Leo’s long-term problems with debt started over 15 years ago when a couple of investments turned sour, so he turned to credit cards.
“Back then, applying for and receiving a credit card was quite easy. Over time, I went from one to three to five, to seven credit cards, and that creeps up on you, you don’t do it overnight, but you’re doing it over a 10-year period.
“You think you’ve got the fourth and fifth credit card under control. But the six, the seven, the eighth for that matter really tipped you over the edge.
“I was fortunate enough to be on a high income, so I was masking the problem. With COVID, I moved on from that well-paying role, which meant there was no way I could service those cards.
“For a minimum of 10 years, I have not been able to save a cent. I was spending close to $5,000 per month just on interest.
“I consider myself a positive person but three months ago – before I spoke to Way Forward – I couldn’t care if I went bankrupt. I was at the point of despair.”
“You start making other silly decisions, because you’re not in the best frame of mind.
The first payment that Way Forward deducted in order to pay my creditors Leo describes as “a massive milestone”.
“I’m one month in and for the first time in what feels like forever, I haven’t watched my bank account, dwindle down to nothing two days after I get paid because of the credit card repayments.
“You are a different person and who you always hoped you were going to be. It’s just incredible.
“It’s not preoccupying every living thought. Previously, you woke up and you go to bed and you’re just thinking about the financial pressure.
“I know that six years from now, I’m done. I don’t worry that I’ll need to use my super payout to pay off my debts.
He had tried to negotiate repayment plans with his creditors when he lost his job.
“During COVID when I lost my job, I called all 11 of my creditors. I was lucky enough to come across a lady at Bankwest who really tried to understand my situation.
“She explained that I have options and suggested that I contact Way Forward.
“Out of every other bank, given the same information and the same set of circumstances, Bankwest were the only ones who were happy to put me as a customer first and offered to close my card.
Leo and his family are looking forward to going on a family holiday together for the weekend.
“I’ve got three teenage kids and we’ve never been on a plane together for a holiday. That gives you an indication as to how on edge finances really were.
“Suddenly, there’s $1,000 there that I can put towards the family holiday.
He also has ambitions to build up his savings to ensure unexpected expenses can be covered.
“Recently, I put $500 aside for the first time in a long time. And I might not be able to do that every month. If I need tires on the car, whatever it may be, knowing there’s a bit of cash there, I can sleep a lot easier.
“If your circumstances are like mine, don’t wait. Don’t wait a day, seriously.
His outlook on life is “very different”.
“I’ve seen my performance at work pick up. I’ve got a got a sense of clarity in my mind, that I haven’t had for a long time.”