How do you think you got into financial trouble?
Oh, I know how. I was in a relationship with a partner who had no income for a very long time. Bills stacked up, credit was taken out to compensate. Having only one income, we were always late on rent and other payments.
How did that make you feel?
I couldn’t pick up the phone without having a panic attack thinking it was a parent asking for money I owed them, or creditors.
How long did it take you to get back on your feet financially?
With the program, I was debt free in 3 years and 7 months.
Is your outlook on life different now that you are debt free?
Yes, I can now save for a large purchase with my husband and not worry about approval.
How did dealing with your debt help in other areas of your life?
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?
Honestly, nothing. Nothing would have stopped me from being with my ex, who was the crux of where the debt started growing and didn’t stop. I let her have control over my money, even though she had no income. I’m not saying she’s all to blame, there’s no fault of one person. I could have said no to a lot of things, but I was naive and wanted her to be happy. I’ve become the person I am today because of my relationship with her, and although debt was a huge stress I don’t regret it. I wouldn’t and probably couldn’t change anything that would have prevented me from going into debt.
What influenced you the most to change your spending habits?
My husband, he’s the one who encouraged me to deal with the debt.
How did Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada help you with your situation?
Just the fact they controlled all communication between me and creditors was a huge help! Stopping the interest also allowed me to pay off the debt much faster than I could have done alone.
How did it feel when you finished working with Credit Counselling Services and became debt free?
I celebrated with a bottle of Black Velvet Toasted Caramel whiskey that I’ve been saving for a year. Amazing!
What are you doing now to ensure you don’t repeat past financial mistakes?
I budget, budget, budget! The payments I used to make to credit counselling now goes to my savings account
If you were to experience financial difficulty again, would you use credit counselling to get back on track?
Yes, but hopefully the huge debt is in the past for good.
How has becoming debt free allowed you to plan for your future?
Knowing that I have financial security allows me to plan for a house one day, and we can budget for that for the future.
Have you been able to educate/encourage other members of your family to budget and save?
My husband is very good with money, so we are both saving right now.
If you had to give up one daily expense to be debt free, what would it be?
I don’t have daily expenses. I can go 4 days or more without spending because we go out once a week to buy food for the week, which includes lunches. I don’t buy coffee or go to fast food places. The car is kind of a daily expense, but I’m not spending a lot on gas.