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Kevin in Roanoke, VA Talks About His Debt

Kevin and I met through Twitter and we made arrangements to meet up on my travels around the country. I’m @GetOutOfDebtGuy on Twitter.

On August 1, 2009 I had the pleasure of meeting Kevin, sitting down in a local coffee shop and talk about his debt. He was kind enough to share what it was like for him in hopes of helping others.

Kevin in Roanoke, VA Talks About His Debt

Kevin is still in the initial stages of dealing with his debt but you can hear the emotion, passion, anger and sadness in his voice. In his answer to Q18 you can hear him choke with emotion when he talks about his friend that has helped him to cope with the pain he’s been living through.

Q1 Do you know someone that has struggled with debt?

Q2 What’s your story, what happened to you?

Q3 Did you seek any assistance from anyone?

Q4 How did you feel when people turned you away from help?

Q5 How do you feel about going bankrupt?

Q6 People that have not lived through money troubles think that people that have are reckless, losers, or stupid. What do you have to say to those accusations?

Q7 Before you got into trouble would you have ever thought that it would be hard to get creditors to take your money or work with you to resolve your situation?

Q8 How would you have felt if your creditors had been willing to work with you on a plan you could meet?

Q9 Most people in debt don’t have a lump-sum payment to settle their debts so are creditor settlement offers a bit rediculous?

Q10 Do you think your debt would have been worth killing yourself over?

Q11 What do you think when you hear stories of people that kill themselves or their family over debt? Have you heard those stories?

Q12 Did turning to your religion provide you any comfort as you were seeking help or looking for answers?

Q13 Do you feel like you’ve been a victim in all of this?

Q14 What did you learn about trying to help others to make yourself feel better about your situation?

Q15 What has helped you to feel better about yourself in this mess?

Q16 How did you find your bankruptcy attorney?

Q17 How did you finally select your bankruptcy attorney?

Q18 What advice do you have for people that are living through money troubles right now?

Thank you so much Kevin for letting me record your thoughts and experiences as you live through this debt mess. My only lingering curiosity, what did the people in the coffee shop think we were doing with the equipment and headphones? LOL

Kevin in Roanoke, VA Talks About His Debt

Big hug to you Kevin. Stay safe and if you need me, you know how to reach me. And and lastly, thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your emotions and experience in hopes that through your words and our actions we can help at least one person that is suffering in silence with debt.

If you would like to leave a message for Kevin, please add it in the comments section of this question.

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Kevin in Roanoke, VA Talks About His Debt
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Transcript

Q1 Do you know someone that has struggled with debt?
A1 Kevin: Get a mirror? Yeah, let me look into one real quick. Yeah, me. It’s horrid.

Interviewer: Well how – tell me how it feels because people are coming – I remember how I felt but how’s it feel for you?

Kevin: Well, first, in my case, depression, astonishment. You just can’t believe what’s happening to you is really going on. Disbelief and it gets to extremes, suicidal, with me homicidal. There were people, yeah, you do lay in bed and contemplate their demise. And nobody out there that you thought cared about you, worried about you, was there behind you. You turn around, they nobody got your back. You know and that again, it just makes it worse. The people and the ways that you get into bankruptcy is a trap. You know the system is set up – it’s like quicksand. And if you’re unfortunate enough to put your foot in there, you’re gone.

Q2 What’s your story, what happened to you?
A2 A girl, all right? And I use the term now, gold-digger. I mean it was my mistake not seeing that to begin with. All the signs was there and I didn’t see it. I come to Virginia not a penny in debt. The only bill I had was the mortgage and I had less than a year left. Paid that off, no problem. And to make her happy, anything she wanted, she got.

That included me getting more credit cards. That included me – when they tried to repossess her van, I went and got a signature loan and paid it off for her okay? A signature loan, no collateral, no nothing. Here baby, I love you. They’ll leave you alone now. And when you think your life’s going good, she met a millionaire, a millionaire and now I feel sorry for him. Three days after she met him she left me for him.

All right, it’s fine for the first month then the economy starts taking its dump. Not only did I lose her income, then I got laid off because the first company was being sold to some Brits. Then the second company I worked for did layoffs because they weren’t publishing enough books. So now you’re unemployed, hosed, when you look at your financial situation, you’re depressed, and I – before I feel behind I went to Barclays. I went to Juniper Bank.

