Monday, 28 February 2011

Hello, Mr Bank Manager …

I’ve just taken what was, for me, a very scary step.

I’ve rung my bank and spent quite a while talking through my debts and trying to sort out a better solution for them.


The worst part of being an adult, is that you have to stand tall and face your own fears.  There’s no parental figure to hide behind when things get tough, and for the most part cushioning of childhood is gone.

I’ve spoken before, I think, about the fact that I’ve managed to get myself in a financial mess in the last couple of years.  I’ve never been great with my own money (oh yes, spot the irony of a debt-saddled accountant – hilarious), but the last couple of years saw me take my eye off the ball and let it get somewhat out of control.

Probably much the way some proportion of readers here feel about their weight.

Debt’s a little bit sneaky though.  Whereas when you put on weight there only is a certain amount of denying it you can get away with – after all, everyone else can see it, and you’re clothes will certainly tell you sooner or later – it is entirely possible to completely stick your head in the sand with debts and just pretend it isn’t happening.  After all – if like me, you have a decent credit rating and a slightly above average salary, the financial institutions are falling over themselves to lend you money, and it takes a bloody long time for you to get to the point where you start to feel the bite of the repayments.  But like all good things – the fairytale comes to an end, and one day you realise, with a panic-stricken jolt, what a horrible mess you’ve got yourself into.

If you’re me, it’s one step worse, because as a professionally qualified accountant who’s been living the life of riley for years and is apparently successful in the financial world, it’s frankly embarrassing to have to own up that you have an alarming amount of debt lurking in the background.

Still, I have started to face up to it.  I’ve scared myself sufficiently to realise that now is the time to do something about it, whilst I can still just about afford to take control without damaging my credit record further.  That’s given me the motivation to get this thing sorted.  I got over the embarrassment and told a few close friends, and I’m trying to be open about it, so they can support me (is any of this sounding familiar from anyone about to start a healthy-eating and fitness plan???), and I’ve sat down and written down the nasty truth, and worked out a budget so that I have a realistic plan for getting it paid off.  And that’s got me through the first couple of months. 

I’m finding it hard to adjust to having a strict budget (oh God – this is a diet!), but the longer I stick to it, the more I find that a) I appreciate now how all my spending adds up, and b) I am sometimes surprised by how little it’s possible to live on relatively comfortably if I apply myself (it’s like Weightwatchers for my bloody bank account!!!!).  But what I started with wasn’t enough – chipping away at the balance a tiny bit at a time is good, but I can do better.

So I’ve finally bitten the big bullet, and done the thing I’m really scared of.  I’ve rung the bank and asked about my options.  Admitting to your friends that you’re broke and in debt is one thing – doing to the bank is a whole lot bigger and scarier.  I owe somewhere in the realms of £22k between my credit cards and my overdraft.  That is a whole big heap of debt.  I’ve heard of worse, admittedly, but I need to get a handle on my personal ball of pain now.

The problem I’ve had, is that I already applied for one loan so I can pay off my cards and cut them all up, but because of the way credit checking works, they don’t take into account that I want the loan instead of the credit cards, and not as well as, and so I was turned down.  Speaking to the bank has been my next option, because I obviously I want to do something so I’m paying less interest and have a strict payment plan to stick to, but actually having to beg the bank – well, it’s just not a nice option.

But I’ve done it.  It’s a little bit more expensive each month than I wanted, which will mean having to stay on a really strict budget until I can either engineer another payrise or can find some costs I can comfortably cut back on, and it’s a slightly higher interest rate than I wanted, but it’s still half the interest rates on my cards / overdraft and has the flexibility to repay early if I can find a better financial option later.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get accepted straight off, and my application has been referred for someone to individually review (again – most likely because of my current balance of debt and the fact that they need to manually adjust my budget (they took about a billion details of my income and outgoings) to cancel my current debt-repayments off), so I now have a nerve-wracking 3 days to wait and find out if I’ve been accepted or not.

I’m literally praying at this point (probably somewhat pointless as a confirmed non-believer), because this would be a big step forward for me in getting my finances straightened out, and I’m not sure what I’ll do if it gets rejected.

I know this is a little off-track from my usual topics of conversation, but I guess my blog title is Losing A Little Bit of Me, and right now this debt is a rather large part of life, and an even larger source of stress to me, to boot.

Fingers crossed, eh?

No comments: