Please help me

Hello, I really need some help as I’m desperate. I’ve read through the forums, but I can’t find the answer to my queries. Obviously things are very bad and I’m at an incredibly low ebb, even suicidal on occasions, but I’ll cut to the facts because I need some answers.

The basic problem is this. My husband and I brought a house over our means six years OK, basically because we were stuck next to the Neighbours from Hell and didn’t want to wait the three years that we’d planned to move to a better area. We love the house though, its perfect. However, the mortgage payments are big, but we figured that as long as we had the house we would borrow in the meantime until we could remortgage. This wasn’t a problem until I was unexpectedly made redundant last year, spent a terrible 8 months unemployed but have now got another job – though less well paid than the last and no paid overtime (plenty of unpaid but that’s another story).

My husband was diagnosed with depression (2 sudden deaths in his family and his own high debts amongst other things) a few years ago so I have been carrying all the financial burden myself – I really don’t want him to know the trouble we’re in.

The mortgage is up to date but its interest only and market is falling so if we sold I think we would only get back (after fees) what the mortgage is. So we’d have no where to leave and no additional cash.

I owe about £30,000 (£20,000 in unsecured loans and £10,000 in credit cards). All are just in my name, at low a rate (for the cards) and a low rate and long term (for the loans). However because of the size of the debt I’m borrowing more and more just to cover the payments and need to stop now. I have ‘collected‘ various credit cards over the years and now have a combined credit limit of £110,000, I don’t want to use this though - I am determined to stop now and not borrow any more.

I have a complete budget and have cut back everything I can. I have £250 per month ‘spare’ after all expenses (including the mortgage) have been taken out. However this is just my wages and not my husbands, his wages do not contribute to the household as he is paying his own debts off – this is a long term issue, he had a gambling problem before we meet and is still paying off the money.

We no holidays, have cut all expenditure to the bare minimum but its not enough, I’m just surviving and the debts are getting worse not better.

My questions are:
1. Am I best going to a Debt Management Company (which one?) or contacting all the companies individually?
2. If I go to a Debt Management Company - will we have to sell the house?
3. Do I have to mention my husband’s income (don’t want to because I don’t know how long it will last and all his money goes to pay his debts)?
4. Will I be contacted over the phone by the Companies that I owe money to? I want to keep this away from my husband.
5. Will my husband be contacted if all the debts are in my name? If the answer is yes then I have to find another way out of this – I can’t get him involved, that’s not an option.
6. The roof is in dire need of repair – that’s scheduled for August but will cost £2,000. If I put this cash in a separate savings account , will I have to tell the Debt Management Company that its there? If I do surely they will force me to use it for the debts? On the other hand I don’t want them thinking I’m trying to hide something, will they check all my accounts?
7. Will I be allowed to keep one card with a small credit limit ie £500 for emergencies? Or if I negotiate with some creditors will they tell all the others I have cards with (ie even the ones with no balances on them?) I want to remove all access to credit but I tend to do my shopping over the internet (using money off coupons of course) so one card is an essential.
8 Similarly my Bank Account is fine (we have an overdraft but don’t use it) – will they be told if I enter into an agreement with my creditors? Again its in joint names so I can’t get my husband involved.

Thank you so much in advance, I’ve been struggling on my own with this for a long time, any constructive suggestions would be helpful. I understand completely that this is all my own fault – but the last few years have been awful, we’ve had an appalling run of bad luck.

I live in Scotland if that makes any difference.


  • Malestrom
    Malestrom Posts: 983 Forumite
    Welcome to MSE Ellen5! :D

    Can you just clarify something for us. You say:
    I have £250 per month ‘spare’ after all expenses (including the mortgage) have been taken out.

    But then you say:
    I’m just surviving and the debts are getting worse not better.

    Do you have to take debt payments from that £250 or are those included in your budget? If you have £250 a month spare after paying everything, including debt payments, then you should be in a reasonable position and your debts should not be getting bigger.

    1. Yes, use a debt managment company. Its far, far easier than dealing with it yourself and talking to a professional is always to be advised. I'd recommend CCCS but National Debtline and PayPlan are also supposed to be very good. All are free.

