I left school with Fs in my GCSEs – after racking up £100k debt I was terrified…my side hustle saw me pay it ALL back | The Sun

HEARING the sound of the letterbox clattering, Rachel Beecham's heart dropped as another urgent-looking bill landed on the door mat.

With two kids and a mortgage to pay, Rachel and her husband Stephen had been struggling for some time stay afloat – and owed a staggering £100k in credit card debt.

It was a dire situation, and one they couldn't see a way out of – but they claim they turned their lives around by seeking proper financial advice and Rachel, now 51, landing a new career as an Avon sales rep.

Incredibly, the mum to Robyn, 28, and Jack, 27, now earns up to £5k a month.

Rachel says: "When we were £100k in debt it was really hard to see a way out and was a huge stress, but thankfully now we've not only been able to pay everything back, but we can even afford a few luxuries now too."

'I was told I'd never be successful'

Growing up, Rachel worked hard – but was told she would never amount to anything career-wise.


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She says: "I am bright but I'm dyslexic, so when it came to school and my teachers told me it was a waste of time doing my GCSEs, and the ones I did I got Ds and Fs.

"I was told I'd never be successful.

"At parents evening when I was around 10 one teacher said I'd be a good mother but that was it – my mum was so upset he burst into tears."

After leaving school, Rachel went into engineering initially, but when she became a mother in her early twenties she had to look for work that she could fit around motherhood.

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She says: "Jack has mild autism so I worked part-time doing any job I could do, from lollipop lady to cleaner, as I found it hard to find a job that would fit around being a mum."

Racking up £100,000 debt

Then, 57-year-old Stephen's working hours at a car factory were cut and they began to really struggle financially.

Rachel says: "We were a bit naive when we bought our house in 1990 and the interest rates were really high, at around 15 per cent, so most of our income was always spent on the mortgage and bills.

"It was suddenly a real struggle to get by, and we just couldn't cover the bills so we started to run up credit card debt."

"Stephen travelled to work by motorbike, and that was stolen so we had to get a loan to buy a new one, and then his hours were cut so his income dropped significantly too, by about £8k a year.

"It was suddenly a real struggle to get by, and we just couldn't cover the bills so we started to run up credit card debt.

"It was a vicious cycle. We'd get new cards to pay off old debt, and racking up catalogue debts getting basic clothes for the children.

"At Christmas we'd have to borrow more money to be able to afford a few presents for the children.

"Gradually it just built up and it was out of control. We tried to bury our heads in the sand, and by 2008 with all the interest we owed around £100,000.

"It caused a lot of sleepless nights for us both – it was constant worry and we were told we could lose our house."

Barely scraping by

The couple did everything they could to scrape by and pay the minimum payments each month, living off the cheapest food and buying reduced items.

It was then a friend recommended giving Avon a go for a bit of extra cash.

Rachel says: "I didn't have any high expectations to be honest in the beginning – it's commission based and we were in such a desperate situation we ideally needed regular, steady income so we could monitor our income and outgoings.

"But I gave it a go, starting part time and working a few hours at weekends, and began by just earning a couple of hundred extra a month.

"I'd drop off catalogues round the local area and collect them back in, then I'd go to job fairs, and began to put together a team of reps too.

"Then I went on to become a sales leader earning commission on how my team did, and within four months I was earning enough to leave my job at the card shop.

"I had the flexibility to work from home and be there for my kids too, as well as earning much better money."

Facing up to financial issues

Within a year Rachel was earning more money than she'd ever earned before, and now she earns up to £5k a month and averages around £3k.

She says: "For years we'd buried our heads in the sand about our debt, but we finally sought advice from Citizens Advice and a few debt charities, who gave us some information and template letters to send to all the people we owed.

"We did that, and most of the debtors froze the interest, so we could get into a routine paying back each month.

"Steve's income also went up a little, and with my Avon earnings we could finally begin to pay it off properly."

'A weight off our shoulders'

Three years ago, the pair finally cleared all their debt after ten years of repaying what they owed, and no longer owe a penny – even owning their house outright.

Stephen also retired last year, and now helps Rachel with the business.

Rachel says: "It was a weight off our shoulders.

"We could afford luxuries we'd never had before, and now we have a hot tub in the garden and can go on nice holidays too.

"My advice is get advice and seek help as soon as you're worried as we left it far too long. It won't go away.

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"I'm proof that if you just keep trying and seek help, you can turn things around."

If you're looking for information on debt help, please visit Citizens Advice's website. You can also get help from your nearest Citizens Advice if you have an urgent debt problem.

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