April 6 : Just another day.

Dates are funny things, aren’t they?

Stick an arbitrary label on a day, and something happens – you’ll remember that thing on the same day every year going forward.

There are birthdays, anniversaries, dates when someone died, dates when we went somewhere special.

April 6 is the day my house should have been repossessed.

I wish I didn’t remember that quite so vividly, but there you go. On this date, not so very many years ago, I was due in court to explain to a magistrate why they shouldn’t let the mortgage company take our house.

The letter had arrived a week or two earlier.  I’d sat on the bottom step and cried, while Flea stroked my arm and whispered, “Be happy, Mummy,” to me.

I was £70,000 in debt after my divorce. On top of that, a client bailed on a five-figure contract I’d banked on – meaning I simply couldn’t pay the mortgage for four months, and I was spending a fortune I didn’t have on solicitors in the hope of recovering some of the money I’d lost.

As a parent, there are some fundamental things you do. You raise your child to be happy and healthy, and you put food in their belly and keep a roof over their head. Realising I might not be able to do that, because of my own stupid decisions, was a really tough lesson to learn.

I’m sure that given the recession, there are hundreds of families who’ve had a similar experience. And many of those aren’t lucky enough to have the sort of job I do – which does at least have the potential for earning some extra cash when you’re strapped. We were incredibly lucky, in so many ways. Through hard work and a healthy dose of good fortune, I found the money to pay the arrears, just before the hearing took place.

So as it turned out, April 6 was just another day.

But I don’t think I’ll ever forget the blind panic I felt staring at that date on the letter.

Life moves on, as it does, and things got better, as they usually do. Especially if you work hard, and keep at it, and are lucky enough to find great people to work with. Thankfully, the financial crisis passed without major incident, and life got calmer. Over time, I cleared the debt, and learned a few important lessons in the process about managing our finances and living not just within our means, but a bit below that.

Today, I bought myself a new car. No loans, no financing (like many people who’ve clambered out of debt, I don’t do credit any more). It’s my car, bought and paid for by my hard work.

It’s not brand new. It’s not especially fancy. But it’s all ours.

And I’m happy, just like Flea wanted.



Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

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    • 14th April 2013 / 9:08 pm

      Thanks Eleanor.

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:08 pm

      I just collected the new car yesterday – tis v exciting 🙂

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:08 pm

      They almost always do, I find.

  1. Nicki Cawood
    7th April 2013 / 7:03 pm

    A moving and inspiring post. I can’t say any more than that but I would definitely *think* about giving you a quick well-done you hug if we were in the same room.

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:09 pm

      You can think about it, that’s allowed. *takes a step back just in case*

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:09 pm

      Yes, I know it’s not just something that’s affected us!

  2. 7th April 2013 / 8:03 pm

    What a lovely heartwarming post. I’m so pleased it had Flea’s happy ending.

    I too hope to one day be out of debt and I’d love to own my own house. I hate all the uncertainty of renting. That’s not likely to happen while I’m struggling along on sick pay though 🙁 Hopefully I’ll kick this Cancer’s ass soon and be well enough to start my own business.

    You are quite an inspiration Sally. xx
    Emma Day recently posted..Let’s Wage War On The Tooth Fairy: Guest PostMy Profile

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:10 pm

      Thanks Emma – debt is just one of those things you have to go at full tilt, I think – I looked at every possible way I could of making money, working two, three or four jobs so we could still have a decent lifestyle and pay stuff off.

  3. 7th April 2013 / 8:08 pm

    Wow, such a great post, amazing positivity. How come I have only just discovered your blog?! I’m hooked.
    Would love if you would give mine a little peek, it’s only a baby nearly one month old.


    Thoughts appreciated. Cheers

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:10 pm

      Congrats on blogging! I hope you’ll find it as fun as we do 🙂

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:10 pm

      Thanks, lovely, hope you’re well.

  4. TheBoyandMe
    7th April 2013 / 8:36 pm

    Actually sat with tears in my eyes because this is such an emotional piece of writing. Well done you for working so very hard to get yourself out of so much debt; it can’t have been easy and you must have worked extremely hard to get to this point now, in such a short space of time really. I’m paying my car off in August after five years, and knowing that it will be mine, and the last significent debt that I personally have (forget us as a couple) is a big thing for me.

    You should be very proud of yourself for working so hard; this is why I respect you, because you’re a grafter and you don’t screw people over.

