David - Co. Kildare
I bought my 2-bed apartment back in 1999. To put that into perspective, we were still using the Punt and the Celtic Tiger was still years away from reaching its peak. The property bubble wasn't even on the horizon. So I'm not one who can be accused of buying at the height of the boom, I bought when prices were still relatively sane and I did so on a single income, having no dependents.
At the time I bought my apartment I was self employed and doing ok, just making enough to keep going. It wasn't easy to balance the books but I managed. Eventually I got fed up of walking on a cold concrete floor and sitting on a bean bag. 2 years into the mortgage I was in a full time job so I managed to get a top-up to finally furnish the place. I didn't go mad, just getting enough to put cheap carpets in and some modest furnishings. My original plan had been to use the apartment as a stepping stone to a 3 bed house with a garden. I realised very quickly that there was no way I could afford to do this so I made the place as much of a home as I could.
7 Years later I was back in self employment and doing pretty well. This was as the boom was just reaching it's peak and banks were handing out money like it was coming out of a tap. Meanwhile, my cheap furnishings were looking threadbare and although I was paying the mortgage and all the bills without any problem, I couldn't afford to pay out anything to do the place up. So once again I got a modest top up and this time put some laminate flooring in, got myself a good couch and completely did up my home. It only took me 9 years to get to this point but things were looking good. The economy was flying, I was nearly always busy, I had a nice little place to call my own.
A year later that all changed. The work started to dry up, I had to reduce my rates to get work which meant working harder for less just to maintain an income. I started to economise, cutting off things that would be considered luxuries, - TV subscription, home phone line, socialising, eating out. I was stretching whatever I could pull in further and further. But I was still managing to pay my mortgage and bills and had not missed a single payment on anything.
Another year later things were looking ominous. As 2009 progressed I found my work had dried up to a trickle. My clients, who had up to now been very loyal, stopped calling. Any time I called to touch base I was always told that they were under strict instructions not to hire any outside contractors, which I completely understood. They had to reign in the spending as much as I did. With not enough work to keep myself going I cut off any remaining outgoings that weren't necessary. I suspended my pension, cancelled my health insurance, attempted to sell prized musicial instruments I had used for years. Even at this stage I was still just about managing to keep up with my mortgage payments although I was putting paying bills off as long as possible.
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