Counting Those Chickens

by Diane Conlinn
March 3, 2001

Well, I was going through all my bills, all my payments, and among them is a $200 a month payment to a retirement plan which I've included like a regular bill. I am proud to say that I can make that savings payment, without any scrimping.

I am making payments on all my bills and debts. I have brought down balances signficantly and I have a payoff date now that is less than 10 years away!! When I first started on this journey, if I said 20 years in the future I might be debt free. But, now for the first time, I can realistically say that I'll be out of debt by January 2005.

Wow!! and by next year I expect my income to take another leap. So, I believe that I can now honestly say I am going to make that and be able to reach my goal of being out of debt quite a bit before.

It's nice to have a bright spot in the future. I really hope these eggs hatch. I do believe I see the chickens.

It's a long story but I started with about $45K in unsecured debt, I had been unemployed for early 18 months, without medical insurance. I had already been bankrupt once, and seriously considered it again. I was told that the government was going to garnish my paycheck for student loan defaults. the whole situation was pretty terrible, of my debts $36,000 were student loan debts.

I was late on all my utilities, a month behind on my rent, and was eating hotdogs because they were cheap and onsale. I hadn't opened my mail in months. I had already gone to a lawyer about declaring bankruptcy and they were only going to charge me $100 a month in a Chapter 13 for three years. I was going to do that, but something told me about Debtors Anonymous and I went to my first meeting.

I went to a meeting in a little Quaker Meeting House. There were just a few people there, and they got to hear me cry and wail my way through my story, three weeks running. Those wonderful people opened my bills for me that I was too afraid to open, and made some kind of order out of the mess, then suggested to me what to do. They told me which phone calls to make, bills to pay, how much, and then helped me set aside enough money to pay for my food!! They told me not to deprive myself for my creditors, I was shocked.

Then I joined an online email group. I told them about my decision to declare bankruptcy and I got a bunch of "don't do that". Finally, one person said something that made sense to me. He said, that all I had to do was try the DA way for a year and if it made no difference, then declare bankruptcy. So, I said, okay, I'll try this new way of living. My old way certainly failed, what have I got to lose? Though I can honestly say I saw no way to get out of debt.

Next, I had a group meeting by telephone, and was instructed to add up my spending and separate it into different areas, and what was left went to my creditors. I had 45 creditors at that time. And I literally paid $1 a piece to 25 of them and $5 to 20 of them. Even on the student default. I didn't see how this was going to work, but in the end I was able to work out my problems with the government and actually get my student loan out of
default a year later and erase the fact that I had ever had a default off of my credit record!!

Yes, folks by the end of the year miracles happened. I got my student loans out of default. I paid off 5 of my bills, and now three years later, I've paid off 20 of my bills, and I owe $23,000 not $36,000 in student loans, my pay has gone from 0 to $50K, because I decided to pursue a new career. And my next salary jump should be within another year. I have remarried to a wonderful man. We own a house, and I drive a new car. I have decent clothes, shoes that fit me, and I was able to pay for a few of my relatives to come out for the wedding.

All this while getting further out of debt. Frankly, if you had told me a few years ago that this was possible I would have thought you were one of those positive thinking nuts. But, now having witnessed the miracles of DA in my own life, I believe differently.

For further information about Debtors Anonymous, go to or There you will find information about local meetings, email groups, and online chat meetings.