I have a wonderful series of stories from personal finance writers who have paid off debt or whom are on a debt journey. It is so common. So many people are in debt. And so many people need to pay off that debt. It is not your money. I hate to point out the obvious but it belongs to the bank or loan company and you have to pay it back.
Let my, or my friends stories inspire you to make some changes and pay off the debt. Release the stress of debt and become debt free.
Over to Abdul from the website Oliver Money to share his story. This is an honest and inspiring story, be prepared to read right to end. A great real-life story.
Tell us about you and your website
My website is Oliver Money. I showcase actionable strategies to help families to manage their money and build a financially secure future. It is aimed at low to middle-income earners. You can also find me on Twitter . I currently work as an accountant, but also freelance as a digital marketer.
How did you get into debt
My dad had a new family and basically decided that he didn’t want anything to do with my brother and I. To numb all the conflicting feelings I felt, I turned to excessive shopping. I also suffered from low self-esteem, so the attention new gadgets and fashion brought made me feel valued.
At first, it started as window shopping. However, I found myself getting a lot of comfort from the entire shopping experience. It gave me a sense of control. The buzz of getting something new was a ‘high’ which lasted for days. I was stuck in a cycle of chasing trends. My friends at the time were similar. We lived to show off and never planned past the weekend. We judged people based on what they owned, and which trips they had taken. If you weren’t spending a lot of money, you were broke in our eyes.
I took out every store card and credit card which was offered to me. I loved 0% credit offers because it felt like free money. This enabled me to live a much “bigger” lifestyle than my finances could afford. But when it comes time to pay up, I felt like the lenders were my master.
My mum tried to teach me the fundamentals of personal finance, but it fell on deaf ears. I feel ashamed while typing this.
What was your crisis point/better sort this out point?
It got to the point that I would get paid and have lenders take their share. It felt as if I was working for no reason. My friends were in much worse situations. They were taking one payday loan after the other. Being in a lot of debt just felt like a normal part of life.
I took a vase to the checkout while in Oxfam. It was £3, and my card got rejected. There was a long queue behind me, and I could feel the judgemental eyes burning into my neck. A kid who looked 12 offered to pay for it. I felt so embarrassed that I stumbled out of the store in tears. Here I was living a lie and completely broke.
The first thing I did when I got home was to put all my designer clothes and gadgets on eBay. I also learned a lot about personal finance in the months that followed. I faced my debt head on instead of burying my head in the sand.
What is your progress now?
I am just about to put the finishing touches on a four-bedroom house I built from scratch. The plan is to list it on Airbnb when done. I did this using my savings. I fully committed myself to reduce my monthly expenditure while increasing income. If it is legal and makes money, I will do it. This enabled me to put as much money towards debt repayments and an emergency fund. I am now debt free.
This takes a lot of willpower and commitment. I lost a lot of friends because I prefer to shop at charity shops and bargain retailers. However, I also discovered who my real friends were. Instead of splashing money on a wild night out, we have fun cooking at home and binge-watching Netflix. It is incredibly exciting to support them on their journey and celebrate wins such as paying off their credit card debt.
I was made redundant in December of 2018, and it took me 2 months to find a new role. Fortunately, I had enough in my emergency fund to go a year without working. It is times like that which make all the sacrifices worthwhile.
Top tips for paying off the debt
- Face your debt head-on. It is better to know exactly how much you owe so you can develop a plan to pay as quickly as possible. Hopefully, it will encourage you to make radical changes.
- You need to address the mindset which got you into that much debt in the first place. From experience, excessive spenders tend to have an underlying issue such as low self-esteem. Seeking professional help is wise. The best investment I ever made was to have 3 counselling sessions. Getting rid of debt is like trying to lose weight. You can lose a lot of weight, but if you don’t change your mindset, you are likely to find yourself back in the same place.
- Be willing to do whatever it takes. I wake up at dawn at the weekend to acquire items for sale on eBay. I also work as an agency carer and cleaner most weekends. There is payment to ghost write for influencers, among other things. I am willing to do anything legal to put money in the bank. Getting into debt is very easy but getting out takes commitment.
- Have a massive goal. When I was struggling 3 years ago, I set the goal of building a 4-bedroom house. At the time I didn’t know how I was going to do it. If you had offered me £10 at that time, I would have shrieked with joy. The size of this goal meant that I had to take significant actions and commit like never before. Fast forward to now, and this goal is within touching distance. Even if you miss your massive target, you will still achieve something monumental.
- You must believe it is possible. Imagine what it would mean to have no debt. What would it feel like to have thousands of pounds in emergency savings? How would your life change? This is different for everyone. Forget the numbers. That is what you are fighting for.
To conclude, the people you have around will make a difference. Any friend who doesn’t understand your goals is just someone you hang out with. Celebrate wins as they come. No matter the size of your debt, you can pay it off.
THE BIGGEST thank you to Abdul. What a story, you have achieved so much. I feel so proud for you/of you!
Fancy Reading More?
If you fancy reading some other debt stories here is a selection to chose from.
Leon Mclean from Make Save Invest Money.
Fran from Pennies to Pounds
Leon Mclean from Make Save Invest Money.