Tag Archives: shame

Debt – why you must speak up

Recently I have seen a spate of desperate souls make the ultimate choice when it comes to debt, they can’t cope any more and the world loses another poor victim.  I read this article recently, made me very sad for numerous reasons as some were the same as my own.  The debt and the refusal of an ex to sign divorce papers.

http://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/12956887.Debt_troubled_dad_took_his_own_life_in_Southampton_woodland/?ref=fbpg

I remember all of this of course, the increase on your debt by the payment to solicitors to try and force a childish, selfish estranged partner to let you go.   But the key to all this, it is always debt.  Debt is the one thing that truly wont go away, there is always someone on your back.  This is where the world just does not help, there are many places who assist with the debt, but nobody truly is there to say “hold on there, just leave him be for a while, can’t you see he is in real trouble here?”  No…that does not exist.  Businesses want their money back, nothing wrong with that though, they are owed that money.

What I find unacceptable, and from personal experience, is when you take the time to try and explain you are not avoiding paying the debt, you are trying to explain that your personal circumstances are in such a terrible state that you need some space.  There is just no flexibility in the world, sadly a lot of the problems are caused by the people who don’t want to pay their debt.

When your world is collapsing, and you are fighting for everything and trying to hold a family together…the threat of the debt drops down the list.  Unfortunately, it only drops down the list for you.  The people who want your money look at you as avoiding payment.

I would not change how I played any of this, I did my absolute best.  There were desperate desperate times, times I was so low I didn’t know what to do.  The sick fear of the postman coming, the stomach wrenching moments when the phone rang over and over again.  The threats that got worse and worse, and then the fact you knew you had had enough.  I knew when that was, my kids kept me going.  You just want to get everyone in one room and shout “Enough, please, I have nothing to give you right now, just give me some time please”.

The one part I learned and I will always advise this – speak up.  Do not hide, I did and it got worse.  Debt brings shame, we all know this.  My blog has always been written in the hope someone, who is in the position I was, reads it all and knows they have a kindred spirit.  There is advise on where to go, who can and cannot help you, ways to reduce the debt and so on.  But, you cannot make someone ask for help.  I found it so very difficult to do it.

When I keep reading about people taking their own lives, swamped by debt, I wish they had read my blog.  I wish I could have spoken with them and told them how to gradually make it stop.  But, sadly it is always too late.

Not for the companies who hound you day and night though, or their debt collecting firms they pass the debt on to.  No, onto the next poor soul to destroy.

When will the companies learn, perhaps when the tables turn.

Until then, anyone out there, there is always a way out.  It may be a small way, but there is a way.  I have been there, there is nothing more valuable that your life.  If you lose everything, you start again.

If you end everything, you have achieved nothing.

Pawn shame

No not that type of pawn shame, get your minds out of the gutter now people!   This is my experience of something I never thought I would do.

It has been an extremely tough start to the year, financially.  I coped with Christmas as I budgeted, but January had 2 family birthdays so I knew it would be a struggle.  What I didn’t bank (ironic use of the word) on was a vet bill, a car repair and my fridge freezer breaking.

I have sold everything of value as you know, so what was left to do to raise funds?  It is 3 weeks till pay day, so I had one valuable item left but I didn’t want to sell it so I took the last path I could take, a pawn shop.  Not just any pawn shop, or back street “we buy your gold” vendor, this was a reputable high street one.

The item was high value and I knew I could get it back in May when I get my work bonus.  I did have plans for that money but needs must, so now it will be used mostly to buy back my item.  That’s my life though, whilst clearing debt sacrifices must be made time and time again.  Anyway, I digress…

I entered the shop, not sure what I expected really but it was small and unwelcoming.  The 2 other customers looked like they had been placed by some higher spirit, hell bent on changing my mind.  They were the local scum, dressed like garbage, poor grammar, and rough looking.  They pawned their items for meagre amounts of £30 ($42) and left.   My item was presented and examined and I was asked how much I wanted.

I wanted £800, this would cover the repairs totally.  It was just over 10% of the value of the item so a fair price, 35 minutes later after much investigation and checks by the assistant, an offer was then presented.   £700.

