Greg’s lifelong dream was to become an attorney, but while he was in college he landed a part-time job in the legal department at Consolidated Credit. Fourteen years later, he’s still here – now as a Client Services Representative.
“I was promoted from the legal department to a team leader and assistant supervisor, and from there, I was promoted to a supervisor running the Canadian branch office,” he says. “But what intrigued me is the opportunity to help somebody get out of debt; and helping somebody see the light at the tunnel means the world.”
There’s always a reason why people fall into debt. What’s the most common reason you’ve heard?
“Poor money management – and that entails people not understanding credit,” he says. “A lot of people say, ‘OK, I’ll start with something small like a $300 Macy’s credit card.’ But then they tie themselves to Macy’s alone, and after they max out Macy’s, they want to buy something from Walmart. So they go get a Walmart card and max that out, too. So now they have all these different entities instead of just getting a VISA they can use anywhere. These credit card offers are like predators, creditors will send you a credit card in a heartbeat.”
Greg recalls how easy it was to get credit cards in college.
“I remember getting a credit card even when I was in college and working part-time,” he says. “I love watches, so I went to Zale’s and got me a nice watch for $300. Then they gave me a $1,000 credit limit, I figured I can get me a $1,000 watch now, then they gave me a $2,500 credit limit, then I said, ‘Oh, I can get a $2,500 watch. And that’s the problem – you jump at it because it’s feeding a desire, a passion and people unfortunately use retail to cope with different things.”
Which calls are the hardest for you?
“There’s this client I’ve been helping for the past three days and today, we finally resolve everything,” he recalls. “She’s an 80-year-old whose husband died 20 years ago, her mother died 10 years ago and she’s alone and just crying. She comes from the culture where, ‘I spent it and I want to pay it back.’ She was depressed and was using retail therapy to cope. She racked up quite a bit of debt and was driving herself crazy trying to solve it on her own. I was able to save her money and put her in an extreme hardship program.”
What’s the most memorable call you’ve received?
One client sticks out for Greg: “He had just gotten a divorce and he had lost everything. According to the client, it was a nasty battle, so he basically said to me ‘no worries, I just want to thank you for your time. When I hang up the phone with you I’m going to go jump off the bridge and take my life.’
“When somebody says that, you can’t just let them go. I was on the phone for over two hours,” Greg remembers. “I told him, ‘You’re trying to solve a temporary problem with a permanent solution. If you’re worried about your finances, let me take the finances on, if you’re worried about the monthly payment let me fight with the creditors. The only thing I want you to worry about is going to work, getting your money together, spending time with your children.’ I tried to pinpoint the positive.”
Greg says the client didn’t go through with it.
How do you separate your work life from your personal life?
“It’s one of those jobs where you have to leave your personal issues out,” he says. “We all have problems, but the minute I walk into this building, all my problems and all my personal issues are left out in the car or left at the gym. I believe you are what you project.”
What’s the nicest thing a client has ever said to you?
“I’ve had clients tell me, ‘You saved my marriage.’” And a lot of them say, ‘Now I have the knowledge to spend smarter, I now know how to save money.’”
Has anyone cried upon completion of the program?
“Yes. When the client first comes in, there’s a weight on their shoulders – you can feel it, you can hear it in their tone. But when they realize that they only have two to three months until they are debt-free, their tone changes. Hearing them crying and rejoicing and the excitement in their voice, I get excited with them.”
Do you have any parting advice for folks out there?
“My biggest thing now is education, education, education,” Greg says. “If we know better, we do better. Reach one and teach one, especially the youth.”
Greg said that he came out of high school thinking he knew it all. But he wishes someone had taught him and molded him.
“I wish someone had told me instead of spending $5,000 on this nonsense, why don’t you put it down on property? I think it’s all about educating those in our inner circle so that we can spread the knowledge on credit. Credit will make or break you in this country. The use of knowledge is power, not just knowledge itself.”
Financial literacy is paramount to financial freedom!
If you have been inundated with credit card offers too good to pass up and is drowning in in debt as a result, our certified credit counselors can help you dig out. Call Consolidated Credit at 1-888-294-3130 or request a free Debt & Budget Analysis online.