Recovering after debt packed its punch

2014-05-19 05:30
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Cape Town - Fin24 user Lindsay, who lost almost everything because of debt, tells how she plucked up the courage to face and tackle the problem. She writes:

I have spent this last year trying to recover from my debt.
 
My husband and I are nearly R400k in debt and so much has happened. We lost our car, our house and all our furniture. We were so blasé about our finances and lived a very opulent life with little to no care about where the next payment would come from.

Then I was retrenched, my husband was short paid and one missed payment became two,  became three and it all spiralled out of control.
 
We needed to  move in with my parents for 6 months to try and find our feet again.
 
We made the decision to go under debt review and it worked to alleviate some of the burden for a while but no one mentioned that these amounts won't change when the petrol price increases, e-toll comes into place, electricity goes up as well as the price of food. It also doesn't take into consideration that my kids need to attend school, that they need new clothes or the fact that we are stuck with this for the next five years (projected).
 
I stopped answering the phone and avoided private numbers out of frustration and embarrassment regarding my situation.
 
Finally I plucked up the courage to get to a point where I did the following:
 
1. I made a list of all the people and institutions I owed money.
2. I made a list of the amounts that I owe - not a pretty reality to face!
3. Organised the list from the least to the most and targeting the small amounts - I did this to make a point to myself. I paid up the small amounts and highlighted it in my spread sheet to remind myself that I am on the right track.
4. On January 1 I made the decision not to spend a cent on myself for a year. It's tough because I want to need everything but I force myself to remember that every pair of shoes could potentially be an instalment.
5. I have an old toiletry bag where I put all my small change - everything from a R10 and downwards - with that money saved over a period of a year, I managed to take my family on holiday for a week without needing more cash except for spending. I am continuing to do so today as I plan on buying everything I want cash and saving for it.
6. I have also discovered the joys of freebies! Month end is awesome when you are shopping and promotional companies hand out freebies. I take what I can get - note I never shop at month end! I have discovered that all stores push up their prices or don't run such large specials as they do a week before pay day.
7. I have also discovered that Checkers hyper marks down their food items, vegetables and cakes on a Tuesday and Thursday, which helps if you buy for a few days.
8. I have taken on a weekend job as a waitress and earn some extra cash there too.
9. We have a fiscal fast once a month for a week where absolutely no money is spent for the entire week except on fuel to get to work and home. All money saved during that week goes onto another debt as an extra payment.
 
My journey to becoming debt free is far from over, and I wish someone could have told me that debt has the ability to consume you. I also learnt a little late that debt is simple. It takes from your future and has no respect for what changes it will your to your future will.
 
Everyday I try and find a new way to make life easier, more manageable and to take a step closer to becoming financially free.
 
I have many tips and tricks and perhaps some seem extreme, but it works.
 
I appreciate that many articles are written to assist and give advise, but until you realise or choose to face the reality of your situation you will find yourself knee deep in debt with few options.
 
- Fin24

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