You might want to grab yourself a coffee…
Around 8-9 years ago, my wife (then girlfriend) and I moved out of my mum’s 2-bedroom council house into our very own 1-bedroom council flat. Like everyone else, we had to go on the waiting list and bid for flats/houses. We were expecting to find a place in between 1-2 years, but my mum thought it would take a lot longer.
We were very fortunate because we found a one bedroom flat just 6 months after being on the list. It was a block of flats converted from an old people’s home. Half of these flats were offered to locals of Looe, while the other half were offered to those outside. We were fortunate to be offered a flat, and we were ecstatic. Without a moments notice, we accepted and then began proceedings to move in.
Once moved in, we were overjoyed, we had our very own place together. Then the bills started rolling in and at the time, it was just my wife who was working. I was still going to college to finish my higher national diploma. She would read these letters and start booing her eyes out. My mum would come over and explain how we manage bills. Due to me not working at the time, and looking for a job, we had to go on benefits.
A council house and on benefits? Typical...
I hear you tutting at those words, but we were in need and it’s also the worst feeling. EVER. I went on job seekers until I could find a job and we had to photo copy every wage slip my wife had and all future slips. Thankfully after a few long hard months (at least) I managed to get a job in Spar with my wife.
This was amazing, but we still needed to be on benefits because of the lack of work and wages. This would carry on for a few years and we tried to handle the situation as best we could. There were times where we managed to pick up enough hours to not be on benefits, and there were other times when we needed it. After so much struggling, we thought that benefits were just such a pain, we would try to survive without it.
Stopping benefits and struggling on
We then stopped our benefits and carried on. Again, some weeks went extremely well, and other weeks were bad. I ended up getting a 0% interest credit card from Barclays with £500 limit to build my credit rating up. It was meant to be only for emergencies and only for small purchases. However, this didn’t last long at all. We started using it in emergencies, but we couldn’t pay it off in one go after the next month rolled over. I thought we were safe, because it was 0%, but that doesn’t last forever.
In the meantime, I was trying to find freelance clients to build websites for, but everyone wanted something for nothing. I offered sites for £300 which is nothing compared to most freelancers/agencies who charge anything from £1,000. People thought I was too expensive and would never get back to me.
I had one client who wanted a site where you could rent out wedding equipment which could be used over again. It was going well with a hiccup or two until he decided to no longer get in contact with me. I’m not sure what happened, but hey ho. Then I had a client who had a struggling business. She wanted me to make a website for her for nothing until she made money and I agreed. I thought that once she started making money, she could pay me back. This didn’t go well as she couldn’t keep her business going and had to close. I then got nothing for all the work I did. A shame, but it was a lesson learned.
Applying for web dev jobs
Then it was time for me to apply for web dev jobs. I applied for everything, left right and centre. Until I managed to pick up my first ever job in web dev. It was in Bodmin, and I was super happy with getting this job. It was a junior salary which is perfectly fine for me being a junior. However, 2 weeks down the line, I was struggling, and I received very little help. It turns out they wanted a mid to senior level developer at a junior salary. In my third week, they took me to one side and had to let me go.
This was a huge blow to my confidence, but I wouldn’t let it get to me. I stayed strong and kept pushing. Thankfully my old employer let me have my job back and I carried on going until I could find something else. I applied for every single job I could find right up to Plymouth. I kept getting turned down due to those with more experience, a slight hit, but not the end of the world.
Where can I go from here?
If I’m not experienced enough, then maybe I needed to try something else. How about an apprenticeship? I could get business experience while studying something I already knew a lot about. This could be the way to go, so I applied for a company near Exmouth in Devon. After a few weeks, they got back to me and I went for my interview. They were happy to employ me and said I could start before my apprenticeship started. Not wanting to waste any time, I accepted and started 6 months before my official start.
Here’s the kicker though, the wages were at apprenticeship wages (under minimum wage) and it was under a freelance contract which is how they could get away with the low wages. Also, I needed to move away from my wife into my friend’s Houseshare and find ways to pay for myself and my flat expenses. It was hard, stressful and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, at all.
