I’m a single mum and only earn £16k – I STILL managed to pay off my debt in 18 months

A SINGLE mum who was left in debt after splitting with her husband has revealed how she paid off £5,500 in just 18 months – on just a £16,000 income.

Rachael Easter, from Ipswich, said she hit rock bottom after the break-up in March 2020, and she was left in the red to the tune of £7,500 from bills as well as a bank loan and credit card.

The 33-year-old, who’s mum to Jack, 11, was also at risk of eviction from the family home, and didn’t know where to turn.

However, in just 18 months, Rachael has managed to pay off £5,550 of her debt by taking a new job, and using saving techniques such as the "1p challenge" and Monzo pots.

Rachael said: “When the pandemic hit at the end of March 2020 my husband and I split, and I was left with a £7,500 debt. 


“I was a stay at home wife and mother, with no money to my name. I didn’t have a job at the time. We were at risk of eviction. 

“The thought that I couldn’t put a roof over my son's head because I relied on another being devastated me.”

Rachael first claimed Universal Credit to stop her and Jack from becoming homeless – she received £15 a week in food vouchers, given to low-income families during the pandemic. 

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Then she worked out her outgoings and incomings. Her rent is £750 a month and council tax varies. And she pays around £80 a month for water bills, while her gas and electric was £119 but it has increased to £133. 

She receives £84 in child benefit every four weeks, along with £800-£900 per month in Universal Credit depending on how many hours she works.

But Rachael was still embarrassed about being in debt, so in summer 2020, she started working as a self-employed cleaner, offering ironing services that she advertised on Facebook. 

She was earning £10 an hour, some weeks working up to 50 hours, but during other weeks, it could be as little as five. She earned £11,000 from cleaning last year – so a total of £16,000 with Universal Credit. 

Rachael said: “The debt was from my gas and electric provider, water, bank loan, a sofa, and a credit card.  

“I sorted my household bills first including water, and gas and electricity. I called the companies and with both monthly bills they put my debt on top.

“Then, I used the snowball method to manage it. Which means I paid off the smallest of all the debts first before moving onto the larger debts.

”I wanted to give more to my son and show him I was capable of doing it all without someone else.

If I do an extra cleaning job or have an additional ironing customer, I split what I earn – half onto the debt and half towards my savings.

“But I was also wary of taking on too much with my son only being 10 at the time plus I don't drive so I had to walk everywhere. There were days where I walked an hour to and from a clean.”

To save money and pay off debt, Rachael also started the 1p challenge. 

The challenge involves saving a little money every day, starting with 1p. The next day you save 2p, the day after 3p. After a year, you'll be setting aside £3.65 on the final day and have a total of £667.95 in savings.

She also created online Monzo savings pots for spare money – she uses this for birthdays, Christmas, driving lessons and regular savings. 

Rachael said: “I would move money from my bank to my Monzo pots. Before, I would have just used the money here and there and it would have disappeared.

“But I’ve been making a conscious effort to put it aside. 

“I’m now also able to give my son pocket money once a week but if he hasn't done anything to earn it I put it in his Monzo pot to help with a car or deposit when he's older.

“Then if I do an extra cleaning job or have an additional ironing customer, I split what I earn – half onto the debt and half towards my savings.” 


  • Find out how much debt you are and where from
  • Work out your ingoings and outgoings
  • Have your debt put on top of monthly bills
  • Use Monzo Saving pots
  • Try the 1p savings challenge
  • Use the snowball method to pay debts
  • Sell unwanted/unused belongings on eBay and Facebook
  • Start up a fun side hustle
  • Meal plan to save money on food shopping and stick to offers/discounts

Racahel also sold a lot of unwanted or unused items in her home and was shocked to find how much she was able to get rid of. She said it’s a great tip for making some additional money quickly. 

She also started another side hustle – known as her “hobby hustle” where she sells decorated and personalised vases with her friend. 

Plus she plans meals in advance to keep the cost of her food shop to a minimum and uses vouchers and discounts where possible. 

Then she came across the debt free Instagram community and set up her own page getstuffdone_withcoffee to share her progress. 

She talks about mental health and house cleaning on her page as well as clearing debt – and said she receives nothing but support and advice from her nearly 2,000 followers.

“I was so embarrassed of my situation and I wanted to improve all aspects of my life so I set up my page,” Rachael told MakeTheHeadlines.co.uk. 

“My house is becoming a home, I have savings, a small amount but more than I have ever had before, debt clearing and a new lease of life.”

Rachael is so incredibly proud of what she has achieved in such a small amount of time. 

She’s learnt so much and enjoyed the journey to independence. She believes if she can do it – after hitting rock bottom – other single parents can too. 

“I still have a long way to go but my target for this year 2022 is to become debt free and pass my driving test which will open up more opportunities,” she added. 

“I now have under £2000 debt left to pay and by the end of the year I will be debt free.

“As the future is always uncertain with prices of bills and food I am currently looking for a part time job to make sure myself and my boy are secure.

“But if I can do it, I hope it shows other single parents that they can do it too!”

For more inspiring real life stories, Jemma Solomon revealed her sister sister Stacey caught the labelling bug from her – she set up her company with £300 & now Lord Sugar has invested.

And Tropic Skincare's Susie Ma set up her £51m business when she was 15 – Lord Sugar fired her on The Apprentice but STILL invested £200k.

Plus Rayner Davies was a single teenage mum on benefits – now her cleaning business turns over £4m a year.

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