Dear Young Me,
You’re probably about to run out of money for the first time about now. I mean really run out of money, and you’ll manage to throw your purse in the bin with your last £5 note in it along with all of your bank cards. Clever of you, probably hungover from student night.
You thought you were sensible with money, a part time job meant that money built up in the bank. You hadn’t ever heard of an overdraft and forcefully said no at every credit card that came your way during freshers week. It started so well.
The start of University
Then university really began and with it the spiral into debt. The start of an unhealthy and toxic attitude towards money, towards debt. The “I want” ruling over the “I don’t have the money” but it was OK because everyone lived like this. The student overdraft was there to be spent, why else would it be interest free. To a degree you’re right, the overdraft is there to be spent because living on £1000 every 3 months can be difficult, but spending the money on dresses from Coast at £150 a pop? With matching Ted Baker shoes? RayBan glasses? On expensive cocktails? Meals out? Not quite what it was intended for. You should be thinking more along the lines of bus fares, student books and food. More food than just bread and beans. Or SuperRice mixed with Tuna and mayo, which is disgusting by the way. Learn to cook.
Sobbing to the manager in the bank because you were at the end of your overdraft and had no money left resulting in getting it increased. Ringing home to beg that your dad put £10 into your bank account so you could take some cash out (and actually getting your mum on the phone who grilled you for 15 minutes and found out that in fact when you called you were in the middle of the student union. She deposited £30 after a harsh lecture). Hardship loans from the University. Student loans increasing.
Graduation. Real life beginning. A real job, paying real money, in a real bank. Yes, you’re going to earn your living by telling other people how to manage their money, working towards corporate banking and working with businesses.
Again, you’ll start well. You’ll clear off your debt and begin afresh.
Then life will start to carry you away, you’ll get your first credit card for work related purposes, put your courses on the card and claim the expenses back. Think that you can manage it as a young 23 year old. You can. To begin with.
Your boiler breaks. You take cash out on the credit card. This is the start of your second slippery slope down.
You’re eligible for a loan, so you take it and go on holiday.
A relationship breaks down so you spend more time going out, spending, spending, spending. Then some more. Credit cards reaching the limits so balance transfers happening. Again and again. Freeing up more cards for you to have. A fistful in your purse.
Which allow you to rack up the debt again on the first card. Then the second. And the third.
Another loan. Then another.
A few years pass and now you’re using your credit cards to live. Your salary doesn’t pull you out of your overdraft by much each month. You pay £50 off your credit card only to put another £100 on. Caught in a spiral. Paying for petrol with the flash of pink that was your Virgin credit card in order to get you to work whilst still spending money on takeaways every night. Not only is your attitude to money unhealthy your whole attitude to life is. No exercise, junk food, working to exist, falling out with everyone, boomeranging between houses. Unsettled.
A new job
A job opportunity in London. A salary more than doubled. A chance to take. Take it, run with it. You’ll love London. The first debt consolidation loan will happen now. Cut up your credit cards.
Except you didn’t cut up the credit cards. You had the chance to start afresh and chip away at the debt piece by piece but yet you kept spending. And spending.
Nights out. Nights in. Exotic food. Lunch everyday.
Don’t worry though, you get your life back on track. The husband pulls you back from the brink of insanity and you start to work out what you can and can’t do. A second debt consolidation loan, yes, two. Most people only look for one consolidation loan in their life, before you were 30 you had two.
Over £16,000 owed from 4 years hard spending. 5 years needed to pay it off, bit by bit. Eating into your salary. The second time you learnt, the second time your future husband made you have a card cutting up ceremony.
Debt was so easy for you to get into, student overdraft, student loan, credit cards one, two, three, a normal loan, a second loan, debt consolidation – twice.
It took you much longer to get out of. It took a redundancy to really clear everything off.
These days you’re much more sensible. It shouldn’t have taken getting into that much debt for you to get this sensible. There is a time and a place for debt, a need to have it.
Coast dresses aren’t it.
You’ll get there. You’ll learn the hard way. I wish I could say you didn’t have to, but you do.
You’ve a bit of a rough ride coming your way over the next few years.
Good luck and I’ll see you on the other side.
An older and wiser you
x x x