I finally made the decision and I was going to do it. Break ups are never easy, you have invested so much time energy and emotion. Been there in times of need. You have gone on holidays together, fancy dining experiences and even had last minute adventures together.
I was finally going to do it, I was going to break up with, Debt.
We’re going to talk about doing the crunch, and no I’m not talking about the old Aerobics Oz Style shows in the morning I’m talking about a better type of crunch, one that doesn’t leave your abs in pain.
So you have read “the debt trap” and you have realised how I was well and truly – drowning in debt.
As I mentioned in “my name is Elli and I’m a finance-aholic” I finally admitted my addiction to spending whilst slumped at the kitchen table, tears streaming down my face and feeling like a complete failure and utterly helpless. My boyfriend had told me that I just had to sit down and work it out but I didn’t even know where to start. I didn’t know how much debt I was in because I had actively avoided facing the truth for so many years.
My relationship was falling apart and I was clutching at the very last hope of it possibly working but I knew deep down that the likelihood of us living happily ever after was dim. I also knew that I quite literally could not afford to move out.
I went to work the following day and dropped my credit bought bag on my desk and slumped in my chair. My colleague and good friend asked what was wrong, she was used to me having the emotions of a roller coaster but she knew that something was different that morning. I confided in her, the first friend that I was telling I had debt. I had never mentioned it to people, it’s a taboo subject. I was so embarrassed as I whispered to her, Sam and I aren’t working out and I can’t afford to move out. Her reply: “What do you mean you can’t afford to move out”
I have a bit of debt, I confided in her.
The week before my friend had discovered the world of budgeting, oh the word made me cringe.
Rather than telling me that I would have to just work it out, or it’ll work out she said “I can help you!”
These 4 words changed my life, not that I realised it at the time because I didn’t believe that I could be helped. I was just one big disaster.
She said “we’re going to make you a budget”, first you need to work out how much debt you have, and then all your expenses that you can’t go without.
Right I thought, it’s time to start taking responsibility for my actions.
I listed out all my debts, this is what I was going to work out first.
- Credit Card 1
- Credit Card 2
- Personal Loan
- Car + Personal Loan
- Vet Fee Help
- Interest Free Card 1
- Interest Free Card 2
- Money I owed my partner
So one by one I logged into each account and got each dollar figure. I remember seeing all the numbers on the screen and feeling sick to my stomach. I couldn’t understand how I had let it get this bad, how I had next to nothing to show for what I’d spent.
Finally I had the long list of figures and I added them all together, I did the crunch!
I had to take a few deep breaths when I saw the figure, to be honest it could have been 10-15k more and I would not have been surprised.
I sat back in my chair staring at the big number in front of me. I knew it was going to be bad, but boy was I horrified. Despite how angry I was at myself I told myself “this is the worst its ever going to be, it won’t get any worse than this”
It was at that moment I knew that I was going to finally get out of this; I wasn’t going to be suffocated by this anymore. I was going to fight it out.
I told my friend “I’m ready, let’s do this”
I know it’s a famous line from AA meetings but honestly, the best thing you can do for yourself is admit you have a problem. We live in a society where we are addicted to consumerism. I promise you that you’re not the only one in this position, you will have friends and colleagues in the same position. People just don’t talk about it; we’re all too busy trying to keep up with the Joneses and pretend that everything is ok. It’s a dangerous mixture of jealousy, greed and pride.
If I can give you two bits of advice today it would be to allocate yourself some time to “do the crunch” the best thing you can do for yourself is admit there is an issue there, see the number and make that promise to yourself that it’s not going to get any worse.