How I Got Myself Debt-Free - Freebird's Journey

Further to a few requests, I thought I'd do a write-up on how I got to the point of my debt-free announcement at 8.23am this morning!

My story started some years ago in the City where I worked. It's very much a culture of conspicuous consumption and it's very easy to get sucked into it. I earnt fantastic money, the social life was an endless whirl and yes, I loved it. You have to look the part too and be seen at all the right "do's". Then there's the breakfast's at Starbucks, lunch at Pret a Manger or some little cafe......oh and while we're out let's just pop into the shops.....oh look at that darling little must-have handbag....drinks tonight at China White & taxi home? (at least £100+) problem.....£400 a month in Tescos on food and drinks for entertaining etc....yeah and? Then one day you wake up and realise how fake it all is......the thought of going to yet another do made me feel ill.....what for?? I just wanted to sleep!!

I had loans totalling £25,000, a £4,000 overdraft facility (maxed!), credit card balances of around £40,000 and a couple of large HP agreements - oh and a wardrobe full of designer clothes and swanky handbags. It was becoming very tight every month to try and control....and I'm good with figures! So I had a good long think and decided the City had to go - I wanted a fresh start away from the temptation - something real. I put my house on the market and handed in my notice. My shocked colleagues thought I was mad and tried to talk me out of it. I downsized to a smaller place, cut my mortgage by £50,000 and used the leftover to pay chunks off my most expensive debt.

I was left with £6,000 on a loan, a £3,500 overdraft and about £5,000 on credit cards. About this time I discovered MSE - I don't remember how, but I was instantly hooked. I trawled the boards, got excited over deals and freebies and haunted the forums. Reading the debt-free board made me realise that I really had to knuckle down and do some serious a shocked friend pointed out when we went shopping "My god, you're still shopping as if you're earning £50K a year".

Now I'm not going to pretend that any of it came easily - it was bloody tough and at times I thought I had the most awful life ever and that it was never going to get better. I thought the "sacrifices" were just too much to ask and how could I possibly live without all my "essentials"?

I went through my Tesco shop and cut out things like my fave smoked salmon and £12 bottle of wine. I can hear all the mothers out there screaming with horror at how I lived, but you have to remember that I was a single girl with money to burn, living in an environment where it was "normal". I started making most things from scratch, I looked out for deals, and switched to own brands. The difference meant I suddenly had an extra £300 a month to throw at my debt. Straight at that overdraft! I also switched my overdraft to a low cost one and my credit cards to 0% ones.

I opened an ebay account and started selling off my designer stuff - I no longer had anywhere to wear them as I also now only went out with my local friends and who cares about Jimmy Choos and Prada in your local pub! The money I raised over the next 9 months or so paid off my loan.

Next holidays - instead of 5 I had 1 and hunted around on the internet for a flight deal, booked the accommodation myself (B&B not 5 star!) and used the clothes I had instead of buying new. And I went the UK. My friends thought that was hilarious, but I loved it - in fact, I'm off again next weekend. I never knew there were so many beautiful parts of England!

Clothes? None....I had so much already and no longer had to keep up with my colleagues. Now I've discovered the likes of Primark which is just heaven! Who cares if those shades were £200 or £2 as long as they do the job? You can look stylish without spending a fortune! I stopped buying all those magazines that make you feel you have to in order to be someone's what we are inside that make us special, and NOT how much we spend "decorating" ourselves!

I ditched Sky (have never missed it), sold my car which was a bit easy as I now use OH's (who I was lucky enough to meet 16 months ago), went through all my utility bills to see where I could save. Actually I became a bit obsessed. I've spent hours on the boards checking for useful tips. Every time I go out and want to buy something, I stop and ask myself if I really need the item, or just want it. If it's just want, it goes back on the shelf! Every bit saved became a brilliant victory and just spurred me on even more. It did get to the point were I was "Do we have to go out? That's £10/20 I could save and there's a good film on". I also joined my mates in market research groups - much better paid than mystery shopping and makes me about £500-£700 a year! I joined Greasypalm and religiously check the site before I buy anything online and use every cashback opportunity going - that's made about £300 in the last year.

I get asked if I miss the City and the lifestyle. Well, do you think a single one of those so-called "friends" has ever been in touch since I left? Asked how I was? Invited me round like I had them so many times? Nope. Would I go back? I think you know the answer.

As soon as the cards were paid off I ditched all bar two and these I promptly used for stoozing - thank you MSE for teaching me that fab little trick! I also cut them up immediately after so I couldn't accidentally use them and then get killed with interest charges. The stooze pot went into a high interest savings accounts which I didn't touch. When the time came, I paid the money back and was left with the interest.....which at 8.23 this morning, I used to ring the last company and say "I'd like to pay the full balance please".

