This may sound like an odd analogy but I compare having debt to a dog having wood ticks. They start out small and you don’t even notice them and before you know it you have more than one. Then they get bigger and you can manage them for a while, but soon it’s unbearable. My husband and I got to the point where we felt like we were covered in ticks. The phone wouldn’t stop ringing. We sold our house, gave up our car and were barely getting by. Everyone was demanding money and there was no way we could make everyone happy. We felt like failures. Then, we found LSS and started a Debt Management Plan.
This is our experience:
Our story really starts in 2009 with the economic downturn. My husband and I were self employed and we found that we were losing ground quickly. We were making all of our payments and basically just ‘surviving.’ We decided to rent out our home and were able to make the mortgage payments, but then something else would give. And as a result we ran up our credit card balances. We could pay one but not the other. With a heavy heart we decide to list our house for sale. Thankfully it sold in just a few short days. This was a big monthly payment off our chests and we regrouped. Finally, we hit the wall again. We knew something had to give.
Also at this time, with the credit card debt looming, we realized we couldn’t make our monthly car payment. We had an older car (no payment) and a newer car with a payment. We had never missed a payment or been late so I called the place that had our car loan and asked if we could work something out. We just need a few months to get back on our feet. They wouldn’t help us, and I was devastated, so I told them if they wanted the car they could just take it. We returned the car as a voluntary repossession and it was sold at auction. When I look back now I refer to these days as the dark days of my life. I was working nights at second job in the mall, our house was gone, our car was gone and I felt like a failure. Everyone was demanding money and there was no way we could make everyone happy. Finally in March 2010 we found LSS Financial Counseling. We researched on the web and found so much information on credit counseling but we could tell by LSS’s website that they were safe and reputable. My husband called and made the appointment.
I went to the appointment crying and feeling like a failure. I had no house, no business and no car. I was downright depressed. We met with a Financial Counselor who immediately brought sanity back into the picture. One thing our financial counselor told us was, “Don’t feel ashamed. Be proud of yourselves for taking the first step.” She was able to do the math and help us figure out where we stood and we left there with a plan in hand. I remember saying to my husband on the drive home, “well, it’s easy for her to tell us to do these steps and live on a budget. It doesn’t affect her.”
When we got home we talked and prayed and really thought about what we should do and decided that a debt management plan with LSS was right for us. And you know what? Once we got started the phone really did quit ringing. The harassing phone calls stopped and things started turning around. We had hope and relief from the stress that was weighing us down. In May, I got offered a new job and I loved it and looking back it was the best thing that could have happened to us.
Another important part of our success was the extra income we picked up by doing odd jobs. Some of the things we did (and are still doing!) are walking dogs, dog sitting, watering plants, and many other odd jobs we could find. It seems like once the word gets out that you are looking for these type jobs they find you!
As for the DMP, for us it is the most awesome thing in the world and it is always manageable. Now, I am not saying that it is always easy. There were months when I would have to get creative with my cooking or maybe buy clothes from a consignment shop. But who cares! Once I figured out that no one cares where I shop I became a much happier person. That was a huge self realization step for me.
At first it seemed like it would take forever to get from under all that debt but before we knew it we saw the light at the end of the tunnel (and it wasn’t an oncoming train!) After the first year we were blown away by how much debt we had paid off. We started the DMP in May of 2010 with over $17,000 in credit card debt and I am happy to say that we will be debt free by the end of October 2013.
What does our future hold? Once all of our ‘ticks’ are gone and we no longer have a DMP payment we are going to continue to make that payment to our savings account. It’s like we are paying ourselves. Our goal is to buy a new (used) car with cash and we know that in order to get there we need a savings strategy so we don’t ever get into a financial mess again.
This testimonial was written by Mark and Carol of Minnesota. Can you relate to this story? Call us today at 888.577.2227 to set up an appointment. We can help you look ahead and see what financial freedom looks like.