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:11 pm

      Thanks, that’s really kind – it wasn’t easy but we’re getting there, and I was raised not to worry about a bit of hard work – I’m just glad I’m in a position to be able to – I can’t imagine how hard this stuff is for people on salaried jobs, or worse, with no regular salary at all.

  5. 8th April 2013 / 9:02 am

    Well done, you. You toughing it out brings a smile. I konw those are not the words that seem apropriate, but this writing is inspiring. So, again: well done, you. Or better yet: well done, you two.

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:11 pm

      Thanks Yemi 🙂

  6. Nikki
    8th April 2013 / 1:58 pm

    I’d give you a quick celebratory hug but I know you’d be horrified. Instead I’m extending a warm handshake and pat on the back for doing so well 🙂

    Debt can be very frightening indeed. My mantra after getting out of debt post our crisis (which took us a while to get through but we worked hard at tackling it head on) is: “If we can’t afford it, we can’t have it”. An old one, but a goodie. We never use credit cards any more and we talk to our kids all of the time about saving and looking after the pennies. The message is getting through amazingly!

    Live and learn eh?!

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:12 pm

      I loathe credit cards and credit culture and the vultures who peddle it to those who they can see are already struggling – a lot of our problems stemmed from compound interest – loans offered on top of loans or to pay off cards – it’s frightening how quickly something quite small can become unmanageable.

      • Nikki
        15th April 2013 / 9:25 am

        I concur!

  7. 9th April 2013 / 2:24 pm

    This brought a lump to the throat. You really went through it didn’t you? Glad you came out stronger and happier. I’m sure the fear would have paralysed many people in a similar situation but you took action and fought back. Flea should indeed learn much and be proud.
    Mayfair Mum recently posted..Learning Through Play | Pick Up SticksMy Profile

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:13 pm

      Definitely stronger, and a (little) bit wiser too, I hope!

  8. 9th April 2013 / 8:41 pm

    Well done you; really moving post and it must be so rewarding to have bought your car out right x
    HonestMum recently posted..No JudgementMy Profile

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:13 pm

      It is – although when I get that first ding in it, I might cry. Just a bit.

  9. purplemum
    10th April 2013 / 7:52 pm

    Wow you have done so well with tenacity and hard work, well done. My husband and I returned from a trip busking around Europe to find ourselves homeless and so skint we lived on porridge for months. A fantastic benefits advisor, a business course and some balls (juggling and literal) later we were running our own business as circus artists, doing a job we loved and making enough to live comfortably. Now I’m a Mum with a new passion and I need to figure out how to do the same with my writing. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:13 pm

      Yes, I think for those of us without regular paid jobs, this stuff can be easier – a little creativity and hard work goes a long way, doesn’t it?

  10. Sonya Cisco
    11th April 2013 / 9:33 am

    Divorce also broke my finances as well as my heart. And like you I don’t do debt anymore, unlike you I also don’t seem to do savings either…but at least I am indebted to nobody! Well done, enjoy your car, and especially enjoy the happiness- that is worth more than anything! X

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:14 pm

      Amen – I’m not sure we do “savings” – it’s more like, “Quick, we had a good month, buy a new boiler!”

  11. Crummy Mummy
    11th April 2013 / 1:03 pm

    Another fundamental rule of being a parent is being the best role model you possibly can be. What a valuable lesson this will be for her!

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:14 pm

      Cripes, hope so!

  12. 12th April 2013 / 2:41 am

    Your an absolute inpsiration Sally Ii ve seen how hard you have worked and you have shown how debt can be beaten, We’ve just been battling a big one of our own and are almost clear like you without borrowing and with sheer bloody minded graft. I’m knackered as I’m sure you are but WELL DONE you are a budgeting inspiration (I should start up some awards!!!)
    Becky recently posted..Shake It Up I My Profile

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks Becky, I’m not sure I’m a good budgeter, but I’ll take a compliment when offered 🙂

  13. 13th April 2013 / 1:03 pm

    That need for a roof over our heads is so important isn’t it? So pleased you and Flea get to be happy

    • 14th April 2013 / 9:14 pm

      Thanks 🙂

  14. 14th April 2013 / 9:08 pm

    Debt is horrible, and I can’t tell you how much easier life feels without it 🙂

  15. Helen Baldwin
    18th April 2013 / 9:09 pm

    What a touching story. Im sure there are literally thousands of people out there right now who are going through very similar things. I know personally just how tough things can be and how it can knock you sidewards. I’m a believer though that if you keep persevering there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.