Is This You Or Someone You Know?

So there you are, living your life. You know there are bad things in the world, bad things happen to you too, you don’t get anything given to you on a silver platter. You work hard to give yourself a good life, to make your family comfortable. There’s no point thinking about the future, climate change, oil prices, food and water shortages in some far-off place. It’s hard enough keeping control of your own life.

You used to think you’d ‘get rich or die trying’, but then you realised that this was a fantasy. 99% of people don’t get rich, and the rest don’t die trying, they just – survive. You get wrapped up in routines, your life gets bigger, partner, kids, house, bills. Your job is just a way to fill up the cash machine for the weekend, to pay for the summer holiday, the widescreen tv to keep the kids happy.

Sometimes you can’t afford the things you want but that’s ok, you go into a little more debt for a while. You’ve always been in debt and it’s a pain but it’s not a big deal. You pay a loan off, you get another one, you borrow money against the house, life goes on. Everyone’s doing it. Everyone’s got an overdraft, everyone’s got a loan, everyone’s ‘releasing equity’ in their homes.

Life is a routine, boring, get up, go to work, get back, watch tv, go to bed. Sometimes you look up and a month has passed, it’s spring already – where has the time gone? Life’s too short, so you live for The Now, you Live Large to survive. No need to keep the wolf from the door, you borrow money to keep the demons quiet in your head, the demons that whisper from the TV “ You’re wasting your life, you’ll never make anything of yourself, you’re not a happy person.” So, you go out and live The Good Life, and spend money, you make your life more comfortable, and spend money, you buy presents, you make people happy, you make yourself happy, sometimes. You spend a little more than you earn every month, you can only just afford the loans, but you can handle it.

And then the boring routine is broken. Things go wrong. Badly wrong. The credit gets crunched, the easy money dries up, you lose your job, you have a baby, the car breaks down, your partner gets ill. All that living large to survive, all that generated joy in your life is gone, are now you are in big, big trouble.

The letters start coming thru the door. Nasty, threatening letters. The cartoon characters on the loan adverts aren’t so friendly any more. You feel the ground slipping away from underneath you, as your life twists out of your control. You can’t pay all of them. You try and pay some of them, the ones that seem the most urgent, that shout the loudest, that come to the door in person. All the time you try and keep your guilty secret to yourself. YOUR stupidity, YOUR failure, YOU are the one who has put your family in danger and now YOU must get them out of it, alone. No one must know how much you’ve messed up. All you need is a break, a good month.

You’ve started to snap at the kids when they ask for things. You’re lying to your partner, to your mum, stressing all time. Its always on your mind, it feels like the only thing in your life, your private battle against the mess that you created. No one must ever know. You can handle this, you can sort it out somehow. You don’t know how, but you MUST.

A letter comes through the door – salvation! Combine all your nasty debts into one affordable payment! Thats it! You’ll be paying it off for years to come, the small print looks a bit dodgy, the monthly payment is a little more than you can afford but none of that matters. It’s a way out NOW, it’s the break you’ve been looking for, tomorrow can wait until tomorrow.

The debt consolidation people say they can ‘free up’ some extra cash as part of the deal, so you finally get to say ‘yes’ to a few things: Yes to the mini-break with your mates, Yes to re-doing the kitchen, Yes to mini-scooters for the kids. After months of being The Grouch, tightening your belt, always saying no, stressed to the maximum. Thank God it’s over.

You’ve missed a payment. It’s huge, you could never afford it. How could you have been so stupid? You KNEW, you KNEW all along that this was too good to be true, you KNEW this would go wrong, that you couldn’t afford the consolidation, that the charges were astronomical. How could you have been so stupid? Why the hell did you borrow that extra money? You can’t afford to pay the loan. You can’t afford to pay the loan and it’s secured on the house. They’re going to take the house. They’re going to sell all your possessions, all your private things. But maybe they won’t. Maybe if you just ignore it, pay double next month. You can’t deal with this. You don’t know what to do, so you do what you always do. You ignore it. You carry on.

