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  • FIRST POST
    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    • 49Posts
    • 408Thanks
    sentientpoet
    11 years a slave - end of my journey from £103,500 in debt
    • #1
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    11 years a slave - end of my journey from £103,500 in debt 20th Dec 16 at 8:19 PM
    Hello fellow DFWs. It has been a long time since I posted here, but today has been such a momentous day that I felt compelled to write something. Apologies in advance for the long post.

    Today I made the very last payment to the very last of my creditors. Itís the culmination of an 11-year debt management plan journey, during which I have paid back £103,500 of unsecured personal debt. Just looking at that figure now shocks me to the core.

    There is no smugness in this post. It was my own blindness and stupidity that led me into one gigantic spasm of a mess in the first place. This is simply a post to say that no matter how hard it seems, no matter how big a mountain you think you have to climb, no matter how far away your goal appears to be, you will get there if you stick with it. I am living proof.

    Itís also a post to say thank you to the people running my DMP all these years, and in particular to the members of the DFW forum for the words of wisdom, advice and encouragement so often posted here. Itís sometimes not expressed just how much of an impact your advice has on the more silent forumites among us, but Iím here today to say my journey would have been so much harder without you all.

    I wonít recap in detail the circumstances that led to my debt, but it basically it involved living in London beyond my means on a modest salary, a misguided attempt to work for myself, and an awful lot of easy credit. At the end of 2005, having sold my flat, car and nearly everything I owned, this was my statement of affairs:

    Income: £0
    Net assets: £0
    Unsecured personal debt: £103,500 across credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts.
    Ten accounts in default.
    Three CCJs.
    One complete idiot.

    Oh <insert expletives here>! It was the mother of all wake-up calls.

    PayPlan (who have been unfailingly non-judgemental and supportive throughout) quickly put me at ease and calmly presented me with the options. IVA? Bankruptcy? DMP?

    I vowed I would do whatever it took to pay back every penny owed (frozen interest notwithstanding) and opted for the DMP, so I went out and talked my way into a new job. It wasnít ideal and the salary was awful, but it had to be done. My DMP started, with modest monthly payments, in February 2006. The original debt-free date was something like October 2021. I thought I would never, ever, ever get there Ė it felt like a lifetime away.

    But I never took my eyes of that goal and I stuck with it, battling through a decade of seeing my income stripped to the bone, month in, month out, year in, year out. I worked hard, and managed to land a job I actually wanted. I worked my way up the ladder, and took on any extra work as I was able.

    The years ticked by and yes, I had some major hiccups along the way. I got divorced very amicably, for reasons other than my debt, and then nearly fell into a hellish payday loan spiral while trying to Ďlive a littleí after so long on the DMP. It took a wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat night and the realisation that I had just pointlessly added nine months to my DMP to get me back on track.

    Finally I just accepted the monthly routine, found ways to save money here and there, and sought out ways to live a little that cost a little less. I learnt how to say Ďnoí a little more often. I got to know myself a little better. I invested in a copy of You Need A Budget on the advice of these forums, and found that made things a little easier. If I wanted something, I started saving what little I could for it rather than trying to borrow. And little by little my Debt Free Date crawled nearer.

    Which brings me to today. At 7:48pm I paid off the last of the debt in full, and for the first time in my adult life I owe absolutely nothing to anyone. The CCJs are gone and my credit file is clean. I own outright a nice car and a few other bits Ė all carefully budgeted for Ė and not much else except a small, positive bank balance and a sudden, overwhelming sense of freedom.

    If youíve read this far, then hopefully you will be able to take something from my journey that may help you with your own. It has been ***ing hard at times, make no mistake. But here are a few words of advice from two decades of debt and more than a decade of DMP slavery:

    - Donít hide from your debt. It will only get worse. Talk to your creditors, talk to a specialist or ask on these forums for advice. You will also find that just taking control will make you feel 100 per cent better.

    - No matter how bad you think your situation is, there is always a way out.

    - Donít pay someone to manage your debt. Do it yourself, or talk to one of the excellent free organisations like PayPlan or National Debtline.

    - Budget, budget, budget. Make a realistic budget and try to stick to it. That doesnít mean you canít have money for lifeís little luxuries Ė just budget for them.

    - Donít let creditors bully you into making larger payments at the expense of being able to survive. If you are realistic with your DMP budget no one will force you to pay back more than you can afford - not even the courts.

    - Starting your debt-free journey can feel like someone has asked you to empty a lake with a teaspoon. Just focus on the teaspoon. You wonít notice the lake going down from one month to the next, but one day you will look up and see thereís just a pond left, then a puddle, and then suddenly nothing but dust.

    - Bookmark MSE and the DFW forum. Actually, this should be number one on the list

    - If you feel yourself slipping, remember the goal and donít give in to temptation. Play the long game and learn to say no. One day youíll be so glad you did.

