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    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 20th Dec 16, 8:19 PM
    • 49Posts
    • 408Thanks
    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


    Apologies for any mixed metaphors. Iím finding it hard to concentrate this evening for some reason
Page 1
    • Grumpyoldmoo
    • By Grumpyoldmoo 20th Dec 16, 8:25 PM
    • 332 Posts
    • 593 Thanks
    • #2
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:25 PM
    • #2
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:25 PM
    Wow, fantastic, well done
    Feb'15 £118411.00 Jan '16 £112665.10 Jan 17 £106790.00, Jan 18 £99268.10
    £2.00 Savers Club 2015 no.112 total £332, £2.00 Savers Club 2016 #06, £356 (£250), £2 Savers Club for 2017 #2, £312 (275), £2 Savers Club 2018 #15 £20 (260)

    Emergency Fund £1125/£1000
    • FatVonD
    • By FatVonD 20th Dec 16, 8:26 PM
    • 5,120 Posts
    • 20,658 Thanks
    • #3
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:26 PM
    • #3
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:26 PM
    That is one hell of an achievement, well done, and a very (very!) happy Christmas to you too!
    • swimminginaseaofdebt
    • By swimminginaseaofdebt 20th Dec 16, 8:34 PM
    • 815 Posts
    • 5,074 Thanks
    • #4
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:34 PM
    • #4
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:34 PM
    Congratulations, a well deserved early Christmas present for you!
    Debt 1 - £182.93/£2538
    SPC11 #564
    • Ilona
    • By Ilona 20th Dec 16, 8:36 PM
    • 2,126 Posts
    • 7,326 Thanks
    • #5
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:36 PM
    • #5
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:36 PM
    That's amazing, you deserve a medal. Well done. Lots of inspiration there for others in a debt hell hole. Thanks for sharing, and the best of luck for the future.
    My home is full of second hand furniture that other people have thrown out. I wear other people's clothes bought from car boot sales and charity shops. I eat out of date (yellow sticker) food. And I will jump in a skip if there is anything in there that I can rescue. I love my brilliant life on a pension.
    • dirtycredit
    • By dirtycredit 20th Dec 16, 8:37 PM
    • 144 Posts
    • 241 Thanks
    • #6
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:37 PM
    • #6
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:37 PM
    You must feel amazing! Well done you! Massive congratulations.

    DC x
    LBM-May 2015 Total debt £27077/2433(91% Paid)
    PAIDStudentLoan-1173/PAID Tesco-4616/PAID Home improvements- 11000/PAID MBNA-4014/PAID

    • sourcrates
    • By sourcrates 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    • 15,268 Posts
    • 14,361 Thanks
    • #7
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    • #7
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    Well I will congratulate you on your tenacity if nothing else.

    That's a lot of money to repay, and 11 years must of seemed like a lifetime.

    Certainly not something I'd do, but congratulations on your achievement !!!
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Credit File And Ratings, and
    Bankruptcy And Living With It, boards. "I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly".
    Board guides are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an abusive or illegal post then please report it to Any views are mine and not the official line of

    For free debt advice, contact either : Stepchange, National Debtline, or, CAB.
    For Free Legal advice see :
    • Houseplant26
    • By Houseplant26 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    • 466 Posts
    • 2,313 Thanks
    • #8
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    • #8
    • 20th Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    Incredible well done!!! Here's to a bright future with many adventures.
    • crunch_time
    • By crunch_time 20th Dec 16, 9:46 PM
    • 1,150 Posts
    • 3,429 Thanks
    • #9
    • 20th Dec 16, 9:46 PM
    • #9
    • 20th Dec 16, 9:46 PM
    massive well done! I feel very inspired to smash the rest of my £10k after reading this!

