My Biggest Money Mistake-Co-Signing and Taking On Debt

Money Mistakes aren’t always in your face but we learn from these mistakes to make it right the next time. There are many reasons people fall into debt but there are more reasons about why they should get out of debt even if that means fighting for your legal rights. You don’t need to make millions to use a budget but you do need to see the numbers.

One of my fans contacted me with a story she wanted to share about her biggest money mistake. Not everyone is willing to step up to say “this is what happened” and “this is what I had to do to fix it“. Julie took steps to get back on track and I hope others can learn from her story and not be taken advantage of. Take your failures and make them a success story like Julie.

Here is Julie’s Story……

Hello Mr. CBB!

When I separated from my ex-husband, I had to file for bankruptcy. I wasn’t mismanaging funds but what landed me in hot water was failure to protect myself from love and money. This chapter in my life has taught me to become fairly self-reliant whilst living on no credit. Great lessons learned and I vowed to never be in that place again so please enjoy my story and I hope that others can learn something from what I had to go through. My money mistake may be your success.

THE BEGINNING

I met a guy….isn’t that how a lot of these stories begin!!

THE TIME OF OUR LIVES

We were together a few years and it blossomed into something special between the two of us, so I thought. We seemed to be headed in the same direction, we got engaged and then began planning our wedding. We wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.

THE MONEY

His credit history was not the best in fact it was so bad I had to step in like a warrior to conquer the matter. Money fights and money problems in relationships happen so I decided to save the day and potentially avoid this. In an effort to help him to start building up his credit score I rolled it into my mortgage to help clear up his debt. I guess that’s what you do when you are in love and think you will be with someone for the rest of your life, so I thought. Thankfully, a small part of me was in protection mode so I was adamant that he was not put on the title for the house. The title for those that don’t know means that I was the owner of the property and not him. Instead he was the guarantor meaning that he guarantees that the debt would be paid. This is how the birth of our Line Of Credit (LOC) began for us.

Since I was in love with this man I bent over backwards for him with rose-coloured glasses on. Amazing what we do for love with money. I even went as far as co-signing for a truck lease simply because my credit history was in perfect health.  You have to understand though that when you co-sign for anything you are saying that you agree to pay the borrower’s debt if the borrower fails to.

If you are not prepared to do this at any stage do not, and I repeat do not co-sign as it is a legal agreement that you are responsible for in the event it is not paid. That’s alot of weight to carry around for someone especially if you need credit for yourself so you risk your own credit and finances.

A FEW MONTHS LATER WE HIT A BRICK WALL

A few months after all the finances were in order everything began to fall apart. This is sort of like you worst nightmare coming to life, something you would never expect. I inadvertently to my horror found out he was leading a double life. While I thought he was off working hard in Manitoba for us, he was actually living with another woman. He was cheating on me and I had to wrap my head around all of this news. He had purchased big-ticket items with her and was living the happy life. Who does this? Why me? Lots went through my mind but I had to stay focused on not only my emotions but financial matters.

How did I know all of this? Well, conveniently the paperwork came to my house. There are no words to describe my feelings but what is done is done. The lessons are piling up here now but I’m taking it all in stride.

LEGAL MATTERS

Ultimately I was left to deal with the fact that He was gone, but the debts remained. I would have walked away from it all if it were a couple of thousand dollars, but that wasn’t the case here.

I waited about a year before I began legal proceedings against him. Canadian Small Claims Court was out of the question because of the amount of money he owed me. In order to file in Small Claims Court the amount has to be less than $5000 to fall under small claims in every jurisdiction in each province.
I needed to find the best legal representation so I hired a good lawyer and I did a lot of the leg work to save some money in legal fees.

THE  LEGAL PROCESS

A demand letter was sent to him but he had ignored it. I had proof that I was communicating with him via email, so we were able to serve him the Statement of Claim via email. The Statement of Claims details the reason for filing legal action with all the detailed finance information. He didn’t defend the case so I received a Judgement for the full amount he owed me plus costs and registered a Writ of enforcement all of which will show up on his credit report. Not surprisingly he vanished so the full amount of the judgement was still left unpaid.

I ended up conveniently locating  his bank account information and the lawyer garnished the account meaning money would be seized. If your employer receives a notice from the courts to withhold a certain amount of money they have to abide by this. Guess who’s in contact with me and making regular payments to his debt now! This entire process from start to where I am today has taking me a grueling almost 4 years.

The one good thing about this loan is that the minimum payment required was interest only. This gave me the ability to still pay it without causing any damage to my credit history or my monthly budget.

THE TRUCK

Regarding the truck lease, around the same time as everything else went south, he decided not to pay this regularly or the amount he was obligated. The financing company called me often looking for him or the truck. I was always polite but insisted that I didn’t have the vehicle, so I wasn’t paying for it. Find him, find the truck but it’s not my problem. I shared information if and when I learned something new. I advised them where he lived and when the arrears got high enough, they finally repossessed the vehicle. He paid what he needed to catch up with the payments and get it back. The lease is done now and the truck was returned to the truck dealer. Inside It felt like that was the longest leasing contract EVER!

