How do you think you got into financial trouble?
I was young and treated my credit card and Line of Credit as “extra money”, knowing it wasn’t but not taking responsibility to make sure I was paying it back.
How did that make you feel?
Trapped. It was a burden and guilt that was always in the back of my mind.
How long did it take you to get back on your feet financially?
About 12 years total. 8 years of struggle, ignoring my debts. 4 years of doing something about it.
Is your outlook on life different now that you are debt free?
Yes, of course! I still sometimes feel like it’s a dream that I am debt free. It’s a fresh start to rebuild my credit and create a better future for myself.
How did dealing with your debt help in other areas of your life?
It helped me assume responsibility for my actions and opened my eyes wider to how the financial industry operates.
If you had a chance for a “do-over” in your life what would you have done differently that could have prevented you from getting into debt?
I would have kept my credit card at a limit that was achievable for me to repay, especially being a young adult working minimum wage jobs. I also would have gotten a part-time job while in college, rather than living off my line of credit. It would have helped a bit at least. More so, I would have made it mandatory to make the monthly payments instead of saying “someday”.
What influenced you the most to change your spending habits?
It was honestly a hard taste of reality when I was served with a notice for court with my bank. It’s was terrifying to think about, but it forced me to get the help I needed.
How did Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada help you with your situation?
They worked with my creditor and had them agree to give me another chance to pay it back. They had faith in me, which gave me faith in myself.
How did it feel when you finished working with Credit Counselling Services and became debt free?
I think I was in shock. I expected to cry and jump around, but I think I was just so relieved I almost couldn’t believe it.
What are you doing now to ensure you don’t repeat past financial mistakes?
I have opened an additional savings account that holds the funds I need for my expenses, I have a budget that I am trying to stick to, and I am not buying excessively or overspending.
If you were to experience financial difficulty again, would you use credit counselling to get back on track?
I hope that I don’t ever end up in that type of situation again, but if life put me back on that road, then absolutely. Every person I dealt with through the entire process was friendly, helpful, and never judged me. They genuinely wanted to help.
How has becoming debt free allowed you to plan for your future?
It has allowed me to begin saving for a down payment for my own home and to start thinking about investing in my retirement. That money can now work for me.
Have you been able to educate/encourage other members of your family to budget and save?
Yes, a bit. I certainly try, and I think I serve as an example for what can happen if you are not responsible with your debt.
If you had to give up one daily expense to be debt free, what would it be?
I don’t spend daily too much but buying lunch at work is one that happens often. It adds up. I could get up 15 minutes earlier to make a lunch.