I Paid off £16k of debt two year ago. Am I still debt free?

In June 2019 I wrote articles for the Financial Times and The Sun about how I got into 16k of credit card debt and how I paid it off. I was so happy to have reached my goal, I wanted to shout it from the roof tops and wanted to reach as many people as possible and explain how it was possible to pay off the £16k debt in two years.

At the time I recorded a podcast with the Financial Times and remember being asked the question, “Will I now stay out of debt?”. I thought of course I will, but have I?

Lets go back to 2015

I left my corporate job in 2015 to set up Mrs Mummypenny. There was a chunk of redundancy money and that was to keep me going for 18 months, the point at which my business had to generate enough money to pay.

I spent a huge amount of money in that first year of running my business, on things like holidays, expensive meals out, designer handbags along with the set up of Mrs Mummypenny (although let’s be honest, that didn’t cost that much!). The money didn’t last 18 months, my inability to budget meant the money was soon gone and I was suddenly in a position where my income wasn’t enough to cover the bills and I turn to credit cards.

2017 was the Lightbulb Moment

It was 2017 and two years later was when I took my head out of the sand and added up the credit cards to work out what I owed. There was £16k on a mixture of 20% interest paying credit cards and 0% cards.

I got into debt from a lifestyle that I couldn’t afford. Plain and simple. I was now in a position where I was at my overdraft limit and my minimum payments on my credit cards were a huge worry. If certain invoices didnt clear I couldn’t pay the mortgage.

That was the time I committed to paying off the debt as quickly as possible. I came clean to my readers and shared the beginning of my debt story. And then reported every couple of months sharing my progress and ideas for saving/making money. Ensuring those monthly debt repayments were as large as possible.

By 2019 The Debt was Gone

I committed to paying off that debt as quickly as possible and I did it in two years. It was ****** hard, and I had to stop a lot of things and say no to a lot of things. I did it, I paid off my debt. It was gone.

I paid off debt and for the first time in my adult life I was credit card debt free and was ready to start building towards my financial freedom. And to never get back into debt again.

But then I got divorced

A very expensive time that threatened to change everything and financially ruin me, but I survived. I kept the family house, ensuring stabilty and consistency for my children and increased my mortgage by a chunk to do so.

Going through the divorce and a new mortgage arrangement meant that I couldn’t take on any debt. There were scary times where I needed to rely on friends for a bit of money. But then the mortgage was all agreed and all was fine.

Now in 2021

I am sat here in 2021, six years after leaving the corporate world, four years after getting into a shed load of debt. Two years after paying off that debt and one year after divorce debt free. Totally debt free except for said mortgage.

In the past two years I have done several things to increase my net wealth, successfully working towards financial freedom. I have built up an emergency fund of six months of essential expenses. Plus I have paid off my PCP car loan in full and now own the car outright. No more monthly payments.

Happy Five Year Birthday Mrs Mummypenny & Three Year Birthday to MMP Ltd

I have a Vanguard Stocks and Shares ISA building nicely for the medium term future. And I have added £15k to my PensionBee pension. Although my pension has actually grown by £25k in that same two year period, thank you to the funds chosen.

My net worth (excluding the mortgage) has increased by a huge £65k in two years. And yes I am totally debt free. All thanks to the success of my business and continuing with the money saving ways I developed during the time I was paying off debt.

By the way I use credit cards, all the time, but pay off the balance in full each month. I like to collect the Nectar Points on my Mastercard and my Avios points on my American Express. And very much so like the consumer protection credit cards give me on purchases.

One of the key ways I attribute to saving money and understanding my spending is with my weekly spending diary. Published on here every Monday. It keeps me very aware of what I am spending money on and why. Are my spends one off emergency spending or are they emotional spends. Am I spending too much on food (every damn week).

I Needed That Time of Readjustment

I’m glad I paid off debt, but I’m also grateful for that time of extreme debt repayment. It taught me that I can live on less. It shook me into the realising how materialistic and commercial I had become. I don’t need all those clothes, or the expensive make up or the handbags.

What I do need is time with my friends and family. And time alone, time to walk, read, rest, all of which are free!

Looking to the future after I paid off debt - over a field of poppies

I can feel myself slipping back into a more commercial life, especially after lockdown ends. I am absolutely eating out more, and seeing more of my friends. But I think we are all allowed that, if we can afford it, after the last 18 months!

But as ever I will always seek out a bargain. Everything I buy I seek out discounts be that cash back, voucher codes, loyalty apps or plain and simple asking for a discount!

This post contains links to companies that I use, trust and recommend. They are affiliate links where I receive a small referral fee.

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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

I write about personal finance made simple, lifestyle choices that will save you time and money, as well as products and services that offer great value.

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