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Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009
Debt diaries: Andy's story

By Catherine Burns
Newsbeat reporter

Money wise, 2009 isn't turning out to be a barrel of laughs what with recession, unemployment and repossessions. This time last year, just as the credit crunch was creeping in, we started trying to help out some listeners. Andy was £28,000 in debt and couldn't see a way out of it.

Andy couldn't see beyond his financial problems before

When we met Andy, he was in a bad way. His money problems started when he was made redundant. And then he spent £10,000 on his wedding, but ended up splitting up with his fiancée.

So, in January 2008, he was single and stressed.

He says: "I was feeling really down, I just couldn't do anything. I was dragging my heels and I needed help."

We introduced him to debt counsellor Chris Tapp, from the charity Credit Action.

Payments lowered

His main advice for Andy was to get a debt management plan from a free charity like the Consumer Credit Counselling Service.

You give them a lump sum every month and they share it out amongst your debts. Andy did it, and his payments have gone down from £700 a month to £300.
Andy and Chris Tapp
Andy listens to some financial advice from Chris Tapp

But by following their plan, he's managed to wipe £9,000 off his debts in just one year.

Chris thinks if he carries on at this rate, he'll be in credit in a couple of years.

More confident

And then there's his personal life.

Last January, Andy told us that he'd love to get a girlfriend, but felt that his debts were taking over his life so much he just couldn't imagine it happening.

Now, he's met someone, and says it's going really well. He's even trying to save some cash to go on holiday with her later on in the year.

Debt counsellor Chris said: "When people have a debt issue that isn't being dealt with, it really dominates their life.

"And there'll be an awful lot of people now, with the recession, who are really worried about their financial situation, and feeling like they can't do anything about it.

"That's never true. They can work to pay off their debts and still have a decent life in the meantime."

Andy's tried it for a year and agrees. He says: "If I can do it, anyone can do it. It's that easy."

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