When did you become debt free?
I became debt free in July 2015
What does it feel like now that you’re debt free?
It feels like a weight off my shoulders, a second chance.
How is your life different now?
To say that I have learnt my lesson is beyond an understatement.
I have learnt to live within my means, to tackle my issues head-on and not ignore them in hopes that they would just get better.
I was so scared to tell my friends and family the truth but when I did they were so supportive – I couldn’t have become debt free without them. Being able to be honest with them is such a relief.
I’m no longer sacred of my phone ringing.
I’m more confident and I hope to teach my son the valuable lessons that I’ve learnt.
What was life like when you were in debt?
It was difficult. It was stressful.
It was emotionally draining. It was embarrassing.
It meant sacrificing in order to pay the minimum to stay out of trouble.
I didn’t realise how much the stress of having the debt was affecting me until I had started my debt agreement.
My debt didn’t just affect me; it affected everyone in my life, especially my partner at the time and also my son.
Can you tell us the back ground of how you ended up in debt?
I wish I could say that there was something big that I bought or did that lead to my debt but there wasn’t. I have nothing to show for my debt – it was so many little things that just added up.
It was living beyond my means and not considering the consequences.
Many people we talk to have struggled on for years hoping things will get better. What was your experience like?
I struggled with my debt for three years by myself, too ashamed to tell even my family and friends how serious my situation was. I convinced myself that if I just got through this week, it would be ok – that I was coping. In truth, I buried my head in the sand and hoped that it would work out. All that did was escalate the issue.
I was constantly stressed, afraid every time my phone rang that it would be another debt collector, I was lying to people that I loved in order to cover it up, my self-esteem plummeted.
In the end, I was served with court papers.
And yet I had nothing to show for the debt I was in.
What options did you try/explore?
I tried to ignore it mostly.
I tried making arrangements with banks/institutions (that I failed to live up to).
I explored bankruptcy (naturally wanted to avoid that if at all possible).
What were you expecting when you called Debt Mediators?
I expected a lot of paperwork – there was not that much at all.
I expected to have to go to court – I never did.
I expected to reach someone who spoke to people like me every day, but didn’t really care – the person I spoke to was caring, down to earth and non-judgemental.
What was it like working with us?
Easy. Straightforward. I never felt judged for the situation I had put myself in, any questions I had were answered on the day. There were times when it was difficult to keep up the repayments and everyone went out of their way to be understanding and be as flexible as they could, supporting me in any way possible.
What was doing a debt agreement like?
It was good to know that I was finally facing my issues.
As time went on, knowing that I was keeping up with it and watching the balance of what I owed go down, was motivational.
I wish I’d done it sooner, I would have been significantly better off.
What advice would you give to people struggling with debt?
Don’t ignore it. It won’t just go away, it will get worse.
Ask for help – people will be more understanding than you think.
You can become debt free – if I can do it, believe me – you can.