant working for her. She showed me several of her paintings and very impressive they were too. She told me she once displayed many paintings in galleries in London and Brighton, places where she used to live at one time. Many of the subjects were based upon famous sayings like ‘High hopes’, a picture of an ant carrying a leaf from an enormous rubber plant close by. Another picture showed two bare feet walking over a floor covered with egg shells and one of a woman with a head scarf inside of which were many bees. I’ll let you work those two out. There were others too. It had been a lovely sunny morning on Friday which was fortunate too as some of the work had been outdoors. It went cloudy during the afternoon but by then I was already back home relaxing.
Well Tuesday lived up to the forecast it was given, wet, windy and cooler, a typical Autumn day. The season begins in earnest but I’ve an inkling the weather won’t stay that way for already the weather people are saying it will get milder for a while. It makes no difference to me, unless I wish to work outdoors but even then it would depend on what I wanted to do. I had no work for the day but had to go out anyway to make deposits and donations and to buy fuel for the van. I had intended to slip in a little shopping but I changed my mind and left that for another day. When I got back home I spent some time on the computer shuffling money about between accounts and at the same time I logged in to my credit card provider account to see how much I had spent. As I have a direct debit set up to make the payment I have to ensure money is available in the relevant current account when the card provider wants paying. Usually the procedure is straightforward but on this occasion I made one error when filling in a piece of information on the log-in page and immediately my access was denied. Now I am all for on-line security, it is absolutely necessary in these evil times but I wasn’t given the opportunity to re-submit the details. I had to make a telephone call to arrange for the account to be unblocked. That took some time but it was a frustrating few minutes trying to understand what they wanted of me but I finally got there. I don’t know how they have the patience! In essence I was given a new customer number and I had to input a new password number and verify it though I had to use the telephone I was using to connect with them to do that. They think of everything when it comes to possible fraud. Once that was done I had to erase old signing-in information and save the new information on my automatic data input site account. All that for making one small error when signing in. It was lunchtime but before I could have lunch the house phone rang. The call was from an elderly lady I had worked for in the past and she was calling to ask if I would do a small job for her. I arranged to go in the afternoon and after lunch.
I don’t usually need an excuse to go for a walk, I like walking but on Tuesday I had no choice, I had to visit the bank in town. The bank is a mere one and a quarter miles or so from home and it was a pleasant and sunny day, just right for a walk. When I take my walks they are usually much further but this time I had a handbag with me, something I almost never take with me when out walking so it was a case of carrying out my business and then returning straight home. I could go for a longer walk after lunch. On Monday I received a cheque in the post for the grand sum of ten pounds! An organisation I subscribe to run a monthly draw and my number came up as a winner. The prizes range much higher than that, into the thousands but alas I missed out this time. Still ten pounds can buy a decent meal in many restaurants. My winnings could have been credited to my bank directly but that would mean my bank details if stored electronically might be vulnerable so they send out cheques instead. I had to visit the bank in any case as I had a few hundred pounds in bank notes which needed depositing too. I generally receive payments from my customers in cash and I wait a few weeks until I have a substantial amount to deposit. My bank now encourages the use of their machines to carry out deposits and of course withdrawals too. Unless other business which cannot be transacted using the machines needs to be conducted there is little reason to speak to staff. First I had to deposit the cheque but the machine wouldn’t accept it even after a couple of attempts so I made the cash deposits instead. I had to call for assistance to get the cheque processed. This time I was successful but I have no idea why. Maybe the machine was afraid of the staff! Banking this way is so impersonal I feel and one day in the future I know there will be no such thing as paying a visit to the bank, all transactions will be done at a machine which doesn’t necessarily need to be in a bank! If prophecy is true there will be no such thing as cheques or folding money in the future. Perish the thought I say but that’s the way we seem to be heading. It might seem like progress to some people but I am not one of them. The walk was nice though!
…………….and easy go. This has been the story of my finances these past few months, I earned the money and it was immediately spent on my domestic projects. I am happy to report that very little of my savings has been spent which is a good thing. I haven’t completely finished spending though. On Friday morning I had one electrical job amd after lunch I continued to finish the plastering I had begun a couple of days earlier. I had been repairing the damage to the ceiling and wall in one of the rooms at the top of the house which had been caused by the ingress of rain water through the roof. I found I needed some more plaster to finish the job so E and I went to buy the extra plaster but ended up buying other things too. E had wanted some bird seed and an extra feeder to hang beneath the bird table we had bought a week ago. We decided to buy a bedside table lamp for use in the small bedroom whilst we were in the spending mood. The money I had earned at the job I did in the morning covered the cost of everything we had purchased with some to spare. They had effectively cost me nothing. When we got back home I plugged in the lamp but I couldn’t see a switch on it with which to turn it on. I switched on the wall socket switch and the lamp didn’t work. It wasn’t faulty however, I hadn’t realised it was designed that way as it came on as soon as I touched it. I didn’t know it was touch-sensitive operated unit! We had bought the lamp because of its weight and its looks, its weight so that it would be less likely to be knocked off the table! I had plans to finish the plastering on Saturday or Monday depending on whether it was dry enough to skim it over. I am not a plasterer by any stretch of the imagination but I can say I am getting better at it and the work looks professional compared to my first attempt many years ago. I am not afraid to try new things and the only way to learn is to do it! That approach has saved me thousands of pounds over the years and has made me capable of doing many things in the process. Some tasks though I leave to those more capable. Well I can’t be good at all things!