I originally realised I had a problem with debt probably not long after I graduated, with respect to how much of my overdraft I still had and how much I was relying on credit to get through each month.
I suppose when it became an overwhelming feeling that I couldn't manage this any longer was moving away from family in Lancashire. To come and start a new job in Yorkshire ultimately pushed my finances to a point where it was borderline every month. At the time there was this doubt in the back of my mind that I shouldn't be doing this, but it's okay because I have a way to pay things off in big lump-sums.
But then I wouldn't get rid of the facility to take out more money I'd just keep it. So, it was this perpetuation that then continued. There were times when I found it hard to get to sleep because it would be the thing that churns over in my mind like, 'how do I resolve this’ so that was difficult, and took up a lot of my time to manage and deal with emotionally as well.
And then that's when I realised, I needed to seek help. So I went onto the StepChange website and used the debt management tool which identified which plan would be best for me and that was as simple as typing in my outgoings and my income. And then the plan was put in place - it was as simple as three steps.
It was almost like 'it's too good to be true' because, in all of the clauses from StepChange, it says that 'creditors can still contact you when you're on a debt management plan they may still ask you to pay more, but please contact us'. So it's almost like they've already mapped out all the scenarios that you could face after setting up the plan, and if all else fails then pick up the phone.
And when I have picked up the phone it's been nothing but support and advice and there was no judgment. It was just facts, it was 'here's my details this is what I'm looking to do'.
I like the fact that every time I speak to someone it's impartial, they don't know me, I don't know them but I just know it's going to be a respectful service and someone is going to listen.
Pre-seeking help I felt there was a real stigma attached to debt and talking about money and I think it's just this standard 'British stiff upper lip’ ‘it's my business, it's my castle, 'this is my finances, I can manage this myself'. I don't necessarily think that's true, I don't think most people are equipped to deal with finances and especially deal with debt.
Just speak about it, the moment you start to seek that help it comes pretty quick, it's not like you're on the back-burner for months on end and someone might call you and say 'okay we're happy to resolve it'.
I think from contacting StepChange to getting plan in place was about a week and from getting the first debt management plan out there and all my creditors in line was about a month. So, I would really encourage you to seek help because it will be rapid and it will be efficient.
If there's anything I'd like to do it's to thank StepChange for the help they've provided. Without having an organisation that is charity-run, with charity principles, that's not for profit, I don't feel like my debt would have been handled in such a compassionate and legitimate way. It's not a charity that only helps certain types of people, they help everyone and they provide a great service considering they are a charity.