Sandy and Bob were earning good salaries—Sandy as a teacher, Bob in health care. But, Sandy says, “It was easier to spend than save,” and spend is what they did. They ate out almost every night, bought their kids what they wanted, and were using at least 20 credit cards. “You name the store, we had a credit card for it,” Sandy says. But the spending was catching up with them. “We couldn’t even make minimum payments,” Sandy recalls. “We’d get four or five calls a night from creditors. It just got bigger and bigger.” The breaking point came when a business investment Bob made went bad, they were paying their daughter’s college tuition, and were $135,000 in debt. “It’s so overwhelming, you don’t even want to think about it, but we were going to end up divorced or bankrupt if we didn’t do something.” That’s when a friend told Sandy about Guidewell Financial.
How Guidewell Financial Helped
Bob’s first reaction to talking to a credit counselor was a firm “No.” Like many people, Bob was embarrassed by their situation and didn’t want to sit across from a stranger and talk about it. But when he learned they could get Guidewell Financial counseling by phone, he agreed to it. Their Guidewell Financial counselor worked with Sandy and Bob to set up a Debt Management Plan (DMP) that would allow them to pay off all of their bills in four and a half years. She showed them how to plan their budget and manage their finances. She gave them tips, like using two-for-one coupons if they want to eat out. “We knew how exactly how much we had to pay, and how much we could spend after that,” says Sandy. “There were no hidden fees, no extra bills.” And the phone calls from creditors stopped. “It was a huge relief,” Sandy says.
Sandy and Bob paid off their DMP just about on time. When they had to miss a payment because of unexpected expenses like a major car repair, Guidewell Financial worked with their creditors to make allowances. Sandy and Bob are now using good money management techniques. They have only one credit card for things like travel, pay cash for everything else, and eat most of their meals at home. And Sandy and Bob are doing something they avoided for years—they’re saving money. “We’ve saved $20,000 through a payroll savings plan,” says Sandy, and they have no plans to stop. “We’re managing our money now.”
“It feels overwhelming, but you have to start. Guidewell Financial helped us start.”