In 2009 I was in trouble. Credit card trouble. $48,000 to be exact. And how did it happen? My husband became partially disabled and was unable to work. I worked full time in commercial real estate with a two hour commute each way and maintained a part-time job on the weekends. Because I worked so many hours I was unable to see my son as much as I would have liked too. And that is very hard on a mother. We owned a lovely home in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia and our mortgage payment was a priority to us. I knew that I had to pay my mortgage and car payments so everything else went on the credit card. The credit cards became our go-to for paying for the necessities…like food and utilities.
Then one day it happened. I had maxed out all of my credit cards. The phone was constantly ringing from credit card companies and I was afraid to go the mail box because I knew it would be nothing but bills. I tried to contact the credit companies and work with them but it didn’t seem to work.
I couldn’t sleep at night because I would lay awake crying. My work was suffering, my family was suffering and most of all, I was suffering. I needed help. I knew that I needed to do something but I didn’t know what. I had heard many negative things about credit consolidation, so I really felt like I was backed into a corner and didn’t know where to turn. My friends and co-workers all told me to file bankruptcy. Really? These bills were my responsibility. Bottom line, I owed the money and I was going to pay them back. No question about it.
I prayed and God answered me. That Sunday in church I overheard someone talking about financial counseling with Lutheran Social Service. I called them the next day and felt free. I was very embarrassed to reach out for help, but once I talked to my counselor I felt better. And I never felt judged for going to LSS or needing help. After preparing a budget my financial counselor Leah recommended that I start a Debt Management Plan with LSS. My DMP payment would be $824 a month. It was a lot of money for me to pay each month but I knew I needed to gain control. I treated my DMP payment just like my mortgage. It was that important to me.
To say that I had to get creative to make my monthly payment is an understatement. I had to cut out a lot of expenses. I kept my car longer than I normally would have. I stopped shopping at department stores and instead went to thrift and consignment stores. Haircuts got switched to twice a year. No movies unless it was Red Box. Date night became pizza and a Red Box movie. Throughout the DMP process I worked with Joanne Lundberg in the Client Services Department. I am so grateful to her and LSS for getting me through this dark period.
Each month I struggled to make my payment…but I did it. And every month I watched the balance get smaller and smaller. I am now only one payment away from being credit card free. In one month I will be $48,000 lighter!
As of today, I have no credit cards and probably never will. My new motto is, “if I can’t afford it, I can’t have it!” Once my DMP payment is done I plan on putting $500 a month in emergency savings and putting the other $300 in a college fund for my son.
It’s scary to ask for help, but LSS is there. They can and will help you.
Melanie and her family are Debt Management Clients at LSS Financial Counseling. Melanie will be making her last DMP payment in November 2013.
Our goal at LSS is to work with people like Melanie as they take control and begin to build a life without debt. Give us a call at 888.577.2227 to see if a Debt Management Plan will work for you. A DMP consolidates your monthly debts into one tidy payment—often with a lower interest rate—so you can start paying off those debts and return to financial health faster. Start building a life without debt today.