    What are you going to do next?
    LBM 16/6/14 £23,555 Paid off April 2017!!
    Then changed careers and moved house!
    Debt 16th June 2018 = £13,116 vs now £14,058
    Savings - £1800
    • dprovan
    • By dprovan 20th Dec 16, 9:47 PM
    • 336 Posts
    • 757 Thanks
    Fantastic, well done and thanks for sharing
    • CP2016
    • By CP2016 20th Dec 16, 9:47 PM
    • 104 Posts
    • 263 Thanks
    Wow, congratulations. Good luck for your debt free future.
    ďHave nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.Ē
    Wiliam Morris
    • beanielou
    • By beanielou 20th Dec 16, 9:48 PM
    • 56,828 Posts
    • 231,381 Thanks
    Fanastic~~so pleased for you
    Lou~ Debt free Wanabe No 55 DF 03/03/14.
    **Credit card debt free 30/06/10~** **Weight loss 2 stone 11 lbs **

    "A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of" Jane Austen in Mansfield Park.
    ***Fall down seven times,stand up eight*** ~~Japanese proverb.
    It starts with you, it starts from now. *** It is ok to be me.***
    ***Keep plodding***
    Out of debt, out of danger. MFW 2018. No 144
    • Upsidedown Bear
    • By Upsidedown Bear 20th Dec 16, 9:52 PM
    • 16,031 Posts
    • 77,876 Thanks
    Upsidedown Bear
    Fantastic - well done

    You are an inspiration to everyone on here.
    Enjoy the rest of your debt free life

    Happy Christmas

    • wallace7
    • By wallace7 20th Dec 16, 9:54 PM
    • 67 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey. Makes my debts seem small compared to what you had but I can see them spiralling out of control if I don't get a grip. Yes it does feel like trying to empty a lake with a teaspoon your right but its encouraging to know it can be done. Well done with your massive achievement you must feel liberated.
    • enthusiasticsaver
    • By enthusiasticsaver 21st Dec 16, 12:11 AM
    • 7,072 Posts
    • 15,322 Thanks
    Inspiring post. Massive congratulations.

    What are you aiming for now you are debt free?
    Debt free and mortgage free and early retiree. Living the dream

    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Mortgages and Endowments, Banking and Budgeting boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Any views are mine and not the official line of Pease remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to
    • Biker*Chick
    • By Biker*Chick 21st Dec 16, 12:12 AM
    • 9,705 Posts
    • 1,117,507 Thanks
    A fantastic post! Very well done on your amazing debt-free achievement, sentientpoet
    Contessa Biker*Chick of the Alphabetty thread

    • LionessInWinter
    • By LionessInWinter 21st Dec 16, 3:44 AM
    • 397 Posts
    • 2,423 Thanks
    Congratulations and well done

    What a fantastic achievement and a great way to enjoy the holidays and 2017
    PAYDBX18- #9 £5600/£5600 consists of £3800/£3800 credit card and £1800/ £1800 car
    2018 - 1% challenge #14, each 1% is £56 - paid 100%
    • tealady
    • By tealady 21st Dec 16, 5:06 AM
    • 2,845 Posts
    • 3,484 Thanks
    What a great post.
    The words well done or congratulations seem so inadequate.
    However I hope you enjoy today, it is a wondrful feeling being debt free.
    Proud to be an MSE nerd
    Judge people by their achievements, not by their mistakes
    • January2015
    • By January2015 21st Dec 16, 6:34 AM
    • 2,198 Posts
    • 5,356 Thanks
    Awesome achievement, well done

    I love the emptying the lake with a teaspoon analogy - absolutely brilliant
    DFW Nerd No. 1484 LBM 07/01/15 Debt was £95k I'm driving it down
    £1k emergency fund (member #84) £1k/£1k
    • lessonlearned
    • By lessonlearned 21st Dec 16, 9:15 AM
    • 10,489 Posts
    • 66,393 Thanks
    Thank you for such an uplifiting and inspiring post.

    What a journey.

    Well done and congratulations. A massive achievement.

    What's next?? .

    All the best for 2017 and your new debt free life.
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