    2. No.

    3. Difficult one. If the debts are solely in your name then maybe not but it is usual to declare all household income. They may not consider his wage if you can prove he has a prior agreement but i'm really not sure. Your debt management advisor would be able to clarify this.

    4. Yes, they will try to ring you. Change your number and don't tell them.

    5. If the debts are all in your name then no, they should not contact him as this would contravene the data protection act.

    6. Do you actually have the cash or were you going to take it off a credit card? If the former, draw it out and give it to you mother to repay some fictitious debt, then get her to pay for the roof at the relevant time. If the latter then be extremely careful as the CC company will immediately query the withdrawal/transfer of £2000 just before being told of your DMP (Debt Management Plan). You could draw small amounts of cash from various cards over a period of several weeks I suppose.

    7. No. You will not be able to keep any cards. You could 'forget' to mention a card with a very small or zero balance and save this for emergencies. However, proper budgeting would mean that you would have a contingency fund and no need for an emergency card. I understand the shopping over the net bit, its why I applied for a Capital One Classic card (guaranteed to all) but this only has a credit limit of £200.

    8. If your bank is one of your creditors (loan, credit card?) then yes, they will be told. If not, then no but if they ever do a credit check then your history will become apparent to them and they may remove the overdraft facility, take away your cheque card or Switch card, as these are all forms of credit (Switch guarantees cheques). You should still be able to obtain a basic debit card like Visa Electron though.

    I would advise that you close all the credit cards that are unused by writing to the issuers. Contact CCCS and they will take some details and then arrange a telephone interview, usually for about 4 weeks later. They will send you a pack with details of the DMP and an Income & Expenditure sheet to fill in for the interview. After the interview you can decide on whether you want to proceed with the DMP. Change your phone number, go ex-directory and inform CCCS of the change and that you do not want your phone number passed on to your creditors.

    You really do need to discuss this with your husband at some stage. I do understand your reasons for not wanting to but this is a long-term problem with a long-term solution. Keeping this sort of secret for many years is difficult and stressful. You also need to be thinking about how this affects your mortgage. Once you have a DMP in place, you may find it difficult to remortgage or change mortgages at a later date.

    Finally, I would strongly advise you go to National Debtline's site (in the blue banner at the top of this page) and read the debt advice there. Scotland is different to England and there is a different section there. If you are better informed then you can make better decisions.

    Good Luck!
    He huihuinga taangata he pukenga whakaaro – A meeting of people; a wellspring of ideas (Maori proverb)
  • ellen5
    ellen5 Posts: 9 Forumite
    Thanks Malestrom. The £250 is the money between ALL my creditors after bills.

    A lot to think about here....
  • Edinburghlass_2
    Edinburghlass_2 Posts: 32,680 Forumite
    First Post Combo Breaker
    Sending postive thoughts, Ellen. You will get some great advice on here.

    Take care ;)
  • Queenie
    Queenie Posts: 8,793 Forumite
    ((Hugs ellen))

    No advice on the particular queries you ask but wanted to reassure you that, no matter how dire the view may be today, you have to take each moment as it comes!

    Now, on a back to basics angle: is your husband getting any counselling for his depression/gambling addiction? If not, then that is something which will be worth dealing with sooner rather than later - especially as he is making such a concerted effort to sort out the debts which have arisen because of those problems.

    Next, have you addressed all the other issues regarding maintaining/running a household? (ie: can you reduce your utility bills by switching supplier? Have you visited Moneysaving Old Style to see if any of the recipe/shopping/menu planning ideas would be applicable in your circumstances?)

    Have you spoken with the CAB? They may be able to advise you on your personal circumstances far better then we are able.

    Keep posting, keep asking questions!!! Don't allow yourself to become engulfed and overwhelmed by the circumstances you are in. We'll help all we are able to - even if it boils down to little more than a ((hug)) and an abundance of positive vibes going your way while you work your way through this toughest of challenges.

