This week I read the story on the BBC of a woman whose father committed suicide because of his debts. It’s an interesting piece – but, having been through that process, there’s something just Not Quite Right about it too.
I know lots of people – particularly middle-aged men – hide their heads in the sand when it comes to debts and so on, in the seeming hope that it’ll all just go away. (Spoiler Alert – It never does)
In this case, the man ended up being declared bankrupt by the local council, as he couldn’t keep up payments having missed one. (And the council behaved shockingly badly, even for local authorities – I know that if I’ve ever had a problem, I’ve got in touch and it’s all been easily sorted. But of course, you have to get in touch)
According to the story, once he missed a payment, the council billed him for the whole year at once. (Again, I’ve received that letter, but then got in touch and got it sorted down to a new monthly amount that accounted for the missed payment to be spread over the remaining payments) He couldn’t afford the full year, so just didn’t pay anything – and kept on not paying anything. (There is also a quite stunning degree of stupidity going on here, but I do semi-understand the mindset)
Where I get really twitchy about the story, though, is after he’s declared bankrupt. Supposedly, the court-appointed trustees for the debt – and this is where he and I differ, in that he was declared bankrupt by someone else, where I declared myself – super-loaded the entire thing with extra charges, which is something that simply didn’t happen with my own Payments Agreement. From the article…
Straight away he was charged £3,800 in something called “statutory interest”, which took his debt to about £15,500. But that was just the start. Over the next three years my dad actually paid £15,000 to the trustees appointed to collect the debt – the accounting and consultancy firm, BDO – but over the same period the bill from the trustees grew to £72,000.(c) BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-45581526
Whatever was happening, that was iniquitous – but I don’t know what it was about. When I got my agreement, it was the amount remaining from my income after all the bills and expenses had gone. I paid that amount for three years, and that was it. No further charges, no ‘statutory interest’, nothing. The only other thing I had had to pay was the court fees, which came to £700-odd, from memory. That was it.
Yes, I paid any extra income for three years – but that figure was set at the start of the process, and only changed if my situation did. The entire process was clean, fair, and the best thing I ever did. Obviously I’d have preferred to not be in the situation where I needed to go through that process, but there we go – hindsight is a wonderful thing on that score.
So yes, it’s a terrible story of what happened to this man. But there’s also a lot that’s not being said, or that (in my humble opinion) needs further exploration.
But as always, the biggest thing to say about it all is that the help is there – so long as you make the effort to find it, to keep in touch, to talk to the right people. If you just hide away then it’ll all keep on coming back, bigger, nastier and more brutal than before. There’s no escaping this sort of shit, it just gets worse if you hide from it.
Today marks the six-year anniversary of when I declared myself bankrupt.
The next twelve months is the final stage of it all – Bankruptcy is a strange edge-case when it comes to credit-score reporting, because it actually has a duration.
If it had been a simple marker, it would expire today and all would be well.
But because it lasts a year, it doesn’t come off the record until six years after the bankruptcy period *ends*. So, another year of it being on the record.
It’s an oddity, and one that seems to confuse a lot of people when it comes to asking about when these things expire.
Still, only another 12 months to go. Could be worse.
Over the coming year, there may well be some interesting changes in the finances, although I don’t completely know yet whether they’ll happen – because no-one is willing to give a definitive answer. Needless to say, that’s frustrating. But hey ho.
The change, if it happens, will be significant. Basically, come August 2018, it’ll be the full six years since my bankruptcy was declared. In theory, that means it should come off my credit score, as all things do after six years. The thing is, no-one can tell me whether it’ll happen. It might be that it won’t come off for a further year, because while it was declared in 2012, the official bankruptcy period lasts a year, so it remained ‘active’ until 2013.
Even when I’ve asked financial advisors and debt counselling people, the best answer I’ve been able to get out of any of them is “It depends”
If that’s the case, it won’t come off my record until August 2019. It’s still livable with, and there’s nothing hyper-urgent or anything about clearing the record. It’d just be nice to know.
Once that’s off my record, then it’s a case of onwards and upwards. I’m doing OK already, but really it’ll be nice to have the clear record. Indeed, for now it’s the only thing that’s holding things back, so I’m looking forward to having it gone. But only time will tell when it’s going to happen.
- Continue rebuilding the finances, and keep boosting the savings
- Exercise, improve health, lose weight
- Complete September’s walking marathon – ideally in under seven hours. (My target is more ambitious than that, but I’ll be happy with 7 hours)
- Write more. (And ideally complete/publish some)
- Do more of the ideas around my own business
- Get out less. Ideally, some kind of middle-ground between being ultra-quiet/sensible, and the idiocy of the last year
- Look more at some political ideas, and see how that goes. (This one’s the random ‘maybe’ one, I don’t know if anything will happen with it or not)
How did it go?
- Finances : Yeah, not bad. Not at the totals I wanted to be at (which is a familiar theme) but I did what I wanted to, so I’m happy with that one
- Health : Less so. I haven’t gained any weight, but nor have I lost much. Good intentions have been undermined by an utter failure on Number 6, and life getting in the way of things
- Walking Marathon : Failed utterly, as I’ve wittered about at length. But I’m already signed up for the 2018 one…
- Write more : Failed utterly. There are ideas, but as with Health, I’ve been abysmal at doing less, so yeah. Bugger.
- Own Business : Kinda. I’ve written out more of the plans, got some ideas in code, and been looking at other stuff. But actually done? Nope.
- Get Out Less : Also an utter failure. I’ve been out loads, and in many ways have kept even busier than I did in 2015/16 – less Michelin-starred restaurants, but more things
- Politics : Looked at the ideas, but in the current political climate of Brexit and so on, getting involved on that score strikes me as…. less than wise.
So what’s on the list for 2017/18? Well, we’ll cover that tomorrow…
This week, it’s the start of a new tenancy agreement for me at the current house – yep, I’m going to stay here for another year.
I know I’ve said this before, but staying put like this is – for me – very odd. It’s already the place I’ve stayed the longest since I left school, by a long shot.
Indeed, the village is also now the longest I’ve stayed in one location, too – Manchester lasted a decent time, but I was in three different houses while I was there.
So, it’s all a bit strange. But at the same time (and again, as I’ve said before) the main thing with being here is how easy it is to get away from it. That, really is the primary reason for staying here – everything else is easier, and my range for commuting and so on is just ridiculous.
There have been other reasons for staying here too, but they’ll have probably faded out by then. So I don’t know whether the decision will be the same next year or not.
For now though, I’m staying put.
For a number of reasons, the last month has been idiotically expensive. Some of it has been voluntary, some of it has been necessary. All of it has added up.
In the last month or so, it’s included…
- Four new tyres for the car (Necessary, as all four were getting close to their wear limits)
- MOT for the car (Necessary!) – thankfully, it only needed two new bulbs, so the MOT itself wasn’t all that expensive
- Car Insurance – (Necessary, but also Voluntary – I paid the entire lot at once, rather than monthly, which saved about £60)
- Tickets to see a band called The The in London next year (Entirely voluntary, of course)
- Tickets to see Macbeth at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon next year (Also entirely voluntary)
- Tickets to see Titus Andronicus at the Barbican in London early next year (Voluntary)
- New walking boots (Necessary, considering the damage I sustained from the broken old ones)
And that doesn’t include all the usual stuff.
So yeah, fairly expensive. It’s all still within my budgets and limits, and the majority will be paid off this month – but all the same, it’ll be nice if I can have a quieter October and November, with less outgoings!