February 14th, 2009

OK, it’s midnight 14th February, what are most people doing now?  Well ok, Mrs. Wen works nights so that’ll have to wait until the morning, but yes the next best thing… i’m checking the Insolvency Register and what does it say?

Status Discharged On 14 February 2009

 It’s unbelievable to think how quickly the 12months has gone, but we have come through it.  Turning the clock back a few months, I went back into the Co-op bank to see if they would give me a savings account to keep our car tax/mot/extra savings money in.  As helpful as always they tried to put it through, but it did eventually come back declined.  I had been dealing with the Branch Manager (no less), and she said that as I was still bankrupt the credit department probably have issues as a bankrupt shouldn’t really be in a position to have much ‘savings’ money (unless you’re Kerry Katona of course!)  She did however ask if I wanted a second Cashminder account, and although I would still not be earning any interest (BOE @ 1% I don’t think that’s a problem at the moment!) at least I would have the second account to stash my spare cash in – which was the purpose of the account anyway.  We were “instantly approved” (that felt good!), and the account was opened.  Whether or not now we are discharged they will let us open a savings account only time will tell, but I have to say though as far as dealing with finances through your bankruptcy year, there is no-one better than the Co-op for this.  Yes it’s “only a Visa Electron” but there are plenty of prepaid debit/credit cards out there if you really do need that status of a “full card”.  I have a Utility warehouse prepaid mastercard which works for me, we get cashback too and I only rarely had the need to be forced to use it over the Visa Electron due to acceptance issues.

As far as dealings with the Official Receiver were concerned, we were contacted by her in July with regards to buying back some old insurance policies (they had lapsed anyway), but apart from that – absolutely nothing (which in my view is a good thing!!), I was worried we might end up with a BRO/BRU, but it seems I was worrying too much.

Any regrets or advice? Given the choice again standing in the court a year ago, I would take the bankruptcy everytime.  I am not saying it is right for everyone.  It is a serious issue, we are needing to buy/lease a new car due to Mrs. wen getting a new job (congrats to her – she has worked her way up from the bottom of the pile to one of the top dogs in the space of 15months and i’m very proud of her), whereas the APR I got for my car 3 1/2yrs ago was 3.9%, we are now looking at an APR of 39%!  No doubt one day when we try to get a mortgage, due to the credit crunch and our credit record, it will be very very difficult, so do not for a second think bankruptcy is an easy way out.  It is not.  If we could have taken an IVA I would have done, as I still feel guilty now about not being able to pay our creditors, however the pressure of our debts were driving us under and threatening our marriage too, and that is when we decided enough was enough, take our heads out of the sand and face the consequences. 

One piece of advice I would offer is tell your closest family.  My family were superb through this, did not judge us, but were there to listen and help in anyway they could, and it lifted a huge weight knowing we were not just going through this alone.  Even when our washing machine broke down during the year (I used it for once), and we had to scrimp and save to buy a new one our family helped us, and to all of them I am grateful.

The iva forum has continued to be a wealth of information and somewhere to go just to remind yourself you are not the only ones out there suffering with debt – especially with the way the recession is hurting people.  I am so glad Mrs. Wen found the forum as it has comforted and left us certain of answers to questions we were clueless about. 

Now we have officially put the past behind us, as much as we can now, circumstances worked against us, and we ended up in a lot of financial trouble, but we have a second chance now, and even though i’m fairly young (although i’ve found a couple of grey hairs!) it has been a massive learning experience, and we have really found what really matters in life… your loved ones.  You can have all the money in the World, but if you have no-one around to share it with, it is worthless.  We have a wonderful family and some great friends, and anyone out there that feels they have come to the end of the road and there is no helping themselves, please please please, make a phonecall to someone like Melanie who can offer the professional advice out there and get you to recovery… believe me there is always hope, even on those darkest of days… it’s nearly 1am but the sun is well and truely shining…

Mr. Wen

A busy month!

April 6th, 2008

Firstly, slapped wrists for taking a month to write this blog!  How quick does time fly?  In a weeks time we will have been bankrupt 2 months already!  I cannot believe we are already into April, Easter has long gone, and the summer is fast approaching!

Turning the clock back a month… first came the visit to the Official Receiver.  She was quite pleasant, although we were there a long time!  Wen and I had a quick chat to start with to sign some forms, and categorise the paperwork we were handing over.  Wen had her interview first, and basically the OR asked questions about our business, how it was funded, her previous bankruptcy, and circumstances around why we had needed to declare bankruptcy this time.