It’s not going away. It’s getting worse. The loan company keeps on calling. You tried not to answer it but your partner picked it up and now they know everything. They looked so confused and afraid when you told them the truth it made you feel like killing yourself. The only thing that stops you doing that is knowing that the life insurance wouldn’t pay out, and the debts would pass to your partner, or your mum, or your kids. It’s all in the contract, you read it and you signed it. You knew it was a stitch-up, but you signed it, because you had messed up and it was the only way out. Now you and your family are going to be ruined and it’s all your fault.

STOP.

THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT.

You’ve been had.

At every stage of the process, you’ve been screwed.

Who created the world where you need money to be happy? Not you.

Who made your job so mind-numbing, such a shitty existence that you ended up needing to blow out just to feel normal? Not you.

Who built up the expectations that you ended up living by, nearly dying by? Not you.

Where did the depression and sense of failure come from? Not you.

NO ONE PUT A GUN TO YOUR HEAD, BUT NO ONE TOOK IT OUT OF YOUR HAND.

Why did they give you an overdraft when they knew you could never clear it? Because they made a lot of money out of your debt to them.

Why did they let you buy a house at 5 times your income? Because they had sold your debt on, and didn’t care if you paid it back or not, all they wanted was the commission at the start.

Why did they never ask you what the loan was for? Because they didn’t want to have a reason to turn you down.

Why did they send you ‘pre-approved loans’ through the post when you were already out of your depth? Because they don’t care if you can afford it, all that matters is that you make them a quick buck.

Why didn’t they tell you that consolidating your debts was a bad idea, that it meant you couldn’t reschedule the low-priority debts to affordable amounts? Because they had no interest in helping you or your family, no interest in your survival, they didn’t care whether you got so overwhelmed that you killed yourself.

All they cared about was making money out of your pain. And they did. They made A LOT of money.

THE GUILTY SECRET

While you’ve been going through hell on your own, alone, at the mercy of your creditors, guess what? 2 doors down, 5 doors down, the other side of town, up the land and down, MILLIONS of people are going through what you’re going through, or have come out of it, or are about to get into it. All with the same guilty secret. All thinking it’s all their fault.

How could MILLIONS of people all made the same set of mistakes?

How could MILLIONS of people made such bad choices?

Is everyone stupid? Are we all idiots?

Of course not! We’ve been SCAMMED. We’ve been HAD. And the government, the regulators, the loan companies, the City investors, the banks, the insurers – they’ve all been in on it.

THE JOKE’S OVER

It’s time to sort things out. Debt is nothing to be ashamed of and is too big a thing to be suffered alone.

East Bristol Debtors Alliance was set up to provide a place where anyone can come and tell their story, and to hear the stories of others just like them, and to realise they are not alone.

We can also offer practical support to show you how to get back in control of your finances, how you can make your creditors agree to settlements you can afford, and how you can avoid following bad ‘advice’ from debt consolidators and other sharks.

We can also stand beside you when things get tough. Bailiffs, evictions, court appearances – we’ll make sure you’re not alone, and also keep an eye out for anything underhand or illegal.

We can show you how joining together can make us all stronger and able to deal with any problem we face: debt, racism, climate change, poverty. All we need is to come together and work out how to change.

JOIN THE REBEL ALLIANCE!

Whether you’re facing debt problems, have faced them in the past, or think you might be facing them in the future, come down to our drop-in and support each other. We operate a drop-in every first and third Thursday of the month at Kebele Social Centre. If you can’t make it to the drop-in, please take a minute to contact us, and we will make sure you’re kept informed of any ways you can help in your area. If you have an urgent debt problem, we may be able to meet up and offer support. Email or phone us, and we’ll try and get back to you within 24hrs.

VISIT US

Kebele Social Centre, 14 Robertson Road, Easton: 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, 7-9pm.

CALL US

07878 384439

Leave a message and we’ll try to call you back within 24hrs.

EMAIL US

info@eb-da.org

Leave a message and we’ll try to reply within 24hrs.