‘I was getting 80% of my salary’: How furlough saved one Briton from credit card debt

Thanks to furlough, those who were left temporarily out of work have been able to earn and save cash which has gone towards their living expenses and pulling themselves out of serious debt. The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme was introduced to top-up employee wages for businesses which closed down due to the pandemic. As part of the initiative, the Government sent out grants to employers in the UK to cover up to 80 percent of the wages of employees.

“Unfortunately the rent on my one-bed flat, commuting plus the costs of living in London meant I was barely breaking even and lived at the wrong edge of my student £2000 overdraft from a decade prior.

“I also had a £1000 credit card from years earlier that I was paying the minimum on to keep me ticking over.

“I had been trying to pay them off since 2012 with varying success – any time I made progress something would happen to drop me back down.”

For Alex, being put on furlough during the pandemic meant she could receive most of her salary without having to worry about the extra costs of going to and from work.

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Ms Aldhouse said: “Going on furlough meant I was still getting 80 percent of my salary, though I was no longer commuting across London, those costs were still ‘lost’ in the 20 percent I wasn’t being paid.

“My biggest saving was food. When I was working, I was leaving the house at 6:30am and not getting home till around 7:30/8:00pm.

“I was eating breakfast at work but lunch was always bought and my evening meals tended to be ready meals bought on my way home so I was spending far too much each day.

“I had tried previously to batch cook but my schedule meant I was always too tired to think about making tomorrow’s lunch in the evening, and going to get lunch was often the only time I actually managed to leave my desk during the day.

“The money I would normally spend on socialising with friends got redirected to my savings account which definitely helped me to chip away at my debt during 2020.”

During the pandemic, Ms Aldhous launched her own business as a self-employed business consultant which she was able to work on while on furlough.

She added: “My dad loaned me enough to upgrade my laptop but no bank loans to start up. I actually hit the ground running with clients on my first day of business as I started networking when I was on furlough/notice.

“First year of working I made £17,300 turnover, of which roughly 50 percent was profit.”

According to Ms Aldhouse, furlough offered her the opportunity to save money, get out of debt and begin a new stage in her professional career, which otherwise would never have been possible.

She said: “I am better off now in every sense of the word and incredibly grateful for the opportunity Covid and furlough offered me.

“Financially, I am better off self employed. I work from home which means my outgoings for work are virtually zero and I have multiple income streams via my business to give me the stability of income I need.

“I have recurring revenue via a small business owners membership that I set up and my consultancy work now has a waiting list which is an amazing position to be in just one year into my business life.”

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