April 29th, 2008

Nothing to do with me or hubby but his brother and sister in law. 

Like most people, when you finally get the nod for your iva being approved, you check the iva register.  We did, and found out a little more information then intended.  Hubbys brother and sister-in-law have an iva.  Obviously his brother has the same surname and as I never put in his first initial, it brought their names up too.  They started their iva a 8 months before we did but at the time we didnt realise they were struggling.  Now though, things add up, ie suddenly changing bank accounts, not having a credit card so borrowing ours to register for some services etc etc.  They have never told us they have an iva.  Then again, we never told them.  His brother has always maintained they took out a loan to pay off all their debts and how their debt would be cleared within 5 years!

This in itself is nothing new.  We told the same story to some people!  However, their iva is still ongoing, they have another 6 months to go.  Again, nothing wrong with that.  BUT…. they have recently told us that they are planning on buying a house (end of this year of course) but what astounds me how much of a mortgage they want to get.  It would mean monthly payments of £1600.  Well, at the moment anyway, based on 7% interest rate.  Also, they want to buy a new car (on finance!) for £6000 and a motorbike for £2000.   Not only that, but they have already put down a deposit (£1,000) borrowed from family for their new house that will be ready this time next year!! 

 There is obviously nothing wrong with wanting to do this and I do wish them and hope that everyting works out for them but it is just so frightening on how much they want to spend and so quickly.  It makes me shudder to think they are doing this without giving themselves breathing space after the iva has concluded.  We would love to buy our own house but its been 6 months since hubbys F&F settlement and we are still enjoying this time without any kind of debt hanging over us (apart from paying back MIL of course).  We have looked into buying a house and contacted Welshboy (recommended by Lesley and of course this site) but that was to sound out our options and if it was any way feasible for us to be able to afford a mortgage.  We have no definite plans and most likely, given the housing market at the moment, wont get a mortgage for a year or two anyway.  We have yet to hear back from him but I know that Melanie posted to say his dad passed away recently so I am certainly not going to be hassling him for a reply.  I know that a search has been done on our credit files as part of this (not good reading) but I was honest with Tony and he is aware that we are still having problems with one of hubbys creditors (default registered).  You might be thinking how can we get a deposit together……. hubby being in the armed forces means that he will get some help with that (approximately £8000) to help with all the fees and stamp duty etc.  Also there are a couple of schemes in place to help with deposits or grants as they call them. 

We have just found out however, one of the schemes is no good because apparently the company you go through arranges the mortgage as part of the deal and they only use high street banks, ie Abbey, Barclays etc so that counts us out.  Pity they dont put that little bit of important information on their forms etc.  Still waiting on the other one but it probably is too good to be true.  Their grants range from 8 to 15% of the purchase price depending on the locations etc etc.  We are in no hurry though so whenever it happens, it happens, if it does happen that is!!

Runner Up!!

April 29th, 2008

Just wanted to say thank you to Andy and the team for voting me runner up in the blog of the Month!!  I am gobsmacked!  I nearly cried when I read the email.  I have never done a blog before and nearly gave up with it because I was having problems setting one up but Lesley as I can call her now (isthereanend!) gave me all the help that I needed.  Cant believe though that I came runner up to Lesley though!!  I even msn’d her the day I got the email from Andy to let her know and congratulate her as I thought she would have got the Blog of the Month.  She thought she didnt because she hadnt received an email.  She finally realised (what I had already known deep down) was that she did in fact receive an email but it arrived in her junk folder!!  I dont mind coming second to Lesley really.  She really deserves it after everything she has been through.  I did try and persuade her that we should put our vouchers together and share them out but she wasnt having any of it!!  If you dont ask, you dont get!!  Spent my vouchers the day they arrived!


March 19th, 2008


I knew that creditors could if they wanted to issue a default notice after you started your IVA, even 4 years after, thus impairing your credit files even longer until the default then dropped off but certainly dont expect a default after you have concluded the IVA!!!

After we concluded the IVA early with a full and final settlement in September, we thought we would leave it a couple of months or so for the credit reference agencies to update hubbys files etc.  Admitedly it is a  little longer than a couple of months but yesterday we received notification of a change of activity on the files so I checked last night and found that Barclaycard have recorded a default as of 1 March 2008!!

