Yasmine Camilla, from London, has been chipping away at her debt after once owing £38,000 to credit card companies and loan providers. We share her story and her tips for getting out of debt for good
Image: Virgin Money Red Team)
A single mum who spiralled into £38,000 of debt after battling with her mental health is sharing her financial journey as she gets back in the clear.
TikTok influencer and business consultant Yasmine Camilla found herself taking out loans and credit cards after the end of a long-term relationship.
The 35-year-old, who lives in London, is currently paying off her debt and managed to clear an impressive £7,000 in just eight weeks by reassessing her finances.
Part of the debt Yasmine owed included £15,000 on two credit cards, as well as almost £17,000 across three loans.
The debt cycle started when the mum-of-two became a single parent about six months before the pandemic hit.
Virgin Money Red Team)
Yasmine said she didn’t take the time to look at her finances and consider what needed to change now she was on a single income.
“It was the beginning of better financial management for me,” she said.
“I was able to list my debts and work out how much I need on a pound a month fee basis, as a minimum.
“I was then able to look into things like interest rates and that really empowered me to make decisions about what to do next.”
As well as her job as a business consultant, Yasmine earns extra income from her TikTok and Instagram accounts, which she is using to pay off her debt.
Mak e a list of what you owe
Go through your bank statements and make a list of everything you owe so you have a clear picture of what outgoings you have.
Make sure you factor in your bills as well, and what money you need for food.
“Listing everything I owed was really essential for me – it’s a fact that I owe £38,000,” said Yasmine.
“Part of me wanting to pay back my debt and get on top of my finances was all about taking ownership and not feeling ashamed.
“I wanted to know what the number was, and in some ways, I wanted to desensitise myself from it. I think knowing the exact position you’re in makes it all the more real.
“From that, you can draw a line and make a plan.”
Talk to your creditors
If your debt is keeping you up at night, don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your creditors to see what support they can offer you.
They should be able to put a payment plan in place or check if there is a way to lower your bills.
Yasmine said: “It’s always worth calling people and, depending on your situation, it might be worth speaking to your individual creditors to see if they have any other options.
“At the moment, I’m trying to keep my credit rating intact, so I’m aiming to pay everything off.”
Alina Jaffer of Virgin Money added: ”Making a list is a great way to give you validation of what you’ve achieved so far and what you have left to accomplish.”
Move your debts to 0% interest card
If you have credit card debt, pricey interest rates will likely keep you paying it off for a longer amount of time.
See if you can move the debt you owe over to a 0% interest balance transfer card.
This is where you shift the money owed on one card to a new one that comes with a 0% interest-free period – sometimes up to 31 months.
You should note that only those with good credit ratings will get the top rates, and you may not always get the advertised rate.
Use an eligibility calculator first to check what you’re likely to be accepted for without damaging your credit score.
And crucially, don’t make any new spends on these cards as you’ll likely start to be charged interest until you pay it off.
Yasmine said: “There are lots of different ways that you could consider consolidating, but for me, I knew that a 0% interest balance transfer credit card would be a good option.
“I set about trying to find the longest period with a low enough transfer fee and consolidated lots of little debts onto one credit card.”
Be better at budgeting
Knowing what you can and can’t afford is a powerful tool when it comes to paying off debt.
Again, you’ll need to start by going through your statements and working out exactly what money you have going in and our.
For example, can you make do without Netflix? Or are you spending too much money on takeaway coffee?
Once you have a better idea of your income stream, you can then set yourself a reasonable target and work out how much you have to pay off your debts as quickly as possible.
Yasmine says budgeting has been “absolutely life changing” in her debt journey.
She said: “I think with having been in a long-term relationship with my children’s father, and with both of us working and having a reasonable income between us, it wasn’t something I ever had to think about.
“I certainly never had to budget by myself. Between us we always had enough money and, whilst we didn’t have many luxuries or holidays, we never really had to worry.
“Now, as part of my debt journey, I budget absolutely everything.
“For the first time I am ready to spend on Christmas presents in September – if I carry on like I have been, I guarantee that by next year I’ll start my festive shopping a lot sooner!”
Prioritise your debts
The consequences of not paying off some debts before others can be more serious, so it is important to prioritise what you owe.
For example, debts that need to be paid off are ones that could end up with you in an emergency situation such as being evicted, a visit from the bailiffs or even court action.
You should also look at the debts that are accruing the most interest and either paying them off, or moving them to a 0% balance transfer card as we’ve mentioned above.
Yasmine said: “I actually still had some debt on a credit card that was accruing interest at around 19%, so I decided to try and pay that one off first.
“I am continuing to pay the minimum for my other debts and working on one debt at a time. I actually just paid off the first credit card, and let me tell you, it’s amazing to owe £0 on a card.”
Alina of Virgin Money added: “When you make that initial list, having your debts sectioned by seriousness will put you in a better position for paying those high-priority debts back first.“
Seek proper advice if you’re really stuck
There are advice helplines and charities for people who need some help with understanding their situation, their rights and their options.
The below are all free to use. You shouldn’t need to pay anyone for debt advice.
Speak to one of the following organisations: