I have never been very good at managing my finances. I have never earned a high salary in all my working life to date, and I would always run out of money before the next payment was due in my bank account. I would end up having to put my grocery bills on my credit card so I could afford to eat. It wasn't that I lived the high life either and was leading a life of excess, I was merely just trying to live, to survive to make my way and pay my bills.
I was also far too generous probably with my money. Always helping out friends, offering to pay for things when I couldn't really afford to. When I was with my ex and we shared a house, I was the one on the higher (even though it was crap!) wage and would have all the main bills come out of my account via direct debit. Or pay for a holiday on my credit card. I never asked for anything back, because I always believe that when you are in a committed relationship, what is mine is yours and vice versa.
Banks and shops were only too happy to offer me loans and credit and store cards and I took them. Even as a student I had store cards yet didn't really have any means of repaying them consistently. I worked during the holidays - I have always worked (up until I had Burton)- and would save money to see me though my university years as I didn't get any grants as such. So knowing I could have things and not have to have to worry about having the cash there and then was perfect!
On August 6th, 2010 I was made officially bankrupt - it was my choice (not that I had any other really!) to do so and I blogged about it that day. I think my words still ring true today, and apologies if you have read this before, but I am going to share that post again, because I think, indeed I hope, it might help anyone who finds themselves in the same situation I did
I am officially bankrupt.
There I have said it on print for my blog - the first time I have heard myself say it.
I am not writing this post to brag about it or show off, because although I am actually relieved to be on my way to becoming debt free, it is also mixed with a touch of regret and emotion because it is not a nice thing to admit to either. Afterall the stigma that used to be attached to bankruptcy has gone now, and I should therefore not feel ashamed. However, despite this I have not yet told some of my family members!
No, I am sharing this because I know I am not alone with having large uncontrollable debts, that I have no way of paying back and nowadays bankruptcy is very common. I just thought that if anyone reading this is contemplating it themselves then maybe I can help them to make the decision and go for it.
According to the Ministry of Justice during the first quarter of 2010:
*the number of individual bankruptcy petitions made by creditors (to whom the debt is owed) was 4,329
*the number of individual bankruptcy petitions made by debtors (the person who owes the debt) was 16348
My bankruptcy was voluntary. In a nutshell, before I had Burton I owned and ran my own business (a cafe) and although it did ok I never really made a decent wage for myself and due to a VAT error and borrowing from the bank I just could not make it financially viable anymore. I sold the business at the end of last year for less than I bought it in the end because I was a new Mum and just wanted to get out and start afresh as soon as I could. Truth be told I should have gone bankrupt a couple of years ago, but in true Jenny style, I struggled on not wanting to lay my staff off, hoping it would all be ok in the end! Hmmm!! I worked my arse off, as you do when it's your own business, rarely taking time off and with notable exceptions working 6 days a week even up until 10 days before I had Burton! So yeah there is also a little bit of frustration that I lost money and owed so much by the end as I worked so hard for 5 1/2 years for so little return.
Anyway, after months and months of worry (spanning about 3 years), having no nails (yes all these years of worry has made me have no nails!), visits to my local CAB and, more recently, letters and phone calls from debt collectors I have made the step to becoming debt free. I know there is still a way to go yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel at last!
While waiting to see the judge and speak to a receiver today, I thought to myself that going bankrupt is NOT the end of the world and at the end of the day I have something far more important to worry and think about now and that is what IS important. When I got home my little boy gave me the best hugs and squeezes a mummy could possible ask for - he is my future whether bankrupt or not and he is the most important thing in my life.
I received quite a few supportive comments for that post which were very welcome and appreciated. I hadn't been blogging that long when I decided announce this news on my blog, so I was touched by how nice people were. I was also amazed by the comments by those who had found themselves in a similar position to me, and hadn't yet taken the next step to clearing their debts and making a fresh start.
Another thing I couldn't add to that post back in August 2010, was that while I was sat waiting to be seen by the judge, my period was late and I knew then that I was pregnant again and despite feeling anxious about my impending bankruptcy, I was hopeful that I had another life inside of me to help me to make a fresh start, another baby to welcome to my family and a sibling for my Burton.
I hope that when I eventually start working again and earning some money I will manage it better. I must and I am sure I will. i won't make the same mistakes; I won't accept a credit or store card ever again. I don't care what anyone says, its VERY easy to get out of control with your finances and get into a debt rut with no way out. When I think back over the years as to how much money I borrowed and spent it is scary and stupid. I wanted to be independent - financially and as a young woman who had left home and wanted a flat to rent and all the things that go with that.
I made my choices.
I put myself into such debt
But it was also my choice to end it and declare myself bankrupt and I am so pleased not to be worrying about my debts anymore.
I made my new start and wiped my slate clean - it was a hard lesson to learn but I am grateful to have come out the other side.
If you have debt problems I can recommend contacting:
your local CAB http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/
National Debt Helpline http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/
who are there for you to offer free and confidential advice
Don't wait for your debts to mount up out of control - take the plunge and sort them out :-)
I am linking this up to Flashback Friday where the theme is NEW START