Hubby owed Barclaycard £922 and just before the IVA started, the debt was sold on to Max Recovery.  Max Recovery have also rightly reported on the files and registered a default dated 9 December 2005 – the start of our IVA and shows as now satisfied.  I really dont understand why Barclaycard are reporting and why they have recorded a default notice and still show £922 as outstanding!  I know that we will have to write to both Barclaycard and the credit agencies about it but why still report when the debt was sold on??!!  I have posted on the forum so hopefully someone can advise whats the best way to go about this!

Just when we thought we had got ourselves on an even keel again!

March 18th, 2008

Had a few minutes spare so thought I would ramble for a bit!  Husband on a one day course today preparing for his 3 day assessment to see if he is suitable for life with a commission!  Found out yesterday that while he is going through the initial7 months officer training, we are technically not entitled to married quarters!  Bit of a shock to say the least!  Then to top it all off, the rent is more expensive in officers quarters (and not necessarily better standards!)  This on top of his officers mess fees and of course all the dining in nights and associated costs which are also compulsory. 

I still cant get over the fact that we are now IVA free.  If we werent, then my husband wouldnt have been able to go for his commission because we couldnt have afforded the life that it comes with!

I see that most if not all 100% and definitely all 125% mortgages have been withdrawn.  We were possibly looking into buying sometime towards the end of the year/beginning of next but the way things are, we are going to wait until things hopefully settle down.  I couldnt but help think of those people who are in that unfortunate position of having a mortgage, especially if their fixed rate is due to expire.  Its a very worrying time.

This site is brilliant not just for debt/money advice but also personal!  I posted a while back for advice on a new career path and scaredkez helped out.  Well, following her advice, I have now decided to withdraw from that technology course (just received confirmation that I have a conditional place).  I am a little stuck because of my location and the fact that there is absolutely no universities close enough offering the right courses.  However, once hubby has finished his officer training (notice I said when and not if – positive thinking) we will have to move again and it should be in the direction of Lincoln/Sheffield sort of way so theres an option for me there.  Timescales are against me on this one but I will succeed……………….. somehow!!

The Future?

March 16th, 2008

Well, what can I say about the future?  Not sure.  One thing is for sure, my husband is still here!  (although I quite like a tidy house when he is away!!)  Last October we moved to a new base 200 miles away in the East Midlands area.  He was then due to go to Afghanistan in the November.  However, the bosses in their wisdom, decided he should go on yet another course which will not finish until May.  After that, who knows what will happen, because we certainly dont.  It is still possible he could get a crash posting overseas but it is highly unlikely (fingers crossed) as he is pursuing a commission.

Since our IVA was concluded his pay has gone up a level and in April will hopefully get the annual cost of living increase.  At the moment, it is an extra £50 per month.  Before the IVA in the days of free spending we would not necessarily have noticed this increase, but it has certainly made a difference now!  I am now starting to put it aside for Christmas (I have never ever thought about Christmas this early on in the year). 

I still find it amazing that money can have such an effect on us when we go shopping.  Like most people in an IVA comment, you watch people at the tills handing over their credit cards and I find myself thinking what kind of life they are leading.  Is it a life lived in hiding from statements each month, keeping that dreaded secret from loved ones, or a life juggling one payment after another or is it simply irresponsible spending.  Gosh I sound like my grandparents!  But its true, having money troubles and living that life in fear of the postman delivering statements and demand letters does make you think like that.

Life Post IVA: Sept 07 – Present

March 15th, 2008

Since September 2007, our lives have changed forever.  An IVA was the best option open to us and yes we found it extremely hard most of the time, it taught us how to deal with money again.  We now respect money.

The feeling I get when I hand over my cash card at a till is one I cannot describe.  I just know that its OUR money.  Yes we are still paying back my husbands mum but we have control.  We have actually overpaid her some months and hopefully we will finish paying it off by the end of the year (a whole 12 months sooner than if we still had the IVA). 

None of this would have been possible however if we had not stumbled across the IVA.co.uk forum.  The site was an inspiration to us.  We never knew that we had a choice over our IPs in the beginning, that things like medical and optical expenses could be part of the budget, the fact that other people were in the same boat as us or even that we could end our IVA early. 

We thought we were alone with our problems but I know now there are many thousands of people out there going through the same journey we did.   I found a very valuable friend through this forum when we were proposing our F&F and she was in the preliminary stages of proposing an IVA.  We just clicked and I can never thank her enough for helping me emotionally and for keeping me sane.  We have since met and we probably contact each other most days. 

