“When I went away to University at 18 I was hit with countless offers of credit, a number of which I took – including a student overdraft, a few credit cards, hire purchase agreements, and loans. It was too easy.
With no assets to lose, my view at the time was – “I don’t have the spare money to pay it all back without compromising on my own lifestyle” and so I put it to the back of my mind. However, I was about get a rude awakening…
Losing track of my debts
It was the first time that I’d lived away from home and I quickly began to lose control of who I owed the money to, especially as my debts started being sold on.
Not long after graduation I had my first income shock; I lost my job and although I got another one quickly it had a lower salary.
I started using payday loans to make up what I thought was a ‘shortfall’ in my salary, sometimes up to two weeks before payday. I knew that the interest I’d owe by payday would be ridiculous but I did it anyway.
I borrowed more and more, knowing this would be offset (thankfully) by my monthly bonus.
Realising I had a debt problem
By the time I was 23 – only two years out of university – I’d built up over £15,000 of debt (not accounting for any of my student loans), which included:
- 2 overdrafts
- 2 hire purchase agreements
- 1 loan
- 3 credit cards
- Outstanding utility bills
- Unpaid TV subscription bills
- Council tax arrears
I decided at that point that if I wanted the family life that I’d always dreamt of – a wife, children, home and car – something would need to change.
Having spoken to a family member and later StepChange for debt advice (at the time they were Consumer Credit Counselling Service) I understood my financial position, my credit file and my options of repayment.
Making a budget
I minimised every outgoing I could:
- I moved back in with my parents
- I stopped going out
- I gave up my TV package
- I stopped buying tickets to football matches
More importantly, I stuck to it.
After four years I became debt free, and the debts that I had started accruing since the age of 18 were finally gone.
I’m now married, have a daughter and recently bought my first house. From repayment plans to having children, saving for a wedding and a house deposit – every step I’ve taken has been easier because of the budgeting skills I’ve learnt a decade ago.
I’ve started my own site called Utilities or Liberties (very much in its infancy) on Facebook, the aim being to share my experiences and keep track my own savings, and would love to think this would help others.
Get debt help
If you’re not confident enough to know where to start, StepChange can help. They’re impartial and helped me get where I am today. They’ll do what they can to help you eat, sleep and breathe freely again.
Ironically I now know this more than I ever thought possible – I work in financial services for one of my previous creditors!
What’s your story? Get in touch if you’d like your success story to be featured – you can do this anonymously. We’d love to hear how you’ve battled back against debt and how you’re on the road to becoming debt free!