Horrible isn’t it ? It isn’t a word anyone likes to have, feel, hear or belong to. I have it, I have felt it and I belonged to it for a significant amount of time – and now it belongs to me…
Me and many others – Millennials perhaps more than any other group of people we are not alone.
I recently read Russell brand’s latest book – Revolution ( I can recommend it). He very bravely states that governments could end personal debt – thats a huge statement right there and the book needs reading to understand – he’s not suggesting we print money willy nilly and pay everyones mortgages off no – but that people in dire straits of personal debt and struggling to make their way out of it needn’t be. There are a few shocking statistics in that book – perhaps the one that stuck with me the most was that
80 of the words richest people – have a combined wealth of more than 3.4 BILLION people!
Read that again….. let it sit and digest it for a moment – it’s almost disgusting.
I decided at the beginning of this year to do the dreaded thing – add it all up – all of my credit cards I have been shifting around for the last few years – add them up and see where I’m at – £23,000. There I said it – out loud – online, to the world £23,000.
To me that’s a lot of money – it’s more than one years salary, and I have nothing to tangibly put in front of you to say see I bought this…. I haven’t gone on mad shopping sprees and bough outlandishly expensive bags/shoes, holidays.
I have been a bit of a life junkie, (I still am) – I have spent money on moments, experiences, making memories – taking chances, that they might lead somewhere – a job – a relationship – a wedding! All of those things cumulated in this figure that was sat staring at me in January of this year as cold as grey and depressing as the weather.
Depressing – Yes absolutely,
It became like a weight on my shoulders around my neck – a literal pain in my neck – living in the present to pay for the past. I always managed to make the payments but they were so large I knew something had to give. It consumed me, I blamed it for not being able to move forward in life, make plans, get somewhere.
Acknowledgement and asking for help – In life we need to acknowledge the root of our stress and then ask for help – no one has to face stress and worry alone it really is that easy to take the first step.
There is always a way out.
There is always someone to talk to. I reached out to a couple of friends I could trust and the weight lifted a little, not least because one of my friends was in double the amount of debt as me and had decided to go IVA (not a decision anyone should take lightly but she had no theory option and it worked out great for her).
I sat and thought about it – read lots of advice on debt – avenues of help, solutions short/long term and I came to my own decision – I can do this! I made the decision to wholeheartedly control my stress and the affect this weight around my neck has –
Short term pain for long term gain.
I decided the most important thing to me was to reduce that number – however I could. That was the primary goal and whatever I could do to make that happen would be what I would do – work three jobs – I though about that – but – I might get half way through and collapse – there has to be an element of balance in this – I still have to live and be sane at the end of it otherwise really I’m no better off than slowly drowning.
Eager to do more than tread water and keep my head above the surface I decided it was time to kick my way out. I gave up my rented apartment – (at the time my only sanity considering everything else going on in my life and definitely the hardest thing to give up) and moved in with a friend and her fiancé. I sold a large proportion of my “stuff” and I sold my beloved car. I reduced my spending on experiences and spent more time taking in the things that are free – walking on the beach – sitting – talking, soul nurturing experiences with friends and family.
I learnt to cook and feed myself with nutritious well balanced meals for £30 a week. I gave up the gym and made my own workout routine, I stopped buying anything new to wear and breathed life into old items I hadn’t worn for ages.
I made sacrifices but allowed myself a treat.
That said I also made an agreement with myself – that for the amount I paid of my credit cards every month – at this point £700 – I would take 10% of it back and do something nice for myself – because there has to be balance – even in paying back debt.
Fast forward 12 months….
At the end of this year – I will have paid £12,000 off my debt – in 12 months.
It has been hard.
Very hard – I didn’t go down the route of borrowing any more money, I couldn’t get any from financial institutions and had no friends or family to ask with that kind of money and I didn’t want to declare myself insolvent or bankrupt or have a debt payment plan – I was able to find a way to knuckle down and figure it out. – I sometimes wonder if I am the stupid one as my friends have paid less than me when they had more debt, but our circumstances were and are so different and I chose what was right for me.
I know I am not alone – I know there are people with more and less of a number than I have – and each person is different and each set of circumstances unique and each stress level varied. I guess what I wanted to express in this post was that there is always a way out – ask for help, friends – family, professionals. Deal with your debt – don’t let it deal with you.
I am grateful for my debt – firstly because it has enabled me to take chances – live life and follow dreams and adventures – secondly because it has taught me so many lessons.
Here are some useful links on services available for debt advice:
Citizens Advice – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/
Money saving Expert – http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/loans/debt-solutions
Government Solutions – https://www.gov.uk/options-for-paying-off-your-debts/overview