Rosa shares her personal debt story

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 Rosa's personal debt story.

My husband and I were both very careless with our spending and never really had any savings. We both had acquired too much credit at an early age and we were naïve to the consequences and responsibilities that came with that. The problems only grew when we combined our finances. It wasn’t until we were both working full time and still not making a dent in our monthly expenses that we had to sit back and take a good look at the reality of the situation. The reality was that we owed a lot of money. It was a hard thing to admit because for so long I thought we had a handle on things, but we really didn’t. I found out we where pretty clueless on how to properly budget and save. You go from feeling ashamed, to feeling hopeless and even helpless.

As an answer to our problem we did contemplate bankruptcy but I had been able to maintain a good credit rating and I wasn’t sure what affect that would have. So I started looking at alternatives and that is when we decided to [work through a repayment plan] instead. It was the first and smartest financial decision we made. We were able to sit down with someone who made us do a monthly budget, helped us figure out where we could cut back, and how we could start putting money aside for savings. We also cut up our credit cards, which was both scary and a relief at the same time. We paid a set amount each month and paid our debt off in five years. That was just the early stages of our journey to managing our debt. It would take us a couple of more years to really get the hang of it, but we had the skills to do it now and that was key.

About a year and a half ago we started to seriously consider a place of our own. Up until then we didn’t really think we could afford a down payment or qualify for a loan. But because the housing market had begun to deteriorate and was forcing home prices down we figured it was probably our last and only opportunity to buy a home. I had also just returned to work full time after working part time and going to school for several years, so we were able to take that extra income and tackle whatever remaining debt we still had. We managed within a year to pay that off, save for a down payment, and qualify for a loan. We finally bought our first home last fall. And even though owning a home is a huge responsibility and we have had to manage our finances even more carefully than ever before, all the sacrifice has been so worth it.

-Rosa, Chicago

 Congratulations on your new home Rosa!

Check back often for more stories about real people who have overcome the burden of debt. And don't forget to visit our Financial Literacy Month section for a wealth of information about improving your own financial situation.

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.