As part of Talk Money Week, we caught up with Tania, a former PayPlan client. Tania has just finished her Debt Management Plan (DMP) with us, after a three-year period and wants to share her experience with others to encourage them to reach out for support.
Did you know about PayPlan before you contacted us?
“I’d heard of PayPlan through work, but my interest began when I was working within intelligence, where you have to have a high level of security vetting – and one of the things that comes up is financial vetting. Over a period of time, I’d accumulated store cards, credit cards and so on, and although each one wasn’t very much, it came to a region of £14,000.
“Work then assessed me as being vulnerable and that caused a problem with my vetting. I was already looking at changing roles as I’d been interested in another organisation. I’d been in my role for 15 years and thought it was time for a change.
“A branch administrator job came up at UNISON (representing public services staff) which I applied for and was accepted.
How did you find your experience with PayPlan?
“It was great when I spoke to PayPlan and created a plan. The previous organisation I worked for didn’t have an issue with the managed debt as such, the issue was that I had buried my head in the sand, and I was just paying the minimum amount off every time and then taking out another one (credit card).
“With PayPlan, it wasn’t easy, but it was manageable, and it made me think about what I was doing. I felt the weight being lifted off my shoulders. I wasn’t panicking every time the post came with a reminder of what I owed.
“I got paid on the 28th of every month and I paid what I needed to on the 28th of every month too so I didn’t need to worry about the 15 different store cards, the loans and what have you.
“It made life easier and made me think about how I did things. I couldn’t have another credit card, store card or bank account during that three-year period. I didn’t have an overdraft. I have learnt to do things differently – if the money isn’t there, I can’t have it.”
Would you advise others to use PayPlan?
“We’ve done a number of financial wellbeing webinars where we’ve pushed PayPlan.
“I know we aren’t low earners, but the cost-of-living crisis is affecting our staff and their work. And because of the organisation we are in, it can be the difference between having a job and not having a job.”
With it being Talk Money Week, do you feel more confident and open about your finances now having used PayPlan’s services?
“I don’t have an issue being open about my money, and a colleague of mine has done the same thing.
“I looked at the different options and felt the DMP had less impact on me and each year it was reviewed.
“I have tried to keep my payments at the maximum so I could clear it off as quickly as possible. The review meetings (with PayPlan) were great because we had to check that I could make these payments as my son left school and I lost certain benefits.
“It was my debt, and it was something I was dealing with – not my husband – and I didn’t want his income to be involved. I wanted to be able to do it for myself.
How has life been since paying off your debts?
“Paying off my debt has given us more opportunity because I wouldn’t have been able to do certain things before because of that debt.”
Do you have any advice for those in debt or facing debt?
“Once you’ve made that initial step, it’s almost a case of taking your head out of the sand and accepting that. My £14,000 debt, although it wasn’t a massive amount of debt to some, was having an impact on my life because It was affecting my work, it was affecting my health as I was getting stressed with things and, as I said, I was worried about things.
“There’s no negative stigma around debt, so people need to understand that and take the safer options rather than payday loans. Many years ago, when my husband and I split up, I was going to loan sharks for £50. I’d end up paying back £150 – it was a vicious circle to get out of.”
Do you have any advice for those working in the force facing debt?
“It is a serious issue to owe money, but it’s okay as long as you manage it. But if you have unmanaged debt, it becomes a dangerous situation for staff in the public sector. It makes staff far more vulnerable and it’s important to get help from a trusted organisation.”