So, we are 10 weeks into the challenge and let me just say that you have all paid off over $60,000 in debt since January 1st!!!!!!!!!! WOW!!!! Everyone is doing so incredible! As hard as it is to make all of those payments, it absolutely beats the alternative – bankruptcy. And I should know, as I have been there.
In December 2001, I was getting out of a long term relationship and getting ready to start my new life on my own. I had no one to blame, but myself (and him) for the debt that we had incurred. I couldn’t afford to pay for my share of the bills due to the overwhelming monthly payments. I could not afford to even put food on my table. I had made horrible mistakes and was careless with my spending. I allowed credit cards and shopping take over my life.
Before contacting an attorney, I had tried it all from debt counseling to debt consolidation. Nothing was worked. So, as my last recourse, I declared bankruptcy. It was so hard to fill out the forms and put down on paper what I owed to all of those people. I could tell I had tried to fill a void in my life with “things.” And now those things were costing me dearly.
On August 16, 2002, I received the official notification in the mail. I was bankrupt. It would now follow me for the next 10 years of my life. TEN YEARS!! At that moment I realized I had made a horrible mistake and that I should never have gone that route. Of course, hindsight is 20/20 and there was nothing I could do about the past. I had to own up to my mistakes. I wiped my tears and held my head high – ready to change my life for good.
Luckily, I had met my husband (then fiance) and he was very supportive of what I had been through. We worked together and planned our wedding and honeymoon — paying for all of it with cash. Not ONE THING was put on a credit card. We began our lives together and we racked up some debt through autos, a home equity loan and one credit card. While it was not a staggering amount of debt, that $37,000 kept taunting me (both of us actually).
In November 2007, we began Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. By February 2010, we had paid off all of our debt — on one income! We were so very proud of this accomplishment. During the remainder of 2010, we worked hard and saved to build our emergency fund. As of today, we have only our monthly mortgage payment. We are making deposits to all 3 children’s college funds and most importantly, we have nearly 10 months of income in our emergency fund.
Sharing this with all of you is truly humbling. I didn’t do so for sympathy. I did it so that you know I really, truly understand what you are going through. I empathize with finding it hard to make ends meet. I understand that feeling of desperation and thinking that bankruptcy is your only recourse. While I can’t change my past, I really hope that the tips and ideas I share can help you avoid making the same mistake I did. While declaring bankruptcy changes your life for the worse, paying off your debts yourself can change it ofr the better. I am truly living the life I always wanted to and did so this time — the RIGHT way.
(I am not a financial advisor and the information listed within these Debt Challenge posts is not to be construed a financial advice. This is knowledge we gained through our own personal experiences and information as outlined in Dave Ramsey’s Financial Makeover — and is being shared as such. Participants are not required to follow any steps listed if they do not wish to do so. Financial concerns/issues should be addressed with a professional in order to receive advice and assistance.)