THE DAMAGE TO MY CREDIT

This debt has damaged my credit. Luckily, I have been with my employer for 24 years and my banker knows about the situation. Should I require financing in the near future, which I don’t expect to, I can at least provide an explanation. It’s the only debt showing on my credit report, everything else is perfect. Eventually, that debt will drop off and the next chapter of my life and my credit score will be perfect once again!!

WHAT I LEARNED FROM MY BIGGEST MONEY MISTAKE

My biggest regret in this entire situation, was not following my gut and recognizing the red flags. I did take steps to protect myself, but not enough. I was lured in by love and promises  and taken advantage of by a guy who does this on a regular basis. I am proud to say that I stood up for what was right and am the only one of his victims that have come forward to take him to the cleaners. You can bet I’ll never, ever do this again.

It is not my responsibility to clean up my partner’s financial mess (at my expense). EVER! I actually dod recover well from my divorce and bankruptcy.
I managed to budget well enough that this didn’t do unrepairable damage to me, my kids or our budget. Do have and maintain a good relationship with your Banker, they can be your biggest ally when needed. I’m not as big of a  pushover as people thought. I fought back and I won!

My biggest lesson, life does go on and you figure it out. I crawled back out of the hole of feeling shamed and used. I found love with someone I have known for over 20 years and got married on Sept 16 of this year.

My Life is perfect again and my biggest money mistake is behind me.

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Mr. CBB
I’m from the UK and now a recent permanent resident in Canada. I bought my first house at the age of 21 after University then my second at the age of 24. I’ve always been fascinated with personal finance, savings, learning to make money and watch it grow while combating debts along the way. Canadian Budget Binder is a place where I get to share my experiences with personal finance and learn about yours along the way. I hope you stick around and check me out on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where I am active on all social media sites. Cheers, Mr.CBB
Mr. CBB
Mr. CBB

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! Hopefully it will help others to not make the same decisions. I rolled my hubby’s debt into my mortgage and put him on title after we were married (but so far a good decision for us lol). It’s so easy to get sucked in when you’re in love. I’m glad that you fought back! Congrats!

  2. Christine Weadick says:

    We Co-signed for our daughter to get a student line of credit when she was in college. She’s working on paying it off and we have been known to pay a little into on occasion, usually $10.00 here and there. She was busting her tail to get by and OSAP turned her down flat. I’m glad to hear that everything eventually worked out for you…

  3. Hi There, Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. Had to read this blog of your, so true about how we get ourselves in so deep and then when do we retreat? You have An Awesome Week Ahead. ;-)

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      Cheers mate and thanks for dropping in. I enjoy meeting other bloggers and connecting so nice to meet you. Cheers Mr.CBB Catch me on Facebook and Twitter as well… cya.

  4. That’s terrible what happened to Julie. Unfortunately this happens more often than it should. That’s why more people are now considering the possibility of a prenup, just for self protection reasons. Glad she was able to work her way out of that mess and is now happy with another man.

    • Canadianbudgetbinder says:

      I agree or if they are going in with the same amount of cash like Mrs.CBB and I then it’s pretty much even Steven. Cheers Liquid! Mr.CBB

  5. Wow. That’s a pretty crazy story ! Sorry for all of the crap that you got put through, but I am glad you didn’t end up as bad as it could have been if you weren’t financially responsible. What a jerk.

  6. theoutliermodel says:

    Wow, that’s terrible. Glad it got sorted out in the end. I am very VERY leery about co-signing onto other people’s debt. My parents are in really bad financial shape and they have asked me more than once to co-sign on their who-knows-how-many-th home refinancing, and I’ve said no each time. I just can’t imagine what I’d do if I put my name on it and they were no longer able to pay.

    • Ya, we don’t co-sign for anyone we are so scared to do it and although we love our family it would have to be an emergency situation but alternatively if they were going to lose the house I’d say sell it. Move to a smaller place, rent etc. If you can’t afford it this month you can’t afford it the next unless you get more work, a raise, less debt etc.

  7. That is definitely a difficult circumstance to find yourself in and a lesson truly learned the hard way. I’ve had quite a few mistakes with money, but they were mostly due to my ignorance…I’m sure I would have made this same mistake if it was for somebody I loved though. It’s certainly hard to think rationally when you’re “head over heels.”

    • It can be an eye opener although one of my fans says after 6 months in Canada you are common law and assume the debts. I don’t know much about that yet as I’m fairly new here. When Mrs.CBB and I got together we had no debts and around the same amount of savings. That made things a wee bit easier.

  8. I thank Julie for sharing and thanks to the CBB blog for giving her a platform from which to speak.
    I think this is much more common than we realize so nobody should be ashamed if they find themselves in this predicament. What’s important is that Julie took the measures that were necessary when she realized what was happening!
    Too many people, as she mentioned, do not take the time or courage to fight back!

  9. Thank you for sharing! I am recently divorced, but luckily I didn’t have to deal with this during the divorce. He had been inappropriately using my credit card during the marriage, but I was able to remove him as an authorized buyer very easily to stop that. We had a very simple dissolution, he kept his car, I kept my car, he signed the car title over to me without incident, we didn’t own any real estate… I was very lucky. I’m sorry this happened to you but very glad you were able to overcome it. And you’ve learned, just as I have learned, that love doesn’t mean you can trust someone with your credit!

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. I can’t imagine the emotioal rollercoater you must have been going through dealing with that mess.

    Congrats on you your new marriage! :)

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