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So although that sounds pretty awful in terms of the length of time, 40 years….I didn’t always have debt.

Going back to the beginning, I got married for the first time at the age of 17. Back in those dark ages in South Africa I was advised to get married ‘In Community of Propery’, which basically meant I was my husband’s ‘property’ (49 years later I still don’t know what the benefits were, if any) – if I wanted to open a bank account or sign any documents, I had to not only have his permission, but I also had to have his signature.

This irked me for many years and when I finally left him and we divorced, I then had the freedom to do whatever I pleased. I didn’t immediately dash out to get a credit card, but I did open my own bank account and manage my own money.

The years went by and I eventually met my 2nd husband, who after we married persuaded me to take out a credit card to pay for baby stuff and fluff….like eating out 3 times a week. He fancied himself a posh totty without the funds to back it up. I was at home with my baby at the time and left him (trusted) to manage our finances.

He serviced the card for a while until one day a knock at the door heralded a representative of said bank who asked to come in, and because I was still really stupid in those days, I said okay. I even made him a cup of tea. πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ He asked for my credit card and a scissors, both of which I gave him πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” like I said….I was still very stupid (or naive, take your pick,). To my horror, he cut up the credit card and told me that it was Rxxxx in arrears (R =Rands and I can’t remember how much).

I was aghast and frankly shocked. But also very afraid…of my husband who was a fairly volatile person and I was really scared about what he was going to say. He responded exactly as I expected.

Long story short, I didn’t get another credit card, went back to work in due course and ultimately we divorced after a few years.

He wasn’t a reliable man and child maintenance was adhoc and irregular, and eventually came to a stop altogether.

But I worked hard, changed companies from time to time and worked my way up from being a debtor’s clerk to Personnel and Administrative Manager for a Courier company with 5 branches and the Head Office, which is where I was based.

I bought a house (mortgage) and a car (lease agreement) and ultimately moved to the coast (East London) as Branch Manager with the same company, after my Mother died (1984), with my daughter and a few months later my younger sister who was just 13 at the time.

Child maintenance from both my ex-husband and my sister’s father was intermittent and seldom enough to support 2 children in any great way.

But my salary was decent and we lived quite happily for nearly 3 years. I opened a new credit card account with an excellent credit rating, had holidays, went out for meals, bought clothes when needed, paid school fees for both schools, had birthday treats etc and I got promoted to Regional Manager of a new Division in the company and I traded one car in for another.

Without warning, and due to no fault of mine, 6 months later the company decided to close down the new division and I was retrenched (made redundant).

Now I was stuck in a very financially poor area of the country, rent to pay, a lease on a brand new car and 2 children to support with no prospects. A chaotic time followed and a few months later I had the first of 2 nervous breakdowns. I left home. And all my debt and responsibility behind me.

Skip forward a few years. I recovered and got a new job, paid off the debt. My daughter came back to live with me. I got another new job, bought a car and a house and acquired new credit cards.

Life went on. I moved my daughter and I to Cape Town in 1997 and still working for the latest company I again improved my prospects. Over the intervening years, jobs came and went. I bought a new house, kept the car, and although we struggled sometimes, somehow I always managed to pay my debts, even if some months were a really close shave and only my powers of persuasion kept us in our house.

Fast forward to 2001 and a series of events occurred.

The company I had been working for over the previous 18 months was put into liquidation after the owners had a falling out. My daughter reached the age of consent (21 in South Africa), and my sister (the one who came to live with me after my Mother’s death), was now living in Ireland with her husband, about to turn 30 and wanted someone from the family to celebrate her milestone birthday with her. Since I had no real responsibilities, I decided to go.

Worked for the liquidators till end of contract. Left my daughter looking after the house (still had a mortgage) and sold her the car (paid off by now). Cleared my credit cards and flew to Ireland.

I loved it so much in Ireland, the freedom!!!! So at the end of my visa, I flew back to SA, sold the house, paid off the mortgage and credit cards put my belongings into storage and flew back to the UK to start a new life with my ancestral visa. No credit cards. My daughter joined me in the UK 1 year later, but managed her own affairs.

I got a job, worked hard, and after a couple of years…acquired a new credit card and life went on. I went on holidays, bought whatever I needed and serviced my debts, building up a good credit rating.

Skip forward to 2005 and a chance meeting got me involved in Multi Level Marketing. All good so far. The training recommended telling family and friends about the company and ‘ideally’ signing them up to also become distributors. I flew to South Africa full of excitement and enthusiasm about the new opportunity, but had buckets of cold water (metaphorically) dumped on my head by various members of the family. And acquired a lot of debt.

