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Living Debt Free – A CESI Client Story

We love to hear our client stories! We especially love when those stories lead to the happy ending of living a debt-free life, without the stress that comes with managing debt.

We recently connected with one of our clients who is nearing the finish line of completing her Debt Management Plan. We asked her if she would be willing to share her story to encourage others. She was enthusiastic about sharing her success to help others realize they too could do it too -- her responses are inspiring!

Andrea’s Story:

1. Tell us a little bit about your history and why you decided to enroll in a Debt Management Program.

This is my second time using CESI. I had completed the program a few years ago after getting in over my head in credit card debt. I told myself then that I’d never let it happen again. And unfortunately, it did. I’m the type of person who uses credit cards for non-emergency things that I don’t have the money for right now….new clothes, dinner, concert tickets etc. Each time I told myself, “it’s only a few dollars, I can pay that off next month.” Well, the next thing I knew all those “couple dollars” here and there turned into four maxed out credit cards. I had started with 2 cards, but when I maxed those out, I just went online and applied for another one. Each card had less than a $5,000 credit limit, so I thought it didn’t seem like a lot of money and I could pay them off in no time. But I never looked at the interest rates. And I could only afford the minimum payments with maybe $5 or so added on. And I was stuck, so I turned to CESI again to help me.

2. How much debt did you have when you started?

I had approximately $10,000 in credit card debt spread across 4 cards when I entered the program.

3. Did you find your financial situation to be stressful prior to your Debt Management Plan? 

Yes!! It was very stressful. Each month I was paying just the minimum payment, which was all I could afford. But that balance never budged…it was always the same, or sometimes higher when I saw my next bill. I couldn’t afford to make bigger payments… I was already living paycheck to paycheck with very little left over to live on.

4. What was your experience like living on a Debt Management Plan?  How did the program help you or make your life easier?

I was at first skeptical about debt management. How could they really help me get out of debt faster? Would I be paying more because of expensive fees to use the program? But I was willing to try it because I really didn’t have other options. What I liked about the program were the small monthly payments. I went from paying around $500 a month total for all my credit card debt, to a much more manageable monthly payment.

5. How close are you to paying off your remaining debt? 

As of today, I have less than $200 to pay off all my debt!!

6. What piece of advice would you give to someone considering Debt Management? What would you tell someone who is tempted to quit the program?

My piece of advice is DO IT! Unless you’re winning the lotto, or coming into a large sum of money in the near future to pay off your debt, this is the only way to break the cycle. Credit card companies aren’t out to help you, they’re out to make money. They will keep charging you ridiculous interest rates. That’s how they make a profit. Debt management is there to do nothing but help you, they have your best interest. There were several times I had a bad month and wasn’t sure I was able to make my payment. I called CESI and they worked with me. At one point, I had some extra money available for a few months, so I called and asked if  I could increase my payment temporarily to help get out of debt faster.

7. What are your plans for your debt-free future? 

My credit score is now around 750. It’s never been that high!  It’s an amazing feeling. I have credit cards, but they have a zero balance. I am smarter now -- they are for legit emergencies. I don’t even carry a credit card with me in my purse. And my husband and I are looking to buy our first house this year. Because my credit score is so much higher, we qualified for a very low-interest rate. We have stashed so much money in our savings and this will be where I go first to pay for emergencies instead of credit cards. I’ve never had savings in the past!
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit committed to empowering and inspiring consumers nationwide to make wise financial decisions and live debt free. Start your free online debt analysis above.

6 Responses to Living Debt Free – A CESI Client Story

  1. Sadie Mayo says:

    This is so encouraging to read!

  2. Armeda Dellar says:

    Thank you! Very helpful!

  3. Michael says:

    I have been in the program about 1 1/2 years. It is very exciting look at my balance’s and see that I have paid 1 loan off and about to pay off 2 more. It is very exciting when you start throwing large payments at a bill and see significant progress. I can finally see light at the end of the tunnel!!

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