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How it All Began


How it all began……

I was never good with credit. When I was 16, Lane Bryant sent me a credit card. I had ordered from there catalog for several years. I don’t remember filling out a credit application, just this very pretty purple piece of plastic coming in the mail, and I then could order clothes and pay a small $25 a month until they were paid off. Easy, right? I had my first charge off on my credit report at 18.

I was a single mother at the time, and on welfare. The next step was to go back to work, and I needed a car. But with a new job and a small awful credit file, I needed a co signer. I don’t know how I did it, but I talked my Dad into it. I bought a 1990 Ford and went to work 3rd shift.

I behaved at 1st, making payments on time, and then I moved out on my own. I lived in an apartment with my son, and my soon to be husband. (now my ex husband). Living on my own was hard, and things started to slide. First my car insurance didn’t get paid, then it was canceled. So the finance company added their insurance to the car. Then I fell behind in the payments. Eventually I had to give the car to my Dad, and borrow his paid off car to drive back and forth to work. He was nice about it, but swore he would never co sign for me again, and he never has. Not that I would ask.

When my ex and I got married, we moved south with the military. He then took over the bills. I had given my Dad his car back when we moved, so we were down to one vehicle. We decided to trade his truck in and buy 2 cars, one for each of us. His credit was good, so it was no problem.

Fast forward a few years, and we are out of the military and permanently living in the south. Thing are tight, and my ex and i fight about money a lot. Eventually we end up splitting the bills 50/50, and each of us have to pay out of our own paychecks. He doesn’t care about any credit cards, just that if they are in my name, I have to pay them myself. Me, having no self control with money, rack them up. We split in 2001, and he walked away with a paid off truck. I was left with 10,000 plus in credit card debt, student loans, and a single wide mobile home with a 20 year mortgage.

I then decided that I wanted a new car. The one I had was with a credit union, and I was upside down a lot. But it was in my ex husband’s name. So, I let it go back, and bought a car on my own. Took out more credit cards. Move to a rental house that was $250 more a month and let the single wide trailer go back to the bank.

Are you starting to see a trend?

Don’t get me wrong, I was making it, but by the skin of my nose. By then I was at my current job but a single mom of 2 kids. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have collection agencies call you at work, while you are a bill collector for your job? One time, they even faxed my boss about my debt. I blamed my ex husband, and prayed that they would stop one day.

Then the rental house caught fire. Thank goodness I had renters insurance. I had a ton of cash, and a spending habit that I had not fixed.I found a new place to live, a rent to own house. I had one year to rent, and I had to get the mortgage in my name. I did it in 6 months. That was the height of the housing bubble, and I got a 11.75 % variable APR mortgage on a $125,000 house. But I had a ton of money from the insurance, that made it easy. My spending habits didn’t change. My kids and I had more stuff then we knew what to do with.

I then met my current husband. He is 6 years younger than me, and still was living at home. We has a speedy courtship, 4 months from our 1st date to our marriage. The money from the fire had run out by then, and he didn’t have a well paying job, so I robbed Peter to pay Paul to pay for the big wedding we had. The mortgage company did the 1st loan modification on the mortgage within 6 months. They lowered my payment and my interest rate to 7.5 % fixed. I thought everything would work out.

Traded and bought a few vehicles, and racked up more debt. Was kinda of keeping my head above water, then my husband got sick. We then had huge medical bills that included a bill for a cornea transplant. Everything got past due, even the house again. We went and filled out the paperwork to file chapter 13 bankruptcy but didn’t have the filing fee until we got paid on Friday. Thursday, I went out my front door to goto work, and my car was gone. It had been repossessed in the middle of the night. So, I borrowed the filing fees to file a day early, and the next day, the lawyer got my car back from the bank.

Again, things were fine for about 6 months then hours were cut. My husband had to find a new job, and took a $2 an hour pay cut. That hurt. Our Chapter 13 payments were self pay, so we stopped them. And our plan was dismissed.