Sigh, really?   however, this was fine as I wasn’t being greedy at all.   I accepted and the ‘loan’ was set to 6 months repayment and I left with cash.  Did I feel relieved?  No…truthfully I felt cheap and very disappointed that my life had hit a new low.   Perhaps even lower than going insolvent, borrowing from my parents and so on.  Despite all my triumphs and the enormous amount of debt cleared, this felt horrible.

I suppose I can add this to life experience and again, I suppose, Pawn shops serve their purpose of emergency loans against valuable items.   I think I am irritated again that I simply cannot go more than 2 months without some sort of financial disaster, it makes my target that little bit further away.

I will still get there, I don’t think there can be many more shameful boxes to tick. Unless I take up Male Escorting!

Onwards and upwards, still hoping for that “one day it will all be a bad memory” moment.

It’s done. I manned up.

Hi all

I know you have been waiting to see whether I phoned my parents, and I did.  It took me a while to build up to it but I did it.  It went how I thought it would, the words I expected to see of how proud they are, and want to help.  However, and I knew it wouldn’t, it didn’t stop the shame.   I cannot stop that feeling, just complete humiliation.

I expected my life to be so so different, but it isn’t.  I keep thinking of all the things that went wrong, and what led to this.  But, is this life, you are dealt what you are dealt.  It is just a shame that most of my cards have been rubbish.

Back to this though, my parents will loan me the money.   This means I can go down the insolvency route and stop the HMRC coming at me.   So why do I not feel any relief?  It is hard to explain, very hard actually, that even small victories mean nothing until I pay things off.   I realise my parents will never pressure me, and indeed have stated there is no rush at all to pay it off, but I am just not looking forward to going round.

It may sound irrational, but I just feel if you owe people money you cannot do anything that appears affluent.  For example, a holiday as it looks (to me) like you are using money you could have used to pay people back.  Even if people may not see it that way, but I do.

My point is, I am still trapped.  Not trapped in a situation whereby my house and possessions could be taken away, but by the knowledge that I am not free to live a ‘normal’ life.  It means that that even if on certain paydays I may find myself to be lucky enough to have an extra couple of hundred pounds, I cannot use it for a treat.

In essence, my life remains on hold.  Just with less people chasing me.

Bottled it

So, I bottled it.  I went round to my parent’s place and was all ready to talk to them but the timing was somehow not there.  Normally my kids go and play but yesterday they wanted to play games with Nana!

Ordinarily I get asked questions about how it is going, am I still being hassled by the HMRC, can they help somehow etc.  I had planned my replies to the expected questions but they somehow never came along.  So I will do it tomorrow.

I think I am more comfortable doing it over the phone, which may sound odd to some of you.  But try to look it from my perspective, it is very uncomfortable to ask.  Mentioned the shame element many times, at least on the phone I can hide my face and emotion.  I am very much a closed book and, prior to this blog, barely anyone knew anything about myself or my situation.

I can have everything written down too, to chat over the phone.  Then I don’t get distracted, or side tracked.   I need to just be honest and get it over with.

When you are in debt, and trying to find a way out, you will find yourselves in so many uncomfortable positions.  Meetings that you do not want to be in, multiple forms you do not want to be filling in, your personal and financial life being probed and questioned.  The thing about being in debt is it so much more about just being skint, it is very very intrusive.   But, as intrusive as it is, you are still able to manage who in your inner circle knows.  Other than the dreaded brown envelopes, there is no other way of people finding out unless they have a real reason to look at you.

That is why it is difficult to actually admit to family and friends.   You are almost breaking your own code of secrecy but needs must, I am out of options.

Therefore, tomorrow, I will do it.

It’s no using hiding, we’ll find you – Part 1

There is such a stigma with failure isn’t there?  Everyone wants to be a success, and have the best of everything but what do you do when you perceive everyone else is doing better than you?  In reality, they probably aren’t but when you are in such a hole, everything seems so much worse.

It is bad enough knowing you have debt, and hardly any spare funds.  You find excuses not to go out, not to buy new clothes, you miss key events etc and so forth.  You miss them as you need to save money but also because you cannot face people.  Oh the face you put on when forced to confront family and friends.  I think friends don’t notice any difference but close family certainly do.

