Climbing Out Of A Financial Hole – A Personal Story

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DCCU staffer shares personal story of how she is getting out of a financial hole.
DCCU’s Alyssa H.

People get into financial trouble for many different reasons. The good thing is that there are a variety of ways of getting out of a financial hole. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, especially at this Madison credit union.

Dane County Credit Union’s own Alyssa H. has been in a financial pickle and is working her way back to financial success. Her journey has sparked a personal passion for helping others do the same. She decided to share her story to inspire people who are frustrated with their financial situation and are ready to take the first step toward success – no matter how they got there in the first place. Alyssa is living proof that if you are brave enough to admit your mistakes, you are strong enough to fix them.

It was all good… until it wasn’t.

When I was in high school and later in college I worked hard and payed all of my bills on time – no problem. Once I graduated and got a job I started to think I could afford anything I wanted because, hey, I was in the real world now! I moved out on my own and got a $7,000 car loan, while continuing to use my credit cards like money was growing on trees. I bought things that I really didn’t need, like clothes, shoes, electronics, went out to eat a lot. Basically, I got anything I wanted, including all the stuff I didn’t need.

You know how crazy stuff ALWAYS happens? Well, for a period of time I was unable to work. AND when I returned to work, I didn’t get full time hours.

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Since I was not making much money I had to make choices about what to pay. I couldn’t pay a lot of my bills on time and still pay rent, utilities and buy food. I thought I really had everything under control until collections notices started arriving and balances, with fees and interest, kept rising. My credit card limit was $250 and just like that the balance was $770! Because of this credit card, medical bills, and not paying my car some months my credit was shot.

NO way was I going to quit and move back home. But I knew not paying bills wasn’t good either.

SOS

At first I ignored everything thinking it would just go away, but it didn’t. It got worse. So I gathered my courage and asked for help. If I had done this sooner it could have saved me a lot of time and headaches. But I’m proud I got started down the right track.

Baby steps

I am currently fixing my credit by slowly paying off my debts that have gone into collections. I paid off the smaller ones first which felt good. I know some of the bigger bills will take time (remember, s-l-o-w-l-y?) but these will make the biggest impact for my credit score later on.

I set up automatic transfers to pay my current loans so I don’t forget any payments and they are never late. This helps me manage my money so I know what amount is for bills and what I can use for other things. I took out a small personal loan, which I used to pay off some of my higher interest rate debt. At DCCU I also have a credit builder loan. This is a special loan that helps improve my credit score AND save money at the same time – win-win!

Success is a journey

I am doing all of this because I don’t want to be in a tough situation anymore. I want my credit to continue to go up and not down. Not only will this help me now, it will help me in the future when I need a new car or some sort of emergency comes up in my life.

My advice

I want you to know its OK to ask for help in order to get the support and encouragement you need to make big changes. Also, keep your head high, stay positive and celebrate each small success because this may take a while, but it won’t be like this forever! And guess what? I’m reminding myself of the same things every day, especially when I’m down in the dumps because I don’t have the money or credit score I want. There are so many things I wish I had done differently from the beginning but those are valuable lessons learned. I am going to keep looking forward!

Asking for help is not the end of the world. It’s often the beginning of a better one.

Come see me (or anyone at DCCU) and let’s get started.

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Jen M.

Jen has been with DCCU since 1999 not long after she graduated from UW Madison. As the Creative Director she helps share all the amazing things DCCU does in our community and spreads the credit union philosophy of People Helping People. When she's not creatively directing at work, she's busy directing 4 kids, 2 dogs and a cat at home. She formed her family through adoption and has a deep passion to support foster and adoptive parents and kids. Her favorite place to relax is poolside or in front of the fireplace.