My story is sadly one that is all too familiar. After leaving college at 18, I got my first job working full time. I wasn’t on a great wage, but living at home and with next to no bills to pay left me feeling financially flush every pay day. I’ll admit right now that I wasn’t wise with my money, spending it on nights out, new gadgets and DVDs. But the money I was spending was my own money. The real problems began when I got my first credit card.
Credit cards are a problem
It came with a credit limit of £1000. It was more than a month’s wages. At first, I didn’t go too crazy, but after just a few months, my credit card company raised my credit limit to £3,000. It was more money than I’d ever had access to. I treated myself to a holiday, and more expensive gadgets – things I really didn’t need, but figured I could pay for later. Then I helped a friend out with a purchase which he was meant to pay back and before I knew it, the card was maxed out and I was just paying off the minimum each month, barely even noticing that the balance was never going down, because the payments weren’t even covering the interest that I was being charged.
That one credit card soon turned into 4, but I didn’t even look at the credit card statements that came each month, effectively burying my head in the sand. I even took out a loan, thinking I’d use it to clear out the cards, but even then, that didn’t quite work out how I expected. Then the worst happened. I lost my job. I hadn’t been managing my debt well beforehand, but I’d been able to pay the minimum payments. Without my job, I couldn’t even do that.
Late payment fees, penalties and high interest
I began to get hit with late payment charges and higher interest fees, and the balances kept going up even though I wasn’t spending anything. I felt sick every time I thought about the amount of money I owed, and tried to hide the demand letters from my parents. I was terrified bailiffs would come knocking at our door. I felt so stupid for all the money I’d wasted, but it had been so easy at the time. Finally, I contacted a professional debt advice company who helped me work out a debt repayment plan and contacted the companies I owed money to in order to freeze the debt and write off some of the charges I had incurred. They really knew about credit card debt advice. I wish now I hadn’t left it for so long. They talked me through the plan, and put my mind at ease, keeping me notified every step of the way.
There is a way out
In the end, it took me 7 years to clear off the debt, paying off only a small amount each month. It was a horrible cloud to have hanging over me, but at least I knew that I wouldn’t have bailiffs knocking at my door. My credit rating, was badly affected which meant that I couldn’t get normal credit but that actually wasn’t a bad thing, and now my credit rating is back to normal, in fact it’s even better than it was originally. So I’m living proof of the benefits of expert debt advice and that debt can be managed. I know never to make the same mistakes again, and don’t know where I would be without the professional debt advice I received.