Christmas is always a difficult time for broadcast manager and presenter Miranda Rae, who lives with her 11-year-old son Barney in Clevedon, just outside Bristol.
It is not just the hard-sell of the TV ads and the peer pressure that is placed on Barney. It is the knowledge that Christmas is where things started to go so badly wrong for her.
Living on benefits and eager to please her only child, Miranda took out a payday loan to create a magical Christmas. Only she didn’t have a payday coming any time soon. Once the tinsel was down, the bills started to roll in. And they haven’t stopped since, piling up unopened in Miranda’s kitchen.
“You know, it was great to be above to provide for my son and give him a brilliant Christmas, but within days the reality of what I’d done was starting to hit home.”
Miranda knows she shouldn’t have taken out the £800 loan. But her lender knew that she should never have been given her the loan at all. It was, by definition, unaffordable. There was no way she could ever have afforded to pay it back.
“I didn’t have to provide anything, just tick a few boxes and that’s it. What’s so scary about it, is how quickly the decision was made. No fact checking. No questions about could I afford the loan, how I could pay it back or anything”
As her debts spiralled out of control, Miranda took out payday loans with Wonga, QuickQuid, Lending Stream, Swift Stirling, Text Loan, PayDay loans, Wage Day and My Jar. Before long, she owed almost £7,000.
“You get one loan to pay the other one off. But very quickly it gets out of hand. I just didn’t know how I was going to do it and was missing payments. When you start missing payments the loans start going up and up in price, the fines that you get for not paying are really scary.”
Miranda began to isolate herself, staying indoors and ignoring the phone, in case it was someone chasing debts. She wouldn’t answer the door, because it may be a bailiff. Her social life suffered, as did her health.
“The payday loans affect you in such a long-term way because every year there’s that worry to provide again. Even though you know how stupid it is to take out a loan. I can tell you now, right now I’m thinking about doing it again for this Christmas because of that need to provide.”
Miranda has managed to get her loans under control via a Debt Management Plan, helped by money she received back from Wonga after a complaint. She is far from out of the woods yet. Although that does not mean the payday lenders are not still trying to sell loans to her.
“Payday lenders are just so aware of Christmas time, and people don’t realise that there are other options, such as credit unions. I think the payday lenders really pray on people for special occasions and Christmas with their adverts.”
Miranda is still struggling with her conscience and her purse when it comes to loans, but she implores those considering taking out a payday loan this Christmas to think again.
“Just don’t do it, whatever your circumstances. There must be a better way. Why would you borrow £100 and have to pay back £250? If you miss one payment, the payments will double. Whatever you’re getting the loan for, is it really that important?
The stress and the worry that will come with that no it’s not worth, it really isn’t worth it. You know the repercussions of payday loans, they ruined my life and they could ruin yours as well.”