A MUM-of-three has revealed how she cleared £18,500 in debt and saved £13,000 in less than a year – and has shared her top tips so others can too.
Corinne Card, 40, a company director from Brighton, was left in crippling debt after splashing out on fancy holidays for her family, as well as pricey home decor and little luxuries such as TV subscriptions.
The mum's excessive spending habits first started in university when she spent her entire student loan for the term on a trip to New York and had to live in her overdraft until her next pay cheque.
After graduating in 2003, Corinne had nothing left to her name and felt worried about the future – but was determined to clear her debts and find financial freedom.
Unfortunately, the reality looked very different.
The excessive spending habits only escalated as she got older and married husband Jon, 44, in 2005, with whom she shares three children; Harry, 10, Zoe, seven, Freddie, 11 months.
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In 2019, Corinne took out her first credit card with the aim to take her family on a trip to the US, spending £6,000 on luxurious hotels, days out at Disneyland and Universal Studios, and expensive meals out.
The credit card statements were anxiety-inducing and made the mum feel as if her debt was now a "ticking time bomb".
That's when she knew something had to change.
Corinne said: “I used to be terrible with money.
"Once, I spent my entire student loan for an upcoming term for a trip to New York.
“I lived the entire term in debt and was constantly in my overdraft, which set me up for failure straight away.
“Each time I received my next payment, I would pay off my overdraft and find myself with zero balance once again.
“In 2008, I moved into my first flat and I was finally making some decent money each month, so I decided to splash out on some new furniture.
“Although I shopped around, I decided that I wanted luxury and settled on a sofa, bed and carpet which cost me £5,000 in total.
“I didn’t know when to stop and despite not liking my financial situation, I thought that this was totally normal for someone of my age.
“I never defaulted on any payments that mattered but I couldn’t afford the lifestyle I was living and just kept finding myself in more debt each month.”
Although Corinne's husband had debt of his own through credit cards and overdrafts, he ensured that these were paid off each month.
But the pair kept their finances private and so neither had any idea how bad things really were.
Speaking about the moment when she knew things had to change, Corinne added: “After our trip to America, I finally realised how terrible my situation was.
“I was nearly £19,000 in debt and I was constantly reminded by bank statements and bills that the money would continue to mount up once interest was added.
“I felt like I had a ticking time-bomb to pay the money off and as I never had a credit card before this, it really creeped me out.
“I was disappointed in myself that I let my finances get this way and I was concerned about how I was going to find my way out of this rut."
Not sure where to start, the mum started by being honest with herself and her husband about the severity of the situation.
I was nearly £19,000 in debt and I was constantly reminded by bank statements and bills that the money would continue to mount up once interest was added.
The couple scheduled in monthly finance meetings, laying out their outgoings and income, and put together a plan – with the aim to first tackle the credit card debt, before moving onto direct debits and overdrafts.
Corinne also signed up to take part in a free online course by Rebel Finance, which she credits to changing her mindset on money.
Dedicated to clear as much debt as quickly as possible, the parents worked longer hours and took on more clients in their media consultancy agency, which saw them earn an additional £3,000 per month.
The couple also cut down costs by giving up little luxuries such as monthly newspaper subscriptions, TV packages and eating out and compared their monthly bills to find cheaper deals and save money.
Within a month, they had already paid off £5,000 in debt.
She said: "Our first focus was the credit card, as that was the one thing that would set us back.
“We noticed that we had loads of direct debits for such unnecessary items, such as newspaper subscriptions, magazines, gift boxes – the list goes on.
“After we cancelled those, we moved onto looking at our monthly bill packages and used comparison websites to make sure we were getting the best deal."
Corinne and Jon cleared the final bit of debt in April 2020 and have since saved up an additional £13,000, part of which the parents have invested in stocks and shares.
Of this amount, £6,000 is reserved as an emergency fund to avoid falling back into debt.
The couple still have their monthly finance meetings and try to make them fun by having a nice meal and drink together at the same time – and make sure not to criticise each other's spending habits but keep a positive attitude throughout.
Corinne’s top five tips for saving money…
1. USE FREE RESOURCES
"Take up a free course with an online finance school that can teach you how to manage your money better without making the whole process boring and tedious.
2. KEEP AN EYE ON EVERY POUND
"Track your finances using a spreadsheet – you’ll be able to see what you’re spending each month, as well as how much you’re bringing in and this will help weed out any unnecessary costs.
3. CONSIDER INVESTING YOUR HARD-EARNED CASH
"Start investing from a young age, as these investments will return a greater amount in years down the line and you’ll thank yourself later for this.
4. DON'T STICK YOUR HEAD IN THE SAND
"Accept your situation and understand that in order to improve your finances, you must face them first.
5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO TREAT YOURSELF (WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT)
"Set yourself saving targets and only splurge on that purchase you want once you’ve hit these goals."
She said: “Finally, we were debt free. We were relieved and got excited about the future as we finally had money to our name.
“I felt proud and calm that we were in control of our own finances and for the first time in a long while, we actually didn’t feel guilty about the numbers in front of us.
“As we have three kids, we want to build up a strong set of investments for their future.
“I put £3,000 into stocks and shares each month and have £6,000 saved up in an emergency fund to ensure that we don’t get into debt again.
“I’m a big believer of the ‘truth will set you free’ as once you start accepting your situation, you can start to make your life better.”
Corinne believes that if she approached her finances differently from a younger age, she would have had a healthier relationship with money.
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