I’ve been thinking back to not so long ago when we were heavily in debt, particularly about the things I know now that I wished I’d known back then.
In this post, I’ve listed 7 things I wish I’d known during the height of our debt. If you’re currently struggling with debt, I hope this post is of some help to you.
1. We weren’t alone
For a very long time, the hubby and I lived with a lot of guilt and embarrassment about the fact that we had so much debt.
There wasn’t a day that went by when I personally didn’t think about this and I remember worrying so much about what people would think of us both if they knew the state of our finances.
I looked at other people as if they were on a completely different level to me – better in some way – more knowledgeable about money related matters. Debt gave us a low opinion of ourselves.
I then started to realise that we weren't alone and that lots of people have some kind of debt. It’s just that most people don’t talk about it! They might well be thinking about their debt everyday just like I did with ours, but because debt is still very much a taboo subject, we wouldn’t necessarily know.
The bottom line is – tons of people are in debt. Many people are in serious, life changing debt. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or feel guilty about because there is always of way out of debt.
2. Our debt was our own fault
I said earlier about the fact that we felt guilty and embarrassed about our debts for such a long time. Yet even then, we questioned why this was happening to us. Why did our creditors lend us so much money over the years? It was practically handed to us on a plate!
Once we made the connection that our debt occurred because of the way we handled our finances and how we reacted to life changes, we realised that only we ourselves could get us out of debt.
By life changes, one example I’m thinking of is when my hubby lost his job. We carried on living pretty much as we did when he had a great job instead of making cutbacks and getting some savings in place. We didn’t worry back then and this alone led to us really struggling later on in life.
3. A financial miracle wasn’t going to happen (for us)
I kid you not, I dreamed of winning the lottery every morning whilst driving to work. By the time I’d arrived at work, I’d already decided how to spend it in my mind. I’d buy my parents and other family members a house and then we’d get a little place of our own. The first thing we’d do is phone up our creditors and get the debts paid off. It was nothing more than a dream and the sooner I stopped waiting around hoping for a financial miracle, the sooner I would have got on with the task I needed to do.
Which brings me on to my next point ...
4. Getting out of debt would take less time than I thought
The hubby and I lived uncomfortably with our debt for 15 years before we finally became debt free. At one point, I thought we’d never be rid of it because I just couldn’t see a way out.
The hubby had took a huge salary cut, my wages weren’t great because I was working part time around my daughter, and on the face of things, it didn’t look good. Even our own bank advised us to go bankrupt!
We paid off £41K in 36 months, after being in debt for 15 years! How? Well to cut a long story short, we contacted Debt Relief Scotland. All of a sudden, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from our shoulders. All the letters, harassing phone calls and visits from debt collection agencies just stopped. About 75% of our debt was completely written off within 6 weeks. It was amazing!!
5. Getting out of debt would only be possible if we made the effort
If we’d have known it would take 36 months to be free of £41K’s worth of debt, we’d have done it YEARS ago. If someone had told me that would be the case, I wouldn’t have believed them though. Maybe the timing wasn’t right back then, but we definitely never dreamed it would take just 3 years to achieve debt freedom. I guess we had to be in the right place and in the right frame of mind in order to realise how easy it was to get out of debt.
6. We had rights
I briefly mentioned earlier about the fact that our debts caused us to have a low opinion of ourselves. We felt lower than low many times and often lived in fear of phone calls from creditors and baliffs knocking on our door. We couldn’t bear to look at our mail in case we saw more interest charges on a credit card statement. We didn’t even check our bank account (not recommended!) because it made us feel so much worse looking at the state of our overdraft.
I've since come to realise that everyone in debt has rights, including us. There are such things as priority debts and non-priority debts and providing we weren’t falling behind on priority debts, like a mortgage or rent for example, then our home would be safe.
As for non-priority debts (these are the likes of credit cards and loans) which is what our debt consisted of, as long we communicated with our creditors to arrange a payment that we could afford, things would be ok. So even though we were getting chasing phone calls from creditors that frightened the life out of us, all we would have had to say (and prove) was that we could only afford to give them X amount per month.
7. Being in debt has a silver lining
I never, ever, thought anything good could come of debt. But truly, there are positives to be taken from being in debt. For me personally, I’ve learned about managing money, budgeting and self-control.
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