How I broke free from the payday loan trap

Sometimes we all need a little cash injection before payday - but beware of the pitfalls of payday loans

Last year an estimated 8.2 million people took out a payday loan - and I'm ashamed to say I was one of them.

What exactly reduces someone to resort to the sky-high fees of a payday loan? In my case the simple answer is panic. Even with the average amount of 4000% annual interest, the most sensible of people will still take out these loans. In my case I had been duped out of a lot of money by someone I cared about and I needed a quick fix... fast. With direct debits looming and no way to pay them I saw it as my only option.

But this is what payday loans are supposed to be for, right? A short-term solution, rather than a long-term one. But this is the problem. It is so easy to get tangled in the payday loan web, as they are so readily available - even to those of us with awful credit ratings. Most payday loan companies are responsible lenders and will only lend you the amount you can afford to pay back. But seeing as some companies don't check your credit rating you are open to accruing more debt.

Worse still, there are illegitimate firms out there who will con you out of hundreds of pounds. These are called 'loan brokers' and they claim to find a loan for you but with excruciatingly unfair fees. Once you give them your card details they will help themselves to hefty fees as and when they feel like it. The moral of this is always hunt for the terms and conditions on their web page. They will be hard to find at the time but they are there. You could save yourself a massive amount of trouble.

The first step to financial freedom is pulling your head out of the sand and facing your debts head on. I cannot stress this enough. There are so many resources out there to help with debts. Step Change is a free debt advice service. The best thing about speaking to these people on the phone is that they won't make you feel stupid that you amounted so much debt. In fact, they are understanding and sympathetic. The kind woman on the other end of the line helped me organise my debts into priority and non-priority. I am now paying monthly instalments to all of my creditors at a price I can afford.

"But I still have to pay my payday loans because they take money out of my account automatically!" I hear you cry. There is a solution to this too.

Most companies take money from your account via Continuous Payment Authority (CPA). This is where they hold your debit card details and your bank account details and they can deduct money when they want. But even this is avoidable.

The power of communication is, well, powerful. Contact your payday loan company and tell them to cancel your CPA and then set up a repayment plan with them. The best payment method would be a standing order as you will have complete control over how much you pay and when you want to pay it.

As a person who has been there, done that, got all the souvenirs, I can tell you it works. With lots of communications, bundles of patience and knowledge of my consumer rights, I am almost debt free. If I can do it, you certainly can.