Declaring Bankruptcy with Colleen


Declaring Bankruptcy with Colleen 

People frequently say to me they want to join the Financial Gym, but they don’t think they can afford the monthly membership. My reply is always, “If you can’t afford the $85 per month, then you NEED to join the Financial Gym.” Our membership is now over 1,000 people and growing, which means I’ve reviewed probably over 1,500 financial plans, and a consistent theme we see is a need for a lifestyle change, but a lack of knowledge on how best to change it. Some of our clients need to make more money, and we tell them how much. Some of our clients have some glaring monthly expenses that need to be cut and we help them identify them. Some clients, like Colleen, need to be coached on making some extreme changes in life. Colleen joins me today to share her story about why she reached out to my team and the dramatic transformation her life has taken in just three short months.

What are we drinking?

Colleen — Winking Owl Merlot

Shannon — Cavit Pinot Grigio

Podcast Notes

  • Colleen is a client at the Financial Gym. Colleen’s trainer, Joy, requested Gym Magic funds so Colleen could purchase a URL for her blog
  • When Colleen graduated with her undergrad degree in finance, she had about no debt. In 2007, after a year of living with her parents in Albany, New York and working, she decided to quit her government job and move to Charleston, South Carolina in October 2007 with her friend. Colleen’s sister lives in South Carolina, but in a different city, and her first day in Charleston was her first time there ever.
  • Colleen couldn’t get a job in finance because of the economic downturn, so she took a job at Enterprise Rent-a-Car in December and stayed there for two years.
  • She had $9,000 in cash when she moved. A few months later, she was living paycheck to paycheck. She spent money on food, going out, drinking, shopping, makeup, clothes, etc. She ended up in credit card debt and consumer debt. She attributes this to emotional spending, bad relationships, and insecurities. This is when the spiral started.
  • This debt started catching up with Colleen about three years ago, when she couldn’t pay the minimum payments.
  • Colleen left South Carolina and moved to Virginia for her fiancé about a year ago. She met him on a blind date, when she was set up by her sister-in-law. They dated for four months when she decided to move, and they got engaged a few weeks ago.
  • Colleen had never talked to anyone about her finances. She realized about six months ago that she needed help. Colleen searched online and found an article on Business Insider about the Gym. She hesitated because of the monthly fee. A month later, she called the Gym and scheduled an appointment, because she had bill collectors calling her and she couldn’t afford to pay anything.
  • She had her financially naked session with Joy. She had about $65,000 in credit card and personal loan debt, her credit score was about 520, and she had about $200 in the bank. Colleen was embarrassed, but it felt like a weight lifted off her shoulders, because there was no judgement. Shannon and the Gym have seen over $1,500 financial plans so far, and debt like this is not unusual.
  • Joy gave her two options: (1) double her income (she was making $43,000 per year), or (2) declare bankruptcy.
  • Colleen met with an attorney in mid-June and was told that it would be simple, because she didn’t own anything. She decided she wanted to go through the process and she had to pay the attorney and court fees up front, which were $1,600.
  • Colleen lives in her fiancé’s house and pays $600 in rent every month. He waived her rent, so she could focus on saving for the attorney and court fees and she also received an $800 quarterly bonus from work. She was able to pay the fee within a month and file by August 1, and she had her court date in September. Now she is waiting for the discharge letter.
  • A year ago, Colleen’s father gave her a $15,000 loan. She is paying her parents back and she had to list them as someone she owes. Colleen had to tell her parents about the bankruptcy. She decided to tell her fiancé, because of this podcast and the damage it causes when couples hide money problems.
  • She told her fiancé about the bankruptcy first, about three months ago, and she thought he was going to kick her out. He didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Her parents also didn’t judge her. They were more upset that she didn’t talk to them about what she was going through.
  •  There is help out there – you don’t need to go through this alone!
  • When we tell our truth, we all win. Share your truth with others and learn from it.
  • Colleen had a good first quarter review. Most Gym clients have something positive to show during their first quarter review.
  • The Gym is currently offering a money-back guarantee. There is no excuse not to call. They guarantee they can help you!

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is that sometimes it takes money to save money. Investing in yourself, whether it’s your mental, physical, or financial health, from my perspective, always pays off in the long run and you’re worth that investment.

Random Three Questions 

  1. If this was your last night on earth, what would be your last meal?
  2. What is a show you like to binge watch?
  3. If you won a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Colleen


Instagram: @mystraightuplife

If you’d like some help getting your finances together, so you can get unstuck from bad behaviors, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. We’ve seen clients of all financial shapes and sizes and my trainers are waiting, without judgment, to help you reach your financial goals. Go to, or send friends to, to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.



  1. Thank you so much, Colleen, for courageously sharing your story. I certainly could identify with it. I’m dealing with a lot of blame and guilt issues to the point where I have finally taken a leap of faith and have contacted the FinGym to help me get out of the financial situation I’m currently in. Like you, I’m fearing the unknown, but in my heart, I know that everything will be alright. Again, much appreciations to you for being vulnerable about your finances!

    And Shannon: my hat is off to you for tackling yet another topic that I could certainly relate to! I appreciate You, too!!

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