Janice* (43) works in sales and found herself in debt after relying on credit cards to fund her lifestyle.  She previously worked in London, was earning a good wage but admits getting credit was “far too easy.”

“I ended up with five cards in total,” she said.  “I’d transfer the balance of one to a 0% interest card but then not cut up the original and continue using it.  It was just too easy, it wasn’t like using real money.”

Janice continued to use her cards until eventually she owed £20,000.  “I woke up one morning and thought ‘I need to sort my out my life’.  Luckily I kept my house in Burnley so I moved back there and started working in sales again,” she added.

She took out an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)  and paid £270 a month.  Then the recession hit and Janice was made redundant.  She managed to find work but was now earning half her original salary.

“The company I was with wasn’t very good.  I’d ring up with questions but there was no one there to deal with them,” said Janice.  “Then one day I received a letter from them to say my IVA had failed.  I felt sick and didn’t know what to do.”

Luckily Janice had a friend who did voluntary work with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau.  “I told her I had a problem with debt and that my IVA had failed and asked her what she’d recommend,” she said.  “She told me to go to my local branch and they advised me to contact Payplan to see if they could help.

“Payplan were brilliant and I’d recommend them to anyone.  I would be on the phone to them, feeling horrendous because I’d got myself into his situation, but they were great.”

Janice is now into her first year of her IVA and pays £124 a month.

The strain of being debt affected her both physically and mentally.  She suffers from asthma and five years ago, when she had her first IVA, the stress of the situation caused her asthma to flare up and she was hospitalised five times.

“I feel so much better now, my life is less stressful and I’m learning the value of money.  If I can’t have something then that’s it, I don’t buy it.  I’m taking control of my life and I know exactly how much money comes in and goes out each month.  I don’t have any credit cards and I’m never going to have one again!”