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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 2
    • EssexHebridean
    • By EssexHebridean 21st Dec 16, 11:22 AM
    • 8,719 Posts
    • 46,047 Thanks
    Full marks to you -

    YOU spent it
    YOU took responsibility for it
    YOU paid it back. Every penny.

    IMO your post above should be shown to every single new arrival to these boards, as an example of what can be done when the lightbulb switches on fully and responsibility is taken. This MUST be money-tipped in the weekly email, surely!

    Massive congratulations, and have a wonderful Christmas. I imagine I speak for all the regulars here when I say that I hope to see you back as a regular part of this board offering help and advice to others in the future - you have such a lot to offer!
    MORTGAGE FREE 30/09/2016
    Sainsbugs 0% card: 22/12/16 £1229.00/£1035.63 (09/07/18)
    SOA Calculator for DFW newbies: SOA Calculator
    • FrugalinShropshire
    • By FrugalinShropshire 21st Dec 16, 11:26 AM
    • 206 Posts
    • 1,886 Thanks
    What a fantastic story of inspiration for others. Well done You, amazing, just amazing
    Now Mrs FrugalinShropshire Proud to be mortgage and debt free
    • jwil
    • By jwil 21st Dec 16, 11:29 AM
    • 8,989 Posts
    • 28,350 Thanks
    Wow, congratulations, that's amazing!
    "If you can dream it, you can do it". Walt Disney
    • lozzy81
    • By lozzy81 21st Dec 16, 11:35 AM
    • 216 Posts
    • 762 Thanks
    A massive well done!! Just goes to show those who come here desperate for help, that with the help of the free debt charities any debt amount can be tackled!

    Merry Christmas
    Virtual sealed pot 2017 member #14
    • Jo3y83
    • By Jo3y83 21st Dec 16, 11:36 AM
    • 103 Posts
    • 229 Thanks
    This is simply amazing! I am in total awe - well done, a fantastic achievement and you deserve a massive pat on the back for your will and determination.

    Congratulations on your new lease of life! I wish you all the best
    DFD Oct 2022

    • nearlytherenow
    • By nearlytherenow 21st Dec 16, 12:02 PM
    • 134 Posts
    • 649 Thanks
    What a lovely thread bought tears to my eyes. Very happy for you and thank you for posting such an inspirational post. It will inspire lots of people.
    • Eltee12
    • By Eltee12 21st Dec 16, 2:08 PM
    • 768 Posts
    • 7,557 Thanks
    Wow ! I also got a bit teary-eyed. Very inspirational.

    Now, where is my teaspoon?
    2018 AFD 23/240
    2018 CCC #11 £38.40/£250
    Mortgage-free since 2013

    Debt-free since Nov 2017
    • cats2012
    • By cats2012 21st Dec 16, 2:40 PM
    • 1,178 Posts
    • 1,279 Thanks
    An amazing post! And so great that you faced your debts head on rather than just trying to avoid them (as I sometimes read...).

    Thanks for giving others so much inspiration
    Officially Mrs B as of March 2013
    TTC since Apr 2015, baby B born March 2017
    • juststuff123
    • By juststuff123 21st Dec 16, 3:40 PM
    • 225 Posts
    • 686 Thanks
    I got tingles! Well done!!!! You must feel like you're on top of the world!! What's your next goal? it's good to have something to aim for to stop yourself falling back into bad habits. Perhaps a mortgage then aim for mortgage freedom or save for a mega holiday?
    NEW GOAL Ė Mortgage Balance £0k & £50k Savings by Feb 2020
    MORTGAGE: Ė £0 / £0
    SAVINGS: Ė £32936 / £50000
    CREDIT CARD: Ė £7980 / £0
    COMPLETE - MFW & DFW - Goal - Debt Neutral Ė COMPLETE
    2018 MFW #152: £26,100/£26,100 / MFiT-T4 #80: £45,232/£45,232
    • Suseka97
    • By Suseka97 21st Dec 16, 4:21 PM
    • 416 Posts
    • 544 Thanks
    A very inspirational post and a sobering and heartfelt story. So I join all others in congratulating you wholeheartedly for sticking with it and coming out the other (debt free) side

    I also echo EssexH's post - you certainly have lots of experience to offer others and I'm sure newbies in particular would benefit from seeing that it can be done. I do like your use of the 'lake and teaspoon' metaphor - it certainly does feel like that at the start, but as you say, as the years roll on its gratifying to see that big 'ole debt get smaller.

    I have around 16 months or so left on mine and can just about see that little chink of light at the end of the tunnel.

    Enjoy the feeling and have a smashing Christmas.
    LBM Apr13: 14 Creditors / £85k+ owed / £11k outstanding (3 x UE / 3 x outstanding)
    • parsniphead
    • By parsniphead 21st Dec 16, 4:26 PM
    • 2,530 Posts
    • 16,193 Thanks
    Amazing. Congratulations.
    My mini challenge: pay off MBNA by 31/08/18. £502/£502 100% (paid off 30/06/18 - 2 months early )
    Next small debt victim £20/£367 - you're going by 31/08/2018
    Total outstanding consumer debt - £735.68/ £7864.52 9.3%
    • welshkaren45
    • By welshkaren45 21st Dec 16, 7:39 PM
    • 18 Posts
    • 141 Thanks
    Totally inspiring, Merry Christmas xx
    Aiming to spend less,want less and need less.
    • sentientpoet
    • By sentientpoet 21st Dec 16, 8:39 PM
    • 49 Posts
    • 408 Thanks
    Thank you everyone for your kind words . This whole forum has been an inspiration for me.

