Help changing my seeming addiction to debt

Hi all,

I'm 27 and in a good job that allows me to pay around £300 a month off my debts but I think I have some kind of addiction to debt because I pay off one debt but then just rack it up on another card! I worked hard to pay off an £11,500 loan last year and was very proud of myself making big over payments but I seem to have now racked up over £7k on my Virgin Mastercard.

I had a lightbulb moment and was determined to sort myself out when I actually logged in online at Virgin (or MBNA) and saw that I was being charged £20 month more in interest than I was paying off each month. I think I really knew this but was scared to log in and it felt much easier to bury my head in the sand. I have my current account with LloydsTSB and they have offered me a 6 month 4.9% balance transfer to handle the whole amount outstanding on my Virgin card which is very tempting as it certainly makes the debt much cheaper to service but I don't trust myself not to just go on and rack up the debt again on the Vrign card and be back at square one.

I know I could snowball my debts and get myself sorted but I find it so psychologically draining and demoralising paying Virgin, Mint, etc. each month to service my expensive debt instead of seeing my hard-earned go into a savings account that is building something for my future. I'm scared that time will fly and that i'll be in my 50s and still in this much level of personal debt having acheived nothing at all for all my faffing around and having not changed the way I thought about money.

I can't carry on like this as I should be saving for a deposit on my first place and I am embarrassed when I have to explain to friends and family why i don't have my own flat yet and still live in a shared house.

I think that, deep down, the problem is that I cannot stop myself spending money that I don't have if there is something I need (like a car service), I find I am always managing to justify the spending to myself. Please can anyone out there offer any tips or advice on how to change their mindset and get themselves on the road to being debt-free wihotu giving up their life and living under a stone for 3 years!

Many apologies for my rambling but I'm at a dead end and feel like I am being left behind and resticted in life.

Many thanks in advance,



  • I think we are all tarred with the same brush at times Eddie, two steps forward and ten steps back.
    It may be more beneficial to you to have a firm budget and a spends diary. Have a look at painless cutting back in Martin's give yourself a 25% payrise article. Also go on the snowball in it is an amazing tool which can help you set a pace to pay it all back at.
    I find freebie money very good by using cashback sites such as Quidco and i check out every possible good deal i can through household insurance, car insurance etc.
    Look at the Grabbit boards for deals for cinemas. bargains etc.
    Up your income board and Mystery shopping sites for freebie meals out and being paid to go shopping is really hard being forced to buy something..honest.
    Finally with all the painless cutbacks etc, pay yourself in the form of a regular savings account. Put what you don't miss in there and you will find that you will have enough money for everything.

    Some folk swear by Matched betting i am a coward on that but will get into it.

    Good luck and keep posting.

    Edit to ask are your debts on 0% if not have a look into transferring you will save yourself a fortune on interest rates, but cut up your old cards and close the account so you are not tempted to run it up again.
    Blackadder: Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words 'I have a cunning plan' marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?
    Still lurking around with a hope of some salvation:cool:
  • Sue-UU
    Sue-UU Posts: 9,547
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Hi Andy,

    It's good to see you've had your lightbulb moment and realised what you're doing to yourself and to your future. I thoroughly agree will all "boredofbeingathome's" suggestions and agree that once you've 'Balance Transferred' the remainder of your debt with Virgin, you really do need to cut up your card asap and get rid of all temptations.

    Get your finances in order this year and then be really strict with yourself and whenever you're tempted to buy, always ask yourself "do I need it - or just want it?" If it's the latter then leave it in the shop! If you're not sure then go home and really dig deep into your thoughts about how sensible or how rash you're being. It's easy to go back IF you NEED it, not so if you find you don't!

    Who knows when the chance of love and marriage/living together might come along and you'd be so embarrassed, possibly terribly hurt too if you couldn't even think about it. Once you've paid your debts back Andy, put everything you can into savings, you'll feel so much happier and content when you have enough to know all will be well.

    All the very best for a far brighter future with you in control!!

    Sealed Pot Challenge 001 My Totals = 08 = £163.95 09 = £315.78 10 = £518.80 11 = £481.87 12 = £694.53 13 = £1200.20! 14 = £881 15 = £839.21 16 = £870.48 17 = £871.52 18 = £800.00 19 = £851.022021=£820.26[/SizeGrand Totals of all members (2008 uncounted) 2009 = £32.154.32! 2010 = £37.581.47! 2011 = £42.474.34! 2012 = £49.759.46! 2013 = £50.642.78! 2014 = £61.367.88!! 2015 = £52.852.06! 2016 = £52, 002.40!! 2017 = £50,456.23!! 2018 = £47, 815.88! 2019 = £38.538.37!!!! :j
  • the problem is that I cannot stop myself spending money that I don't have if there is something I need (like a car service)

    The problem is that if you don't have money to spend on the things you need, you are spending it on other things. If you take a cold hard look at what you've bought, can you honestly say that you needed every single thing you bought? :confused:

    What I'm trying to say is the car service is not the problem - the problem is whatever you spent the money on.

    Do you have a budget for all your essential/needs spending?
    Warning ..... I'm a peri-menopausal axe-wielding maniac ;)
  • Thank you all for your very salient advice and insights, it is so good to hear I'm not alone and that other people have managed to do themselves proud and work hard to overcome the burden of debt.

