When Rob and I first brought our house together we were so happy to be on the property ladder. It was finacially tight, but then we knew it would be. After paying the Mortgage and utility bills, food and clothes etc we were left with about Â£40 per month, we didnt mind as we knew it wouldnt be like that forever.
Â Then i was offered a job at home which was brilliant with a baby to look after and we wouldnt have to worry about childcare. I had to have my own PC at home though and we didnt have one. So we got one on credit thinking that we would be ok as the new job would pay for it. It worked out at Â£30 per month. The job fell through as they decided they wanted someone to work inhouse and not from home. So we where left with this computer to pay for and Â£10 per month.
That was the first step in many to our next 10 years of credit totaling 68k
Unexpected things would crop up that we hadnt accounted for…washing machine broke down, needed a new pushchair for baby…so cataloges became my life saver…till i couldnt afford the payments. Then we heard all about how you can transfer these balances to a credit card…that we thought would make things simpler as then the debt would all be in one place.
We had by this time got a overdraft that was never being cleared each week…and i had returned to using catalogues for xmas/birthday presents for our now 3 kids.
We thought that if you was in trouble with money then you go to your bank manger…right…? isnt that what everyone does.
So we did, by the time we left we had a loan to clear the credit card and the overdraft….we thought we had been given the best advise.
The overdraft soon crept up again as we couldnt afford the credit card let alone the loan.
We again went for advise and was told that we had equity in our home and could clear the debts using that. But we felt ashamed to disclose all the debt and so only cleared the overdraft and the loan. This left us with a bigger mortgage and still we were paying out more than we earned.
I got a job at night to help, and it did for a while, untillÂ Rob got laid off !!Â we couldnt pay our household bills and so took another credit card out to pay for food, petrol and bills.
By the time Rob got work again we had built up more debt…robbing from peter to pay paul, withdrawing cash from credit card accounts to pay into our bank account and all this time pretending everything was ok….normal…everyone lives like this…dont they…?
we had remortaged twice and it was never enough to clear everything…we had cards we used for bills, cards for food and cards for cash for the bank and we had loans from trying to consolidate in the past.
And all cos of a stupid computer for Â£30 a month that we couldnt afford.
We never had holidays, we never had a niceÂ car and we didnt wear designer clothes.
We never told anyone about the mess we where in,Â we didnt want people to think we where stupid, i have since found out that several of our friends where in the same boat.Â
We were foolish, badly advised and nieve, we where never greedy.
Slowly the credit began to run out and i was told via the internet to ring a debt helpline. i remember being embarresed and the lady telling me how we could do a IVA, I asked if this would effect my credit rating and she said “what are you worried about that for” i laughed and said cos i need my credit cards. I will never forget her answer….”ring back in 6-12 months when you are serious cos right now you aint hurting enough”….. i thought how rude she was. But she was spot on.
11 months later was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, finding Rob in the middle of the night going through the life insurance policy. He had come to the conclusion that if something happened to him then me and the kids would be ok. We sat and cryed all night…i was hurting enough now !!
The next morning i rang CAB, the lady was wounderful. She told me to ringÂ Rob asap and tell him its all going to be ok and then ring her back. I said “i cant lie to him”, she said “you wont be..it will be ok”.
She gave me the phone number for Grant Thornton, who i rang the same day. A appointment was made for a meeting with them.
It was discussed and decided that becouse we didnt have enough money left over each month we couldnt do a 5 year monthy payment IVA. But we did have 20k equity left in our house….ohh our debt was 68k. The lady from Grant Thornton explained that she would make them an offer and the rest would be written off. I asked if this was legal cos i had never heard of such a thing…why would they just agree to write some of the debt off. It just felt wrong to me..we had spent the money and we should pay it back. But we couldnt and had no way of doing so.
The next 10 weeks were terrible, of course we had to stop paying everyone, something i had never done. the phone calls and letter where horrible, the lady at Grant Thornton had pre-warned us and told us what to say. The threats of attachment to earnings, baylifts and being taken to court scared me and in one phone call from one of the creditors i was in tears…he said “no good crying now is it sweetheart” even though i felt guilty that they were not going to get all of there money back i started to hate them.
It all went through and we remortaged to raise what we needed, i think it was 22p in the pound that they got back…so in all about Â£15k….the rest was written off.
When i got the phone call to say they had agreed and the creditors meeting was a sucess i kept asking her over and over “are you sure”…”is it really all over” … her answer was “yes…its over”
It was about 3 weeks after that when i was in Tesco with a friend, i looked in my purse and started laughing hysterically. My friend looked at me and said whats up. “i have Â£2.64p in my purse”….i said. She said to go to the bank and draw some out…i said i cant there is non in the bank, still laughing my head off. She asked if i wanted to borrow some money…..i refused and explained why i was so happy. “This time last year i hadÂ 68k debt, no food, and what cash i had in my purse wasnt really mine to spend. Now i have a full cupbard of food, no debts, my bills are paid and i STILL have Â£2.64 left over !!!”….it was an amazing feeling.
That was 3 years ago now…we are still debt free. Money can be tight some weeks as we do now have a bigger mortage. But we can budget for it now we dont have all the other debts to try and pay.
WeÂ even had our first holidayÂ last year….it was a week in Devon, We saved the vouchers you get in the Sun Newspaper and it may as well have been the carrabian to us, it was fantastic and we paid for it…CASH
I dont really know why i wanted to write this all down, but have cried and laughed while doing so. Maybe it will help someone….maybe it helped me.