On the Road to Financial Freedom
By Walter Burch
Spokane, WA - Imagine having a wife and five kids, living paycheck to paycheck, and you lose your job? Soon, you're buried in credit card debt, and it seems there's no way out. Or is there? Here's Another Story on the Road to Financial Freedom we wanted to share with you.
We were on our way to the airport in Spokane, I was riding up front in the shuttle with the driver and we were having a pleasant conversation. What he told me in the next fifteen minutes is something I won't forget, and for this, I will always consider this shuttle driver as a hero of sorts. He is among a new breed of Americans who have experienced the weight of overwhelming debt and are on a mission to live a life of financial freedom, and to help others from falling into the same trap.
It was just before sunrise when we began our ride to the Spokane airport. I started our conversation with the usual, "how's business?" "Things are great," he said. "Own your own cars, or do you lease?" I asked. "I've got two cars in the fleet, I'm looking for a third, and I own `em both," he said. "Good for you," I said. "You don't like to finance or lease?" "No, if I can't pay cash, I don't buy it unless it's an emergency - like a water heater bursting or something like that. That's the way my wife and I do things these days," he said. "These days," I said. "You had problems before?"
The Crushing Weight of Unbearable Debts
For the next few miles, he told me how credit card debt had almost destroyed him, his wife, and their five kids. It was about three years ago when the sawmill where he worked closed down. Already in debt, he and his wife were forced to use credit cards for the day-to-day expenses. A few late payments later, and before you know it, the interest on their credit cards skyrocketed to 30% or so, and they were getting deeper and deeper in debt. Penalties, late fees and interest on top of interest added up, and things got even worse. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Even though he and his wife worked longer and longer hours, never went out, and bought the kids clothes at the Thrift Store, it was never enough.
Good News: Finding Hope in a Plan for Survival
After reviewing all of their options, he and his wife decided, with much regret, to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13. He said it was something they hated to do. He had excellent credit most of his life, had purchased his first home at the age of 25 and always paid his bills a week ahead of time - until he lost his job and his back was against the wall. Under Chapter 13, debts are not completely erased, but are restructured under a more manageable payment plan agreed to by creditors. Basically, after his bankruptcy, he was left with his house, his car, and a fair amount of debt still to pay off. However, he now had a survival plan in place, and he and his wife were not only determined to survive, but never to get into serious debt again.
Fighting Hard for a Debt-Free Life
Three years later, things are much better for my friend, his wife, and his five kids. They have paid off all their debts and he has started his own shuttle business. In fact, when I called to get more details for this story, he was excited to tell me he had just added a third vehicle to his fleet. He paid for all three vehicles in cash, only after he had saved the money. They're not new, mind you, but it's hard to tell from looking at them. That's because he searches and searches for low mileage used vehicles, in excellent condition, which he can purchase for less than $5,000. He says its not easy finding the right vehicles below market value, but he's on a mission and he has found a way - because he is determined to fight for his new debt-free life. At home, he and his wife don't buy what they need immediately, say a new couch-- but they save and save some more until they have the money to pay in cash. Then they go to the store, make their new purchase, and celebrate the fact that the money they saved in interest charges can be put to much better use - like their children's education.
A New Breed of American Hero
Beyond the fact that this gentleman and his wife turned their lives around, there was something else that inspired me to tell his story. It was his passion and determination to be financially free, and help others along the way. "I tell everyone what happened to me, and how credit cards can destroy them," he said. "If I see one of my drivers take out a credit card, I tell him I'd rather lend `em twenty bucks than see them use that card," "I basically pay cash for everything, and keep a debit credit card for emergencies. We have a savings account attached to our debit account so we can transfer money from savings if we have to."
Celebrating a New Life of Financial Freedom
So how can the rest of us avoid credit completely these days? Certainly it's very difficult to do, especially when buying a home, a car, or financing a child's education. However, all of us would be wise to take note of the inspirational story of one man from the Great Northwest who survived his brush with debt, and is only too happy to tell his story. "For once in our life, we don't owe anything to anyone, the business is looking better everyday, and everything is paid for. We made our mistakes, but learned quickly, and our lives are much better now," he said.
The good news is if you have fallen into the credit card debt trap, there is a way to
Get Out of Credit Card Debt Fast!