My Life Without Credit Cards

My Life Without Credit Cards PART ONE

Behind the statistics of economic depression are real people. In Part One of this story we look at the real life experience of someone who felt the credit crunch bite in 2002. In Part Two we tell how our heroine fought back and is now - against the trend doing well and content to be living without credit cards!

A Life Without Credit Cards

This article is about Trudy Grately (not her real name) who has lived without credit cards and with a poor credit reference since 2002. With rising redundancies, banks increasingly unwilling to extend credit and feelings of economic uncertainty many more people are now finding themselves in Trudy’s position then. This case study is for you – take heart for Trudy Grately has survived without credit cards and six years later – against the trend – Trudy is doing very well.

Trudy’s Career 1990-2002

After she left college Trudy became a sales executive for a vending company. She worked hard and learnt all about sales. Within a year Trudy was made Sales Manager of the company. A year later she was head-hunted by a leading company, accepted a new position and took a massive increase in salary and commission payments. Trudy worked very hard and long hours but life was becoming increasingly expensive.

Trudy’s Creed Until 2002

Trudy had been brought up with the adage “you’ve got to speculate to accumulate”. This she now sees (looking back) was one of the roots of her problem. Trudy thought nothing of buying designer clothes and expensive accessories – she had to look the part when she was closing deals with some of the UK’s leading buyers. She believed that by demonstrating her success she sent out a subliminal message: I’m doing well because my company is doing well because the products and services we manufacture and sell are the best available. In this belief she bought herself (using credit and easily available mortgages) sports cars with personalised number plates, a property in London, a cottage in Shropshire and an apartment in Tenerife. At this point she’d have argued until she was blue in the face that her creed was completely true.

Trudy’s Credit Crunch

Trudy’s Credit Crunch came earlier than her colleagues who are only experiencing it now. Two factors were at play. Firstly a company was importing Chinese competitor goods. Her company could win on quality but the company importing similar products from China blew her prices out of the water. Secondly, without knowing it, Trudy was suffering from a serious illness and was slowly being forced to work less because of her need to rest more. When the company she worked for became insolvent Trudy’s world came crashing down.

The Immediate Aftermath of Trudy’s Redundancy

Still not prepared to revise her creed, Trudy borrowed from her bank – to see her over her lean times – until she had another high-powered job. Still not aware that she was ill this extra effort soon took its toll. The final straw was that the new company she was working for were a group of unprincipled charlatans. However, before she could resign and find another job she collapsed.

Trudy in 2002 – Ill, Penniless and Barclays Bank keep Calling.

Now a catalogue of events took over her life all of which she was helpless to avert because she had no money and even less credit. House repossessions were less harmful than they could have been as Trudy had a friend who rented her a small but well located apartment. But Trudy was severely ill now. She had been diagnosed with a kidney stone – the size of a very large egg – and it meant hospitalisation but of course there was a wait.

Trudy’s Lowest Point – Unhappy 2003

She was tired, unhappy and helpless. A typical day was spent on the settee watching daytime television – she just about coped with that. It was the worry, the bouts of depression inspired by the bullying phone calls from Barclays Bank She did her best to stand up to one particular nasty man who phoned – he demanded money she just hadn’t got and was not at all bothered that Trudy was sick and widow solely responsible for her child. She told her Barclays assailant and meant what she said “I hope your sister or daughter and their children never finds herself in my position”.

Trudy's Lowest Hours

That day – totally out of character – Trudy debated with herself the pros and cons of committing suicide. The debate marked her lowest point. There would be a few more fights in the future but nothing as sad and frightening as Trudy’s lowest hours in 2003.

Please read Part Two of Trudy Grately’s Story. In that we’ll describe Trudy’s step by step recovery. For interime advice fromTrudy see below

If you or anyone else you know is in this position here are a few tips from Trudy who wished she knew then what she knows now. More details and tips will be published in PART TWO.

TRUDY’S ADVICE – Emergency Measures for a Personal Debt Crisis

1) Your priorities must be to pay rent or mortgage on your home, utility bills and council tax – all other bills will HAVE to wait.

2) You can get interest payments frozen on credit cards (see 5)

3) If you are unable to deal with your harassing debt collectors there are organisations which will help you. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau should be your first port of call.

4) Telling your creditors that you are trying to pay them but you are thinking about becoming bankrupt or filing for an Independent Voluntary Agreement (IVA)... that shuts them up!

5) Debt Management Companies are in it for the money but Trudy found using one while she was ill, to deal with Barclays Bank and others was worth it. What she paid the DCM was small compared to the interest not being added to her overdraft, Barclaycard account, and Barclayloan.

6) If you have children in your home, utility companies are duty bound to keep you sullpied with gas, water and electricity. If at all possible, avoid having a slot metre installed as utility companies blatantly profiteer from these and you and your family will be forced to pay more for your heating than those who are better off.

7) Do not speculate to accumulate! STOP THAT NOW!!

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