An Interview with Kitty Thomas of Debt Angel Solutions
How to break the 'living pay to pay cycle' when you're in a lot of debt. Today I interview Kitty Thomas from Debt Angel…
Read the full transcript of this interview with Kitty here…
Anthea Falkiner: 00:01 Hello everyone. It’s Anthea from Bright Spenders and I am super, super excited today to be talking to Kitty Thomas from a company called Debt Angel Solutions. And we’re going to be talking about what you do in the situation where you’ve got such a lot of debt, such a lot of credit card debt, personal loan debt, car payments – and all of that is just grid-locking your budget and you’re robbing Peter to Paul. There’s just no room, and you’re fearful that you’re going to start bouncing payments.
AF 00:44 I have a lot of people coming to me who know that they need to manage their finances well. They know they need a system, but they’re concerned about actually being able to afford to pay for a system like this. So I’ll often have a chat to them and we’ll look at what the total spread is. And Kitty is one person that I really recommend people go and see to throw some dynamite in there and actually shake things up a bit. Dave Ramsey, if you’re a fan of Dave, he has this great… Let me just say hello to Kitty first before I ramble on! Hello Kitty!
AF 01:30 Sorry, Kitty, for talking over the top of you, but I did want to give this an analogy which I think is great. So Dave Ramsey is a great personal finance guru in the USA and he describes it in this way: When Lumberjacks are, you know, selling trees to market and they’re sending the down a river. It gets kind of locked up at some point and the trees don’t move anymore, and they can’t get the trees to market. So Dave says, what they do is throw a stick of dynamite in there and they blow up at least one of the trees to get it all moving again. And you know, you would think, well that’s wiping out all their hard work and effort which has gone into felling those trees. Why would they destroy them? But in actual fact, sometimes you need to take drastic action to get things moving again so that you can free yourself and get moving beyond that, that kind of stale mate. So welcome Kitty to have a chat with us about all this today. I would love for you to just give us a bit of a background, and let us know why you do what you do.
Kitty Thomas: 02:49 I love that analogy and that is what we do – We try to shake it up and free you up. And that is what happened to me. I got myself into a massive amount of debt in my early twenties. I’ve been in business for a long time and I turned a working wharf in the city into a venue. It was I affectingly refer to as an entrepreneurial seizure. It was fabulous. I loved it and put on some of the biggest and best events Australia had ever seen. But unfortunately at that time there were no ticketing regulations and basically bottom line, the promoter I brought in to do one of the events basically didn’t have the capacity to fill the event. I got a sense, I knew something was wrong and I confronted him. And Anyway, long story short, I pulled his event a couple of days beforehand and lost 75 grand that day, which hurt in my early twenties. Let me tell you it was a lot better than a few days later. if the event would have gone ahead. I would have lost like $300,000. And then the next day my business partner at the time who was a single mum came up and said Kitty, I can’t do this anymore, and handed me a folder and said “by the way, I haven’t paid any of these, and they all need to be paid. And there was another 65 grand in there. I said Oh MY GOSH.
KT: 03:59 I buried my head, I put my head in the sand for five years. I just, I didn’t know how to deal with it. You know, it still chokes me when I talk about it because I remember just feeling helpless and hopeless and unsure how I was going to move forward. I couldn’t, it was like my whole world was dark and I didn’t see where to go anyway. So after Four to five years and I suddenly went, you know what? I’ve got to deal with this. I’ve got to take this on. And I started dealing with them one by one by one. And we’re really proud to say it probably took me about six and a half years to get out of it. But I negotiated my way out of that debt and I put myself back on my own two feet with my credit rating in check and my integrity in check.
