Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Storms, Gas Bottles and Control....

...this photo was taken at 7.00am today through my sitting room window.  It's a miserable wet day.  We've had storms over the past week...the worst I've known.  Gale force winds forced the rain through every tiny gap in walls and windows, resulting in a very wet carpet and damp walls.  A couple of days of dry weather enabled us to open all the windows to dry it out, but now it's started up again and looks set to stay for several days.

I'm very careful now to  make sure everything electrical is disconnected at the first sign of a storm...particularly the modem!  I don't use the electric shower when there's a storm (you may recall the shock I received last summer).  I have always had it somewhere in the back of my mind that I should be careful with the gas bottles that are used here.  We only have one which is connected to the hob on the cooker (the oven is electric).  But sometimes one just forgets the dangers.  If there was any proper health and safety legislation in this country, their inspectors would have a field day.  Maybe that's why there is no control over the dangers in the home...they wouldn't know where to begin.

Yesterday I put the kettle on the gas hob to make a coffee and went off to use the bathroom.  When I returned, there was no flame under the kettle.  Instead of checking to see whether the gas was on, I just didn't think and pressed the ignition switch....whooosh...bang...flames!  Fortunately I jumped back and no harm was done...but it made me stop and think...it was certainly a wake-up call.  I will be much more careful in future.

Control...hmmm...when did I lose control over my life?  I can't really pinpoint the time...it's kind of crept up gradually.   It's all about money of course...or rather lack of it.  Money's not everything in life but it gives you choices...it gives you control.  We have no money...we have no control...and we have huge debts.

I've had  my credit card for years...going back to the time when I was in full-time employment in England.  For most of the time there, and here, I've used it for things like booking flights and paid in full on statement every month.  We've had a difficult few years financially, so I've used the card more than I should, and the closer I got to the credit limit, the more the company increased it.  Do they ever check your incomings before doing this?  I think not, or they would know that it's not wise to keep increasing it.  OK I've never missed a monthly payment, but my credit limit stands at 9,900 pounds, and I have now reached this limit.   I have a  very small pension (minute in fact) which now only just covers the minimum monthly payment on the card.  Oh the interest charged is so high I can't bare to think about it.   And at this rate I won't finish paying it off until I'm about 135 years old.

I haven't been extravagant.  Those of you who follow me regularly know that I don't waste money...quite the opposite.  But we have had to live, and the card has only been used out of necessity.

You know we live in this house which FIL "gave" us.  We live in it, but it's not ours.  FIL's name is still on the deeds.  He mentioned last year about being willing to sign the house over to us.  It comes with a piece of land on the outskirts of the village where he has planted fruit and nut trees.  This started out for him as a hobby.  But Ankara is so far away that he only comes to tend the land twice a year for a week or two at a time.  The rest of the time, FIL pays a man in the village to look after the land.  I asked Mr A why FIL could not just pay Mr A to look after the land.  At least we would have some money coming in.  Mr A replied that this had already been discussed and that FIL would expect him to do it for nothing because he's family.  OK I think this is fair enough...but Mr A can't do this if he is either working, or looking for work.

Mr A spoke to FIL recently, and asked if the land could be sold, to pay off my credit card debt, and so enable us to free up my pension, which would support us through the winter months.  But he has flatly refused.  No explanation, other than to say he doesn't want to sell anything.   FIL also "gave" houses to Mr A's brother and to his sister (again the deeds are still in FIL's name).   Apparently, because his sister and her husband are doctors and are now earning good money, FIL is about to take the house back from them.  Again, I can see the fairness of this up to a point...they should stand on their own feet, and they can afford to.
But...it's all about control isn't it?   FIL has ALL the control over his family, and will continue to do so until the day he dies.

FIL and MIL will be here in a couple of weeks time.   He will as usual criticise everything....the state of the garden, the dogs hairs, my cooking, the cheap food that we are forced to buy that doesn't suit his expensive taste buds.  He may find it difficult to criticise the food on this occasion however, as the cupboard and fridge are bare.  I should be thankful for small mercies!

I could do with a lottery win...difficult to achieve when I can't even find the money to buy a ticket.  I'm not greedy, just 10,000 pounds to settle my debts would help.   Although a larger win would be acceptable, if only to be able to either buy the house from FIL ...or tell him to stick it.   But mainly it would give me back control of my life again....something I am desperately in need of.

18 comments:

  1. Ayak, call the bank and ask them to reduce the interest rate. Usually they will - especially if you tell them you're going to switch cards and roll your debt over to another bank with a lower rate. They want to keep your business - but most people don't know to fight back so they take advantage. Fight for a lower rate and hopefully they will grant you one. It makes a huge difference. Sorry to hear about all your troubles. I hopeyou win the lottery! And I hope I do too! We can then meet somewhere warm and fancy for champagne!

