Misty Lynn didn’t own a credit card until she was 33 years old – which was just last year.
“Most of the time, I use cash or I’ll use the card and pay it the week after,” Misty says. “I usually pay it off before the bill arrives in the mail. I want to purchase a house, so I want to build credit. Paying cash is great but when you do, you’re not really getting any credit.”
Where did you get your sound financial sense from?
“In a family with three kids, you have a lot of left-overs and hand-me-downs,” she says. “We were more into spending time with each other than we were spending money. We were a values kind of family. Our parents gave us an allowance, but we had to learn how to save it before we could use it. If you have a foundation when it comes to saving and spending, you’ll be OK, you just have to use it. Teach your kids.”
So what would you say inspired you to become a client service rep?
“I like helping people,” she says. “We are doing something nice for people. We’re not a collection agency ruining people’s lives and days. We’re serving a good purpose, and I really enjoy what I do.”
What’s the most memorable call you’ve received?
“You always remember the ones who tell you that you changed their life and that you’ve made a difference,” she says. “These calls make me feel awesome.”
What’s the most common reason people give you for falling into debt?
“Holidays, school and loss of income,” she says. “Someone losses their job or their hours are cut and they use credit cards to make up for the difference in income.”
Misty adds, “It’s our job to make them understand that we’re trying to help them get out of it and never get back to where they were. We try to give them guidance and advice.”
That’s particularly hard when potential clients call just before Christmas. “We don’t tell them, ‘Yeah, no Christmas for you.’ But we try to help them remain focused on the things that make it special for them. Parents need to realize that it’s not the doll that kids get, it’s the expression on their face. You can do other things that elicit the same reaction. Make cookies – and participate in events that take time and will mean something to the kids and adults.”
What’s the worst reason people give you for falling into debt?
“Shopping sprees,” she says. “They probably weren’t thinking – they’ll say, ‘I really want this,’ and then see this other thing and say, ‘Oh, I have to have this other one, too.’ It seems feasible at the time because you have the credit, but then the bill comes and they realize that they didn’t get the paycheck to match the amount charged. That’s when they get into trouble.”
What’s the nicest thing a graduate from the program has ever said to you?
And Misty says that’s enough.
Has anyone cried upon completion of the program?
“Yes people have cried – happy cry!” she says. “They’re excited and they want you to talk back to them but they can’t stop crying! I always remind them to check their credit report after 90 days – then frame their zero-balance confirmations and put them on the wall.”
How do you separate your work life from your personal life?
“My iPod is my best friend,” Misty chuckles. “You just have to take a deep breath and adjust for the next call. If it’s a really bad day, you might need to vent a little more when you go home. Some people use the gym after work or you get together with your co-workers or exhale and say the call is done.”
Which calls would you say are the hardest for you?
“For me they all are hard. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re 70 or 29 years old, it will be a different experience but, it’s going to be hard for you either way,” she says. “I try to give clients something else to focus on while they’re doing this because they are doing the best they can with what they have. You can only do so much.”
Misty says depending on the situation that’s probably the most they can do and if clients are making their payments on time, they can’t beat themselves up.
“It takes you like a minute to get into debt, but it takes much longer to get back out,” she says. “As long as they are able to see that there’s a way out, then it’s fine. We are here and they can talk to us anytime. We’re here until 9:00 pm. They can also ask us questions through the website.”
Do you have any friends or family on the program?
“We are all cash people,” she says proudly. “If we don’t have it, we don’t spend it. That’s just how we were raised.”
Misty says there were five of them in the family and her dad was the sole breadwinner so they had to be economical.
“I have an older sister and a young brother. My brother always got new stuff because he couldn’t wear my dress,” she chuckled. “But my sister and I got hand me downs, we couldn’t go out on shopping sprees. You learn certain things. I think that if you teach your kids certain rules and lessons as they’re growing up, it’ll stick.”
Do you have any credit card or money advice for people?
“If they have a credit card and can’t afford to pay off the balance, then they shouldn’t charge with it,” Misty advises. “They should learn to save up to buy it later with cash.”
Cash is king and financial education is key to staying out of debt
A great way of staying out of debt is by using cash more frequently than credit cards. But if you’re currently learning this lesson, it’s never too late to get out of debt and to begin implementing your new found wisdom to financial freedom. If swiping has left you drowning in debt, call Consolidated Credit for help at 1-888-294-3130. Our certified credit counselors are standing by to take your call. You may also request a Debt & Budget Analysis.