    - And finally, when journeyís end seems so far away that you just want to sit down and give up, remember the idiot on MSE who ran up £103,500 of unsecured debt and spent 11 years of his life paying it back. Heís smiling as he writes this. Youíll be smiling again one day too and it will be the best feeling in the world.

    Merry Christmas

    Sentient

    Apologies for any mixed metaphors. Iím finding it hard to concentrate this evening for some reason
Page 6
    • HairyHandofDartmoor
    • By HairyHandofDartmoor 3rd Jan 18, 10:33 PM
    • 4,426 Posts
    • 30,622 Thanks
    HairyHandofDartmoor
    Great idea to make this a sticky so more people can be inspired by it. Truly awsome.
    Finally Debt Free After 34 Years, But Still Need to Live Frugally
    Debt in July 2017 = £58,766 DEBT FREE 31 OCTOBER 2017
    NEW GOALS - Build Emergency Fund & Loss of Income Fund. Save for house repairs.
    "Tough times never last, but tough people do" - Robert H Schuller
    • Nocredit67
    • By Nocredit67 4th Jan 18, 1:28 AM
    • 3 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    Nocredit67
    Wow thatís truely encouraging. Makes feel a lot better. I was disheartened when coming to do review that after starting dmp 3 years ago with just over £41,000 of debt Iíd only got it down to just short of £29,000. But youíve truly inspired me and my debt is now a river rather than the ocean it was. I will be debt free by hook or crook in no more than 3 years! Well done.
    • Teacher2
    • By Teacher2 4th Jan 18, 8:24 AM
    • 331 Posts
    • 2,571 Thanks
    Teacher2
    My goodness me, what an inspirational post. How many people wallowing in debt would benefit from reading this? You have focussed on the nitty gritty here: truth, reality, will power and self denial and have identified the true goals: freedom and independence. 'Stuff' has nothing to appeal like autonomy.

    Well done.

    I do note from your posts that your excellent level of written English and accuracy of expression denote that you are of above average intelligence so perhaps added maturity and experience were always going to see you right in the long term.
    • MarrtyGH1369
    • By MarrtyGH1369 4th Jan 18, 8:28 AM
    • 24 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    MarrtyGH1369
    Congratulations on your journey and on being debt free. If only such extensive debt wasn't so easy to fall in to!
    • Cottage Economy
    • By Cottage Economy 5th Jan 18, 1:54 PM
    • 961 Posts
    • 4,044 Thanks
    Cottage Economy
    What an amazing achievement. You rock!
    'Save £12k in 2018' £3000/£6,000 (50%)


    "...success in personal finance isn't about mastering the technicalities. It is about mastering yourself."
    • Owen1991
    • By Owen1991 5th Jan 18, 5:56 PM
    • 51 Posts
    • 94 Thanks
    Owen1991
    That's amazing, enjoy living debt free
    12k in 2018 - £6450/£12000 ~ #101 | Sealed Pot Challenge 2018 ~ #44
    £13750 in Lifetime ISA
    • Simon1964
    • By Simon1964 9th Jan 18, 11:32 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 4 Thanks
    Simon1964
    Wow, I thought I must have owed the most ever, nearly £60k. Next month will be my last payment on my DMP after 7 years of struggle. Ironically I'm completely new to this forum but great to read other success stories! I may post one myself soon... Congratulations !!!9786;!!!65039;
    • Distiller72
    • By Distiller72 11th Jan 18, 2:21 AM
    • 14 Posts
    • 11 Thanks
    Distiller72
    Congratulations. I hope to join you in being debt free (apart from mortgage) in 2018
    • uphillstruggler
    • By uphillstruggler 12th Jan 18, 9:33 AM
    • 141 Posts
    • 791 Thanks
    uphillstruggler
    Brilliant story. You are a true inspiration. All the best for 2018 to you.
    Emergencies account: £500/500
    Groceries Feb 2018: EUR74.52/150 NSD Feb 2018: 1/8
    • Sassers
    • By Sassers 20th Jan 18, 8:44 PM
    • 1,247 Posts
    • 8,099 Thanks
    Sassers
    We'll all get there on our DFW journey - just keep plodding through it all. I've had redundancy, death, car accident - all sorts of lifes up and downs but I will not give up. And sometimes you empty the lake with a teaspoon and other times with a water pump!
    Current debt and mortgage: £29, 606 Debt/Mortgage at start: £92,598 (27/09/2010) Paid off so far: £62,992
    • Luna_Lou
    • By Luna_Lou 20th Jan 18, 9:10 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 3 Thanks
    Luna_Lou
    As a newbie starting out on my own journey to being debt free, this post has really inspired me and given me a lot of hope.
    I read something the other day (which coincidentally is my reason for joining this forum today) which read 'when someone dies, their debts die with them' and realising how hard it hit me that I thought at times that might be my only way out.

    Thank you so much for your post - I will be coming back to read it quite often.

    Luna
    • mjb-is
    • By mjb-is 22nd Jan 18, 5:26 PM
    • 5 Posts
    • 12 Thanks
    mjb-is
    Congratulations. I can understand your feeling because I am at that same point now and will have all my debts cleared tomorrow. Not as much as yours has been, but still just over £40k.

