“We realised the situation we were in shortly after I fell pregnant with our first child,” says Kelly, “the gynaecologist at the hospital only took cash up front and we had to claim it back from our medical aid. We started struggling to get by with our high credit card instalments, plus the new costs of preparing for our child. A collections agent was calling us about our missed car payments. It was stressful.”Brian considered debt review, but they wanted to buy a house sometime in the near future. He took a personal loan to consolidate his debt instead. But, unlike a debt consolidation loan (or debt review) where your creditors are paid directly, a personal loan pays the cash into your account. Brian, who was an emotional spender, didn’t use the entire loan to pay off his debt.
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“The first family Christmas at my parents’ house was really awkward, everyone knew about our situation. But they understood, and even bought us gifts. It was a really humbling lesson about managing our finances better and being honest about what we could afford. When Brian got his bonus, or did particularly well at work and got paid extra commission, we paid it straight into our debt. I don’t think we went to the movies for almost two years,” admits Kelly.Now, two years later, they’ve paid off both their credit cards and their retail cards and have just bought a house. Kelly says the biggest lesson she’s taken from this experience is always counting the cost (plus interest!) of taking anything on credit. Her biggest regret? “Letting Brian take that personal loan instead of a debt consolidation loan,” she says, and laughs.