Tuesday, 5 February 2013

I'm Debt Free!

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen!

I've just logged into my Internet banking and confirmed it - I'm finally debt free.

Loan Status

The last payment on my last loan went out yesterday, and the only credit I have now is on a air miles card that I pay off in full every month.

My money is my own again.

This is awesome stuff - not only for the financial gain, but also for the immense emotional relief this gives me.

To Be Cathartic..

There was a lot of bad emotion and memories attached to this loan in particular, here's some mental associations that spring to mind:

  • Not being able to afford proper food - basically living on pasta and ketchup during the worst parts.
  • This of course had the knock-on effect of making me unhealthy, I was sick - a lot.
  • No hot water or heating - this actually did wonders for my ability to take cold showers!
  • The banging of the front door as debt collectors wanted to get money I didn't have.
  • The constant stream of red letters, legal threats, phone calls hassling me (I ended up disconnecting the phone).
  • Even when I started to get some cash (after clearing off smaller loans) - I'd still have to toss-up "food" or "heating" over "geek book to improve my skills and get out of this dead-end job".
But the one that really broke my heart - having to lie to my mother and tell her I was OK and not to worry about me.

People sometimes ask me "why?" - why didn't you ask for help, and then I tell them:
… because I got myself into the mess, I had to get myself out.
I made some bad, stupid decisions. I got myself into a bad situation. I was weak and almost ready to throw in the towel. I thought I was done.
 
But when we are at our weakest is when we show our true strength.
 
I had to get through it, for me - for my own.. Manliness! I had to know that I could right the wrongs and come out better for it. Otherwise, what was the point?
 
What kind of person would it make me if I did all this stuff, took money and property from companies that were built by people just trying to put food on the table for their families  and said "ohhh I can't afford to pay you because I am a fucking idiot who jumped into things that I couldn't handle". I'm not that guy. If I screw up, I fix it. No question.

Get Out of the Hole

So I did all I know how to do. I worked. I studied. I gritted my teeth.
 
I also cried, got frustrated, wanted to give up, got depressed, cried some more and got angry. It's really easy to get sucked into this spiral when you can never afford to go out and can't afford TV to distract you etc.
 
But I carried on working, I carried on studying and I carried on gritting my teeth and smiling to the outside world.
 
Then I cleared a debt. Some crappy high interest card loan that I got to pay off another. (LOL)
Then I cleared another - these guys must have loved me because they kept sending me new ones after I chopped it up - and they were so kind to give me more money (I kept chopping them up - I made it my new personal goal to see if I could chop up enough cards to cover the stupid amount of interest I paid them).
 
Then I felt it - momentum.
 
I was on to something. I realised that it wasn't about the penny-pinching and meticulous planning. It was about focusing on the most wasteful parts of your budget and getting them down as low as you can go. Two things come out of this:
  1. You make money. Last week there was no money, now you've found some. Yay.
  2. You lose the stress. Everything else is in hand and you're focusing on the few things you can actually do something about.

Make It Fun

I was always amazed how people that had to deal with horrific things made games out of them (for example, paramedics that score points based on damage at a roadside traffic accident). It sounds sick, but it's a coping mechanism. If you focus on the game side of it, it removes all the emotional stress that you'd normally have so you can actually focus on the task at hand.

I made it a game. Each month I would pick an item from my budget to pick on, then see "how low I could go". My favourite - "Weekly Groceries". Got that down to £10/week. Impossible? No. Boring? Kinda :) Helped me kick ass? Definitely*.

* this actually freed up about £150 a month. Would you say "no" to an extra £150?

Are You OK?

As my momentum picked up, I continued smashing debt - then one day I awoke and realised something..

I wasn't lying to my mother after all. I was OK.

Grit your teeth. Do the work. It may not be easy work, and it will take time. Sometimes there's only one way out of a situation. Toil.

Fast-forward a few years. It's all over.. I now live a life that I truly love. I have amazing friends that challenge me, help me grow and become a better person. I'm not only financially richer - but I'm mentally richer. I'm good. I'm really, really good!

Lastly...

I have to say a big "thank you" to my friends and family - you're everything to me. There are times when you have saved me and you don't even know it.

I love you all.

Now, I have to get back to work ;)

3 comments:

  1. Well done Rob. I remember when we talked about you starting the journey. Really pleased that you got through. Now lend us a tenner :)

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  2. Awesome! Congratulations! Debt free is an awesome place to be.

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  3. Worrying about your debts and how to pay them could really wear you out. I am happy to hear that you've finally found your way out and are currently enjoying your own money again. Good thing you have supportive people around you who helped you go through this ordeal. Good job, Rob! Now, be an inspiration to others!
    Jaden Allred

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