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Life After Debt Series: “How Over-Gifting Put Me in Debt”

How do you think you got into financial trouble?
I was making a lot of money at the time and I thought I could help everyone. Then I started to borrow from credit cards and always thought I could pay everything back.

How did that make you feel?
When I got in too deep it was like quicksand! The harder I tried to get out of debt the worse it seemed to be. There was no light at the end of my tunnel.

How long did it take you to get back on your feet financially?
It took me 4 years of reasonable payments. Once I got through the first few weeks of feeling like a failure, I started to smile more often and felt so much better because I could see my light at the end of the tunnel.

Is your outlook on life different now that you are debt free?
Very different! I have only one credit card for travel as I have to fly a lot. I never put money on my card without paying it right away! I never want to go back to getting paid and knowing I owed all my pay to credit cards, banks, cars!

How did dealing with your debt help in other areas of your life?
My family and I are at peace. It’s like the weight of the world has been lifted off our shoulders!

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?
Life is full of learning experiences and I am always grateful for those opportunities. I love my family and friends greatly, but I don’t think I would want to help in the same ways that I did previously. I think now I would just give them what I could afford to. One does not need a lot of money to be rich in life because life itself is a blessing.

What influenced you the most to change your spending habits?
One day I sat and thought that at the rate I was going I would be 70 years old and still have the debt. Life is too short to not at least try to face our problems. Later, when I learned that corporations only care about money, and not people, I knew I had made the right decisions.

How did Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada help you with your situation?
At first, we got help from a bad debt counselling company and things got worse. I had a family member who was dealing with Credit Counselling Services get in touch with me, and they suggested I try calling them as well. Credit Counselling Services and their awesome team helped me right away. They really seemed to care! My wife and I got on board with their program and were even lucky enough to pay things off 6 months early. Let me tell you, that was an emotional day. We never know what life will bring but we plan to never go back into high debt again. Thank you so much CCSAC!

How did it feel when you finished working with Credit Counselling Services and became debt free?
I remember my final interview and how much we were smiling and laughing! It felt so wonderful and we just wanted everyone to know our story! Let everyone know that the road with the help of Credit Counselling Services is a road well worth talking. You will never regret it!

What are you doing now to ensure you don’t repeat past financial mistakes?
We make sure to save cash for purchasing new things, which is much easier to do when we’re not paying bills all the time. Also, we have learned that when we want things and give it a little time, it helps to keep us away from impulse buying. Some of the feelings of want that we had went away, and we realized we didn’t need them at all.

If you were to experience financial difficulty again, would you use credit counselling to get back on track?
Yes, definitely! After going through the program, I have advised friends to go and it has helped them as well. Credit counselling is awesome!

How has becoming debt free allowed you to plan for your future?
Yes, definitely! We are looking at workshops and plan to retire early!

Have you been able to educate/encourage other members of your family to budget and save?
Yes, we often talk about getting in over our heads. We have been able to put ahead a few months bill payments in case things go south again. Life happens, and we must be ready!

If you had to give up one daily expense to be debt free, what would it be?
Coffee! Though I love my coffee.

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