Dear Monzo, I'm £7,000 in debt and I’m struggling to clear it

Laura answers our first Dear Monzo letter, from one person who’s struggling to pay off debts while still paying into savings.



I’ve started reading this but I’m getting annoyed with the big bold text repeating what’s just been said in the text before. What’s that about? It’s almost every paragraph :dizzy_face: If it’s big a bold it suggests I need to read it but I already have!


Sounds like sensible advice :slightly_smiling_face: Good luck getting out of dept, ‘Frustrated in the Red’ :+1:


I skim read it using those, they can be very useful!

The road in to debt can be a very exciting journey with new laptops, cars, mobile phones, designers clothes, however unfortunately all of this things are nothing more than us trying to keep up with other who are probably just trying to keep up with you, granted sometimes debt is an essential evil when you find an out of the ordinary leaking roof or the likes, the problem is that just cos you are already in a sh1t load of debt does not mean the unexpected will hold off until you are ready to afford it.

I’ve been there and thankfully the finish line is in my distant past, I found the best was to deal with debt is to make it painful to ensure you don’t have any inclination to return, like I said the road into debt can and usually is exciting but the road out is like a journey from hell, all the shiny shops are now shut. My advice is simply to look at what you owe and consolidate where possible at the lowest cost, then brutally attack your spending habits, ditch sky TV, Netflix, smoking, drinking, buying lunch, limit your treats to the bare minimal or zero, screw your heating down, say no to friends when they ask you out every week, chat to your friends and explain, you might even kick start their debt management and find you can do it together…just totally destroy your debts and make life uncomfortably shit to ensure you don’t return.

It worked for me and it can for you.


I am slowly working down my debt, not brutally. I don’t believe this is the right approach for everyone. But mental health is important so I allow myself a little flexibility to enjoy living life, all be it without my old spending habits. I still go out for meals, drinks with friends, not as often perhaps but it’s still allowed.

I do not let my debt ‘own me’, which is where your brutal approach would take me.


I agree, it might not be for everyone, but I did at 1 point kinda be the same just slowly working it down, but I always fell at some point and my headway was always knocked back by my weak moments, I guess at some point I decided to go all out and it worked. The 1 down side I have found is that I now maybe overthink my spending, maybe not a downside but I deffo need to stop thinking as much as I do about spending, I’m comfortable and can probably afford alot more than I let myself.


What I’ve found that helps me is a “Debt Graph”.

I have an excel sheet where I put in my monthly balances of my Savings and Debts and that way the changes make me feel better.

A student 0% overdraft until im 28 and 0% credit cards means the debt that I do have is manageable and I’m in no huge rush to pay it off but its nice to see all the same my debt going down and savings up.

I have to agree with this point… unless I had interest payments into the hundreds I would not let myself pass up every opportunity out of guilt.

Why should I sacrifice my 20s to enjoy my 30s debt free? Its about finding a balance that fits for the individual.


Hell yeah, get a spreadsheet/graph, anything visual that holds all the info in 1 place and shows it in an easy to understand format can only be a good thing. Seeing your progress and the feel good factor is the best driving force to keep you moving forward.

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Why should I sacrifice my 20s to enjoy my 30s debt free? Its about finding a balance that fits for the individual.

This quote is brilliant.


This is so true. At 25 I quit my job with my then girlfriend and spent six months travelling around the world followed by 4 months unemployed because the global economy imploded while we were away.

We got into maybe £15k of debt in that time which I had to service during the next 6/7 years, it just became a bit of an overhead. Do I wish I didn’t have the debt? Sure. Do I wish I hadn’t gone travelling and experienced all those priceless things the memories of which will last a lifetime? Absolutely not.

Debt used sensibly can be a good thing.


I always feel money spent on memories and experiences is money well spent. It’s the thing that lasts


100% agree, it’s the having the latest mobile phone or laptop that’s the problem…


I’m in about £7000 of debt right now as well, and very much in the same boat. I took out a consolidation loan to try and pay off about £4000 of debt a few years ago, and it since grew and meant I was owing various lenders different sums of money.
This is what I’ve done: I went through months of bank statements to see exactly what I was spending on things, and culled any payments that weren’t necessary (got rid of Netflix, and a few other subscriptions). Don’t go overboard if it’s going to cause you stress (I kept Spotify for example so I could listen to music on the tube, I felt like the subscription was worth it).
I made a monthly budget since my months can be very changeable. If there is one month that I have to travel a lot for work, for example, that means less money spent on food and transport costs, so more money can go towards paying down the debt. I also make note of birthdays or weddings on each month so I can try and allocate money for a present if needed. I’m targeting the high-interest debts as well because I realised that while I am paying about £400 a month towards these debts, I’m accruing about £100 in interest at the same time. I keep track of the debt, payments and interest, and I have a summary page where I can see the debt amount ticking down as well as when I’m projected to have paid the whole amount off, which is exciting and motivating for me to see.
I’m still getting a coffee once a week from the coffee shop. I’m still going to go on holiday later this month but trying to keep it cheap.


Commonly done in newspapers and works well

But they have definitely taken it to the extreme.

For an article of this length one key quote highlighted would be enough

Laura, totally sound advance, whilst I do not need this, it’s refreshing to see from a ‘bank’. Kudos. Keep it up.

I’m also impressed at the comments and community response, some good points and ways of seeing light in the long run.

Debt can be painful, but don’t hide from it, it’s like slow quick sand (if you understand my point)

Goodluck with the debt!

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The bold text between the paragraphs …

“If you already feel frustrated or guilty about being in debt, saving can be a useful way to offset how you feel.”

This is taken out of context. It’s essentially the exact opposite of what the article says.


A lot of people struggle with debt I was one of them not that long ago. I have since made relevant cut backs to spending and got to a better place.
Anyone who is in debt can get out of it with some hard work and knowledge.