Until today, there was nothing special about the 10th of October. It was just another day of early autumn, a day when I could be doing anything: going to work, or enjoying a nice walk, or tidying the house… a day like any other day. Instead, today has become one of the most wonderful days of my life, a very important milestone: the day I am finally debt-free!
In 2004 I took a large loan to help a family member whose partner was very ill. I couldn’t really afford it but she had practically raised me, she had always been there for me, unconditionally loved me and supported me so, when for the first time in my life she asked for my help, I couldn’t let her down. Things were tight but, with the help of credit cards, I carried on.
A year later I lost my job and things started spiralling out of control. My savings didn’t last very long and I could see that I was getting in trouble. That is when I made my biggest mistake: instead of taking control of the situation I buried my head firmly in the sand. I used credit cards to repay other cards, accepted a consolidation loan from my bank with a very high interest rate, and eventually started defaulting on payments. Threatening letters started arriving through the post. I was desperately looking for a job but, whenever the phone rang, I was afraid to pick up as I never knew whether it was a potential employer or a creditor.
Things were looking very bleak when I came across an article about National Debtline, a charity that gives free advice and helps people who are in financial trouble. It took me a couple of days to manage to call them; at first I was too ashamed and I would put the phone down before someone could answer. I shouldn’t have worried, the person I finally spoke with was nothing but understanding and helpful. She put me in contact with a free debt management organisation – and warned me about the companies that actually charge for their service – so I could start dealing with the problem with all the support I needed. I entered a debt management plan (DMP) that would allow me to repay what I owed without losing my home and that was supposed to end in 2019.
So this is why Saturday 10th October 2015 is a wonderful day: it is the day I have made my last overpayment and finished my DMP 4 years early! It took a lot of saving and scrimping and I will get into more detail of how I did it but, for now, I just wanted to share the joy.