I know that we were very fortunate to be in the position to offer a full and final settlement where most people are not and some people take the harder decision to go bankrupt.  These people have my full admiration and respect as it is not an easy decision to reach and it is not something that I think we could have done, even if an option. 

Everyones story is different, some find an IVA a struggle, others seem to breeze through but I truly hope that people reading this will realise that it is possible to have an IVA and come out of the other side smiling.  This will hopefully give people the strength to carry on knowing that being debt free is an extremely tremendous reward for 5 or even 6 years of not feeling that your life is your own, that your spending is scrutinised at every turn.  But it is worth it whatever path people decide, as long as you can say you have tried your best then there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about.

End in Sight?: May 07 – Sept 07

March 15th, 2008

During the 2 years that we had the IVA, we had our ups and downs like most people.  We had the months where we just could not afford even the cheapest of bread and had to raid the depths of the freezer for anything that would resemble food.  Then we had the months where things were rolling along nicely and things were finally starting to look up as we had to keep reminding ourselves that we were almost half way there.

However, little did we know that my husbands job would do it again!  It was announced in May 2007 that he would be going to Afghanistan in the November.  This was a major blow to us even though it was expected at some time, its always one of those things that seems to happen to everyone else.  It was the moment I dreaded most but somehow and I am still not over it, this point proved to be the turning point in our IVA journey.  The news of my husbands departure was a low point with the what ifs etc and it was during this low point that he contacted his mum and told her all about our worries and eventually the conversation ended up with money.  Ashamed and mortified, we told her the whole sordid story of us spending money we didnt have, just because we could and the bubble finally burst.  She promptly rang off and there are no words to describe how my husband felt when she did that.  Yet literally 2 minutes later she rang us back offering us money to pay off our debts. 

We have never seen eye to eye, his mum and me, but I now have renewed respect for her.  This was a woman that always argued with me yet she was willing to put her life savings on the line for us.  I will never be able to forget this and will always be grateful to her for giving us that one chance to put our mistakes behind us.

The process was very quick after that and our creditors meeting was set for 17 September 2007.  My husband seemed really calm compared to me.  I was a complete wreck, cant remember sleeping or eating the day before the meeting, I paced the living room until the small hours while he snored upstairs!  Typical!

The meeting was set for 10 am and at 11 I rang up to be told that they wait for the end of the end of the day to make sure all votes are in etc before they say whether it was accepted or not.  Panic set in big style with all the questions setting in.  Why the delay?  All I could think about was some of the creditors had said no and they were trying to get the votes in.  Yet another sleepless night.  At 10 am the following morning, I received the call I had waited so long for.  Our final offer of £11,500 had been accepted!  Again I broke down!  With the payments already made, our creditors would receive 33 p in the £ on an original debt of £62,000. The next 2 weeks were spent on cloud 9.  I just could not believe that what seemed like a very long journey starting way back in 1998 was soon to be over.  We could finally say that we owe noone any money!

IVA Days: Jul 04 – May 07

March 15th, 2008

Things came to a major crunch in July 2004.  It was my brothers wedding in the August and I found myself taking £10 out from one credit card, £20 from another etc, just to get enough money together to buy a wedding present.  My 3 daugthers and a new addition a son, were bridesmaid and pageboy and I couldnt afford to help towards their outfits.  Luckily my mum stepped in although she didnt realise why I couldnt afford to. 

It finally dawned on us the day we returned from my brothers wedding that we could no longer continue the way we were.  We arrived home to some frightening credit card statements and the minimum payments were horrendous.  Until this point, we had never heard of an IVA and all we could think about was my husband could not go bankrupt as he would lose his job.  We found a debt solutions company on line and gave them a ring.  Until this point, we had absolutely no idea how much we owed to the various credit cards and loans and to say we were gobsmacked is a complete understatement.  We owed just over £60,000!  How the heck did we ever get in this mess?  The guy we spoke to was very gentle with us and gave us all the options available but advised us that an IVA would be the best way to proceed.

