Paul on the phone tells us about his debts. He has as many as ten monthly disbursements between salary assignment and proxy, mortgage, various loans with banks and financial institutions, and revolving cards. In addition to these commitments, he owes money to a cousin and has to pay off the dentist and the mechanic for the family’s second car. It pays off-but it’s starting to fail. We invite him for an interview and understand that. the path to take together is to help him become aware of times when he has made choices that were not well thought out. There were no particular events that triggered so much debt, but little awareness of the value of money, and also of one’s work! He is a civil servant, income easily financed, but Paul cannot explain why he has always taken assignments and renewed them, he starts to crack up when we ask him why he took revolving cards. “Well … one month I couldn’t pay my mortgage payment and at the bank they offered me revolving, it helped a lot! It went well and so at the end of the year I asked for another one …” Paul cannot say why he asked for it or how he used it.
We give them a sheet with a table: income and expenses. We ask him to write down the family income and all, but really all, expenses, including installments: there is a difference of a little more than 250 €: that is why he applied for the two revolving cards, to cover a constant deficit. Revolving loans in turn carry other interest…
The second step we take with him is really to put the emphasis on the interest he is paying for all these loans and papers, money from his and his wife’s work. Seeing him thinking seriously and talking less is an early sign that Paul is beginning to question a lifestyle that is costing him a lot of money and that he will soon be unable to sustain.
More meetings are needed for Paul to decide to cut off the revolving cards and make serious calculations about the years to go before he can free himself from the first loans and then from the disposals.