Robyn will never forget when the phone calls began three years ago. Bill collectors and creditors were calling, demanding payment for past due credit card bills. She was surprised by the calls and confused: why were bills unpaid and months overdue?
Something was wrong. The debt settlement company was supposed to take care of all the bills. After all, she and her husband were determined to pay off the high credit card debts as quickly as possible.
Wesley always said, “I made the bills and I’ll pay the bills.” That’s why he got a job as a civilian worker in Iraq to make more money to help pay off their debts. Before he went to Iraq, he had mistakenly – and with good intentions – signed up with a debt settlement company, not realizing how they actually worked.
Robyn didn’t know where to begin to find help for the family’s financial situation. Fortunately, when they turned to Wesley’s employer’s EAP, they made two recommendations: file a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s office about the debt settlement company and contact Consumer Credit Counseling Service at Graceworks about how to pay over $77,000 in credit card debt.
The counselor Ann recalls “When Robyn first called, she was so upset that she really couldn’t talk about the problem.” At our first counseling session, we set up a budget that defined their income, living expenses, and the required monthly repayment schedule for the credit card debts. Robyn made it clear that she would stick the Debt Management Plan.
Robyn says, “Ann and CCCS were great for me. It was a tough time, but you have to learn to live on a budget.”
In September, Robyn and Wesley’s debts were paid-in-full. The counselor recalls that first visit with Robyn when she was so worried and depressed that she looked ashen. “Now she is very animated and excited about telling others about our program. CCCS made such a difference in our lives.”
CCCS conducts exit interviews to prepare clients for completion and provide guidance for long term financial success. During an exit interview with a family who is completing their Debt Management Program (DMP) after paying off over $111,560 the client’s shared the following story with our counselor.
Mindy told Lisa her DMP counselor that our program taught them a lot about who they are and what they can live with or without. She said that sticking to a strict budget in order to pay off their debt was not easy. Soon after Bob and Mindy started the DMP, Bob lost his job. They learned how to do what was needed to survive. However, what helped Mindy was the position Bob took that no job was beneath him and that he was willing to take any job that could keep their household going. They began to work as a team like never before. He found part-time work at a drive-thru carryout and did any odd jobs for family and friends. They recounted the words that Lisa told them the day they first came in, that stuck with them for the last four years, saying “You can do it”.
As Mindy continued telling their success story and how they made the right decision, her eyes filled with tears. Both clients praised the program stating that if a person really wants to make the changes that are necessary to succeed on a DMP, they could. Mindy further stated that you must take ownership of what you created and when you do a program like this everybody wins. They will now start to build their savings and retirement accounts and move forward with the extra $2,000 a month to build a sound financial future after making this final payment.
Even more importantly, their son Jake at the time they started the DMP was 4 years old. Since they were not able to go out and spend money, Mindy and Bob spent a lot more quality family time with their son. They not only reaped the benefits that their dedication provided in getting the debt paid off, but also learned the meaning of the support of family and true friends.
With today’s economy, we all may be faced with financial concerns or problems at some point. It’s hard enough keeping your head above water. We pray we avoid health problems or that the car doesn’t break down. Often times, circumstances are just out of our control.
Francis and Bill (not their real names) were both employed and doing fine financially. Bill had a good job at Honda and Francis works at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. They felt they were in a good place and could afford to build a new home for their family. So they put their house on the market and built a beautiful new home out by the golf course.
What the couple didn’t know was that this was the beginning of a perfect storm of events for their finances. The timing put them at the beginning of the meltdown of the housing market. Their new home finally completed, they found they were unable to sell the old one. Over time they became overwhelmed with the cost of their living expenses and debts. The house sat on the market for months as they faced making two mortgage payments.
No debt problem is unsolvable. The trick is to know how to work through them to get back on track. Moving in the right direction, they had found someone to rent their old home, but had gotten behind on their credit cards while paying two mortgages. Francis then found the local Springfield office of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) on the Internet and decided to make the call for help.
Taking back control was important to them. She met the CCCS counselor, and together they completed a financial review with an action plan to guide the family back on track with their financial goals. To stop the harassing phone calls and receive the benefits of creditor concessions, they entered the Debt Management Program. Over the next three years they paid over $32,000 back to their creditors. Things seemed to be looking up for the family until without any warning their renter moved out and they were once again faced with two mortgage payments. Having learned the importance of communication, Francis contacted the mortgage company who advised her to put the house back on the market requiring a specific minimal amount. They had offers, but nothing ever went through even though they met that amount. The lender then told her that she had “no options.”
Francis knew that CCCS offered housing counseling. So she again contacted our office and talked with the counselor who listened to her story. The mortgage company said they would accept one amount and when they found a buyer for that, they denied it, wanting a higher amount. The counselor went to bat for the couple and made some calls. She was able to explain that they had done everything that the mortgage company had asked.
Sometimes just knowing where to turn for help makes all the difference. Francis emailed the counselor to confirm an offer was finally accepted and the closing was set. “I have no doubt that God sent me to you that morning. Thank you!” exclaims Francis!