Ok, so I have a slight confession to make. I have an addiction and no matter how hard I try I just can’t seem to knock it on the head. I’ve tried self-help books, groups and even therapy but the need to buy a new pair of shoes just keeps on biting me on the butt.
Now I know I am not on my own here, many women struggle to curb their addiction to shopping. Whether it’s a new handbag, shoes or even make-up, a woman needs to feel special; and I achieve that by spending my last penny on a brand new pair of peep toe beauties.
So you can imagine my delight when the store assistant smiled at me from behind the counter and spoke the words I never thought I would hear, “Would you like to take out one of our store cards and save 20% in store today?” Erm, yes, was my reply. And to add to my ecstasy I proceeded to find out that the card was interest free for the first three months. I very nearly fainted there and then. This is the sort of thing that dreams are made of!
But then I realized that three months passes rather quickly, especially when you spend all of your spare time in different shopping centers eyeing up the latest addition to your wardrobe. As the interest mounted up, so did the purchases and it wasn’t long before I realized that I could not afford the repayments. Panic hit me so hard in the face that I don’t think I even let the news sink in before wailing uncontrollably; a broken woman who only has 200 pair of shoes to show for it!
And then came the letters, demanding payment before a certain date, I seriously began to worry. Bailiffs don’t feature high up on my wish list. Neither do CCJ’s or court hearings. However that was all I was hearing and thinking about.
Once the debt is passed onto debt collectors that’s when you’re in trouble; I certainly did. Suddenly the shoes stopped flying in, the new belt had to be sacrificed and the gorgeous matching bag was just a dream. In reality, my life had turned into a nightmare.
The more letters I received, the more severe the punishment. Desperation can cause people to behave in mysterious ways and this case was no different. It seemed like such a good idea to bury my head in the sand, pretend that the problem didn’t exist and that this was just something that would blow over in the near future. Then a friend mentioned the ‘B’ word to me. Yes people, the ‘B’ word! BANKRUPTCY! My store cards were going to leave me bankrupt!
However, after speaking to a few professionals who assured me that this would not happen, I began to face up to what I had done. With my tail between my legs I finally contacted the debt company, my voice shaking and my palms sweaty. I explained the error of my ways (in a sense anyway) and asked if they could come to any agreement, after all, there was no way I could afford to pay back the full amount. To my disbelief the woman on the other end of the phone (who was Scottish I seem to remember) was extremely polite and helpful.
During a 20 minute conversation we had agreed on a monthly fixed payment over a period of 16 months and she had even agreed to write off the additional interest that had been added since they had the account. BONUS!
Although my debts are now cleared, the temptation to spend more than I have on meaningful items of clothing is still well and truly there, lurking in the back of my mind. However, the above has taught me to never be in that situation again. Whilst every girl cannot be denied the odd purchase here and there, excessive spending will only end in tears.
Oh and by the way, most of the shoes are now sitting in charity shop windows. Easy come, easy go I suppose.
This is a guest post by Nicola Winters on behalf of Cooper Matthews who provide straight forward insolvency advice for businesses.