I went to these people and said, “Hey, we gotta reduce these interest rates. I gotta refinance. I gotta do something. I cannot keep these payments up.” And they blatantly over the phone told me, “Oh, you’re not three payments behind. We’re not gonna reduce your interest rates. We’re not gonna refinance nothing. Until you’re behind, we’re not gonna touch it.”

Now anger kicks in. I went to CitiFinancial and said, “Hey, I need,” an explained the situation to em. All I wanted was $500.00 to try to reorganize myself, shuffle some of my bills around, get some of the – and they said no. even though up that point, not only had I been making minimum – I’d been, you know CitiFinancial gives you the monthly statements, I was paying almost three payments at once. Instead of paying 220, I was paying $700.00 whacks; well ahead of schedule. And they said no to $500.00.

At that point I lost it. A weird thing is I started seeking out people – I wasn’t aware of it but looking back now, I was seeking out people in worse shape than I was. And I found people that – I found a lady from Katrina that wanted to go to school and no one was gonna cosign her loan. Stupid me cosigned a loan for her.

There was a girl that had never found her father before, never known her father. Well I was born a bastard and put up for adoption and I found my mother. And I knew what it was like to find that person you never – so I found her father for her, took him to her and long story short, ended up moving her from Ohio to Tennessee all at my expense. I thought it was making me feel better but it was only getting me worse in debt. I was spending all this money – well, the chick that went to college has never paid a penny back. Now I’m being sued for that.

The people that I did the signature loan on the van, they’re suing me; trying to garnish my wages. All the credit card companies – you want me three months behind? Fine, all right, well now I’m like six months behind and now they wanna work with me after the government bails them out with billions, they still wanna work with you until you are in the toilet and flushed and enough is enough. They can all kiss my rosy red one for all I’m concerned.

Q3 Did you seek any assistance from anyone?
A3 All right, it was because of the depression. It was because of being taken by a gold-digger and seeing what I was doing. I went there and I got laughed at. All right, yes. Three professionals, every one of them suggesting me to somebody else. And to them it was all to them like a humorous story. Well you need help but I can’t help you. Well you need help but I can’t help you.

Q4 How did you feel when people turned you away from help?
A4 That’s when the suicidal and the homicidal tendencies come out. I got a new job. It’s with the government, which will make you angrier even still at points, and I refocused. I’m a grandfather. Grandkid number seven is on the way and I now focus on building treasure chests for my grandkids, wooden treasure chests. And I got the idea from my uncle, who gave me a gift a long time ago and my grandfather, who made a gun rack and I combined the two and I’m making treasure chests.

If the professionals wanna laugh at me, laugh. That’s fine. I found my niche okay? So psychologically I’m gonna be all right. Financially, I talked to three bankruptcy lawyers and one of them is gonna try to help me get _______. And we’re just gonna dump it all and tell all those gold-diggers out there, sorry, you burned the last wick. I’m not gonna be there for ya. Tell those credit card companies you wanna throw all those fees out there. You don’t wanna work with me, fine, now you can all eat it.

Q5 How do you feel about going bankrupt?
A5 Kevin: Good. It pisses me off. One, it’s gonna be 10 years. Okay, I think that 10 year clause is stupid because it’s – you’re filing bankruptcy, you can’t do it again for another 7 or 10 years or whatever it is. So why is it when someone files bankruptcy, that’s the number one thing they hold against ya?

It’s like man, if you filed bankruptcy, you oughta be jumping to give this person credit again or to cut him a break but it’s not. It’s gonna hold me. I won’t be able to change apartments because they do credit checks. I won’t be able – some of my government jobs, I know they’re gonna do background and financial background. They’re gonna see a bankruptcy. That’s gonna – so I’m ticked off because even though the system is put there to help you, it’s gonna cripple me until that comes off.

Interviewer: Well let me tell you something that you might not know. That if you do a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you know where you just, complete wipe-out of the debt.

Kevin: Right.

Interviewer: Probably which is what you’re gonna do.

Kevin: Right.

Interviewer: You will get credit offers the very next day. You will be able to get a credit card, a secured card. You put up a deposit, okay?

