Mental Health and Debt
I have touched on this subject before, but I wanted to write a full post about how being in debt can impact your mental well-being. It is mental health awareness week this week, mid May, so it feels like the right time to share this content and provide hope and guidance to others who are in the same situation.
I can talk about this subject with experience and knowledge. I have been there many times in my life, the cycle of debt, yes, is a recurring feature in my life. Most recently when I took my head out of the sand in April 2017 I had amassed 16k of debt. You read more about how I got to 16k in this confessions post.
How I felt being in so much debt
16k is the most amount of consumer debt I have had in my life, without a definite plan of how I could pay it back. Back in April 2017 although Mrs Mummypenny was doing well the income wasn’t consistent, looking back one month might be £1,000 and another month might be £2,500. I had to earn at least £1,500 then to pay for my half of the mortgage, bills, food etc.
The 16k felt like the biggest mountain in the world to climb. If I could pay back £300 per month it would take 53 months to pay it back, more than four years. This was a tough battle to face up to. We could not live with this debt hanging over our head for more than four years.
I grovelled in the depression for a bit. I had not long turned 40 and wasn’t relishing the idea of hitting that new decade. The worry took over my life for a bit and took me to a dark place.
But then pulled myself out of it. The clocks changed, seasonal effective disorder stopped affecting me and I switched on operation debt repayment.
I talked to friends
I spoke to certain friends about the debt. Friends who I knew would help me with positive support and guidance, who wouldn’t judge in any way. My good friend Faith (who writes her own fab website Much More with Less) went through my household budget with a fine tooth comb and was tough on what spending needed to stop. She suggested ideas of things to change like cashback credit cards, switching bank account, stopping the ISA and charity payments.
Building up an emergency fund
This was an important one for my mental well being that I was able to build up a safety net at the same time as paying off as much as possible from the debt. For a few months I split my repayment in half, 50% would go towards the debt and the other 50% went into my emergency fund. Such a saving grace just in case I didn’t earn enough money in subsequent months or if something big happened that needed paying for.
I kept going with my emergency fund until I had £3k in there. Then whenever I had chunk of spare cash each month it went into the debt. One bumper month I even managed to pay off £1500!
Focussed on the end goal
I have written about the debt repayment journey on here, my blog and this helped incredibly. I had accountability to my readers that I was going to do what I had set out to do and pay off £16k. Every six-eight weeks I would pop up a new update of how I was doing. There were some great updates with lots paid off, then there were others, like this one where I felt like I was going nowhere, even backwards. Last Summer was an expensive time.
Breaking through barriers, like 10k and 5k
I am a numbers obsessive and like having targets, I was super happy to get my debt to less than 10k and then to less than 5k in April 2018. My goal is to pay off the full 16k in 16 months so that gives me until the end of August to have the balance repaid.
Soon the debt will be gone
I am so excited for the feeling I will get when that debt is no more. It will be the first time in my entire adult life where I have never had any consumer debt. I can imagine that feeling right now, and I think about the feelings most days. I will feel happy, relieved, I will have freedom, I will be able to put money into my pension, I will be able to pay extra on the mortgage. We will be able to go on holiday with it paid for, not paid back after the event.
I cannot wait and am working so so hard to get to this magic point of being debt free. You can do this too. If you search for debt on my website I have so many articles for you to work through, my debt story and that of many of my fellow writer friends. This content will inspire you and give you lots of ideas to tackle your debt, or just make some extra savings if you are debt free!