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Maxed Out: Debt Threatens to Divide a Couple


This episode of Maxed Out is about Sondra and Ashton, a couple who has been living together for about a year and share careers in counseling but have opposite money habits. Sondra is 28 years old and Ashton is 25, and while he is taking trips with the money he's saved she is tinkering on the edge of bankruptcy.

Ashton's saving ways have put him in a good financial place but Sondra's spending tendencies have put her $56,000 in debt. Find out more about their situation and Sondra's plan to get out of debt when you read more.

Sondra is reliant on her parents who pay her car insurance and some money toward her student loans, contributing about $500-$600 a month and sometimes more when she has trouble making rent. At times, Sondra relies on Ashton to lend her money. Financial guru Alison Griffiths is worried that Sondra is slowly transferring her financial dependence from her parents to Ashton, and that Sondra's envy of Ashton's trips is creating a debt divide.

Allison discovers that Sondra is averaging a monthly $535 shortfall and is spending $600-$1,200 on miscellaneous, unnecessary purchases. At the rate Sondra is going, it will take over eight years and $24,000 in interest to pay off her debt. Allison instructs Sondra and Ashton to open a joint account and use it for all shared expenses, gets Sondra to organize her bills, and tells her to tighten her belt by taking out $100 in cash for the whole month and to leave her debit card at home.

At the end of the show, Sondra's monthly shortfall is down to zero and her new habits will get her debt paid off in a little over six years with $12,000 in interest. She's stopped asking her parents and boyfriend for money and said the biggest lesson she learned was to pay attention to where her money is going.

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