Taking a financial burden off an already troubled back.
Before all the trouble started, Ilma worked as a manager at an arts & crafts store. She was good at managing people and she managed her finances with the same kind of success. But for as long as she could remember, Ilma has suffered from back problems. As time went on the pain got worse, and it eventually got so bad she was forced to leave the job she loved.
According to a 2015 study published on PainWeek.org, the cost of pain management can run up to $32,000 per year for a chronic pain problem. Even when some of these costs are covered by insurance, much of the expense comes out-of-pocket. Pain can also lead to lost hours at work, unemployment and reliance on Social Security disability income. As a result, chronic pain sufferers have a difficult time maintaining a balanced budget. They often end up relying on credit cards to stay afloat.
No income ends in debt…
Without regular paychecks coming in, Ilma’s budget became a downward spiral into debt. She used credit cards to cover daily expenses and, as a result, she amassed over $10,000 in debt.
“I was using my cards to cover food, things for the house, things I needed to live.”
Ilma’s debt had become a cycle she knew she couldn’t escape on her own. If she was going to find stability again, she needed help.
“I was a little ashamed and kept going back and forth, but then I just decided I had to do it – I needed help. I said, ‘You know what, I’m just paying the minimums right now and I’m disabled, which makes it even worse.”
She went with what she knew worked…
Thankfully Ilma had an inside track to a solution that she knew had already worked for someone else.
“I wasn’t sure which service to use but my niece had gone through the process with Consolidated Credit, so I decided to go with you guys.”
After that first call with her credit counselor, Ilma felt like she could breathe again – the pressure was gone for the first time in years.
“Once we went through everything I knew I didn’t have to worry anymore. I didn’t have to stress over where all of those payments were coming from or how I was going to cover everything. I felt so relived.”
3 payments away from financial freedom…
“It’s great to know that soon I won’t have any credit card debt to worry about. Now that I have three months to go I honestly feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.”
Once she’s finished with the program, Ilma plans to use the budgeting strategies and debt management skills she’s picked up by using the program to make sure she can stay out of debt.
“It’s just better to pay with cash. The debt management program taught me that whatever you don’t have, you probably don’t need. The thing with credit cards is that you buy even if you don’t need it because you have the option to pay later. But high interest rates make it difficult to pay off.”
Ilma’s advice is simple. Just ask yourself, “Do I really need this right now?” Ilma says she’s living proof that the answer to that question is usually, “No, I don’t.”
Why is credit card debt such a trap?
The challenges that Ilma was facing are fairly common when you overcharge. High balances and high interest rates mean minimum payments barely make a dent in the actual debt that’s owed.
“The interest rates kept me in debt because I would keep paying the interest month after month and the principal just wouldn’t budge. Before I enrolled my rates are up to 29%, but you all were able to lower some of them down to zero percent when you negotiated with my creditors.”
Think about it – $10,000 in debt at 29% APR. If your monthly payment is $250, the interest charges for that month would be $241.67. So less than $9 of that big payment is going to reduce the actual debt.
Ilma encourages others to find what works…
“Consolidated Credit definitely helped me. I’m not saying it works the same for everyone because everybody is different – every situation is different. But just call and see what happens.”
In the meantime, Ilma is looking forward to making her last payment and starting the year with a clean financial slate. She plans to celebrate with a cheap glass of champagne and a long visit with her kids.
As for the money she’s saving since she won’t have credit cards or debt management program payments…
“Oh, that’s going in the bank. I didn’t need it when I was enrolled, so I don’t need it now. It’s going to be a good start to the year.”