Not sure where to start...

I've gotten myself in a bit of financial trouble I guess. I had cleared about £10k of debt over 2 years, using tips etc from this forum. My credit rating was higher than it had ever been and I started working as a childminder. I had some extra income, and then my car broke down, I'd paid £1800 which was all of my savings and it needed £2500 of work 5 months later. Half the money I was making each month (500) was from children who I needed to collect and drop off from their homes. I needed a reliable car and so I got one on finance. Obviously my credit wasn't great so the repayments are pretty high at £300 a month, but I could cover it and still have a bit extra from those specific children. Until those families left due to moving house and one parent losing their job. Not so bad, I made up the money by taking on new children and was earning £1400 a month. Until Coronavirus hit and my childcare setting was closed down. I won't receive any help from the government as I have only been self employed since middle of 2019.

Despite having extra money coming in I had not saved any money or made a concerted effort to pay off my existing debts. I was enjoying being able to treat my kids and put enough food on the table for once. But I've now got £29k of debt including the car (£16500 but worth £10k at most). Most of the debt is old, from years back that I have been paying small payments on for the last few years. None of it can be written off as I've made payments to it all. Lowell won't entertain f & f settlements as the debt is so old they're happy to receive £1 per month on each (11) for the next 312 months. Cabot have been great, they've helped me save £100's by giving me settlements where I pay a higher amount for 3 months but they wrote off the rest. At this point my credit is so bad that even partial settlements are better than nothing, it's going to be 6 years before anything improves much. I've got a catalogue and 3 credits cards which aren't actually late yet, but are maxed out. I have missed 1 car payment and may need to miss another before I can juggle things around enough to make sure all the essentials are paid. 

Thankfully, I have some benefits coming in and, at least for the next few weeks, the amounts won't reduce. I'm so sick of being poor, and yet seem unable to stop spending money on non-essentials, this has always been what I do when I'm feeling low or down. I'm starting university in September so won't be able to do any childminding and will be living on student finance. Luckily the course is an NHS one so I will receive some extra funding and this will pay for my accommodation on campus. The university is too far away for me to reasonably commute (90 mins each way). The distance is not the issue, it's the lack of time I will have for studying and doing the set reading because I'll be driving for a minimum of 3 hours per day. I've decided to stay on campus so I can get all my work done on the weekday evenings and then drive home on Friday afternoon and spend the entire weekend with my children, no coursework to get in the way. My mum is going to be moving in to my house to do the school runs and look after the youngest child (5 y.o). If I lived closer I could avoid the need to stay on campus but it seems there is little interest in my house on any of the swapping websites. And I can't afford to leave my council house and go into private accommodation where the rent is 2x or 3x higher. 

I'd love to buy my own house, even shared ownership but I'll be 40 this year. All being well I will be a qualified radiographer by the time I'm 43, so will have a job for life and be eligible for key worker home ownership schemes but how can I pay off all my debts and save up for a house deposit on such a small income? And before I get too old to actually qualify for a mortgage? I feel like I'm stuck. If I return my car I'll owe about £6k to the finance company, and I'll have no car to get to and from university. If I live at home I'll have more money but I'll be spending what little time I have after the drive home doing coursework, plus I hate driving at night time and will be so tired from the commute. If I live on campus Monday to Friday then I'll spend more money and miss my kids so much, but i'll be able to focus on the course and that will improve our lives in the long term. I honestly hate being an adult sometimes!

I guess I just wanted to write things down for my own sake. Maybe getting it all down on 'paper' will help me to de-stress a bit and help me to see things clearly. I know I am luckier than most, things could be worse and I am grateful that I have some money coming in as I know there are others who have nothing. I hope I'm not coming across as feeling too sorry for myself! 

I guess my next steps are:
1. get rid of all non-essential payments - Amazon Prime, etc
2. keep on top of all payments and don't miss any more
3. start paying as much as possible on my credit cards, catalogue and loan - they are the only ones costing me in interest, the older ones can wait
4. stop spending money on non-essentials

That's about all I can do for now. I can't increase my income until the coronavirus closures end. At least now I have some sort of a plan!

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