My turn then, again similar questions, we went through my assetts (house/car), and then through my personal debts, answering why i’d taken the debt on and what it had been used for.  It was quite upsetting having to trawl back through our personal demise into bankruptcy, and seeing some stupid judgements that we’d made along the road too – good old hindsight working wonders again… i’m just a bit worried it may lead to a BRU of some description (not the end of the world granted), as our personal debt, house and car were all in my name due to Wen’s previous bankruptcy, so I felt like I was the one being judged, even though our financial decisions were joint, the legal responsibility of the decisions were down to me.  It was a bit of an ordeal, and I was in tears at one point.  Obviously the OR has a job to do and discover and establish the events surrounding the bankruptcy, and there were some pretty unavoidable events surrounding our bankruptcy, so i’m hoping the OR takes it all into consideration before making any further decision.  The OR was not being horrible, but I suppose having to relive everything of the past 2 years or so was very hard indeed.

The OR requested some further information with regards to our business accounts, and also requested any other historical credit card statements for the past 6-12months if available, and I sent back what I could find.

The OR again has contacted me to see if any further information with regards to our balance sheet was available, as there was no money in our estate to have our accounts done and that creditors wouldn’t vote to pay for it either.  Hopefully what I can provide will be enough to satisfy her queries.

We are not subject to an IPA yet, as our income is not sufficient enough, and at one stage (prior to my interview), the OR said we may have an early discharge, but if so our I/E would need to be reviewed before discharge.

Aside from the visit, we have sent the keys back to the mortgage company for our property, Peugeot Financial Services are messing around sending threatening letters about the car on HP finance, even though we’re not using it anymore and waiting for them to have it back!  Better news came at the end of the month, as I went for what felt like the 15th job interview and have now secured a new job, starting at the end of April!  I have been temporary working so far since we left our business last year, so to finally get a long-term career back on track, with a decent salary and very good overtime should I want it available too, things finally look like we have turned the corner… (for now anyway!)  Just got to have a medical now for the job, (although Arsenal have given me enough heart-attacks and stress to make me think I might fail it ! LOL).  Lesson learnt this month is that if you stay positive, the good will eventually come… also a few prayers seemed to have helped too!!

Now come on Arsenal, finish Liverpool off on Tuesday and silence that Kop!

Mr. Wen

Life is very short…

February 25th, 2008

Very off-topic blog today, due to a couple of recent events surrounding my club Arsenal.  (Mr. Wen that is, Mrs. Wen wants to make it clear she is a Man Utd fan).

Anyone who has read the backpages of a newspaper or watched a sports bulletin on TV since Saturday lunchtime will be aware of the horrific injury to Arsenals’ Eduardo.  Within 2 1/2 minutes of kick-off, Taylor of Birmingham City mistimed a tackle on Eduardo and the Arsenal number 9 concequently fractured his left fibula and sustained an open dislocation of his ankle joint in the same leg.  I am pleased to report that this is not as bad as was first feared (initial thoughts were his career was over, and the pictures were so distressing that Sky Sports made the decision not to show them) and reports are that he will be running again in 6 months and playing again in 9 months providing all goes to plan.  Anyone who has the stomach can search on Youtube for videos/photos, though severe viewer caution is advised — your stomach will be turned.  Sky Sports News showed a graphic earlier of the break and then dislocation and although it was a computer graphic it was purely horrific.

Firstly I want to offer my sincere best wishes to Eduardo for a speedy recovery.

The second player I wanted to give a special mention to was Bacary Sagna.  It was announced recently against Manchester United that Sagna was unavailable to play due to ‘personal reasons’.  It has since come to light that Bacarys’ 28 year old brother Omar had died from a suspected heart-attack.

My sincere condolences to Bacary and his family during this tragic time.

I suppose the reason for this blog is that it really reinforces the message as to how fragile life can be, and how important and cherrished our family and friends are.  During serious debt problems, IVA’s, Bankruptcy’s and such, there seems like nothing more to life apart from trying to battle against debt, and I think it is important sometimes to take a step back and to remember how precious life is, tell your nearest and dearest that you love them (yes even Mr & Mrs Torch!!) and remember that debt can be managed one way or another, but life is so very short and (within reason) love and live every minute you have, as you have no idea what may just be round the corner, as Eduardo and Sagna will testify to.

 Mr. Wen

Brief Update

February 22nd, 2008

On Monday we had a call from the Examiner at the OR office.  She said we were being invited in for interviews on Friday 7th March at 10am.  She said we would have 3 interviews.  (One for the partnership debts and then one each for our personal debts).

 She took some basic details, bank account numbers/sort-codes, car registration/hp details, house/mortgage details, and explained the various forms that were being sent out in the post to us.  She seemed quite pleasant and respectful on the phone – having heard some nightmare stories on the forum though, I hope she is the same in person… (chris.g & husband – we hope things will improve for you with your examiner!)

 She said that our car that is on HP would probably be taken back by the HP company when they are informed – though it is up to the HP company to decide.  We have however got access to an alternative vehicle belonging to Mrs. wen’s son, if we do lose our HP car though.

