Sunday, May 25, 2014

My debt journey

What makes me an expert is something I am regularly asked. There is no such thing but I have been there and can remember the sleepless nights, the overwhelming stress and the feeling of being completely alone. That cold feeling everytime the phone rang in fear of a creditor or debt collector. 
Know what I am saying then please read on. Note that the information following is based on my personal experience and what actually worked for me. I have learned over the course that any decisions you make should only be made after careful research. Another sad fact I discovered was there is a large amount of so called "professionals" out there more than willing to help at a cost. Try finding the money to pay for that when you are facing a financial crisis.

  • One of the greatest struggles I faced was dealing with the fact that things were going wrong and I was powerless to do anything about it or so I thought at the time.  The following list is a basic guide to help you cope with the pressure today. A small amount of knowledge can make a really bad situation seem just a little better.
  • You are not alone- millions of people, businesses, large global corporations and even countries around the world are suffering from financial pressure. My greatest mistake was trying to deal with that pressure alone. If I could change just one thing in the last few years it would be to have included my family, that bad decision cost me dearly.
  • Nobody will throw you out of your house today. Getting you out of your primary residence requires a proceedure to be followed through the courts. It is very rare that a judge would throw you out of your home but in saying that he will need to see you are making some attempt to make things right.
  • You cannot be arrested and jailed for being in debt.(generally speaking)
  • Borrowing more money to pay outstanding bills and loans is a recipe for financial disaster.
  • Debt collectors are not your friends. They have no interest in helping you they merely want to collect on a debt. Do not trust them. Promise them nothing they will not help you.
  • A lot of solicitors and accountants are much the same. They do not give "free" advice. Unfortunantly using them can sometimes be unavoidable but sadly for them the internet provides us with the power of being able to search and educate ourselves. The advice I was given by one of them was "slam the doors shut, bolt and see what happens"-thanks mate-that helped no end!!!
  • Admitting you have a problem is a big start. Talk to your family and a good friend. The initial response may be a little shaky but it will be worth it in the long run.
  • You are probably not going to win lotto heavens knows I tried
  • Talk to your creditors and explain you are facing problems. To a certain degree they will be prepared to help a little. Only make promises you can keep. Many of them would sooner get $20 a week then nothing at all. Using debt collectors costs money and if you do go broke they will get nothing.
  • Banks and financial institutions can be surprisingly willing to listen. The proceedure of reposession and reselling is expensive and they really don't enjoy kicking people out on the street(really)
  • Avoid get rich schemes. I tried heaps of them and not a single one earned me any extra income. There are legit systems out there which can help you make a good and regularly higher than normal income but they take time and effort. More about them elsewhere.
  • Hiding will make your stress levels much worse- answer the phone tell the story and it is done.
  • For some reason as soon as your financial situation looks a little shaky the "debt help" companies suddenly find your phone number-be very wary what looks free or simple may not be the case.
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER ever give you personal details to anybody. Do not hand over your credit card or banking details to anyone. Debt collectors can not stop legal proceedings just because they have your home phone number and address. Do not make rash decisions. Legal action does not happen overnight.
  • Try not to get upset and abusive. This only adds to stress levels and gets everyone offside. Calmly dealing with people and situations is so much more productive- but not always that easy!!!!
  • Do not make stupid decisions on the phone or even if confronted personally. Take the time you need and use the phrase "please try to be patient I will get back to you by ##### and make sure you do. This will give you time to research what may need to be done.
  • Bankruptcy can be an alternative but only after all avenues have been investigated. Debt agreements can be an alternative to bankruptcy in many cases. They allow you to pay off the debt at a reduced rate over a period of time suitable to your situation.

If you think your situation is desperate or you need someone to talk to now try these numbers. The operators are highly trained  and will listen. They are not there to judge you!!
Lifeline   13 11 14 anytime
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 anytime

Financial councillors are available in most areas and are generally free. Although I have heard some great things about them I personally found them to be somewhat rude and judgemental. Like I said that is just my opinion.

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