From riches to rags
Picture me as a young hopeful. A man that’s just turned his life around and wants to be the best he can be. I love working. Working gives me the esteem that I need to survive. It’s not good when I’m not busy, detached and not doing anything. I feel despondent. Alienated. And can often sink into a nasty pit of depression. When I first met Natalie she was a school teacher. Even funnier when I learned that she taught some of my college associates when I retrained. I always wanted to date a school teacher. Ever since I retrained. I was going the teacher route and I felt that it would be an awesome thing to date someone that would have patience with me, and has the loveliest kind heart. Well, I got that and much more. Natalie is the best teacher I’ve ever known. Not only did she set me on the path of bettering myself, she set me on the path of reaching heights I never thought possible. She is and always will be completely amazing to me.
We both worked at the start. Her, a Teacher and me an aspiring teacher, our wage packets when put in our bank were comfortable. Not awesome, but comfortable. Comfortable enough to allow us to holiday when we wanted or buy a brand new bed without having to save up the pennies before we made such a decision. It was nice. I was really happy. And I had been sober for at least two years now. The urge to drink was non-existent which meant that the bank was overflowing with money. If we were buying a bottle of wine a night each, that would be at least £10 a night. We spent nowhere near that. Did I mention she doesn’t drink either? No? Good. Well, I’m lucky, she doesn’t. She’s a confident lady. Doesn’t need the drink to have fun.
Then it happened. Natalie was made redundant
Natalie was made redundant. Right at the cusp of our wedding too.
For those of you that don’t know, Natalie has broken her back. An accident on school activities week caused her to fall off her horse and fracture her L1 vertebrae in her spine. It’s an old injury. It happened before I met her. She’s not wheelchair bound or adversely disabled but she still has the normal back trauma that comes with the territory. Can’t sit down for long periods of time, can’t stand up for long periods of time, et al.
Occupational health got involved with her teaching. They limited her activity at work and then cutting a massively long and predictable story short she was constructively dismissed. Illegal. But there are ways around the legalities of such things.
Fucking right at the cusp of our wedding too.
Luckily tax credits from the government saved us. I didn’t earn enough from my own salary to fit both of us. The government recognises marriage and allows us money to carry on. Great. We weren’t plain sailing beforehand but it allowed us to survive as if I was a working man, keeping my integrity intact.
Life went on like that for several years, at least two of them anyway. Until it happened again.
I lost my job.
I lost my job because of the heavy cutbacks in the charity sector. Camerons Big Society idea, that everyone can live in this big helping Utopia that we work for free, yadda yadda. So I lost my job and had to sign on. Sign on for good old JSA. Job Seekers Allowance for anyone that’s confused.
The most degrading thing about signing on for me, at the time, was that I had someone sitting in front of me who had no idea what I did, or achieved in the last five years yet insisted I had to look for minimum wage jobs right off the bat. When I told her my asking price for a wage I was told that she didn’t earn as much. But that’s not my problem then, right? SHE should have taken herself to damn university like I did. Anyway.
I decided to start my own business. Without really thinking it through might I add because I did not have the slightest idea or business sense to run my own one at the time. You needed balls to run a business. Big giant in your face don’t mess with me, fucker, balls. It’s not what I had, and needless to say, in the end I ran everything into the ground. It’s a shame really. Because I did have the enthusiasm and drive to take it through. I just lacked a spine, was too easily manipulated and between Natalie feeling unwell and having to look after Alex I began to lose the confidence and any oomph that I had in myself.
So I didn’t earn much from the business.
How did I survive you ask? Luck. And a lot of fortune.
It started off with us spending a little bit here and there from our savings. Just to make ends meet. It wasn’t too bad at first because as a self-employed man I did receive working tax credits and the likes to keep surviving. My downfall was two things. When the Tories absolutely ramped up the prices of cigarettes and when my credit cards realised I was buying daily produce from them, without notice they just started to jack up those damn prices. I could scream at them truth be told. I think if they didn’t jack up those rates it wouldn’t have been too bad for us.
But we had BIG credit card bills in the end. I think one had an end balance of £4,000 and another had an end balance of £2,500 and that’s not to mention all those little balance transfer cards that we had from other companies. It was silly in essence. Because I went from paying £40-£60 per month to almost £200. And it took less than two months for that to happen. And they were ruthless about it. They knew they had us. They knew we needed the cards to survive and that we weren’t going to default on them because that little extra helped. It helped for a while.
Once we maxed out and couldn’t get any more credit from the cards we tried getting a loan from the bank. The bank basically told us to go and take a run and jump. Which was funny because only six months previously had they been offering us loans and god knows what.
We tried everything. But everything failed us. I wish we sought help. But we didn’t. We were too scared.
So we went to payday lenders. I spit as I write payday lenders because if you ever meet a bigger bunch of thieves and robbers I’ll be surprised. Payday loans were great. At the start. Because we were able to shift our money about in a way that suits us. They whacked a ton of money into our account, no questions asked. And wallah, we could pay bills, food and whatever else needed paying. Rent, perhaps. But the amount you have to pay them back was silly. I’m not too sure what it’s like now but they had something like 5000% APR. And what’s worse is some of these lenders were trying to pass themselves off as trendy high street lenders. Fuck off. Fuck right off. Spit. We were sucked in. We got sucked in by the ease in which it was to acquire money from them. It was quite amazing.
Not amazing when they took the money out of your bank. If I didn’t have anything in my bank at the time they treated me like a robber. Anytime money came into my account it was syphoned out in £10 and £20 increments. Basically, they started off low until they could take no more. And then they would go down low again. Ruthless. Ruthless I tell you. I remember being scared to hold any money in the bank account that was owed. In the end, we had to dump the accounts because we would never be free from them.
We sought help in the end, finally. And this was after one year in “actual employment” I was earning a wage at the time. They tried everything. Called me at work. Embarrassed me in front of colleagues. Tried to email my employer. The tactics. They were fucking dirty. How they get away with it I’ll never know. Kudos to my boss for being so level headed about it. She was my total saviour. She knew I wanted to do good. She helped.
Our debts sucked the life out of us.
And the Bailiffs. Those of you that think you can avoid the Bailiffs you can’t. These guys are the worst breed of human. They get paid on the amount of gear that they acquire from you. So don’t even bother asking for a repayment plan. They just want your expensive stuff. It’s profitable for them.
The debts nearly destroyed us. Nearly sent us bankrupt. I swear. Never get in debt. It’s what they want you to do. They blame the crash on the likes of unlimited spending but if you just look at my story you can see it’s a transfer of wealth. A trap. A trap to suck public spending money up. Don’t get in debt. If you can’t afford it, wait until you can. It will save you a ton of worry and hassle down the line.
We’re almost debt free now. We don’t have any credit cards, any store cards or anything that promises you something for nothing only that you pay it up for x months. I can’t abide the hassle, to be honest. It makes me sick.
And we had a lot of financial help from our family. It pains me to say this but we were helped out A LOT in that aspect.