I am not a financial adviser and I can’t give you debt counselling, but I can tell you what happened on my journey with CAP. If you get debt advice and a debt counsellor, remember – their advice will be tailored to your situation and circumstances.
Firstly, I received a home visit from a trainer debt counsellor. She went through all my paperwork and helped me prioritise my bills and debts. I cannot lie – it felt quite invasive having someone I barely knew going through my bank statements, my income and expenditure. It is important to remember though that the only way that you will get out of debt successfully is if you work with your counsellor and don’t hide anything from them. It is also really important that you follow their instructions and do what they say.
We looked at any expenses I could cut down on, such as exercise (unused gym membership anyone) and meal planning.
She went away and CAP drew up a new budget for me. They negotiated with my creditors on my behalf and tried to stop unfair interest and charges where they could.
I continued to pay my bills as usual, but I also set up a regular payment to my CAP Account – from this CAP distributed it to my creditors on my behalf. If I ever received extra income, I put it in that account and CAP were able to pay extra and clear my debts sooner.
Are there any positives of being in debt counselling and management?
My favourite part of this service (apart from them helping me get out of debt) was that I didn’t have to deal with any of my creditors. Any post came for me, I popped it into a pre-paid envelope and it went off to CAP for them to deal with. If I received any calls, I pointed them in CAP’s direction as well. They made the whole process of being in, and getting out of debt, a lot less painful. It was good to have someone to talk to and I always felt looked after. Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness – admitting you need it is a sign of strength! I truly believe that I would still be struggling along if it wasn’t for admitting I needed help and going out and getting it.
What about severe debt?
If you are in severe debt, your debt counsellor can go through insolvency options with you, such as petitioning for bankruptcy. They may even be able to help you fill out the forms and attend court with you. Clearly the majority of people would rather avoid this situation, but your debt counsellor will advise you on what is best for your circumstances.
Getting debt counselling was one of the best things I ever did. It was scary, emotional, and exhausting. I worried I had made the right decision the whole way through, but I now know it was the best thing. Much as I have a few things now that I am working on repaying, I am on top of my finances. I really did beat debt and I want to help you get to that stage too. Like when you have an electric problem, you’d call an electrician, you shouldn’t be afraid to call in the professionals.