Financial Abuse

Today I’m going to write a topic that is very close to my heart. As a health professional, I have unfortunately witnessed this awful phenomenon on more occasions than I care to remember. Often within situations that would appear quite normal to an outsider – between apparently loving husbands and wives, or between families and an elderly relative. There are of course many more circumstances where financial abuse can occur.

I’m prompted to write this post today, after reading a post from a large and well-known US blog (popular within the frugal and money-saving community). The author basically promotes the idea of financial abuse within a relationship, as if it is the healthy and loving thing to do. Let me be clear right now – if you have to ask or have a discussion with your partner before you can buy something as insignificant as a kitchen spatula, then you are a victim of financial abuse.

Financial abuse is a discrete form of coercive control (a pattern of controlling behaviour which can be threatening or restrictive). It is considered to be a form of domestic abuse and as such, is incredibly serious. It involves the use or mis-use of finances, so as to limit a person’s current or future actions and freedom of choice. In the USA, they have identified 3 distinct components to financial abuse under the ‘Economic Abuse Scale’:

  1. Economic control – i.e. monitoring of resources
  2. Employment sabotage i.e. stopping someone working, making them work for free
  3. Economic exploitation i.e. use of money, generation of debts

Despite the many preconceptions, any person, of any gender and income level can be affected, even higher incomes and socio-economic groups. Financial abuse not only comprises of control of money, but also exploitation of income and time, and possibly sabotage of efforts to gain or maintain paid employment. Financial abuse is often accompanied by other forms of controlling behaviours or types of abuse – such as, emotional abuse.

To all intents and purposes from the outside, it may appear as though the finances are being addressed quite normally. But there are often very subtle cues to be picked up on. Such as; someone having to ask their other half before they can make any purchase, or perhaps an elderly person claiming that a family member just takes care of everything for them. This subtle blurring may not be obvious to the victim, particularly at the time. If the victim is living with the abuser, they may find it impossible to leave without means to do so.

In the blog I am referring to, I have noted the following characteristics over time;

  1. Being required to ask the partner before any purchase is made, however insignificant
  2. Reluctance to spend money on things like eating out, drinks out or anything new and having to justify every purchase – no matter how big or small
  3. Being given an allowance for household spending and having to document every aspect of this spending (control tactics)
  4. Not being able to buy new clothes
  5. Then spending large amounts of money and bragging about it to other people
  6. Moving to a remote location, so that one partner has a restricted ability to earn
  7. Money is the mood – everything revolves around money, it underlies everything, every conversation, every decision
  8. Being prepared to spend money initially in the relationship, but then holding back more and more as the years progressed

In the UK this type of behaviour is now recognised as a potential criminal offence and it is crucial if you recognise the signs, within your own relationship or someone else’s that you report it to the police or social services (it would fall under the protection of a vulnerable adult legislation). Financial abuse strips a person of their sense of self, and their personal liberty or freedom. It also commonly occurs with other types of abuse (in over 90% of cases), so it is very important that if you notice the signs – you mention it.

However financial abuse can be very difficult to spot sometimes, or to pinpoint when it started. Then over time, it so invades the relationship that one could be fooled into thinking that behaviour is normal. There are just tiny signs that tip over from normality to abuse. I can speak from experience to say that it can be incredibly hard to bring up with a friend, for this reason – be prepared for them to deny any problem.

References

Unequal, trapped and Controlled. Women’s Refuge. Available from: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/financial-abuse-report/ (Accessed: 12/02/18).

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Get 300 bonus points when you sign up for Swagbucks in February!

 

All throughout February you can earn large bonuses when sign up as my referral on Swagbucks. Swagbucks is a rewards site where you earn points (called SB) for things you’re probably doing online already, like searching, watching videos, discovering deals, and taking surveys. Then you take those points and exchange them for gift cards to places like Amazon, Starbucks, or PayPal cash.

When you sign up through me this month, you can earn a 300 SB bonus! Here’s how:

1. Sign up using this link

2. Earn 300 SB total before 01/03/18. You’ll get a 300 SB bonus for it!

3. That’s it. It’s super easy, and Swagbucks is for real. I use it myself, and I’ve earned thousands of pounds to date. Most recently Swagbucks has allowed me to purchase hundreds of pounds worth of baby items, brand new from John Lewis- FOR FREE! Including this car seat.

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Swagbucks – The First Swago: Shopping Edition of 2018!

Online rewards site Swagbucks has a smart and fun way for you to earn and save while you spend.  Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago!

What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards.

If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly. Click here to get started!

Here’s what you need to know to get your 50 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):

  1. Click here to go directly to the Swago Page! If you’re not a member yet, you can join here – it takes 30 seconds. Make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  2. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change colour signifying the action item is complete.
  3. You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely. Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value.
  4. Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely. There’s absolutely no reason for anyone not to get the complete board with this one! So comment below for help, if you’re having any difficulties.
  5. The game ends Friday 26th January at 8pm GMT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

How to make gift cards work hard for you

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So, what do you do with all these gift cards you’ve been earning on Swagbucks or given for Christmas? Today I’m here to explain how to make them work harder for you. It’s tempting to hit the sales with them immediately after Christmas and before New Year, when the shops are pushing the fact that they have a sale big time. And whilst, if you really want a certain thing (especially something that’s bound to be popular) and want to be sure you don’t miss out, then that’s a good idea. Generally, it’s not – by this point in January most retailers are getting desperate to shift their old stock. We all know from the news, that retailers in the UK are generally having a very tough time out there and so, most of them have shed loads of stuff still left to shift.

