Debt & “The Final Straw”

Debt doesn’t just happen. It grows over time and from the simplest of credit applications, you’re thrust into the adult consumer credit world. A credit card is a licence to spend and repay later. I’m surprised credit companies have not used the tagline “Enjoy now, life’s too short”.

But becoming debt free isn’t as quick or easy as borrowing the money.

There are a variety of stages that people go through before they are able to admit their problem is severe. The final straw is something everybody with serious debt problems experiences and they will remember it vividly. From friends or family making them do it, a letter coming through the post or even just reading this website, people will remember why they make a call to a debt company for help.

My Final Straw: The Bailiffs are at the Door

The reason for my final straw was a letter that came through the post from a bailiff. After a year of receiving threatening letters from my creditors and even some from debt collection companies I was now receiving letters from the bailiff wishing to enter my premises.

I don’t know why somebody coming to my house shook me out my clouded debt nightmare but it did. I presume it was because I always associated bailiffs with serious debt problems, but I didn’t yet realise that is what I had. As soon as I opened the letter I knew it was time for help.

No longer would juggling creditors, making token payments or trying to negotiate with the banks work, they wanted their money back one way or the other. The first thing I did was research; who could I trust? What organisation should I contact? Can I get free impartial help?

It turns out I learned a lot about bailiffs and debt charities are FANTASTIC! The support debt charities offer should be given more credit.

Did you know that in the UK bailiffs are not allowed to break your door down and enter? If the door is unlocked they can enter, but they can’t break in. Be careful though because open windows mean they can climb through. The bailiff wants to value the items in the property but can’t sell things like washing machines, sofas or fridge/ freezers. The bailiff can clamp your car and have it removed.

Reasons for Debt in the UK

Statistics from debt advice charity Debt Support Trust show that of the 5 reasons for debt. The main reasons for debt are often considered to be because of frivolous spending, but usually it’s not. From the top 5 reasons for debt problems below, it’s obvious people are getting into debt because of a change in circumstance.

The top 5 reasons for people being in debt are:

1. Unemployment

2. Reduction in Income

3. Over-committed on credit

4. Divorce / Separation

5. Increased Expenditure

Anybody could lose their job, it’s easily done and especially in today’s financial climate. Similarly people are being asked to work part time from full time which reduces their income monthly.

I can understand how people become over committed on credit. The interest and charges continue to mount until it’s an impossible situation to fix. Divorce will undoubtedly cause financial problems as expenditure will increase for both people. Finally, the last of the top 5 is an increased expenditure. Children will increase expenditure when they come along and that means stretching the same budget to meet the extra demand.

Is There Such a Thing as Unexpected Debt?

Debt can be unexpected. I’m not talking about, “Oh, I didn’t realise I owed £30,000 in unsecured debt, how did that happen?”. I’m also not talking about identify theft.

Debt is typically manageable for most people until something happens which makes it unmanageable. I saw my debt as manageable credit. I could meet the repayments, I knew it was there but didn’t ever think it would rule my life… I’d pay it off eventually.

But, unexpectedly I hit the wall and everything rapidly tumbled to the ground.

On losing my job I realised I had amassed tens of thousands of pounds worth of debt and the reality of the level of debt problem I had was evident. I only ever looked at the payment number, I never took in just how much I owed and the shock was terrifying.

I knew I owed a lot but was still surprised by the total when I added it all up. I was the ostrich with his head in the sand.

Breathing Easier About Debt

After dealing with unsecured debt problems you instantly breath easier. You’re head is clear.

To get to a stage where you’re comfortable about your debt it’s essential to talk to friends and family. Qualified charities helped me through my troubles and I can’t thank them enough.

My final straw was not losing my job because I trundled on for almost a year trying to make ends meet. In the end, my final straw was a year later, with the letter coming through stating the bailiffs were visiting. This woke me up to the reality this was serious, I needed help.


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Hi, my name is John and I am the "Bankruptcy Guy". I'm commenting on how I see debt, credit and all things finance. I've learned through experience.

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4 Responses

  1. Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter
    Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter August 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm | | Reply

    Sometimes some of us need to learn the hard way. I did. It wasn’t until I had to go through a refinancing agency that I cleaned up my act and started managing my money better. Thank goodness it was in my early 20’s and I have had some time to recover. If I was older when this happened I would be in a lost worse shape financially.

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  2. Call Me What You Want Even Cheap
    Call Me What You Want Even Cheap August 16, 2012 at 7:56 pm | | Reply

    Unexpected debt can definitely happen, that’s why I recommend having an emergency fund. The engine or the furnace will most likely blow one day, and having to dish out a few thousand dollars when you least expect it is never fun.

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