The problem for me is I am the oldest of 4 children, and thus should set an example.  I felt such shame, I still do.   It took me a long time to admit to my family I was in real trouble with money, but the delay was not just down to embarrassment.  The marriage nightmare catapulted into the public eye once again, despite me wanting to keep myself to myself.  But, when the affair came out, everyone had advice and wanted to console me.  But how did I feel, humiliated even further.  Anyone that is on the end of an affair suffers humiliation and never let any psychologist tell you anything different.  When someone rejects you for another, you have questions as to why they are a better choice.  And remember my readers, the affair had no direct relationship to the debt.

So there I was, the perceived black sheep of the family.  My own family was breaking apart, and I had to keep the front up of being ok.  To be fair, I am very good at that, but mostly to make sure none of my personal crisis’ had any impact on my job.  That worked, nobody had any clue at any of my jobs unless I told them.  I would be good at acting I think.

As the separation and divorce progressed, I knew I would have to admit the debt too.  But you must try to understand, I had a great life.  No debt, a nice home and lovely family.  But that had changed so drastically, I felt it was too much for my family at the beginning.

When I did tell them, it spilled out like marbles from my pocket.   However, I still held back some of the debt figures, those I felt I could deal with myself.  The debt I told them about was the huge HMRC debt I owed.  I say huge, I owed them 100K at one point and had somehow cleared 87K on my own.  Later in the blog I will explain how I did that. 

My family leant me the 13K to clear the immediate debt, I should have gone to them earlier.  Do I feel better, no, I still owe 13K, but my family doesn’t threaten me every week.  And that we will discuss in part 2.

All you need is love….and money

There is no getting around it, making a family and supporting it is expensive.  More so than I ever imagined actually, made a bit more difficult by me pretty much paying for everything.  A lot of that approach was expected, it is generally the man of the house who provides.  And I did provide, but the demands of life and constant unexpected bills assisted with the debt build up.

As the debt built, the more I hid it.  I say hid it, I was actually paying it off but it led to less and less spare money to play with.  My wife noticed this lack of funds, generally as I couldn’t get things when they were wanted (which was asap in most cases) and I had no real answers to where the money was.   Sadly, we never got around to speaking about it as she had moved on to the affair, claiming the money worries were a catalyst.  I dispute this, any normal couple would speak about it, not start an affair but I digress.

My children are close in age, having two in nursery at the same time, then in school is hard.  Both require the same things, from clothes to toys.  Holidays are expected, but these are such a ridiculous amount of money outside school terms that I could only manage one.  And, if you readers will recall, I was self-employed so if I went away, I didn’t get paid!  Oh the Catch22, you take a break to forget the money worries but actually create a worse one!  What I did, if a tip was needed was book it on week 5 of a 5 week pay month, so in effect I only got 4 week pay cheques each month.  The point of the 3 (average) 5 week pay days a year is it gives you additional funds to pay something off.  However, I never saw the benefit.

I guess you want your partner, and children, to see you as a hero and a success.  I did manage to provide everything but suffered myself, there were some weeks when I worked away I survived on beans on toast and Chipsticks each day so there was money in the account at home.  I just needed money for fuel.  I took that hit because I was too ashamed to admit the HMRC debt and spiralling credit card debt.

Here is a real shocker, in the time of the marriage I actually paid off my wife’s credit cards!!!  You see, it is all part of the front I am afraid.  You try and do things for people, to appear normal, but in reality you are in massive trouble.  I carried on paying everything because I thought she would leave out of shame, but as it pans out she left anyway hence it irritates me that I was so affluent to keep her happy and content. 

The divorce added to the debt, but not directly.  I was quoted £1500, but my ex wife delayed it so much it cost £4500.  Now you can’t buy a divorce on credit now can you so I had to somehow free up that money from my pay.  How I could have put that money to better use though, at least one loan would be cleared.

There is a silver lining here, I never missed a mortgage payment or bill.  Even if it meant selling my things or super scrimping, I paid everything.  I paid everything except the actual debt.  Like I said, the façade continues.

I also have my children, even if I have nothing I am a father.  Debt or no debt, that still makes me a rich man.