GreenPath Financial Wellness recently named Tony and Peggy Laskowski the 2013 GreenPath Clients of the Year. The couple, from Mishawaka, Indiana, paid off more than $57,000 in debt in four years, completing their GreenPath debt management program in July 2012.
“Tony and Peggy are a shining example of how hard work and perseverance can really pay off,” said Amanda Walker, GreenPath regional manager and counselor in Indiana. “They were able to work through some setbacks during their program, paying off a large amount of debt in a short amount of time.”
Reaching Out for Help
Tony and Peggy scheduled an appointment with GreenPath to review their situation in June 2008. At that time, they were concerned about their credit card debt. They had worked with another debt relief company in the past, but the company made their payments late to their creditors and was not giving them any relief from interest charges and late fees. They had two children in college and really wanted to know that there was going to be a time that they could be out from under so much credit card debt and stress.
“We were just racking up the credit card debt,” said Tony. “No matter what we did to try and pay them off, we were making minimum payments plus, and it just wasn’t enough. We didn’t want to go through bankruptcy and we weren’t going to cheat anyone out of that money.”
“I was getting calls at least twice a week reminding me that my payments were late. There was no way of getting out from underneath it without some professional help,” he concluded.
Signing on with GreenPath
In August 2008, they signed on with a GreenPath debt management plan. GreenPath began working directly with the Laskowskis’ creditors in getting their interest rates reduced, eliminating their late fees and setting up a workable payback plan.
Tony recalled that, as the plan got underway, he saw changes from the credit card companies. “It was nice seeing the letters of acceptance from the credit card companies,” he said. “When the smaller balances got paid off and we got the zero balance statement, it was nice seeing that.”
The couple made sacrifices during their debt management program. “Our vacations were taking the kids to hockey or swim meets or going up to the camp that we work at, volunteering our time,” said Tony. Peggy remarked that they watched what they bought carefully, didn’t eat out, but made sure their kids were provided for at Christmas and on other occasions.
In 2009, Tony’s income was temporarily reduced. He picked up part-time work, but their monthly budget was still showing a deficit. GreenPath found ways to reduce expenses, while Tony and Peggy cut back on groceries and gasoline to make their budget work. After several months on their adjusted budget, the couple’s mortgage was modified to reduce their monthly mortgage payment. Then Tony earned a raise at work.
Persistence Equals an Early Payoff
Originally, GreenPath determined that the Laskowski’s would be able to pay off their debts in full in five years. As they entered the fourth year of their plan, they were able to pay off some larger balances and realized they were going to pay off their debts in 47 months, more than a year earlier than first projected.
“This was not an easy feat but, by working together, we reached their goal,” said GreenPath’s Walker.
In July 2012, they completed their debt management program. Shortly thereafter, Tony sent an e-mail to GreenPath to express his gratitude:
“I don’t think I can thank you enough for everything you and GreenPath have done to get me to this point. I was in a deep hole with no way out and you brought me a ladder. It is wonderful what you do for your clients.”
A year after completing their plan and paying off their credit card debt, Tony said they learned their lesson. “We haven’t had to use our credit card for a very long time,” he explained. “It’s nice going somewhere and using the debit card or writing a check to pay our bill in full.”
To meet Tony and Peggy Laskowski through a short video, log on to www.youtube.com/greenpathdebt.