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    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    • 49Posts
    • 406Thanks
    11 years a slave - end of my journey from £103,500 in debt
    • #1
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    11 years a slave - end of my journey from £103,500 in debt 20th Dec 16 at 8:19 PM
    Hello fellow DFWs. It has been a long time since I posted here, but today has been such a momentous day that I felt compelled to write something. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    Today I made the very last payment to the very last of my creditors. Itís the culmination of an 11-year debt management plan journey, during which I have paid back £103,500 of unsecured personal debt. Just looking at that figure now shocks me to the core.

    There is no smugness in this post. It was my own blindness and stupidity that led me into one gigantic spasm of a mess in the first place. This is simply a post to say that no matter how hard it seems, no matter how big a mountain you think you have to climb, no matter how far away your goal appears to be, you will get there if you stick with it. I am living proof.

    Itís also a post to say thank you to the people running my DMP all these years, and in particular to the members of the DFW forum for the words of wisdom, advice and encouragement so often posted here. Itís sometimes not expressed just how much of an impact your advice has on the more silent forumites among us, but Iím here today to say my journey would have been so much harder without you all.

    I wonít recap in detail the circumstances that led to my debt, but it basically it involved living in London beyond my means on a modest salary, a misguided attempt to work for myself, and an awful lot of easy credit. At the end of 2005, having sold my flat, car and nearly everything I owned, this was my statement of affairs:

    Income: £0
    Net assets: £0
    Unsecured personal debt: £103,500 across credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts.
    Ten accounts in default.
    Three CCJs.
    One complete idiot.

    Oh <insert expletives here>! It was the mother of all wake-up calls.

    PayPlan (who have been unfailingly non-judgemental and supportive throughout) quickly put me at ease and calmly presented me with the options. IVA? Bankruptcy? DMP?

    I vowed I would do whatever it took to pay back every penny owed (frozen interest notwithstanding) and opted for the DMP, so I went out and talked my way into a new job. It wasnít ideal and the salary was awful, but it had to be done. My DMP started, with modest monthly payments, in February 2006. The original debt-free date was something like October 2021. I thought I would never, ever, ever get there Ė it felt like a lifetime away.

    But I never took my eyes of that goal and I stuck with it, battling through a decade of seeing my income stripped to the bone, month in, month out, year in, year out. I worked hard, and managed to land a job I actually wanted. I worked my way up the ladder, and took on any extra work as I was able.

    The years ticked by and yes, I had some major hiccups along the way. I got divorced very amicably, for reasons other than my debt, and then nearly fell into a hellish payday loan spiral while trying to Ďlive a littleí after so long on the DMP. It took a wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat night and the realisation that I had just pointlessly added nine months to my DMP to get me back on track.

    Finally I just accepted the monthly routine, found ways to save money here and there, and sought out ways to live a little that cost a little less. I learnt how to say Ďnoí a little more often. I got to know myself a little better. I invested in a copy of You Need A Budget on the advice of these forums, and found that made things a little easier. If I wanted something, I started saving what little I could for it rather than trying to borrow. And little by little my Debt Free Date crawled nearer.

    Which brings me to today. At 7:48pm I paid off the last of the debt in full, and for the first time in my adult life I owe absolutely nothing to anyone. The CCJs are gone and my credit file is clean. I own outright a nice car and a few other bits Ė all carefully budgeted for Ė and not much else except a small, positive bank balance and a sudden, overwhelming sense of freedom.

    If youíve read this far, then hopefully you will be able to take something from my journey that may help you with your own. It has been ***ing hard at times, make no mistake. But here are a few words of advice from two decades of debt and more than a decade of DMP slavery:

    - Donít hide from your debt. It will only get worse. Talk to your creditors, talk to a specialist or ask on these forums for advice. You will also find that just taking control will make you feel 100 per cent better.

    - No matter how bad you think your situation is, there is always a way out.

    - Donít pay someone to manage your debt. Do it yourself, or talk to one of the excellent free organisations like PayPlan or National Debtline.

    - Budget, budget, budget. Make a realistic budget and try to stick to it. That doesnít mean you canít have money for lifeís little luxuries Ė just budget for them.

    - Donít let creditors bully you into making larger payments at the expense of being able to survive. If you are realistic with your DMP budget no one will force you to pay back more than you can afford - not even the courts.