    The biggest advice I can give anyone is to swallow your pride and contact your creditors. I left that way too long and when I finally did it they were much more understanding and willing to reach agreements than I ever imagined. To you it's personal, but to your creditors it's just business and they want to find a way for you to pay back what you owe in an affordable way.
    • Onebrokelady
    • By Onebrokelady 22nd Jan 18, 9:02 PM
    • 369 Posts
    • 989 Thanks
    Onebrokelady
    I saw this post when you posted it and canít rememe if I replied but I just want to say how inspiring you are,I have been feeling very overwhelmed by the money I owe but the combination of coming on this site and seeing posts like this have made me see there is a way out, whe im feeling despondent I will come back and read this to keep me going,well done to you !!!128522;
    • brizzledfw
    • By brizzledfw 23rd Jan 18, 11:48 PM
    • 7,275 Posts
    • 35,710 Thanks
    brizzledfw
    Don!!!8217;t be overwhelmed OBL...youre taking the first steps to emptying that lake Best of luck xx
    MFiT-T4 Member No. 96 - 2022 is my MF goal
    Winter 17/18 Savings Rate Goal: 25% [October 30%]
    Declutter 60 items before 31.03.18 9/60 ** LSDs Target 10 for March 03/10 **AFDs 10/15 ** Sales/TCB Target 2018 £25/£500 NSDs Target 10 for March 02/10 Trying to be a Frugalista
    • Onebrokelady
    • By Onebrokelady 30th Jan 18, 11:26 PM
    • 369 Posts
    • 989 Thanks
    Onebrokelady
    Donít be overwhelmed OBL...youre taking the first steps to emptying that lake Best of luck xx
    Originally posted by brizzledfw
    Hi sorry I didnít reply Iíve only just seen your post,I keep posting on the site and then canít find my post,Iím so rubbish with find g my way round forums!!!128580; Iím feeling a bit calmer now Iíve started to sort things out itís still taken me two weeks to get the paperwork sorted and the budget form filled in but I should be ready to contact SC in the next day or two then I will be weilding my spoon !!!128522;
    • Onebrokelady
    • By Onebrokelady 30th Jan 18, 11:33 PM
    • 369 Posts
    • 989 Thanks
    Onebrokelady
    Congratulations. I can understand your feeling because I am at that same point now and will have all my debts cleared tomorrow. Not as much as yours has been, but still just over £40k.

    The biggest advice I can give anyone is to swallow your pride and contact your creditors. I left that way too long and when I finally did it they were much more understanding and willing to reach agreements than I ever imagined. To you it's personal, but to your creditors it's just business and they want to find a way for you to pay back what you owe in an affordable way.
    Originally posted by mjb-is
    I just read your post and love the bit where you say ďto you itís personal but to your creditors itís just business,Iíve been walking round for weeks thinking about this from my personal viewpoint and not thinking about the fact that my creditors are a massive organisation,I feel like I owe my best mate money and have let them down,itís crazy and although I know Iím in the wrong and have to take responsibility for the money I owe itís not personal at all and I will pay it back !!!128522;
    • FairFatand50
    • By FairFatand50 2nd Feb 18, 1:43 PM
    • 1 Posts
    • 1 Thanks
    FairFatand50
    What a fantastic post, have been a long time lurker on here and have finally started to do something about my debt after reading your post a couple of weeks ago. Best wishes to you for a debt free future
    • supersaverg
    • By supersaverg 6th Feb 18, 1:39 PM
    • 120 Posts
    • 100 Thanks
    supersaverg
    A victory! Congrats.
    • Zandy_23
    • By Zandy_23 7th Feb 18, 3:40 AM
    • 59 Posts
    • 23 Thanks
    Zandy_23
    A truly inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it! It teaches a lot of lessons on how to overcome money challenges amidst seemingly overwhelming odds.
    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 9th Feb 18, 3:35 PM
    • 14,315 Posts
    • 13,521 Thanks
    sourcrates
    I just read your post and love the bit where you say ďto you itís personal but to your creditors itís just business,Iíve been walking round for weeks thinking about this from my personal viewpoint and not thinking about the fact that my creditors are a massive organisation,I feel like I owe my best mate money and have let them down,itís crazy and although I know Iím in the wrong and have to take responsibility for the money I owe itís not personal at all and I will pay it back
    Originally posted by Onebrokelady
    These feelings are very common amongst first time defaulters.

    Its all very confusing at first, with lots of stuff to get your head around, we don`t seem to talk about debt much in this country, its all hush hush, that`s one of the reasons people don`t know what to expect when they can`t pay their debts.

    You see there are systems in place to help you deal with these things, and the companies you owe money to, always build into their business model, the fact that a certain % of customers will default on there payments, so they plan for these things, they don`t lose out, what they don`t make off you, they make off someone else.

    Its all profit and loss to them.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Credit File And Ratings, and
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    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com. Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com.

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