When military Service Members transition to civilian life, it can be a challenge. You go from a life of structure where everything is set up for you to one where you’re on your own to make decisions. That transition can be hard to manage and if other major life events happen in close succession, it can be a recipe for financial disaster.
That’s the situation that Anthony faced when he left the service. From 1981 to 2001, he worked as an electrician in the Air Force, working on multimillion-dollar planes in Texas and Korea. But soon after he transitioned to civilian life, a messy divorce left his finances in complete disarray.
“I got into debt because of a divorce. About nine years ago my ex-wife got 85 percent of everything that we owned. And as a result I ended up with $9,000 in credit card debt.”
Anthony’s finances were as structured as his life in the Air Force…
Anthony says he’d always been responsible with his money will he served his country. He took advantage of his Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and stayed away from credit cards.
“When we were married, I was very responsible with my money. We used to pay for everything in cash.”
What little debt that he and his wife took on was always used strategically. They bought a house and cars and always had a low amount of debt relative to their income.
After Anthony transitioned to civilian life, things fell apart…
Anthony says that he never expected to end up in the situation that he found himself in. But the divorce changed everything. They both started using money as a way to punish each other.
“Before we got divorced our credit score was like 840. But we both stopped paying our bills because we were so mad at each other, and it went down to 420. I know it sounds idiotic, but that’s what you do after you were married for 19 years and get separated.”
Anthony says the divorce was a nightmare. His wife took almost all of what they owned and he was left with nothing. As someone that planned everything, he completely lost his bearings in a situation he couldn’t prepare for.
“I used to always plan for the future, but now I was just living one day at a time.”
Anthony wasn’t prepared for the next unexpected life event…
Without a strong financial plan and the support of the military he was used to, Anthony was just treading water. When he lost his job, he didn’t have anything to fall back on.
“I went six or seven years without working, and that’s when I started using the credit cards. I was paying $330 a month on one credit card and $200 plus on another.”
Anthony decided it was time to make a change. He wanted his stability back and to establish structure on his own.
Anthony found Consolidated Credit while researching online…
Anthony admits he wasn’t sure where to start to get his financial life in order. So, he did what most people do in that situation and started Googling.
“I did research on the Internet for, ‘How can a military person get out of debt?’ A whole bunch of companies came up. Consolidated Credit was one of them and your website stood out. It was so informative. I read through it and understood everything.”
Anthony said it was also good to see that Consolidated Credit had worked with organizations like Southern Command and Mission United, helping Service Members and Veterans build financial literacy.
Anthony’s credit counselor helped him find the structure he was missing…
Anthony decided it was worth giving Consolidated Credit a call. He spoke with a certified credit counselor and got a free debt and budget evaluation. They worked up a budget, reviewed his options for debt relief, and developed a customized debt management plan to pay off his debt. The counselor also explained what he could do to start rebuilding his credit.
“Then I made that call. They explained to me how to spend my money, how to get out of credit card debt, and what I need to do to get my credit scores up.”
With a debt management program, all of Anthony’s credit card bills were consolidated into one affordable monthly payment. Consolidated Credit worked with creditors to reduce Anthony’s interest rates and stop penalties from being applied to his accounts. Anthony says it was encouraging that he would repay everything that he owed and that the program would not damage his credit.
Anthony has learned some hard lessons about credit…
Anthony worked his way through the program and paid off all $9,000 of credit card debt that he owed. He says by the time his program was done, his credit score had risen significantly. But he’s in no rush to return to using credit cards.
“I only have one credit card now and I don’t use it because I’m scared. I don’t trust myself.”
He says he’s enjoying being back to a life where he pays with everything in cash, enjoying life with his son and looking forward to the future again. And he has advice for people facing a situation like the one he faced.
Find the structure you need to pay off your debt and take your life back.