Preparing for Life AFTER a Debt Management Plan (DMP)

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.

Preparing for Life AFTER a Debt Management Plan (DMP)

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You may have heard of a show called, "The Biggest Loser." 

Contestants on the show:

  • Live in a secluded ranch
  • Work out all day
  • Learn how to prepare healthy meals
  • Learn about nutrition and fitness

The purpose is to change the contestant's environment such that the temptations and stresses of everyday life that could lead to overeating are removed. The consequences of not following the program are not losing much weight and getting voted off the ranch. 

Being enrolled in a Debt Management Plan (DMP) has some similarities to this environment: 

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  • Credit lines are closed
  • New lines of credit are not allowed

The purpose of these rules is to change a participant's environment such that the temptation to accrue more credit card debt is reduced or removed.  The consequences of opening a new line of credit is potentially getting kicked out of the plan, and having interest rates and minimum monthly payments rise.

Some of the past contestants, even past winners, have gained all their weight back.  Similarly, I'm sure there are people that have gotten themselves out of debt, only to return to their old habits and build up a new pile of debt once they return to an environment where lines of credit are again flowing.


Former contestants put the weight back on because they have failed to properly implement what they learned about fitness and healthy eating on the show.  Or, they have failed to solve whatever life problem is driving them to overeat. 

People who run up their credit cards again have also failed to implement the tools and habits they used to get out of debt, or failed to solve whatever problem is driving them to overspend.

I will complete my DMP approximately 3 years from now. 

What steps do I need to take to ensure that my debt will not balloon again after I complete the plan?

1.  Budget:  Before the DMP, I had a piece of paper that I called "the budget."  It was sad-- actually laughable.  My wife and I now have a very detailed, team-orientated budget plan that we are experimenting with. This needs to become an integrated part of our life. Money coming in must be less than money going out.  It's that simple.

2.  Build an Emergency Fund:  Have money sitting around for unexpected expenses.   It seems so simple, yet we have failed to build one yet.

3.  Slow Down:  A website that is very special to me, has taught me over the last few months the importance of a "slow" lifestyle.  People can interpret that many ways, but to me that means figuring out what is important to you, and focusing on it.  Remove those things from your life that are just taking up space and not bringing you any enjoyment. 

And finally:

4.  Eliminate my Sense of Entitlement:  This is the big one.  This is the reason my wife and I have overspent.  Our philosophy had been: we work hard so we deserve to have everything our hearts' desire.  Wrong.  Dead wrong.

We have to change this way method of thinking.  Even now it still periodically creeps in our thought process. 

We have to focus on these four things. 

By accomplishing them, I believe we will have the tools necessary to not only get ourselves out of debt, but to keep us from getting back into credit card debt ever again. 

Without them, we'll be the person that loses 100 pounds, and then heads straight for a fast food place and orders a half pound burger.

 Related Links:

 Sacrificing to Become Debt-Free

 Ready to Give up on Becoming Debt-Free

 You're Debt-Free...Now What?

 Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis very candidly shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. You can also follow along with Travis on his personal blog, Our Journey to Zero. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Travis on Twitter @DebtChronicles


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  • Three years might seem like a long time, but it really will be over before you know it!  My biggest issue when I became debt-free was sticking to a budget right after.  It's difficult because you really want to go hog wild with your extra spending money and for me, I just found myself saying "yes" to trips, dinners, etc.  When you're in the program, you're just sacrificing so much, so when you are done it seems easy to rationalize, "well I paid off my debt, I deserve this!"  For me there was a fine line between treating myself and over indulging in the beginning.  I think you'll find the most difficult part is trying to find that balance between the two.  

    What stuck for me was not using credit cards again.  If you can at least continue to not use credit cards, you'll be one step ahead!  Best wishes to you!

  • Thanks for your comment, Cheryl - I can totally see how going completely nuts would be tempting once that last payment is made.  It's great to have DMP graduates, such as yourself, lending advice and your experiences of what to watch out for once people graduate from the DMP.  

    I know the first two years have flown by, hopefully the next three will as well.  Instead of a mid-life crisis, I think I'm experiencing a "mid-program itch."  Ooh...that sounds like a blog post, doesn't it?

  • You are correct.  It really is about changing our mind set.  I can imagine Cheryl_G just hit the hammer on the head of the nail.  That is my biggest fear wanting to go hog wild after getting out of debt.  I don't want this time of sacrificing to be for nothing.  I do want to live more comfortably but I want to save for retirement too.  I am hoping that there will help keep me debt free!!  I have to be honest though I am scared to death of making mistakes once I am through.

    Travis I think I am with you on that "mid-prgram itch."  I want this time of struggle to be done.

  • I can imagine that the fear of what happens next is on the minds of many as they think about completing the program.  That's why I think it's key for us to think about this now, so that we are prepared for when we get "kicked off the ranch."  :)  As always, Monica, your comment and thoughts are so very much appreciated!

  • Ok here I go ,on my way to being debt free, I eally want this to work for me,seems like a long road ,but I can handle it.

  • Hi Sassy2006, and welcome to the Careone Family!   It does feel like a long road, but once you get into the 'groove' of things the months just start flying by.  The community (through the forums and blogs) is a great support structure that you can use on your journey to become debt free - so stop by often!  :)

  • 3 years does seem like a very long time, but I have had this debt for at lease ten years.  I have been on the program for a little over a year now and I love it! 2 years left!!  I would recommend Care One to anyone!  Thanks Care One!

  • Hi Lynmoody, that's a great way of thinking of things!  I had been accumulating debt for 13 years before I found Careone - and it's only taking 5 years to pay it off - and I've already got 2 years behind me!

    I wish you success in your journey to become debt free!

  • I guess if you think about it, this is a *good* problem to have - how to manage your money when you don't have to worry about making those big DMP payments! There are SO many things I want to buy and do when I'm done with my DMP in 3+ years - and I still won't have money for all of them, so I guess that's the important thing to remember!

  • You're right, The Girl Next Door- having the problem have having to manage money that is now at one's disposal instead of marked each month for a DMP payment is definitely a good thing - and figuring out how to do that is absolutely essential to remaining debt free!  

    Nice to hear from you again, thanks for stopping by!

  • 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.

  • By joining a DMP you have combined all of your unsecured debt payments into one convenient monthly payment that you make to CareOne Debt Relief Services. CareOne then disperses your payments to your creditors monthly; the transition from paying your creditors

  • Entitlement is a slippery slope. One day you're buying snacks before your movie ticket, the next you're charging trips to Mexico.

  • Now that I have finished my DMP, I don't want to get lazy. I really want to make sure I continue the good habits that I have worked on over the last few years and ensure that I don't do anything stupid to get myself into another financial mess! It will

  • I wanted to get a rough estimate as to how long I have to work to pay for the interest on my credit cards for the year. Adding up the interest I've paid on my credit cards so far in 2013, plus a projected amount for the rest of the year I calculated that

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