My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Running the DMP Marathon

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I've completed two marathons in my life. Training for a marathon takes dedication, self-discipline, and time. Someone wanting to run a marathon has to commit to a dedicated weekly running regiment. 

A fitness base has to be established, and then your weekly mileage is gradually increased to improve stamina. 

It's easy to make a mistake while training. Train too light and you won't reach your goal.  Train too hard and you'll get injured. All in all, preparing for a marathon correctly could take nine months to a year. 

In many ways, getting out of debt by enrolling in a Debt Management Plan is a lot like training for a marathon. 

  • Dedication. You cannot do it half-heartedly.  You cannot do it for just a few months and then give up.  You need to make your payment each and every month for the entire term of your plan to see those balances get all the way to zero.   
  • Self-discipline. When you enter the Debt Management Plan, the accounts you enroll in the plan are closed, and thus cannot be used any more.  No more credit to fall back on when you run out of money.  Thus you have to budget, and control the urge to impulse buy. 
  • Time.  When I enrolled in the Debt Management Plan in July of 2009, the estimated time to pay off my debts was five years.  This month I'll make my tenth payment. After spending my entire fourteen years of adulthood refusing to live on a budget and having complete disregard for any kind of financial planning, I'd be lying to you if I said it has been an easy ten months.   On the other hand, I'm encouraged by the obstacles I've overcome, the lessons and skills I've learned, and I am positive that I will make it to the finish line. 
  • Mistakes. I've made mistakes, chances are you will too.  Maybe you'll give into the moment and splurge a little extra on that shirt, or on that new electronic gadget only to have an unexpected expense pop up that you wish you had extra cash for. The important thing is that you learn from them.  Pick yourself up, figure out how to recover from your mistake and move on.  I'll be completely honest, there was a day where my wife and I were at a local department store, and saw some new clothes for our daughter.  We had a coupon for 20% off, but we had to use that store's credit card.  We happen to have one of those cards, and it's not included in the program.  In a moment of weakness, we succumbed to the lure of getting nice, new things for our daughter.  We reverted back to our old perspective; looking at it through the viewpoint of a low minimum payment.  I spent the next six weeks dreading getting the mail each day expecting to see letters from creditors indicating that they'd revoked our benefits and kicked us off the program.  The letters never came, but it wasn't worth the stress or the potential consequences.  Lesson learned. 
  • Making adjustments.  When training for a marathon, you have to listen to your body, and adjust your training intensity based upon how you feel.  In our quest to get out of debt, we cannot be rigid either.  You may have to adjust your budget week to week, or month to month.  Energy costs, food prices, and unexpected expenses can also vary from week to week or month to month.   

Foot over foot, and step by step a marathon runner gets closer to finishing the race.  Keep doing those weekly budgets, keep making those payments.  Each one of these steps gets you one step closer to the day when you will reach the finish line, and see that medal hung around your neck.  A medal that says, "Debt Free!"

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  • I love this post, everything you said makes alot of sense for sure. I have never run a marathon but it sure feels like one with these bills. I too hope to see the finish line and earn that medal one day down the line....Thanks for the great in put.

  • Thanks for your comments, Johnson13, I'm glad you found the post helpful!

  • Good post, sounds like your describing myself.  Thanks for the input.

  • I love this post its so positive. I feel like giving the majority of people in this country a credit card is like giving a minor a pack of cigarettes. If they use it more than once, they will get hooked! The cost to the male smoker is $183,000.00 in his lifetime. This does not include tobacco-related diseases. I feel the same way about credit cards.  Most people do not know how to use them and by the time they figure it out, they are trapped in more debt than they can pay back. I should know. At one point I had seven credit cards, all maxed out.  I hope there will be regulation in this industry which brings so much misery ( although voluntary) to people's lives.

  • Yesterday I went to a clothing store to return some items, of course I figured I could get one more charge out of my card before the program kicked in!  My card was declined and I ended up putting the new clothes on my debit card.  This is going to take some real soul searching for me!  I am such an impulse, emotional shopper and I hope I have the strength to do this!  This post was very motivating for me and it also showed me that I am not the only one that get's weak!!  Thanks!

  • Thank you for your comment, eillob, amfraser55 and LesaDavis - I'm happy to hear that we share similar experience.  There's definitely comfort in knowing that you're not the only one going through this.  With time, and effort we will all make it to the end goal of being debt free!

  • A very motivating post. This is both scary and exciting to me. I welcome the relief of not having creditors calling all day and night, but I am nervous about being able to stay on top of things. Wish me luck! and I wish everyone the very best!

  • I wish you the best of luck lobannon - in my year's worth of experience, I can say that it has been difficult at times...but by not giving up, I will re-train myself to live without credit cards, and become debt free.

  • Your post was very inspirational to a newbie. It sounds like we share similar things wife, kids, house. If you are doing it I guess I can try. One day, week at a time. Thanks!

  • Thanks for the comment, ScottMo68. As the days, weeks and months go by we've gotten into a rhythm.  There are still challenges that pop up, but it becomes a way of life after while.  Good luck to you!

  • When I signed on, I had A LOT of debt. When I learned I would not be debt free for five years, I was discouraged and thought about not doing it...then I figured out how long it would take me if I tried to do it on my own. Yikes. Now, in a blink of an

  • It's hard to sacrifice. We're a full year into our projected five-year Debt Management Plan to get out of debt, and after all the budget cutting, downsizing, and life-simplification projects, I'm finding that I'm not yet done cutting the excess fat out

  • I find myself looking back on the last twelve months and reflecting on the experiences of the year. Our experiences make us who we are and shape how we will handle future situations.

  • I talked myself into feeling entitled to whatever I was looking at, and that credit card in my wallet gave me the means to make it happen. The problem was that I didn't feel very entitled to the bill when it came in the mail a few weeks later.

  • According to Runner's World, finishing strong means maintaining your pace throughout the race-particularly over the last third, while others are slowing down.The same concept can be applied to building financially sound saving and spending practices.

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