I flew back to the UK totally dejected, but struggled on trying to make a go of the ‘business’. A couple of years later my daughter saw an advert for something called ‘Millionaire Training’. In those days I still had hopes of being ‘successful’ of earning enough money to become financially independent. So I went to the training and ended up joining another Multi Level Marketing programme. Both the first and now this were excellent products and I still use the one regularly, just not as a distributor.

After a few months of minimal success it was suggested that I attend a Tony Robbins event called UPW (Unleash the Power Within) and therein lay the seeds of my downfall.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the 4 days…it was insane. I got to walk on fire, danced and sang, went through mind-blowing processes, and had my head turned inside out by manipulation…I mean NLP.

Despite my determination to not sign up to the ‘University’ course, by the end of day 4 I found myself handing over my credit card details to the tune of $10,000.00 One word. Four letters.

And that is when money started to flow (as he promised) just not towards me, but away from.

I spent a fortune flying around the world to the different courses. Health Mastery at St Andrew’s, Scotland. Wealth Mastery in London and finally Phoenix Arizona, USA for the coupe de grace….Date With Destiny. hmmm….

At his Wealth Mastery course we learned how to use OPM. Other People’s Money. Ergo the banks. So I did.

As each card got maxed out, so I applied to another company for a new one. My credit rating was still good, and because the whole shebang happened in less than 6 months, it took a while for the banks to catch up with my spending. Despite having gone through his whole programme, I still felt like I was missing something. I still could not sell a tube of toothpaste LOL never mind make a living from the products.

And so I went to this course and that course; Christopher Howard, Roger Hamilton (about whom I shall say as little as possible so I don’t get sued for libel), Dr John Demartini (the only course that actually had any benefits), Success University and many many others…paid for this course, paid for that course, and the next and the next and the next….one after the other, and so my debt mounted. I was still working, but I had taken out loans from one bank, applied for credit cards from another 3 and suddenly I was in debt to the tune of Β£35k!! And I came down to earth with a bump! 6 months. That’s all it took. From June 2007 till January 2008. And now I was in serious trouble.

In my desperation to ‘find the right’ product, I joined 8 different Multi Level Marketing companies; all with different products, none of which I could actually ‘sell’. One theme that ran through all of them was ‘fake it till you make it’. In other words lie. So I tried. To fake it. But I couldn’t. It didn’t sit right with me and I struggled…still throwing my income at books and online courses (all free course now, I’d run out of money), and listened to The Secret nearly 100 times until I felt I would go mad.

Finally in 2011 whilst struggling to pay my debts that simply grew and grew due to the interest being charged on my credit cards, I gave up all pretence at trying to ‘build a business’ put my head down and took on as much work as I could.

Around me, most of the ‘friends’ I had made at all the courses, were in debt, a couple of whom were in much deeper than myself, and some of them declared bankruptcy. I put the word ‘friends’ into commas because ultimately the friendships wore down and ended over the next few of years.

Meanwhile I had reached a dead end. I could no longer cope with my debt which had now reached the not so very comfortable amount of Β£50k…..the interest piled upon interest, upon the original debt and I was drowning. So I took financial advice. I approached a Debt Advisor who suggested that firstly I apply to get a refund on all the PPI I had paid the banks….largely successful it reduced some of the debt. One of the companies put me through hoops before finally conceding that they did indeed have to refund me.

I was informed that I could either declare bankruptcy, and various other options that I never took, or I could set up a payment plan through a debt advisory company. I chose the latter. I could not in all honestly walk away from my debt. And so, for the last 10 years, I have diligently paid off my debt in monthly increments, increasing the amount each year and paying more as I earned more.

I still had my holidays, but if I wanted to plan a trip, I took on more work and paid for them upfront. I budgeted my income very carefully; I definitely didn’t attend any further courses (?), I seldom went out for dinner or to the cinema and fortunately I loathe shopping for clothes anyway, so managed to save a little on the side each month by being exceptionally careful with my money. And my trips were always on the ‘cheap’…cheapest travel, cheapest accommodation (sometimes in really shitty places), hardly ate anything while there and didn’t spend money on keepsakes or trinkets. My only luxury has been books. I saved all the money I earned from night calls, or working over bank holidays, and some years I worked over Christmas and New Year….double pay = more money to save. My biggest luxury this last year has been my virtual challenges, but they have also been a way to keep my sanity by pushing me to get out and walk.

