Kim joined PayPlan a year ago as a debt adviser. She uses her own experience of being in debt to help and support others who want to take back financial control.

Here Kim tells her story of how she turned her finances around…

How did you find yourself in debt?
My husband and I had never been brilliant with managing money. We were living to our means every month, used credit cards for holidays and made sure we enjoyed ourselves. Plus, we never saved or put anything aside because my husband was expecting to inherit his mother’s estate.

It all came to a head in early 2016, when my husband, who was retired by then, was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

I was working in the travel industry at the time and had to reduce my hours significantly to become his carer. I’d gone from a good salary to almost nothing and from working to being a full-time carer. Our whole world changed overnight.

My husband passed away at the beginning of July, then by the end of the same month, the company I was working for went bust. I was emotionally and financially drained. I didn’t have any savings to fall back on and relied on credit cards to get by.

I’m grateful for the experiences we had, but I wish we had set some money aside to fall back on.

When did it become a problem for you?
I found myself in a spiral and started to miss payments – but as my husband had died I thought ‘nothing can be worse’ and buried my head in the sand by ignoring the bills, phone calls and letters.

For a couple of years, I really struggled financially, and it was only when I inherited my husband’s share of his mother’s estate after she passed away that I got back on my feet. Up until then though, I’d defaulted on payments.

I’d been that hard up, I had to choose between who was going to have dinner – me or my dog. Looking back now, I think how did I get through it?

I managed to rent a house, which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to because of my credit score. However, just a few months after moving in, my landlord declared himself bankrupt and I had to leave the house.

Moving again was stressful, particularly as I had to pay for the rental application fees and moving costs. I finally thought I was settled in the new house, but the pandemic hit and I lost my job I’d started at another travel agents.

Did you realise there was help out there?
I started a Debt Management Plan with another company but wasn’t aware when I started it how much I would be charged, or how a a fee was taken before my creditors received a payment.

At the time, I didn’t know about PayPlan or how I could enter into a Debt Management Plan without having to pay a fee. Because of this, I always make sure I stress to people who contact PayPlan that we offer completely free debt advice.

Are you still in debt now?
I’ve still got a few debts, but nothing like what I had. I didn’t have a lot of equity, but I managed to pay off some of the debts with the money from selling my home and the inheritance. Otherwise, I’d still be struggling.

What would you say to other people in the same situation?
Don’t avoid the problem or your debts and get help as soon as you can. It’s not going to get better if you don’t do anything – in fact it will more than likely get worse.

When I speak to people in a similar situation, I want to tell them my story and let them know that it will get better.

I wish I’d known about PayPlan sooner. Myself and my colleagues are proud of what we do, we care about you and want to help. In fact, I can’t praise my colleagues enough; they are so caring and genuinely devoted to helping people.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
It’s been an eye opener coming into this industry as I was a travel agent for 30 years and had no idea about the debt solutions that are available. I wish I’d known sooner.

If you’d like to speak to PayPlan about your finances, and see how we can help you get back on track, contact us today.