I have never really had a problem with debt, maybe one credit card, a store card here and there. I’ve always felt like I have been in control of my financial situation. However, after my partner and I separated I found myself without a job and having to manage a house and children on my own, this was a very different situation.
The monthly outgoings that were once shared between joint income suddenly became unmanageable and quite far fetched. I had no idea that when it came down to it repayments on the kitchen and the boiler along with other credit cards over the years came to £9,000.
Realising I needed a radical turn around in outgoings I called all the energy providers and managed to reduce my monthly payments quite significantly and cancelled direct debits I’d been paying without know why. I applied for all the means tested benefits, but that still didn’t sort out the monthly credit cards and loans.
I had heard of the Consumer Credit Counselling service which is a charity that helps people manage their debt and offer free advice. I looked it up and noticed they’d changed to Step Change – exactly the same charity but with a different name. I had a look through the website and took an online test but realised most of the questions they asked me mentioned CCJ’s (County Court Judgements) and others bigger debt problems. I thought I’m not at that stage yet, but soon could be. I worried whether they would only help people at crisis point? What about preventative help? I called them up and spoke to an operator who took my details and transferred me to a financial advisor.
I soon discovered I was eligible for a debt management plan, whereby the charity pays off your lenders directly and then you pay the charity each month. It’s going to take 4 years to pay off the whole lot, but compared to just one of my loans which two years on is more that the original amount taken out isn’t such a bad thing.
They make the application as pain free as possible, sending you a breakdown in instructions. Even the process of proof of identity is accepted by snapping a document of income/benefits in your own home and emailing it. They ask that you change your bank account back to a basic one and cancel all direct debit payments to the lenders. Also, I can’t use any of my credit cards anymore or apply for, but then no pain no gain – or loss in this case.
This article was written by Name Withheld using our Community Reporters website