I had my first conversation with Melanie Giles's office in October 2012 after getting to the point where our level of debt was getting completely out of control - my husband's business had almost collapsed several years earlier, I had become unexpectedly pregnant with my 3rd child in 2005 and issues with my 2nd child meant that I wasn't able to work for several years. By 2012, after several years of poor income and the after effects of interest payments on credit cards that we were using simply to survive, we decided that something had to give.
We didn't want to go bankrupt and lose our house and everything we had worked for, so after much agonising we decided to go down the IVA route. I spoke to Tina at Melanie Giles, we sent off all our paperwork and had several conversations and a few weeks later we went to Cardiff for a meeting in Melanie in December 2012. Our IVA proposals were prepared and our creditor meetings were set for 4th January 2013. I took the day off to wait for the call and when Mark called to say they had been accepted, I broke down in tears as I was so relieved.
So our IVA journey started in earnest that day and December 2017 will be our 60th payment, 5 long years! Our IVA's have been extended for another 12 months in lieu of equity but we very much feel that we are really on the home straight now and the finishing line is in sight. Melanie Giles and her office (now PJG) have been absolutely brilliant over the past 5 years, answering all the questions we had and being flexible when we have requested two payment breaks and making the experience much less stressful than it could have been.
The last 5 years have indeed been difficult and the next year will be no less of a struggle but I know that we have both learned valuable lessons along the way and my monthly budgeting spreadsheet and our recording of every single penny spent will continue long after our IVA's have completed. We have told nobody about our IVA's and we are sick of being seen as the "poor relations" and I'm sure my family wonder why we never have any money even though we both appear to earn quite a lot but we have worked hard and budgeted well to make sure that our IVA's don't negatively impact us or our children too much. Obviously we are very much looking forward to January 2019 when we will have no more IVA payments to make and our bank account will be £800 better off each month but we have learned not to rely on borrowing - we haven't had an overdraft since October 2012 and can honestly say will never have one again even if we manage to get one after the IVA's.
Only 13 more months and then we will be free to get on with the rest of our financial lives, it won't be spend, spend, spend as we will then be looking to pay down our secured loan/mortgage in order to move and be mortgage-free in around 7 years time and this would not have been possible if we had been stuck in the credit cycle that most people appear to have become caught in these days. I sincerely believe that we will emerge in January 2019 as better people because of the journey we have had to take over the past 5 years - that's not to say I am glad that we had to go into IVA's, but more that we have tried to make it a positive experience and learn from it all.
So I just wanted to say to all the newbies, it may seem like a mountain ahead of you but you just have to focus on the endgame, note down everything you spend, have a monthly budget spreadsheet so all money in and out is written down and you can see where maybe you can squeeze out the occasional meal or day out to keep you sane. The last 5 years have gone very quickly for us, we have had good times and some very bad times but we have always tried to be as happy as we can and enjoy life and not let our IVA's define us - in the end it is just money, you will be remembered for your personality, kindness and zest for life, not that you were in an IVA!
Sorry for the length of this post but I just wanted to say Good Luck to everyone, stay strong and see you out the other side!!
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