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Following a divorce from her husband of 26 years, Babs found herself in a difficult situation: she was responsible for a debt (that she thought was settled on her end) along with a mortgage (already in arrears) that she could not afford on her own. 

After doing a bit of research, Babs decided to seek help from a debt management company. She knew that she had to figure out a way to pay before things escalated even further – all whilst coping with the many complex feelings of loss, anger, and frustration often felt in the aftermath of divorce.

In this interview, we chat with Babs about how this time in her life impacted her mental health and approach to self-care. Babs also shares some advice for others who may be going through something similar. 

An Interview With Babs

How did your experience with financial struggles impact your mental health? 

“Initially, I was angry at the unfairness of the situation. However, I came to realise that either myself or my ex husband had to pay, and I wanted to do what was right for myself.”

Looking back, has the experience of being on a debt management plan (DMP) shaped your approach to self-care and looking after your wellbeing?

“My DMP lasted seven years. During that time, I was allowed no credit or overdraft facility from my bank, and I was refused a mortgage repayment plan. I also had three-monthly phone calls from the DMP company to check on my financial outgoings in general.”

“During this stressful chapter of my life, I was fortunate to have good friends at my church that I could ‘offload’ to and take good advice from.”  

“This experience has made me more careful with money. And although I had credit cards and store cards in the past, I now realise that the amount of interest paid on these is huge!” 

“Since being on this plan, I have never had any other debts or paid any overdraft payments to the bank. I really think about what I actually ‘need’ before I buy anything. I ask myself, ‘is it really necessary?’. For me, this is a form of self-care as it helps me think through purchases so that I feel in control and mindful of my finances.” 

What advice would you give to others going through a similar situation? 

“I would advise anyone struggling with debt to get help from a family member or friend as soon as possible. The debts will build up and your situation does not become any better by ignoring it.” 

“Also, worrying about these debts and having sleepless nights will not help (worrying about any situation never makes it better, as we know!) It’s easy to ignore our ‘demand’ correspondence and phone calls, but eventually they will catch up with us.”

“It’s also important to know that DMPs are never judgmental and treat everyone as an individual. Although I spent seven years sorting my debts, it was helpful to have impartial support for my situation.”

“I learned through this process that creditors will accept ANY amount of payment, as long as they can see you are making an effort to pay your debts off. My DMP consolidated ALL my outstanding debts and I repaid ONE single payment to them monthly.”

“If you are currently struggling with your finances, know that you will never have a situation that they can’t deal with. It is good for you to have professional support; they are on your side.”

About The Lily-Jo Project’s International Weekend of Self-Care

This blog article is a part of The Lily-Jo Project’s International Weekend of Self-Care campaign which takes place in August. To learn more about this campaign and access additional self-care resources, visit www.thelilyjoproject.com/internationalweekendofselfcare

Further Resources on Self-Care and Financial Challenges

If you found this article helpful, check out the following resources on self-care:

About Babs Bray

Babs Bray is a Manchester-based blogger, author, and mother of our very own Lily-Jo! To stay up to date with Babs, you can give her a follow on Facebook (Babs Bray) or on Instagram (Babs Bray).

To follow her cancer journey, check out her blog or read her previous interview with us How to Self-Care When You Have Cancer

You can also check out her books The A to Z of Declutter and Through the Valley.

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