My story began several years ago when my wife had to give up work with a serious back complaint, at that time I had one son in university and another son just starting. Shortly after this I was made redundant; whilst I soon found another role I was earning a lot less than I was used to and had to start at the bottom all over again. My outgoings were the same but the incoming a lot less.

Gradually (but seemed a lot faster) I found my debt growing and growing to the extent that when I did get a promotion I did not really feel the benefit as my debt was growing. This happened a few times over the years. I amalgamated my debt to make the payments a little easier but I still was not earning enough to meet my outgoings so the debt carried on rising.

Just before the recession I went to my bank to try and take out a loan to pay off all of my debt so I would only have the one debt but little did I realise that the banks were being very careful by then and refused me - even though over the years I had had several loans with this bank and had never defaulted.

The debt continued to rise to a level that was unmanageable and the effect on my health and wellbeing was immense. I had spoken with a few close friends about my situation and found this thing called an IVA was frequently mentioned (I had never heard of an IVA).

I found myself resisting the temptation of applying for an IVA for several reasons; the main reason being my stupid pride (I had got myself into this mess and it was up to me to sort it).

Months and months passed and despite my wife, my sons and other family telling me to apply I still would not. I felt that I owed it to myself to sort this mess and I felt a duty to my creditors also, they had allowed me these services and I had to pay them!

Alas after a while I began to crack and realised I could not live like this any longer and I made contact with a Company that had been recommended cannot remember the name of the company that actually started my IVA, but what I do remember is the massive sense of relief that things may improve for me.

Once my IVA started I found the first few months quite stressful as creditors will hound you until your IVA provider lets them know in no uncertain terms that they are to deal with them and only them, mind you the stress was nowhere near as great as it was before I started.

After a few months I began to feel a lot happier in myself and my standard of living was a lot better. Don't get me wrong things were tight because you have to declare everything; any overtime any bonuses and make extra payments when asked if you earn more than normal but not as bad as things were. Mostly it is the fact that you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

One thing I found out after I started was how different some IVA controllers were. I had to send my payslips regularly to prove what I had earnt and inform them of any change no matter how small, others I had spoken to who were in an IVA would get a call from their IVA controller to ask if there were any changes of circumstance and that would be it. Is it just the luck of the draw who you get – or are IVA’s becoming more stringent?

I was fortunate that my IVA only lasted 3.5 years because they approached all of my creditors on my behalf to apply for PPI and which they received and paid this off and in the end my creditors got back 100 pence in the pound.

Sometimes during your IVA you feel I wish they would give me a break but remembering how bad things were before soon puts some perspective on this. I would recommend anyone suffering like I was to make that call because it is a means to an end to becoming debt-free.

I am now free of debt and I would never allow myself to get into that position again. I am trying to get my credit rating up again even though I have no intention of ever getting into debt again.