Real Life Debt Stories – Charli from One Wage Family

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Welcome to my series of 'Real Life Debt Stories'. The series is dependent on you sharing your stories, so if you are interested I'd love it if you'd complete this questionnaire. There are just 10 questions.

Real Life Debt Stories

Charli from One Wage Family

This week we have a story from Charli, a blogger over at One Wage Family.  Charli's blog is all about saving money by getting the best deals and ways you can earn extra income from home.

What was your Lightbulb moment?

I'm not sure I could call it a lightbulb moment but I knew I had to do something about my credit card debt when I couldn't pay the monthly payment and I began to get the inevitable letters owing money.

How much did you owe at the time of your Lightbulb moment?

£3,200 all on one credit card.

How did you feel when you had your Lightbulb moment?

I was starting to get increasingly worried about the debt as it was now going to affect my credit score thanks to missing a payment.

What/who were the circumstances which caused your debt?

It started when I took out a credit card to pay for a holiday. I was 21 and working full time at the time but on minimum wage and had rent and bills to pay for. I was also wasting money on a lot of unnecessary stuff! My original limit was £1500 but once I'd spent that amount I was offered £3000 and it was too easy and tempting. I had a few charges added on so that took it to £3200 in the end. It was so easy at the time to spend that amount even though I had nothing to show for it!

What were the first steps you took in taking control of your debt?

By the time I'd maxed out my credit card to £3000 I was now a student and had no job so was now in a worse financial position. However being a student meant that I received a maintenance loan and grant so had a fairly large amount of money up front which I decided I would use some of to try and reach a settlement with the credit card company. By this time I was 23 and a little more money savvy so I could afford to use some of this money for the debt. I used approximately £1200 from my grant/student loan and a few hundred which I raised by selling stuff. I was offered a 'full and final' settlement by the credit card company for around 70% of the total amount owed so that was paid and the debt settled. I think because I was a student at the time the credit card company knew that I would now struggle to pay the monthly repayment plus the fees I'd incurred so were willing to write off around 30% to receive a lump sum.

Where are you now in your journey to being debt free? Do you have a target ‘debt free’ date?

I paid off the debt 6 years ago. I cancelled the card immediately after and have only ever had one other credit card with a fixed limit of £500 used only for emergencies. I've definitely learnt from my past mistakes!

Are there any debt repayment ‘methods’ that you would recommend? What has worked for you?

I reached a 'full and final' settlement with the company I owed money to but this would not be suitable for everyone. My simple advice would be to contact any companies you are struggling to pay and see if they can help at all. Making extra money if possible is always a good idea to use to pay off debt.

What advice would you give to someone who has just had their ‘lightbulb’ moment?

Just try not to worry too much about the debt. There are many companies out there now that can advise and help those struggling to pay. At the same time don't bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away, take action to begin paying off the debt.

How do you stay motivated?

If you have a lot of debt then it can feel like you will never pay it off. I think focussing on the end goal of no debt can be helpful, you will get there! Keeping track of all that you owe and seeing the numbers go down can also be helpful.

Thank you Charli for sharing your story.  I think it's amazing that you decided to use your student money to repay your debt.  So many people would have just spent that too.

Great advice about contacting the companies you owe.  As you stated, many companies will happily come to an agreement in order to receive some money and clear the debt.

Would you like to Share Your Story?

My aim is to feature ‘Real Life Debt Stories’ from people who have experienced debt. This could be debt of any size, type or reason. Debt that has been paid off, debt you want to start paying off or debt that you are currently in the middle of paying off. I want to share failures as well as successes including the reasons why you found yourself in debt in the first place – as everyone’s story is different.

It is important to show people that they are not alone. I also want to highlight that different methods of getting debt under control work for different people and that there is not a ‘One Size Fits All’ solution.

This is where you come in. I am looking for anyone who is willing to share their story with my readers. I have developed a questionnaire for you to complete and this can be completely confidential and names will not be shared OR if are happy for your name to be used, I can use it. If you also have a blog, I am happy to link to your blog too, alongside your story.

I will then email you to let you know when your story will go live.

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