"My Struggle with Debt"

Getting Out of Debt Stories

My struggle with debt began about five years ago, which included late mortgage payments and overdrawn credit cards. At the height of my debt struggles I had almost $15,000 worth of debt.

The main source of my problem was purchasing things that I could not afford. Although I was only making $35,000 a year as an administrative assistant, I would purchase things like a $400 handbag, a $300 Rolex watch and a $400 pair of jeans.

At that time I had over 7 credit cards and each one had a $3,000 plus credit limit. Once I maxed out these credit cards, I started applying for new ones. The sad part of all this is that I kept getting approved.

Had I not been approved for new cards, I might have been forced to something about my debt situation sooner. However, all I ended up doing was to get myself deeper into debt.

By the time all of my credit cards were maxed out, my total monthly credit card payments were over $1,000. This was far too much for someone only making $35,000 a year. For a few months I tried making these high monthly payments, and it caused me to get behind on my mortgage.

Once I had become five months delinquent on my mortgage payments, my mortgage company send me a letter threatening foreclosure. I became so upset that I started developing anxiety attacks.

It was then that a friend of mine recommended that I file for bankruptcy. Just hearing the word "bankruptcy" made me feel even more upset. However, I had no choice but to consider bankruptcy since there was no way I could pay off all my debt.

The hardest part for me was making the phone call to a bankruptcy attorney. I can remember feeling both scared and ashamed. The attorney could tell this in my voice and suggested that I take a few days to think it over.

During those few days debt collection agencies were calling me non-stop. Finally after the third day of non-stop phone calls I realized that I could not take this anymore. The next morning I called the attorney I had spoken to earlier to set up an appointment.

My first face-to-face meeting went much smoother than I had expected. Once I completed all the paperwork and provided all the necessary financial documents, my attorney filed the papers with the local bankruptcy court.

For my particular situation, the attorney suggested that I file Chapter 7. This would allow me to eliminate all of my debts.

On the day of my court case I was very nervous, but my lawyer kept me calm. The whole process lasted fifteen minutes.

Life for me after bankruptcy has been somewhat difficult since I am now not eligible for any credit or financing. However, I have to say that it feels good to not have a mound of debt and debt collectors calling me every day.

The lessons I have learned out of this experience is to have discipline when it comes to credit, and to also live within my means.

Contributed by Lynn from Georgia