Boyfriend Left Wife $ 88,000 in Debt – Here’s How Suze Orman Helped Her Get Out
When Haley Woods broke up with her eight-year-old boyfriend, she says she found herself struggling with $ 88,000 in debt.
“90% of it wasn’t even my own debt. My ex was just horrible with the money, ”says Woods, now 41. “It was all under my name because he had such bad credit – that was one of my first big mistakes.
Woods tells PEOPLE she co-signed for credit cards with 29% interest rates, co-signed for her car, and when her dog got sick they spent over $ 10,000 on experimental cell treatments strains that didn’t work.
Prior to meeting her boyfriend in 2003, Woods had always been a saver, not a spendthrift.
“I always expected change,” says Woods, who grew up in Johnson City, Tennessee. “I was always saving money.”
But, she said, she was always ready to lend a hand. Her family remembers when she was 5 years old and she went to dinner at a restaurant that did not accept credit cards or checks. Woods gave his father a $ 100 bill to cover the check.
“I just kept it and took it with me,” she says.
An actress who graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Woods has held a variety of jobs, ranging from the role of Alice de Alice in Wonderland for FAO Schwarz in New York for dubbing concerts in Los Angeles.
“If you look at the Terminator Hi film and listen to a starless person screaming and dying, that’s me, ”she says.
But as her debts piled up as she pursued her passions, she struggled to exceed interest payments.
“It’s become too much,” she said. “When I broke up with my ex in 2011, he wasn’t working and he didn’t put a dime into paying our debt. It was all under my name. He walked away. And he never paid a dime.
She says her ex tried to convince her to file for bankruptcy, but her family encouraged her to tackle the debt head-on and pay it off.
“Of course, he wanted her to declare bankruptcy – because he was the one who put her in,” says financial expert Suze Orman, host of the show. Women & Silver Podcast.
Orman met Woods in September and was struck by his story.
“He asked her to do things that he should never have asked him to do,” she says. “So of course someone irresponsible with the money is going to say, ‘File for bankruptcy’. Of course they are…. It’s always better to do what’s right than to do what’s easy.
Woods, Orman says, decided to do what was right. She attended Debtors Anonymous meetings and studied the The money book for the young, the fabulous and the broke, of which his mother bought him a copy.
“As I read his book, I realized I was not alone,” says Woods. “This world is full of people going through the same thing as me… It made the hard days possible.”
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Woods called his credit card companies and set up payment plans. One company, she recalls, closed the account to no longer earn interest.
“I’ve saved thousands and thousands of dollars just talking to them,” she says.
Following Orman’s advice, Woods paid his small bills first.
“It’s like looking at Mt. Kilimanjaro and saying, “I have to do this hike now without any training,” says Woods. “Suze said, ‘Go for a hike up the next hill first. “”
At the end of 2011, Woods was offered a marketing job that involved traveling across the United States. She gave up her apartment in Los Angeles and used the money she spent on rent and utilities to pay off her debts. From 2012, she began to travel full time, leading a nomadic lifestyle.
Woods lived in hotels, the cost of which her job covered for about nine months of the year, and then used the hotel points she accumulated to rekindle her passion for international travel. It was a long way from when she was with her ex, when Woods says she let her passport expire.
Woods wrote down everything she bought. And when she was shopping, she followed Orman’s advice, wondering if she wanted something – or really needed it. Almost every time, she has chosen to pay off her debts instead of buying a new t-shirt.
“I took every possible job,” says Woods. “I watched every penny.”
And on her 36th birthday, May 20, 2014, she wrote a fake celebratory check – representing the real check – and posted a photo of it on Facebook. “The gift of freedom”, she wrote in the caption.
“Don’t have this debt anymore – I could just breathe,” Woods says. “I know how stuffy and claustrophobic it is when the walls of tickets surround you.”
She continued her new spending practices – and a year later, with $ 50,000 in the bank, she started her own business, Girls love to travel. She celebrated her 40th birthday by traveling across the seven continents. Last year she did it again, but added the Arctic Circle.
Woods doesn’t own a car and doesn’t pay rent. She has more money in the bank than she has ever had, and she says her FICO score, 839, is higher than it has ever been.
“I’m celebrating this,” Haley says. “I don’t need a lot of money to live this life.”
Longtime champion of financial independence, Orman praises Woods’ accomplishments.
“How fabulous is that?” Says Orman, who is releasing his new book, The Ultimate Guide to Retirement for People 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime, February 25. “When you start saving money, you never want to stop. She is living the life of her dreams. Why would she change? Why would you want to buy a house?…. He’s just a free little bird. I am so happy for her.
Woods speaks openly about his financial rehabilitation with other women in his online travel community, which has nearly one million members on Facebook. She encourages women to travel the world, but also to live debt free.
“I don’t want anyone to go through my experiences with debt,” says Woods.
She now uses her credit cards to track her international travel expenses and air miles, but she pays off the balance every month.
“She saw that she could get out of a hole – she’ll never go back there,” Orman said. “More than fixing her money, Haley fixed herself. She valued herself. She will fly for the rest of her life. She will never co-sign a loan again. She will never put someone else’s wants before their needs. And now she has time to really fly.