When I stopped taking on long-term assignments I lived in shared accommodation, and for 18 months I had no dedicated home at all….but stayed in B&B’s between bookings. And slowly but surely I whittled my debt down over the years. A few years ago I offered decent settlement amounts to a couple of the banks, which were accepted, and subsequently increased the payment amounts to the others. By the beginning of 2021 I had finally reduced my debt to below Β£5k and today, I made the full and final payment on the very last amount still outstanding. Β£521.88 to be precise.

As of today, I am finally debt free. I don’t owe anyone a single penny. It is a huge weight off my shoulders.

I know this post has been different to my usual posts, but I felt it was necessary to say…for me. I feel an overwhelming sense of achievement at having finally settled my debts after 10 years, and really really proud that I didn’t take the easy way out and declare bankruptcy back in 2011.

I guess my experience could act as a cautionary tale too. Don’t live on credit. Especially don’t pay for personal development courses with a credit card, and don’t ever subscribe to the fallacy of OPM. It may well be ‘other people’s money’ to begin with, but ultimately, you will have to pay it back. I believed everything they said in those courses, and whilst I may have learned a lot, none of it paid the bills.

I have managed to live without a credit card for the last 10 years…and I will continue to live my life without a credit card. It can be done.

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My client has a lady by the name of ‘Alexa’ living in her house πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

Although I don’t entirely trust the girl, and I’m sure she listens in on our conversations, I’ve been asking her to play some of my favourite tunes; listened to Mozart while preparing supper last night. 🎼🎼🎼

I’ve also asked her to play some of my Mother’s favourite pieces of music/songs; Moon River, Talk to the Trees, What a Wonderful World, and of course the Elizabethan Serenade which apparently was so named in honour of the new Queen; Elizabeth II. I absolutely adore the paintings that accompany this version, the original

https://youtu.be/u4XgbIhlOvk

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https://youtu.be/gE9QIkhQrto

πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ˜„πŸ˜„ I just had to share this…makes me want to dance around my room πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ if I had that much energy on Camino, I’d also be happy.

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I have essentially been homeless for nearly 18 months now, staying in b&bs and guest houses between bookings since September 2019, with the occasional sleepover on my daughter’s couch.

My belongings have been in storage for much of that time. Some of the many boxes filled with stuff I’ve accumulated since I arrived in the UK and much of it brought over from South Africa in 2016 after I obtained my British citizenship.
Settling under the weight of my belongings has been tough. Walking the Camino taught me about just how little we really need to get by, but real life is not a Camino and so I find it hard to give up on ‘stuff’.

But on Monday I moved into a new place which I shall call home for the next 6 months at least. ‘Move in’ is a bit of a stretch of course since atm its just me and my suitcase 😝😝😝 Due to the snow I’ve been unable to get to the storage unit anyway even though I want to, and was supposed to on Monday afternoon.

So meanwhile I’ve had to borrow teabags, blankets and a pillow from my daughter, and a blanket, water-bottle, heater and kettle from the landlord, who also kindly bought me some milk last night when went out to Waitrose. I already have my own tea mug to hand that I take to bookings because I loathe using the client’s mugs…some of which are just manky.

Today I’m having a pj day and staying in bed till after midday…I think I deserve it after 5 weeks of getting up at 6.45 every day 😝😝😝πŸ₯±πŸ₯±πŸ₯± although I suspect my stomach may well get me out sooner….

But, since the ‘new place’ is essentially just a big room in a shared house, with separate, shared facilities, I will only be bringing over the essentials like my backpack and some extra clothes and my groceries plus bedlinen of course, and a towel. Its going to be so good to have some of my travel books as well…just to make it look homely. Of course pride of place goes to a framed photo of my grandson that travels around the country with me. That it always next to my bedside so that he’s the first thing I see each day πŸ₯°πŸ₯°

But the best of all is that once I’ve got all the stuff I want, to make life a bit more pleasant, I can just leave it all here when I leave for my next booking, and not have to stress about getting to the storage unit to leave or collect anything.

Its been really stressful and quite expensive having to look for a place to stay between bookings, but this place is a very reasonable rent and as I say, quite spacious. I’ve viewed so many rooms in the last 18 months and they’re all very small and expensive. My heartfelt thanks to my son-in-law who spotted the advert and alerted me to view.

So here it is…unadorned with my belongings as yet, except for a few odds and ends…the desk sold the place really…somewhere I can set up my computer – most important!!

