How One Clearpoint Client Dumped Debt

LaTisha Styles is a motivational speaker and millennial money expert for YoungFinances.com, teaching simple finance for millennials. Her latest book I’ve Graduated Now What? 4 Steps to Take After College to Find a Job and Start a Life You’ll Love, teaches the recent college graduate how to become a financial success. LaTisha has been quoted in Forbes and Mainstreet, featured in The Economist, and mentioned in US News as a top personal finance expert to follow on Twitter. You can follow LaTisha on Twitter for daily millennial money tips to budget, invest and achieve success!

I first started my relationship with debt at the age of 18. I had just graduated high school and I began classes at a local college in Georgia. One day, while walking to class, I passed a table with a stack of t-shirts. I slowed down a bit to find out how I could get one, and I quickly realized that I could get a free t-shirt if I filled out a few papers. “What papers?” You might be asking. Well, those papers were a simple credit card application. The kind lady at the table quickly informed me that if I filled out an application for credit, I would get a free t-shirt. “Wow!” I thought, what a cool idea. So I quickly filled out the papers and grabbed my free gift, happy to have a new t-shirt to snuggle in at night.

A few weeks later, I received my brand new credit card in the mail, and I began to shop. Each weekend, I would head over to the local mall and pick up new clothes. I was partial to dresses, and I often used the ATM to withdraw cash from my credit card to pay for lunch. I worked at a local daycare to cover my credit card bills, and for the first few months I paid the card off in full. After a while, I realized that I could save some cash by only sending in the minimum requested payment, and so I did that. For the next few years, I opened new lines of credit, shopped, vacationed and dined out. I continued to pay the minimum payment each month, sure that I would pay everything in full once I graduated and started working a full-time job.

When Things Got Tough

Graduation day arrived and I did not have a job lined up. Like many graduates in 2010, I was unemployed and entering a workforce that was full of other unemployed workers with more experience than me. It would take me 11 months to finally find a full-time job. During that period, I worked odd jobs here and there. I delivered sandwiches, I babysat and I worked as a personal assistant. I did not make enough to pay my credit card bills with any of those jobs. I began to miss payments, and subsequently, my credit score began to fall. I started to get calls from my creditors, and then calls from the collection agencies that purchased my debt.

When I got the phone call and offer letter from my new job, I was ecstatic! I could finally pay my bills. I began to call my creditors to see if they would accept payment arrangements. Each creditor that I spoke with gave me the same answer. They wanted the entire balance in three “easy” payments. There was no way I would afford three easy payments of over $22,000. And so, I decided to work with Clearpoint. I had heard of them from a friend that used the service as well. They contacted my creditors, set up a three-year payment plan, and arranged fee concessions and rate reductions. In most cases, they were able to get my interest rates reduced to 0%.

How it Feels to Dump Debt

Because of the help from my counselor at Clearpoint, I was able to set up a budget that worked for me and stay on track to pay off my debt. And in September of 2014, just three years and one month after I began my debt management plan, I paid the last dollar to my creditors. It feels really good to be debt free. These days I work to help young people find the same freedom and financial success that I have found. When I started, three years seemed like a very long time, but with consistency and help from my counselor at Clearpoint, I made it!

Thomas Bright is a longstanding Clearpoint blogger and student loan repayment aficionado who hopes that his writing can simplify complex subjects. When he’s not writing, you’ll find him hiking, running or reading philosophy. You can follow him on Twitter.

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