Beth has worked for PayPlan for three years 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 Beth tells her story…..

How did you find yourself in debt?

I was going through a hard time and staying with a friend to give me some time to get myself back on track. My friend wanted to get a car, but her credit rating wasn’t good, and she was struggling to get accepted for finance. I felt like I owed it to her, so took the car finance out in my name.

At the time, the salesman told me I could buy the car there and then and put it in my friend’s name after a few years. I ended up with the car, hire purchase agreement and insurance all in my name – even though I didn’t have a driving licence! I later learned the car had been mis-sold – however, at the time, I trusted what the salesman said and did.

My friend agreed to give me the money for the monthly payments, but, after six months she stopped, even though she was still using the car.  I’d recently started renting a new property and had a job in a pub, so I didn’t have much income at the time. I contacted the car finance company but was told that because the car was in my name, I had to keep making the payments.

I was so strapped for cash, I had to live off eating beans on toast and wasn’t able to do anything just so I could pay for the car. I’d also fallen behind on other payments, including my phone bill.

My friend kept promising to pay me, but never did.

In the end, the situation got overwhelming, I felt like I was flushing money down the drain and the weight of the world was on my shoulders.

What happened next?

I managed to get the car back from my friend, but after two and a half years got into more and more debt for something I couldn’t use and didn’t want.  I hated looking out the window and seeing the car sat there – it was a massive burden. I was constantly pleading with the car finance company to take the car back and didn’t know what to do other than struggle along and try to pay what I could. 

Eventually the car finance company agreed that I’d been mis-sold the car and took it off my hands. I was relieved that finally I could start getting my life back. However, my credit score had been badly impacted from missing payments and I still owed towards the insurance and mobile phone contract.

Did you try to get help?

I felt so worried and under pressure, but suffered in silence as I didn’t know help was out there. I wish I’d known about PayPlan so I could have been given advice about what I could do sooner.

Are you still in debt now?

No. The car is gone now, and I don’t have any other credit, apart from an overdraft which I don’t use! I’m so cautious now, manage with what I’ve got and even put savings away. 

My parents always taught me if I can’t afford it, I’m not getting it, which I always tried to stick to. I wasn’t in a good place when I took the car finance out though and I felt I’d needed to return the favour to my friend for letting me stay at her house. But I’ve learnt that there are other ways to help people rather than using money or taking out credit!

What would you say to other people in the same situation? What’s your advice for anyone feeling too embarrassed/judged to reach out?

Don’t feel embarrassed and don’t feel stupid. If you do have any debt worries, or want some free advice to find out where you stand with things, call PayPlan because that’s what we can help with. We’re friendly, don’t judge anyone and many of us speak from experience after living with debt ourselves!

Anything else to add?

I really relate to everyone I speak to who has taken out guarantor loans or debts for others – and I would always advise against this type of credit. I’ve been in a similar situation myself, and tell people my story. I know how people feel when they’re up in the night, feel sick, and don’t know what to do.

My debts impacted my health. I felt stupid and didn’t dare speak up as I felt people would say what a bad decision I’d made. But one bad decision doesn’t have to define your future.

Being in that situation inspired me to help others with their debts. It made me understand what debt can do to people and how it can make them feel. I wanted to be a debt adviser and help people to have a new end to their debt story.

Help if you’re struggling to keep up with debt repayments

If you’re struggling with debt repayments and want to get on top of them, PayPlan can help. There are many ways to get in touch, click here to find out more.