You have lived in the UK for many years, but still unsure of what you want to do with your life. Your friends who have made it, tell you the only way up is further studies. They advise you to undertake the most lucrative courses that would propel you to great heights, you know this but needed a push – literally and figuratively. You apply to a few universities and most offer a place though you need to do a foundation course first – because you belong to the 8-4-4 system of education and you didn’t complete the last 4 of that system. To finance the course and yourself you apply for loans and are approved. By the end of four years of hard graft, you are in £40K plus debts which, luckily, are not payable until you are in employment.
Your search for employment begins. You are among the lucky few that secure safe jobs within the first year of graduation. You get the job but nothing like your friends promised. But as the saying goes… a job is a job…. you take the job and hope to get something better. Within a few years, the job proves to be stagnant and it doesn’t satisfy your financial needs and you are perpetually living in overdraft. Therein begins your journey of living in debt – the dreaded vicious cycle where you live on credit and overdraft: once your wages come in, it pays off what you’ve used that month and plonks you back to square one. Then, you get a credit card from your bank in which you convince yourself will only be used for big things like air tickets. You buy your first ticket with the card and pay it off within 3 months. You can totally survive like this, you tell yourself.
Your bank, being the thieves they are, watch how well you pay off what you use and realise they are not making any money off you. So, in the next two years, they increase your credit limit exponentially such that by the third year you have a £25,000 credit limit and you have spent £17,000. There is no way in hell you can pay off £17,000 in one go, you can only afford minimum payments which don’t make a dent in the debt. You are now right smack in the middle of hurricane debt, and as fate would have it things just spiral out of control henceforth. You have other debts all over the place – you can’t remember which fool in you convinced you to get store cards, but you have at least 3 and owe at least £5,000. It is at this juncture other things show up – loss of appetite for food or life, lack of interest in anything, too much sleep or insomnia, too many sick days HR recommends OH, contempt for people who look happy even though you don’t know what their journey is all about and dark days. You can’t keep up with payments or cope because of lost wages due to sickness, and you stop paying all together even the minimum balance because in your case the minimum balance is at least £300 per month. And then – doom – the threatening letters begin to drop on your doormat like manna from heaven. And worse, phone calls from creditors who have no respect for the time of day or night – they call relentlessly.
Living in debt is tough, living in debt in the UK is tougher. It starts harmlessly enough until a burly brute threatening to decapitate you stands at your door and won’t budge until you cough up a couple thousands of pounds. You can’t offer him sex because he looks repulsive, and frankly, not even Ryan Reynolds can make your loins burn – that boat sailed with the last threat letter. You can’t reason with him because he looks vindictive. You can’t bargain for a discount because he looks hell-bent on fucking you up.
You don’t talk to your friends anymore because you owe all of them and you avoid them like the plague. You can’t get any more credit because your credit score is beyond pitiful and only 4999% APR credit card companies offer you loans. Their fancy ads don’t tell you about the high monthly payments and certain death if you default, they entice you with sweet words on how they are saving you and your family from starvation. You can’t save because your monthly income is just enough to pay rent, bills and buy value foods (the cheapest available from Lidl or Aldi). You haven’t bought a new item of clothing in the last five years. You are in so deep that you’ve started watching movies like mad money and inside man and wishing you lived in them.
The line between movies and real life is becoming blurry because the only way to get any sleep is by fantasising you are rich and living a debt-free life in some alternate universe where the likes of Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington are your boyfriends. You are on the verge of suicide or homicide whichever serves the best purpose. Now you are that crazy woman with a stocking on her head walking around the high street talking to yourself and smoking. You are that schizo woman who transforms to bitch in 1.5 seconds. You are that mad cow who tell their life history to strangers unprompted. You have a permanent thunder face and your level of madness escalates with every waking moment. Your path to destruction is clear and wide.
The other day BBC showed a docudrama about a young man who committed suicide because he was being hounded by debt collectors – day and night. His young mind could not handle it. It was the saddest thing shown on TV in a while; his family was distraught and agreed for the docu-drama if only to raise awareness. Luckily this is England, and there’s always a way to deal with everything. If you find yourself spiralled out of control by debt, consider the options out there e.g. IVA or talk to someone. Whatever you do, do not keep it to yourself, talk to a trusted friend or person. The worst thing about burying your head in the sand is that this action will only get you poorer in every sense of the word for a very long time. Embracing the hardship of getting rid of debt and doing something about it is the key to debt-freedom. Examine how your debt makes you feel, and act accordingly. Take control, life can change on a dime. And above all, live within your means, keeping up with the jones and kamaus of this world is a recipe for disaster.