It’s been 12 months since I first contacted StepChange Debt Charity and what a 12 months it’s been. When you get yourself in such a pickle with debt problems, it can be hard to see a way out. Dealing every day with calls, letters and bills can put you in constant panic mode.
Imagine my relief when I was barely a month into my plan and suddenly free of hassle. It felt like a lightbulb had been switched on. I still remember however how I felt while setting up my debt management plan…
When they recommended the DMP to me, my mind was suddenly flooded with questions: Would the creditors accept the payments? Would they stop the interest? What if none of them play ball?
I’m pleased to say that out of the ten creditors I have, only one of them occasionally rears their head and demands more. Once I tell them I’m with StepChange Debt Charity however they settle right down again. What a difference to how things were when I first decided to take action on my debts.
Most of my debts are now with collection agencies, and they change hands from time to time. My heart still flutters with nerves when I get letters from a new company demanding full payment. StepChange were very reassuring and told me that all I needed to do was let the company know who I’m dealing with. And y’know what? It worked a charm!
When it comes to the interest on my debts, I’m glad to report that most of my creditors have frozen it completely. There’s a couple of others that have reduced the interest to a tiny amount, and I have one that digs their heels in and refuses to lower it. [Find out more on the pros and cons of a DMP] The main thing to me is that they’re on board with my DMP, which is what really counts.
Getting used to my budget
I must admit it’s taken time to get used to a budget. I do have peace of mind however knowing that everything is covered. I still shop around for the best deal on things like car insurance and opticians. Every penny is accounted for, and I’m in control. It’s a great feeling.
I also take comfort in knowing that when I have to deal with one of life’s little setbacks, my DMP can be reviewed to accommodate it. I had an emergency one-off expense which meant that I nearly missed one month’s DMP payment, and I felt terrible about it. The advisor at StepChange was really helpful and we worked something out to keep things on track.
What I also love about my DMP is that I know the term is not carved in stone. It’s really flexible and works around me, not vice versa. If my situation improves and I get a bit more cash coming in, I can have my budget tweaked again so I can pay more into my plan and get out of debt even quicker!
These last 12 months have been a rollercoaster for me. I remember when I started the DMP how great I felt being able to give my daughter £1 to go to the shop for sweets, and that feeling was like winning the lottery.
I really don’t know where I would have been without StepChange Debt Charity. For me they’ve been a lifeline. I have a manageable budget, I know where my money is going every month, my debts are being paid, and I have my life back at last.
I would say to anyone who needs help like I did that they shouldn’t be embarrassed or ashamed. Life has a way of chucking different situations at you. Sometimes we need a bit of help to get on the right path. For me, I’m on the yellow brick road. It may be a long road, there may be twists and turns, but there’s an end in sight.
If Cheryl’s story has inspired you to seek debt advice, our online advice tool Debt Remedy can help you in just 20 minutes.