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How to get out of debt – by someone who’s done it

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There’s no denying money can be a slippery and emotive subject and debt is one of the topics that’s most difficult to speak up about. But there is an answer.

More people than ever are currently benefiting from free debt advice, according to our figures.

Debt advice projects delivered by our partners, including Citizens Advice and the Money Advice Trust have seen more than 91,300 people access their services over April-June 2015 alone.

But how do you feel if it’s you going through debt? And is it ever possible to break the cycle? 

We asked Hayley, who runs the website Disease Called Debt, for her thoughts. Hayley cleared her debts of £41,489 in just 22 months. Here’s how.

Disease Called Debt – my story

For over 15 years, my husband and I battled with debt. We each had debt when we met and for a long time we didn’t worry too much about it and continued living life day-to-day, often funding purchases and holidays with our credit cards.

It was only when we bought our first house together that we realised just how crippling our debts had become, as we were restricted by the amount we could borrow. We stopped spending on credit and tried to be more careful with money. The problem was that by then, the damage was done and we owed in excess of £41K between us on credit cards and loans.

Our huge minimum repayments meant that we had to try and survive without spending on luxuries. Things got so bad that we realised we needed outside help and entered into a debt management plan.

We accepted that our life would always be overshadowed by debt – making the new lower payments into our debt management plan would mean that we’d be in debt for years and years.

We were so ashamed of our debt problems that we avoided telling people. Trying to live life normally and pretend that everything was ok was very difficult.

Our debt turning point

Our turning point came when our daughter was born and we realised that our debt situation could compromise her quality of life as well as our own.

One day that I’m forever grateful for, I decided to try to find other people like us who had massive debts but had successfully paid them off. I searched the internet and was inspired by the debt success stories I found. My husband and I started to believe that maybe we could be debt free too!

I set up my blog as a way to voice my frustrations somewhere about our debt and to document our journey to debt freedom. Through this, I found support from people I didn’t even know.

They spurred me on to learn about ways that we could save and make extra money to pay off our debt.  

They picked me up when I was down and celebrated with me when my husband and I hit a debt reduction milestone.

So… what happened next?

In just 22 months, we cleared our debts of £41,489. We managed to do this whilst raising our baby daughter and despite earning much less than in previous years.

We were successful because we learned how to budget, live frugally and we found all sorts of ways to make extra money here and there to overpay our debts.

We decided to snowball our debts, paying the smallest debt off first and then using the money we freed up to pay towards the next smallest debt. Our last debts were those in the debt management plan as they were the highest.

Debt freedom is the best feeling in the world! Life is peaceful. Not having to worry about creditors calling or sending letters anymore and knowing that our money is our own is a fantastic feeling.

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What should you do if you’re in debt?

My advice to anyone in this situation would be to first of all face up to the amount of debt you’re in and make a plan to pay it off, even if that means getting professional help. You will need to make financial sacrifices and try to make more money to overpay your debts. Budgeting and living frugally can actually be enjoyable – I love getting a good deal or repurposing my things even now!   

It’s really important to find someone who can support you emotionally during this time.

When you’re ready to give in and buy something that you don’t need, that person can encourage you to carry on with reaching your goal of debt freedom.

If you have a setback (which you probably will), just don’t give up trying to get out of debt. If you don’t give up, then you can’t fail.

MoneyHelper says…

Debt can be a difficult subject to talk about and it’s great to hear Hayley’s story of how she managed it herself.

If you want to speak to someone confidentially and for free, there are places you can go, and often the best first step is speaking up

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This guest post is from Disease Called Debt and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of MoneyHelper. You can find out more about Disease Called Debt and what they do on their website.


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