There’s a little, unused, fireplace behind where I’m standing which I’ll fill with something decorative, and 2 small cupboards with hanging space and shelves.

So in all, and in comparison to what millions of other people around the world have to live in….its a palace…. albeit a feking cold palace atm πŸ₯ΆπŸ₯ΆπŸ₯Ά even with the heater on, its cold, which is why I’m having a pj day…with a hotwater-bottle under my feet. Roll on summer 😁😁

Welcome home Cindy πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„πŸ˜„

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This is a really old article, but sometimes my random and accidental keywords take me to interesting places. I also tend to follow a string of articles, clicking from one link to another.

I recently read this article and thought I’d share it with you. It will be interesting to revisit this in what is now only 9 years time and see how much has transpired.

In the meantime, a couple of those predictions are already heading in the right direction, and one of those mentioned, teetered perilously close to the edge of an abyss – the prediction was almost too close for comfort.

I wonder what you think?

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Let me start off by saying “I hate plastic!”. Strong words, but I do, especially soft, non-reusable, single-use plastic. Personally I think the manufacturers of the stuff should now be sued for negligence (of the planet), wilful destruction (of the environment) and ‘man’slaughter of our animals and sea creatures. There have been so many innovative ideas and new materials created to replace plastic, that the manufacturers no long have an excuse. But of course, that’s not taking into account the oil industry, and the hedge-fund industry. They stand to lose billions of dollars if we stop making plastic.

The issue of soft, disposable, non-reusable plastic and the pollution and destruction they cause/d has been common knowledge and widely spoken about, written about, advertised and poor David Attenborough has been banging his head against the proverbial brick wall for years now. I understand that plastic has it’s uses and certainly the medical industry benefits hugely from soft pliable plastic, but that like other such industries should be the exception.

Think about all those MEGA TONS of plastic rubbish that gets exported from China to the west each year…all those plastic toys that break within a few weeks and even days…all the novelty toys, the junk that comes out of christmas crackers…that stuff all ends up in landfill or rivers or the ocean. We are quite literally choking the life out of our planet with junk. There is NO ‘away’. Just because we bin it or toss it, doesn’t mean it’s gone…it’s there for centuries.

Cheap plastic products from China

If you live in a Western country, or any other country for that matter where you have a TV or access to a smart phone – YOU KNOW THAT PLASTIC KILLS. Think about the high incidence of child cancer in recent decades, and getting worse. About breast cancer, and bone cancer and any other cancer you can think of. I remember in the 70s maybe 1 in 10 people got cancer, now it’s 1 in 2!! Read that again ONE in TWO people now get cancer. Every year we donate millions to fund cancer research, to find a cure. This too has been going on for decades…they haven’t found ‘a cure’, they manage to cure a lot of people, but there is no cure for cancer per se. If they spent those millions on finding a solution, an alternative to plastic or the hundreds of deadly chemicals sprayed on our food each year…then we may get somewhere.

#5 πŸ₯ΊπŸ₯ΊπŸ₯Ί

And that’s not taking into account the effect on our oceans…vital to our continued wellbeing. We’ve seen the footage of the whale trying to swallow the plastic bin, we’ve seen the endless number of whales and dolphins and seabirds and fish washed up dead or dying on our shores with kilograms of plastic in their gut. The sheer agony those creatures must have suffered is beyond comprehension.

And then there’s the fishing industry – destroying the very place they depend upon for their livelihoods.🀬🀬🀬🀬

And yet…..

Death by plastic

I subscribe to the UK Rivers & Canal Trust newsletters and when I can, I contribute financially to support their work.  I recently received this newsletter:

Every year an estimated 14 million pieces of plastic rubbish end up in and around our canals and rivers. Sadly we can’t clear all of this plastic up, so 500,000 of those pieces are washed out into the ocean, becoming part of a much bigger global problem.

If everyone who visited one of our waterways picked up just one piece of plastic, the water and towpaths would be clear within a year.

Pledge to fight plastic in your area

We’re (the Canal trust) asking if you and your family can make a pledge to do a litter pick along a towpath near you. We understand it might not be possible for you to meet up, or to get out and about right now. So please do wait until it’s safe and make sure you follow national and local government guidance. You can also read through ourΒ safety tipsΒ to get yourselves prepared.

This is plastic collected off a UK beach – 1 beach!!

