Let me tell you the main thing about getting into debt.
Getting into debt is super easy.
Think about it, it’s managing your money that is hard. Making all those decisions, putting things back if you can’t afford them, saving up for things, that’s the hard stuff.
But if you have had at some point a pretty ok credit rating you can destroy this very quickly.
Here’s how it happened to me.
I have worked sporadically since graduating from University. I was in no way afraid of hard work (I at one point had SIX jobs), but I have only had one full time contract with a yearly salary in my lifetime. Everything else was short term, casual contract, volunteer work, self-employed work or something inbetween.
At some point after leaving University I was offered a Barclaycard credit card. I already had one credit card, but somehow I had misread things and thought the Barclaycard was a 0% balance transfer card. Which is one of the credit cards you do want. I had a guess that my income was about 10k a year (it wasn’t) and signed up.
Initially despite being very poor due to working part time on a casual basis I was good with the credit cards. I paid them off in full each month. This did mean that I had cash in my account for about 3 days of each month, as all my money would go on paying the credit card in full (I was too afraid of paying just the minimum) and then I would use only the credit card to pay for things.
This led to a particularly low moment when I was forced to buy a 40p reduced loaf of bread on a credit card as I had zero in my current account.
Somewhere around 2013 I got sick of my deprived lifestyle. I had just left a job that was so awful it made me have to take anti-depressants. I had cleared the Barclaycard months ago and destroyed the old card. I ordered a new one and spent. And spent. And spent. I had Amazon deliveries coming about twice a week. I ordered books I wanted to read, I ordered sports gear, I bought clothes and everything else.
I then went to climb Snowden with my sisters, whilst coming back down the moment I got a call from Barclaycard to say my request to increase the balance had been approved. My sisters cheered for me, but even at the time despite the freedom to buy more things that caught my fancy I knew that this was a low point.
I started a new job, which I was fired from after 7 days because the villains at my old job put a stop to it (I will tell you more about this point in my life another day). I got another job, but it was again casual. I maxed out my credit cards at Christmas.
I survived through my pittance of a pay slip and lots of borrows off my boyfriend. It was in about 2014 when I was thinking about the book series ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ . I didn’t know how someone could amass a huge collection of credit cards as I thought you could only get them through a bank. It then occurred to me that there must be other ways to amass credit cards.
A quick google search later and I had an Aqua Card heading my way.
I thought I would use it to buy a laptop, or to pay back my brother, but I was a twat and used it very very quickly. I blew through 500 quid in a couple of weeks.
At this point my credit rating was still passable so I quickly ordered another card. And then another.
My monthly bills went sky high. I blew through this money (borrowed money) so quickly that I am ashamed of the way I behaved.
I was a complete and utter idiot. I was selfish. I was bad. I was awful.
Getting into debt is a stupid, stupid, thing to do.
I was depressed, and debt and depression usually go hand in hand. I was buying things because I wanted to feel better because I felt so awful on the inside. My confidence was zero. I believed I was worthless.
I was sick of not getting anywhere with my career. I was sick of working casual jobs for minimum wage. I was sick of not owning the same things my friends did.
I was wrong. I was selfish. I was a twat.
When one of my credit cards was extended in late 2015 I used it to pay off a long debt I had to my brother. Finally I was free of that, but I had caged myself into a long standing debt on that card (which was one of five).
My minimum payment for that card alone soon reached nearly £200.
I had reached rock bottom finally. In debt there is the point of no return. The point when things are too late. The point when you have screwed everything up and things are almost irreversible.
I was thankfully about 1 month away from having a financial catastrophe. I stopped myself just in time before I would have had negative income. And it coincided with a new year, so yes, it was a cheesy ‘new beginning’.
Since January I have done a complete 180 on my financial situation.
I used to almost be turned on by the things I bought. Now I get excited by what I save, even if it is just a matter of pennies.
Getting into debt is so easy. Credit card companies don’t exactly make it hard, because here’s the big secret.
They want you to get into debt with them. As long as you can make the minimum payments each month they will have you for life. They will have your money each month. They will take you for everything you’ve got.
Please do not think for one minute I am blaming the credit card companies for my mistakes. I made them wholly on my own. No one exactly forced me or tricked me into getting into debt. I knew the risks. I dived in anyway.
I will tell you more about what I’ve achieved this year. I will teach you how to save money. I will show you there is a way out.
But just remember, getting into debt is easy. Getting out of it? That’s the achievement.