We went back to the attorney, and asked what to do. He said to keep the house, we would have to file chapter 13 again, but reduce what we were paying in the plan. We gave back my car, but kept my husbands truck. I went out and found a mini van on a buy here pay here lot and got that for transportation as our family by then had grown by our twins and we didn’t fit into the truck by then. This time my pay was garnished for the payments, and my take home was about $250 every two weeks. My husbands was about $600 every two weeks. Everything else went to bankruptcy. It was very tight. So tight, that I even went behind my husbands back and got 4 credit cards while in bankruptcy. See the trend.

Then the layoff. My health insurance at the time was 100% paid by my employer, but my husband carried the girls and himself. To add him and the kids to my heath insurance was $300 a paycheck. His unemployment was $115 a week, and I only was clearing $250 a paycheck. The bankruptcy payments had to stop. My attorney got the trustee to stop the garnishment, and I put everyone on my health insurance. We saved up and filed income taxes, and converted to a chapter 7. We bought 2 salvage titled cars, and let the truck and van go back to the banks. We did another modification that included stretching the mortgage to 40 years from 30 years, and kept the house. We were discharged from chapter 7 in July 2013.

Stay tuned for part two…


  • Reply Jennifer |

    Reading this made my stomach literally hurt and this isn’t happening to me. You are 45 years old and have been a financial mess for your entire adult life. What mess you are currently sitting in I hope will be handled like an adult and not a child who runs away from responsibility. When you stated you didn’t know what to do with those two $30,000 cars….you knew in the back of your mind you could walk away from them. Instead of being in a new car lot you should have gone and got two more salvaged cars. The trail of financial responsibilities that you have abandoned is staggering. You didn’t even complete the out that bankruptcy gives people and four years later you have $105,000 in debt?!?!?
    In writing you have owned up to your story. Now start living a life that is paid for by what you have earned and not what you have borrowed

  • Reply Kili |

    Hi Marie,
    Thanks for your honesty.
    Hopefully laying this all out for everyone helps you feeling more accountable regarding your choices

  • Reply Katie |

    Wow. Your story has me stressed out. I’m glad you’ve decided to break this cycle. I’m sure it will be hard, you have a lot to face here. But, living under this weight for all these years must’ve been miserable. Congratulations on deciding to do something about it.

  • Reply Laura |

    I have to admit I’m appalled you defaulted on loans that had other people’s names on them (father and ex husband ). That was a while ago though so now I hope you realize when you borrow money you have a legal and moral obligation to repay it. Admitting all this was brave and a good first step. I wish you luck in your journey to being debt free.
    Some practical advice- if you aren’t already start tracking your expenses. It can be eye opening to see where your money is going every month. Plus you can’t make a realistic budget unless you know what you are spending on.
    I also recommend selling the over priced new cars and getting an older, but reliable, car that will get you from point A to point B. That’s all you really need. I have a feeling you need to get out from under those payments. If your work schedules allow see
    If you can get by with one car for a while.

  • Reply Chantal |

    Your honesty is impressive but your debt trail is frightening.
    I am writing to you from comfortable old age retirement because my husband and I cleaned up our debts and way of life in the 3 years before he retired (I had already done so)
    I want to say that it can be done so get to it!
    You will be given all sorts of good advice here but the actions have to be yours.
    I wish you all the good luck in the world.
    I am so glad that this site is changed. The last two writers were absurd–continuously only a stone’s throw away from total disaster and happily unaware of it.
    My best wishes to you.

  • Reply debtor |

    holy moly.

    My head hurts. i don’t even know what some of those things (mostly around the bankruptcy) are but it stressed me out.

    Hope that since you have decided to start writing for this blog means you are ready to REALLY face this ongoing issue. It seems to have been a problem for so long that I hope you are looking at finding out the REAL issue bc this is more than just a “trend”.

    I also hope you have thick skin. People here can be brutal. Sometimes, ignore the tone but try and see the message behind the comments. It’s always easier to judge other people.

    I’m sure you already know your financial history is a mess but that’s why you are here and so we are here to help you with the moving forward and not trashing what has already been done.

  • Reply drmaddog2020 |

    Geez, people can be nasty, and on an incomplete story. I look forward to hearing the rest of your history and seeing your debt and budget. It sounds like you have have made some very large mistakes in the past and may a lot of hard work ahead of you. The good news is, your posts may generate a lot of interest. Til later.

So, what do you think ?