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.

"And then depression set in..."

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Those of you my age may remember that line from the Bill Murray movie, "Stripes."  After losing his job, losing his car, losing his pizza, and losing his girlfriend, Murray's character, John Winger, utters my favorite line of the movie, ". . .and then depression set in..."   Having been there, at least financially, I knew how Winger felt.  I woke up one morning to find that I was faced with a quarter of a million dollar mountain of credit card debt with no realistic way to pay it off.  I had leveraged every card I had, rolling "zero interest" cards over to pay older, higher percentage cards.  After traveling for work for three years, our credit was maxed out and my income couldn't cover the 17 or 18 credit card bills we faced on a monthly basis. 

I had hoped for a financial windfall, as part of a group that started a commercial finance company designed to grow and go public or be sold to a larger company.  I had invested three years into developing business plans, writing policy, and ultimately funding transactions.  The company grew to over one hundred million dollars in just two years.  We were on track to file for an IPO when the credit markets seized up.  Our company relied heavily on securitizations and syndications to fund our new business.  As 2006 quickly devolved into the crash of 2007, we found ourselves unable to secure additional funding and were forced to sell the company at a loss.  Having invested everything I had into the company, and funding a good portion of my travel on personal credit cards, I was quickly between a rock and a very hard place.  With three daughters, two of whom were nearing college age, filing personal bankruptcy was not an option.  I had nowhere to turn and was sure that my family would lose everything. And then depression set in... 

By luck, or some divine intervention, I happened on a CareOne ad on the internet.  My wife and I talked it over and decided to contact CareOne to see if they could help with our situation. From the very first call I could tell that these people cared about their clients.  Our debt counselor, though surprised by the amount, was certain that CareOne could help us lower our debt and pay off our creditors.  It would be a difficult journey out of debt, but we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. 

My wife and I held a family meeting with our daughters.  We decided that "honesty is the best policy," and the girls needed to know and understand our predicament.  It's not easy to look your daughters in the eye and tell them you can't afford new "school clothes" this year. My heart has ached time and time again when I've had to say "no." However, this has also presented an opportunity for us to grow closer as a family.  We've had to face our debt head-on, together as a team. 

I'm pleased to tell you that I'm "over the peak" with our financial crisis, but we still have a long way to go to become debt free.  I'm looking forward to sharing with you some of our savings techniques, life skills, and family-building experiences that we've learned during our journey to financial security. 

John Gougeon

John is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog. John spent more than 20 years in the commercial finance industry and has battled with credit and debit cards for years.  John and his wife know what it's like trying to make ends meet while saving for college for their three daughters. John is half-way up his mountain of debt and his insights and money saving techniques are available to help others on their journey to a debt free life Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • 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.

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