I had been in debt for ages on credit cards. I had to go bankrupt. Then one member of my family got very ill, my mum and my partner were diagnosed with cancer, and I found out I had an immune system disorder.
Quids in! reader Karina has been telling us how her money worries showed no mercy when illness struck at the heart of her family. She is now a survivor and believes her decision to conquer her finances has made a big difference to her wellbeing.
With millions still paying off huge Christmas debts, it may sound crazy but it’s time to be thinking ahead and creating a war-chest to plunder so the good times aren’t tainted by crippling debt. Good habits like saving ahead can also mean happier holidays or less strife when life throws us a curve-ball, like flood damage or car breakdown.
Karina explains that it can be daunting to start: I had to change my mind set. I wanted to be able to help my children and take time off if I needed to go and nurse anyone.
The truth is that on paper, I didn’t have enough money to start saving. So I decided to save first and then stretch everything else out. I started using all the leftovers, getting creative in the kitchen and shopping less often.
I set a goal of £1,000. I checked on moneysavingexpert.com and looked at gas and electric companies. I found I could get a cheaper rate without even switching my supplier and £150 cash back. I looked at where I had been charged for electricity for work men in my house and asked for the whole amount from my housing association… I was pretty shocked when they gave it to me!
It turned out I’d over-paid water and got a surprise cheque in the post. It was like the flow had turned the other way.
I opened a credit union account that you could only get money out if you gave notice, so no impulse buys.
I remember the day when I got my first £1000 I actually did a bit of a victory song and dance. I called the credit union and got them to tell me what I had in the bank so I could hear it.
According to research by debt charity StepChange, savings of £1,000 would prevent half a million people from falling into borrowing they cannot afford in an emergency. They say 13 million people would fall behind with bills in less than a month if their income dropped by a quarter.