Digging Out of Debt - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Digging Out of Debt

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

LAUREL, Del. -- More than 35 million Americans have some form of debt.

Credit card debt is the third largest source of household debt in the United States behind student loans and home mortgages, according to data from the New York Federal Reserve.

The New York Fed reports the average household debt includes $15,000 in credit card bills, $155,000 in mortgages, and at least $32,000 in student loans.

For some people on Delmarva, the situation is no different.

Lynn Evans, a hardworking 45-year old single mother of three, is saddled with $93,000 in student loans, medical bills, a car loan and credit card bills.

Lynn said the recession forced her to pursue a more lucrative career path than a veterinarian technician. So she gave up tending to horses and pursued a path to nursing.

But according to Lynn, a misstep in the financial aid process at Salisbury University ended up costing her $4,500 - a bill putting her life on hold indefinitely.

"Until I pay that $4,500," said Lynn with tears in her eyes, "I can't get anywhere with that."

"I can't get my transcripts from Salisbury University. I can't get my licensure for my RN. So the career that I wanted to start, I can't even do," she said.

A Millsboro man is in a similar financial hole.

Travis Schalaby, a 25-year old who's lost his job twice in a tough economy struggles to pay off about $17,000 in a car loan, medical bills, and credit cards.

Even though Travis found steady work as a landscaper, he's haunted by the financial sinkhole he's fallen into. Travis's debt puts not only a hold on his life but his fiance's as well.

"I had to call the wedding off because of the finance situation," said Schalaby. "If we were to sign that paper, she would accumulate what I had."

At their wits end, both Lynn and Travis could use some financial advice.

WBOC reached out to professor of finance at Salisbury University, Dr. Leonard Arvi, who said Lynn and Travis still have options.

"His credit card debt is about $1,200 which is very manageable and he should be able to pay it off in less than a year," said Dr. Arvi.

"Regarding his medical bill, I think he can actually talk to the hospital and explain the situation. Is there some way they could actually reduce it? If it's if it's gone to collections, he needs to pay it off," said Arvi.

For Lynn, Professor Arvi suggests to consider and exhaust all possible options of paying off her debt before considering filing for bankruptcy.

"Filing for bankruptcy is the last option. Her default record stays in her credit file for seven years, meaning for the next seven years she would not be able to borrow money. But after seven years she will be able to rebuild her credit and then be able to get on track," said Arvi.

WBOC's recorded interview with Dr. Arvi was played back for Lynn and Travis for them to hear exactly what the financial expert had to say about their financial situation.

"Well I think his ideas are certainly on track," said Lynn. "It just was something I wasn't sure if it was really what I wanted to do."

"I never realized the whole entire statute in regards to paying it off sooner," said Travis. "That was actually really decent advice."

Things may not change overnight but with advice, digging out of this financial hole could seem a little simpler for Lynn and Travis.

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