My wife would wonder why I’m going out when I feel like I’ve earnt it. She would be at home, alone and struggling to keep herself going. It was the worst 5 months of our lives, but somehow, we came out of the other side and we moved to Newton Abbot. Newton Abbot was half an hour from my workplace which made things a lot easier, and we were back together. A month later, a few days before my official start, I lost my job.
Back to square one... Again...
How did this happen? You may ask. Well, due to the stresses of earning very little and needing to find money. I would try to make my own business while at work. A terrible idea, I know. Never do this and I wish I hadn’t done this. My wife was furious. How could I move so far away from our friends and family just to have me lose my job?
Back to the drawing board
We went back on benefits and back to job seekers to keep money flowing. Around a month later, my wife went back to working in Spar while I kept searching. Another month later and a job opened up in the Spar she was working in. Because we both worked together in the previous Spar, we were allowed to work together here.
Then, we came off benefits again and obviously job seekers stopped due to finding ourselves work. Six months down the line, I found yet another web development position, they were happy to take me on because of my honesty with my first job. I wasn't honest about my second position, I said it was on a freelance basis and they ran out of work for me.
Thankfully this new place went really well for over a year. I was really happy with the team, and my work until they started struggling with money. They had to let people go. Unfortunately, I was one of one of them. Another blow to my confidence and I didn't know what to do. Should I go to uni and get more education within the field? Can I even find another position in this field?
Finding another happy place
The company below us needed a developer and asked if I wanted to join them. Knowing who they were and feeling confident I could help them, I agreed. Three months later and I decided to leave. This was due me suffering from terrible anxiety, to a point where I was throwing up every time there was a bank holiday or I took days off.
I would walk in every day and have a feeling I would be fired. It was terrifying and I felt the only thing I could do was find a new job and leave. After handing in my 1-month notice, I used my time to look for a new position elsewhere. I found somewhere which wasn't highly recommended, but I wanted to get a feel of it myself. It was bad, just as my colleagues had said, and while I was talking to someone regarding my anxiety, the team weren't very empathetic.
My mum was also going through cancer for the second time which meant I needed to book time off work. I found out my colleagues were talking behind my back regarding my mum and thought she should be able to look after herself. Not being happy with this, I decided it was time to leave.
Searching far and wide for a new place to work, I found somewhere that was just as good as the first company I was happy in. It went great, the people were great and the work was challenging yet rewarding. Getting to the one year mark, I struggled with anxiety again. Would I lose my job soon? It happened before, it could happen again.
Unfortunately, it did. However, it did happen after my anxieties left, and it was due to money problems again.
Where am I now?
That was 6-7 years of my life I've just written about. A lot has been left out because this was focused more on my web development journey. I could have added a lot more. Where am I now? I'm now happily working with a company called Lightfoot who I've been working for, for over 2 years now. My journey has been a struggle, but it's been worth it.
My wife and I are still struggling with money because we got in huge debt with credit card companies. We're now in a situation where we're paying it off, but it's hard. We need to have the discipline to not spend and that is a huge struggle. We've both gone through anxieties and depression and still do now. This is a big reason for me trying to raise money for mental health charities.
My mum is no longer suffering from cancer, but she has been a huge inspiration to my life. She fights on and she's loving her life up in Oldham with her family. That's the reason I raise money for cancer charities because no one should suffer from cancer.
Please help me raise money
This year I'm trying to raise money for good causes. The first cause that I would like to raise money for is Macmillan cancer by doing a 26-mile hike. The second cause if for Mind, a mental health charity. I will be doing many Crossfit workouts and messy4mind.
Please click here if you would like to donate to my cancer fundraiser. You can click here if you would like to donate to my Mind fundraiser. If you're feeling generous, you could become a patron and support me and what I'm doing by clicking here. You don't have to do any of that, and I still appreciate you just for reading. If you made it this far, thank you.