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  • FIRST POST
    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    • 49Posts
    • 397Thanks
    sentientpoet
    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

    Sentient

    Apologies for any mixed metaphors. Iím finding it hard to concentrate this evening for some reason
Page 5
    • January2015
    • By January2015 28th Feb 17, 12:12 AM
    • 1,757 Posts
    • 4,746 Thanks
    January2015
    While there is some truth in your statement, the last 11 years have been far from 'tragic' and I also feel the need to clarify that my debts were not solely the result of 'consumer stupidity'. Please show a little consideration for others before posting when you don't know the complete story.

    I posted so that my experiences could inspire and give hope to others who can't see a way out. Besides, I would rather be judged not for what I did but for what I did to change who I was.
    Originally posted by sentientpoet
    Well said As I said in an earlier post, you've shown strength of character to keep going and pay down your debts. It's people like you who inspire me to keep going.
    DFW Nerd No. 1484 LBM 07/01/15 Debt was £95k I'm driving it down
    £1k emergency fund (member #84) £1k/£1k
    Xmas 2017 £1 p/day challenge No. 20 - £420/£730
    Make £10 p/day Feb £74.31, Mar £664.37 Apr £40
    • moneyfacts
    • By moneyfacts 28th Feb 17, 9:31 AM
    • 67 Posts
    • 117 Thanks
    moneyfacts
    For the avoidance of doubt I wasn't trying to be smug. Iv been there myself where I got into a lot of debt and took me years to clear.

    When I look back on it though, I don't feel proud, I just feel I wasted money and time for being an idiot. Maybe I just need to be more optimistic about life.

    I do however admire this post for paying it all back! Bankruptcy would have been an easy option and that says a lot about him.
    • motivated
    • By motivated 28th Feb 17, 7:13 PM
    • 2,273 Posts
    • 3,389 Thanks
    motivated
    Sentientpoet
    Its posts like yours that made me sit up and helped me realise that I needed to sort my life out.
    Thankyou so much for sharing. I have subscribed to it and read it regularly. I have even shared it with others that are also struggling financially. You have been the talk of the forum (in a good way)
    I hope you are enjoying your new found freedom
    M
    I have arrived in DMP land and I like it, I may stay a while
    Short term goal £735/£1796

    SPC # 91
    • Teacher2
    • By Teacher2 1st Mar 17, 9:53 AM
    • 500 Posts
    • 2,530 Thanks
    Teacher2
    I told my DH about this thread when he came in from work yesterday evening and he was as full of admiration and praise as I am so I wanted to pass that on. I did think the comment about 'consumer stupidity' was a little harsh (though I see the poster, 'moneyfacts', has explained he was 'stupid' in his own view, too). We have all been a little down on our luck or foolish at times and it takes real courage to admit it and share experience and advivce in order to inspire others to escape their debts.

    I think that the main virtues of the 'Debt Free Wannabe' thread are that they elicit sympathy and advice for those wishing to pay back their debts; they reinforce the message that debts should be tackled and that by doing so character and responsibility are built and they inspire others troubled by debt to do something about it.

    In fact, some of the longer threads reveal people growing in moral strength and determination from post to post and year to year.
    • Lumanous
    • By Lumanous 20th Mar 17, 6:11 PM
    • 128 Posts
    • 323 Thanks
    Lumanous
    I know you have so many congrats here but I had to post something. Not only getting through the feat but wanting to help others along the way too. So I must say well done for persevering and truly sticking with your goal, regardless of any hiccups along the way. I also admire your conviction in still holding faith in your life and the path you have taken as you should.

    Although there may be some or even significant debt impact from bad or less guided decisions, I think there is sometimes a lack of understanding that sometimes some building of debt is because of the uncontrollable things that happen in life and actually you cannot say where you would be if you had not spent certain money etc. Does it excuse the whole lot in every case? No, but I don't think anybody's debt large or small is solely down to simply easy or wrong decisions. Life throws so many things at us and sometimes costs are needed, if then sometimes amplified by indulgent living! Regardless of how you got there you faced up to it and dealt with it yourself and proved your strength.

    I am certain others will be comforted and inspired by your journey, especially those just starting out. Also shows how the journey can change. It's not necessarily as daunting or long haul as it first seems. You decide your path with the next step you take.

    Just think how much you can save now with all that debt gone!

    I hope you are feeling free and happy as you are into a fresh year taking the next step in your life wherever that path shall take you. Remember your strength and all you've achieved I hope if you haven't celebrated then you will at some point even if it's when there is an emergency fund in the bank

    No, my username is not a typo
    • jojogirly
    • By jojogirly 9th Sep 17, 12:22 PM
    • 1,669 Posts
    • 5,122 Thanks
    jojogirly
    Congratulations, thank you for sharing your story
    Total 2017 so far: £1560

    2016 total £2025 (Took break mid year) 2015 total £3809.

    Still hoping to win a family holiday.
    • kazza292
    • By kazza292 9th Sep 17, 12:40 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 33 Thanks
    kazza292
    that gave me goosebumps.. as i start emptying my lake xx
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