Real Life Debt Story -Thrifty Clair

Real Life Debt Stories – Thrifty Clair

Real Life Debt Stories - Thrifty Clair shares her debt story with us - her starting debt, lightbulb moment, making extra money, favourite repayment methods and how to stay motivated.

Real Life Debt Stories - Thrifty Clair

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.

Thank you so much Thrifty Clair for completing the questionnaire and sharing your story.  


What was your Lightbulb moment?

I was paying around £50 a month in overdraft fees and high interest rates on a store card. It was horrible knowing that my hard earned money was going down the drain!

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

I owed just short of £8000.  I had a car on a rubbish finance deal, a large overdraft charging a fee of £1 a day and a store card with high interest rates!

How did you feel when you had your Lightbulb moment?

I was determined to break the cycle of wasting money and I knew I had to start chipping away at what I owed. I was sick of always being in my overdraft - even on payday - so I decided to be proactive rather than pretending it didn’t matter.

What/who were the circumstances which caused your debt?

Some of my debt came from my carefree student days. I had a huge overdraft and spent it without a care in the world. I'd always say things like “I’ll pay it off when I’m older” and “I’ll pay it off when I have a proper job”.  Now I can definitely say that older me did not appreciate the actions of my younger self! I didn’t even have anything to show for it, just lots of nights out and takeaways. I also had a New Look store card that I used frequently as student. It was the worst idea ever!

The rest of the debt was for a car I got on finance, I had no savings and it was the only way I could afford a car. Stupidly, I bought something that was a bit out of my price range, the low monthly repayments made it sound a great deal. I loved the car - a Tiffany blue coloured Renault Clio with a colour coded interior - it cost £3000 so nothing too extravagant. The reality was that after all the finance fees and interest I was actually paying £4500! At the time I didn’t care (much like my student days)?

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

Money Transfer

I went straight to the Money Saving Expert website and found a few things I could do. I wrote to my bank and got some overdraft charges back and I applied for a 0% interest money transfer credit card. It allowed me to transfer money from a credit card into my bank for just a small fee; most companies offer them now but at the time there were only a few that did. I was relieved when my application was accepted!

Paid off Overdraft and Store Cards

Once I got the money transfer I paid off my overdraft and store card - then I got rid of them both. I didn’t want to be tempted to spend on them again and end up in more debt, I had grown sick of seeing an overdraft on my account so it was a relief when it was gone. When my bank charges were refunded I paid it straight onto my money transfer credit card. The money that I was then saving on overdraft and store card fees (about £50 a month) was also used to pay off the money transfer card.

Bargain Queen

As the years passed I found even savvier ways to save money and started to get a reputation among friends and colleagues as a bargain queen. I got to the point where I was able to pay off more of my debt, open a savings account and get my car paid off all while still enjoying a good social life. Thanks to my thrifty ways I was very nearly debt free in 2013, unfortunately, my car ended up so far beyond repair that I desperately needed a new one. I got another used car on finance but having learned from past mistakes I got a much better deal. After a year I got another 0% money transfer and shifted the car deb.  This saved me over £1000 and I managed to pay it off 15 months earlier than expected!

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

I have been debt free since October 2017!!! Hurrah!!!

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

Make the payments to your loans and cards on payday. If you don’t have the money there, you can’t be tempted to spend it.

Be realistic and pay back what you can. I started small and gradually increased the amount I paid when I found a comfortable balance between saving and spending.

Still make time for treats and a social life.  You can’t plough all of your money into paying off your debts otherwise it’ll become a burden.

Don’t be scared to move debt around. Shop around for new 0% deals with low transfer fees when you are getting near to the end of your interest free period. It can save so much money and it’s really easy.

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

You can do it! Even if you think you’ll never pay it off, I promise that you will! It takes time but you’ll suddenly get to a point where you realise how far you’ve come and it’ll spur you on even more!

How do you stay motivated?

A few years ago I set a goal to become debt free and buy my first house by the time I’m 30. This goal has spurred me on. I’ve been debt free for a few months and I’m about 3-4 months away from getting onto the property ladder. I’ll be 30 in June so fingers crossed I achieve what I set out to!

Until then I’m increasing my bargain hunting and savvy spending ways; I’m saving more than I ever thought possible.

Please feel free to add in any more of your story here?

I’ll be sharing updates about my property search on my blog along with my thrifty ways and amazing deals.

Wow, what a great story Thrifty Clair. I love that you took control by getting a 0% credit card and transferring your balances.

Your quote "I can definitely say that older me did not appreciate the actions of my younger self!" really struck a chord too.  I think that anyone, no matter what their age, could relate to this.

Good luck with your goal to buy your first house - I really hope you do it.


More real life debt stories can be found here.

Would you like to Share Your Real Life Debt 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. If you are willing to share your story with my readers then I'd love it if you would complete this short questionnaire.  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.

Looking to Start Your Own Debt Free Journey?

My 'Debt Busting - Get Set for Success' Ebook is available on Amazon for just £1.79 (or free on Kindle Unlimited).  This book will guide you through 6 practical steps showing you how to start tackling your debt, including:

  • Creating your Statement of Affairs
  • How to plan your budget
  • Choosing your debt repayment method
  • Making your money work for you