I owe nothing and own nothing. In 2012 I made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy. On 13th December 2012 at 11.05am the sound of the gravel as it stamped my form rang out in the court room to signal that it was done. From that day to this the banks and other institutions that I have been with for 8-10 years now refer to me as “The Bankrupt”
This isn’t how I had planned my life to go but this is where I am and I will deal with it as I do every other challenge life throws at me. I am relieved to be leaving this debt behind that I have been paying off slowing since 2009. It was as if from that time to this my life had stopped as I fought to keep my head above water.
It took me 18 months to recover from a pelvic injury back in late 2005 until 2007 (I couldn’t walk or stand) and during that time being self-employed meant I had no income coming in. I did at the time have plenty of savings and I lived off that knowing when I work again I will get it all back. What I didn’t foresee was the recession which slowed down how much work I was able to secure. Plus I was down and had lost confidence in myself a little, which I had to rebuild. In 2009 after maxing out my credit cards I had run out of options. I sold my house. Paid back loved ones who had been helping me financially and paid off as much as I could of what I owed. All I had left was some credit card debt which I managed to pay on a regular basis using a debt management plan. In 2011 with hardly any work and having lost more income I made the choice to stop paying into the dept management plan and file for bankruptcy. I had tried for an IVA but the amount I could afford to pay into it was rejected by my biggest creditor so I had no other option.
The one sad thing in all of this is that I lost a house I rent out. I rely on the rent to help me pay my bills so I was really upset. When I first considered bankruptcy I was told chances are I would be allowed to keep it. It has no equity (or very little) so selling it makes no sense because after paying fees to solicitors there would be nothing left for the creditors. The house is given to someone who looks after it and takes ownership of it. They do not pay the mortgage with the rent that comes in which means eventually the bank will default on the mortgage. This mortgage had always be paid with the rent through all of this.
I went to a wealth seminar back in 2003. Got into property development (I owned 4 at one point) and building assets. Now today I am left with nothing. Even my cell phone contract is ending on the 20th Jan and I am not taking out another one. The banks closed my account even though the insolvency company told them I was allowed to use them. They don’t want to know me. Banks can be a little like pimps in that way I guess – if you are not making money for them you are of no use. Crazy thing is I do have an income coming in. So I turned to a pre-paid MasterCard. I get a card that I can use and an online bank account that allows direct debits and standing orders so I can at least keep all of that going.
Yesterday I went into my local Nationwide Building Society. I was treated like I was less than human by a man who wears a badge that says he is the “Customer Service Manager”. While I may be “The Bankrupt” I am still a customer. I let what he did and said upset me and reduce me to tears. So many tears that it took hours for them to stop flowing. Maybe they needed to flow. I cried on the bus home and most of yesterday. I think I was crying out 5 years of keeping my head above water. Now that all the accounts are closed so is this part of my life.
With the bankruptcy in place on 13 December 2013 at 11.05am my life can start again without it hanging over my head. Instead of 33 years (if I had carried on paying into the debt management program that is how long it would have taken to pay it all back) it will be over in 12 months. I take responsibility for my handling of what happened. I couldn’t prevent being ill but I did have insurance to cover me in case of illness and when they refused to pay out I should have fought harder. I should never have used credit cards to keep myself going and should have sorted out my inability to pay back in 2008/9. Still, hindsight is a wonderful thing.
My friends console me by telling me about all the people who had a great life, lost their money, filed for bankruptcy and went on to get it all back and more. People like Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Simon Cowell, Donald Trump and many others. I have tasted what I don’t want and am ready to rebuild and go for what I do want. I am grateful for the lessons this part of my life has taught me and I affirm that despite this situation I am still a successful and confident woman. This does not define who I am. Picking myself up and moving forward is what defines me. I am happy and now that I am The Bankrupt I feel free.
At the beginning of this week an email came in from someone I worked for 2 years ago as a consultant. They want to talk to me about becoming a partner in their business. New opportunities are presenting themselves already. I give thanks. Maybe someone day I will write about this too.