LIZ JONES: I was so poor even Wonga refused to lend me

It’s the ultimate irony – bailiffs knock on the door of Wonga, the payday loan company. Schadenfreude is on the agenda: Wonga attacked the vulnerable and got what he deserved. There is no room in a fair corporation for a business that charges interest of up to 1311 percent.

The point is, however, that there was a time when, if I had been able to get my hands on a Wonga loan, I would have knelt down in gratitude.

I must be one of the few people they turned down. In one of my darkest hours – running out of gas on the M4 with 212 miles to go and unable to pay a vet to euthanize a pet – I tried. Who cares about interest rates, or next week, or tomorrow, who even understands those stupid APRs when you’ve got £ 3 in your account and no one to turn to?

The thing is, there was a time when, if I had been able to get my hands on a Wonga loan, I would have knelt down in gratitude.

Wonga is, or was, a rubber ring that kept the desperate afloat a little longer. Because, oh the sharks that surround the poor!

When you are made insolvent, as I was three years ago, you are required by law to hire an insolvency practitioner, a horrible breed that I never want to meet again. I imagine murderers are treated with more courtesy. Mine was anxious to tell me my house was too big, before he disappeared for an afternoon of golf.

Then, without warning, you find that you have hired an insolvency lawyer. I was in a job interview at the top of The Shard when a woman I had never heard of called me: ‘If you don’t send £ 2,000 down by 2pm, I will refuse. represent you and you will automatically be declared bankrupt. ‘

The Great Whites? The accountant, whom you fire for incompetence, but who quickly sends another invoice. The agent, who gobbles up 15% of your severance pay, even though he never found you a job because, well, “you’re an older woman.”

The official receiver, who had furiously searched for the house I was forced to sell on Rightmove, and said, “No wonder it’s for a song. Your kitchen was way too small. There are also the piranhas nibbling at your heels, making every day an obstacle course. You only buy food in small amounts, so you worry about the money you have left. The number of times I went to the checkout in Tesco, arguing with the lovely lady at the checkout: “Do I need comfort? No, take that back.

Auto credit, double the going rate because you have bad credit. Private owners, unfriendly a second you’ve lost your dream home you’ve worked for 30 years, content to give you step-by-step instructions on how to clean the inexpensive ceramic hob, only a few days before to sell your desk, your sofas and all the memory for a song.

There is no place in a fair corporation for a business that charges interest of up to 1311 percent

There is no place in a fair corporation for a business that charges interest of up to 1311 percent

Oh, I know there are many who will say, she just has to blame herself. But I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through over the past decade on my worst enemy.

So what needs to change? Teach personal finance in schools. Make savings compulsory (why do so many large companies no longer have credit clubs?). Learn to rely on yourself, not a husband or a job: both can be gone in the blink of an eye.

The hardest lesson I learned in my shortage class, which saw me go bankrupt last year, is that a debt of generosity is seldom repaid. From my extended family, many of whom had helped me a lot over the years, I only received a supportive text from a niece. Only one friend gave me something: an Oyster card with £ 10 on it. I turned pale with gratitude.

How did I get out of having to surreptitiously grab the free fruit at Tesco, the kid stuff?

I hired a debt counselor (a charity called Step Change is a fantastic option), and she saved my life. She was supportive but brutal. “Forget your old life, Liz,” she would say to me when I sobbed and committed suicide. ‘It’s finish. Grieve and move on.

Above all, she was not judging. She reassured me that I was not alone. She told me how a single mother was forced to make contact. She had lost everything. The reason? Her son had run into a traffic bollard late at night, a bollard that was broken and therefore turned off; he killed another driver and was jailed. Her mother spent every penny trying to get her name cleared.

My generosity, my desire to be loved, has been my downfall, possibly the reason more women than men are made insolvent each year. We are the housewives, the cooks, the people who like it. Wonga, for all her obvious flaws, was a lifeline for some hapless souls who probably only wanted to feed the children.

It may have only served to drag them further, but at least it kept them from drowning for a while.

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