I had always thought I had a good handle on financial matters. My parents hadn’t been well off, but had always provided for me and my brother, and had taught us that you should only spend money you had.
But when I first started working, I somehow lost sight of their advice. For the first time in my life I had money and I liked to spend it. But the more I spent the more I wanted. And when my wages couldn’t keep up, it seemed like a simple thing to just get a credit card. Credit card companies were always sending me information and it was so easy to apply and get accepted, that I got a couple and kept spending. But I was always depending on the future, thinking ‘I’ll pay all this off when I get my next bonus’ or ‘ I’ll take it easy next month and clear all my balances.’ But it wasn’t so easy to stop.
It mounts up so quickly
It got to the point where I had several credit cards and two personal loans. Before too long I just didn’t have enough money to pay off any of my debts. I could barely pay the minimum each month to avoid heavy penalties. I was drowning, and the debts just kept getting bigger. With the interest rates being charged, the amount I owed at the end of each month was just getting bigger and bigger.
It felt like all of my time and energy went into worrying about the debt – worrying about what it would mean for me in the future. But more importantly, I was worried about how I would get through another month.
Luckily, my mum and dad had always been supportive and, even though I was ashamed to tell them, I had nowhere else to turn. Of course, they were shocked at how out of control my debts had become – as I was – but they took me to the local debt advice service to get some help.
It’s something like breaking a dam when you first actually tell someone about your debt problem. All the tension and fear you have been keeping inside is set free. There were some tears shed in the process, for sure, but taking that step to seek professional advice was a massive step. It was like I could now, in a small way, share the burden. They were able to set out my options and explain the consequences of each course of action.
Do what’s right for you
I opted for bankruptcy, as there was no other way I could service my debts. The bankruptcy procedure was quick and simple. I had to petition the courts and provide a statement of my affairs – outlining my debts and my income – and pay a fee. I appeared in court to swear an affidavit and a bankruptcy order was issued.
I then had to work with the official trustee to sell any assets I had to contribute to the debts – by then I didn’t have many left – and work out a payment plan to the creditors.
Now, my life is a lot different. A proportion of my salary is taken by the courts to pay my creditors, and will be for the next three years. It won’t clear my debts, but after that, the rest will be written off. My lifestyle has changed – no more high living for me – but I feel a lot more positive about the future. Entering personal bankruptcy is a big step to take, but I hesitate to think what would have happened if I hadn’t done it. Now, for the first time in a long time, I feel in control of my life.