KT: 04:42 I got myself out the other side and then people were saying, Kitty, you should do that for business after I’d helped friends and family. And then I went, you know what? No, it was too heavy and didn’t want to be involved. It was such a heavy conversation. And then three and a half years ago, I ruptured a disc in my neck and my life literally stopped. I wasn’t able to move forward. So what I did was reassessed as you do when you have a major health scare. I had emergency surgery, I couldn’t do anything and I really reassessed my life and just went, I need to make change. I need to stop other people getting so stressed out that now that they hurt themselves through the stress of their environment. And you know, things happen all the time in, in situations where people get into a debt by a change of circumstance where they just don’t know what to do. So I went yes, it’s time. And Debt Angels was born. And I can talk a bit about how I got to here. I’m very, very proud of what we do, how we do it, and what we make available for people.
AF: 05:58 What an amazing, amazing story. There are a lot of debt consolidation companies out there that you can go to. They’re pretty corporate and a bit faceless. And I just love the fact that you have been there, that you’ve had that experience. You have that personal experience – you just know what it’s like for people and you can really empathize with what they’re going through and share your experience. Obviously you’ve had a lot of experience with doing this stuff because you’ve done it for so many people now. What we’d love to know is, when a client comes to you and they’ve maxed out all their cards. And can’t get any more money from anywhere, maybe other than a payday lender, which is a scary kind of thought. And not one that either of us would ever recommend that you ever do – that’s really dire. So they’re just meeting their minimum payments but they’re looking ahead at maybe not ever paying their debt off in their lifetime. What do you, you know, at that point? Can you explain the process?
KT: 07:09 Sure. They’re totally full. They’re not quite sure how they can move forward, kind of like I was. There’s no light, there’s no forest for the trees. They just can’t see a way out. So what we do is we stop everything. You know, we stop payments, we reduce or freeze interest, we reduce the term of the loan. We vary loans, which basically make the debt work better for the client than it does for the creditor. At the moment most people that come to us who are in debt distress, or not even disstress, but like you say, are living payday to payday, and are not able to make ends meet or not – Maybe they are, but they’re not able to get anywhere further. You know, they can’t see how to get there. What we do is, we basically work with them to transform, to hold all the debt away. Like I said, the ability to breathe. Because quite often, what I find with people who are in debt, and debt can mean different things to different people –
KT: 08:07 I’ve had clients who were three and a half thousand dollars in debt freaking out about bankruptcy and saying I can’t do this, and people with 200,000 worth of unsecured debt going, Oh yeah, you know, it’ll be fine. It varies for different people. But what I find is when people are in debt, like (**starts pretending to hyperventilate **) “How am I going to”, you know, there’s, there’s a lack of oxygen basically that goes to the brain. And when you can’t get oxygen to your brain, you cannot think. And when you can’t think, you can’t see or find a solution or a way out of the situation. So effectively what we do to start with is we stop everything. We stopped the payments, we bring the interest down where ever we can, as I said the loan variation, everything else that we do, and we allow them to breathe. And when they breathe, we then work with them to find solutions.
KT: 09:01 You know, like asking have you got the ability to come up with a lump sum? Is there another possibility that you can access funds from family or friends? You know, other clients have been in a position with health reasons or whatever. They can early release super, whatever it is they can do to actually get themselves a lump sum of money. And they we’ll do a reduced settlement. Uh, we’ll, we’ll, you know, we’ll bring it down to a manageable amount in a long term arrangement. We’ll freeze the interest or reduce the interest for a period of time to give them the ability to move forward. And then, like Scott Pape said, you know, you domino the debt, you kind of start with one, and then you move to the next one and the next one because what I find is that people are so busy trying to keep the wolves at bay the only paying interest, dead interest, you know, putting money in the toilet.
KT: 09:53 Thank you very much. Off It goes and you don’t get that back. It’s so disheartening when your balance is not coming down and you say you got everything. You can. So many clients put all of their money onto a credit card thinking that they’re doing the right thing and they’re back in their time, but then maybe small and because they’ve got interest as well. If I put $1,000 on, it’s a $10,000 cod, you might be $150 interests. They’ve only got $850 versus the thousand that you would have if you were spending the organically. So when we do all of those processes, clients actually get to see where they at, you know when they charge, what they could have caused that they using as a black couple. They don’t have the personal lines or whatever. They can actually see where they’re at and they can see what they need to do moving forward.
