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Clean Slate Podcast – Episode 3

In episode 3 of the Clean Slate Podcast, Juan offers up some great advice for anyone who has a large amount of debt.


About the Speaker:Juan Valladares

Juan Valladares is the Vice President of CreditGuard of America, Inc. and has been working in the credit counseling industry since 1997.

Juan began his career at a major answering service center, responsible for the training and supervision of over two hundred employees. Now in charge of managing CreditGuard’s counseling department, Juan’s management, organizational and motivational skills are all vital to the company’s success.

Juan is a devoted father of two and a passionate racquetball player who competes regularly to satisfy his competitive instincts. He has dedicated his professional life to helping people get out – and stay out – of debt.


“Clean Slate” Podcast Episode 3: Advice for People with Large Amounts of Debt

Wayne: What is the biggest piece of advice you can offer someone who has large amounts of debt? Let’s say the example is massive car loans or mortgages that are upside down or credit cards, or maybe they even have $200 or $250,000 worth of debt. They just are stressed and it’s crushing them—what is that big piece of advice you go to when they’re distraught?

Juan: We’re very busy in this country. We wake up very early in the morning, we pack our kids’ lunches, we send them off to school, we work sometimes 40, 50 or 60 hours a week; we come home, we have to cook, clean, stay organized. There are so many things we have to do in order to maintain a very, very busy lifestyle, and a lot of the time we simply don’t take the time to just sit down and organize ourselves.So one of the biggest pieces of advice I always give anyone, and everyone, is to just sit down, get a piece of paper and just start writing down everything that you owe, all of your income, and all of your expenses.

The most important thing is knowing where you’re at. Most people don’t know where they’re at. If you ask them how much they owe on one of their credit cards they say, ‘I don’t know. I think it’s about $5,000.’ I’ve heard this so many times over the phone and they owe more like $7,000. I’m like ‘How can people be off by that much?’ And I get it: they lead very busy lives; they’re obviously too busy just living, taking care of their daily responsibilities.

So the most important thing from my perspective, and one of the things I have a lot of personal experience with, is just sitting and writing down everything that you owe—the interest rates, the amounts, your monthly expenses, how much you spend on groceries, how much you spend on gasoline. Put everything down first before one of our certified credit counselors, which you can contact of course, can go ahead and start to analyze your finances and give you the best financial tools to help you, at a minimum, better manage your finances, and a significant amount of the time it’s simply just about restructuring them.

“So one of the biggest pieces of advice I always give anyone, and everyone, is to just sit down, get a piece of paper and just start writing down everything that you owe, all of your income, and all of your expenses.”

Wayne: Seems like that documentation sort of become the rudiments of a debt management plan itself.

Juan: That’s correct. It really is the base of everything. When it comes to your finances, you just really have to know where you’re at. Because we tend to fall too much into debt, we almost tend to ignore it. It’s like you think, ‘Oh, it may go away. It’s probably going to go away if I ignore it, or something is going to happen,’ but at the end of the day you have to make a commitment and make a decision to sit down and say, ‘Ok, let’s see where I’m at with things.’ And then you can just contact one of our certified credit counselors.

Wayne: Right. It’s almost like anything you’re not watching goes by or happens much faster than we think. It’s like we don’t have the capacity to realize the time we’re having and the time that’s happening around us. It’s like if you’re at work or watching a game, or if you’re out shopping or with people or with your family at the park, have you ever looked up and said, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s 5 o’clock. Where did the time go?’

Juan: (Laughing) yeah.

Wayne: Like ‘Oh my goodness, I have $7,000 in debt, how did that happen? I only bought 3 things, I think.’ But really it’s been 3 months and dozens of transactions.

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