Secretary racked up $60k debts, twice

PHOTO: Secretary racked up $60k debts, twice

Azizah, 48, secretary and mother of three

Then: She had more than $60,000 in debt in 2003, which she repaid by 2008. But she has racked up new debts of more than $60,000. She earns $3,800 a month.

Now: She is on the debt management programme with Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) and repaying about $1,500 a month.

She hopes to clear her debts within five years.

"I was retrenched from a bank in December 2001. From January 2002 to March 2003, I worked at two other jobs, but I had to take a 50 per cent pay cut. Both didn't pay regularly and the companies ended up owing me my salary.

At that time, I had a renovation loan of about $20,000 and unsecured loans of about $30,000. I took the unsecured loans for my brother to set up a business, but it failed, so he couldn't pay me back. Since I couldn't pay back the loans, the interest payments started snowballing. I had six credit cards.

One of my unsecured loans was with a bank which sent me a writ of summons. I showed the bank a letter from my previous employer showing how much back pay they owed me, but the bank couldn't accept that. After the writ of summons, the interest rate on my loan hiked even further, to a double-digit figure.

Also, when banks send legal letters, you have to pay, and every letter could be another $150. I got a new job with a fixed salary, got on board the CCS debt management scheme and five years later I managed to pay everything off.

But, starting in 2008, my aunt developed chronic illnesses. She passed away last year. I paid her medical expenses from my CPF savings.

This was on top of looking after her needs, the taxi to and from hospital and food. I had to put her in a home and managed to get her on a welfare scheme. But I still had to fork out at least $300 a month.

I also have to take care of my mother, who has asthma, bone problems and other health problems. Medical expenses are very high.

Then my three children started studying in the polytechnics at the same time. I took a loan to buy them laptops. They didn't apply for bursaries because I didn't know about that. All these happened after I renovated my flat in 2011 for about $30,000. It was more a necessity than a luxury. I also rewired the house because the wiring was more than 20 years old.

Now I have debts of more than $60,000 for the second time. Last year, I was retrenched and now I'm on contract employment. My husband had a heart attack last month. He was hospitalised and the bill was about $13,000. Luckily, he is insured by his office.

When things come, they come all at once. What can I say, this is my luck."

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to for more stories.