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    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    • 49Posts
    • 408Thanks
    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 7
    • Onebrokelady
    • By Onebrokelady 12th Feb 18, 1:57 AM
    • 260 Posts
    • 675 Thanks
    These feelings are very common amongst first time defaulters.

    Its all very confusing at first, with lots of stuff to get your head around, we don`t seem to talk about debt much in this country, its all hush hush, that`s one of the reasons people don`t know what to expect when they can`t pay their debts.

    You see there are systems in place to help you deal with these things, and the companies you owe money to, always build into their business model, the fact that a certain % of customers will default on there payments, so they plan for these things, they don`t lose out, what they don`t make off you, they make off someone else.

    Its all profit and loss to them.
    Originally posted by sourcrates
    Iím starting to see this now. I phoned my creditors a couple of days ago to let them know what was happening and I expected the Spanish Inquisition but they were all very matter of fact about it ,my only regret now is that I didnít do something about it before instead of waiting until now,but here I am taking control and although I know there will be hiccups along the way it feels really good to be in control of my finances for once,I didnít even used to check my bank account from one month to the next because I wa so worried about the lack of funds but now Iím keeping and eye on everything and Iíve allocated cash for all my spending so I know exactly what I have and most important of all I have an emergency fund which is something I have never had in my life,itís feels really good to have a small safety net for a change,the next job is looking for better deals on the services ,this is something I hate doing but itís got to be done
    Just keep swimming
    Payment a day challenge = £60.76
    • Robots
    • By Robots 12th Feb 18, 1:51 PM
    • 42 Posts
    • 258 Thanks
    What a FABULOUS story. Gives me hope that I will feel like this one day
    Veteran gamer and clean freak
    • shomic5
    • By shomic5 16th Feb 18, 2:15 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 6 Thanks
    £63k Paid Off
    A very very painful 4yrs and 2 months but finally it is gone....

    Top Tips for Lloyds Bank Customers:

    • DO check your PPI - Lloyds one paid of my overdraft debt
    • DO check if you have ever had an account you have to pay a monthly charge on - mine was refunding (Lloyds again) and that paid off credit card debt with Lloyds (ironic karma!!)
    • DO ask Lloyds to stop charging interest on your debt - they were audited recently and agreed they should have stopped and consequently paid £3.5k back me, allowing me to settle my DMP debt 8 months early
    • DO NOT go with a DMP company which charges you for handling your debt, I used StepChange a wonderful, wonderful government run charity - absolutely no fees!!!

    DO hang in there and keep smiling ...

    MS (Proud to be "Debt Free")
    • Iamzee
    • By Iamzee 22nd Feb 18, 2:16 AM
    • 59 Posts
    • 61 Thanks
    Story with lots of hope.. I've read it twice and it just feels so inspiring.
    • jony1618
    • By jony1618 24th Feb 18, 3:38 PM
    • 6 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    congratulations for being debt free. one question, how did you get that sort of credit? ddi you have lot of earning or what did you do to get big credit?
    • Moneybutterfly35
    • By Moneybutterfly35 24th Feb 18, 6:49 PM
    • 21 Posts
    • 74 Thanks
    This is amazing, well done !!!
    #583 (#244 EF challenge)
    • debtfool
    • By debtfool 3rd Mar 18, 5:24 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    Well done you xx
    This has just made me cry, hope i can do the same xx
    • MrsLWW
    • By MrsLWW 7th Mar 18, 8:57 AM
    • 84 Posts
    • 251 Thanks
    The biggest congratulations - what a journey! And what a feeling you must have!!! Xx
    Debt peak approx £30,000 now debt free!!!
    My parents always said "If you can't afford it cash, you can't afford it!" so true!.... mind you, turns out we can't afford much lol
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