My Huge Dirty Secret – How one girl racked up £20k credit card debt and embarked on a no spend year to pay it off.

My Huge Dirty Secret – How one girl racked up £20k credit card debt and embarked on a no spend year to pay it off.

Hello lovely

By now you’ll know I love to set goals and then go get them. At the beginning of 2016 I set myself some big, overarching goals without much clarity on how I would achieve them. I wanted to learn to love myself, live my life on my terms, discover my truth and stand in it every day, and create a feeling of freedom.

Over the past 18 months that has resulted in:

✅   Losing 4 stone in weight
✅   Walking hundreds of miles
✅   Letting go of several relationships
✅   3 new jobs
✅   70% pay increase
✅   Two house moves
✅   Over 270 hours of audiobooks and several paperbacks
✅   Unknown hours of YouTube videos, TedTalks and live events
✅   And a shit-tonne of conversations about mental health and wellbeing

I think it’s fair to say I’ve had an epic 18 months and my goals are starting to materialise in big ways. Since January 2016 I’ve refined my big goals a little more. I want to:

1.   Be financially free
2.   Minimise my impact on the environment
3.   Wander around the globe
4.   Own only what I can carry in my backpack

Even more specifically, I want to hike the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).

There are many steps I need to take before I set foot on the PCT and before my financial and geographical freedom can begin.

Not only do I need to learn to read a map, practice wild camping and hike several hundred more miles with a few kgs on my back, I also need to pay off my debt.

Yep. Brace yourself for a revelation… I have credit cards that total £20k.

I’ll pause here for you to pick your jaw up from the floor.

How the F did I manage to acquire £20k worth of debt?! Well I’m only just learning the finer details of that, but broadly speaking – a failed photography business (more on that another time) and an insatiable thirst for knowledge (university and other courses), coupled with no financial education and something I now understand to be called compound interest!

Oh and a healthy dose of burying my head in the sand. Ostrich style.

Since embarking on my journey towards knowing myself better and loving myself more, levelling up my mindset and living life on my terms, I’ve recently discovered money plays a huge part in all of this.

Our money stories are serious. We all have a relationship with money and it is so important in unlocking everything!

Money is such a taboo subject and wrought with emotion for so many people. But we all need it to survive. So I’ve been working on my money story and getting clear on my financial goals. And I’ve been working on that inner dialogue that tells me it’s shameful to speak of money, in the hope that it will help me on my journey to financial freedom.

And it turns out, I’m not alone! Some shocking statistics** for you…

In the UK credit card debt is at a record high of £66.7bn

There are 65 million people in the UK. About 33 million of those are of working age (16-65yo), which means on average we have £2,000 credit card debt each

Consumer credit (which includes credit cards, car loans and second mortgages) is at about £192bn. In September 2008 when the banks crashed our level of debt was £208bn.

(I’m no economist but the banks crashed because of the level of bad debt, so this is a bit worrying… (Watch The Big Short (2015). It’s really interesting, entertaining, and Ryan Gosling is in it. #winning))

AND (there’s more) in November 2016 the level of debt grew at its fastest rate in 11 years, by a mammoth 10.8% (!)

I’m only just getting started on this journey, so I thought I’d bring you along for the ride. Because if I’ve learnt anything about shame from my experience of depression and anxiety, it’s that actually we are all experiencing similar things, and it helps to talk about it. Everyone struggles with money. So I’m going to start talking about it.

Sharing this journey with you as I go along is actually quite new and scary for me. Usually I don’t talk about something until after I have fixed it. But this time I thought I would try doing it a different way.

I’ve been uncovering my money mindset since January this year. Most recently I’ve been educating myself on money, economics and finances. And as with most things, it’s started slow and is now building momentum. Snowballing even. I’m obsessed.

The latest money magic to have happened to me is this book – The No Spend Year by Michelle McGagh.

no spend year, michelle mcgagh

Minimalism has been something I’ve been embracing more and more since January 2016 when I moved (move number 1). Packing and unpacking are the worst. And as you’ll see from above, I want to eventually own only what I can carry on my back. (I know, I’m extreme.)

I’m also a huge fan of the environment and minimising my impact upon it (plastic obsession – anyone?!)

So a no spend year appeals to me on all of those levels.

But primarily it presents a massive opportunity to get out of debt! (Please note I haven’t factored my student loan into this. One step at a time eh!)

As I mention in my free eBook, achieving your goals is scientifically more likely when you write them down and share them with friends, so…

No spend year sianpeters.me

I hereby commit to a no spend year. A year of not spending anything on non-essentials. And in so doing, I pledge to put all of the money I don’t spend, towards paying off my credit cards foreverrrrrrrr.

See.
Written down ^^^ ✅
Shared with friends (you) ✅

So now I can’t fail, right?!

Well here goes. Wish me luck. You’ll be hearing plenty more about this in the coming months I’m sure.

**References:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jan/04/uk-credit-cards-borrowing-debt-economic-crash-fears
https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/bulletins/uklabourmarket/2015-04-17

3 Comments

  1. 20/06/2017 / 4:51 pm

    This is so informative and inspirational! Keep up the wonderful work.

    • sianpeters
      Author
      20/06/2017 / 4:53 pm

      Thank you Kerry-Ann! Really appreciate your comment and encouragement =)

      • 20/06/2017 / 5:45 pm

        Absolutely soul sister! I love the work you are doing. ❤️