Free Advice: How To Keep A (Mortgaged) Roof Over Your Head

I heard this story a few weeks ago and was somewhat taken aback, I must confess. I was shocked at my own reaction both for and against its content and intention. The state-owned bank charged with recovering the Government’s £48billion investment in Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock has identified around 30,000 borrowers who could get into financial difficulty when interest rates rise from current historic lows of 0.5%.

This organisation known as UK Asset Resolution (UKAR) will telephone around 2,000 customers a week over the coming months and advise them on how best to manage their finances in order that they may keep a roof over their head, the one that they own that is.   They want to ensure that borrowers have enough money to pay off their mortgages rather than spend their disposable incomes on “lifestyle or luxury items”.

So far so good and sensible. I find myself agreeing and shouting “hear, hear” and “too right!” at the radio when I hear some talking head saying that borrowers should forego the pleasures of the latest iphone and Sky TV and prioritising paying their mortgages. I find I get all old-fashioned and virtuous at that news.

And then I find myself thinking “Cripes! I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those busybody phone calls” with some UKAR representative telling me what I could and couldn’t spend my money on. I mean one woman’s lifestyle/luxury item, is another woman’s necessity.

Hypocrite! Moi?

They swear this won’t be a Big Brother thing, but really – dream on! It will feel like the nagging parent telling you how to spend your hard-earned pocket money, won’t it? And yet, they’re right, this is taxpayers’ dosh they are seeking to support us in repaying. I do have a handful of mortgages with Bradford & Bingley myself under their Mortgage Express brand, so I suppose I might expect my phone call and stand by to justify my spending choices. Dearie me. I know I won’t like that at all, although I think it’s entirely right that you should receive such a call to protect my dosh invested in both the lenders, you understand I’m sure?

Ha! I’m making myself laugh now at the ridiculousness of being both the biter and the one who is bit, as my Mother would have said.

Is this what’s known as being a NIMBY? Not in my back yard! You can build those houses/prisons/recycling depots/detention centres depots wherever you like and God knows we need them, just as long as I don’t have to live next door to them.  I want you chased by UKAR about your iphone and SkyTV but I don’t want their gratuitous advice myself, thanks very much. And I fear I might tell them precisely where to stick it.

Your decision to have Sky TV and an iphone and my rather lofty decision not to have either means – frankly – that you deserve your call from UKAR. But my month in the Caribbean is my own business.  As people say (jokingly?) when they get married, what’s yours is mine but what’s mine’s my own.

OK, hands up. I admit I’m sitting on both sides of this fence and that’s a particularly uncomfortable place to be sitting, astride the barbed wire, hoist on one’s own upmyself-ness, judging you for your spending habits and rebelling against Big Brother advising me on mine.  Nosy phone calls from UKAR, non merci!

Not easy this being a human being thing, is it?

Your Biz Your Way

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