About five years ago, I made a really stupid decision to co-sign for a loan and entered into one of those social networking businesses. And I'm literally paying for it now! Over the years, my finances spiraled out of control. In fact, my husband and I had to see a marriage counselor. I had to make some tough decisions:
I had to accept and stop ignoring my financial condition. I first had to apologize to my husband and start showing that I was going to try to pay this debt off.
I started sharing my story with friends and family so they would not ask me to go out or knew that for the next few years, we could not exchange Christmas and birthday gifts.
In the past, I did extra things to make money, but was not managing it properly. I would just think to myself, "Oh, well. I have extra money, so I can spend more." I was not getting out of my situation. Every month, I either had a check that bounced or my account was overdrawn.
I had to start manually writing my spending down and making notes on what was going to be withdrawn from my account. This way, when I started subtracting my spending and what was going to get automatically withdrawn, the number that I wrote down was lower than the high number that showed on my account.
I started closing any accounts that I could, including bank, store, and cell phone accounts, and narrowed it down to one account and one credit card.
I started giving myself an allowance of $20 a week. If I spend it on the first day, that's too bad. I have actually started to see how long I can keep the $20 in my wallet. It is my little competition with myself.
I borrowed money from my TIAA-cref account. They have a low interest rate. I did this to jump start paying off the $30,000 of co-signed loans.
I unfortunately did have to settle though a non-profit company called Christian Debt. I tried calling the banks on my own, but since that is not my area of expertise, I would rather pay someone to talk the jargon that I was not trained to do.
I think four times before buying something. I never impulsively purchased anything over $100, but my problem was worse. I would go to the mall or a supermarket and spend $1 here and $5 there. That can quickly add up to $100 before you know it.
Hubby and I bond over clipping coupons. If we don't have a coupon for it, we don't get it.
We are doing great. We realistically have a goal of gaining more financial freedom within three years. My car gets paid off in September and we will put more money into my escrow to get my debt paid off sooner. We will remain frugal and plan ahead for grocery shopping and other purchases.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it to MyStory@stretcher.com.
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