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).

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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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!

Shop Around for Insurance!

I’ve written before about shopping around for insurance, and it’s that time of year for me again. There’s a part of me that hates it, well it is a bit of a chore. But the other part of me relishes the opportunity to save money! (Of course! Ha).

This year I couldn’t actually find any cheaper quotes for car insurance, but that didn’t stop me ringing up my current insurer and asking whether or not there would be any movement on my renewal price. I already knew their quote was £50 cheaper than anyone else, but they knocked a further £35 off! It just shows if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

So this is just a short post to encourage you to always ask for a better deal.

Upcycling a Child’s Table to Make a Board Game Table

We’re big board game fans in this house and we regularly have friends over for ‘Games Night’. We’re all feeling our age and finding it a bit hard going to sit on the floor for hours. Our dining room table is quite small, as there’s just the two of us normally and it gets used for food on these nights. So we’d been keeping an eye out in all the usual places for a suitable ‘games table’. My idea had been that we would acquire one of those retro card tables from the 1950s or earlier, which have a felt top and often fold out. However, as they’re mostly designed for Bridge – they tend to be quite small. All of the ones we saw were also in poor condition or had very high asking prices! We also looked in charity shops for some kind of gate leg table, but as minimalists – it would be a big decision to bring another large item of furniture into the house. They also require chairs and we really wanted something more like a coffee table height, so people could either remain in armchairs (or sit on the floor – more on an answer to that later).

I spotted this child’s play table in a charity shop locally and knew instantly it was a great find. I described it to my other half, but he was unconvinced (mostly because I’d shown him so many unsuitable items on eBay! lol) They were also asking £25 for it, which seemed quite steep to us. Still, he dutifully agreed to come and look at that weekend.Well guess what – the shop was closed! We then got tied up with well, life and totally forgot to go back until we were passing about a week later. Helpfully the table was still there and they’d reduced all furniture to half price, to try and clear some space in the shop. We expressed an interest in the table and asked if we would pull it out, to fully check the condition of it. The manager said we could have it for a tenner! (She obviously wanted rid of it).

It turns out that this little beauty is made of solid wood and retails for about £150 when new. You can also be lucky enough to pick up second-hand ones on eBay for around a tenner too, if you look at the right time. The legs come right off, so we can fold it down and tuck it out of sight, when not needed. The top was a little scratched and we didn’t love the green colour. So we decided to send it a little upmarket, with its own blue felt top which has the added advantage of stopping the board games from sliding all over the place. You can see in the photos above, that we are part way through our little renovation/ upcycling job. The felt cost under £3 from my local fabric shop and we already had the all purpose glue at home, from other craft projects.

My other half announced that some bean bag cushions would mean we could all sit comfortably, at the right height. You could easily pay £15-£25 each for these in the shops and I have an abundance of leftover material from other projects. So I picked out some that matched our lounge curtains, some heavyweight corduroy that I picked up in a charity shop for a song and another piece leftover from some bedroom curtains. I purchased 6 zips, at a cost of 64p each and 2 bags of beans at £6.50 each. Perhaps I will do a tutorial soon, but for now here is a picture of 2 of the cushions I have made. They take a couple of hours each, but the savings are evident.

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And lo, we are the proud owners of a custom games set-up, all for the princely sum of £20. Can’t be bad eh?

UK Shoppers Spend One Billion Pounds Less on Clothing

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Minimalism is hitting the UK, with Millennials spending in excess of One Billion Pounds less on clothing last year. With firms such as M&S, French Connection failing to turn a profit and High Street stalwart Jaegar going into administration – it really seems that the tide is beginning to turn. Fashion is just not in fashion any longer!

So what exactly are UK shoppers spending their money on instead? The answer is experiences. The High Street chains are now getting in on the act aiming to flood you with a choice of ‘shopping experiences’; with nail bars popping up in Superdrug. Mintel reports that people are spending much more money on going out and eating out. Retailers are looking for ways to encourage people to come into their physical stores, since the explosion of online shopping. Each is looking to create a unique shopping environment, to encourage you to part with your cash.

Next are planning to incorporate florists within their stores, along with upmarket restaurants and a Prosecco Bar. River Island has a style studio, complete with a personal shopper. They will whisk you into a VIP area, ply you with Prosecco and then you’ll get to try on lots of personally recommended products. Trainer retailer Superga has introduced artists into store, so that you can select a trainer and have the artist paint it for you. Topshop have employed virtual reality in their stores, to take things to a whole new dimension. Their Oxford Street store has recently had a virtual water slide installed which includes a virtual whale – the experience is called ‘Splash’! Along with pumping the smell of suncream into the air. It’s all to promote their swimwear range.

Oasis have ‘Saucer and Spritz’ cafes in some stores now; offering cake, champagne, cocktails, afternoon tea and Unicorn Toast (no I don’t know what that is either!?!) Activewear brand Sweaty Betty offers free in-store exercise classes. Beware though – obviously these brands still want to actually sell you stuff. These exercise classes will not only take place in-store, so everywhere you look, you will be exposed to temptation. But the instructors will not only be looking svelte and toned; they will of course be clad from head to toe in Sweaty Betty! These are the new lifestyle ambassadors, also put forward through online associations with lifestyle bloggers. All in a bid to help push their stuff.

What do you think of this change? I have mixed feelings about it because I know there is an underlying motive. However, it does at least encourage people to acquire less (in part anyway, depending on the store). I guess I’d just rather see people using their spare cash to more profitable ends, like building community and helping those in need.

Things that have gone this week – 12 & 13

I’m late again in posting, as I have slowed down the pace of my decluttering. Partly due to the temperatures in excess of 30 degrees Celsius – it’s just too hot to do anything much!

I have managed to sell one item on eBay each week, both blouses. The only other thing that’s gone is a tonne of weeds from the garden! Hence my lack of blogging, I’ve been trying to get outside more and enjoy summer.

  1. Vintage Laura Ashley silk blouse
  2. M&S pink cotton blouse

Stay tuned, as I aim to be posting more!