Mark completed his IVA September 2011, here he talks about his experiences of life in an IVA and what he’s learnt from the process.
Whilst we’re all watching the Olympics and rooting for team GB, we spoke with one of our IVA completers about how he felt “crossing the finishing line”
Read Mark Arrandale’s honest account of being in an IVA, the highs, the lows and what he advises people in debt who haven’t yet come to terms with the reality that they now need help.
Q: Can you explain the circumstances which led to you being in debt and how you felt at that time in your life?
Mark: At the time, my wife and I both worked. We earned good money, had credit cards and bank loans and could manage the bills with a bit shuffling here and there. Then the recession kicked in. I am a tradesman so my business was hit hard and the work dried up. We still tried to pay all of the bills but it was getting harder. As time went by we were getting further and further into debt and consequently, depression set in.
ClearDebt comments: Being in debt is often stressful and can put pressure on any household. It is something that can easily spiral out of control especially when circumstances change for the worse. Recognising when you are walking the debt balance beam and taking action are key to staying in control of your finances. You can’t always avoid life’s hurdles but taking action, the earlier the better, to get over these, will mean that you can still be in control of your own race.
Q: At what point did you decide to seek out professional help with your debt and why?
Mark: We decided to seek help when the bank that we had the mortgage with refused us more money. Until that point I don’t think we had genuinely realised just how much debt we were in.
ClearDebt comments: It is easy to turn a blind eye on your finances and believe that ‘everything will sort itself out’. Making the decision to take the bull by the horns and honestly analysing your household income and expenditure with the help of a professional means you are taking steps to resolve your problems. You should feel proud that you’ve had the courage to do this and start addressing your finances.
Q: How did you feel about asking for professional help and what were the options presented to you?
Mark: In honesty, we felt very sad having to ask for professional help with the debt we’d accumulated. I felt ashamed of how we had gotten into this mess. When we spoke with an advisor, they explained we had too much debt to go on debt management and that an IVA would be the most appropriate solution for us.
ClearDebt comments: It is always difficult admitting that you need help when you feel you have made a mistake. Focusing on what went wrong won’t help. If you have been able to identify that you need help to solve your problem, then be encouraged as you have taken the difficult first step on your own. No one is an expert at everything in life so seeking expert advice in a field where you don’t have the expertise is the logical and most sensible thing to do.
Q: Once entering into an IVA and having a proposal, how did your life change?
Mark: When I got the call from ClearDebt to confirm we’d had the IVA accepted and it was all official, we were so elated – as if a great weight had been lifted.
ClearDebt comments: Having been proactive and made the initial positive step to resolve your financial problems you then put a proposal of repayment to your creditors. You may worry that creditors will reject your offer as it is ultimately the creditors’ decision to accept any offer you make. If you know you have made your best possible offer and there is nothing more you can realistically and reasonably give, then your creditors should recognise this. When your proposal is accepted you will know exactly what you need to do to become debt free and the light at the end of the tunnel turns on.
Q: Did you tell anyone you were in an IVA or have you kept this a secret?
Mark: We didn’t tell people at first about the IVA but in hindsight I wish we had. My wife didn’t want people to know so we didn’t tell anyone…but then people expected us still to do the same things that we always did and spend as we always had. Not telling them and trying to disguise the fact we couldn’t spend just got too hard for us and became an unnecessary stress. To anyone reading this and going into an IVA, I would recommend confiding in friends and family.
ClearDebt comments: It is a personal decision whether to tell anyone about your financial difficulties. It’s ok to just say that you can’t afford to do something without telling people every detail. It’s also ok to tell those you are closest to that you are having problems. The saying goes “a problem shared is a problem halved” and remember resolving financial difficulties is not something to be ashamed of.
Q: An IVA is a lengthy process, once the relief of entering it passed, how did you feel a year or two onwards?
Mark: Like anything of this nature, at the beginning you’re enthused and relieved. But after a couple of years, of course it becomes tough. Despite that, if you’re disciplined, it is very worthwhile.
ClearDebt comments: An IVA is not just a way to resolve the financial difficulties you are having. It can be viewed as a training course on how to manage your income and expenditure with the end goal being a life in which you continue to remain debt free. Imagine how liberating it would feel to know that you had acquired the skills to live within your means and that you are in full control of your finances. Of course it takes work and discipline to achieve anything in life and sometimes it will be hard, but with each step you will be taking yourself from ‘in debt’ to ‘debt free’.
Q: You finished your IVA early – how did this come about?
Mark: Sadly, we finished our IVA early because we split up. I worked with ClearDebt to arrange a full and final settlement with my half of the house sale and cut the IVA short. I know not everyone sells their property in an IVA but based on my situation, it was the best option. I can sleep at night knowing I repaid what I could and did everything I could.
ClearDebt comments: Whilst you are in your IVA it’s good to know that in a time of difficulty, you can work with your Supervisor to resolve any issue which means you’re unable to honour the proposal. An IVA has to have some element of flexibility because circumstances do change. You should feel confident that if you are honest and open with your Supervisor, they will make every attempt to help you resolve any problem. Remember your end goals are the same – to repay your debt, leaving you debt free.
Q: Now you are an IVA completer, how do you feel about your future life and what will you be doing differently?
Mark: Now I am out of debt it is such a relief. I’m so glad I completed the IVA and feel as though I have my life back again. It’s been a roller coaster ride from time to time but I’ve come out of it with my head held high.
ClearDebt comments: It’s an achievement to successfully complete your IVA and one which you can be proud of. Many entrepreneurs and celebrities have been at rock bottom, or close to it, at one point or another but they worked their way back up and have gone on to be successful again. You too, will have the tools to go forward, successfully managing your finances and knowing that you can overcome future financial surprises.
Q: Overall, what was your impression of ClearDebt and how did we as a company make you feel during your IVA?
Mark: ClearDebt helped me out when I was at the lowest part in my life. I kept them informed about what was happening with my ex and they were fantastic with me.
ClearDebt comments: ClearDebt’s founding principle is “to be a safe place for people to come for advice and debt solutions – guaranteeing a transparent and ethical service at all times”. We understand how difficult it can be to admit that you are struggling financially but if you have the determination, we will supply the know-how and by working together, you can get yourself across the finish line.
Q: Finally, what would you say to other people who are in debt and have yet to seek out help?
Mark: Don’t let it get too far and don’t feel ashamed! Be honest with yourself and seek help as soon as possible – the sooner you get yourself talking about your debt the better it will be. I hope if people read this it will be of help to them. Some might think this is a sad story but it’s not really – I was in a terrible place with debt I couldn’t cope with and didn’t know how to repay. Now, I am debt free and have met a wonderful woman who means the world to me – see, every cloud has a silver lining as long as you’re prepared to put in the hard work and have a little patience.
ClearDebt comments: It only takes one call to get the advice that could change your life for the better. I would encourage anyone who is struggling to juggle their debt to make that call immediately and avoid letting the problem get worse. There are companies that have the expertise to resolve your debt problems and want to help you. ClearDebt is one of those companies and we are here to work with you and help you to cross that finish line and win your very own debt free medal.
If you have questions about any aspects of an IVA, we can help. See examples below of the most recent questions posed to our experts.