Debt free

Picture of a door with locks

CAP client Joanne became debt free last year. It wasn’t an easy journey, but with grit and determination she made it. And we’re excited because she has kindly written a blog about her experience of being in debt, becoming debt free and some advice for others in the same situation.

I had a well-paid job in the IT industry, earning more than enough to sustain a good lifestyle for me and my family, but l did not have the discipline and definitely did not apply the knowledge l had to maintain my finances. I got into over £25,000 of debt.

Each month I would spend all my money (credit, cash, overdraft) under the assumption that because I had a job, l could squander all and wait for the next definite paycheck. Budgeting, saving and investing was not part of my life. As a result, my money was spent on servicing stuff like the interest rates on loans, credit cards etc, instead of reducing the amount owed.

I failed, especially as a mother.

I was out of control in the very area where legacy is built. It was an eye opening experience to find out how important finance is, affecting every facet of our lives. As a family, we had to make some necessary decisions by downsizing to a smaller flat and cut down ALL expenses. This was not easy for me as a parent.

l was not present with my family sometimes, even though l was right there physically. l would be deep in thoughts, worrying about what to do if the phone rang again for the tenth time in a day, or if the doorbell rang with a big bang on the door at the same time. The fear, worry and anxiety was unavoidable and real. My lovely son caught me in this gloomy state one day and that was the turn around moment for me. l am glad I made that turn around. He would literally pull my cheeks and say, ‘Smile Mummy!’. We make jokes about it now and he stuck the word ‘smile’ everywhere l go — the fridge door and beside my bed. I now have a smile on my face. I love my HERO, my son.

So I decided to quit isolating myself and seek help. The day l met the representatives from CAP was the day my freedom started. CAP was attentive, non-judgemental and very helpful. It was liberating knowing that help was available. CAP also surprisingly helped me with a bursary to pay my bankruptcy fees, which would not have been possible without their help, based on my situation at the time.

I learnt so much during these times and I’m still learning. I hope that by sharing my experiences it will help someone make a better turn too.

Take time and care.

Every aspect of our life needs care, which is why we take cars for MOTs, take time to style our hair, eat healthy or make an effort…the list is endless. Some even write out plans to achieve at the beginning of the month or year. Finance is an essential part of this picture. Take time and care to consider budgeting, savings, investments, income and expenditure. For me, it is vital to live a disciplined life, for my own benefit and peace of mind.

Spend less, and seek ways to reduce expenses.
l found out there are lovely movies on YouTube. My son and I would have popcorn and watch them on Friday nights. Netflix is not getting my money anymore! I also walk everywhere. Getting rid of my car was a huge saving and also cutting out my gym subscription.

Change your mindset.

One major remarkable shift for me is my MINDSET. My perspective of money has changed. l realised that money is a tool, but it needs stewardship and discipline, so that l have control. Spreadsheets are now a weekly/monthly task. I’m always pruning to see how to reduce expenses and increase savings. This clarity has enabled me to start creating and setting up my own business. I am now able to plan the future for my children and start educating them on money management early in life.

Don’t ignore debt.

Ignoring or isolating a small issue only escalates it. Ignoring debt does not solve it. I was able to get expert help from CAP, and they taught me the skills to budget and save. Now I am now open to sharing these skills with anyone that comes my way.

I smile always now, even as l am writing this blog. Thank you my HERO, Mummy loves you.

Struggling with debt? Call CAP free on 0800 328 0006
Or visit the website, capuk.org.

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