AF: 10:41 Beautiful. So, you know, coming back to the finding a lump sum of cash, you know, maybe it’s as simple as selling a car that’s been lying around or a boat. A lot of people like you say, when their brains are fuzzy and deprived of oxygen because of the stress, they can’t see the woods for the trees. There are some really obvious things that they could do, or maybe they have an emotional attachment to certain things like investment properties or vehicles or boats and they are blind sided. Sometimes to have that outside opinion, an outside set of eyes looking at the situation, that point out ‘ if you did this, that would really throw some dynamite in’
KT: 11:28 Two things I want to say that are really important. When you’re in this situation you’re attached or emotional – you’re upset. But the second one is, when you’re actually coming from the outside perspective, well now you know, in the past, selling that investment property isn’t going to make the slightest bit of difference anyway because I’m just paying a mortgage to pay off the loan. But what they realize is that there might be a small amount of equity, or the pressure of all of these additional expenses that they’ve got to come up with, the rates and the water, and everything else associated will actually free up quite a substantial amount and be worthwhile. So again, giving them the breathing space so they can breathe easy and look at it from an overview, at it actually happening, not the false reality of what we have when we’ve got credit cards and personal loans, etcetera. That are kind of maxed out and we’re not getting anywhere fast. It’s heartbreaking.
AF: 12:25 Absolutely. To be looking at paying off those bloody things for the next 60 years of your life. That’s not a fun prospect at all. I wanted to ask you, there are lots of articles online that will walk you through the steps of negotiating this sort of thing on your own and I know that you’ve done that yourself too. Is this something people could do themselves?
KT: 12:57 Absolutely. People can definitely do what they can, the best that they can. I guess the problem, and I got really upset with one of the major banks the other day because I met somebody who kind of looked at me and I kind of, I know what I can do and how far I can go. So when this person said “no”, and I knew that you could, I said “Listen, either you sort it out or I’ll speak to your manager and they’ll sort it out, you know, because I knew how far I could go. So the pitfall of people doing it themselves, it’s just that they don’t know how far they can go, firstly. And secondly, unfortunately the person on the phone who I actually gave a little bit of what for to and I said, “People come to you vulnerable, they come to you upset and they come to you not knowing what to do. You’re their lifeline. You need to give them a little bit more information. But banks don’t willingly say, I’m going to knock off a percentage of your debt or I’m going to forget that – they don’t work like that. So yes, you can do it yourself. And I highly recommend that people try if they need to, but it’s just knowing how far you can go and the parameters of that.
AF: 14:05 Yeah. And just having the balls, for want of a better word. Because a lot of banks, particularly credit cards, are just making so much money from people and if you were to go bankrupt they would see a fraction, a tiny fraction, of what you actually owe them. So it’s in their interest isn’t it, to negotiate with you.
KT: 14:46 I remember sitting on the phone one day to this person who was just cold and nasty on the other end just doing their job and I was a number and then they’re going but you need to pay this amount. I’m like “But you can’t get blood out of a stone. How am I going to get that money together? And fighting your own battle and pushing your own situation is really heartbreaking. That’s really hard. You know, I think the other person on the other end is quite tuned in to that.
KT: 15:11 And they know how far they can go. So the biggest message I have to say is just be a stand for yourself. Be a stand for yourself, be a stand for your environment and your situation and be open and honest in your communication.
AF: 15:25 Yeah. And maybe if you have doubts about the process, and you’re just not feeling confident, then going to see someone like Kitty and getting her to be that third party for you who’s going into bat for you? It really is money well spent. Definitely. Obviously it’s not a free service, you know, her fees and everything depend on the situation and all of that kind of stuff. So you’d need to have a chat to her as well about that.
KT: 15:56 Anyone that you got to see, I highly recommend that you make sure, like for us, we won’t take a client on if we’re going to cost them any more than they’re already spending. I just won’t ethically. So just make sure that all the fees and charges upfront and you know what you’re getting, and you know what you’re doing.
