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How seeking debt advice helped Andy this Christmas

Andy with his dog

“I first got a credit card aged 18 to build up some credit history. I was a rugby player back then and spent most of my weekends in the pub after a match, and I would buy rounds of drinks for the lads. I got myself into a bit of a mess but realised I needed to sort it out. I got it back under control.

“But in late 2015 life started to change a little bit. I had a house with a mortgage, was living with a partner and was buying stuff for the house on credit cards, which we agreed to pay off together. But suddenly in the same week, my relationship ended and I lost my job.

“I quickly found a new job but needed to relocate, and I had no choice but to put the agency fees, deposit and rent on a credit card.

“As time went on, I would pay towards my credit cards at the start of the month, but by the middle of the month I had no money left for things like food so I would put that on the credit cards. And it just snowballed from there.

“It was around Christmas in 2016 that I started going out with my new partner. We would go on dates and I would suggest we walk home because it was more romantic, but the truth was I couldn’t afford a taxi.

“I was rushing around trying to get everything sorted and make it as nice as possible for everyone, but I was stressed up to my eyeballs and scrambling around for money.

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“Things started getting a bit too much, and on Christmas Eve I rang the Samaritans helpline. I was embarrassed to be in debt and struggling with the pressure to make Christmas as magical as it was when I was a kid. I remember driving home from my new partner’s house and I just felt absolutely horrible.

“A couple of months ago I realised that Christmas is coming up again and that meant that I am almost certainly going to miss payments and get into a real mess.

“Despite initially feeling sceptical, I spoke to StepChange, and within a couple of phone calls there was a plan in place to get it all sorted. I managed to reduce my payments from around £1,000 to £135 per month. I’m massively happy with it - more people need to know about the help available.

“I’m currently doing some overtime at work in the run up to Christmas and splitting the money so that half of it goes towards extra debt repayments, and half is for spending on family and friends. I’m looking forward to having some time off to spend with them.

“I’ve always enjoyed Christmas and am secretly a big kid at heart - it’s extra special now that I’m married with a stepson.

“I don’t want people out there to go through what I did and feel so helpless around this time of year. There’s no point making yourself miserable trying to buy gifts for loved ones that you can’t afford. Particularly with social media, it’s important to remember that it’s not the full picture and you don’t have to compete.

“Don’t feel ashamed - ask for help. Getting in touch with StepChange has changed my life."

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