5,000 miles and even more pounds

in Debt Free Diaries
63 replies 2.7K views
I'm paying off my debt whilst living abroad. I thought a diary might help me enjoy my achievements!
Starting situation (March)
  • 20k debt on credit cards, on an average APR of 30%
  • Monthly income of GBP2400
Situation now (August)
  • 14k on credit card (probably a bit over that), and slight salary increase to 2600 having:
Repaid 6k off the debt owed
Paid tons in interest also
Now have an average of 20% APR on the remaining balance
Minimum monthly payments fallen from GBP750 to around GBP500
Goal
  • Aiming to pay off all cards between June and August 2021
  • Flexible as to the order (obvs high APRs go first) as actually my providers have started giving me some switching deals which has changed my initial thinking
  • Then start saving for a house deposit as I am in my 40s and really need to get this sorted for when I do move back to the UK
Key challenges
  • Due to not having the ability to call the UK or receive OTPs I cannot access the balance on some of my cards. It's annoying. I can make payments and as I am heavily overpaying I'm not concerned too much (I do get emails to alert me when statements come out but I cannot view them). However I am down to only about GBP 30 owed on one card and another will get paid off next month so I need to know the exact balance so I can pay it off and not pay too much! Annoying.
  • I have been in lockdown in this new country almost since arriving entirely alone and with no social support in the country - at least it is cheap
  • I don't have many things that some people regard as neccisities, like a TV, radio, toaster, coat, umbrella, armchair. I do have a fridge, washing machine and bed. I am trying to get the debt paid down as a priority.
  • I don't believe I can apply for a new credit card (with a 0% BT, which would make a massive difference to my paydown date) since I am abroad. 
Key advantages

I am low maintenance
It is cheap to live here
As I don't know anybody here and am working from home there is no pressure to spen

If anyone has any advice or thoughts (especially if you've been an expat) it would be great to hear from you. Also if you've done anything similar in terms of the proportion of your takehome pay you are putting to debt (I'm putting between 1300 and 1800 a month of my 2600 salary straight to debt payments and have been for five months) or the amount of starting debt, or a similar repayment timeframe (mine will be about 18 months or hopefully a bit less) then that would be super!!!!

Or any reassurance about getting a first mortgage in your late 40s!!!!
Or just say Hi, because I have a lot of free time to say Hi bakc :smile:
March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


«134567

Replies

  • moneyonmymindsammoneyonmymindsam Forumite
    2.2K Posts
    Sixth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭
    Hi , 
    Firstly well done for paying down 6k in a few months. This is really a great achievement.  :) 
    Do you have a savings pot/ small emergency fund at all? Even for a flight/travel back to UK in a family emergency or if you had to move from where you are? If not perhaps get this together as priority so you are not vulnerable.
    Are there any carboot/fleamarket or better still freebie sites or communities in your area to acquire things like umbrella, tv or toaster??
    Good luck on your debt busting!! What a great start you can do this. 
    Sam  :#


    Grocery challenge Feb £107/£100-epic fail due to cake and biscuits
    🌟
  • SmashingitnowSmashingitnow Forumite
    151 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Thanks Sam / Moneyonmymindsam
    That is really encouraging and motivating!
    You are right that I do not have an emergency fund! This adds to stress especially being without support here! Until Monday there were no flights from my country to the UK....but you are right a pot for this would be helpful. Whilst I have available credit and am paying horrid APR I think I will continue without one for now...I could use a credit card in an emergency. I will give this some thought. 
    I thought of more challenges:
    The exchange rate in the last six months has shifted quite drastically, meaning to pay my debts is costing me an extra 35 GBP a month...I can't do much about this...I am tracking them and could try and delay my transfer to the UK but the impact this would have on interest due probably cancels out the benefit. It is frustrating!
    The other issue I have which is interesting is I can only pay my debts from my UK account. This means on payday I have to transfer as much I can to the UK to maximise debt repayment...this means I cannot overspend here locally as I literally don't have currency! It's a brilliant way of sticking to a budget!!!! 
    I live in a very, very poor country so I couldn't get things from a freebie site - everything is sold on here, even things we might just take to the tip. But I have been here eight months and I really have learned that we do not need things we think we need! I have a hob, so lack of oven or toaster is fine....and if it rains (which isn't that often) I can just get wet. I really think living in a poorer country and being so focused on debt has truly made me learn (although I've never been high maintenance) that we simply don't need much! You are right though there is a BIG second hand market which I could go to to get these things cheaply. It would be a very fun experience and help me practice my language too!
    I am down to 100GBP now to cover the next 2.5 weeks...this is quite fine as I just need food and some transport for a trip into town at the weekends to get out of the house.
    Another challenge here is utility bills. They come at completely irregular intervals....sometimes not for 3/4 months, then you get another one after three weeks! So budgeting for those is a challenge especially when I'm not yet used to how much they will be! So I do have 300GBP set aside for those bills so I can pay them straight away. 
    My challenge next month is to pay 10% of my total debt capital off. Given interest this would mean a payment of around 1750GBP....should be doable! That has motivated me so much as it means if I can do this, then I should only need 10 payments to pay off everything, meaning debt would be gone on July 5 for sure! But as interest would decrease, perhaps June 5 would be doable!
    When our work office opens my ability to repay debt will go down...I'll have commuting costs of around 5-6GBP a day and I will need to buy some clothes and shoes for work. But that seems unlikely for some months yet.
    March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
    Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


  • One-step-at-a-timeOne-step-at-a-time Forumite
    602 Posts
    500 Posts Third Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper
    ✭✭
    Hiya,
    Just spitballing ideas here so my apologies if I mention things you've already tried/can't do in your location. Do you have a Skype account that you could put a few quid on to call your card companies, or can you use WhatsApp/Messenger of livechat on their website to see if it's possible to find a solution to get you an accurate figure for your balances (might they be able to send an OTP by email?). I'm assuming it's not possible to find a PAYG Sim where you are? I've used Skype to call a travel insurance company from overseas before, and livechat and Google Translate to get a local SIM registered, both with eventual success after a bit of initial frustration.

