How to get out of debt
I have been writing regularly about my debt story since coming clean last April. This has really helped to keep myself accountable and to keep on reducing that debt each month. I have also really enjoyed sharing my tips on how to reduce the debt which is in turn helping everyone that reads the posts. And they are super popular posts, this confessions post alone has been read thousands of times.
I thought it would be helpful to invite fellow bloggers to share their debt story on Mrs Mummypenny. We all have different reasons for getting into debt and so many different ways of getting out of debt. It will be great to share the stories from other people and provide you readers with more top tips on how get yourself out of debt. If you are reading this and wanting to share you story please drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first incredibly honest story comes from Vicky Eves who blogs at I beat Debt where she writes about all things money saving and money making.
What Caused the Debt?
I always loved numbers and maths growing up. I also grew up in a family where if you didn’t have the money, you didn’t buy the item. Therefore, I have no real idea how I ended up in debt. Over the years as I’ve talked and written about my debt story, I’ve attributed it to various things. I lost my job when my dad was ill in a hospice, I tried to keep up with my family with holidays etc but at the end of the day I only have one person to blame and that’s me. I don’t know about you, but things that you can’t blame other people for are always that bit more annoying.
My Crisis Point
To be honest, I never took my debt seriously, and I figured that down the line it would all come good and it wasn’t worth worrying about. I had some money on an interest free credit card, and I’d just transfer it around after the interest free period, but with the fees and larger balances, it was just growing rather than shrinking. I found out about a Money Management course that a charity called CAP do and I thought I’d go along and find out a bit more about how to manage my money.
At that stage I didn’t even realise they did debt management but on the first evening I had a chat to the course leader on the break and I agreed to contact her outside of the course for her to have a look at my finances and give me some pointers. Once we sat down and went through everything, I found out that was over £8,000 in debt, earning a small salary and according to CAP’s calculations (taking into consideration my income and outgoings such as mortgage and bills) going to take me over 20 years to clear my debt. I was devastated but also looking back I know that I was lucky – I had my crisis point when I was already getting help. That’s not usually the way it goes.
CAP came to my Rescue
I became a CAP client and they took over everything for me. Any letters or anything to do with my debts, I put in a freepost envelope, posted them off and they dealt with everything. I had to pay a certain amount of money into an account every month and they used that to negotiate with my creditors and pay off what I could and yet still afford to live. The embarrassment was high and I didn’t want to tell anyone – I think as Brits we just don’t talk about money enough and so things like debt are a taboo subject.
I did everything in my power to try and pay it off early. Selling things on eBay, car boot sales, extra babysitting, I even used my annual leave from my main job to work extra hours at a part time job. I was chipping away at it but not really making a massive dent.
A TV Quiz show Appearance
I had a friend whose dad had won some money on a TV quiz show and she had herself been on a couple of things. There was nothing to lose and was frankly desperate at that point, so I applied for a show.
I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of going on a TV show, but it is seriously fun, and more importantly, I won some money. The minute that the money cleared my account, I transferred it to my CAP account and they negotiated with my creditors. They managed to effectively clear half my debt just from that one day of having fun and basically playing a game due to a reduced settlement.
From there my debt story turned around pretty quickly. I was earning more money and had some inheritance come through. I ended up clearing my debt within a year of becoming a CAP client rather than the 20+ which they had originally estimated.
Vicky’s Top Tips for Debt reduction
I know that going on a TV quiz show isn’t for everyone, and in fact it’s really not a recommended method of clearing debt, but I do have some other top tips for you.
- If money is tight, go through all your bank statements – payments in and out. Is there anything you can cut back on? I know you “might” get to the gym eventually, but that money would probably be better off in your bank account at the moment. Do you really need that DVD boxset? I switched to using cash for purchases, and that meant I thought twice before spending which was helpful for me.
- You can still have fun without a lot of money – and you don’t even have to broadcast why you want to have the change. Could you suggest a homecooked meal in and a DVD rather than a meal out and the cinema for example?
- Much as 0% balance transfers seem the ideal way of giving yourself a breather, there might be fees involved, and you still have to pay it off at some point. Before taking one out – do you have a plan to clear it in the 0% period? If not, maybe it’s time you need to get some help.
- Remember to get advice before doing anything which could affect your future (my credit is still not great because of the reduced settlement but it was the right thing for me at the time). If you decide that debt management or counselling is for you, NEVER pay for the service. There are plenty of very good FREE services and charities out there. I’ve never understood how someone can charge you money to help you get out of debt. Obviously, I recommend CAP, but there are others around – check the Money Advice Service website for more information and contact details.
- Talk to someone. Anyone. The burden of debt is a big one, whether you are £8 in debt, £8,000 or £8,000,000. It’s an awful feeling and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Whether it’s a debt counsellor, a trusted friend or confidante or someone anonymous via a resource like The Samaritans – honestly, it will feel better, and it will get better.
Thanks Lynn for letting me share my debt story with your readers.