Last night, I did my first call in to my friend's, Ai Politics, internet radio show. We discussed personal budgeting/ finance. Because of time & how broad you can take that topic, big chunks of my story was left out.
Growing up, we were comfortable. Always had food on the table, bills were paid on time, and we had health insurance on and off through the years. I worked in high school so I would know how to balance a checkbook before I moved out on my own.
When I was 24, I moved in with my brother to help him raise his two children. When I first moved in, it was fine. My brother made enough to pay the household bills. So I was able to go to school during the day, be with the kids at night, & work on the weekends. But life happened. My brother screwed up. Lost his job. He was able to find a job after a while, but had to take a drastic pay cut. I used my credit card to float us through part of this. I also donated plasma for $50 a week.
Through God's grace, we were able to stay at the house for at least another year before foreclosure. We found a house for rent close to school. I was out of school by then, but still only worked part time. By this time, my credit card was maxed out. I had no extra money to pay on it, so it sat collecting interest. I also had problems with my car. God's grace again, I got my mom's old minivan to drive.
My credit was so bad. I had no extra money. I became ashamed & depressed. Here I was, a woman in her 20's, broke. I couldn't even thinking about dating. No way could I try to go into a relationship with this bad of credit.
I finally did get a full-time job! I was so excited. A straight 40 hour paycheck really help with bill paying. For the first time in years, I was hopeful about the future. Then six months later, I was fired. I've never been fired before. I didn't do anything wrong. I found out that's what this one boss did, bring someone in for six months, then fire them. I was crushed! One week before my birthday.
So for the first time in my life, I went on unemployment. In Michigan, every two weeks you call their automated phone line named MARVIN. MARVIN became my new best friend. Nice thing is I live in a small town. People found out what happened to me and were willing to help me find a job.
The local Delphi plant was closing, so they were looking for temp workers to help close the place down. The legacy people would buy-out, retire, or be able to transfer to GM plants. The hitch was you needed to be a friend or family member of someone working at the plant. Good thing I grew up in the town & I knew people in there. I was told I would have a job for at least 8 months. The starting pay was $14/hr. I took the job!
I started at the end of June, by the middle of February, my job there was done. I did start as a temp, but somehow my bargaining chairman got in the union. I was still out of a job. The union did tell me that was an opportunity I could go to the plant in a nearby town, they just didn't know when. So back on unemployment I went.
I was off work for 7 months. During this time, the bill collectors began to call. Remember that credit card I didn't pay on? Yeah, I had over $6K on it. They wanted me to put $3K down, then do monthly payments. They threaten me with a lawyer. I told them 'Go ahead, I have no money.'
The day after Labor Day, I started at the plant where I am currently. That week, I got served papers from the credit card company. Wow, news travels quick. Went to mediation, set up a payment plan.
Between my credit card, student loan, & car, I was way over my head in debt! I didn't think I would ever get out, but God came through again. The church I was attending at the time was doing Financial Peace University classes. I went through them once before, but if you have no money, it makes it hard to follow. So I went again. I followed most of the steps. (I have a really bad rebellious streak in me) Through, a lot of cut backs, not a lot of luxuries, and a lot of overtime, I stand before you today, DEBT-FREE!!!
So it is possible. It isn't easy, not always glamorous, but you do feel better when its over!