We entered into an IVA due to unmanageable credit card debt and overdrafts. Paying the minimum monthly payments was pushing our outgoings over our income and wasn't making a dent in the debt so we felt we needed to take drastic action. The IVA seemed the most acceptable solution to the problem.

We researched companies and found one with good reviews. The advisor was extremely clear and helpful. There was no pressure to move forward until we were happy to.  The set up process was fairly straight forward. Any documents that were required to be seen were clearly explained to us so we had time to prepare them. The arrangements made for signing and collection of documents was all done at our convenience with an associate sent out to us at an agreed time. This was really helpful. All in all the set up process was very simple and not too nerve racking due to the reassurance from everyone involved.  Their experience of dealing with creditors and knowing how they react to IVA proposals took most of the worry away.

There were a few issues with the agreed payment to our IVA Company not being properly set up so I would recommend checking that a direct debit, standing order or regular payment is in place once everything is agreed. After this point making payments has been seamless. The main challenge has been living within a budget. Having to change habits and live within means. Although this seems an obvious need it was a challenge to do it circumstances force it and this discipline over the course of the IVA will stand us in good stead when the IVA is over. A helpful tip is to move all direct debit payments to just after payday ensuring that commitments are met when you have funds available. We have then assigned cash for essentials such as groceries and petrol.  Going back to cash keeps your mind on how much money is available rather than the debit card. 

The annual review is ok as long as you know your outgoings so keep records of what you spend each month. The payment will be adjusted if you have more money available each month so be accurate with this to avoid problems.  As getting any new credit during the agreement will not be possible if you have for example a car on a PCP agreement you may well struggle to get a further deal from the lender and you will need to either give the car back or pay off the balance. You should consider the implications of this before proceeding. Likewise changing providers for things like mobile phones where credit checks will be carried out might not be possible during the IVA so you may have to stay with current providers.

Overall the IVA has taken away the worry of debt from us and forced us to budget properly and responsibly. Although it can be tough, the long term will be brighter with a debt free future.