A post in my reader today reminded me about keeping the books for the Ex Partner who had previously thrown all his receipts into a shoe box and presented them to a chosen accountant every year to sort out and calculate whatever tax was owed.
EP was not a very good money manager, liked his drink, and didn’t think too much about vehicle legalities such as road tax, car insurance or MOTs.
Therefore when I came along (gullible, smarting from a confidence-stripping divorce and a bit of cash in the bank), I was a gift from heaven to a single Dad with two kids to bring up.
We were together for almost 8 years, and in that time I made good relations with said accountant, garages, his friends and his family, including his ex-wife and hers!
I bought a proper ledger journal and recorded his income and expenditure, keeping the receipts for tools, household bills, work clothes and fuel etc in a concertina file, so the first time I met his accountant was with a set of accounts that needed to be checked rather than sorted and applied.
I got on really well with him, and we reached an agreement over his fees that I could settle over three months after paying whatever tax was due. In that first year, I reduced his bill by more than a third as I’d done most of the ground work, and the year following, it was less again. EP was obviously pleased as it gave him more beer money!
I was working part-time so had my own money, but I’d cover any shortfall especially when it came to clothes for the kids, and ran a couple of mail order catalogues which gave me another means of spreading payment over time rather than all in one go.
Making money stretch is one of my major talents, but I confess towards the end of our relationship, I was in a mess financially and he didn’t help much, any extra being spent on booze or weekends away with his mates while I stayed at home as the dutiful un-wife.
Even taking control of the purse strings hadn’t helped matters and just led to more resentment on his part as I restricted his spending money.
The day before I left, his car was off the road and I went to visit my mechanic friend armed with £50 of my hard-earned wages to get him ‘on the road’. I explained I was leaving and it would be down to EP to get the car through the MOT the following month, but there was no way I’d leave him without transport.
My friend was not surprised. Word had got around about my breakdown the previous year, and it appeared that most of the village knew I was leaving (mutual dart team colleagues, one of which I worked with) but no-one breathed a word to EP, so he had no idea until he came home to an ’empty house’.
The following month I had a bill for £48 I simply couldn’t pay. I was maxed out on all of my credit cards, overdrawn at the bank, and holding down two jobs trying to sort of my money problems. My bank manager knew what was going on but the solicitor I’d engaged was slack in her duty and we were losing thousands as properties devalued.
This particular bill was beyond me and I had sleepless nights about it as the last thing I wanted was to borrow from family. I was paying my SIL rent and used up my week in lieu for something else that had turned up unexpectedly, but at least I wasn’t behind with it.
I received a letter from my mechanic’s wife which not only made my day, but paid my bill!
Apparently EP had sent his new girlfriend (‘There’s no-one else I swear’) to collect the car and my friend had flatly refused to hand over the keys until the bill was paid.
Girlfriend was most put out, saying EP had an arrangement and would settle up over the next few weeks ‘as soon as he got paid’.
She was told that there was no arrangement between him and EP, the agreement had been between him and me, and so no cash, no car.
It did not go down well, and EP had to forfeit his weekend away to get his car back.
Enclosed in my letter was a cheque for £50 with a PS
By the way here’s your £50 back, we added it to his bill under previous work done on account but not yet paid for.
I have had some contact with his eldest son since I left (almost thirty years ago now).
A lot of things ‘left’ with me that day in March. I understand that relationships after me failed, after selling the house and settling up with the bank, paying legal fees on both sides and awarding me a lump sum, he didn’t have enough to meet his financial obligations with his last girlfriend/partner who took him to the cleaners over a failed business venture which she remortgaged her house to finance.
They say you never know what you had until it’s gone.
Not blowing my own trumpet, but in me he had an accountant of sorts, homemaker, child minder, housekeeper, chef, money manager/loan arranger and a liaison representative.
It was not all bad though, and I learned a lot about myself both during and after it ended.
Money matters are still a priority, especially now, but one of the important lessons I learned in those eight years was that no-one is worth getting into debt for.
I am lucky in that Hubby and I think alike on that score.
If we can’t afford it, we don’t have it. Simple as that.