    Still to pay: (28/07/21) £1400/£50241.21
    Savings/EF £3050/£10000
    My diary: £50k to zero - the last leg
  • SmashingitnowSmashingitnow Forumite
    151 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Thank you One Step At a Time!!
    Hmmm...Skype I had not thought of! I shall investigate that!
    The other routes have drawn a dead end...two cards and a loan I can access, two cards (actually three but that one is definitely paid off!) I can't.
    I am trying to get a SIM that calls abroad...the bureaucracy involved in this where I am is quite involved (passport, visa, various other docs) but I do need to get this done. This needs to be my top priority really. As I am here longer I learn some workarounds and in fact think Amazon here could sort me out with something. More than anything I can't wait to make those calls to say "please shut down this fully paid off account immediately". That would be SUCH a great feeling!
    March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
    Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


  • ryanm8655ryanm8655 Forumite
    1.1K Posts
    Seventh Anniversary 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭
    Where are you, just out of interest, and what do you do for work? Sounds very exciting, would love the chance to work abroad one day.

    I’d echo the above re: Skype, I’ve found most of my card companies have live chat now too...

    Do you have anyone here in the UK who could call on your behalf?


    August 2019: £28.8k

    November 2020: £0 (0% interest)

    My debt free diary: https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/comment/77330320#Comment_77330320


  • SmashingitnowSmashingitnow Forumite
    151 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Hi Ryan8655
    Thanks! I feel brilliant being able to chat about all this. I don't want to tell friends or family about my debt as I feel ashamed of it. But as I"ve made progress it means there's no one to say well done, keep going!
    OK I will deffo look at Skype! Didn't even think of that! Yes I have two family members who could check balances...especially now they are very low I would feel OK about this! Deffo would have a heart attack if they checked my Barclaycard balance lol.
    I definitely recommend living and working abroad. If everyone did that, I think a lot of the closed minded attitudes we all suffer from would be a lot less because really you realise in most things there is just no right or wrong, there are just a lot of options and perspectives and getting hung on on shoulds is really a huge waste of energy. It really is challenging (fair enough not everyone emigrates to a third world country on the eve of a global pandemic!) but also it has had a hugely positive impact on me as a person. I can't imagine my life without having done this!!
    I work in management, and there's no particular link between my past career and the country I am in (I got a new job rather than being transferred by my company here) so I would say, if you set your mind to it, you can do it! In all from the first moment of thinking, would I like to do this (age 41) to getting on the plane with a suitcase and a one way ticket was about nine months....that's finding the job, getting the job, ,visas, selling up, working my notice etc etc.....
    Off to check out your diary now! :)
    March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
    Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


  • One-step-at-a-timeOne-step-at-a-time Forumite
    602 Posts
    500 Posts Third Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper
    ✭✭
    If you could obtain a local SIM with a PAYG data plan you could possibly circumvent the need to need to call overseas, as you should still be able to receive incoming texts- that could get around the OTP issue too :)
    Still to pay: (28/07/21) £1400/£50241.21
    Savings/EF £3050/£10000
    My diary: £50k to zero - the last leg
  • SmashingitnowSmashingitnow Forumite
    151 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Hi - Yes you are right One Step At A Time!
    I checked out Skype and was amazed that indeed you can call phones with it!!!! I'm a bit useless with creative thinking around technology. But longterm the SIM means I can log in and get the OTP. In the interim I can use my Dad's number and WhatsApp him to get the OTP. But he will find all of this confusing I know.
    OK today I am going to call on SKype and find out the balances (exciting!) and this weekend I will sort out the SIM!
    Your user name matches my thread name ;)
    March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
    Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


  • One-step-at-a-timeOne-step-at-a-time Forumite
    602 Posts
    500 Posts Third Anniversary Photogenic Name Dropper
    ✭✭
    OK today I am going to call on SKype and find out the balances (exciting!) and this weekend I will sort out the SIM!
    Your user name matches my thread name ;)
    Excellent! It's so nice being able to make even a small breakthrough.
    Still to pay: (28/07/21) £1400/£50241.21
    Savings/EF £3050/£10000
    My diary: £50k to zero - the last leg
  • SmashingitnowSmashingitnow Forumite
    151 Posts
    100 Posts Name Dropper
    Brilliant. I took the excellent advice and used Skype to call my credit cards. That has stumped me for six months plus so I am so glad for the advice.
    The Capital One card is at 12.55 GBP
    Vanquis is at 830.13 GBP
    So both will get paid off two weeks tomorrow on payday! There'll be some interest on Capital One (about a fiver). I'll keep an eye on them to make sure they are definitely paid off.
    This means from the early October payday (just six weeks away) I will really be hammering my big balance plus I'll only be deadling with two CCs (one on 0%) and the loan (which I don't mind paying as it was for a second hand car that I used to explore the UK in the year before I moved) and Paypal rather than, in March - FIVE CCs as well as the rest.
    I also just feel so much better knowing how to call the UK!!!! What a banana I am!

    March 2020 - 21k of debt; September 2020 - 14k of debt. Debt free target date September 2021 
    Diary of paying down debt whilst living abroad:https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6181237/5-000-miles-and-even-more-pounds#latest


Sign In or Register to comment.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Students - apply for uni funding NOW

If you plan to get a place via 'clearing'

MSE News

A guide to council tax bands

Lower your band & save £1,000s

MSE Guides