The job front for Mr. Wen is currently not great – having been on a few interviews I am always getting the “oh you were so close, but someone internally had a bit more experience”.  Looks like it’s more bar work for the short-term, although some more applications have been sent off, so we live in hope!

The forms arrived today, plenty of them to fill out – we are lucky that the pre-bankruptcy forms for the Partnership mean it is quite a quick process – unfortunately now we have the big forms to fill out for both of us and our partnership!  It is going to be a long weekend!

 Mr. Wen

Co-op Bank

February 16th, 2008

I just wanted to post a separate note with regards to Co-op bank.

The day before I went bankrupt I popped into my local branch to withdraw all my money, and I spoke to one of the advisors.  She was very knowledgable about bankruptcy and while the info she told me I knew already, it would have been a quite reassuring if I was in the dark.  She also said that it was not the end of the World going bankrupt and that they would do all they can to help us on the road to ‘recovery’ (so to speak).  She even said to go back in after the bankruptcy was granted and they would arrange a savings account so we can earn interest on any spare cash, as the cashminder account does not accrue interest.

The advisor said I should withdraw all my cash to ensure the OR does not take any money, and although the bank does the freezing/unfreezing, it was down to the OR to make the decision to release the interest back to us.  Although she could not guarantee it, she thought the account would be left alone.  However she did say that if the account was frozen to come in straight away and they would open a new account.  When I asked about the fact we were going to be bankrupt and opening a new account, she said that the Co-op is run by ethical policies and they have a policy not to exclude anyone, regardless of their social standing (ie. bankrupt).

After the call with the OR about keeping the Co-op account, I went back in to the branch and spoke to a different advisor who made a note on my account to say to leave it alone as the OR was writing to say he had no interest in the account.  Again he was understanding and knowledgable, respectful of our situation and in both situations I was VERY impressed with the customer service I received – many thanks to them for being very ‘reachable’ and for treating us as individuals rather than numbers on a computer system.

Mr. Wen


February 16th, 2008

Thursday 14th February – Day 1

 We arrived at the court at 10am, clutching our fee and papers.  We had to wait for about 10 minutes, and then the court clerk came out and took us into a private room, where he explained the process of the day.

 He checked our papers were all in order, checked our fee, and asked us to swear on the bible and he signed and stamped our forms.  We were led outside, while he prepared the bankruptcy papers, and then we were given a folder to take up to the court usher.  The usher took our papers and told us to have a seat while she showed them to a judge, and would call us if the judge wanted to speak to us.  Within 5 minutes the clerk had returned with the papers signed and we had duly been made bankrupt at 11:11am!  I was quite surprised we had not even needed to see the judge!

Back downstairs to the admin office, the clerk took the papers and went off to produce the actual bankruptcy order which was then faxed through to the Official Receivers office.  We were then taken back to the ‘private room’, where we had to wait about 2 minutes for the Official Receiver to ring.

The OR office then took some details from both of us, confirming our names/dob’s/addresses.  I was asked the total amount of our debts, whether we had a property, and other assetts such as business stock.  I was also asked whether or not there were any assetts that needed to be dealt with by the OR office within the next 7 days – I mentioned I had a car on HP, but the OR said they would wait until our interview to discuss this.

We have a Cashminder account with Co-operative bank, and a balance of £0.55, and I asked whether we could keep it (as my salary is paid in every friday), and the OR asked whether the Co-op Group were a creditor, and as they weren’t the OR said he would write to the Co-op the same day to tell them that he had no interest in the account and his recommendation is to allow the account to continue to be operated, providing the bank were happy with this (more about this in the “Co-op” post).  He also said that if the account was frozen at a later date and money was caught up in the account to contact the OR and they would contact the bank and get it released for us.

The OR asked for details of any creditors in the process of taking legal action that needed notifying asap of our bankruptcy, and he said he would write to them immediately to let them know to halt legal action.

We were also told that if we received any letters notifying us that any of our debts had been sold on to someone else, that we let the OR office know immediately so they could be notified of the bankruptcy straight away.  We were also told to write to our creditors straight away to let them know of our bankruptcy, which should halt the letters/demands.

The OR explained that when they had received our statement of affairs, that a member of the OR team would assess them and decide whether a 1 hour telephone interview or a 2 hour face-to-face interview would be needed.  He also said that they would send our some papers to read through, HMRC forms to sign, and send back a copy of our rental tenancy agreement and the last correspondance from each of our creditors.  We were finally given the contact details for the OR office and that they would ring early next week to confirm a time and date for telephone or face-to-face interview with the OR.  We were given the phone number for the OR office to ask any questions any time.

That was that.  We returned the BR papers to the clerk and we were free to go – all done.

I have to say everyone we encountered at the court and the OR office were very respectful and explained everything in full.  Next stage is waiting for the paperwork from the OR office and for them to ring about our interview.

 Mr. Wen