In the credit union’s Personal Finance Survivor series, everyday members share details of the individual choices they’ve made that impacted their financial lives for the better.
For many going through divorce, money can be a sore subject. Not only are you separating from your partner, but you also have to divvy up your belongings, assets and debts which can cause emotional and financial strain. This was the case for credit union member, Susan Stucco. Even though Susan had a long career as Chaplain at a local hospital in St. Louis, it was tough to make ends meet for her and her son on her own.
Sharing Her Story and Asking for Help
Susan’s first goal was to try to purchase the home she were renting from her parents. She applied for a mortgage at the credit union and was denied based on her financial situation at the time. Susan had been a member of the credit union for many years and something told her to reach out to Gary Hinrichs to explain her situation. Gary listened and was so moved by her story, he extended a mortgage approval.
Getting the mortgage gave Susan peace of mind about not having to move her son from his home. However, it was still tough to make ends meet every month. “Financial stress was a big problem in the marriage and it got worse after,” Susan said. She started taking out high interest loans from a variety of financial institutions. “It was just burying us deeper and deeper in debt.”
Susan wanted to reach out to West Community but was too embarrassed. “They know me. That’s what stopped me,” she said. However, after three years of sleepless nights, something had to give and she realized she could not continue what she was doing. “I had to admit I made mistakes and called the credit union.”
The Turning Point
In January 2017, Susan spoke with Jeff Mueller in Member Solutions, and he suggested consolidating her debts into a home equity loan to alleviate her financial woes. Susan came into the Brentwood branch right away and met with Member Services Consultant, José Pinter. “He listened, just listened. No Judgment. He reflected what I said and that’s when I knew he really understood. My fears were gone, and I was no longer embarrassed,” said Susan. Susan’s monthly payments were too large to manage. José thought her mortgage was strong and agreed that a home equity loan would help consolidate all her debt into one lower payment.
Letting Go of the Worry
Susan was very anxious she would not get approved in underwriting, and she called Jose to express how nervous she was about asking for too much and getting denied. “Jose told me, ‘Let it go, Susan. Let me worry about this,’” she remembered. “He really cared to try to help me”. Susan ended up getting approved for the home equity loan, and all of her debt became one lower payment.
“Now I can actually breathe and make good decisions. It’s like a “pause”. I can actually look at my situation and make a plan,” she said. “When I look back, I wish I had just gone there first.”
Susan’s story is a reminder that it’s OK to ask for help when you feel like you’re sinking. If you put your mind to it and take advantage of the resources at your credit union, you too can be on your way to getting back on track before you know it. Contact Member Services to reach your financial goals today!
*Update: Shortly after this interview, Susan said that she reviewed her finances in the previous week and noticed she was actually ahead! Congratulations, lady!
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