Kevin: Right, that’s – yeah, yeah.

Interviewer: And that will immediately start to rebuild your credit. Your credit score will go up. And as far as like security clearances and background checks you’re fine. If you had a lot of open debt and it wasn’t addressed, then that would be a problem but so many people are going bankrupt these days that you don’t need to worry about that.

Q6 People that have not lived through money troubles think that people that have are reckless, losers, or stupid. What do you have to say to those accusations?
A6 Kevin: One day, and I hope it doesn’t happen to em. You walk into a dark room and all of a sudden a noose drops out of the ceiling and instead of the guy next to you, it goes around your neck. You didn’t have control where that noose dropped. There was no light. You didn’t see it coming. And when it drops and it gets you, remember you’re in a room by yourself and it’s dark and now I feel sorry for you.

Okay like I said, I came out here with zero debt, no intention to hurt, harm or steal from anybody, take from anybody or anything. It just happened. No control over it. And now my – this rollercoaster ride is going down and unfortunately the trap bottom is at the bottom. There is no curve back up.

Q7 Before you got into trouble would you have ever thought that it would be hard to get creditors to take your money or work with you to resolve your situation?
A7 Kevin: I was astonished at the lack of any cooperation between me and the lenders. Here’s an example. It was CitiFinancial, I went to them for help the first time they said no. Fine, so I missed their 4 or 5 payments. I go in their office. I am at the bottom. I am crying in their office. I’m shaking okay?

The lady sees what kinda condition I’m in and she says, “Tell you what, this is what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna give you, we’re gonna refinance your loan, start you over. We’re gonna give you $99.00 cash, all right, you can take the check right now, right now.” Now if someone has no money and somebody has no tomorrow and then somebody comes up to you and says, “Here, I’ll give you $99.00 and we’ll refinance your loan.” What do you do? Okay, stupid me, I took the $99.00, refinanced my loan and now I just watch this giant interest pops up for going from X amount of dollars, I just added 20 more percent to it. But I got 99 bucks out of it. That’s a scam!

Q8 How would you have felt if your creditors had been willing to work with you on a plan you could meet?
A8 Kevin: I woulda worked! I would have done it. Instead, I look on there and I get a late month interest fee. I get interest on interest fees. I get nasty-ass phone calls. My cell phone was ringing – I had to increase the minutes on my cell phone because of all the bill collectors calling. But when you talk to em and you tell em what’s going on, they don’t wanna work with you until you’re beyond saving.

Now, when they all realize, okay, this guy is 8 and 9 months behind, now all of a sudden their lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, are offering deals to you. “Well I tell you what, you pay us this little – you know you pay 40% off or 60% of the balance and we’ll call it good.” You’re not calling it good, you’re gonna take the credit card away; you know which is fine at that point. But it’s done in one bulk payment okay? So instead of paying us 30 or $40.00 over the next – if you pay this – well why didn’t you do that in the first place?

Q9 Most people in debt don’t have a lump-sum payment to settle their debts so are creditor settlement offers a bit rediculous?
A9 Kevin: You’re right. And when you talk to a bankruptcy lawyer, he’ll flat out tell you, yeah, there is that option. God forbid if they break it into three payments and you miss one of those payments. God forbid because the entire balance then comes back. See they don’t tell you that through the credit card company. “We’re gonna allow you a last chance ditch effort to clear off your – here’s $1,000.00 broke it up into 3 payments. You make that, all is well.” And again, you miss or short on one of those, you’re hosed.

Q10 Do you think your debt would have been worth killing yourself over?
A10 No, for me, no. All right, I used to think I’ve seen all of the United States. I’ve got grandkids. I’ve seen my grandkids. I’ve had a damn good life. I could, and it was rational at the time, I could get it over with and not feel bad about it. Okay? But because I took that extra minute one time to really think about this and think all right, it’s 10 years.

You know it’s gonna be on my record, no, it’s not worth it. Fight one more day. There’s a lot of doors in that dark room. Keep reaching around. One of em will open and one of em will have a light in it. And I caution, it’s a whole lot of doors in there you can open up and there’s gonna be big, bad, nasty things behind em. Then shut the door.