    I think 'tenacity...willpower...determination' were pretty key, and although my route wouldn't suit everyone it was what I felt I had to do, no excuses, no free passes, purely for the sake of my own sense of closure.

    It hasn't really sunk in yet, and I suspect it won't fully until a couple of months have passed and I can see my bank balance beginning to build. The hard work is not over yet though - I am still very conscious of my own expensive tastes and I'll have to keep up the hard self-discipline to avoid slipping into bad habits - even if it is with my money and not someone else's. Then again, a bit of hard discipline can be a good thing

    As for what's next, hmmmmm. There are a couple of big, life-changing things that I want to save for, and on top of that I will be hopefully thinking about a mortgage in the next year or so, so I'm just going to roll straight into the next part of the routine. YNAB will still be my best friend, and now that I am in clear air I feel more determined than ever to do it all properly this time.

    I am also acutely aware that I am not totally home and dry - I am at break even point, and very conscious that life can change in an instant, so the next step will be to keep on the current monthly plan for a bit and build an emergency pot as quickly as possible. I am aiming for £5K by the end of April, and £10K by the end of July, which is achievable if I commit to it. I am also extremely fortunate that my latest job involves some travel to some awesome places, which does help mitigate any sudden urge to splurge.

    The last nine months of the DMP were the worst as the end was so near and my impatience was so great! The next four months will be the same until I've hit that 5K cushion, but then I'll breathe a bit easier and will probably relax my budget a little. And I'll definitely try to hang around here more to offer any help I can to others who are facing that lake, and holding that teaspoon.
    • Karonher
    • By Karonher 21st Dec 16, 9:17 PM
    • 512 Posts
    • 2,158 Thanks
    Congratulations and good luck with hitting your savings target
    Getting ready for Christmas 2018

    Aiming to make £5,000 online in 2018.
    • Scad
    • By Scad 21st Dec 16, 11:15 PM
    • 28 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    Don't post very often but felt I needed to ... congratulations! I seriously take my hat off to you, if there were only more like you prepared to dig deep emotionally and physically to dig yourself out of the hole you dug yourself, this country would be in a far better place.
    • ada-or-ardor
    • By ada-or-ardor 22nd Dec 16, 8:47 AM
    • 130 Posts
    • 535 Thanks
    Absolutely incredible and so humbling that you wanted to own up to your responsibilities and pay it all back.

    Your metaphor of the lake and the teaspoon is a great one, and could apply to so many things.

    Really well done and congratulations. Enjoy this momentous occasion and have a wonderful debt-free Christmas!!
    • bargainbetty
    • By bargainbetty 22nd Dec 16, 9:18 AM
    • 3,103 Posts
    • 7,148 Thanks
    Utterly brilliant achievement! Beautifully written too.
    Some days, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps....
    LB moment - March 2006. DFD - 1 June 2012!!! DEBT FREE!
    MFW - Joined May 2012, aiming to cut the mortgage by an extra two months every year. (Overpaid £3000 so far)
    , only 11 years to go.

    • kirtsypoos
    • By kirtsypoos 22nd Dec 16, 9:48 AM
    • 3,428 Posts
    • 15,059 Thanks
    What a fantastic post - congratulations on what is, without doubt, a fantastic achievement.

    Here's to your new debt free life
    PAID VERY, Barclaycard x3, Vanquis, Natwest, O/D, Tesco & MBNA x2 PAID LBM 24/07/15 - Original Debt: £0/31010.23 (100% paid)
    Mortgage - £158.500.00 (2017/2018 O/P £3491.79) PAYDBX 17 - £18,442.82
    PAYDBX 18 #006 £3850.92/£4000
    • doingitanyway
    • By doingitanyway 22nd Dec 16, 9:52 AM
    • 3,298 Posts
    • 17,749 Thanks
    I suspect you are indeed a poet as kirstypoos is right, beautifully written. I have a big debt to tackle in 2017 but you have proved that knuckling down and keeping on will get you there. Well done. So impressive. Bravo.
    Emergency fund 500/1000
    If not now then when?
    • kindofagilr
    • By kindofagilr 22nd Dec 16, 10:56 AM
    • 6,270 Posts
    • 21,070 Thanks
    Absolutely amazing to read this!!!!!!! MASSIVE well done, Merry Christmas xx
    POAMAYC 2018 #87 £12,063.46 ~ POAMAYC 2017 #87 £10,380.18
    POAMAYC 2016 #87 £7454.80

    Mortgage (Start Date 01/04/09 ~ 30 year term, due to end 01/07/39)
    £104,409/£83,809.79 (as of 31/08/18) ~ 19.72% Paid

    Christmas Savings 18: £470 Cash ~ Amazon Vouchers: £90 ~ Total = £560
    Cyprus 19 Savings: £0/£2000 ~ Centre Parcs 19 Savings: £10/£1500

    My Debt Free Diary (Link)
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