With 2013 coming to an end, we have but three payments remaining in our debt consolidation program

Let me interrupt this post for a moment to perform a happy dance.

Ok, thanks, I'm back. 

As I look back at the last four and a half years, I was able to break down my debt consolidation experience into four different and distinct time periods and the feelings that came with them.

Pre-Enrollment

This period was marked by a feelings of desperation and hopelessness.  Our finances were in shambles, we didn't know what our options were or how in the world we would ever unchain ourselves from our debt.

Enrollment

Desperation changed to skeptical optimism.  Even though we spent hours and hours researching debt consolidation plans as well as CareOne, we were skeptical about whether this potential solution was legitimate.  This period was also filled with quite a bit of stress as we called our creditors almost every day asking when they would act on the proposal sent to them.

We also had to deal with two rejected proposals.  I remember being at a Cub Scout overnight camp sitting on a large rock talking to my wife who was simultaneously talking to me on her cell phone, and a CareOne representative on our home phone trying to figure out exactly what we needed to do to resolve a rejected proposal.

We received an email or a physical letter from each of our creditors verifying that they had accepted the proposal.  Seven weeks after they were sent out, we had heard from all thirteen of the accounts we had enrolled in the program. When we received that last letter, our feelings could be summed up best by the introduction text for many of our letters:

"We are pleased to inform you that you have been enrolled in the Debt Management Program (DMP).  You are now one step closer to taking control of your finances."

Seeing these words made it official, we were on our way, and were bubbling with excitement.

Making Changes Means Making Progress

The next three years made up the heart of the program.  Just about every month we would re-evaluate every one of our expenses, trying to cut out anything that we could to make our journey easier.  It took a very long time for us to come to grips with just how much we had to change our lifestyle to bring it in line with the money we actually had available.  We also worked endlessly at our financial communication and budget process.

There were a lot of ups, and a lot of downs during this period.  Some days I'd look at the tracker in the My CareOne tools and be motivated by how much progress we had made.  Sometimes it seemed like the program was never going to end.

Bye Bye, Creditors!

Our first credit card account hit a balance of zero in October of 2012.  Through November of 2013, seven more creditors bit the dust.  Another one will drop off with our soon to be made December payment.  Each time a creditor is paid off, we get a shot of confidence that we ARE going to reach the end of our program.

It is a reminder that the finish line is REAL.

I feel like I'm running a marathon, and I'm running down a crowded street towards that finish line.  All the aches and pains of the last 26 miles no longer matter.  Nothing is going to stop me from finishing. Nothing!

Where are you at with your debt consolidation program?  How is your journey going so far?

Related Links:

Riding the Debt Relief Roller Coaster

Reflection on a year in the Debt Management Plan

Running the DMP Marathon

Travis Pizel, debt management plan customer with leading provider of debt relief, CareOne Services, Inc. Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the A Straight Talk on Debt blog. He is also a very active member of the CareOne community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan (DMP). Travis 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 in Minnesota. You can also read more from Travis on the Enemy of Debt blog, where he is a featured blogger. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

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