My Experience of Dealing with Debt

3) To Go Bankrupt or Not

As you know from getting this far I paid off my debts and I think all told it probably took between about 6 years to do this, although I don’t remember exactly how long having been able to put this period of time kind of in the past, I will explain more in a minute. Now I could have gone bankrupt and there were many times I wished that I had especially when relatives would come around with the latest phone or tablet and I couldn’t even get a phone contract let alone a fancy smart phone.

But having to go through paying off my debts, whilst painful also had some benefits. Firstly I now have a healthier respect for money, knowing both how hard it is to come by but also how easy it can go. I also realise that money doesn’t guarantee happiness; in fact some of my happiest times during those hard years was doing things which didn’t cost any money and finding bargains. I also learned to get by with very little and also the benefit of not buying something on the spur of the moment. So many times I wanted some thing but put off buying it and before the week was over realised that in truth I didn’t want it. I now realise that what I wanted was to feel better by buying something without worrying even though if I had I would have ended up annoyed at myself for buying something I didn’t need.

And for me I have learned that I don’t need to use credit cards to buy things, preferring to save up first if it is some thing I can’t afford. Yes, whilst I know when used sensibly credit cards are not a bad thing I can say that I am happy that I don’t own one even though I now could as I don’t have that temptation at hand.

It was a long hard road paying off my debts but some of what I learned in doing so I doubt I would have ever learned if I had gone bankrupt and in a strange way there is a part of me which is grateful from having to learn these lessons.

One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth – Proverbs 13:7 (NIV)

4) The Aftermath

There is some thing else which I need to mention and that is the aftermath of having been in debt. For many years, before I reconnected with my faith, I carried that shame with me of being a financial failure, that my life was defined by the mistakes of the past even though those days are long behind me. This is where I need to give a shout out to former American football linebacker Bryan Schwartz who I saw on TV one night being interviewed as he was talking about how even after becoming a Christian he had issues. And it is because of what he said that I handed my shame over to God and I can honestly say that God took that shame that I was holding on to and stopped it from defining me, trust me if he hadn’t you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.

But there is another issue I have found from years of paying off debt and living on the minimum, I stopped going out and used every spare penny I had to pay down my debt. Trouble is that having done that I have found myself happiest when I am at home rather than socialising with people and now days I find socialising hard, especially when I don’t like paying over the odds for a cup of coffee or a meal out. As such if I had to relive those debt years all over again the one thing I would do differently is to say that a small % of the money I had was for going out and being social as now I face the battle of almost learning how to be sociable again and not to be so introverted, yes it sounds strange but it is true.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

So that is my story of dealing with debt, a painful experience but one which I realise I have come out the other side of stronger in many ways, although with areas I still need to work on. As such if you have got to this point because you have debt which you are either running from or trying to deal with I can tell you that there is hope at the end of the tunnel and the best thing you can do is to seek help from someone or a professional organization who know how to deal with debt collection agencies and banks.

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