I am 9 months pregnant so when it came to Christmas Shopping this year I resorted mostly to online shopping. I love the convenience of it, the variety, the fact that I didn’t have to stop and rest and or pee every 5 minutes (PREGNANCY!) and the fact that I can literally shop around and find the lowest prices. But my absolute favorite party about online shopping is the testimonials! I love reading what people have to say about a product. I also do this with recipes and traveling. There is nothing better than reading first-hand what people think about something. And trust me, I know that some people are just crabby and like to complain so I really do sift through and read as many as possible.
So, when I started working on the website for LSS Financial Counseling, I made it my mission to get real testimonials from real people. I literally sniff them out from all over our agency and contact them, either by e-mail for phone and ask them to tell me what they really think about us. And then, I share them with you! I want you to know what you are getting into before you call LSS. The most recent testimonial I published is from Mary, a married women with 4 kids who found out how hard it can be to mix finances and marriage. Check out her story below.
A Success Story from Mary
A little bit about us to start off with. My husband Mike and I were older when we got married and we were blessed with 3 daughters and a son. Mike works as a truck driver and we are very lucky because he works here in town and not over the road. I work the nightshift as an RN doing phone triage for ERs and clinics. We home school our children. As of today, we’ve been married 17 1/2 yrs. We own (or I should say the bank owns) our home. If all goes well, our house will be paid off in 8 years!
Like many newly married couples, we had opposite ideas of how to handle our finances. My way of dealing with money was to save nothing and spend everything. Mike was the opposite and as a result we could never calmly discuss our financial situation. It was a hot button issue right from the beginning.
About 3 years ago, during the “economy crash”, Mike was laid off. He was out of work for about 7 weeks. Several months later, my hours were thankfully increased so that helped some. While all of this was happening, Mike was looking for a new job. But unfortunately, the companies that did his kind of work were still laying people off. So, to help our family, Mike took a low paying job with a bus company that provided transportation to a local casino. He loathed it for more reasons than one, but I thought, “A bird in the hand…” He was there almost 2 years, when he quit. And thankfully, he was able to find his current job, driving truck again, with decent wages. It took about another 7 weeks though.
As you can imagine, all of this was putting a lot of stress on our finances as well as our marriage. I was forced to start paying for things, such as basic living expenses, with credit. This was when the car trouble started and the repairs totaled more than $2,000. To be safe, we bought a new car for me because our finances were so tight we couldn’t afford any more repairs, but of course this added another large payment. The hole got deeper and deeper.
We were always able to pay our bills…well sort of, because we were using more and more credit. This past summer, there was an incident where our cell phone company charged the wrong checking account, throwing that account into the red. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back as they say. I owed the bank $250 in charges because they covered several checks that would have bounced. I had to go in and explain the problem and beg for mercy. Luckily, they were merciful.
Mike was upset that the situation had come to this. I didn’t know what to do. I started looking online when I was at work for some help. I saw how some financial services claimed they “helped” people that were in similar situations. The more I searched though, the more questionable the “help” appeared to be. Then I found the LSS Financial Counseling site and read the testimonials. I called and made an appointment.
I met with Financial Counselor Phia alone first. It was a very encouraging meeting. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy and he never scolded or blamed me for my situation. And to be perfectly honest, I was expecting some of that because of the mess I had gotten myself into. But not from Phia. I could tell that he was experienced in dealing with situations like mine where spouses hid financial problems from each other. I knew I was guilty of this and I wanted to start fresh. Phia knew that taking control of our debts meant that Mike and I had to be on the same page so all 3 of us met 2 days later. Mike was extremely impressed and felt that Phia could put us back on track.
Phia helped us develop a budget and plan of action specific to us. He also recommended that we start a Debt Management Plan with LSS. I am excited to say that this week we will make our 3rd payment directly to LSS. What a relief! We are no longer just making payment after payment. Now, we make one payment to LSS and we can see the progress every month. Without LSS, we would still be making payments and getting nowhere. We are no longer discouraged. We now have hope!
I will end by saying that Mike really enjoyed cutting up our credit cards in Phia’s office! We look forward to following our budget every month and watching our debts go down.
Author Kate Swenson is a Project Manager at LSS Financial Counseling.