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calendar19 February 2018

Author: Alex Aris

‘The phone must have rung well over 200 times.’

‘The phone must have rung well over 200 times.’

Apart from food and a roof over our heads, money is an important factor in everyday life. Sometimes we don't realise this, as it is programmed automatically within us through a process. At the end of each week or month from a paid job or benefits, we pay our way, as we eat, breath and sleep. It isn't until the movement of the financial pendulum, suddenly turning into a chaotic motion, that brings us to understand that there is a problem.

The glamour and enticement of obtaining credit through finance or retail outlets are all too easy and straightforward. Only the creditor can see the potential with ample amounts of an annual percentage rate, which can vary so much between banks and lenders. If we can't afford to pay off the full amount each month, we pay the minimum and get charged interest as a result. It's always been this way.

And through desperation, we turn to credit when everyday bills rise, when the rent or mortgage is due. Some say the saddest thing is when credit is used to buy food or a food bank is relied upon just to fill an empty stomach. We do what we need to do in order to simply survive.

And so, for me, I fell into secondary debt through a loan and credit cards. They had built up over many years. It bit me like a rabid dog or a frenzied shark swimming the perilous seas, as I drowned with no sign of surviving. But there is always hope - and it starts with asking for help from one of the many debt advice charities and organisations. I took my first brave step and contacted CAP in April 2017.

While I was in debt, creditors wrote letters and phoned pretty much constantly. The phone must have rung well over 200 times across several months, which seemed a real waste of energy and my circumstances hadn't changed at all. From day one, I suffered from crying, sleepless nights, stress, depression, lack of appetite and experienced scary types of anxiety attacks, which involved dizziness and vomiting. I felt so tired and exhausted. It really does hit you hard and to think there are people out there in the big wide world who commit suicide as a last resort because they can see no way out - it is so sad and frightening. It's very important to ask for help the moment things become difficult financially.

During my amazing debt support with CAP, I attended a CAP Money Course where I learned lots of new and useful ideas on how to budget and save. You then begin to realise that one of the bases of credit, in some ways, is to get what you want more quickly, rather than taking the more sensible route of saving and waiting. We tend to live in a utopian world of credit, which is sadly classed as the norm nowadays.

My end to debt has closed with going insolvent, after kind charities and donations known through CAP helped me to raise the fee. It now means that I have a fresh start and even though my credit score will be affected for six years, I will no longer have to carry the weight of financial pressure and can live a normal life again.

Alex went debt free in January 2018 after working through his debt with CAP. He lives and works in Oxford and says he has a passion for 'Lego, retro-themed gadgets and gizmos, computers and video game design'. He also enjoys classical and 1980s music, as well as sightseeing in the countryside. This blog was originally published on Alex's blog page and he has kindly given us permission to publish it here, in the hope that it will bring reassurance to anyone in a similar situation.

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