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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by sitecore\kmcgrigg on October 04, 2011

We are honored to give voice to consumers who have overcome financial challenges. Through their own words, these consumers will tell you about what it was like to be in and repay unmanageable debt. They will also share inspiring words about the many ways their lives have changed as a result of their debt repayment efforts.

Following is Catherine's personal debt story.

When I finally made myself contact MMI I was at the bottom of my life. I had been treated for depression, diabetes, and my dad had just died but I thought I was doing better because I went out occasionally and shopped. My job that I loved had recently changed from a job where I was on furlough for 6 weeks out of the year – (4 in August and 2 at the end of December when I drew unemployment) to a job that was only giving me 6 months of work. I was still covered by their medical plan and the benefits were generous but I was on unemployment for that time. This was horrible for me.

One of the symptoms of my depression was shopping. Luckily my shopping was usually confined to thrift stores and I bought books. After my job changed I had more time to shop with less money. I had 4 credit cards and whatever came due I used one of them. It was not long before I had maxed out all 4 cards and was in debt for over $25,000. But it was so easy! As soon as I neared my limit on one card that credit card company would raise my limit. One card held $10,000 of unsecured debt on it and I had 4! I finally reached the end of my endurance and borrowed $5,000 to pay the most pressing bills. This was only a temporary fix at best because the debt just piled up again.

I felt like I had a crushing load on my shoulders. Bill collectors were calling and writing it seemed like daily. I was to the point where I would not answer the phone and let all my calls go to voice mail. This, of course, just added to my depression and it deepened to the point that I never left my house except when absolutely necessary.

Then, one day I heard Clark Howard recommending MMI to someone on his show and I immediately called them. They explained the process to me and it sounded hard but I knew that I had no choice if I wanted to live. I signed up with MMI a few days later and began making a dent in my bills. I checked the website monthly to be sure my bills were being paid but other than that I did not have to think about my bills at all. Best of all any creditors who called were referred to MMI. That was such a relief! All I had to do was make sure that the money was in my checking account on the day the funds were to be sent and I always made sure of that. It seemed like a short time until my MMI statement came with a $0 balance. I couldn’t believe it and called the people on the phone to have them double check. IT WAS TRUE!!! I was free.

The hardest thing for me was the agreement not to incur any new debt while I was paying off the old debt. Once I became used to using my debit card for everything my old way of spending seemed like such a bad idea. I also had another position by this time with the same company which was permanent and that steady paycheck really helped. I’m not saying that this was easy by any means and I had to learn to deny myself things that I really wanted. But none of those things gave me the feeling that being DEBT FREE gives me daily.

I know many people out there are asking themselves why I was so worried about this debt. Why didn’t I file bankruptcy? Because I created this debt by myself and I felt that I should pay for it. No one forced me to spend that amount of money and I was solely responsible for it. It was for my own self esteem and feeling of self worth that urged me to work out a plan to pay those bills and not just walk away from them. I felt like it would have been wrong to say “Oh, well, I can’t pay this money back so I’ll just walk away now and leave it.” I don’t think that is the American way or at least not the American way my parents taught me daily. My parents spent their whole lives working and paying their way. What would it teach my children if I just walked away and turned my back on my responsibility? My family is really proud of me.

MMI also sent me a monthly newsletter which had hints and tips on getting debt free and staying that way. There were articles that really made me stop and re-examine my way of handling money and the articles offered little ways to improve my money management skills.


Posted in:  Debt Repayment, Education


Anonymous says:
April 26, 2010

I am thrilled for you! I am in a bad place with debt right now, but MM has taken a load off my mind. It seems like slow-going right now, but it helps to read your story and know that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for sharing!

Ben says:
October 11, 2011

Great story! It is good you didn't go the bankruptcy route. My cousin just files bankruptcy because he had $36k in student loans and could not get a job in the field he had a degree in. Really sad story and now he's paying for it and living on unemployment, which ends in a few months. I'm constantly amazed at stories of individuals who beat the odds and come out ahead. Must be an amazing feeling!

Charleen Webb says:
April 23, 2010

Congrats to you. I really admire your determination and your not take the "new" American way out through bankruptcy. You deserve a big pat of the back. $25,000 in debt to debt free is a major accomplishment. Job well done.

Anonymous says:
April 23, 2010

Congratulations!!! I know it must feel so good to finally have it all taken care of and to know that you see a zero balance brings peace to a whole other level! As counselors we dont always get the chance to hear about these stories so it feels good to know that someone else finished something and stuck it through! Good job! I hope you have a great year..

Anonymous says:
April 23, 2010

Way to go, Catherine! Thanks for sharing your success story!

Dan - BankVibe says:
October 04, 2011

Very inspiring story and amazed to hear you didnt take the bankruptcy route! I heard another good story similar to this on Yahoo the other day about how a couple finally got out of over $80k in debt to finance their 4 daughters weddings. It took them 7 years of penny pinching but they made it. Must feel like a ton of bricks are lifted off your back when you finally to get out...

Emily says:
April 23, 2010

Congratulations Catherine for becoming debt free. I myself have become debt free, but did it on my own which took a lot longer. I wish I would have known about MMI. Debt can take over your life and I am glad to say that I am free from it.

TS says:
October 04, 2011

Thanks for sharing your story. It is of great help to others who find themselves in similar situations to know that while not easy, with perseverance and desire, you can get there and be much better off when coming out the other end. I really liked your comments on feeling you should take care of the debt you created and not pass it on to others to take care of. It made me think, as you mentioned, that my parents also taught me those same values. Thanks again!

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