Getting a handle on personal finances is a challenge, especially for those of us, like Daniel, who have personally experienced economic hardship or received little to no financial guidance and support. While we all have unique financial journeys, the reality is the road to financial stability is often bumpy. On the hardest days, it may feel like you are traveling alone.
For one of our program participants, Daniel, “finances have been really, really difficult my whole entire life.” But instead of struggling by himself, he sought guidance from LSS Financial Counseling, who eventually directed him to Exodus Lending and later to Prepare + Prosper’s Money Mentors financial coaching program.
“It’s nice to have that resource that I can use when I need it… I’m glad you guys are there for people like me.”
As one of many local organizations committed to supporting people experiencing financial instability, we are keenly aware of how stress short-circuits our ability to think long-term. When he felt desperate to leave an overwhelming situation, Daniel’s fight-or-flight mindset distorted his thinking. “I was like, I gotta figure out something. I don’t care what it is, but I got to get out of this situation. And when you do that, you don’t think correctly.”
“I just was so bent on getting this loan. I didn’t care what I had to do to get it. I just wanted to get it to get out of that situation, not realizing the consequences of getting this loan.”
Eager to fix his problem, he took out a title loan from an out-of-state lender. Did he feel relieved? Sure, briefly. But then Daniel had to figure out how to pay it back. Suddenly, he felt even “more stress because now you got another problem on your hand after you just tried to solve one. It also adds another expense to your budget that you have to plan for that you didn’t have before.” And the added cost wasn’t trivial. Daniel recalled being “just baffled at how much interest they charged on that loan. I think it was upwards of 300 percent.” Per his loan agreement, his $400 loan would cost him over $1,000 in interest and fees!
“You basically are at the mercy of them. You get the money, that’s great and all that, but then they’re going to really drive that interest rate. It’s brutal. It’s like a gerbil wheel. You just keep going around and around and around. Can I afford this month’s payment? If you can’t, then they’re going to add more fees and interest on your loan. It’s an endless battle.”
Fortunately, through the connections he first made at LSS Financial Counseling, Daniel discovered Exodus Lending and enrolled in our program to finally break the vicious cycle of predatory debt. Now, he no longer has to worry about unaffordable payments. With us, he felt “totally instant relief because I knew I was getting the help that I needed.” Our interest-free loan was “like the best scenario” and allowed him to continue his financial empowerment journey with us, LSS Financial Counseling, and Prepare + Prosper.
“I’ve only been in the program for, I think, six months and… It changes everything. It helps tremendously because now you look at your budget and go, hey, I don’t want to ever be in that position ever again. Your program helps me stay focused on what I need to do to not be in that position again. I can’t say enough about you guys. You guys are awesome.”
Thanks to the Minnesota financial capability trifecta of Exodus Lending, LSS Financial Counseling, and Prepare + Prosper, Daniel is making steady progress toward financial stability. “It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’m ready for the long haul. I’ll eventually get there with perseverance and determination and a mindset that every day you just put one foot in front of the other and you do the best you can.”
“Thanks for allowing me to share my story. Yeah, it’s been a bumpy road, but, hey, it looks better from here on out now. If I can help someone else stay out of the trouble I got in, I think it’s well worth it.”