Throughout Financial Literacy Month, the blog will 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 Angela's story.
As cliche as it may sound, Money Management International/CCCS has literally been a lifesaver for both my husband and myself.
Embarrassingly, each one of us entered our 2001 marriage with about $25K in credit card debt apiece. Add that to rent/mortgage, car payments, student loan payments, living expenses, etc., it was a huge burden. I was "robbing-Peter-to-pay-Paul" each month to pay all of our bills. I constantly found myself falling behind, getting calls from creditors, etc. We were two adult professionals working full-time with no kids or dependents -- making good wages -- yet we were living paycheck-to-paycheck and barely keeping our heads above water. We did NOT believe in declaring bankruptcy as our debt was our "fault" and we didn't think we should get a free pass by having it absolved. However, it was really hard to see light at the end of the tunnel.
My sister told me about MMI, as she was a participant a few years earlier. I knew we were at a point where we needed professional help. I called MMI, and it was one of the best things I've ever done!!! For starters, the counselors were so warm and helpful. They were never judgmental or condescending. I entered the DMP first, and in approximately 5 years, I went from nearly $26K to ZERO debt! My payments were affordable, and my phone stopped ringing with collection calls. We next enrolled my husband, and knocked out his debt within a few years. We actually paid his off early! During that time, I allowed myself to amass about $8K in credit card debt, and re-enrolled to get rid of it. It is amazing to think we paid off nearly SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS in credit card debt! Ugh---just the thought of $60K in CREDIT CARD debt makes me sick to my stomach! We could have NEVER done this without the involvement of MMI.
I am happy to report that we are happier and more financially "healthier". I drive a brand-new car, and we take annual vacations -- things we were never able to do before. Between the time we started DMP until now, our credit scores have gone from the high 400's/low 500's to the mid 700's. We are receiving the best interest rates of our lives on our home and cars. We are committed to NEVER going back to the way we were. Our steadfast commitment to paying off our debt and raising our credit scores actually made us stronger as a couple. And, as a result, we feel like there's nothing we can't accomplish. Ironically, I lost my job 5 months ago, and we had to live solely off of my husband's income. This would have been impossible had we still been carrying all that credit card debt.
I tell everyone I can about MMI/CCCS. You are a godsend. People need to know that they don't have to do this alone, and they do not have to declare bankruptcy. There is a way to pay off your debt.
Thank you for helping us to a brighter future!
Check back often for more stories about real people who have overcome the burden of debt. And don't forget to visit FinancialLiteracyMonth.com for a wealth of information about improving your own financial situation.