Today’s post is from Travis at Our Journey to Zero Blog. I’ve been following Travis on Twitter for awhile and I became very interested in is story on using a debt relief service to get out of debt. I have had no experience using this type of service, and to be honest before reading Travis’s story, I didn’t think they were legitimate. When anyone asked me about these types of services, I really didn’t have an answer. I asked Travis about writing a guest post for us since I thought his story could be both educational and hopefully inspiring to anyone who is in a similar situation. Here’s a little more information about Travis:
Travis is the author of the Our Journey to Zero blog, and is also is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog in the CareOne Community. Enrolled in a Debt Management Plan through CareOne Debt Relief Services, he shares his family’s experiences, struggles and successes as they fight their way out of debt. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can connect with Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles.
And now, on to the story….
My wife and I were forced to confront our debt because we could no longer meet our monthly financial obligations. We had too much debt to be able to refinance our home or qualify for a consolidation loan. I didn’t know what else was out there for debt relief help besides bankruptcy.
Which is exactly where I thought we were headed.
Remembering hearing radio ads for debt relief programs, I started searching the internet, not knowing what I’d find, if anything. Typing “debt relief” into an internet search engine returns a massive number of hits. Trying to process all the information was difficult, but I managed to compile a list of a handful of companies that seemed creditable.
I began to dig into each of their websites to gather more information, as I really didn’t know exactly what it was these companies were offering. The company that really stuck out to me had a user community that was alive with people asking questions and receiving replies not only from employees, but other customers as well.
I just could not stop reading. Through hours of reading I learned about Debt Management, and Debt Settlement programs. It was the wealth of information, and the overwhelming support I felt emulating from this community that made me suggest to my wife that this was the company we needed to call.
Our first phone call lasted about 90 minutes. The representative and I talked about the different kinds of programs and how they worked. He asked me questions about our monthly income and expenses in order to determine what program was the best fit for our situation, and what our monthly payment would likely be.
At the end of that conversation, I felt that my wife and I needed to do more research and discuss whether this was the direction we wanted to go.
The representative understood, and said he would call us a few days later at 7:00pm. I remember my wife commenting that the return phone call was the test to see if this was for real. After all, as of just a few days prior we hadn’t heard of this company, or the type of plan we were considering.
On the day we were to get the phone call, 7:00pm came and went. Our hopes sunk with the big hand on the clock as it neared 7:30. Our hearts jumped when the phone finally rang. The representative apologized for being late, however the phone lines were down. He knew he had promised that he would call, so he was calling us from his personal cell phone.
For close to two hours, I fired questions at him that I had written in a notebook, checking his answers with information I had gathered from the online community over the last few days. That night, we enrolled in a Debt Management Program from CareOne Debt Relief Services.
About a week prior to our first scheduled payment, proposals were sent to the 13 accounts we included in the program. The proposals are the mechanism by which our program provider negotiates a monthly payment and a lowered interest rate. In exchange for accepting the proposal, the creditor closes the account.
Over the next few weeks we received acceptance notifications from many of our creditors. We did have two that declined the first proposal. Minor adjustments had to be made to the monthly payment amount, and a second proposal sent to those creditors, both of which were then accepted.
We were still skeptical when our first payment was made to CareOne. However, a few days later I received an email indicating that funds were being dispersed, and I began to see payments being posted to my creditors online. I remember leaning back in my office chair, clasping my hands behind my neck, closing my eyes and thinking, “This is happening. This is real. We’ve found our path out of this hell hole of financial misery”
Having our lines of credit closed and making a single payment each month has greatly simplified our lives. We are forced to lived within our means. No more juggling credit card balances, no more looking for the next card that will give me a promotional rate. We can instead apply that time and energy to learning how to handle our finances the right way.
Now almost half way through our 5 year program, I still visit the online community daily. I go there for budgeting tips, and tricks to save money. I go there when I’m having a bad day and need a little “pick me up.” I go there when I’m having a good day to return the favor.
Getting out of debt is hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are programs available to help you on your journey out of debt. By enrolling in a debt management program, I have a structured payment plan with a lowered interest rate that allows me to pay off all my debt in a timely manner. It provides me the resources to learn how to handle finances the right way, as well as a support system of others going through a similar experience. The community has fostered several friendships with people also struggling their way out of debt. After years of struggling with debt, I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.
My friends and I are walking towards it together.
Stay tuned to part two of Travis’s story tomorrow where he gives you tips and advice on picking a debt relief service.