By Lisa Walters, Credit Counseling Center Success Story
I am going to be completely honest… things felt very scary when we first entered our program at the Credit Counseling Center. I realize now that they weren’t actually that terrible, but the initial reality that my credit cards were no longer available as a crutch for my purchasing habits terrified me.
Just as many people are tightening their budgets and re-prioritizing their spending now because of COVID-19, it is an uneasy feeling when you anticipate not being able to pay for things you once considered to be part of “normal” living.
What would I do if I needed to buy something and there isn’t enough in my bank account? What if friends asked us out to dinner? What if something breaks? My kids’ activities are important. How am I going to pay for all their stuff?
It is important to limit as much outgoing money as you can and trust that every dollar you bring in counts towards becoming financially stronger. However, you may realize there are expenditures that are a priority, and you’ll be unwilling to remove them from your monthly budget.
For us, cancelling our kids’ extracurricular activities was not an option. We were just barely keeping our boat afloat, so I had to get scrappy to make sure we had the cash to cover these expenses. I will never forget at the beginning of our journey when my son’s gymnastics tuition was due. I had created cash envelopes to prepare for the cost of each of our children’s activities, but I was short on the gymnastics payment that was due in two days. My solution: I posted several pairs of my son’s shoes that no longer fit him on the local Facebook yard sale site. Within a few hours, I had the money to cover the remainder of the payment and a little extra to stuff in my daughters dance class envelope. This was so easy and a total “aha moment” for me.
Each week, I focused on cleaning out another room of our home. Some things went into a box to donate, and some items got listed online for sale. In addition to tidying up our home, I made roughly $400 in just one month selling items we had and no longer needed. I was so stinkin’ proud of how I hustled for that money, and that we were able to put it towards our children and tires needed for my husband’s car.
Prior to enrolling in the Credit Counseling Center, my husband and I would have, without hesitation, put all of these things on a high interest credit card. However, our mindsets had now changed and this hustle allowed our savings account to grow and remain untouched during a crucial time of our debt journey.
There are many avenues available to sell items online. And for people who are home more and have some extra time while we’re social distancing, this may be a good time to start. Ebay, Marketplace/Facebook, and Amazon are well known and easy to navigate. It takes some time and effort, but once you get rolling it is an easy way to make some extra cash. So stop buying and start purging. Do you want to continue to keep the boat afloat or do you want the satisfaction of sailing on smoother seas?
Lisa became a client of the Credit Counseling Center three years ago, when she reached out to ask for help to take control of spending and credit card debt. Since then, she and her husband have successfully developed a budget, established a savings account and emergency fund, and started a plan to pay off their debt. She is the mother of three and lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
In 2021, Paula was named Executive Director of Credit Counseling Center. She joined the organization in 2008 as a Credit Counselor and was quickly promoted to Director of Housing Counseling in 2009. Paula is a firm believer that each client is a representation of a family whose lives, financial challenges, and needs are important.
She developed and still leads the Center’s Foreclosure Prevention program; and has partnered with the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas Foreclosure Diversion Program. Her keen focus on making a positive impact in the community has generated numerous program collaborations with the United Way of Bucks County and a multitude of social service organizations in the region.
Previously, Paula served 21 on Active Duty in the US Air Force. Initially serving as a combat photographer and finishing the second half of her career as a recruiter, leading to the position of Flight Chief. Highly decorated, she has received awards from the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
An active leader in the Bucks County community, Paula donates her time annually as a board member for the annual Congressional Service Academy Nomination Interviews under the office of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. She is an active Chamber member in Lower Bucks, BucksMont, and Upper Bucks, advocates for financial literacy education opportunities at venues servicing low/moderate income consumers and senior citizen organizations.