‘How do I clear my debts so I can look after children?’
Almost a decade ago, Carrie Lloyd, 41, left a high-flying marketing career in London and moved to follow a more spiritual path.
She emigrated to America, where she studied to be ordained as a pastor. For the past six years she has made a living freelancing as a public speaker through the Bethel megachurch, a religious group in Redding, California known for its large gatherings and contemporary Christian “music worship”.
Ms Lloyd now wants to become a foster mother. But as the pandemic struck, she found her main source of income had been cut off.
“After some poor advice from an accountant, who told me I wouldn’t need to pay back any student loan, repairs to two little houses in northern California that I bought three years ago and some minor surgery, I’m about $20,000 (£14,700) in debt,” she said. “I’m currently in Britain to keep my widowed mother company. I’m renting out the houses to keep money coming in.”
Ms Lloyd currently lets both her properties, although she will be moving back into one of them in January, when she plans to return to America.
Her income varies because she is self-employed and her properties are let for short periods.
After taxes, mortgage payments and business costs, she has a monthly income that ranges anywhere between $1,500 and $7,500.
She has $13,000 in debt on an American Express credit card with an interest rate of 22.7pc, $2,600 on an Apple card that charges 16pc and $5,000 in outstanding medical bills, which have attracted $440 in interest so far this year. She also has £1,600 in low-interest student loan debt yet to be repaid from her time at university in Britain.
She has no investments or pensions other than her property. “I need some guidance and advice on how to clear the debt before I take foster children into my home,” she said.
Ms Lloyd has struggled to get financial advice in Britain because she has been living abroad, so she turned to Telegraph Money for salvation.