Q11 What do you think when you hear stories of people that kill themselves or their family over debt? Have you heard those stories?
A11 All the time, yeah. Professional sports people do it, distraught – yeah, that happens all the time. I live very close to the Virginia Tech where the killing happened and that was over boys and girl routine. I didn’t ever understand or comprehend why the guy wanted to take out a group of people. If you were mad at the one girl, fine, take the one girl and yourself out and be done with it. Why did you have to do 31 other people?

When you get this angry, you gotta remember, don’t take it out on society. All right then the people here in this coffee shop with us right now, not one of em have ever done anything to hurt me and never will do anything to hurt me. And if I walk outside and trip, probably some – one of these people would pick me up. So why would I wanna bring in a gun and level everybody here in this coffee shop? Okay? You gotta keep a little bit of realism in your head all right? And remember that I’m not a very much of a religious man anymore. I have my own personal beliefs and you gotta find that personal belief in there wherever it dwells at and grasp a hold of it and don’t let go and don’t take it out on the other guy.

Q12 Did turning to your religion provide you any comfort as you were seeking help or looking for answers?
A12 No because I went to a minister for help. I will not mention his name but I went to a minister for help. All he told me was, “You need to get a better job.” Duh! Two years ago I was running my own computer business and now I’m sweeping floors. Duh!

Six months later that minister tried to commit suicide over financial matters and stabbed himself 21 times and lived. Now it wasn’t that man’s time to go okay? I turned to the wrong person but I did try the spiritual thing. It didn’t work for me and obviously his own advice didn’t work for him.

Q13 Do you feel like you’ve been a victim in all of this?
A13 I was, it started as a victim okay? Good intentions and we’ve all heard the road of good intentions where that leads. I try to turn my life into something more even than what it used to be. And I got sucked into something I wasn’t expecting. Now after the initial victimization, then like I said, it became self-destructive because I knew where I was at.

The only way to make me feel better was to find somebody worse off. And here I help all these people, not using the best judgment, throwing money out like it was candy at a parade. None of em are getting the money back, which is fine, I don’t care. I didn’t give em the money really thinking I was gonna get it all back. Part of it woulda been nice.

Q14 What did you learn about trying to help others to make yourself feel better about your situation?
A14 And that’s self-destructive. You know I’ve got a friend, Deborah. I will mention her name, in Pennsylvania. When I – now when I feel like I wanna give somebody money or something like that, I have to call her first and she has the school of no. And I call her on the phone knowing what she’s gonna say but it is humorous. Deborah, so and so wants to borrow 50 bucks for electric bill. And she’ll say, “No Kevin, say no, no, no.” And if I say no, I get a good grade for the day cause it’s the school of no. So you come up with these silly little things that get you day-to-day and there are people out there that will goof around with you and won’t just cry for you. Deborah, thank God Deborah’s out there. She makes me giggle and laugh. And before I do something stupid, I have her on speed-dial.

Q15 What has helped you to feel better about yourself in this mess?
A15 Up until a couple months ago I was still doing really stupid things. And I saw my grandfather’s gun rack that he made back in the ‘60s. So I started making treasure chests made out of wood for my grandkids. My granddad’s been dead since the ‘70s and it was something to refocus on and I make these treasure chests. And it’s gonna be all their Christmas’s this Christmas.

But I – but you’re cutting the wood, you’re sanding the wood, you’re painting the wood. You’re dreaming. There’s no plans on any of these treasure chests. They all come out of this scary little head of mine. And there’s – there’s gonna be a treasure in each treasure in that the fact that once all the treasure chests ever come together, there’ll be a message to my grandkids from granddad. The only way for them to get that message to get all treasure chests together.

And because it sounds fun, it’s interesting, it’s gonna be memorable, it’s years down the line. That’s what’s got me away from the depression, the hate, the desperation. It’s given me something to focus on. God, I don’t know what’s gonna happen after Christmas. What I’m banking on is that the bankruptcy’s over by Christmas. Okay so I kinda do a – all right I chose the bankruptcy. I still pay 300 and some odd dollars left for that but once that’s paid for, the treasure chest will hopefully hold me to Christmas.

