'I was ashamed of my £20K credit card but now I'm helping others get out of debt'

Megan Archer-Fox works at BirminghamLive as What's On Editor / Affiliates Lead
-Credit: (Image: Megan Archer-Fox)

I can pinpoint the exact moment my descent into debt began - it was 14 years ago, during my first year at university. At 18 and living independently for the first time, I discovered that the '£200 interest-free overdraft' on my current account was actually £1,500.

Embracing my newfound freedom in a city far from home, I didn't hesitate to tap into that overdraft to splurge on new clothes, pitchers of cocktails at Wetherspoons, and frequent trips to Nando's with friends. I naively assumed I'd easily pay it back once I landed a job.

Fast forward to 2024, and that debt has fluctuated throughout my adult life. My spending habits remained unchanged.

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If I craved a takeaway, I would order it. If I wanted to dine out with a friend, I wouldn't think twice about whether I could afford it.

These expenses would simply be charged to my credit card - as my £1,500 overdraft was always maxed out, reports Birmingham Live.

Eventually, I found myself burying my head in the sand. I never missed a credit card payment, so my limits just kept increasing, and I could get almost any credit card I desired.

The thought of repaying this debt seemed unimaginable, leading me to convince myself that I'd be in debt forever - that this was just who I was. But this realisation deeply saddened me.

After having two children, the weight of this debt became even more burdensome.

Now, I find myself £20,000 in credit card debt - and I've decided that enough is enough.

At the start of this month, I created a TikTok account named thatgirlindebt to inspire myself to become entirely debt-free. The overwhelming wave of support that ensued was unexpected - over 6,000 individuals now follow the account, and my most viewed video has surpassed 1 million views.

Just this month, more than 100 people have confided in me that they are in a similar predicament; burdened with debt but lacking someone to discuss it with. I'm not a financial guru (obviously), but I've noticed in recent weeks how beneficial it's been to simply initiate a conversation about debt.

It's more common than we think!

Of course, I've also received some nasty comments - individuals labelling me as 'irresponsible and lazy' and 'unhinged'. One individual even branded me as 'dangerous'.

Irresponsible, certainly. But not anymore.

This is where things change. In the past month, I've taken the time to thoroughly examine my accounts.

I've devised a budget on a spreadsheet and begun tracking every single transaction, from my £4 bi-weekly bus fare to the £49 monthly water bill.

I've transferred all my credit card debt onto 0% interest cards and started employing the 'snowball method' (a strategy I picked up from American finance expert Dave Ramsey) to pay them off one at a time, beginning with the smallest balance or the highest interest rate.

My goal is to be completely debt-free in two and a half years - but I'm aiming for two. For the first time in my life, I'm determined.

I'm eager to stash away some cash for my kids' future, and I'd love to enjoy a family holiday without the constant worry about expenses, or embrace the Christmas season with joy and cheer instead of apprehension.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, please remember that you're not alone. I firmly believe that debt is not something to be embarrassed about.

For me, making the decision to alter my habits was the most challenging part. However, the actual process of change has been surprisingly straightforward so far.

The thought of reverting back to my old spending habits is unimaginable. And I never want to return to that again.