A Great Phone Call

by Joe Plemon on June 11, 2010

As you may know, I am a self employed financial counselor, meaning that I help people devise a plan to reach their financial goals.

I wish that I could say that every story has a happy ending, but life is real and story book endings don’t always happen. You may remember reading The Sad Tale of Clarence and Evita, an encounter which left me some morose.

However, some do turn out well. I received a phone call the other day from a very happy young man (we will call Carl).

Carl, “Joe, I called to thank you for helping us.” His voice was tingling with excitement.

Hey Carl. What’s going on?”

I just want you to know that, other than our house, we are debt free! The feeling is just indescribable!

Awesome!” I countered. “Did you just now pay off your last debt?

We sure did. We followed the plan that you helped us with and it worked. We are building up our emergency fund and getting positioned to invest for retirement. But the best part is this: now that we don’t have debt, Penny (not real name) is able to cut back her work schedule to two days a week. She has always wanted to stay home with the kids and that is becoming a reality. Joe, we both want to thank you for your help.

Carl, you are welcome. But all I did was help point you in the right direction. You and Penny did all of the hard work. Congratulations. I am thrilled for you!

This 30 year old couple, with three young children, had discovered the freedom that getting out of debt brings. When they first met with me a little over a year ago, they had over $35,000 in car debt, credit card debt and student loan debt.  Admittedly, a big chunk of paying off the debt came by selling some stuff, but the point is this: they did it.  Why did Carl and Penny succeed when so many don’t? I believe these four factors were huge:

They were highly motivated.

They didn’t like their lives like they were and were extremely focused on change. In fact, their first words to me were, “We don’t like where we are and are ready to do whatever it takes to change.”

They worked as a team.

Carl and Penny were absolutely on the same page. Their communication was open and clear. Neither hesitated to speak up when they disagreed, and they talked things out until they did agree. Their respect for each other was always obvious.

They had a clear goal.

They had had enough of debt. Their goal was to get it out of their lives. Both understood Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is a slave to the lender.”

They were ready to sacrifice.

For Carl and Penny, eating out was a big money drain. Carl would eat lunch out nearly every day and, because of Penny’s work schedule, eating out as a family was convenient (and costly). But Carl started bringing his lunch to work and they planned eating out as a family for special occasions. They also agreed to forgo their vacation in order to pay off their debt.

I wish I could say that I had a huge part in helping them, but all I did was point them in the right direction and encourage them along the way. They are a very happy family right now, and I am happy for them.

Creative Commons License photo credit: lioliz

Readers:  Have you worked through debt in your lives?  What would you say was the greatest factor in your success?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Roshawn @ Watson Inc June 11, 2010 at 11:37 am

I remember when I became debt free a couple of years ago. Unlike the couple in your post, I was unmarried at the time. I got so much joy, and my then gf certainly helped me through that difficult time. Becoming debt-free was such a joyous occasion that I threw a huge party, renting out a restaurant, had photographers, live music and much more. I remember the whole experience very fondly. I hope your clients do something very special to commemorate this accomplishment.

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joeplemon June 11, 2010 at 11:51 am

Roshawn,
Man! You know how to celebrate! But getting debt free is a big deal and I applaud your joy and enthusiasm. I told Carl that he and his wife should celebrate. If I learn what they did, I will report it.

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Evan June 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm

Joe those types of phone calls are amazing motivators. Congrats on being such a huge influence on someone’s life

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joeplemon June 11, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Evan,
Yes, I am indeed motivated. I wish I got calls like that more often, but that one will keep me pumped for quite a while.

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Darren June 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm

That’s awesome how you help them get out of debt! I agree with Evan. Those calls would make we want to keep helping others.

I’m thinking this was a life changing moment in their lives, and created new and better financial habits.

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Barb Friedberg June 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Joe, I enjoy the clear cut summary of the steps your clients took. I am a HUGE believer in the power of goals and motivation. Once one commits to an action, makes a plan, writes it down, then it is almost impossible not to succeed. Thanks for such a powerful, yet brief article. Best, Barb

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Greg June 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

I do some financial counseling also and those types of calls are definitely exciting, albeit too few and far between. I had one couple that was able to sell a small whole life insurance policy to become debt free. They were committed to breaking the bondage of debt.

Keep up the good work.

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joeplemon June 26, 2010 at 9:48 am

Greg,

Thanks for the good word. Yes, those calls are few and far between but maybe that is what makes them so special.

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