    - Starting your debt-free journey can feel like someone has asked you to empty a lake with a teaspoon. Just focus on the teaspoon. You wonít notice the lake going down from one month to the next, but one day you will look up and see thereís just a pond left, then a puddle, and then suddenly nothing but dust.

    - Bookmark MSE and the DFW forum. Actually, this should be number one on the list

    - If you feel yourself slipping, remember the goal and donít give in to temptation. Play the long game and learn to say no. One day youíll be so glad you did.

    - And finally, when journeyís end seems so far away that you just want to sit down and give up, remember the idiot on MSE who ran up £103,500 of unsecured debt and spent 11 years of his life paying it back. Heís smiling as he writes this. Youíll be smiling again one day too and it will be the best feeling in the world.

    Merry Christmas


    Apologies for any mixed metaphors. Iím finding it hard to concentrate this evening for some reason
Page 6
    • HairyHandofDartmoor
    • By HairyHandofDartmoor 3rd Jan 18, 10:33 PM
    • 2,831 Posts
    • 16,368 Thanks
    Great idea to make this a sticky so more people can be inspired by it. Truly awsome.
    My Diary
    Debt in July 2017 = £58,766 DEBT FREE 31 OCTOBER 2017
    NEW GOALS - Build an Emergency Fund & Loss of Income Fund. Then save up for repairs to the house.
    Emergency Fund 1 = £818/Emergency Fund 2 = £110.76/Loss of Income Fund £0
    • Nocredit67
    • By Nocredit67 4th Jan 18, 1:28 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Wow thatís truely encouraging. Makes feel a lot better. I was disheartened when coming to do review that after starting dmp 3 years ago with just over £41,000 of debt Iíd only got it down to just short of £29,000. But youíve truly inspired me and my debt is now a river rather than the ocean it was. I will be debt free by hook or crook in no more than 3 years! Well done.
    • Teacher2
    • By Teacher2 4th Jan 18, 8:24 AM
    • 506 Posts
    • 2,558 Thanks
    My goodness me, what an inspirational post. How many people wallowing in debt would benefit from reading this? You have focussed on the nitty gritty here: truth, reality, will power and self denial and have identified the true goals: freedom and independence. 'Stuff' has nothing to appeal like autonomy.

    Well done.

    I do note from your posts that your excellent level of written English and accuracy of expression denote that you are of above average intelligence so perhaps added maturity and experience were always going to see you right in the long term.
    • Martyn James
    • By Martyn James 4th Jan 18, 8:28 AM
    • 10 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    Martyn James
    Congratulations on your journey and on being debt free. If only such extensive debt wasn't so easy to fall in to!
    • Cottage Economy
    • By Cottage Economy 5th Jan 18, 1:54 PM
    • 840 Posts
    • 2,771 Thanks
    Cottage Economy
    What an amazing achievement. You rock!
    The 'Save £12k in 2018' Challenge £500/£6,000 (8.3%)
    The 'Save £12k in 2017' #129 Goal: £4,000. Achieved £4168.95 (104%)

    "...success in personal finance isn't about mastering the technicalities. It is about mastering yourself."
    • Owen1991
    • By Owen1991 5th Jan 18, 5:56 PM
    • 34 Posts
    • 46 Thanks
    That's amazing, enjoy living debt free
    Save 12k in 2018 - £800/£12000 ~ # | Sealed Pot Challenge 2018 ~ #44
    £7000 in LISA | £8000 in Savings - End of 2017
    Debt Free | Saving for a House Deposit
    • Simon1964
    • By Simon1964 9th Jan 18, 11:32 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    Wow, I thought I must have owed the most ever, nearly £60k. Next month will be my last payment on my DMP after 7 years of struggle. Ironically I'm completely new to this forum but great to read other success stories! I may post one myself soon... Congratulations ☺️
    • Distiller72
    • By Distiller72 11th Jan 18, 2:21 AM
    • 12 Posts
    • 5 Thanks
    Congratulations. I hope to join you in being debt free (apart from mortgage) in 2018
    • uphillstruggler
    • By uphillstruggler 12th Jan 18, 9:33 AM
    • 136 Posts
    • 751 Thanks
    Brilliant story. You are a true inspiration. All the best for 2018 to you.
    Emergencies account: £400/500
    Groceries Jan 2018: EUR30.00/200 NSD Jan 2018: 1/10
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