One of the most difficult times in my career as a financial counselor is when I consult with people who unfortunately are in a situation that they cannot get out of. Just like drugs, alcoholism, gambling, and other vices; borrowing can become a disease that many times the individual cannot get out of.

Maria, today’s fictional character (but the story is a common one), is a single mother of two children who 16 years ago met a loan shark who charged her $35 in interest for every $1,000 borrowed. This loan looked very easy and affordable, as Maria did not have enough credit to get a bank loan. A loan shark usually charges an annual interest rate of more than 150{0728d68cb2198b6d88310b8a6775ece8d37f059edbc54afb64e46dbd0be3c148} of the debt; more than 10 times what a bank charges.

Things didn’t happen as they should have, and in the end one loan led to another. The debts to the lenders increased to $12,000 dollars; since the income was only enough to feed her children and when a money problem arose, the lender was always there to lend her.

Now MarĂ­a has lost her house, everything she earns goes to paying interest and there is no government protection (such as bankruptcy) that can help her stop paying so much interest. She has no favorable credit to be able to take out a bank loan and her whole family has already helped her as much as they can with this problem. Maria can’t answer the phone at home because it is always one of the lenders, she has already thought of doing something drastic against her health and she can’t find anyone who can help her.

When Maria told me her story I felt very bad for not being able to help her; usually people come to me so that I can guide them to a solution, but in this case there is none. The only thing I could recommend was that she try to increase her income with another job (she has two part-time jobs) so she could use that money strictly to get out of debt, but in reality a job is not a matter of waving your fingers and wishing for it, but there was nothing more I could do for her.

There are many situations in which no one has a favorable answer and it is very difficult to have to tell people this. There are times when all the knowledge about finances is not enough to be able to help a person. In this situation I would like to have more knowledge on how to deal with people who have a problem which does not even let them breathe easy.

If you are in this situation I want you to know that you are not the only person in this situation, and to always have faith in a better future. Even if everything is adversity you have loved ones that you count on, and that you can count on, even if not monetarily.

If you feel like talking to someone, do it; there are times when talking will help you think things through and look for better solutions. For those who are seeking money from an illegal money lender in order to solve your debts, think twice; there are times when the cure can be worse than the disease.

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