Written by: Nick Bregozzo

James was on top of the world. He had just landed a job in the mines and for the first time he was earning decent money. The new job couldn’t come soon enough because James had a few outstanding credit cards that were causing him grief.

Working in the mines was probably harder than he thought it would be. He was away from his wife and kids for long stretches at a time and the days he worked were long. The new income was great but he earned every cent.

James’ wife, Emma was relieved James was bringing in more money but with James away it was tough looking after her two kids with him gone. The kids started to play up a bit with James away and even things didn’t seem quite right in the household with James away all the time, at least she didn’t have to worry about whether or not there was enough money for groceries, petrol or the power bill.

After three months of working hard in the mines, James went and bought a brand new Commodore Ute. Everyone needs a reward from time to time and not only could he well afford the repayments on the money he was earning, he felt he deserved it after the years of struggling he had put up with.

Emma was a little annoyed, she was hoping the family could go to the Gold Coast for Christmas but she understood why James got the car.

Before James got the new job, he never really looked at the finances and when it came to money and paying bills, Emma took care of that. Since moving to the mines, nothing much had changed apart from the fact that the calls from the bank had stopped. When James withdrew money from the ATM he would never look at the balance and he never opened his mail — out of sight and out of mind.

Even though Emma kept a better eye on the finances making ends meet was still a balancing act. Even with James’ new job, the cost of living only increased and she had used the credit cards for the kid’s birthdays, petrol and shopping. At least the mortgage was up to date.

Then, eight and a half months after starting the job, James was told that the work had dried up and the company was letting go 50 workers. The news brought James down to earth with a thud. He’d worked his guts out since starting and he loved the job. More importantly how would Emma and the kids react? What about the mortgage and the car?

James called Emma and broke the news. How could this happen? Things were just starting to come good.

James arrived home and he and Emma sat around the kitchen table. James had called a couple of contacts he had but everyone was pretty much in the same position and no one was employing.

Then they looked at the finances. The mortgage was up to date but with the car and the credit cards, there was around $75k in debt. How could this be? Before James got the job, there was only $30k in debt. It came out that Emma had been using the cards more and more for everyday purchases and only paying the minimum and then there was the additional car debt.

James contacted the credit card companies and on the most part they were pretty good about the situation. They agreed to put the cards on hold for a couple of months and the same with the car.

James didn’t expect to be out of work for long but one month stretched into two and then two into four. Eventually, James managed to get another job but the income was half what he was earning in the mines but at least it was work.

By this time the credit cards were well past their due date and the banks were calling around the clock, sending letters and he’d get at least four calls from unknown or hidden numbers throughout the day.

Naturally, the situation put a lot of strain on his relationship with Emma and they would have arguments over the silliest of things.

The biggest worry for James was the mortgage. He definitely didn’t want to sell the house because for starters it was his family’s home and the kids were settled, but also because the houses in the area were not fetching nearly as much as they used to — not since the floods.

James went to work one morning when a mate, Geoff noticed that he didn’t quite seem himself. Geoff asked if things were ok and James told him the whole story.

Geoff listened to everything James was saying and couldn’t help but notice the similarities between James’ situation and his own.

Geoff said to James he too found himself in a situation where he had unmanageable debt and was struggling with making ends meet, until he called a professional debt management company for assistance.

The company ran through a budget, worked out what he could afford to pay and then negotiated with his creditors to settle the debts over five years. Geoff said that for the first time he had one affordable payment each week, and more importantly he could plan for things around this payment. Naturally there were some consequences and Geoff had to satisfy himself that he could live with these, but these were outweighed by the benefits and peace of mind that he now had.

Geoff gave the number of the company that he had been dealing with.

James went home and explained everything to Emma and they both agreed they had nothing to lose by calling the debt management company and seeing what they had to say.

Just as Geoff had said, the people at the debt management company were professional, helpful and friendly. More importantly, they provided James and Emma a path forward. They explained all the benefits, consequences and terms and conditions including the fees. They explained that they had a ”No Fix, No Pay” policy and this meant that if they couldn’t help them, James wouldn’t be financially disadvantaged. They explained that the solution they offered wasn’t for everyone, but it did present a way out of their situation and more importantly help them keep the house.

James and Emma thought long and hard about what they had been told and they felt that an enormous weight had been lifted from their shoulders.