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  2. I always wish I could do something to help. If you ever fancy a move and want to look after my house in Turkey for me I would gladly pay you what I pay the agency. I know you would be able to live on what I pay them. I hope the weather improves, that always has a negative effect on mood doesn't it? Sending you much love xxxx

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  3. 'Cross the Pond: Thanks for the advice. I've just sent off an email to the bank requesting a reduction in interest rate. Of course I wouldn't actually be able to switch to a different card anyway because of my limited pension, so even if the answer from my bank is no, I am unfortunately stuck with them. It seems that they keep increasing the credit limit over the years without actually checking that my earnings are more than sufficient to cover it. It's a trap which it's easy to fall into. Anyway..the email's gone...it's worth a try.

    And here's to the champagne to celebrate a lottery win :-)

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  4. auntiegwen: I wish too that we lived closer to your house...I know it would be beneficial to both of us. Unfortunately we are stuck here for now! But thankyou..the offer is appreciated. Oh yes the weather makes it all worse doesn't it? The sun has just appeared from behind the greyness...and already I feel a bit better xxx

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  5. Sending love and hugs I know thats not quite the same as a lottery win lol xx

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  6. I do feel for you as I know the experience of not knowing where to turn when your finances are not great. You are right when you say that you seem to lose control over everything.

    I understand that you are visiting the UK soon. It may be worth making an appointment at a Citizens Advice Bureau for when you visit and discussing the problem with them.

    They will have come across similar problems many times and will be able to guide you in the right direction

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  7. Bomb: It's appreciated nevertheless..thankyou xxx

    Jack: Yes I think I will do that...thankyou xx

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  8. I wish I could do something practical to help.

    Lack of money is such a curse...and so is having to live in the sticks where neither of you can really exercise your talents and thus get out of the money trap.

    Blast it all.

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  9. I lost my eyebrows and fringe in a similar situation on a Brownie Pack Holiday once! What happens if you just dont pay the debt back? Not suggesting you shouldn't, I just wondered what would happen if you didn't.

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  10. Fly: You're right...our present location doesn't help matters.

    Kelloggsville: I don't really know what would happen. I do know of people who have moved abroad and left debts behind...I guess they just get away with it. It's not something I could ever consider doing. I'm too honest for my own good sometimes. I couldn't cope with feeling like I had to live the rest of my life looking over my shoulder! I'm not good at dealing with guilt.

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  11. I'm thinking of you Ayak, even though I can't think of anything constructive to help.

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  12. me: Thankyou...it's appreciated xxx

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  13. I do sympathise, Ayak, as one of my nieces had the same problem of her credit limit being increased beyond what she could possibly repay on her income. It's an iniquitious practice, intended, I'm sure, to trap people in a vicious payment circle of sky-high interest charges. I do hope your email bears fruit.

    On a happier note I just love your blog!

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  14. Hi P in T, and welcome. Unfortunately the response to my email was not favourable. They refuse to offer a reduced rate. I did write back reminding them that they are currently offering exceptionally good deals for new customers and it would be nice if they could consider doing something for their longstanding customers such as me...having been with them for more than 25 years! I won't hold my breath though.

    I'm glad you like my blog...thanks for taking the time to read and comment xx

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  15. Linda, I was so sad to read your post. Lack of money definitely does lead to lack of control.

    I had a debt from the Uk and it got to the stage where I just said enough. I can not afford to pay this debt and live. One has to stop.I stopped paying the debt.

    The bank sold the debt out to another company and they threatened me. I simply told them I had turned my back on the Uk so any threats were empty. They then said they were coming to Turkey, I said fine I am waiting for you. They never came, and it went to court. I did not appear but received notification that I had been blacklisted.

    Depends on whether you still have a life in the UK. If you don't then just walk away from the debt. Email me if you want to talk further.

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  16. Natalie: Thankyou for your honesty. I think it takes courage to do what you did...but in my case I do still have to visit the UK because I have children and grandchildren there, and I couldn't continue to do so if I took the same steps you did. I am going to take further advice on this problem when I'm in England in April. I really need to do something about it.
    Thankyou xxx

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  17. I just though of something else - can you sign up for a new card and use the lower interest rate (they usually give you one for the first few months) on it - transfer everything from the old card to the new with one of those credit card cheques.
    And gosh, I hope your in laws are easier on you this time around. Do they speak English with you at all or expect you to speak Turkish the entire time?

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  18. Deniz. Unfortunately that's not possible. The reason I have such a high credit limit is because I have had the card for many years, since I was in full-time employment. Now I only have a small pension, so no other card provider would take on the debt or issue me with a card!
    FIL speaks English, but MIL doesn't, so the conversation tends to be a mix of the two!

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