The nation's dire economic plight doesn't mean you can't get on top of your finances. One MoneySaver today tells the story of how he got rid of £35,000 of debt in less than four years, giving hope to others they too can tackle debt head on.

David, from London, who works in media, thought he only had about £20,000 of debt when he checked his Experian credit file in 2008, only to find he was £15,000 worse off than he thought.

This consisted of two loans with nearly £10,000 on each, three bank accounts all with maxed-out overdrafts, plus numerous credit cards.

David, who wants his full identity kept secret, ploughed as much of his earnings as possible into clearing his debts and used numerous MoneySaving tricks to batter down his borrowing.

He's not alone. Our Debt-Free Wannabe forum board contains numerous uplifting stories of similar feats.

How did it get so bad?

On leaving university in 2002, David owed £5,000 on top of his student loan. For years he then lived beyond his means; using credit cards to pay for going out and expensive holidays, but not earning enough to repay them.

He says he wasted money all over the place, spending £10 to £20 on food daily and racking up parking tickets at £60 a go.

How did he do it?

David says he read about how to manage debts, and then used Experian to see what his debts were, and who he owed the most to.

He prioritised which debt came with the highest interest rate, so he knew which to pay off first.

David then moved everything he could onto interest-free credit cards, shutting down any bank accounts he didn't need in the process. He also curbed his spending habits.

By continuing to move his debt around different interest-free cards, and paying off £1,000 every month, he became debt-free in May, three and a half years after hitting rock-bottom.

What does he say?

David says: "Debt is a very easy situation to get into and it's easy to bury your head in the sand, but one day it will creep up on you.

"If you're not careful it can be too late and you'll be left with nothing.

"As I got further in debt I started to care less, as I felt it was a lost cause. I stopped looking at statements, stopped checking my balances and just ignored it.

"But it was only afterwards I realised this is the worst mistake you can make. It was difficult at first to try and repay the debt, but the more I took control of the situation the better it felt.

"It feels great to be debt-free, the worry has gone. I now research all my bills and my accounts to make sure I always get the cheapest deal and I don't pay interest to anyone for anything."

For more on what to do and where to get help if you are in debt, see our Debt Problems guide. Be warned, to get the cheapest credit cards you will need a good credit history.

'Brilliant to hear'

Dan Plant, money analyst, says: "It's brilliant to hear stories like this, especially when most news is all about economic doom and gloom.

"David's not alone in initially burying his head in the sand, and all credit to him for turning that situation around.

"Our Debt-Free Wannabe board is jam-packed with others ploughing the same furrow, backed with support and suggestions from other MoneySavers.

"Times may be tough, but these cases underline how vital it is to take stock of your personal position, and crack on with budgeting properly, cutting bills and boosting your income."

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