“Do you have another card? This ones been declined”
Words that cut through me. The assassin hurling these daggers was a young lady trying to serve me a take away pizza. I did have more cards. I had a different one to a joint bank account I shared with friends which I had taken to the end of its overdraft without their permission. I had another, a credit card with my bank, which was maxed out. One more contestant, but alas, like the others, also over it’s limit with a much larger sum contained in it’s plastic prison.
They say there’s a moment when you know things need to change, a ‘light bulb moment’. This was mine. This was my kick up the proverbial.
I left the shop, pride desecrated, a face full of crimson compunction and with my girlfriend and my stomachs growling in unison at the crestfallen couple.
I vowed to change, I promised that things couldn’t and wouldn’t get worse.
I felt alone, drowning in a sea of debt with no lifeboat in sight.
My financial turnaround started. I carefully budgeted. Checked all my accounts for rogue payments. Quit the gym. Downgraded my phone. I cut back to live well within my means. It worked. It took about a year and I had managed to save and pay off about £10,000 worth of debt. I was on a roll, I had cash behind me, I was used to this way of living. Once you get momentum there’s only one thing to do. I spent all of my savings on a 5 month trip around Asia, Australia and New Zealand, spending on all the cards again I had worked so hard to pay down.
I am never going to regret that decision, but I came back just as worse off as when the pizza was pulled from my paws.
I felt like I was starting my life again about £20,000 in debt. Of course I was a master planner, I had been here before so I knew exactly what to do.
I bought a car. On finance. For over £9,000.
I can already hear everyone’s applause at the mastery of my plan.
At this juncture, I actually did know what to do. I knuckled down and dragged myself out of the self inflicted hole.
After all my energy had been spent on money saving to pay off debt, when I was debt free I had a spare packet of cash each month. I managed to save up to allow myself to buy a house with a mortgage and some nice things to go in it.
As all this was happening, my salary was increasing. My level of spending hadn’t really increased so I had more than ever spare each month.
So the big question was what do I do now with anything that’s spare? Start blowing it all on fast cars, designer watches and Waitrose blueberries? Or do I look for another, more productive spending habit.
After scouring money saving websites and forums for some time I knew there was a life after debt.
It was called Financial Independence, and I wanted it.