So… You Want to be Debt Free
Great, me too!
I started my journey to debt freedom on the 20th July 2017. I remember it clearly because I was shopping that morning for a wedding, frantically trying to find a dress that would suit the occasion. I ended up buying three dresses which turned into five when I arrived home to an online shopping order from the same shop. Oh, and two pairs of shoes. This incident pretty much epitomises my relationship with money, possessions and debt. Always spending, always buying, always in it.
At that particular moment in my life, my partner had just been served his redundancy notice, and we were stressed. I am anxious to the extreme anyway, often suffering bouts of insomnia, and sometimes I can get a bit depressed. Sometimes I can get really depressed (a cause and symptom of my debt).
My partner and I had spent the previous year living in our first (purchased, if confined to a monthly payment for the next 35 years of our lives to the Bank constitutes ‘purchased’) home while we renovated the house. When we moved in, I went a bit Pinterest-crazy and was also slightly deluded, envisioning these different versions of ourselves enjoying painting the hallway on Saturdays, upcycling delicate end-tables, perhaps even restoring a hardwood floor (my American home restoration blog-scouring had become such an obsession that I’d even adopted their vernacular). I imagined that, once everything was done, we both collapse, exhausted on the sofa, content with a cup of tea, reminiscing about how fun the whole project was and patting ourselves for a job well done.
Nope. Just nope. The time we spent renovating our home was the worst period of my own personal modern history. It was awful. We were fortunate to find a few good workmen, and a few terrible ones. We ate take-aways most of the time, with the occasional depressing trip to Nandos in our gym clothes (minus the workout) as a treat. We both struggled to switch off under the mountainous to-do list and were constantly exhausted and sick. I spent most of my time, outside of work, cleaning, dusting and running around doing god-knows-what (a heinous breakdown in the carpark of Tile Source when the wrong tiles were ordered, then replaced with the wrong tiles, was a memorable moment). And we turned on each other.
But that all paled in comparison to the cost which, astronomical to start with, went way over budget. Obviously, we had got a loan to finance the entire thing because that’s the way we rolled, baby (why save when you can buy now, cry later?)! So when costs got out of hand, they were paid on credit card, with our overdraft or deducted straight from our salaries as soon as they hit the bank account. The project cost just shy of double what we had been quoted.
In addition to a £14,000 home loan at it’s peak, we were also tied into a car finance deal because, again, why save up for a car when you can walk into a car showroom, right now, and sign away your future money in exchange for a shiny new, Instagrammable vehicle? We paid £9,099 for the car (cheap, by today’s standards) and £2,500 for the privilege itself of buying the car (excellent life choice, I might add, with the hope that the sarcasm was adequately conveyed). The total cost of the car was £11,599 but driving out of the showroom with our newly-acquired fancy-pants-new-car-that-we-can’t-wait-to-plaster-all-over-social-media, well, that was priceless.
So on the 20th of July 2017, crippled with debt, a relationship in need of repair, and lower self-esteem than Britney circa 2007, I promised myself that I’d be debt-free within the year, no matter what. What started as a goal to get rid of something in my life, actually became the very thing that gave me back so much. My relationship is back on track, my partner is happier, my mental health has improved and as of today, we have paid £6,631 off our total debt, making our current total £9,212.
My story isn’t unique, and it’s not a fluke. In my personal life, many people that I know simply don’t believe that they can pay down their debt beyond the minimum payments, that it’s down to the fact that we are a two-income household, that I don’t have kids, etc. without really understanding the depths of my own personal circumstances versus their own. But really, it’s not down to what I have to my perceived advantage, it’s about your own personal attitude, what you believe you can do yourself. Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.
So I’m here to chronicle my own story, and hopefully provide some support along the way. I hope you can join me.