By Kian Ng
The story of Madam M’s financial planning journey focusing on debt restructuring for a brighter future.
How would you feel after managing stress for a long time and having it finally slide off your shoulders? Such long-awaited relief that boosts the oxytocin inside you. Yes, this story is about finding that feeling – finally, stress has come to an end!
This is the story of my client, Madam M, and her journey with debt restructuring.
Who is Madam M?
Let us greet her as Madam M and this is her success story, with me as her trusted, licensed financial planner.
Age: Late 40s
Location: Kuala Lumpur
Marital Status: Married, with 3 children
Debt Rate: 80% of net income
Income Sources: Active income from work
Available Financial Resources: Property (under her own name)
Madam M’s ‘Her’story
Madam M has been a banking and financial industry veteran for the last 20 years. With her experience and exposure to banking products and how banks operate on credits facilities, she was once a strong believer that she could easily manage her personal finances by using those facilities and with careful management of her personal and family expenses.
However, an unexpected setback occurred that threw her plans off.
Her rainy day filled with thunderstorms happened and she was unprepared for the financial shock.
In 2010, Madam M faced a medical emergency and the accompanying huge medical bills. The sum was so large that she was not only unable to fully settle the outstanding amount with her savings alone but she also had to max out her credit cards and take out personal loans. This one-time event was the beginning of her financial nightmare.
With her savings depleted, she was basically relying on her monthly income to pay the monthly minimum payable amount on her outstanding credit card loans and personal loans. Meanwhile, her regular monthly expenses had to be rolled onto more credit usage, building up more debt.
Madam M was unable to channel any money for savings as most of her income was redirected to monthly debt repayments, and her debt serving ratio was up to 80% of her net income. She had NO emergency funds for rainy days, no savings, and no investment for children’s education planning, only relying on employee provident funds for retirement, and no will writing. Absolutely nothing!
It was a long stressful time for her, not able to stay productive at work and her mind goes blank at home too. Her stress was rocket high when her husband was trapped in similar credit issues and needed to get the repayment done on the next 10 years!
Searching for a Solution
While she struggled, no financial advisor approached Madam M and she did not seek for any professional advice regarding her debt issues. She imagined a day where she could settle her full debts when she gets her EPF retirement funding at the age of 55. Meanwhile, without any clear solutions to pull her out from her current scenarios, she accepted that her situation was her new normal.
Until one day, enough is enough! Madam M is a determined woman. She shook off her stress enough to decide to take some actions to end her miserable financial journey with professional advice. It is at this point that we met each other
I am glad that Madam M started to seek for solutions when she did. In fact, the journey to fully uncover her debt issues was bumpy. It is difficult for people with extremely high stress levels to come face to face with the root of their stress. It took more than 8 attempts and meetings to flesh out the entire data gathering process, before she was able to focus on the big picture strategy – Debt restructuring.
The Start of a Journey
From our multiple meetings, Madam M gradually detailed each debt she has. She is fully aware that she is still the final decision maker on any actions needed. The basic groundwork was to get the credit reports to cross check official data with her understanding of her debts to confirm her current credit position. The report indicated that Madam M has been a good pay master as she has diligently been making her regular payments and she has not defaulted on a single payment. This was really encouraging!
We worked progressively and laid out our big picture strategy with action plans to focus on the following:
Cash flow management before and after the debt restructuring.
Property refinancing scenarios with multiples possible outcomes with different amount of refinance margins and interest charges.
Possible savings and accumulation towards different goals i.e. children education, personal retirement, and Hajj Planning.
Estate planning including will writing to ensure her assets can be managed and distributed to her beneficiaries.
Risk management key focus on income replacement coverage.
Madam M is a client who upholds the principal of self-discipline and good follow through with her actions. She was determined to get rid of this haunting issue within the shortest periods of time. She would promptly execute any and every action that needed to be taken.
Her only setback happened during her application for refinancing. Due to the Movement Control Order ( MCO ), the process was delayed, taking 8 months rather than the usual 3 months, and plans had to be put on hold.
Despite the setback, she is still kept her hopes up and maintained her determination. She is a real fighter and continued to keep a clean credit record by paying her monthly commitment promptly.
Finally, our efforts paid off when the bank released the disbursement at the end of Oct 2020. When she called me on the phone to inform me of the disbursement news, I could feel the total relief from her.
Her decade-long nightmare has officially come to an end!
With the disbursed amount, we had made the following progress on her finances:
Completely settled all her credit cards outstanding with various banks.
Completely settled all her outstanding amount with other financial institutions.
Optimized part of her balanced disbursed funds into setting up 6 months emergency funding.
Optimized part of her balanced disbursed funds into children education planning
Kicked start retirement planning with lump sum and monthly regular investment to close retirement gaps.
Implemented estate planning process for will writing.
Confirmed the Hajj planning is in place with close monitoring process.
The list above represents the debts restructuring process we completed. When we both sat down during her recent review, the satisfaction was beyond words!
What is Ahead?
Madam M’s financial planning journey demonstrates that no matter how bad your debt situation is, you can still overcome it with the help of a professional.
Now, Madam M can stay keep abreast with her personal finances. We both view it as a beginning of a new financial journey as she now has a new set of financial goals to work towards, no longer looking just at keeping up with her debtors. After her experience this last decade, she is a happier and stronger woman.
Madam M wants all readers to know from her experience that:
Seeking early professional advice is critical to cut short your suffering.
Like doctors, licensed financial planners can work with you to address financial concerns at an earlier stage for better results.
She believes that financial planning has given her the advantage over her current financial standings. She is certainly more relaxed and can clearly focus on her goals. By reaching out for professional help, she has turned what many would think as mission impossible into mission possible. So, let us wish Madam M all the best in continuing to make a positive impact on her family’s finances.
Struggling with your debt restructuring plan? Contact Kian Ng and get connected to a licensed financial planner.