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I had heard about the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) from my boss, he was having a bad time with his finances after getting married so had contacted them for help. During one of our regular chats at work I mentioned that things financially were starting to get a bit tight for us. He advised me to have a word with CCCS as they had helped him out in a similar situation and they could do the same for us. Well I wasn't keen on telling the world I had money problems and was sure things would get better and I kept saying just a few more weeks on benefits and things will be ok. I was only working as a volunteer and was sure that a job was around the corner.
Well let's just say things didn't work out like that it wasn't a few more weeks on benefits and to make sure that the kids had clothes and the things they needed I would put more and more on the credit card and then applying for another card to help pay my other cards off. Things were starting to get really bad that I thought we needed to take some action, so we looked at our finances and started getting rid of any direct debit that wasn't necessary things like our home DVD rentals went out of the window. Then we started looking at reducing other bills like our mobile phone bills and cable TV package, I managed to get both reduced to the bare minimum. We also applied for a social loan to help out a bit but it didn't as we were then getting a reduced income to pay that off.
Things came to a head and we started getting red bills more frequently but still didn't have the money to pay them so some bills started to get ignored in the hope they would go away, which of course they wasn't, direct debts were starting to be refused and I didn't ever dare use my cheque book, and we dreaded going to the cash machine to see if there was anything we could draw out to get some shopping. By that time we were looking at something in the region of £5000 in debt to credit card companies, catalogues and even the bank who were charging me large sums every month due to us being well over our overdraft limit.
It was then that I thought its about time we did something more drastic than just getting rid of a few small bills that obviously wasn't making any difference to our overall finances. That was when that chat I had had with my boss about a year before came back into my mind, I couldn't remember the name of the company he went with but knew they were just initials so I started looking on google for companies that helped with debt problems that's when I came across CCCS instantly I knew this was the company that my boss had been talking about.
CCCS are a registered charity they are not there to make any money from you and everything they offer is free and confidential. There phone number was free so I thought that I may as well give them a call and have a chat to see what they say and what can be offered to us. I spoke to a guy who talked me through what I should be doing and not to let the worry of these debts get on top of me the first step has already been done and that was to seek help. He talked me through what I needed to be doing such as making a list of all my creditors and prioritising them into high and low. High creditors are companies like gas, electric, water as they can just cut my supply if I don't pay and they are important so need to be dealt with first, then I need to deal with other debts like credit cards these debts are classed as low priority as I can make a token offer of payment to show my willingness to pay off my debt.
I managed to agree with my creditors to pay them a token payment of £5 per month which meant I was paying £40 a month instead of £400.
As the bank was one of my creditors I was advised that I should find a new bank and set up a basic bank account with no overdraft facility and just an account that I can have money paid into and can set up direct debits to pay the bills.
We knew its was going to take along time to clear our debts as we were only paying back £5 but for us that's better than the worry of bailiffs coming around and taking everything, but the good thing is that its being paid and if our financial situation gets better in the future then we can increase our payments.
We are now seeing the benefits of seeking the help firstly and following there self help guidelines to reduce our debts. We aren't having to worry and stress out every month hoping that there is enough in the bank to pay the bills and we aren't scared anymore of going to the cash point to see a large minus figure there.
My advice to anyone reading this who is starting to feel the pressure of debt is to give CCCS a call on there FREEPHONE number 0800 138 1111