The benefits of financial wellness

In honor of Financial Literacy Month, April's blog posts were written by consumers whose lives have improved as a result of their debt repayment efforts. While every story is worth hearing, we received so many wonderful letters that we were unable to publish them all. Following are excerpts from some of the unpublished stories that I found particularly moving.

"After paying my debt, it felt like a physical weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I was able to save money, and pay my bills on time. The stressful tasks of worrying how I was going to explain to my landlord that my rent would be late, asking my parents for yet another loan, or hoping the check I wrote a check for groceries wouldn't bounce before my paycheck was deposited to my bank account. I felt like a normal person for the first time in a long time."

"It's liberating to have my bills paid off. The pressure and stress of those bills are gone and I consider it a lesson well learned. Since then my wife and I have purchased our first home and are glad to be putting our money towards something that belongs to us. We are also thrilled to have the opportunity to take our son on his first trip to Disney this month."

"Being out from under that financial burden has taken a weight off me that words cannot describe. I am now able to live beneath my means instead of barely making it paycheck to paycheck. I cannot tell you how much it means to be able to have extra money to save, give, and have left over to invest in my home and other interests."

"I must say that things have really changed for me. We now have had two children and are getting ready to purchase a house and have saved enough to do it cash if we wanted. When I had all the debt I couldn't have even imagined such a great outcome."

"I wanted to pay off my debt to restore my credit from which I abused from having too many credit cards with high limits that were beyond my means. I learned a great deal from this, which is that if I simply cannot afford it (i.e. new shoes, purse, etc.) I just don't buy it. I've learned t o budget , with the help of my very money-conscious husband and knowing that I have no other debt, than my car - it's a great feeling."

"I’m no longer afraid to pick the telephone up – how embarrassing is that? I can’t describe the feeling – bill collectors aren’t even part of my vocabulary any more. I was physically sick when I was under all that pressure, I lost hair, I gained weight – I was upset all the time. It was awful. I have a saving account now – before I was always pulling my savings out every month to cover payments or to just make grocery money. I no longer live check to check – I can honestly say I’m comfortable."

"Thank you so much for being there for me when I thought I was alone in my financial hell."

"I sleep better and life in general is a lot better. I never ever realized how much I was really paying for something I had purchased with a credit card. Thanks so much for opening my eyes."

"Getting my debt load off of me and behind me has made a huge difference in all areas of my life. The mental stress of finances that have gone awry is stifling. I still have stress from work, etc... but it is nothing com pared to the worry and fatigue that financial issues caused. My self esteem increased as I worked my way through the program. I took on a part-time job in addition to my full-time job to help get my bills paid off more quickly. I have take on a position of increased responsibility and pay and know that getting my debt load behind me has enabled and empowered me to move forward in this area as well as other areas of my life."

"There has been a huge difference in my life since paying off the debt. My stress has been dramatically reduced. To not feel trapped under the smothering weight of credit card debt is just wonderful! And because your program taught me how to properly budget my money, I've never really felt that pressure of scrounging money to pay for emergencies or special occasions."

"I am no longer ashamed. It was such a powerful feeling of shame in not being able to take care of myself and never having any control or the feeling of control. I am very proud of myself and feel so strong as I listen to the daily news of people who are struggling with large amounts of debt. I no longer feel like I have to have everything I want immediately and sometimes like to take time to "decide" what treats or "needs" I would like to take care of first and what I can live without."

"At first, I was very apprehensive on engaging in a debt management program. Ironically, I was afraid of how it would look on my credit! The set up was very simple, the payment was very manageable and once I continued to look for better and better jobs, I was able to pay my debt off in 4+ years. That was a great accomplishment for me. Since then, I've been able to purchase a home and manage credit very effectively. Having financial control over your life is a great security that I can't explain."

While Financial Literacy Month 2010 is over, I hope that the stories we've shared will continue to provide inspiration. If you have a story to share, we'd love to hear it! Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog or submit your story here.

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

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