Unexpected costs are everywhere!

Is it me or is it typical that when you’re watching every penny like a hawk, extra expenses appear from nowhere to jinx your attempts to save cash?

First of all, there’s the car. One of the electronic keys isn’t working properly – hence my getting stranded in a creepy hospital car park last weekend – and it could be an arm and a leg to fix it. Oh for a car with a normal good old fashioned key! Plus we need a new tyre– we’re running it on the spare after a puncture and it’s especially embarrassing given the spare is a ‘mini-me’ type tyre, a tiny toy town thing that you can’t do more than 50 miles per hour on. It sticks out like a sore thumb.

“Haven’t you got that fixed yet,” barked one of my neighbours at me the other day. “Like driving around on that funny tyre, do you?” He said. I could feel my cheeks turning crimson…and that of the poor Micra who no doubt has to put up with all the other cars making fun of him.

Helpfully a neighbour recommended a cheap tyre place, but given the Micra’s coming up for a service, plus the electronic key, I’m wondering if it might be easier to get everything done at once. Then again, the Nissan garage where I normally get it serviced isn’t cheap, so it may be time to look at frugal alternatives.

Then on Saturday the washing machine decided to behave like something out of The Exorcist. I absentmindedly put it on and then went upstairs. Two and a half hours later it dawned on me that it hadn’t finished its cycle, so I went to investigate. Steam, followed by smoke, was coming out of it, which is never a good sign. I wouldn’t mind but it’s only three years old. At least the clothes hadn’t caught fire although they were so hot I had to handle them with tongs. Looks like we will have to bite the bullet and get an engineer out to look at it.

Finally a letter arrived for me from the DVLA. Apparently its ten years since I got my first photo driving license and now they want me to renew it for £17.50. “It’s surprising just how much your appearance can change over 10 years,” the cheery letter read. What a cheek, I thought! I’m sure I don’t look any different than I did at the tender age of 22.

Then I found my photocard and took a good long look at it. Mmm…maybe they have a point. It’s still recognisably me, but definitely a more fresh faced, skinny and more optimistic-looking me. More to the point, if I don’t renew it I could face a £1000 fine. I suppose it’s obvious that you’ll have to put a new photo on these things eventually, but I had no idea that photo licenses had an expiry date at all. The old green paper driving license is valid until my 70th birthday. Now, I know you’ll argue that you have to renew your passport too and pay for that, so what’s the difference? But isn’t this just another government stealth tax? Don’t they make enough money from drivers through fuel duty and vehicle tax? Even the envelope to return it in isn’t pre-paid! Aarrgh!

Do you think paying to renew your driving license photo is fair? Leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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7 Responses to Unexpected costs are everywhere!

  1. Christine says:

    Oh Piper what shall we do with you, she says laughing? Even I know that you have to renew your driving licence every 10 years like your passport and I don\’t drive! And to be fair, you should have done something about the tyre as soon as possible after the puncture. Exactly what will you do if you have another puncture before you fix it? With the washing machine – have you checked all those places where the fluff and gumpf might collect? It could be something as simple as a blocked filter which would be expensive to get an engineer to check out. First things first before spending money.

  2. piper says:

    What can I say, Christine?! As ever you are far more switched on than yours truly! DJ insisted he it was his turn to get the tyre fixed – I normally sort these things out as I\’m at home. But of course being back at work now he hasn\’t had a chance. Good tip on the blocked filter – thanks, will take a look.

  3. Kerri says:

    Hi Piper, I do know what you mean. As mentioned in a previous post, I have decided 2009 is the year that me and hubby really sort our finances out. I mean, we\’re not enormously in debt but we do need to make a final push to clear things and get some real money behind us. So, what happens last week? Hubby\’s car packs up. Don\’t get me wrong, we don\’t absolutely need 2 cars, I could walk to work if push came to shove but with handbag, packed lunch and snacks, plus a heavy laptop, its not actually that practical all of the time. Anyway, I put hubby\’s car into the garage and it turned out to be an electrical problem they didn\’t think they could deal with and it would have to go to an authorised dealship (so we\’re already talking £££), there was talk of electrical modules possibly needing to be replaced and the dreaded sentence \’you\’d prob need to consider if it\’s worth it vs the cost of the car\’… we only bought it in Aug 2008 and it\’s only a 52 reg. Anyway, one lovely mechanic at the garage thought about it overnight, had the brainwave to call Vauxhall and ended up fixing it (a common fault that Vauxhall hadn\’t bothered to inform owners about apparently) and it only cost £100 (well, not only, but when 24hrs before there was talk of £1000+ £100 was fine by me). I guess it just highlights the need to have a contingency put by for those unexpected costs or costs we might have forgotten about (I have annual vaccinations in Feb for one of my moggies to fork out for too that I totally forgot about until I got the appt letter yesterday). Perhaps in order to be really frugal, you need to also make sure you\’re really organised.

  4. Jack will also answer to John says:

    What I want to know is do the government also own the photo booths that most people get the photos for there licenses done. When having my photos done the screen in the booth kept showing on the screen that all 4 photos taken were not acceptable as id for licenses and passport. Mmm I thought do I spend another £4 to get some more taken. No I thought just cut one to size send it to DVLA and if it isnt right they will send it back as unsuitable. Guess what happened 10 days later. Yep my new licence turns up with my so called unaaceptable phote taking pride of place on my new licence. So I blew the £4 I didnt spend on more photos on fish and chips . Yummy

  5. Unknown says:

    Planning to take both daughters on a blow-out holiday this year, last one together etc… only to find that our passports which run out in 2011 and have stuck in, laminated photos are fine because they were issued ages ago, no2 daughter\’s is a new e-passport, so that is fine, but no1 daughter\’s passsport doesn\’t run out until 2015 – now you would think that would be fine wouldn\’t you ? Oh no! because it was issued in December 2005 and America (where we are going) changed the rules in October 2005 and said we all need machine readable passports with digital photos after that date. Now don\’t get me wrong, she has a machine readable one, BUT like ours it doesn\’t have a digital picture (our lot weren\’t ready for the changeover so not everyone got the proper pictures) Anyway, the upshot is that she needs to apply for a visa to visit USA and that costs $131 (about £90) so it is cheaper for us to get her a new passport for £76 even though she still has until 2015 to run on her existing one and we don\’t get any discount even though it was not our fault she didn\’t get the right passport in the first place!! The powers that be say she can have 9 months extra added to her new passport as her old one hasn\’t run out Whoopee ! But it is either that or we have to get her a visa which means going through different channels at the airport and still no guarantee that she would be allowed in when we get there (did anyone else realise that getting a visa only gets you to the admitting airport where you have to be interviewed again!)

  6. Mary says:

    I\’ve never bothered to apply for a pink photo licence and just continue to use my old green one issued to me at 17 when I passed my test. Why bother? Just use your passport for photo-ID when necessary.

  7. caroline says:

    I have had my licence for ten years and had to re-new it and to be honest i\’m only 32 and found it a bit of an insult. The reason they give, is that the payment is for admin cost\’s which as we all know that is aload of bull, on top of that youhave to pay for the photo\’s. I also noticed that if you have any point\’s on your licence when they expire you also have to pay 17.50 to get them taken off.

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