Like an alcoholic at her first AA meeting, today I’m taking the first step in admitting that I’m in trouble, and that I need help.
The debt crept up on me. Every month I’d get a couple of hundred pounds worse off, but I shrugged it off. Somehow, in my head, I was rich. It didn’t matter if I had the shadow of a steady deficit, because I’d be fine. Why? Because I’m middle class? Because my parents and grandparents never got into debt?
Mine is an old-fashioned family, where the word “debt” is synonymous with “shame”. It’s just not done. My parents have never bought a sofa, holiday, car, house or telly on credit. They work, and they save. I suppose I assumed I’d live my life in the same way, without actually putting in any effort to do so.
Admitting it, then, is the first step. I’m using two overdrafts and a credit card. I’ve got a car on credit. A mobile phone on a lengthy, pricey contract. I tied myself into a year-long gym membership because I could afford to do so at the time.
Deep breath. I’m in debt. I’m overspending to the tune of £200 a month. I need to change. This is my journey. Now. Live. Today.
Step 2: Potentially even harder, even more humiliating. I scuttle back to my parents. The very people who have brought me up to live within my means, and tutted and scowled at my compulsive purchasing and ugly materiality. I ask for £500, to stop the debts from boiling over.
In return for a promise to live more frugally, and to pay back the loan by 30th November, I am thrown a rubber ring. Now I just have to learn how to swim…