Biggest Loser: My Fight Against Big Debt

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Paying off your debt can be a lot like losing weight. It's a complete mind game and often a frustratingly Sisyphean process. If you don't agree, you should listen to Natalie Warwick's story*. At 38, Warwick has been there, done that. From seeing poverty in the eye to running a successful bookkeeping business, hers is one inspiring tale you won't want to miss.

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In 1995 as a young, creative yet idealistic teacher, Warwick and her then musician-boyfriend were just starting off their life together. "I worked as an arts educator. I did after school art programs for kids and I loved it," she said. "It was a great job but just didn't pay very well. My ex-boyfriend was a musician who made a decent amount of money back then." Their two girls were born in 1996 and 1998 at which time Natalie took a short break from work to care for her daughters. But things weren't going too well between the couple and by 2000, Natalie and her boyfriend broke things off.

She was now a single mom with two kids and a low paying job. At that time, she made $1400 a month, and her rent was $1200. "It was the cheapest deal, a one bedroom house in suburban Oakland," she said. "I got my friend to make bunk beds for my kids in the closet."

Up until then, she had used her credit cards sparingly. She confessed that they spent a lot of money, sometimes for dumb things, but they rarely charged their credit cards. But now, that changed. She had the benefit of subsidized child and health care. But there were also other expenses like car insurance and occasional car repairs, groceries and other kids' expenses. "After I became a single mom, I was left with so little at the end of the month that I had no option but to put expenses on my credit card," she said. "My kids' father was not in great shape himself and was not able to contribute anything at that time. That was when my struggle with debt really began."