And there my little tale ends. It was by no means as bad as some I've read on here and in many ways I've been very lucky. But we all have our own roads to travel and and it's how we get to our destinations that really counts.

Thank you for listening to my ramble and being there for me and for each other. I'm feeling quite emotional now and think I might cry.

Be lucky xx



  • In_Search_Of_Me
    In_Search_Of_Me Posts: 10,634 Forumite
    freebird thank you SOOOOOO much for sharing, a feeling emotional with you! Couldnt have come at a better time with so many new people logging on in desperation & cannot fail to inspire. A vote for post of the month for me & even if you dont get the £50 hope you know how inspiring your tale is and a good reminder that you find out who your friend are (& arent sadly), that even though its hard it can be done & obviously is worth it. Hope you're having a fantabulous celebration!! Congratulations, massively well done & huge hug from me!
    Nerd no 109 Long haulers supporters DFW #1! Even in the darkest moments, love and hope are always possible.

  • sophiesmum_2
    sophiesmum_2 Posts: 4,965 Forumite
    :T Thanks Freebird, and congratulations once again on becoming debt free.
    Your story shows how anyone can make the choice to be debt free as long as you are willing to work at it and make changes.
    Hope you enjoy your new debt free life and I am sure your mortgage pig will soon be very fat.
    Reduce,re-use, recycle.

  • tootles_2
    tootles_2 Posts: 1,143 Forumite
    Yours is an inspirational tale and there are many on the various boards who will read you tale and marvel that you managed to take yourself by the scruff of the neck, buckle down and get out of debts............I wish you good luck in all you do now you ahve reached your debt free day.........

    Well done.........................

    Living in the sunny? Midlands, where the pork pies come from:

    saving for a trip to Florida and NYC Spring 2008

    Total so far £14.00!!
  • MinnieSpender
    MinnieSpender Posts: 2,975 Forumite
    Oh wow! Well done - and what a tremendous life-change you've had into the bargain. You sound as if you're happier now than then, and that's a great lesson for us all. Money doesn't buy happiness. Or good friends.

    You're quite brilliant!
    :eek: What if the hokey cokey is what it's all about? :eek:
    Official "Bring back Mark and Lard NOW! or else (please)" Member 16
  • A Huge well done to you. It seems hard for some people cutting down on a normal lifestyle, but to go from such an extravent life was such a huge commitment/scafrifice to make, and it really sounds as though your whole life has changed for the better. It does show that material things are not necessarily what makes you happy. I am so pleased to read your story and wish you the very best of luck and happiness in the "next stage" of your life journey.:T
  • overbudget
    overbudget Posts: 232 Forumite
    Great story - congratulations! You sound like you are really going to enjoy your new DF life!
    Highest Debt (July 06): £55117.79 Debt now: £52895.44 Debt Free Date: June 2010
  • Debbiem
    Debbiem Posts: 35 Forumite
    Oh Wow !!

    thank you for telling your story - ive found it really inspirational and no doubt many others will have too

    Big hugs :)
  • PigginSkint
    PigginSkint Posts: 2,706
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am just at the beginning of my DFW journey so this is just wonderful inspiration.

    I felt emotional reading it and I think i shall cry too!:cry:

    I think a celebration is in order - what have you got planned?

    PigginSkint's debt free diary
    DFW Nerd 1049 Amazon Sellers Club member 54
    Total mortgage debt: 30/4/17 £14090.77 (Last payment: September 2021)
    LTSB Loan 30/4/17 £6633.71 (reduction by 48%)
    Total credit cards: 30/4/17 £25971.91 :eek:
    Total non-mortgage debt: 30/4/17 £32876.49 :eek:
  • Luke
    Luke Posts: 112 Forumite
    Well done!

    Moving house really was the smart thing to do.
  • jaja_3
    jaja_3 Posts: 130 Forumite
    What a fantastic read. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

    I now feel there 'must be' a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere and the hours I too spend on this board are not wasted. Infact I have to go out now to visit some good friends (its free and sure there will be a coffee thrown in) and I too would rather spend my time on here.

    You have certainly just inspired me to do a bit more, I too have the odd bit of designer gear in the wardrobe which I keep just in case I ever do go anywhere were I may need it - lets face it, I am not going to on ebay it will go this very weekend, thought I had sold everything of value I owned already, there is always more we can do eh?

    Whoops, late now - must go, but a HUGE thank you again for that, made my night and I am sure it will do the same for others.

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