By waiting until this point, and picking your day – you can hit retailers when they mark things down to 70%-75% off (or greater if you’re prepared to wait another week or so). This is when stuff becomes as cheap, or cheaper than buying it second hand in charity shops. So, take that stash of gift cards and hit the shops (but only if there’s stuff you really want or need).

Marks and Spencer went to 70% off in-store and online yesterday. I shopped both methods and found that the discounts were greater (nearer 80% in store, where they have shed loads of stock) and slightly less online (usually differing by between £1-£2). Mothercare have gone down to 75% off. Debenhams and H&M are at 70% off. You get the gist of it, most retailers will be dropping their prices now, on the stock that’s left. Just be aware that you have more rights when purchasing online, as they still have to give you 14 days to change your mind, under the distance selling regulations. Whereas, if you buy these items in-store – you’ll likely be told they’re non-returnable (unless faulty). This is certainly the case in M&S. So try things on, if they’re clothing or take the sizes you need with you, or a tape measure!

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Swagbucks – January Swago with Spin & Win!

The digital rewards site Swagbucks is offering big payouts during their January “Swago” promotion starting Monday, January 8th at 9am PT and running until Monday, January 15th!

Swago is just like bingo, but in this case you’re filling out squares as you earn points on their site for doing things you already do online. If you’re thinking of trying Swagbucks, this is a great chance to learn all about how the site works and earn bonus points while doing it, meaning you can get more gift cards faster.

Here are a few tips:

  1. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. They can be anything from getting a search win, completing a survey, or just visiting one of our popular stores!
  2. Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change color signifying the action item is complete.
  3. You have until 8pm GMT on Monday 15th January to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  4. Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern, the corresponding “Submit” button will light up. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  5. Each activity you successfully complete on your Swago Board will give you anywhere from 1-20 spins on the Spin & Win Wheel. PLUS, when you submit your board for a bonus you’ll get additional spins. The number of spins will depend on the pattern you complete. The wheel has all sorts of great prizes that you can win, and each spin is a winner!
  6. The Spin & Win Wheel will be available all throughout Swago and you have until 7:59pm GMT on Monday 15th January to use all your spins.
  7. Fill up your board and then submit your pattern to get even more points – if you can fill in the whole board, you get a 500 SB bonus!
  8. Click here right now and click “Join” to get started! If you don’t already have a Swagbucks account, you’ll be able to quickly sign up.

Things that have gone – 18!

Since my last decluttering post in September, I have let another 31 items go! I had some motivation, as we are expecting a baby and I just cannot keep so many clothing or personal items. I need to clear an entire room for another person!

I’ve let virtually all of my vintage clothing stash go and cleared an entire clothes rail. Alongside this, I’ve let go of other clothing items, craft items, make-up and the odd book or DVD.

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It’s probably not going to make the most exciting blog post if I list it all one-by-one. But, I’ve added another £569.14 back in the bank account. Bringing my overall total from decluttering in the last year to: £2377.17. Is there anything you could be turning out? I honestly don’t miss a thing!

Swagbucks Swago: Holiday Shopping Edition is Back!

The holidays are close and the online rewards site Swagbucks has a smart and fun way for you to earn and save while you spend.

Swagbucks is hosting another round of Shopping Swago! What is SWAGO you ask? It’s a bingo-inspired promotion run by Swagbucks, a website that rewards you with points (called SB) for completing everyday online activities. You can redeem those SB for free gift cards. If you’ve never used Swagbucks, participating in SWAGO is a great introduction to the site and an easy way to earn a good amount of points quickly. Click here to get started!

Here’s what you need to know to get your 50 SB Bonus (and don’t worry, you don’t have to make a purchase to complete a pattern):

  1. Shop Swago will begin on Monday, December 20th at 9am PT/12pm ET, make sure you hit “Join” otherwise you won’t get credit for completing the action items.
  2. Each square on your Swago Board will contain an action item to complete. Once you complete the action item in a particular square the square will change colour signifying the action item is complete.
  3. You have a limited amount of time to mark off as many squares as possible so use your time wisely.
  4. Be mindful of the patterns and their corresponding bonuses located on the right of your Swago Board. The patterns will vary in difficulty and bonus value. Once you’ve achieved a pattern the corresponding “Submit” button will light up.
  5. You can have multiple patterns available for submission, however, you can only submit ONE pattern so choose wisely.
  6. The game ends on Friday 22nd December at 8pm GMT. So make sure to hit “Submit” on the pattern you wish to submit. If you don’t hit “Submit” before the game ends you won’t receive your SB bonus.

I’ve just used Swagbucks to pay for all my Christmas presents for my extended family. It’s such a relief not to have to worry about that additional cost at this time of year. I’ve chosen to send the gift cards on to them, so they can choose something that they would like. That also means there’s no shipping, as my extended family don’t live in the same country as me. I’ve even some left to treat myself! I know it might be too late for you to do the same this year, but why not make an early New Year’s Resolution – you won’t regret it!