How do you think you got into financial trouble?
Using credit instead of income. I lost my job, and with that our house as well.
How did that make you feel?
The loss of job and housing? Very frustrated and somewhat defeated.
How long did it take you to get back on your feet financially?
It was a long and difficult five-year journey until I was able to secure a new job. Within three months of that, my wife lost her job, which was at that time providing close to 70% of our income. So getting back on our feet financially didn’t really happen then either. It took another four years.
Is your outlook on life different now that you are debt free?
It is different in ways that would take an extended conversation to more accurately explain.
How did dealing with your debt help in other areas of your life?
More peace in our home. Important harmony in our marriage. Increasing effectiveness in financial management. A greater sense of freedom in being able to help others, it is very sweet indeed!
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?
First, I would have had my wife and I get counselling regarding financial management. We were at odds over this for years. Second, I would have sought out help for long-term financial planning early on. Although, I still don’t know where I could have turned for counsel that I could have safely trusted. So many in that arena seemed to have a vested interest in the advice they give. I also would never have acquired a credit card. I recognize my decisions in use of my credit card opened the door for many of the problems. However, I still maintain that the credit card directs people to a financial highway that is very wide and easily accessible. There are few “traffic safety signs” on this highway. There is virtually no training given for “driving” on this highway. People are encouraged to drive faster and faster on this highway. There are no “insurance policies” to protect people when financial wrecks occur. And the “driver” is always considered at fault in such financial wrecks, no exceptions. So, no credit cards. Thanks for asking this question.
What influenced you the most to change your spending habits?
God helped us face the fact that we were in a painful, disunified mess in our financial life, and we were consequently in a lot of trouble.
How did Credit Counselling Services of Atlantic Canada help you with your situation?
They gave us priceless help. They offered a listening ear, non-judgmental understanding, practical and workable advice, gentle firmness where we needed it, and always approached us as friends on the same team as us, helping us to feel hope. Also, they were someone that the creditors would listen to and work with.
How did it feel when you finished working with Credit Counselling Services and became debt free?
I’ve never done jail time, but I can imagine what it would feel like to have a guard come and unlock the door and tell you the Judge is pronouncing you a free person.
What are you doing now to ensure you don’t repeat past financial mistakes?
We ask God for wisdom. My wife and I are more and more on the same page; we have no credit cards, we’re developing a money management plan, we’re working from a total transparency approach with each other as we deal with finances and for us, we regard all our assets as shared equally.
If you were to experience financial difficulty again, would you use credit counselling to get back on track?
Yes! For sure!
How has becoming debt free allowed you to plan for your future?
Now, we have the freedom to make decisions. Debt takes away that freedom. The borrower is always the servant of the lender. We have a growing understanding of ourselves where money is concerned. This is an important part of planning. What matters to us it is how we can now manage to achieve what matters.
Have you been able to educate/encourage other members of your family to budget and save?
Not a lot directly, but we have ditched our pride and become transparent with our children, both about our struggles/mess and the path to freedom that we have walked. We trust that they will learn from hearing and watching us.
If you had to give up one daily expense to be debt free, what would it be?
Buying and drinking water and radically limiting our eating out.