Getting In The Red
“Yes,” I said on the morning of my 18th birthday, “I am finally an adult and can legally go out and enjoy myself and get what I want”. Jenny was a quite girl at school, she never had many friends and was constantly picked on because her parents were poor and couldn’t afford the latest hi-tech trainers or designer school bag. Everyday was a nightmare for Jenny. She would have to be forced out of the house by her parents and made to go to school. Jenny was now 18. This is what she had been waiting for. Finally I can have a catalogue in my own name and order nice clothes and accessories. Before long Jenny’s was on the internet browsing through different catalogue companies and looking for the best one. After only a couple of days from applying, Jenny’s first catalogue arrived along with a letter saying that she had a credit limit of 300 and payment terms of up to 52 weeks. 43.50 a week is all she was paid for being on a Youth Training course. Her parents expected most of this and with bus fares taken out, there was not much left over, so she was easily tempted to buy new clothes from the catalogue and “Pay Later”. After a few months, Jenny decided that she wanted to learn to drive. She took out a credit card with a credit limit of 500. She felt rich, but before long it was over the limit. Jenny didn’t come from a wealthy family and her father always expected half of her wages, so she began to fall behind with payments. After completing the Youth Training course a year later, Jenny was employed full time and was now on a monthly wage of 500. The driving lessons continued and so did the spending. Before long a new mobile phone had been ordered and placed on a contract for 18 months. Applications for new credit cards kept arriving on the door mat every day. Jenny new she had no money so she applied for more cards. After getting another one with a limit of 200 and maxing it out, she applied for another and another. It wasn’t long before 6 credit cards sat in her purse with zero balance available to spend on them. The bills kept arriving and using one card to pay the other was proving to be a pointless task. She went to the bank for a loan of 3000 to clear her debts. Jenny managed to clear the balances of 4 catalogue and 6 credit cards and a door-step caller who came on a weekly basis to collect 10 payments for a small loan of 300 taken out to go Christmas shopping. The payments on the loan were easy but Jenny got a little bored with sitting at home watching television when she could be on the net buying new stuff. A mail shot came with the post from another catalogue company, Jenny was tempted and thought “what the heck” and ordered some more stuff. More and more things were arriving in the post almost on a daily basis. Jenny loved the excitement of coming home to parcels and new things, it is what used to get her through a busy day at work. After 3 years Jenny had managed to acquire 4 loans, 7 credit cards, 4 catalogues , 3 door-step loan companies and 2 store cards. She was seriously in debt. She kept falling behind and missed payments on several occasions. Red letters were appearing on her door step, callers were knocking at the door and the telephone was constantly ringing. She was on the edge of suicide. Her parents new about her problems, but were unable to help because they were unemployed due to disabilities. She was on her own, crying herself to sleep every night and dreading the next phone call. Before long the debt collection agencies were ringing her at work, “I need to seek help”. Jenny sat down with her sister that night and added up the balances on all of her debts. She was horrified when the balance on the calculator came to 35560. How did this happen? How did it get this bad? What do I have to show for it? She kept telling herself over and over again. This is when she finally realised “I need to do something about this, NOW”. She contacted a debt management company through her local Citizens Advise Bureau, who helped her to complete a income and expenditure sheet. After this was completed the debt management company made reduce payment offers to all of the creditors who excepted the offers and finally backed down.
Jenny began to enjoy life again, and met a young man who she really liked and loved very much. After dating for over a year and plucking up the courage, she told him about her debts. Mark was shocked and a little disappointed but understood her problems and agreed to help her through it. He would take her out and buy her lunch and make her feel like a lady again.
Now at 28 I am more than 3 quarters of the way from paying back my debts. I am still turned down for credit and cannot get a mortgage, but I know that by the year 2011 I will be debt free. I have a loving partner who supports me in every way and is there for me to turn to. I find that living on 200 a month is a struggle at the moment, but I am throwing all of my extra cash towards paying off these debts. All of my prized processions have been sold on the internet auction site and my car has been down-graded and is only worth 400, but I appreciate the things that I now have, such as a job, partner and loving family. This is all that I care about now and I will never ever get myself in this situation again. Just remember that when they say “Buy Now Pay Later” they really mean “Pay Later” because you will most probably never pay it back.