Martin Lewis: Debt desperation to happy homeowner in 8 years
No matter how dire your money situation seems, there is always hope. Things may never be perfect, but they can improve and taking action is the best way to make that happen. The team recently forwarded me an email from Jay, which exemplifies that in beautiful technicolour detail. And Jay has now kindly given me permission to reproduce it.
I think though I may've been slightly allergic to what he wrote… as my eyes were watering a little after I read it! A joyous side-effect of my job is that whether on social media or in person, many people say thank you for the information. It's always delightful, though as an Englishman I still haven't worked out how to react other than being a wee bit embarrassed. Yet this particular emailed 'thank you' cut through more than most.
So here are Jay's words, totally unedited (though I've added some key links in, so those who are inspired can take action). Of course, while he graciously thanks me, much of the work is the MSE team's, and the real credit for his success is due to Jay himself...
I just wanted to take the time to personally thank you for all advice and guidance you have given me through your website and TV show over the years and let you know just how much you have helped!
About 8 years ago I was in a terrible financial state (all my own doing). I had 3 maxed out credit cards, a loan I could not afford to pay back and an enormous overdraft, of which the fees kept me in an inescapable cycle of working all month just to pay charges and interest and more debt (not an uncommon story I know)! The stress this brought and the affect it had on my life was massive.
It was at this point I decided to get my act together and a friend pointed me toward your website.
The first challenge was to stop the extortionate overdraft fees which were costing me up to £300 a month! So, armed with your reclaim guide and template letters, I went about putting a stop to the charges and eventually got a cheque from Lloyds to tune of £3500!
This is solely down to your guidance as I would’ve settled way before I got my eventual offer, with a court date nearing all the time, but your advice was to hold on and that they would blink first (they finally caved three days before we were due in court).
This was enough to get me out of the overdraft fees cycle, but I still needed to stop the missed payments for my loan and credit cards. For this your advice was to contact StepChange (CCCS at the time) who would go on to contact all my lenders, freeze all interest and set up one affordable payment for me, all for no charge!
With this in place, over the next two years I was able to pay back all my debt until a point where I was finally debt free.
I was now able to build my credit rating, and over the past 6 years, again with your guidance, I have managed to see my rating change from ‘very poor’ to ‘excellent’ with my last Experian score a healthy 970/999.
I did this by, firstly, getting a credit card for people with bad credit, buying all my petrol with it, then paying it off IN FULL at the end of every month. I was then able to graduate to a 0% balance transfer card to carry on the work. Alongside this, I budgeted like a madman and had an Excel spreadsheet for every financial eventuality.
After a few years of doing this, I became so attuned to spending less than I earned, I now even have savings! Because of this, I am now in the position to buy my own house. This is once again down the fact I have been following your advice.
But that’s not all you have done. In the past few years, you have also helped me and my partner claim back over £2500 in PPI charges and over £1000 in packaged bank account fees. You have even helped me claim back £7 a month from the taxman for uniform cleaning!
So thank you Martin, for helping me take control of my finances and my life. I now live comfortably with my family in my own home with a new car and a 2020 summer holiday I’ve already paid off!
None of this would be possible without your website, built on the back of all your own personal hard work. In crazy times such as these, it’s comforting to know there’s someone looking out for us!
P.S. You couldn’t take a stab at Brexit next could you?!”
Do feel free to let me know your best savings via the comments below.