Despite your first instincts, debt isn’t something you should either ignore or be embarrassed about.
Its easy at first to ignore letters and to bury your head in the proverbial sand… or even to believe that the next 30 seconds of living a fantasy has gotto be better than the everlasting deep dark pit you’ve dug and will soon have to face.
The problem with getting out of debt is not just financially freeing yourself but reprogramming how you approach daily life and how you value/ treat/ see money. I was brought up by two parents who saved everything and spent very little… perhaps now because I’m 30 and have a family of my own I can finally appreciate the little things parents can do to save for the future… credit cards and debt not being amongst them. Where did I get the idea that I could live beyond my means? Where did I get this altered perception of what my means were?
The last debt MrC and I paid of wasn’t our first…. we paid of debt not long after we got married (of a similar amount), we paid off the debt again when we bought half of our first house (mortgage + an unnecessary £5k loan + bills debt accumulated while paying back the last debt) and finally after living in the house for 2.5 years (beyond our means) we lost it and had all brand new debts… which were bits and pieces of multiple debts…
Bill and rent debt from the rented property we had before we bought our house (and lost it) didn’t help… and within the 2.5 years of living in our new purchase (and spending the £5k on completely refitting it out), the half rent half mortgage of £450 was now nearly £800.
Although some might shout that almost double amount isn’t fair… its a life lesson… if its sounds too good to be true… it probably is. Added to this stress was the loss of MrC’s job… not good. This meant we couldn’t pay our bills.
Aaanyhow… After we lost our house and were eventually given a council house we had a BIG wake up call… and a new debt of over seven thousand pounds. Luckily the improved upon house covered our half of the mortgage… WHEW … how ever there was still the rent and utilities not to mention our £300 a month TV subscription habit. <— this was the first thing to go… followed by the Internet, land line phone and 2 mobile phone contracts.
Clothes buying stopped… as did our £100+ shopping sprees at big supermarkets, the catalogue/ clothing purchases, random/ overpriced toys for the kids, £50 pairs of jeans, Saturday nights out, takeaways… and sadly Christmas and Birthday gifts. Every Christmas we had wheeled 2 trolleys round Toys-R-Us and bought gifts for our (then a toddler K and a baby N) and every other kids we could think of…. that stopped. It was a couple of years before we bought gifts for our own children. I felt so guilty buying bits from the pound store and wrapping them for the kids… I reassured myself with the fact that they were little, and were more interested with the box and sweets anyway.
There was really not allot left… so we thought. It took us a 2 month stint in temporary housing (while pregnant with E) to realise we hadn’t spent so much time together in…well… ever. We had a TV but a very bad aerial (so 2 channels and allot of snow), no DVD or games consoles, 1 sofa… a battered PC but no internet…. but it was summer (a good one 2008)and we spent all day everyday out and about. We’d pack a picnic and spend the day on Saltburn beach and walk up into the valley gardens… which are GORGEOUS!
Within 2 months we were finally in our council house… and it was time to face reality… pay back time. MrC was still not entitled to any benefit help but was appealing… that took 6 months…. YUP! For 6 months we lived of the child benefit and child tax credit. Because Miss E was new we received slightly more than now… just over £200 a week more or less.
Obviously this didn’t cover rent or council tax (which were not being paid as we were not yet entitled to anything)… but thanks to family and VERY quickly learning to live on next to nothing… we survived long enough for MRC’s appeal to go through and all the back rent/ council tax was repaid… YAY happy ending to that story. We were free now to pay back the £7k debt over the next 18 months or so.
And as of February 2011 we now live in our current home (Rented… not making that mistake again), we have a TV, DVD, unused games consoles, mobile phones, internet, a lap top, a PC, no credit cards, no loans, a house full of furniture, a garden (ummm sort of… working on that) and NO DEBT! We still like to return to Saltburn beach every now and again… or even stroll down to our own (under construction) beach and remember that feeling. The feeling of “what do we do now”. It reminds us how easily everything can spin out of control… and how much hard work we put into getting where we are now.
And they all lived thriftily ever after!