AF: 16:13 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really important point. And I just wanted also make that important point that sometimes I see people and they’ll go and consolidate loans, or they’ll refinance and then think that that is the solution, and then continue on their merry way with all the habits that got them into that position where they needed to remortgage in the first place. So while it’s super important, if you are in that grid lock to throw some dynamite in there and get some help with it, it’s also really important to look long term at the habits and the habit-changing things that you need to put in place
KT: 17:12 Absolutely. It is CRUCIAL. if you’re not in a position of transforming the situation, you really need to get to the point where if you come to someone like us, or you take it on yourself, we all get into habits. You know, whether they’re emotional, whether they’re taught, whether they’re learned, whether they’re inside of, here we are environmental, really making sure that you transform the whole thing. Getting out of debt is only part of it. You know, getting us into healthy habits that actually move you in the right direction so your life can keep going and moving in the right direction and transform your life entirely and what you guys do, what you’re doing. Anthea. And the difference that I hear you’re making to your community and everybody around you is a vital work. People don’t realize what they’re spending, how much money, where it goes. You know, when we do a budget, we think about electricity and food and rent, and blah, blah blah. We don’t think about all the extra things we’re actually spending on, so when they come along we’re grappling for these things that we haven’t budgeted for. So yeah, making sure that you’re committed to the whole process and transforming it from beginning to end is crucial.
AF: 18:30 So where can people find you kitty? If they know that they’ve got a problem here, they know they need to get things moving. What’s the best way that they can get in touch?
KT: 18:44 So we have a Facebook page of course, Debt Angel Solutions, where you can see a whole lot of reviews and recommendations that people have because I think that’s really important, that other people see you have to say, not what you’re talking about yourself. And so we have DebtAngelSolutions.com or you could call directly on the one 300 712 560 number. I speak to everybody. I have conversations with everybody and it’s a free consultation. We’ll have a half an hour or so chat. However long we need to talk and get a sense of who you are, where you’re going and then I’ll give you an overview and an assessment of what I think a possible strategy would be moving forward. And if you’re right for us, we have criteria as well and it’s really important and it kind of plugs into what you were saying before. People need to be serious about transforming their situation. Communication is key and letting people know kind of where they’re at, and saying, front and centre and committed to the process. But yeah, if they want to give us a call and have a conversation, more than happy to have a conversation and help people help themselves get back on track and sobriety.
AF: 19:47 Beautiful. And Kitty, I just wanted to say and kind of leave it here: I’ve read some of those testimonials on your website and there are some of the longest testimonials I think I’ve ever read, and that’s great because you actually paint, they paint, the full story. The whole blow by blow of, you know – what state they were in, the seriousness, and then what you did step by step to solve the problem. It’s really interesting reading. You get a lot from those testimonies. I strongly recommend people read that. So give kitty call, let her know that you saw us have a chat in this video and see what we can do, what she can do for you. And yeah, go from there. I am so grateful that you came on today and we had this chat. I see so many different types of people and a number of people come to me and they just, they know they need what I do, but it’s so grid locked that they can’t quite get there. So I’m so happy to be able to recommend people see you and get them into shape so that then they’re really ready for a Spending Plan,
KT: 21:09 I think you know what you offer, what we offer, the team and the dynamic behind it, you know, really is an opportunity for people to get their lives on track again. And let’s face it, people don’t wake up one morning and go, I’m going to get into debt. It doesn’t happen like that. When life happens, you don’t need to be embarrassed and ashamed of their situation. The first step is taking responsibility and standing forward and saying I need some help and a credit to anybody who does that. Whether they take your service or my service – acknowledging where they’re at, and taking responsibility and moving forward is going to get you where you want to go.
AF: 21:43 Beautiful. Let’s Leave it on that point because that was so well said. Thanks, Kitty.
KT: 21:49 Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
You can get in touch with Kitty over at DebtAngelSolutions.com
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