And this is when our IVA journey began.  A couple of weeks later we were put in touch with our IP company and to us this was it.  We had to do this or risk going bankrupt.  Our creditors meeting was set for 9 December 2004.  We were still in shock as how we had managed to rack up such horrendous debts and to be honest, we could not think of one single thing we had to show for it.  The day loomed and after a very nervous and nail biting wait, I got the phonecall to say my husbands IVA had been approved, subject to modifications.  To be honest I couldnt recall the modifications because as soon as they had said it had been approved, I broke down and agreed to everything.  They were standard ones to do with the 50% uplift and windfalls etc, so I was lucky there wasnt an increase of contributions or anything.  Could have been a lesson learnt the hard way!

I cannot say that being in an IVA was easy, far from it.  We struggled from day 1!  At the time, we didnt have a clue about filling out the income/expenditure forms and it was an extremely strict budget we had set.  We were just desperate to get the IVA approved regardless.  Shopping proved the hardest task.  Some weeks I only had £50 to feed a family of 6 and this included nappies for my son as well as washing powder, toiletries etc.  Just buying nappies etc wiped out a 1/5 of my budget.  It was nigh on impossible but somehow I did it.  I cant say it was a healthy meal we had at times but at least we ate and we had a roof over our heads.  Some people have contingency fund built into their budget, we didnt.  I never had any spare money left over at the end of the month.  What I did have left over meant that for a couple of days we could actually have a shops own branded bread rather than their extra value.  This was the excitment and highlight of the month.  Spending that extra £2 or £3 on “luxury” food.  Crumbs, how things have changed.  Before the IVA I doubt I even looked at the prices of what I was buying.

Our first Christmas was interesting!  We made sure that the children got some presents and we went without.  My husband bought me a pack of wooden pegs and I got him a pack of Asdas Jaffa Cakes but it wasnt an unhappy Christmas, far from it.  It was still full of love and magic for the children and seeing their faces when they found out that Father Christmas had visited was enough to remind us that yes we had made the right decision for the right reasons.

Life Before an IVA: Jan 98 – July 04

March 15th, 2008

Our IVA journey starts way back in August 2004.  Our debt problems however started to build up when my husband and I first got together in 1998.  My husband had previously owned a house and this was sold as part of a divorce settlement.  What money he had left over was used to buy our first house together.  Looking back on it now, we bought the first house that we really liked but then again being 5 months pregnant with twins, we didnt have time to search properly.  We both had our own debts before we got together and this coupled with the high mortgage, me leaving my job and down to one income, things started to get tight.

We struggled from day one in our new house but we were determined to make it work.  I went into the hospital to be induced for the twins at the beginning of February 1999 and the day I was being induced, my husband (a serving member of the Armed Forces) received notificationt that he was to attend a 12 month course nearly 250 miles away in Portsmouth.  We had been waiting for this course for nearly a year as it would mean promotion, until we read the start date.  Less than 9 weeks away!   As we were not married at the time, I could not accompany him unless we sold up and bought a house there.  However, it was 99% certain that we would then have to move back again once the course had ended so we took the very hard decision for me to stay where I was with the twins while Harry commuted at the weekends. 

Also because we werent married, we wouldnt be entitled to travelling costs and we had to pay for all his food and accommodation charges whilst he stayed in Portsmouth.   This extra cost we covered by using credit cards and getting out a secured loan.

The course finished 3 days before the twins first birthday in February 2000.  We got married 2 months later (paid for by our secured loan) and 6 weeks later I found out I was pregnant again!  We had also heard that my husband had been offered promotion yet again in a more technical role but this would mean another course, this time 3 years.  We looked at renting out our house and moving into married quarters in Portsmouth for the 3 years as there was absolutely no way I was going through the hell of living on my own and only seeing him every weekend.  Unfortunately the rent would not have covered mortgage so we made the decision to sell.  It was a hard decision but we thought at the time that the money we would make on selling, we could use to clear our debts and basically start again. 

How we were so so wrong!   It too forever to sell and we had already moved to Portsmouth.   Yes, we eventually sold the house, but no we didnt make any money!  We just about had enough to pay off the legal and estate agent fees but that was it.  We managed to get rid of the secured loan by getting an unsecured one for the same amount but we still had that plus credit cards and catalogue bills to pay.

Moving into married quarters we thought would solve all our problems (nothing like putting your head in the sand!).  Rent was obviously cheaper than our old mortgage but for a couple of months we were paying this plus our mortgage and having 3 children our outgoings had increased.  We slipped into that deathly trap of using credit cards to supplement our living and on occasions to pay for essential bills.  This went on for another 4 years, not forgetting the loans that we had taken out in the meantime.