A Debt Issue arising from Overspending on Lifestyle
Mabel is a 29-year-old Sales Executive. She earns an income of $59,000 a year and owed a total of $80,000 to 6 financial institutions. The main cause of indebtedness was excessive spending on discretionary and lifestyle expenses.
CCS: Can you share more about what happened?
Mabel: I can share now, though I at first keep the problem to myself.
I bought several luxury handbags that cost between $8,000 to $15,000 each. I also spent on high end skincare, facial beauty products, you know.
I remember I would spend $3,000 in one bill so I can get free gifts.
I would go on oversea holidays and dine frequently at restaurants.
I had a car so I also needed to spend on car maintenance.
Initially, I could cope with the credit card bills. You know lah, it’s so convenient to buy things I like and no need to pay cash immediately.
When my income increased, I was granted higher credit limit and I got myself more credit cards.
CCS: How did you realise that you may have a credit card debt problem?
Mabel: Unfortunately, my spending habits did not change much even though my income dropped.
I struggled to cope with many credit cards, each with different payment due dates. I had to bear with high interest rates and late charges.
I found it very hard to keep up with the minimum payments.
The banks started calling me often to chase for payments. This affected my work and my mood.
I applied for Debt Consolidation Plan, but my applications were rejected by the banks. I was desperately searching for a solution online when a Facebook user recommended me to try CCS.
Initially, I resisted the thought of attending the information talk in person. But, I had no choice and had to do so as I really could not cope.
Subsequently, I attended a one-to-one session with a Credit Counsellor who worked with me to do a budget and a Debt Management Program (DMP).
CCS: While on DMP, were there trying moments that made you feel like giving up?
Mabel: Everything was fine after DMP was set up. This is because bulk of my payment go towards paying down the principal, and the interest rate charged under DMP is also much lower compared to original contracted credit card interest rate. I can see my debt size reducing each month and becoming debt free soon.
After I complete my DMP, I look forward to saving up for a fixed deposit and buy an endowment insurance.
CCS: Please share a word of advice to people who are facing a debt problem.
Mabel: Many people are not aware of CCS. So was I . But they should approach CCS and try to work out a DMP, which can help us repay unsecured credit debts in a systematic way, instead of borrowing from licensed moneylenders or loan sharks.
Once on a DMP, they should persevere and keep up payments.
An interview with a CCS Client – This is the eleventh of a series of interviews conducted with Credit Counselling Singapore’s (CCS) counselled clients on our Debt Management Programme.
Profile of the client is presented based at the time the person approached CCS for assistance, which could be as recent as a few months ago or several years ago. Name of the interviewed client has been changed.
These interviews will be published on the 3rd Friday of the month.
Credit Counselling Singapore
Published 19 May 2023.