I have a wonderful series of stories from personal finance writers who have paid off debt or whom are on a debt journey. Many people are in debt, you are not alone. For this post I welcome Marie from Broke Girl In The City.
I have been in debt for most of my adult life, but I finally realised, aged 40, that it needed to be repaid. It was not my money, it belonged to the credit card company or bank and needed to be gone. I repaid £16k in two years and was debt free by the age of 42.
Let my story, or these stories inspire you to make some changes and pay off the debt. Release the stress of debt and become debt free like I did.
Over to Marie from the Broke Girl In The City to share her story. This is an honest and inspiring story of real life specifics of debt. And a happy ending with Marie clearing her debt in full and experiencing financial freedom.
How did you get into debt?
I first got into debt going to University. This was despite having many jobs as a student and with my mother always telling me never to get into debt.
For many people you are told from a very young age that debt is just a normal way of life. However it wasn’t until I moved to London, that my debt snowballed. At one point, I was in £35k worth of debt. I am happy to say is now all paid off.
What was your crisis point?
I hit a crisis point when I started to take out payday loans. The situation got out of hand very quickly. I started taking out £400 loans to pay for life events that I wasn’t able to cover through my monthly salary. Within a year this had turned into taking out multiple loans for over £1k each month.
By this time I couldn’t sleep, was incredibly stressed and I hit a wall. I remember sitting down on a pavement in Oxford Circus around the corner from Top Shop with a list of my debts and creditors, thinking this just can’t go on any longer. One by one I called them all saying I could no longer afford to pay and negotiated payment plans with them all. I didn’t get up from that pavement until I had called every single one.
What help did you get?
I had always created budgets for myself. However, by the time I had started to take out payday loans. I was debt servicing half of my salary. I personally negotiated payment plans with all of my creditors. But this might feel too scary for others to sort out.
Stepchange are an amazing FREE charity, who I spoke to and went on to write a money series in collaboration with them for my blog. I didn’t want to get a third party involved in organising my repayment plan or make myself bankrupt, so I did this myself.
Protect your essential bills, such as rent, food and basics (electricity etc.) and then plough all of your surplus money into repayments. Confide in someone too. Money stress can have a detriment impact on every aspect of your life. Look after yourself too.
How are you progressing with repayments?
I am finally debt-free. My payday loan crises are a thing of the past, although I have to be careful not to run up my credit cards. Bad habits can come creeping back in.
I took out a consolidation loan with Lloyds many years ago, which was £25k for £19k loan. Unbelievable I paid £6k interest on a personal loan, but at the time my bank manager convinced me that I didn’t have any other choice. Back in 2011, I was 25k in debt and then with my first pay cheque in my new role in January 2018, I finally cleared my debt.
Tips for getting out of debt?
Getting into debt is easy but getting out of debt isn’t. My top tip is – however bleak and overwhelming your circumstances. You can get through this. I was made redundant the morning of Brexit. Within months I lost my job, my flat, and moved home. Many of us are only a few pay packets away from being totally broke, which is what inspired me to write my blog Broke Girl in the City.
Take control of your situation. Write down all of your debts. Anxiety usually arises from feeling out of control. Then make sure with every pay packet you automate payments to both credit cards and set up an emergency savings account. I was so strict paying off my debts that when I was made redundant. I didn’t have an emergency buffer.
Simplify your life. When I was made redundant I didn’t buy make-up, cancelled all of my subscriptions and led a very simple life, paying off whatever I could. Check your last 6 months accounts for anything you can cancel. I also use a spending tracker which categorises my spending and I have a monthly budget planner to keep myself on track. It’s amazing how quickly those micro-payments add up over time.
Summary from Mrs Mummypenny
A huge thank you to Marie for sharing her story. I could feel the pain of that realisation of situation when you described sitting on the pavement, ironically by TopShop, that possibly contributed to the debt.
I am so happy that you got out debt, including the devil called pay day loans. You are an inspiration to many.
Read Other Debt Stories
Fran from Pennies to Pounds
Leon Mclean from Make Save Invest Money.