About a year ago I went to one of our local department stores to pick up some makeup. While I was there I headed to the clearance rack to look for any great deals. If you know me you know I am all about clearance racks and thrift store finds. I found an item I loved and the price was great. I headed to the cashier to check out. In order to receive an additional discount, I needed to use my department store card. I have had this card since I was 18 years old. It was my very first credit card. I kept this card because I have always bought things on my department store cards and then paid them off. (It is the big bank cards that I accumulated a large amount of debt. I guess those are the ones you "do life" on. The department store cards are my splurge and I have always been very disciplined with them.)
Anyway, when I ran the card it said it was declined. I knew something was wrong. I very rarely use the card, so I thought maybe that was the issue. I called the company immediately and inquired about my card's status. The first person couldn't tell me anything, but then I was connected to the main customer service person. The gentleman asked me a series of questions and then we got to the issue. He asked did I know a card through the bank that managed the department store card had not been paid since July. I told him no I did not. I always pay my bills and pride myself on not being late, even when I was struggling the most I would pay something on every bill. He then asked me if by chance had I enrolled in a debt consolidation program. I told him yes. He then went on to explain exactly how these programs work on their end. This is where God shows up big! He was once employed by a debt consolidation company. He could tell I was very distraught that my bill had not been paid. He paused for a moment and said I know this may be difficult to hear, but you are doing the right thing and it will all work out in the end. ( Side note here... he explained to me that even though my debt wouldn't get paid until negotiations took place and until agreements were made no money would be exchanged. I just stood there for a minute realizing what the person from the debt consolidation company had stated about your credit score possibly declining before it would go back up was happening to me.) I was physically sick. I went back to the cashier and told her I couldn't use my card and I would pay cash. She could see I was upset. She smiled and added the discount to my purchase. Then she handed me my bag and said it will all work out. I almost broke into tears right in the store. I could feel God all around me. He had sent people to reassure me at that very moment.
Fast forward to many months later...I am moving along with my debt payments. I get a call from the debt consolidation company wanting to give me a loan to pay off the remainder of my debt (the sales pitch was I could get my credit score up quicker and I had always paid my payment so this "earned" me a loan). I listened to the pitch. I wanted to know what they thought the final settlement would be. Let me say if you are offered this situation DO NOT TAKE THE LOAN!!! This is where people can get into more problems and deeper debt! I had read customer reviews from different consolidation companies where people had talked about loans and how they had ruined their lives. At the time I didn't know anything about loans and none had been offered to me. Thank goodness for my business management background. (I do have knowledge of how this all works. It is crazy how you can step back years later and see your mistakes.) Anyway, the loan terms were absolutely CRAZY!! Something over 20% interest!!!! Look I know most people who get in these situations are on an emotional roller coaster. I get it. There have been many months where I have prayed to have money left in my account until payday (I get paid monthly). I can tell you though those months are where my faith is strengthened even more. God ALWAYS provides. Yes, I have changed my ways of spending years ago and I try very hard to be a good steward of my money. Is it always easy? NOOOO! Life happens and circumstances happen and knowledge goes out the window:( But I am a stronger person for it.
Now you want to hear the miracle here? This is where God shows out! Weeks after this offer was made I was gifted some money and was able to put the money on my debt that was consolidated. If I hadn't had the faith and would have given into that loan I would have been out a lot of money. The loan fees were also high and you couldn't turn right around and pay it off. I saved thousands of dollars by knowing God has provided for me this far and He will provide for the rest of the time. Yes if I had to pay on the debt another year, which was the projected date of final payment, I could have done it.
I still have some debt that wasn't consolidated. I am not sure how it was overlooked in the consolidation process, but by the time I realized it was overlooked, I couldn't add it. This is ok though I will pay it off along with my student loans over the next year. My goal was to be debt-free by 50! I think I can come close to making that goal!! And if I am not it will be ok because God will provide. In the meantime, I am still learning how to make all my finances work to take care of life, but I realize one thing for sure... I didn't go through this to hide behind my shame and fear of what others think. If I can help one person through this horrible process I am glad for my transparency. I still work 2 jobs and probably will for some time. I am blessed to have the opportunity to work two jobs I love and I know God will use my income to bless others along the way.
We all make mistakes. I am finding more and more of us turn to credit cards when a crisis happens. It isn't the right choice and the consequences are very difficult. If you are walking through a financial crisis now know you are not alone. You may have been put in a situation that you couldn't control either. Don't lose hope! Find a friend to confide in, get help, but most importantly DON'T GIVE UP! We didn't get in this mess overnight and it won't disappear overnight. If it did what would you learn?
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
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