Susan's Story

[Image credit: Max Pixel]

When I first asked Susan (not her real name) if she would be happy to share her amazing story with my readers, she honestly didn't think she and her husband had done anything worth sharing. As she got writing, she realised the mountain they had climbed together. I am truly pleased to share Susan's story with you...

Growing up I didn’t have good roles models when it came to money. My mum lived on credit cards and my dad rarely held down a job. So when I became an adult, I did what everyone seemed to do. I got a credit card, then another, then another. I could keep up with the minimum payments so I thought I was doing fine.

My husband’s parents were better roles models, but not great. By the time our second child was on the way we had a manageable size of debt. We wanted to get a bigger home and found a beautiful property we could build on. It was gorgeous, and in truth, we thought we could afford it.

Just before moving in I was in a car accident. Not realising how long it would take me to heal, we signed on the dotted line. I wasn’t able to go back to work and remained under the care of a neurologist for four long years.

Fortunately, my husband had a good job, so he kept us afloat with things like the mortgage and car payments, but during that time, we started accruing more debt to pay for everyday things like clothing and food. There was always the hope that I could go back to work soon, but it just didn’t happen. During that time we also had our third child.

Our debt continued to grow and when it seemed almost paralyzing, my husband lost his job. It was like the entire world had caved in on us. Although he got another job right away, it paid just over one-third of what he had been making. The amount of stress that came with the job loss and already being in debt weighed us down physically, mentally, and emotionally.

First, we did the only thing we could think of and sold everything we could. I lost my beautiful jewellery, including my engagement ring, my husband sold all his computer gear, and we had garage sales for the little stuff.

The hardest part was selling our beautiful house and renting the cheapest place we could find instead.

Last year I managed to return to work part-time, and that’s when we found Erika and The Income Organisers. We were able to do so much more than I thought was possible.

We honestly believed we were spending and saving as wisely as we could, but still found every month or so something would crop up that caused us to stress out and argue with each other again. With Erika we were able to see exactly which areas we wanted to loosen up on, and which areas we could tighten a bit more. It was liberating! The first surprise was how much we spent at the supermarket. We set ourselves a max-spend which has allowed us to have a monthly date night. This helped repair some of the damage our arguing had been doing. The next surprise was that we could actually plan ahead for things like winter utility bills. Before The Income Organisers we honestly thought that there was simply no way to plan ahead, that's it's too complicated to do. Realising it is possible was probably our turning point. It only took us three months to see significant changes and begin to feel the weight of hitting rock-bottom disappear. Although it had been difficult and scary at times, my husband and I are a team dedicated to keeping our financial lives on track and learning from our mistakes. We now have emergency funds and don’t use credit cards. We spend money where it's important to us instead of solving this week's problem, something we should have been doing all along.

Have a wonderful week,

Erika Gilbert

The Income Organisers

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