    I am pretty good at budgeting and I keep a spreadsheet of my outgoings, etc. I just seem to go off the rails at weekends if I'm out shopping with my girlfriend for example, although last Saturday my reply to her question "What do you need to get today?" was "nothing at all" and it's been a while since I've been shopping and not come home with a magazine, book or clothes bought purely on a whim!

    The majority of my debt is on good deals for the current economic climate, i.e. Mint 14 month 0% interest balance transfer (although that is about to end) and Barclaycard 5.9% life of balance rate. It is just my LloydsTSB overdraft and the dreaded Virgin card that are on extortionate interest rates. I am clearing the overdraft quickly though and this month that will be down to £1,000 from the £2,300 it was this time last year at an interest rate touching 20%!

    It sounds like everyone on these forums who has had their lightbulb moment has now grown a steely determination and hearty fondness for money saving and clearing debt as quickly as possible and I hope it's that feeling that I can feel growing inside me too! My first port of call this evening when I get home from work is to phone LloydsTSB and transfer the Virgin balance to the 4.9% offer and cut the evil card up! I will then produce another snowball spreadsheet via the site and actually stick to it!

    The small savings pot is a great idea too, if I can just put a little something in there each month alongside the majority going on repaying debt then that will be a nice psychological boost.

    Many thanks again for your help,
  • tyllwyd
    tyllwyd Posts: 5,496 Forumite
    Also, don't be too harsh on yourself. You say you are earning a reasonable amount - but then a big chunk of it will be eaten up by debt repayments. So in effect, you have a lot less money available to you, which makes it much easier to overspend just in day to day living, which makes the problem worse the next month, and so on. If you can be very strict with yourself for a certain amount of time, the debts will come down, you will have more cash available and life will get more comfortable ... but that's probably what happened this time, you got that little bit too comfortable and the debts grew up again. Or maybe you tried to pay off the first loan a bit too quickly, and that's why you ended up running up the credit card, because you hadn't left yourself with enough money to cope. Maybe this time try to be realistic about what you can manage, and make sure you keep a very good track of your cash. And maybe avoid shopping for a while!

    Any how, good luck - I'm sure you can do it, and think how good it will be without all this debt hanging over you each month.
  • SouthCoast
    SouthCoast Posts: 1,985 Forumite
    It can be revealing to work out how many days a month you need to work just to pay the interest and charges on your debts.
  • If the problem is impulse buying of stuff you don't really need, then the thing I find helpful to me, is keeping a list of what I want.

    I have a notebook, and every time I see something I really want ( or convince myself I need !) I write it in my notebook with how much it costs and where I saw it. Sometimes my 'need' was so impulsive that by the time I've got home I've forgotten about it completely, so I am really glad that I didn't buy it.

    Other times, I decide I want it, so then take time researching it, trying to find it cheaper - by the time I've done that, I've sometimes lost interest as well, but if I haven't, it goes on my list of things to get when I can afford it. This list changes all the time as things I assumed I wanted turned out to be a whim - in fact I was looking back at some early entries last night and I thought ' What on earth did you ever want that for ?' So I basically only ever end up getting stuff that I really want and can afford.
    Please note that this approach does not work for chocolate :EasterBun
    DFW Nerd number 729
    Debt Free & Proud
  • pebblespop
    pebblespop Posts: 1,202 Forumite
    i was/am exactly the same as you OP, always paying things off whilst sticking more debt on other cards.

    i have now cut up the cards except one which is frozen in a block of ice in the freezer!! i can use it if a real emergency comes up but i havn't needed it yet (it's been about two months now!) i am amazed when i look back at all the bits of rubbish i used to put on there.

    i also try to make as much money as i can via ebay, matched betting, mystery shopping etc and put this money in my savings account for emergencies. i now have enough money in there to never need the cc again.

    i pay the cards off from my wages - around £300 per month.

    it is amazing how your mindset changes reading this website.
  • OP, you're right to worry about debt now when you're 27 - I'm in my mid-40s, and only now really getting to grips with it as my kids become more independent.

    I had all sorts of excuses, but like you I would spend all my money and then come up against something I needed to pay for. As it was an essential it went on the credit card. It never struck me that the reason I ran out of money was I'd spent it on stuff I didn't need (Which at that time was cars and beer mainly).

    When my pay arrived next month I would start with what I saw as a clean slate; rather than pay off last month's overspend, I'd just leave it on the card.

    My advice, having been working on my debt for 18 months, is:
    • Don't deny yourself impulse buys, but make them small ones. A magazine is much less damaging than a satnav.
    • Don't fall into the trap of piling payments onto one debt while letting another creep up. Put all your debts on one spreadsheet and worry about the big number at the bottom!
    • Track your total debt month by month, and stick it on a graph.
    • Keep a spending diary at least until you understand your expenditure. I found I could relax this a little once I'd broken the back of my debts.
    HTH - good luck!
    Long-haul Supporters DFW 120
    Debt @ LBM (October 2007): £55187
    Debt Now (April 2014): £0
    Debt-free-date: [STRIKE]July[/STRIKE] April 2014 :j:j:j
  • pebblespop wrote: »
    i have now cut up the cards except one which is frozen in a block of ice in the freezer!! i can use it if a real emergency comes up but i havn't needed it yet (it's been about two months now!)
    :beer: Love this idea.
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