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.
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.
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.