Alma A.

At first, creditors called Alma to offer increased limits. Eventually, they were calling for money, until Alma made a call of her own.

Alma dove head-first into the world of credit cards. It was easy to get new cards, and easy to get limit increases. Perhaps it was too easy. Soon she found herself running on the credit balance treadmill, making minimum payments but not getting ahead of a $34,000 debt load. Here’s her story, in her own words.

The slippery slope of credit cards…

It was so easy to apply for a credit card and get approved. Even with the credit limit I was given, the creditors kept upping my credit limit and I continued using it. I applied for four credit cards and I received them; it didn’t take long to reach my credit limit. I also used the credit cards for cash withdrawals. In many instances, I didn’t need to… but I did anyway.

Credit card ease turned to credit card trouble…

In the beginning, I felt I could catch up and pay off the credit cards, making the minimum payment. In time though, especially if I had an unexpected bill or utility bill that was higher than normal (like a gas bill in winter), I found myself being late for a payment or skipping a payment just to pay another bill. It wasn’t long before I was living paycheque to paycheque, feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and knew I was in trouble! Even with the payments I was making, the balance seemed to remain the same every month when I received my statements. Then, receiving calls from the creditors didn’t help matters and I found myself avoiding answering my phone unless I knew who it was calling.

A TV commercial in the background caught her eye…

I phoned to make a medical appointment and I was put on hold. As I sat there, glancing at the TV, Consolidated Credit’s advertisement came on and I thought I should give it a try. It was the best phone call I ever made!

The counsellors paved the way to a “zero” balance…

When I first applied, the counsellors were so helpful and they involved me in the process. They came up with a payment that worked for my budget. Also they worked with the creditors so that I didn’t have to pay interest on what I owed, except for one of them. Another benefit was not having to deal with the creditors. I learned to manage my money better and to pay for the necessities (utilities & food). It was also great to actually see my balances on my statements getting lower and lower each month and that helped believe that this is going to work. The last year of being in the program was when I realized that I would no longer be in debt. The first statement I received that showed a zero balance was the greatest feeling I had in a long time!

Now she is saving more, and spending less…

It has been such a positive change since I made my last and final payment in August, 2014. I have told myself that I will never ever get myself into that kind of situation again. I have increased my bi-weekly and monthly contributions to my tax-free savings account. I have a daughter who is in her final year of university and I can now help her out financially if needed. I have a sense of freedom now that I never had before, I don’t have to worry about making ends meet from paycheque to paycheque. It is the greatest feeling to get paid, and still have money in my account from the last pay day! My life is where I want it to be…debt free!!