Errol Barker (51) is an HGV lorry driver from Clacton-on-Sea. He was earning a good wage while working in London but when his wife Angelina became ill with depression he had to give it up and take a job nearer home at a much-reduced salary.
With a mortgage to pay, two cars to run and four children to bring up, Errol soon found it difficult to meet even the day-to-day expenses. Their house needed repairs and appliances needed replacing and Errol said “at the time it was easy to get credit cards and loans.”
“However soon we had more outgoings than incomings and the debts began to spiral out of control,” he added. “We were borrowing off Peter to pay Paul all the time.
“My wife and I didn’t like arguing about money but our children knew what was happening. Although we really tightened our belts we always managed to dress them nicely and they never missed out on school trips.”
Errol’s bank put him in touch with a debt management company who set up a plan whereby he was paying £100 a month. Out of that, £23 went on administration fees but when that figure rose to £30 Errol decided enough was enough and decided to approach his creditors himself to see if they would consider reduced payments. All bar one agreed and it was this bank who suggested he should contact Payplan as it was a free service.
“Payplan were very helpful and once they’d set up a Debt Management Plan (DMP) it was like a weight had been lifted,” said Errol.
Sadly Errol’s wife Angelina died in November 2013 but he decided to use her life insurance to pay off some of the debts. He also received a PPI refund and has now reduced his total debt to £4,000. He currently pays £400 in to his DMP and hopes to complete the payments by March 2016.
“I’m quite a strong person so I just learnt to deal with it all. As long as I kept up with the mortgage and we still had the house then that was all that counted,” he added.
“I’ve learned to live within my means, I’m managing to budget okay and I don’t plan to have any credit cards in the future.”
Errol’s family are also what keep him going – his youngest son (16) has found work to earn some money over the summer period, his 18-year-old son starts university in September where he’ll study music, his 22-year-old daughter has just finished her first year in drama and theatre production and his eldest son (23) has followed in his father’s footsteps and is an HGV lorry driver.
“Everyone’s been through some kind of financial trouble,” said Errol, “and if my story can help anyone then I’m up for it.”