Yes, you can pay off your debts ... this couple did

By Corene Brisendine

A Manhattan resident has been honored for paying off $118,000 in debt over five years.

The recognition, from Housing and Credit Counseling Inc., cited Francine and Bob Bostick for their success in liquidating debt they had run up over their lives together. No single event or purchase put them in that situation. “It just added up over several years,” Francine said. “Just things we would want, we would just go do it. We wouldn’t think of the price.”

But as the couple neared retirement six years ago, the Bosticks realized they had to clean up their debt situation. They went to HCCI, a credit counseling service, because Francine said she heard about the service from friends at work. A counselor gave the Bosticks two options: pay off the debt or file for bankruptcy.

The Bosticks chose to pay off the debt.

“We spent it and we felt we needed to pay it back,” Francine said.

Over five years, the Bosticks paid $2,500 a month to the credit card agencies. The first year was the hardest, Francine said. Both Jim and Francine took on second jobs, and Francine also took on a third job in order to keep up their other monthly expenses, mortgage, car payment, utilities and groceries.

Francine said the first year was the hardest because all she did was work and pay bills. But after second year, they were able to start doing little things they enjoyed, like going out to eat. After the third year, she was able to quit one of her jobs, and even started putting money back into savings. At one point, Francine said she worried that if something happened and she couldn’t work, she didn’t know what they would do. So, she went back to the counselors and asked what her options were. She said the counselor told her she still qualified for bankruptcy if it came to that. Francine said she went back to work with peace of mind knowing there was still help available.

One of the services the counselor provided or the Bosticks was a budget. Francine said she didn’t know what a budget was.

“I didn’t know to save for the fun things we want or for emergencies,” Francine said. “I didn’t know the difference between a want and a need.”

The Bosticks have been debt-free for a year. Francine will retire next month from her job at Kansas State University. They have also saved up the money for the fun things-to take their grandkids to Disneyworld.

The counseling service chooses an outstanding person or family each year to honor for the hard work and dedication. This year the service gave the National Client of the Year award to Jim and Francine.

Bob Mackey, president and CEO of HCCI, said he “just really admires their attitude.” He said the fact the Bosticks could have filed for bankruptcy and didn’t goes against the typical attitude of people today. He said that by taking on second jobs and sticking with the plan, the Bosticks deserved to be recognized. He said that while Francine was in Charlotte, N.C. to receive the award, the crowd, composed of mostly counseling executives, gave her several standing ovations.

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