I have a wonderful series of debt 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 Pete from Household Money Saving Blog.
I have been in debt for most of my adult life, but 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 debt stories like this 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 Pete from the House Money Saving Blog to share his 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?
Back in 2010, my wife and I lived with our two children in a three-bedroom terraced house. I say three, the smallest bedroom couldn’t even fit in a full-size single bed. My wife also worked from home as a childminder, so the house was cramped.
Due to the death of a relative, we inherited some money and decided to put it towards moving to somewhere more suitable. Amazingly quickly, we found our dream home, although it was at the very top of our monthly budget.
We decided to go for it and by November 2011, we had bought our new home. By April for the following year, we found out that my wife was pregnant again. Obviously, my wife had to cut down on work over the following months and by December 2012, our income had halved, and we had an extra mouth to feed.
What was your crisis point?
I remember looking at my credit card statement and it had just gone over £5000. Although I had paid off a couple of hundred pounds that month, I realised that most of that had just gone towards paying the interest. Along with a loan we had taken out when we moved in to replace the boiler, it hit me that debts were just getting bigger every month. Within a few months, I would hit my credit card limit and would need to borrow elsewhere, probably at a much higher cost.
It had reached the point where all I thought about was money. It was the last thing on my mind before bed and the first thing that hit me in the morning.
When I started to lose patience with my family over the smallest of matters, I knew it was time to do something.
What help did you get?
There’s a famous saying – “a problem shared is a problem halved”. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but I’ve always thought that a problem shared is a problem that more people worry about.
Because we had such a young family, I kept the issues from my wife as I didn’t want to cause her stress. I know I shouldn’t have, but that was the route I took.
Instead, I turned to the internet. You’re almost guaranteed that if you have a question or problem, somebody else has asked for a solution on the web. There are lots of forums out there where people, who have been through the same issue, will offer guidance. And the best thing is, it’s completely anonymous.
After guidance, I worked out exactly how much our outgoings were compared to how much money we had coming in. It was a case of going through my bank accounts (all the major bills came out of mine) and putting everything onto a spreadsheet. This gave me a clear view of how short I was every month.
How are you progressing with payments?
I am pleased to say we are debt-free (well, excluding the mortgage). It took several years but by 2016, we managed to make our final loan payment.
Now each month, instead of paying £200+ each month just in interest, we put the money into savings.
Tip for getting out of debt?
First, check your bills and get rid of anything you don’t need. I was paying over £80 per month for Sky TV – that’s almost £1000 per year! And the thing is, once it went, I didn’t miss it at all.
Look at your utility bills too. You can make great savings on phone, broadband and energy with very little effort. Spend an hour when your annual contracts are due to renew and you will likely save £100’s.
Even if switching a supplier only saves you a couple of pounds per month, it all adds up.
You can also save by changing your shopping habits. Look towards the discount supermarkets and stay away from premium brands.
And it may sound obvious but earning extra is a great way to tackle those debts. My job offers very little in the way of overtime, so I had to look elsewhere. I have earned extra from online surveys (although this isn’t for everyone) and focus groups. Although one of my favourites was working as a film extra. No matter what your skills are, there are opportunities for everyone to earn a bit extra. Even if it’s just £1 per day, it helps to tackle those debts.
Tackle it bit by bit.
Thank you to Pete from Household Money Saving Blog for sharing his story
If you would like to read many other finance writers debt stories here they all are
Leon Mclean from Make Save Invest Money.
Fran from Pennies to Pounds