And come Christmas morning, I wanna be around my grandkids. But I’m gonna be giggling okay cause I know what’s going on back wherever they’re at opening those treasure chests from granddad. And then it becomes a waiting game. How long will it take for them to figure out the treasure in the treasure? And by then I will hopefully find something else that will keep me entertained, keep me out of trouble. Hopefully by then a few lights have turned on, a window or door was open and you start over.

Q16 How did you find your bankruptcy attorney?
A16 Advertising pays you know. You check your mail day after day and there’s bill, bill, bill, bill, bill and there’s this flyer, you know bankruptcy. In today’s economy, everybody’s screaming for financial help. I have XM Radio in my truck. And every other commercial is we’re gonna help you get outta debt. We’re gonna help you do that. Then right after that you hear bankruptcy lawyer, everything is bankruptcy and finance nowadays.

So finding a bankruptcy lawyer wasn’t hard. The hard part was talking to 2 or 3 of em because I didn’t have a lot of money. The first one I talked to basically told me the whole thing was gonna cost about $2,800.00 between lawyer’s fees and everything else. The second one I talked to says, “It’s gonna cost you 700 to start. If we do this it’s 1,100. If we do this it’s 1,800. If we do this, it’s 2,000.

They actually showed me there are different options. We don’t have to shoot for the moon over here. So the second one didn’t scare me off. I’m hoping for the cheapest of course, but at least my eyes are open that it may cost me more. So yeah, I shopped around. And it’s again, you go in and you tell somebody else your story and it rips you a new one every time you do, even to the bankruptcy lawyer. This ain’t easy doing this.

Q17 How did you finally select your bankruptcy attorney?
A17 This is the most disorganized lawyer in the planet. I walked in – I was amused really. I think it was more comical because one, it was price. He did, he started off at least the lowest price but he did give a little information about the – but I was really amused because phone was ringing and nobody was answering it. He went to go print out the paperwork that I needed to fill out and he couldn’t find it on the computer. Then the printer didn’t have either ink or paper in it and the secretary is blaming him. I’m whoa – I thought the secretary was supposed to – anyway, it was so comical it was actually, it was kinda like this is what I need.

Okay this guy fits into my lifestyle. The other people over there – I’m nothing more than a file folder to them okay? Even though they had everything printed off in a pretty office and the Italian leather furniture, this guy’s real. This secretary is real. When I get in there he’ll probably fight for me more realistically where the other guy’s gonna go in there, do his generic motions, in and out. I might get what I want and I might not.

Q18 What advice do you have for people that are living through money troubles right now?
A18 Kevin: Stick with it. I mean it’s – I know a lot of people have a lot bigger debt than I do and there’s probably people out there that have less debt than I do. But it doesn’t matter the dollar amount. We’re all equal. Okay, if you can’t afford that $10.00 a month payment or you can’t afford $100,000.00 a month payment, whatever it is, when you come to your end of your rope, it’s your end of your rope. Just don’t let go of the rope. Okay, sooner or later you’ll be able to climb back out or someone’s gonna pull you up. Don’t do – I did enough stupid stuff and just got me in more trouble. Don’t do stupid. Okay, find you a Deborah in Pennsylvania. Stick with it.

Interviewer: She means a lot to you doesn’t she?

Kevin: Actually Deborah is one of the few – I don’t talk to her every day. She’s just one of the few that will make you laugh. Maybe that’s what everybody needs; you just need that one laugh a day.

Kevin in Roanoke, VA Talks About His Debt by

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • http://www.thecentisblelife.com Kelly

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kevin.

    I hope that things continue to improve for you. Hopefully we can hear a follow-up to your story in a year or so.

    Keep up the hard work.

  • Janet

    I am a step behind you,but finding out quickly that it did not matter that I have paid my bills on time forever. I was late 1 day with Discover and they called me insisting I could pay right over the phone. ONE DAY LATE! Needless to say these guys call me every hour 7 days a week.Trying to get loan modification because I meet the requirements of extreme income loss….3 months and “they are still working on it” I am not behind on my mortgage so they believe I can pay. Anyway I have now reached the point of shopping for an attorney. I feel awful and I understand everything you have been through. I wish you the best as I wish all of us going through bad times. I am stressed but do believe we will be OK again. Thanks for telling your story

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