It seems extraordinary to me that even after all these years, so much plastic pollution is still ending up in our waterways. Much as I despise how the manufacturers like to shove the responsibility for the pollution onto our shoulders (if there wasn’t any plastic…), we too have a responsibility to avoid buying the stuff. That said, its easier said than done. Its virtually impossible to buy anything without some form of plastic either attached to (clothing, shoes etc), wrapped in (food, magazines, products etc.) or transported in (think Amazon plastic wrapping). There are an uncountable number of ways plastic is used in our daily lives.

It’s a big fight, it’s a good fight, it’s a depressing fight because no matter what, no matter how much we ‘pick up’ today, tomorrow there will be more.

Death by human pleasure

But it is a fight we need to continue.  I remember in 2018 when my daughter was pregnant with her son, my 1st grandchild, I used to spend hours on the beach every day I was home between bookings, picking up 1,000 pieces of plastic. I never left, no matter the weather or my physical discomfort until I’d picked up 1000 pieces. And yet, 2 years later….

The above images were all taken during some of my walks along the Thanet (Kent) coastline in November year, the last 3 images from Pegwell Bay. This area is home to spectacular bird life and designated as a protected area under UK and EU legislation and is also considered a world class wetland.

If that is what is littering the tide line, I shudder to think what is entangled in the wild grasses and mud flats that get covered each day by the tide. The area where the birds that inhabit this area nest.

The Nature Reserve is a Ramsar Site of International Importance and yet its inundated with humans plastic pollution. On the day I was there, besides all the plastic in the above images, on the side of the pathway there was a pile of dog poo bags. 🀬🀬🀬 What is it with dog owners? Why don’t they dispose of the bags in the bins provided or take them home? And let’s not even think about cigarette smokers who throw their disgusting butts into the streets, on the beaches or out their car windows wherever they are. It’s ALL pollution

Will there ever be an end to this horrendous situation we humans have caused?

It is actually just disgusting and we are all responsible.

I just wish there was a solution, but so long as money and profit is more important than people, and people continue to buy convenience products in plastic, there is no hope.

It’s extraordinary…we supposedly put a man on the moon and yet we can’t solve the problem of pollution.

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I’ve been invited to participate in theΒ 2020 Travel ChallengeΒ by fellow travellers and Camino pilgrims http://wetanddustyroads.com Thank you πŸ˜ƒ

I’m honoured to be nominated and will do my very best to live up to the challenge!!

May

The Travel Challenge involves posting one favorite travel picture for each day. That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations, without any explanation. If you take up this challenge, then you also need to nominate someone each day.

Today, on the 5th day of the challenge, IΒ  nominate https://ericotrips.wordpress.com

You’re under no obligation to accept, but if you do…..

You can post any of your favorite pictures from 2020…enjoy and happy travels!!

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I’ve been invited to participate in the 2020 Travel Challenge by fellow travellers and Camino pilgrims http://wetanddustyroads.com Thank you 😁

I’m honoured to be nominated and will do my very best to live up to the challenge!!

April

The Travel Challenge involves posting one favorite travel picture for each day. That’s 10 days, 10 travel pictures, and 10 nominations, without any explanation. If you take up this challenge, then you also need to nominate someone each day.

Today, on the 4th day of the challenge, I  nominate http://wanderingexplorer.travel.blog

You’re under no obligation to accept, but if you do…..

You can post any of your favorite pictures from 2020…enjoy and happy travels!!

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Urgh. I hate this whole Black Friday corporate consumerism consumption.

It’s such a cynical ploy to make people spend money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need, πŸ’ΈπŸ’ΈπŸ’Έ while the companies behind the plot rub their hands in glee all the way to the bank as their coffers fill up and their shareholders pop the champagne, while the bankers celebrate…kerching, kerching, kerching…..interest!! πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

It’s a blight. Just watching the crush and the fighting as shoppers vie for items that even involves fisticuffs, is most unpleasant. Greed has an ugly face.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan 😠😠

I did a Google search for the background and found this article in The Telegraph Here’s an excerpt…

How did Black Friday start?

The term “Black Friday” was actually first associated with financial crisis, not sales shopping.

Two Wall Street financiers Jim Fisk and Jay Gould, together bought a significant amount of US gold in the hope of the overall price soaring and in turn being able to sell it for huge profits.

On Friday 24 September, 1869, in what became referred to as “Black Friday”, the US gold market crashed and Fisk and Gould’s actions left Wall Street barons bankrupt. 

It was not until later years that the post-Thanksgiving period became associated with the name.

I’m sure the corporations that take advantage of this must surely celebrate ‘Thanksgiving’ as in ‘thanks for giving us your money’. It is still associated with financial crisis….

No, I’m not a fan….

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