A woman who battled back from the brink of bankruptcy is now volunteering to help neighbours balance their books as part of an innovative project.
Following the launch of a Northamptonshire Credit Union service point at Daventry & District Housing, Tracy Turner has volunteered to help others get their finances in order and save for the future.
Tracy, 46, from Daventry, is determined to make a difference and help those facing the same financial difficulties she has experienced herself. “I want people to know that there’s something out there a lot cheaper than payday loans,” she said.
“I’ve been there. I know what it’s like. A few years ago my husband Sean picked up his toolbox the wrong way, suffered three prolapsed discs and had to go into hospital. He was in a lot of pain and was unable to work for a year and a half.
“Sean had been earning a good wage and we were enjoying life. We had nice cars and could treat the children. But, he didn’t get sick pay so we had to apply for Income Support and Housing Benefit and our income went from about £2,000 a month to £70 every two weeks.”
Sean eventually took voluntary redundancy and with the bills stacking up, Tracy turned to payday loans and even borrowed money from their son.
Tracy added: “Some bills went unpaid and we accrued a lot of debt. It got so bad that people were knocking on the door for money.”
The Credit Union offers affordable loans that provide a much better alternative to the high-interest payday type of borrowing that Tracy found herself relying on.
Tracy said: “You get so many letters and emails offering you different borrowing products.
“It’s so easy to access them and apply for loans online that you end up taking out more and more products so that you meet the repayments. You have to beg from Peter to pay Paul and it becomes almost impossible to keep your head above water.”
A long-serving volunteer with Daventry Timebank, Tracy is currently studying a business and administration course with Vision to Learn as she continues to search for employment and stabilise her finances.
“We’re still paying off debts now, council tax mostly, but the debt is getting lower and lower,” she said.
“I’ve never been good with money but I’ve learnt so much since going through these financial troubles. I’m not proud of it but it’s made us stronger as a couple and I’m much more appreciative when I have money. We spend it a lot more wisely and I’ve started saving with the Credit Union.
“I’ve never saved in my life, but now I’ve set up a standing order to go out on the first of each month. My first £5 went out at the beginning of February. It’s such a small amount that you don’t miss it and knowing that I can’t touch it really helps.
“I’m going to carry on saving as much as I can so that we can have a holiday. We haven’t had one for years.”
Tracy is supporting Credit Union volunteers Anne and Angie every Monday morning at the service point based at the DDH offices. She is keen for more customers to make the most of the service and has words of encouragement to anybody out there that might be struggling.
“Come in and see us and have a natter with me, Anne and Angie,” Tracy said.
“Nobody’s here to judge you and I know exactly how hard things can get if you don’t take those first steps to control your finances.”
If you would like to find out more about saving with the Credit Union or accessing affordable borrowing, come and see Tracy between 9am and 12pm every Monday at our offices at Nene House on Sopwith Way on the Drayton Fields Industrial Estate in Daventry.
Tracy’s top tips:
- When you go from a good month to a bad month, prioritise and budget.
- Seek advice from places like the Citizens Advice Bureau and StepChange.
- Cut down on things like takeaways and expensive TV packages.
- When you have money, spend it wisely and try to save.