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Seniors Pay Off Six-Figure Credit Card Debt

Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the largest serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. Find various topics in this blog, including personal finance, credit counseling, housing, budgeting and student loan help. Click here to speak with an NFCC-certified Consumer Credit Counselor.

By Gail Cunningham

It’s never too late to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. Francine and Jim Bostick are living proof of that. At ages 57 and 68, the Bosticks faced a seemingly insurmountable amount of debt, more than $120,000 in credit card obligations. 

Five years later they are debt free and were named the NFCC’s Professional Achievement and Counseling Excellence (PACE) Clients of the Year during the organization’s recent Annual Leaders Conference in Charlotte, NC.

Their story mirrors the financial situation of many. Francine is not proud to admit that their debt wasn’t a result of circumstances beyond their control such as unemployment, or a catastrophic medical emergency. They simply developed a lifestyle of overspending. 

When money was so tight that they had to pay for groceries and utilities with a credit card, they knew that something was wrong. Nonetheless, they were fearful to face the facts, and put off reaching out for help. Feeling strongly that they had created their debt problem by themselves, they were determined to solve it by themselves. Jim was in the early stages of dementia, putting the bulk of the responsibility squarely on Francine’s shoulders. After endless hours of worry, she took the first step and reached out to NFCC Member Agency, Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc (HCCI) in Topeka, KS.

One morning I just said I can’t do this any more and called HCCI,” said Francine. “That one phone call totally changed our lives. It felt as though a weight had been lifted.” 

Having never been late on a payment, during her first counseling session Francine confessed that she had learned to play the game. She knew all too well how to juggle payments in order to meet the minimum amount due each month on their debt spread across 13 credit cards. She utilized balance transfers to obtain lower interest rates, promising herself each time that she would close the old account, a promise she never kept. 

When their HCCI counselor presented them with a workable budget and repayment plan, the Bosticks had one goal:  doing whatever it took to become debt free.  In addition to her full-time job, Francine took on evening work with the local school district cleaning the buildings, and launched her own Avon business. Even though his dementia was slowly taking over, Jim worked 30 hours per week to help make ends meet. 

“It would have taken decades for us to become debt free, but now look at us. It is five years later and not only have we paid off all our debts, we also have a savings account,” said Francine. “My only regret is that Jim’s condition has worsened to the point that he can’t fully realize our accomplishment.”

“The remarkable thing about the Bosticks is their total commitment to repay their debts,” said Bob Mackey, president and CEO of HCCI. “For five years they worked second jobs, lived on a very lean budget, and paid $2,496 each month toward their debt repayment plan. We are very proud of the Bosticks and our counseling team that helped place them back on the road to financial stability.”

Gail Cunningham is Vice President of Membership & Public Relations with the NFCC.

Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.

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