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Spend & Save

Donald MacInnes: Problems come home to roost as I didn't leave nest

In The Red

The preparations for our purchase of a house continue unabated. We have now spoken with an independent mortgage adviser, who was very pleasant and Norwegian, but told us (in that pleasant, mannered, ever-so-Scandinavian way) that we may not have enough capital behind us and should probably save up for a little longer. Like a couple of centuries. Either that or we could scale down our expectations of the kind of property we can afford. This led to a rather chilling Bank Holiday weekend financial caucus at our place. Tension levels were high. Well, I got tense. My wife maintained near-Nepalese calm throughout.

As a result, she took the lead, principally because I often regard the scrutiny of my finances similarly to how I feel when peering under a rock. (I don't examine the underside of many boulders, but it's a helpful analogy in describing my nervousness).

Not only am I scared of what I may find under said rock, but the fact that I am holding it steady with one hand while my other provides the fingers through which I gingerly regard the rows of numbers (for this, read "creepy crawlies"), means that we are never too far from disaster. Or a squashed foot.

This all stems from the financial dog's dinner which was my personal finances in the early years of my working life. I have covered said wilderness years a few times before in these pages, so the sheer horror of my fiscal ineptitude doesn't need repeating.

I suspect the reason for my inability to pay a credit card bill on time or set up anything resembling a direct debit may have had something to do with my being a late developer. Not that I was spoiled, you understand, but I stayed at home long after I should have. I was reasonably far into my 20s before I left home. Someone else (my Mum) handled the bills and so on. Someone else (my Mum) had to budget. I was, therefore, magnificently ignorant of life and its financial realities.

And while I am not urging our readers to turf out of the family home any offspring over the age of 18, I wish it had been done to me, as I might have learned a few valuable lessons earlier. Like when to ignore a lawyer's letter. (The answer, apparently, is… never).