The following is a letter we recently received from a client who wanted to share their debt story anonymously. They want people to know that you are not alone in your struggle.
If you are interested in sharing your Debt Story, post a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
When I reached adulthood as dinosaurs continued to walk the earth I could never have imagined that I would some day be a senior citizen with a debt problem. But here I am at 65 years of age, trying to rid myself of credit card balances and a bank line of credit totaling more than $40,000.
We are told that more than 30% of Canadians are in, or have been in a similar boat. Our economy is a house of cards and I am very grateful that there are folks like Creditaid available to help us.
For Baby Boomers like me, a credit problem was much less possible back in the 1960’s. Visa and Mastercard didn’t come along until the 1970’s and most of us were raised on mottos like “pay as you go, and if you can’t pay, don’t go”.
In 1978, at age 31 I got an American Express card. I felt uneasy having it in my wallet, and I used it very sparingly. As the years went by I added both Visa and Mastercard to the collection, but for the most part I paid the outstanding balance in full each month. I was always fully employed and I was never a reckless spender.
If there was a turning point, it was probably around the age of 40. My personal version of a midlife crisis included a marriage breakup, a job change and dealing with aging parents with failing health. Other than that life was still ‘one laugh after another’, and I still invincible in every way, including financially.
My income continued to grow and there was no reason to believe that would change anytime soon. Slowly but surely those cards in the wallet started to have outstanding balances that were carried over from month to month.
My well meaning friendly banker suggested a personal line of credit. That way the credit cards could be kept closer to zero in favour of one larger balance with a substantially lower interest rate. Eventually I found myself on a career path that was shrinking rather than growing, and some bad choices got me where I am today.
“Where will it end?” you wonder at times. But you don’t dwell on the problem. I think it’s called denial and it makes basic functions like sleep possible. You do silly things like buy more lottery tickets and plug coins into VLTs. You believe the old slogan “You can’t win it if you’re not in it”.
But there has to be a day of reckoning for most of us. Finding the right path then becomes the issue. Over the radio you hear the slick pitches with their toll free numbers. You call one or two of them and you know there’s something ‘too good to be true’ about what they’re selling.
I’m very glad to have found Winnipeggers at Creditaid who have been able to help me come up with a plan that works. It’s nice to know that you are not alone.