Mark ran a cleaning business on and off for nearly 18 years, but it was challenging. He faced issues like customers who wouldn’t pay, unpredictable contracts and increasing price of supplies and equipment.
“You don’t want to feel that you’re failing, you have the plan, you have the wife and children to support, which is why the pressure was all on me.
“Unfortunately, the industry that I’m in, it’s only typically a five-year contract and that’s what we tender.
“It seemed like no matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get ahead. I worked every hour I could.
Mark found Way Forward after trying to sort out repayment plans with his creditors. Mark started working with Way Forward Hardship Advocate Paula.
“Paula basically did what I’ve been trying to do. It’s amazing how she got in contact with them and she was able freeze the interest, work at a payment plan.
“It was such a weight of my shoulders. My mood improved. Before, you were just working to serve a debt. Now, you can look to the future with new hope and optimism.
“It was swallowing your pride, admitting, you need help. But once you overcome that, then you listen to Paula and Co. and she was a great listener.
“My whole demeanor has changed. I’m much more optimistic. I’ve secured a full-time job within the company. The money’s coming in a bit better again now and having my outgoings reduced considerably. We can live again.
“I can actually take the wife out for a meal now, and the children. So that’s nice.
Mark feels like having his debt in a manageable state restored his confidence.
“When you haven’t got the confidence, you feel a failure. You don’t want to push yourself to get to do anything. But when you probably get your confidence back, things are dropping into place.
“If you need a bit of assistance, it’s out there. Put your pride to one side, get that help because there’s always someone that knows more than what you do.
“We put ourselves in that spot by borrowing the money, so you do have to pay it back. It should be a reasonable amount though.
“Every time there is a rate cut by the RBA, interest rates should come down and credit card interest rates should come down accordingly.
Mark had trouble understanding the terms and conditions, which impacted his experience borrowing money and he saw merit in writing these up in plain language. He refers to a campaign in the UK called The Plain English Campaign, which aimed do achieve just that.
“You need to have a lawyer’s degree to understand [the terms and conditions]. That’s what confuses so many people.”
Mark is happy with his financial situation but acknowledges the losses along the way that have made it difficult.
“I’ve always owned houses. I bought my first house at 21. Now what 58. I’m ok with rentals but I do miss having my own home. My wife encouraged me to sell the house to pay off our debts to reduce the stress on our family, because this has led to me having a breakdown previously.
“I thought I had everything planned years ago, that I would be semi–retired by 50, have my own house, and everyone paid off.
“At least I look forward to the future. I’ve got a little bit of money behind me now. I’ve got enough to buy things.”