This Time Last Year

December 19th, 2007

Hi all

I just wanted to reflect on my situation this time last year in the hope that anyone just confronting their debt problems will see that there can be light at the end of the tunnel.

I had yet to join this forum as a member (3rd Jan I think) but was reading every single post from the beginning of November.

I was minutes away from calling Debt Free Direct when I found this site and in the end I decided to call Thomas Charles. Doug Prior, who posts on here, was absolutely brilliant and I could call his mobile whenever I had a panic moment, or whenever I wanted clarification about what a creditor/collection agency might have been telling me.

To everyone in that limbo stage of recognising you have a debt problem and organising to get financial help but not yet on the IVA path this can be a horrible time. Constant phone calls to your landline, mobile and, in worse case scenarios, to your workplace, all add to the pressure you feel under. That and the mountain of letters pushed through the letterbox daily. “Pay up or else” … “we must get a payment from you today or we will have to pass your account to our legal/collections team”… etc.

I had all that but Doug reassured me that the more ridiculous claims were just that and just be firm and say that you are seeking financial assistance, you are not in a position to make payment today and you will keep them informed of any developments.

At the begining of Feb I went to Cardiff to meet Melanie and can only reiterate what Andy and MikeS have said about how excellent she and her team really are.

Once Melanie was onboard I felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I was now able to refer people to my IP and inform them I was preparing an IVA. The phone calls continued along with some strange mail tactics from MBNA – Postcards saying “hi I’ll give you a call in the next few days” and letters pointing out that in 5 years time (the length of an IVA) the Olympics would be in London etc.

Due to some delays whilst I tried to remortgage my property my creditors meeting didn’t take place til the end of July. This delay was in no way Melanie’s fault more my stubborness in trying to hold onto my property. Tony Parsons (Welshboy) helped a lot in trying to find me a great mortgage deal but in the end because I was renting the property out the rate reflected this and was more than the rental income.

So the outcome was that I would sell my house and go for a full and final. This was accepted in July and early next month the sale should be completed and Melanie will be able to issue a certificate of completion.

So what have I learned. People on the other end of a phone can make you sad/upset/angry/depressed/guilty and more but they cannot take what you haven’t got. I got quite good at correcting people when they were telling me they could do this and that. I’d reply that actually you can’t because…. one of the great benefits of this website and all the expert advice you receive both directly and indirectly. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t become arrogant and cocky. I knew they were my debts and mine alone and I was/still am sorry that I allowed it to get to the state it did. But whilst remaining polite I wouldn’t be bullied by someone who knew nothing of my circumstances other than the details that flashed up on his/her screen with his/her next call on the list.

I also found that the longer my situation went on the more knowledgeable the people dealing with it were. They were aware of IVAs and just wanted to be sure all avenues had been explored.

I’ve learned to budget. I’m a demon at the checkouts these days. For any of you that like red wine the deal of the moment has to be Asda. Hardys Crest is normally £8 but you can buy 3 for £10. I needed a new pair of shoes for work. Now the old me would want the leather uppers, leather sole variety that normally retail in the £50-£60 price range. The new me went to shoe express and got a pair for £12!! DVDs are never bought as new releases unless there is a price war going on between the supermarkets. For example Casino Royale was £14.99 most places but I got it at Sainsburys for £8.00. And just to show how much I’ve changed I was raging when I found Asda selling it for £7. Lol.

I also learned that hiding my situation from my family, in particular my mum and dad, meant I faced my problems without their help and support until I found the courage to talk to them. They have been brilliant and are lending me some money which made the full and final more attractive to the creditors.

But I would like to finish my rambling by saying the real reason I got through this was this brilliant website. The experts give so freely of their time and its nice to see the number of experts growing. Andy and Admin do a fantastic job moderating and where necessary excluding certain individuals that bring the forum into disrepute. But the main people are you and I. The ones needing the help and providing support to others even when your own situation is still evolving.

Special mention to Skippy, Kerri, Lily, Ang, Tracey.h and finally, for their fantastic humour in difficult times, Mish and Olympic Torch.

Its the season of goodwill. This Xmas our family presents are token gifts apart from the children. Its about family being altogether.

Please all have a great Xmas to the best of your abilities.

I may not be on much over the next few days but will be back to offer support in the New Year.

Finally to Lily, I’ll be thinking of you this Xmas and when I go to mass on Xmas Day I’ll light a candle for your mum. Please try to remember the good times at Xmas with her and enjoy as best you can for your children’s sake.

Best wishes everyone