    Q x
    PMS Pot: £57.53 Pigsback Pot: £23.00
  • ellen5
    ellen5 Posts: 9 Forumite
    Thank everyone! This is the first time I've told ANYONE this - evertone thinks I'm the happy one who holds everything together.

    I'm going to contact CCCS this week.

    One thing though - if I have it all sorted 'officially' ie with a debt management plan - how can the Companies still phone and hassle me? Is that legal? Sorry to be so innocent......
  • Malestrom
    Malestrom Posts: 983 Forumite
    What happens is that inbetween CCCS contacting them with the DMP and them accepting it, they may contact you to try and get you to settle in full or make substantial payments. This is standard practice. Some companies are very good and will accept a DMP straight away, especially when its presented by the CCCS or a similar debt management service as they can see that you're serious. Others however, are a real pain to deal with and try any method they can to squeeze money from you.

    What can also happen is that you might have a loan with Lloyds for example. CCCS contact them and all parties agree to the DMP. 3 months down the line, Lloyds sell the debt on, as they are entitled to do, to a debt collection agency who may then start trying to hassle you for more payments/settlement. This is where the number change comes in useful. Basically, if they don't have your phone number then they have to write to you. You simply forward their demands on to CCCS and they deal with it. You don't have to get involved at all. Thats why I always recommend people use a professional fee-free debt management company. Your creditors are used to dealing with them, know that they can't push them around and are generally happier to accept the terms of the DMP.

    Try not to worry too much about it Ellen, its a lot easier than it sounds and I found the CCCS to be non-judgemental and very helpful. Be warned though, they are so incredibly busy that it can take some time to get everything into place. It IS worth it though, I use CCCS myself and if it makes you feel any better, my debts are a bit higher than yours! :D

    You will get plenty of help and support here also, as I'm sure you've noticed :)
    He huihuinga taangata he pukenga whakaaro – A meeting of people; a wellspring of ideas (Maori proverb)
  • gravitytolls
    gravitytolls Posts: 13,558 Forumite
    Keep your chin up Ellen. As you can now see, you're not in aalonely boat on a lonely ocean (mixed metaphors?).

    Once things are under control, and you can breathe, you'll feel a huge weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

    May I suggest, in teh meantime, that if you really are feeling suicical, you speak to your GP. When you're feeling overwhelmed by everything, it can be very difficult to feel that life will ever be back to normal. You may be experiencing panicky feelings - tightening of the muscles in chest and stomach, accompanied by breathlessness. If this sounds familiar, get to the Dr. Don't hang on, go talk to him.

    It may not be medication you need, but possibly counselling; don't forget you've been shouldering your husbands burden as well as your own.

    You don't have to be superwoman, look at every avenue, don't be rpoud, accept whatever help is out there.

    Good luck.
    Karen xx
    I ave a dodgy H, so sometimes I will sound dead common, on occasion dead stupid and rarely, pig ignorant. Sometimes I may be these things, but I will always blame it on my dodgy H.

    Sorry, I'm a bit of a grumble weed today, no offence intended ... well it might be, but I'll be sorry.
  • ellen5
    ellen5 Posts: 9 Forumite
    Many thanks everyone for the positive replies, after months of worry I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I am currently complying a detailed list of all outgoings and money owed, in preparation to ring the CCCS and arrange a DMP.

    This may seem like a trivial question – but my son (aged 7) has £800 in a Abbey Childrens savings account, which I administer on the internet linked to our current account. I do not owe Abbey a penny as I have always managed to keep the current account in credit.

    Do I have to tell the CCCS about this? I know you could argue that all household money should go to the DMP but its all the cash relatives have given him for Xmas and birthdays over the years and I would really like to keep it for him.

    What does anyone think?
  • Malestrom
    Malestrom Posts: 983 Forumite
    No, you do not have to tell CCCS about this. They will ask if YOU have any savings. You do not, these savings belong to your son. As you state that you do not owe Abbey any money then I can't see any problems with this scenario.
    He huihuinga taangata he pukenga whakaaro – A meeting of people; a wellspring of ideas (Maori proverb)
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